Monday, November 19, 2018

In which case, the point is conceded

After months of hemming and hawing, the DoEd's new guidance for Title IX sexual assault and harassment investigations has been released, and advocates on both sides are in an uproar, mostly about the two major provisions of the proposal.

The first is one that courts have repeatedly mentioned in overturning Title IX disciplinary procedures; given that Title IX discipline really is something that can follow a person for most of his life, Sixth Amendment protections (as well as others) apply, and the accused has the right to confront the evidence arrayed against him.  Agreed.  On the same side, victims' advocates note that the Title IX structure does not provide adequate guidance to prevent cross examination from becoming a re-victimization.  Also agreed.

The second major issue is the question of which offenses ought to be investigated by universities; whether it should be just those which occur on campus, or whether off-campus offenses involving students ought to be dealt with as well.  The logic on the part of the critics is that off-campus offenses involving students will impart a sense of fear among victims and their friends if they are not dealt with.  Agreed as well.

In other words, the debate about DeVos's recommended policy changes has everything to do with whether universities are actually capable of investigating these things, and advocates for victims ought to be sobered in that regard by how badly many schools, especially my alma mater, have done in this regard.  So is the solution to retain Obama-era guidelines that are almost sure to be overturned in court sooner or later?

I think not.  Rather, once again, the solution here is for universities to put the onus on local police forces to actually do their job and investigate these allegations, and to have simple rules students can follow.  If you're convicted of sexual assault or stalking, you're expelled.  If you're indicted, you're suspended until the matter is resolved--and if you're exonerated, you retain the right to pick up your studies right where you left off.  If you're arrested, you're suspended until you are either indicted or exonerated.

If you're a victim, you have the right to understand that your university will do the above, and if you file a police report, you have the right to, with the university's assistance, transfer to another equivalent school without losing academic standing or credits.

Chances of the above becoming law; slightly less than zero, I'd guess, because too many jobs are at stake in the matter.  Title IX is, in my view, simply an attempt to co-opt the behavior codes schools used to enforce, but with quasi-legal authority.  I predict a lot more hullaballoo and a lot more people suffering because we refuse to treat sexual assault as the criminal matter that it is.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Here's how it's not done

ProPublica generates an interesting article noting that many police departments are "clearing" cases of reported sexual assault where they have sufficient evidence to make an arrest or more.  What's really troubling is the rationale; federal guidelines allow police to use "cleared" to describe many cases where they know who and where a suspect is, but can't make an arrest for reasons "outside their control".

With all due respect, are all of these suspects really going to third world countries without an extradition treaty with the U.S.?  The article makes clear that's not the case.  What is the case?  Well, the judgmental side of me has to suggest it might have something to do that you don't get $120 a pop for arresting rapists like you get for writing speeding tickets.

Probably not all of these cases fall into the "we need to take Officer Friendly off traffic patrol and task him with arresting rapists", but the article mentions precisely such cases.  In reality, if this were done to any significant degree--say if a "mere" 50,000 out of the nations ~800,000 police officers were to take a week each year away from writing speeding tickets to make an arrest for sexual assault--we might roughly double incarceration rates for sexual assault.  Given that most who commit sexual assault do it far more than once, it's entirely possible that a ~10% ease of traffic patrol could lead to a huge drop in sexual assault.

Cost: a few billion bucks.  Maybe we can take it out of the money we're currently giving Planned Parenthood and Tesla, as well as corn subsidies.

This is how it's done

In today's climate of fighting every allegation to the bitter end, this story is a huge blessing.  Instead of fighting a lawsuit that would likely have been initiated by the widower of a woman who died after she passed out in front of an emergency door with asthmatic symptoms, the hospital executives responsible apologized in person to the widower.

And in a remarkable show of grace, Peter DeMarco is not suing.  Now again, I don't guarantee that a real apology will end every lawsuit, but I have a hunch that owning up to what went wrong would make things a lot less expensive.  Hats off to DeMarco, Patrick Wardell, Cambridge Health Alliance, Dr. Assad Sayah, Somerville Hospital, and Lynette Alberti. 

And rest in peace, Laura Levis.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Putting your face on

This article from Fox suggests that many women in Asia need to heed the timeless wisdom of Dave Barry; if you can stick a pin more than a quarter inch into your face without feeling anything, you may be wearing too much makeup for the business environment.  Apparently, thick wax makeup to make Asian noses look Caucasian, sharpen chins, and the like is all the rage there.

No skin off my nose if they do that, of course (ha), but one would hope that ladies who desire to look beautiful would remember that at a certain point, their husbands are going to see them without the warpaint battle wax, and maybe, just maybe, they might do well to just leave nature well enough alone.

Also on the light side, a Canadian winery has released a wine that would be just perfect for a bris.  Made from four different kinds of grapes and fermented as a red (with skins), it's called "4 skins".  Sadly, it does not appear to be kosher, so unless you're Reform or don't care, you can't put it out there with the cocktail wieners and such. 

Friday, November 09, 2018

Listen to the man

Which man?  John Manly, attorney for many of Larry Nassar's victims, is saying here that the thing his clients are most interested is not money--though some of that is necessary--but rather repentance and openness so others don't have to go through what they did.

I'm not saying here that those who work with young people can somehow evade large settlements if they come clean, apologize, and investigate what went wrong and figure out how to avoid it in the future.  I will say, however, that it's entirely possible that doing so will not only help the healing process, but will also result in smaller monetary settlements than would otherwise be demanded.

One other note is that that somewhere between 88% and 96% of all reported sexual assaults end with neither a conclusion that the complainant was wrong or lying, nor a conviction of a perpetrator.  In this case, various agencies have been tremendously slow to investigate, and it suggests that for a significant portion of those 88-96% of complaints that end with "not enough evidence to arrest" or "not enough evidence to indict" become so for a very simple reason; the police are not willing to aggressively investigate these crimes, just like we saw here in Minnesota and have seen nationwide. 

Yes, these crimes are messy, traumatic, and difficult to investigate, but if we want a world where fewer people become victims, we need to start treating sexual assault like the criminal matter that it is.  And yes, take Officer Opie off traffic patrol for a while and see what he can find out.  Maybe if such were done, the city of New London would be able to hire officers of above average intelligence because they weren't getting bored out of their minds issuing speeding tickets. 

Thursday, November 08, 2018

A mechanic I can trust

.....just contacted me to tell me I didn't have to spend a goodly chunk of change.  Hats off to the mechanics at Lupient GMC of Rochester, MN, for telling me something despite the fact that it would have benefited them not to.

Also on the bright side of life, a flight attendant in the Philippines has taken customer service to a new level.  For those airlines not lucky enough to employ Patrisha Organo, putting in a few packets of formula on planes might be a great public relations move as well. 

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Note to Twin Cities metro Democrats

After putting a guy who ran interference for cop killers into the Attorney General spot, you can shut (the expletives) up about ethics in politics.  Forever. 

(never mind Keith Ellison's obvious adultery, probable domestic abuse on at least two occasions.....yeah, this will be a real dumpster fire in that office for the next few years)

Monday, October 22, 2018

A truly lousy midlife crisis

Michael Avenatti, fresh off successive legal embarrassments in his citing of gossip as a reason to reject Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh and his lawsuit against President Trump, has lost yet another lawsuit from one of his former colleagues, and appears to be deeply in debt to the IRS, too. 

Maybe he can share a cell with John Schneider, who also is in some deep trouble due to not being able to pay off a divorce decree.  And then maybe both of them can apply for jobs at Wal-Mart or something--stockroom, as I doubt Avenatti's mug would be acceptable for the greeter position.

Update: gracious visitor Elspeth notes that, unlike Michael Avenatti, John Schneider has accomplished something worthwhile in his life by portraying the bootlegger's nephew Bo Duke in The Dukes of Hazzard.  Hence it was out of line for me to suggest a violation of the 8th Amendment by putting him in the same cell with Avenatti.  My apologies for the mistake. 

True dat

A study has come out concluding that gymnastics is "tougher" than football--real football (soccer), not the kind we play in the states--and having spent some time myself at the athletic training room in Jenison Fieldhouse as a young pup, I have to agree.  This training room was shared by a bunch of teams, including men's gymnastics, basketball, track, and cross country, and it was quite frankly stunning how many mens' gymnasts were there.  Second most prevalent in the training room (yes this is probably one of the places where Larry Nassar worked) were the male cheerleaders--the young ladies they were throwing were not that heavy, but it took a toll. 

Friday, October 19, 2018

And it works

New Army artillery program has successfully hit a target at a range of 62km (38 miles) with the possibility of extending the range another 10-40km.  Reality here is that if this can get to mass production, North Korean artillery could be silenced from artillery placed south of Seoul. 

Your move, Mr. Kim.  I bet Mr. Trump is working to make sure that China and Russia don't help you out here. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

On the death of women's sports and other transgender news

Here's an interesting article where a transgender person has won a cycling competition, and appears to be discounting the notion that his male physique and (apparently) remaining testosterone gives him an advantage.  Apparently the notion that a "transgender woman" ought to be at least one going through hormone therapy before competing is a bit too much to ask these days, and if we want to kill off women's sports for good, we're doing exactly the right thing.

And in other news, Stormy Daniels' lawsuit against President Trump has been tossed out of court, rightly I think.  She's even been ordered to pay Trump's legal fees, and given my hunch that this whole deal is really a midlife crisis on Michael Avenatti's part coupled with the need for both Avenatti and Clifford to make bank to pay for their divorces, this one is likely to leave a mark.  This is especially the case since this is the second consecutive bold pronouncement by Avenatti that has been slapped down hard by reality. 

My prediction at this point is that Avenatti's other initiatives get slapped down, and he finds himself (rightly) in the position of a number of middle aged divorcees--without money, and having just trashed his professional reputation so he's unable to earn a living.   Maybe with a little improvement in his personal skills, he could become a greeter at Wal-Mart.  And sadly, I dare suggest that Ms. Clifford will find herself in that position, too. 

OK, time for me to buy a Prius!

Climatologists and environmental activists have pointed out that climate change could imperil the growing of barley and the ability to make beer. 

Well, not really, as I'm not persuaded that a Prius would actually reduce my carbon footprint much (just the opposite in fact), and of course if the climate changes, one can simply plant barley further north--it's already centered in the Dakotas, Canada, and Minnesota. 

But that said, there is actually a very real, insanely cheap way to both reduce carbon dioxide concentrations in the air and enhance the growing of barley; stop subsidies for corn and soybeans.  Without those, agriculture would return to a greater dependence on pasture (alfalfa roots go up to 30' into the ground and are a serious carbon sink), and those fields that are plowed would more often be planted in flax, barley, and other traditional cool weather crops. 

Then, in turn, people could wear more linen, be cooler, enjoy some liquid bread, and turn off the air conditioning.  Now exactly how much of a consequence this might be is up to debate, and should be, but it illustrates how a great part of helping the environment does not consist in fancy new technologies, but rather can be done simply by stopping stupid programs like corn and hybrid/electric car subsidies.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Nasty hangover for the Democrats

"Democratic socialist" (communist) darling Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez argues, in public, that there is no argument that fossil fuel production needs to stop.  Fair enough, young lady, but let's try leading by example.  Go to your next campaign event with no help from fossil fuels; no taxis, no cars, no subway, no bicycles, and finally, no clothes brought to you with the help of fossil fuels.

And no coffee or hot chocolate to warm you up heated up with the help of fossil fuels, either.  I'd guess it would take you about three seconds (and a possible ticket for indecent exposure) to figure out how nonsensical your positions are.

Democrats, this is what happens when you elect people with zero experience in, and understanding of, the real world.  We conservatives would have warned you, but obviously you weren't ready to listen.  It's the political equivalent of what happens the night morning after you meet a really attractive person....after having about ten drinks.

Side note: you never want to wish harm on people, but this article suggests that a feud between the Bloods and Cosa Nostra could be in the offing.  I hadn't even known that the Bloods--formerly just an LA area gang that spread throughout the west as people sent their kids to live with relatives in places like Utah and Colorado--were in New York, but what do I know?


...courtesy of the Babylon Bee.  I'm all for introducing modern rhythms and genre into church and Christian music, but....folks....let's learn the genre before stamping vinyl, OK?

A very interesting report

John Manly, attorney for many of Larry Nassar's victims, linked this report from USC on his Twitter feed.  It is a bit lengthy, and there are a few places where I am having a little bit of trouble reconciling the numbers, but I'm attributing that to the simple fact that statistics on sexual assault are messy.

Two things that strike me in particular is that in about 2/3 of cases, alcohol or drugs were involved, and in about half of cases, there was physical injury to the victim.  I would infer here first that if we can persuade people either to not get drunk in the first place, or to know that sex with a drunk person is indeed rape, we could cause the overall rate of reported sexual assaults to plunge.

Second, the high rate of physical injuries noted suggests that if we can only persuade victims to report promptly, we might be able to move a lot of cases much closer to the point of "able to prosecute." 

One final thing that I noted is that USC has about ten different groups involved in the reporting of sexual assault, and students were asked if they knew about all of them.  That's too complex to make reporting simple; instead, I'd recommend a simple symbol on their doors and websites to indicate they are trained to deal with the aftermath of sexual assault.

Finally, this tweet by Manly shows a huge problem of child sexual abuse.  He's not just a lawyer, he's a victim grown up, and who has apparently lost faith as a result of his abuse.