Forcing students to attend classes

A Chinese college has stirred some controversy by putting photographs of seven people on the final exams and asking students to identify the one who is their teacher and write the name underneath. Those who were unable to do so were penalized. The goal was to see who had been attending classes, because apparently skipping classes has become a problem.
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The important role of the cricket pitch

I am sure that all the cricket fans out there (yes, both of you) have been waiting for another post about his game.

One of the key things that distinguishes cricket from baseball is that after the bowler releases the ball, it bounces on the ground before it reaches the batter. This has enormous consequences because how the ‘pitch’ (which is how cricket aficionados refer to the central playing area between the wickets) is prepared can greatly affect the motion of the ball after hitting the ground. Pitches that result in the ball bouncing a lot and/or unpredictably or allows the ball to change direction sharply after bouncing makes life harder for the batters and easier for the bowlers. Conversely, pitches where the ball bounces a predictable low height and does not produce much turn are easier for the batters.
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Christian group seeks to roll back transgender prisoner rights

Aviva Stahl writes that a Christian advocacy group known as Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is seeking to roll back protections that had been put in place in prisons that had enabled transpeople to petition to use bathrooms corresponding to their gender identity.

For Lagan and the other trans women locked up at Carswell, the new policies were a lifeline. They were allowed to escape the pervasive risks they faced in male custody, including sexual and physical assault from prisoners and guards; they frequently ended up in solitary confinement, either as punishment or, perversely, for “protection.”

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, more than one third of transgender people held in prisons and jails experience sexual violence, the highest reported of any demographic group studied; the new policies were meant to ease this burden.

Today, however, a Christian legal advocacy group with a growing national profile, called Alliance Defending Freedom, is working to undo the regulations and policies that helped Langan move to Carswell. Now she is at risk of being sent back into the male prison population.
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TV review: Black Mirror Season 4 (2017)

I recently watched all six episodes of season four of the series Black Mirror that was released in December. I reviewed the three earlier seasons here. For those not familiar with the series, it was conceived by caustic British news and media critic Charlie Brooker who along with Annabel Jones are the showrunners. It is a science fiction anthology set in the near future, with each episode being independent of the others. The series focuses on how technology influences people’s lives in unpredictable ways, dealing mainly with neuroscience, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality innovations.
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Dog recued from frozen river

I am a sucker for good news animal stories like this one from the UK via Carla Sinclair.

According to the YouTube page:

RSPCA inspector Jaqui Miller successfully rescues a dog who had gotten stuck in a frozen river. The inspector was secured with a rope, and prones down to reach the dog without falling through the ice herself. She then frees the dog who then stumbles back to shore.

Democratic collusion with Trump’s authoritarianism

Last week I wrote about how House Democratics leaders like Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff, people who have been loudly protesting Donald Trump’s authoritarianism, then turned around and lobbied to pass a bill that would continue to give him sweeping warrantless domestic spying powers. The bill then went to the senate and there too Democrats were instrumental in enabling it to pass, as Alex Emmons writes.
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Only a crazy system could allow this to happen

Most people have heard about David and Louise Anna Turpin who kept their 13 children aged 2 to 29 like prisoners under the most appalling conditions, where they were shackled and starved. These children were not sent to school but kept at home pretty much all the time. It was only after one 17-year old child escaped through a window and called the authorities that the abuse was discovered although it had been going on for years. She was so emaciated that police thought she was just 10 years old.
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Backlash to the #MeToo movement

As was inevitable, there has been a backlash against the #MeToo movement and from some surprising quarters. The French actress Catherine Deneuve was one of the signatories to an open letter from 100 women that suggested that the movement had gone too far and was risking infantilizing women and denying them agency and becoming puritanical. The letter suggested that the movement seemed to be condemning even flirtatious behavior and defended the right of men to hit on women. She later apologized to victims of sexual assault and, while she herself stood by the letter, distanced herself from some of the other signatories whom she said had distorted the message of the letter in the process of expanding upon it.
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