Photos of the day

Hey, it’s Saturday, you get two photos.  Alan Taylor put together this great set where he asked his readers to make requests for particular types of photos for him to curate.  Lots of awesome photos.  My two favorites (with the explanations) are below:

Maurice Li (@Maurice) asked me for “your favorite photo of the solar flare-fueled aurora borealis”. I have to say my favorite comes from the source,the sun itself, brought to us by NASA: A solar flare erupting on the Sun’s northeastern hemisphere, seen on January 22, 2012. Space weather officials say the strongest solar storm in more than six years is already bombarding Earth with radiation with more to come.(AP Photo/NASA) # 

Arjen vd Broecke (@PaVink) asked for a “‘Timing is Everything’ photo that could not have been taken a second earlier or later”. Here you are: A German shepherd leaps into the air biting a water balloon thrown her way while playing on a hot summer day in Encinitas, California, on August 16, 2010. (Reuters/Mike Blake) #

Rush to judgement

Wow, this Kathleen Parker column is awfully disturbing.  Honestly disappointed to see such sensationalistic and shoddy journalism in the Times:

A  New York Times story on Friday that essentially indicted and convicted a 22-year-old star football player on an alleged sexual assault charge by an anonymous accuser should have begun as follows:

“We know absolutely nothing about this rumor except what six people told us anonymously about this guy who they say sexually assaulted this girl. We don’t know who she is or what she said, or really anything, but here’s HIS name and what ‘they’ say about him.”…

Instead, with throat-clearing authority, the story begins with the young man’s name — Patrick J. Witt, Yale University’s former quarterback — and his announcement last fall that he was withdrawing his Rhodes scholarship application so that he could play against Harvard. The game was scheduled the same day as the scholarship interview.

Next we are told that he actually had withdrawn his application for the scholarship after the Rhodes Trust had learned “through unofficial channels that a fellow student had accused Witt of sexual assault.” And there goes the gavel. Case closed.

But in fact, no one seems to know much of anything, and no one in an official capacity is talking. The only people advancing this devastating and sordid tale are “a half-dozen [anonymous] people with knowledge of all or part of the story.” All or part? Which part? As in, “Heard any good gossip lately?” …

Moreover, when Witt requested a formal inquiry into the allegations, he says, the university declined. “No formal complaint was filed, no written statement was taken from anyone involved, and his request . . . for a formal inquiry was denied because, he was told, there was nothing to defend against,” according to the statement.

The Times apparently didn’t know these facts, but shouldn’t it have known them before publishing the story? It’s not until the 11th paragraph that readers even learn about the half-dozen anonymous sources. Not until the 14th paragraph does the Times tell us that “many aspects of the situation remain unknown, including some details of the allegation against Witt; how he responded; how it was resolved; and whether Yale officials who handle Rhodes applications — including Richard C. Levin, the university’s president, who signed Witt’s endorsement letter — knew of the complaint.”

Translation: We don’t know anything, but we’re smearing this guy anyway.

Naturally, Parker draws parallels to the Duke Lacrosse case.  There was certainly a rush to judgement there, but in the media’s defense, its really different when you are publishing things based on a Distinct Attorney (whom, until that point you had no reason to know was dishonest and unscrupulous) than the allegations of half a dozen anonymous sources with “part of the story.”  Yikes!

Don’t rescue me

Loved this Emily Yoffe story about just how crazy so many pet rescue organizations can be.  In the case of our most recent adoptee, Sasha (pictured below, with Sarah on top), they actually did a background check on us as pet owners with our vet.   It was also pretty clear that they were worried about Alex’s autism being a problem.

But that’s nothing.  You should read the stories in this article.  Here’s a brief litany:

Katie wrote that she wanted to adopt a retired racing greyhound but was told she was not eligible unless she already had an adopted greyhound. Julie got a no from a cat rescue because she was over 60 years old, even though her daughter promised to take in the cat if something happened to Julie. Jen Doe said her boyfriend’s family lives on fenced farm property with sheep, but they weren’t allowed to adopt a border collie—whose raison d’être is herding sheep—because the group insisted it never be allowed off-leash. Philip was rejected because he said he allowed the dog he had to sleep wherever it liked; the right answer was to have a designated sleeping area. Molly, who has rescued Great Danes for more than 30 years, was refused by a Great Dane group because of “concern about my kitchen floor.”

And there’s more egregious examples that Yoffe goes into more detail on.  After a guinea pig tale you’ll have trouble believing, Jack Shafer concludes:  “They are trying to do something good,” he says, “and they end up doing something bad.”

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