Sunday, September 19, 2010

Yellow Journalism is Alive and Well in Utah!

What happens when a religious power house has control of several dominate media outlets in a market and then declares it will produce news in a manner consistent with the faith's belief system and then edits comments on the comment boards of its paper and closes comment boards on its television news site and combines the staff of both its Television outlets and its newspaper... You get crap like this:  Society paying price for pornography use

Bruce Lindsay appears to be hosting a three part segment on the trappings of pornography use and its detriment to society presented as an investigative journalism piece(for some reason KSL pulled the video for this segment).  The reality is that Deseret Media company has launched a new initiative called Out in the Light and the Bruce Lindsay's Sunday Edition in this case is being used as a "journalism" source to bring attention to the illness of pornography addiction and the harm it does to families.

Yellow Journalism:
Yellow journalism or the yellow press is a type of journalism that presents little or no legitimate well-researched news and instead uses eye-catching headlines to sell more newspapers. Techniques may include exaggerations of news events, scandal-mongering, or sensationalism. By extension "Yellow Journalism" is used today as a pejorative to decry any journalism that treats news in an unprofessional or unethical fashion.~Wikipedia
Here is the problem with this "news" source:  The station, KSL, is owned by the LDS Church.  The two experts cited in the news story both have something to gain or loose by their endorsement of lack of endorsement.  Dr. Rory Reid is a graduate of BYU and is associated with one of two of the counseling firms that have links to the Out in the Light website.  Dr. Liz Hale, while a licensed therapist, is an employee of the the Church Owned KSL.  At no time is the disclosure made

Here is the problem with the topic:  The American Psychological Association does not recognize sex addiction or pornography addiction as diagnosable disorders.  Dr. Reid must know this because on his website he indicates a specialization in "hypersexual behavior and pornography dependence".  Hyper-sexual behavior is not in and of its self a disorder but a symptom of some compulsive disorders including bi-polar disorder.

There is a link to LDS biases with regard to sex and sexuality and what is considered normal.  The LDS church, while not unique in its doctrinal approach to sex, considers pornography use a sin worthy of revoking a temple recommend.  With out the recommend the wife now fears that her "eternal family" is in jeopardy.  This can and has caused a strong emotional reaction.  While in general the APA views pornography use inside the marriage and as a tool to facilitate arousal for an individual as normal; there is no such concession for the LDS faithful.  It is considered repugnant.  This can create a double bind for the person who finds him/herself engaged in normal expressions of sexuality which is denied by doctrine.  The resulting cognitive dissonance over time may lead to mental health problems.

So in the case of the story referenced above.... the "story" is an infomercial that is meant to solve a problem... that is only a problem because they made it a problem.  I think if fits the definition of Yellow Journalism.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Your child's desire to learn is the key to a good education... with innovation!

A Facebook friend (Staci Baker Centini) posted this TED talk by Sugata Mitra.  Sugata stated one obvious fact in that he asserts the best teachers do not want to teach where they are need most.  However it was the exploration of the third world (or inner city if your in America) child's natural curiosity that led to the discovery that children want to learn and if you spark the interest the teacher and their credentials are irrelevant.

I have seen the result this experiment in my own children.  I was commenting to my lovely wife that our kids are not afraid of technology.  They migrate to it and understand it.  When computers were first introduced into my working environment I had to attend hours of classes to figure them out.  My wife says she avoids some technology because she is afraid she will break it.  My kids on the other hand quickly figured out how to make them work and how to find information.  I was having a discussion about the "talk" with my oldest not to long ago.  He is 23.  He told me that his own curiosity on the subject made the "talk" irrelevant.  Books from the dictionary, to biology and a Google search gave him the information he needed.

The above example however illustrates why the teacher is still critical to the learning process.  "Using the method of the grandmother" children can learn to sort out what information is accurate and appropriate to the topic and to their age.

The hypothesis he comes to at the end of the talk is very provocative:
Education is a self organising system where learning is an emergent phenomenon..... 
The question is:  Is Sugata Mitra's hypothesis worth funding and is the innovation worth the risk?

I think it might be....

Friday, September 17, 2010

"What's Your Program Boy?"

While I was working for the Department of Corrections I had an administrator frequently reminisce about the days he worked for Mayor Richard Daley in Chicago.  He would frequently tell us that if we wanted to institute change we needed a plan.  "... and Mayor Daley would say to me 'What's your program boy.'", he would say.

I have seen the nauseating countdown to the election for Tea Party Conservatives on Facebook.  What I know is they are giddy with delight at the prospects that the conservative will return to power with their fundamentalists at the head.  What I don't know is "What's the program?"  I've heard the Fox spun tag lines and sound bites but what is really their program.

According to Wikipedia it is:

  1. Identify constitutionality of every new law: Require each bill to identify the specific provision of the Constitution that gives Congress the power to do what the bill does. (82.03%)
  2. Reject emissions trading: Stop the "cap and trade" administrative approach used to control carbon dioxide emissions by providing economic incentives for achieving reductions in the emissions of carbon dioxide. (72.20%)
  3. Demand a balanced federal budget: Begin the Constitutional amendment process to require a balanced budget with a two-thirds majority needed for any tax modification. (69.69%)
  4. Simplify the tax system: Adopt a simple and fair single-rate tax system by scrapping the internal revenue code and replacing it with one that is no longer than 4,543 words – the length of the original Constitution. (64.9%)
  5. Audit federal government agencies for constitutionality: Create a Blue Ribbon taskforce that engages in an audit of federal agencies and programs, assessing their Constitutionality, and identifying duplication, waste, ineffectiveness, and agencies and programs better left for the states or local authorities. (63.37%)
  6. Limit annual growth in federal spending: Impose a statutory cap limiting the annual growth in total federal spending to the sum of the inflation rate plus the percentage of population growth. (56.57%)
  7. Repeal the health care legislation passed on March 23, 2010: Defund, repeal and replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. (56.39%)
  8. Pass an 'All-of-the-Above' Energy Policy: Authorize the exploration of additional energy reserves to reduce American dependence on foreign energy sources and reduce regulatory barriers to all other forms of energy creation. (55.5%)
  9. Reduce Earmarks: Place a moratorium on all earmarks until the budget is balanced, and then require a 2/3 majority to pass any earmark. (55.47%)
  10. Reduce Taxes: Permanently repeal all recent tax increases, and extend current temporary reductions in income taxcapital gains tax and estate taxes, currently scheduled to end in 2011. (53.38%)
Okay that is simple enough.... But how and at what cost.  Unfortunately the Tea Party members on the whole are less than astute and less than educated on what the net result of this agenda will be or if it is even possible.  What we are seeing is "throw the baby out with the bath water" politics.  The policies they propose will likely grind the economy to a halt.  

I know!  I have heard it ad nausea!  The government is too big and there is nothing that the government can do that the private sector can't do better.  I have yet to see a large road project, a school being built, a prison under construction, or civic center opened that is actually built by the government.  For every government contract there is a capitalist exploiting the tax payer and fleecing the tax base.  Those contractors are employing folks, paying wages that are then again taxed.  The more people who pay into the system the lower the burden on you and I.  

So while the contract points listed above sound nice what is the real cost to implement them. More importantly what is the "Program Boy"?