Monday, October 16, 2017

Another veteran of the Markingson Wars exits the U

What has happened to the administrators who presided over the Markingson scandal?  Bob Bruininks, Tim Mulcahy, Deborah Powell, Frank Cerra, Aaron Friedman, Mark Rotenberg and Brian Herman have all left their jobs or retired. Now, after only three years in the job, Dean and VP for Health Sciences Brooks Jackson is heading for the University of Iowa.  According to The Gazette, he'll start in six weeks, at a salary of $825,000.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

"Perhaps for their next investigation, the Regents could hire a lawyer to look into why the U takes so long to hand over public information."

When another sexual harassment story at the U broke last May, the Board of Regents spent $74,000 examining cell phones to determine who leaked the story to the press. After months of futile searching, they gave up the hunt and called it a success.

Eli Schiffer of the Star Tribune believes that the reason the U was so paranoid about leakers is related to restrictions in the state open records law. He writes:

Every year, the Legislature adds more restrictions to the state’s open records law. There are 660 and counting. Releasing private and restricted information carries serious penalties, including possible criminal prosecution, so it’s hardly surprising that agencies err on the side of withholding information.

And the University of Minnesota knows as well as any agency that no one’s going to get prosecuted for hiding what should be public.

Last year, I sent identical data requests to 27 units of state government. Because government officials often complain about the burden of fulfilling requests for data from the public, I wanted to see their lists of requests and who was making them.

Most agencies responded within weeks. It took the U four months to hand over its list, despite having a supposedly sophisticated system of tracking each request. Only Minnesota Management and Budget took longer than the U, though it should be said that one agency, the state Department of Education, never complied at all.

Perhaps for their next investigation, the regents could hire a lawyer to look into why the U takes so long to hand over public information. Plenty of witnesses are ready to come forward.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Lecture: "Structural Bias and the Commercialization of Medicine" by Rebecca Kukla

“Structural Bias and the Commercialization of Medicine”
Rebecca Kukla
Dept of Philosophy, Georgetown University

3:30 pm, October 13, 2017
275 Nicholson Hall
216 Pillsbury Drive SE
Minneapolis MN

The rapid and massive commercialization and privatization of medical research and practice constitutes a seismic shift in how medical knowledge is built, disseminated, and applied. In this presentation, I examine the epistemological (as opposed to the narrowly ethical) effects of this commercialization. I consider how private interests shape what gets researched, using what methods, and how research results are communicated, as well as how these interests shape clinical practice and even our theoretical understanding of what counts as a disease. I argue that commercialization and private interests result in various epistemically distorting biases being built directly into how we organize medical research and practice, quite independently from anyone’s intentions or conscious goals.

Monday, October 9, 2017

In honor of our "faithful slaves." Seriously?

South Carolinians, come on. What could you possibly be thinking? 

Leaving so soon?

Everyone I know is scratching their heads over this puzzling email from Eric Kaler, which was apparently sent to all faculty members in the Academic Health Center, notifying us that Dean/VP Brooks Jackson is one of two finalists for a position at the University of Iowa.

It's not a puzzle that Jackson wants to leave. Plenty of folks at the U are looking for the exit doors. But since when does a university president notify faculty members that a dean is applying for jobs elsewhere?  It's customary to do this sort of thing once someone has accepted a job somewhere else, not while they're applying.

Clearly, a message is being sent.  But what message, and to whom?

Sunday, October 8, 2017

"He had an astute ear for the strangeness of just kicking around Earth—the way that agitation and anxiety can, on occasion, subsume a person for no good reason, the way that we get bored and start looking for new ways to make trouble."


Amanda Petrusich, channeling Walker Percy, has written the best tribute to Tom Petty I have seen yet.

How private "guardians" can control the lives of senior citizens for profit

A black sedan pulls up in your driveway. A Guardian emerges and knocks on your door. She has legal papers saying you can't take care of yourself. You are taken to a hellish institution for the elderly while all your assets are confiscated and sold off to pay for your Guardian.  Your children are helpless to do anything for you, because everything has been authorized by the court.

Kafka? No, Nevada. This article by Rachel Aviv in The New Yorker, "How the elderly lose their rights," is one of the most terrifying pieces of reporting I have seen in years.