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Interesting Links for 07-03-2012

Original post on Dreamwidth - there are comment count unavailable comments there.

I can sort of see it with the student athletes. If just one player accepts a gift from a member of the alumni then the entire team can get suspended - and alumni are very crafty about finding ways to give gifts to athletes.

These guys are already going to university for free while non-athletes have to pay tens of thousands of dollars a year and taking spaces in the student body that could otherwise have gone to people who actually want an education.

If you accept the free ride that student athletes get then it seems reasonable for the university to do everything in it's power to make sure you don't shut down their athletic program because you are too dumb to realize that an alumni giving you a car is a NCAA violation and that if you put up images of you and the car on Facebook you are likely to get caught - should you ever piss off one of your "friends."

(A better solution would be to get rid of sports at the university level, but because sports brings in so much money, that won't happen. Another solution would be to pay the student athletes for playing games since their games bring in millions and millions of dollars for the universities. If they got a check from the school they'd be less tempted to accept cash and gifts from alumni.)

Should the university also be allowed to open their mail, tap their mobile phone conversations, and place bugs in their accomodation?

Because I view this as being equivalent to those.

Any many universities the students are required to have the doors to their dorm rooms open at all times if there is another student in the room and if they provide and pay for their mobile phones they tell them there is tracking software on it.

I only know of one college where they open the student's mail - Simon's Rock - but that's because about 15 years ago a guy got gun parts sent to him through the mail, used them to build an automatic weapon and then shot a bunch of students.

As to whether they should be able to do so or not - it depends. If the students are told in advance that this is what will happen if they choose that university then they have the right to make that choice.

My brother chose to go to a university where he knew that he would have no privacy in his dorm at all. The door would be open if anyone was in the room and if he got caught having sex with a girl he'd be suspended for a semester and if he got caught having sex with a guy he'd be expelled. I thought he was out of his mind to agree to that, but it was told to him upfront before he chose the school.

I suspect these athletes are being given the same choice and deciding that it's worth it in exchange for $80,000 to $100,000 worth of free tuition/room and board.

If they don't want their facebook monitored like that they always have the option of going to the school as an actual student and paying for their education the way non athletes do.

I think a point that may be missing is that in America student athletes are not really students in the conventional sense of the word.

They have their own dorms separate from the actual students, they don't have to pay money to be there, they are special classes created for them to ensure they get passing grades even if they can barely read and write, should they have problems with these easy classes they are then given special tutors (that are usually only available to other students for roughly $150 an hour)for free and are, essentially, employees of the university used for fund raising efforts.

Meanwhile to attract them to the schools alumni (who gamble on the games and have a vested interest in seeing the best players possible come to/stay at the school) are legendary for giving them hookers, $100,000 sports cars and all sorts of other shit - that can get the university in a lot of trouble, and the universities have had a real hard problem stopping alumni from doing so, so there needs to be some checks and balances in place.

I think the point is, not "it's creepy and weird for the school (or government) to tap its employees phones" (although it is), but that it's catastrophically dumb to panic and say "AGH! I don't understand the internet but I think the problem is real, so I will pick a solution at random regardless of how harmful it is and YELL AT ANYONE WHO DISAGREES."

Off the top of my head, reasons why it's a disaster include:

* Decreases security by training people to give out their passwords
* Reduces accountability. "How did that questionable stuff get on your facebook account?" "Well, you can't prove it's me, maybe the coach did it, after all, he has my password."
* Even worse, will be a giant legal clusterfuck if they ever admitted something illegal on facebook. "It wasn't me, it was my coach." "My coach leaked my facebook password and someone ruined my reputation, I'm suing for damages."
* Randomly breaches the privacy of everyone who foolishly friends one of the students. I assume they don't come with warnings "Full name Joe Dobbs (spied upon by UoA, DHS, etc, etc)". May there be legal problems with the coach (in effect) posing as one of their sudents on facebook.

Notice that these are problem with giving up the password. Being required to friend someone in authority is problematic as several of the problems still apply, but avoids the worst ones.

It's like saying "We need to tap your phones to make sure you don't bring the university into disrepute. In order to do so, we need your social security number, birth certificate, and a copy of your passport doctored to show your coach's face instead of your own to make the arrangements with the phone company." Even if you accept the spying is necessary, can you see the potential pitfalls in giving your coach control over your identity like that? I mean, I'm sure universities DO do that sort of thing, but I think they should find a non-stupid way of doing it instead.

(Or, preferably, not at all. And preferably give up the charade of college sports :))

I do see the problem - but see no other solution other than giving up college sports and/or changing NCAA regulations.

Damn, that's a really good question. Why does voting all have to happen on one day? Surely if it was an all week event, turn outs would be way up... and that would be awesome for democracy.

If, perhaps, very bad for tv stations.

I suspect it is a hangover from when voting was done by acclamation or by hands up and everyone had to be in one place at the same time.

Not convinced by the idea of having updates on the score during the voting but this may be a bit of conservatism on my part.

gotta have people manning (and womanning) the polls

I don't think turn-outs would be increased. A huge amount of effort is put into ensuring everyone gets the opportunity to vote. Pretty much anyone can get a postal vote. The polls open very early and close late. Everyone receives leaflets explaining the numerous different ways they can vote.

There can be very few people who genuinely are unable to cast their vote. I tend to think that if people cannot be bothered to do so on polling day then tough. I also doubt that if people are not interested enough to vote on one day then I doubt they would do so on a different day.

You'd have to be very careful to ensure that information on the count so far didn't get released - I think it's only been in comparativelty recent years that even exit poll results have been published while the polls were still open.

But the whole "disenfranchising people by holding the vote on a day when they can't get to the poll" thing is a complete and utter straw man: it's possible to vote by post.

> daily updates on the ongoing count!

I'm pretty sure there's a very good reason we don't start the count until all voting had happened. There'd be all sorts of chaotic effects as parties and candidates and voters would discover how things were progressing.

In France, there's a total media blackout on elections for the final week (or two) of campaigning, which I imagine is for broadly similar reasons.

In the UK media outlets do not report on political campaigns or exit polls whilst the polls are open. Aside form fairness, it makes sense. If the media started to report exit polls it could lead to mass tactical voting.

See above - I'd want there to be more information available, under a FPTP system. Having heard many reports of people saying "I didn't vote for X because I didn't think they had a chance of winning in my area." this would give them the information to know whether they did.

Sorry, did you say you wanted my username and password? No, I'm not giving them to you. In fact, I don't think I'm willing to work where my employers will not respect privacy. I'm sorry you wasted my time.

That's great for you, but some people are siginficantly more desperate for a job, especially in the US where it's even easier to be left with absolutely nothing if you aren't employed...

Jews in Scotland may be disenfranchised by a Saturday vote.


2012-03-07 12:38 pm (UTC)

Wow, multiculturalism is hard. I assume many Jews would be willing to vote, but many would not.

I suspect the case of proxy voting is complicated. A quick google suggests that if you ask someone to do something for you, and they happen to do it on the Sabbath, but you didn't ask them to or see them doing it, it may be ok. Here, where you don't specifically require them to do it on Saturday, but you know they almost certainly _will_, I don't know for sure. Of course, it's still unfair if you have to use a proxy vote and other people don't -- people who can't find a convenient proxy will still be disenfranchised.

OTOH, maybe they could hold the vote in winter and/or keep the polls open after sunset? :)

Re: Jews in Scotland may be disenfranchised by a Saturday vote.


2012-03-07 12:41 pm (UTC)

d'oh - the sunset issue solves it entirely, I think! Sunset is around 6:13, so if voting is until 10pm then they're fine.

Re: Jews in Scotland may be disenfranchised by a Saturday vote.


2012-03-07 12:49 pm (UTC)

LOL. Well, yeah -- not perfect, but not worse than people who work on Saturday. But presumably that wasn't taken as given, or no-one would have objected in the first place?

Oh. That looks like it may rule out postal voting (although if you send in a postal vote and it's not counted until the polls closed, it should be after sunset).

But what about some local government elections where the election takes place on a Thursday, but they don't start counting the votes until Friday evening?

I hoped that it was only the actual voting people would object to, providing the counting doesn't _have_ to be on Saturday, but I don't actually know. Technically if you vote, you are very indirectly causing someone to count your ballot on saturday, but to me it feels more like buying something from someone you know is likely to do stock-taking on Saturday -- sufficiently removed it can't be yuor fault any more. But I don't know if people who keep very strict would actually see it that way.

Re: Jews in Scotland may be disenfranchised by a Saturday vote.


2012-03-07 01:36 pm (UTC)

Or, yknow, just walk out of the house to a nearby polling station and make a cross on a piece of paper.

The third one could be framed equally well as 'Jews in Scotland may be disenfranchised by Judaism'.

How did you become a guy called Nick?

It took a lot of effort, a top-secret government project, $6 billion dollars, and a 55-gallon drum of lube.

But it was worth it.

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