Chart of the day

Sorry I don’t know where this came from, other than Roland Stephen’s facebook wall.  Maybe he actually made it.  Anyway…

Best 2010 Campaign Ads

I seriously cannot even imagine teaching my Campaigns & Elections class without youtube any more.  Here, Time magazine compiles the “best campaign ads gone viral” of 2010.  There’s some really good ones and some really disturbing ones.  My favorite below:

Essay mills: don’t be afraid

As I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned before, I try and craft my written assignments to make them less conducive to plagiarism.  For one thing, I always expect students to substantially be able to apply the material that they learned in class.  I’ve never been particularly worried about my students buying papers from “essay mills.”   Though, according to Dan Ariely, this is a real concern for many faculty.  Based upon his research into the matter, it shouldn’t be:

Here is the description of the task that we gave the four essay mills:

“When and why do people cheat? Consider the social circumstances involved in dishonesty, and provide a thoughtful response to the topic of cheating. Address various forms of cheating (personal, at work, etc.) and how each of these can be rationalized by a social culture of cheating.”

We requested a term paper for a university level social psychology class, 12 pages long, using 15 sources (cited and referenced in a bibliography), APA style, to be completed in the next 2 weeks.  A pretty basic and conventional request. The essay mills charged us in advance between $150 to $216 per paper.

The best part, is what they got in return.  Here’s some samples:

“Cheating by healers. Healing is different. There is harmless healing, when healers-cheaters and wizards offer omens, lapels, damage to withdraw, the husband-wife back and stuff. We read in the newspaper and just smile. But these days fewer people believe in wizards.”

“If the large allowance of study undertook on scholar betraying is any suggestion of academia and professors’ powerful yearn to decrease scholar betraying, it appeared expected these mind-set would component into the creation of their school room guidelines.”

“By trusting blindfold only in stable love, loyalty, responsibility and honesty the partners assimilate with the credulous and naïve persons of the past.“

“Women have a much greater necessity to feel special.”

“The future generation must learn for historical mistakes and develop the sense of pride and responsibility for its actions.”

Wow.  Pretty clear lesson: write your own damn papers.

Safer than you think

Fareed Zakaria has a nice column arguing that, when it comes to terrorists, we’re a lot safer than we think.  There’s a very strong argument to be made, that the greatest success of Al Qaeda has been to cause an over-reaction among the American public.  Zakaria:

As a result, al-Qaeda “central” — Osama bin Laden and his gang — has been whittled down to about 400 fighters. It has been unable to execute large-scale attacks of the kind that were at the core of its strategy — to hit high-value American targets that held military or political symbolism. Instead, the terrorist attacks after 9/11 have been launched by smaller local groups, self-identified as affiliates of al-Qaeda, against much easier sites — the nightclub in Bali; cafes in Casablanca and Istanbul; hotels in Amman, Jordan; train stations in Madrid and London. The fatal problem with these kinds of attacks is that they kill ordinary civilians — not U.S. soldiers or diplomats — and turn the local population against Islamic radicals.

The real threat of al-Qaeda was that it would inspire some percentage of the world’s 1.57 billion Muslims, sending out unstoppable waves of jihadis. In fact, across the Muslim world, militant Islam’s appeal has plunged. In the half of the Muslim world that holds elections, parties that are in any way associated with Islamic jihad tend to fare miserably, even in Pakistan, which has the most serious terrorism problem of any country today. Over the past few years, imams and Muslim leaders across the world have been denouncing suicide bombings, terrorism and al-Qaeda with regularity.

Can we be safer, yet?  Of course, we can always be safer.  Zakaria makes the point nicely:

We could make ourselves much safer still, but that would mean many, many more restrictions on our freedoms to move, congregate, associate and communicate. It’s tough to do terrorism in North Korea.

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