Saturday, August 27, 2016

A Return to American Free Speech

There's a tendency to believe that high school students graduate into the adult world but anyone who is a parent knows better.  Today the exposure to mass culture is saturating and a large part of that saturation is an exposure to the most exotic and raw aspects of human nature and behavior.

But the victim mentality has crept into every aspect of life and the easiest way to deny free speech these days is to claim that the speech of another is offensive to just one. And if the one happens to have the resources to threaten lawsuits the silence is absolute.

It is blissful to hear that the University of Chicago is making an attempt to steer America back to its cultural soul.

The University of Chicago recently made it clear to its crop of incoming students that academic freedom and inquiry remain pillars at the institution, and that the university does not support "so-called" trigger warnings or offer safe spaces that allow students "to retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own. Here is how the university welcomed its incoming class of 2020:
Welcome and congratulations on your acceptance to the college at the University of Chicago. Earning a place in our community of scholars is no small achievement and we are delighted that you selected Chicago to continue your intellectual journey.
Once here you will discover that one of the University of Chicago’s defining characteristics is our commitment to freedom of inquiry and expression. … Members of our community are encouraged to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn, without fear of censorship. Civility and mutual respect are vital to all of us, and freedom of expression does not mean the freedom to harass or threaten others. You will find that we expect members of our community to be engaged in rigorous debate, discussion, and even disagreement. At times this may challenge you and even cause discomfort.
And then, the coup de grace:
Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so called ‘trigger warnings,’ we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces’ where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.
You can read the entire letter below. (CLICK HERE to see how students and alumni responded.)

Love it!.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Republic of Mansfield (The Prequel)

On June 13, 2016, Cory Sipe a reporter for The Chronicle, a Willimantic, CT newspaper contacted me via email saying;
"Frank,  I would like to talk with you about a letter sent to the BOE referencing a story you wrote referencing a graduate on the Keep EO Smith Downtown Facebook page and other comments. I tried to call you at the number listed on the District 19 page but it just keeps ringing. I can be reached at 860-423-xxxx ext. 3339 or you can e-mail me back with a written response if you would like."
Later that day, I responded,

I am unaware of a letter referencing an EO Smith girl. The last thing I posted on a Mansfield site was a fiction piece that contained composite characters; two helicopter parents, a girl (e.g. Suzy Creamcheese), a boy (e.g Andy Ambitious), and a narrator. The setting is Mansfield, the kids graduates of EO Smith.

The garbage can manufacturer based on any number of CT start-up companies making a better mousetrap. There obviously is no space garbage can.

It was in response to a conversation with a fellow who didn't know who Salman Rushdie was to demonstrate that their constituency are more likely to take fiction seriously than factual documents.

Why?  What's going on?


Frank Krasicki"
My assumption was that Cory would circle back with more questions. My current contract is a profoundly time and energy-consuming R&D effort so when Cory did not get back in a timely manner I decided to annotate the story to clearly identify its allusions, metaphors, and so on to provide Cory and any other media or interested party a place to find the information without interrupting my work day or trying to contact me otherwise.  I do a 4-5 hour round-trip commute each day.

That annotated version was posted here and its purpose was simply to provide a public place to access the information.

Since then, the story has apparently taken on a life of its own. Like a scene from a Cheech and Chong comedy skit, numerous individuals claim that they know exactly who these fictional characters *ARE*.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Defining Academic Fraud and It's Consequences

A topic that recently has come to my attention and that I haven't written very much about lately is academic fraud in it's many guises. Some recent research into the subject happened upon an excellent definition from the 2010Academic Fraud Today: Its Social Causes and Institutional Responses by Richard A. Epstein journal article.

"Academic Fraud involves a deliberate effort to deceive and is distinguished from an honest mistake and honest differences in judgment or interpretation. Academic fraud is defined as plagiarism; fabrication or falsification of evidence, data, or results; the suppression of relevant evidence or data; the conscious misrepresentation of sources; the theft of ideas; or the intentional misappropriation of the research work or data of others."
A related article from The Prospect titled, "Why not to exaggerate on your scholarship applications" by Katlyn Tolly includes a section called Don’t Commit the Crime if You Can’t Do the Time.

"When it comes to scholarship or college applications, lying is taken very seriously. According to the Voice of America website, Kara Jo Humphrey, an admission counselor at Truman University quoted, “If an outright lie is detected, the student has already agreed through signing the application for admission that they accept the grounds for dismissal from the institution and the inability to participate in any and all other privileges that go along with attendance. Other consequences may bar them from ever applying/being accepted to attend the school at a later date.” In other words, if you’re caught lying, the school has the right to expel you from the university or worse. You now have a permanent label attached to your name and record as “the student who lied on their application.” It may be difficult for you to make a comeback in the college scene."
And in a fairly recent case reported in The New York Times, Yale Student is Accused of Lying on Application by Karen W. Arenson the consequences can reach from beyond mere academia.

"To Yale admissions officials, Akash Maharaj was an appealing prospect: He had earned straight A’s at Columbia University. Now he wanted to transfer. Yale not only admitted him; it gave him a $32,000 scholarship as well.
Since then, however, much of his application information has turned out to be false, Yale said, and he is facing charges in Connecticut of larceny and forgery. "

We're going to explore this topic in much more detail in the coming weeks.