Archive for the ‘University’ Category

Service of Discoveries

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

DiscoverySharing a few things I’ve learned or noticed within the last week.

Shoe Shine

The Hudson Yards subway station on the number 7 extension over by the Javits Center is buried deep underground so to reach the street you take Subway escalator Hudson Yardstwo very steep escalators. On either side of the moving stairs are one-inch brushes. If I had on leather shoes–even better with shoe polish handy–I could shine them simply by sidling to the left and then right of the step. I wouldn’t try it on the way down–it’s too steep. No doubt the brushes are on all the subway escalators…but they are not new and clean nor is the ride as long as at Hudson Yards.

If You Have to Ask You Can’t Afford It

I received a request to become a member of an internationally recognized NYC museum on an expensive, color 20″ x 6″ card folded in half. Nowhere were membership rates listed. “Is this the latest trend in fundraising?” I thought as I tossed the card, “or a mistake?” Or perhaps they don’t want members who care about cost.

Oh?

GraduationI graduated from the College of Liberal Arts [CLA] of an east coast University and discovered, when filling out a personal information update, that CLA no longer exists.  It’s called the College of Arts & Sciences these days. I mentioned this to a savvy friend and fellow graduate who keeps up on all things and she wasn’t aware of the change. Suggested to the alumni office that they make clear, when asking “which college did you attend?” that they add “formerly CLA” opposite the arts and sciences reference.

Have you made any surprising discoveries lately?

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Service of Specificity: Bias-Free Language and Politics

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

 

 

Photo: sacnas.org

Photo: sacnas.org

I first read about this University of New Hampshire language guide kerfuffle on The Daily Beast and then linked to Holly Ramer’s Associated Press story, “UNH president offended by bias-free language guide,” on the pressherald.com.

Ramer wrote: “The president of the University of New Hampshire says he’s troubled and offended by many parts of a ‘bias-free language guide’ developed by students and staff, particularly a suggestion that using the word ‘American’ is problematic because it fails to recognize South America.”

She added: “He [Mark Huddleston] says it’s ironic that a well-meaning effort to be sensitive ended up being offensive to many people, including himself.” He made clear that “free and unfettered speech” is the policy of the university, not the language guide.

UNH unh.eduA few days later The Washington Post’s Janell Ross picked up the story in her “The Fix” column. She added a layer to the story that explained why we are now reading about a guide first published two years ago. “What has followed is a takedown of what a young conservative journalist and his editors regarded as a kind of fiendish political correctness happening at the University of New Hampshire. Of course, the guide at the center of this story is itself intended as a takedown on cultural insensitivity. Wheels within wheels.”

Peter Hasson is the “young conservative journalist,” a Texas correspondent for a conservative online publication, CampusReform.org, “wholly funded by the Leadership Institute, a Virginia-based nonprofit that aims to equip and train young conservative activists, journalists and future candidates, Morton Blackwell, a Reagan White House aide and the institute’s founder and president, told me.” [Janell Ross is the “me.”]

In addition to “American,” according to Ross, Hasson listed other words he “deemed problematic” that were flagged in the guide: homosexual; illegal alien, Caucasian, mothering, fathering, foreigners. Quoting the university’s website, the purpose of the guide is to “invite inclusive excellence in [the] campus community.” Instead of homosexual the guide recommends “same gender loving.” Preferable to “illegal alien,” is “undocumented immigrant” or better yet, “asylum seeker.”

I’m all for changes that help improve communications, which by that definition, also removes the sting of bigotry from language and maintains accuracy and clarity. Not all these examples do that. Does “Asylum seeker” address people who only come here to find seasonal work so as to send money home?  What to do with Caucasian, defined by Google as “white skinned of European origin,” which I am. As Seinfeld and his cronies used to say, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that,” so if it applies, what is?

I first became sensitive to the American North/South issue after spending a summer in Chile, Brazil and Argentina as a teen. There, which America I was referring to mattered. But why delete the word “American” from everything? Isn’t the audience pertinent? If I’m writing about a family-owned company with headquarters in the same Massachusetts town for its 100 years, and I’m sending a press release about it exclusively to media in the U.S., a subsequent reference to “American company” is clear, accurate and unbiased.

Where do you come out in all of this: Should the president of a university know what’s on the institution’s website long before a controversial part of it hits the press? Are liberals the only ones who are sensitive to the impact of words? Is the converse true—that conservatives don’t care? Isn’t “bias-free language” a less opinionated description of what is also called political correctness? Do other countries associate word-choice with politics?

 

Photo: worldofmaps.net

Photo: worldofmaps.net

 

 

Service of The Who in Who’s Who

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

Who are You

Following are two “Who’s  Who” scams. The first was created by lazy folks. It came by email and may, in fact have been a front to encourage people to click on a poisoned link without promise of a listing in an unrecognized research tool. The folks directing the second went to more trouble, first forming a fake university alumni group which then offered the “benefit” of joining a pricey impersonator “Who’s Who.”

Simple Scam

A message in my SPAM file began: “You were recently chosen as a potential candidate to represent your professional community and be ranked along side of our industry experts.” It was in the SPAM file for good reason.

SpamAn additional excerpt: “Through our publishing alliance we select potential candidates based not only on their credentials but also focusing on criteria from professional directories, associations, and trade journals…..This time honored tradition has become a hallmark revered by the upper echelon throughout Corporate America; A virtual ‘Who’s Who’ of prominent professionals.”

I have until August to respond and there’s a characteristic scam alert: I must verify the information they have about me by clicking the link they provide. Sure: Hold your breath.

Faux Alumni Group Who’s Who Come-on in Sheep’s Clothing

Photo: wikimedia.org

Photo: wikimedia.org

We all get scams like this but a friend told me of a double scam also involving a “Who’s Who” clone that she might easily have fallen for but didn’t. She thought she was signing up for her university’s alumni association group on LinkedIn.  She filled out her information for the “closed group” and awaited word on admission.

She soon heard from a representative of the group (aka salesman) who introduced himself as “the senior director with who’s who distinguished individuals alumni of the university of ____.” He asked her to answer some questions to verify that she was an alum and told her that one of the perks of joining this group was that members would be added to “Bristol Who’s Who.”

He pressured her to sign up for the Who’s Who double—which cost plenty–adding that it would be most beneficial to her personally and professionally, and specified she had to do so by a deadline–a possible clue that something’s amiss. What’s the rush?

She became more suspicious when at first she understood she’d have to pay a fee for the LinkedIn group membership and then, when she asked again, he said she didn’t. He even floated the promise of new business saying he was on the board of a company that was a fit with her specialty.

He consistently left messages on her mobile and work phones to get her to agree to be included in the Who’s Who “honor.” When she inquired if she needed to pay the hefty sums for the Who’s Who inclusion to be a member of the alumni group on the social networking service he said “No.”

She phoned the University Alumni office and learned the correct name of the official LinkedIn  group which she joined free, with no strings.

Will the Real Who’s Who Please Stand Up?

Who's who in AmericaMarquis Who’s Who publishes the flagship and well known “Who’s Who in America” and the others—“Who’s Who in American Politics;” “Who’s Who of American Women;” “Who’s Who in Science and Engineering,” to name a few. According to Wikipedia, “Marquis requires no publication or processing fees from the persons selected as biographees [sic].”

Have you been approached or tempted by publishers of ersatz “Who’s Who” directories? Have you found online a company or organization you thought was legitimate and it turned out its name was deliberately close to what you wanted to first dupe and then pull you in?

Wolf in sheep's clothing

 

Service of Speaking Your Mind

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

speak up 2

Saying what’s on your mind rarely makes you the most popular person. I admire those who do, especially when they chose a venue where their words will be heard and an audience that’s the target of their criticism.

When former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg received an honorary degree from the Harvard Law School on May 29, part of his address covered the topic of freedom of expression. The New York Post shared an excerpt on PostOpinion: “Killing the Campuses–The Intolerance Menace.”

free speechThe heart of this part of Bloomberg’s message: “The role of universities is not to promote an ideology. It is to provide scholars and students with a neutral forum for researching and debating issues–without tipping the scales in one direction or repressing unpopular views.”

He continued by listing the college commencement speakers who either pulled out or whose invitations were withdrawn because of student protests joined by senior faculty and administrators. The pressure by the latter groups shocked him more as they “should know better.” The colleges he listed: Brandeis, Haverford, Rutgers, Smith this year and last year, Swarthmore and Johns Hopkins. He also referenced an incident last fall that was unrelated to commencement time when his police commissioner was shut down by students at another Ivy League institution. [It was Ray Kelly at Brown.]

censorship2Bloomberg said: “In each case, liberals silenced a voice–and denied an honorary degree–to individuals they deemed politically objectionable. That is an outrage and we must not let it continue.” He said that when this happens “censorship and conformity, the mortal enemies of freedom win out.”

In “Two Cheers for Bloomberg A liberal politician denounces leftist ‘McCarthyism'”

James Taranto in The Wall Street Journal applauded a different part of Bloomberg’s address where he said: “There is an idea floating around college campuses–including here at Harvard–that scholars should be funded only if their work conforms to a particular view of justice. There’s a word for that idea: censorship. And it is just a modern-day form of McCarthyism.”

Even though his words won’t affect his livelihood, his future or that of his family, [unless he’s again running for office, this time on a conservative ticket], Bloomberg didn’t have to do this. Do you agree with his positions?

 

Commencement at Harvard Law School

Commencement at Harvard Law School

 

 

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