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Anti-Plagiarism Tool Banned

This is silly. According to Canada's ChronicleHerald (Halifax, Nova Scotia), Mount Saint Vincent University has banned, the popular plagiarism-detection software. From the article "University expels cheater scan" by Rick Conrad: is an Internet-based subscription service that professors and others use to root out whether students' papers contain material copped from other sources without giving proper credit. It maintains a database of millions of essays and compares submitted papers not only against those but also against websites and other published works. It's recognized as a leader in helping keep students, academics, and sometimes journalists, honest. But many student groups believe that using a service like Turnitin is too punitive and automatically presumes guilt. Studies have shown that about 15 per cent of university students cheat regularly. "Everyone has the right to learn in an environment that is free of guilt presumption and fear, and does exactly what it shouldn't be doing in a higher educational environment," Ms. Brushett said. "It creates a culture of fear, it creates a culture of guilt and to me, that hinders some people from pursuing higher education and doing it with an open mind." "We feel that is a back-end approach. We need to promote academic integrity, we need to teach students what is plagiarism, what you should do, what you shouldn't do and have more personalized ways of checking for plagiarism.

Valentine's Day


A history of Valentine's Day from the February 14 The Writer's Almanac:

Every February florists in the United States import several million pounds of roses from South America. About thirty-six million boxes of chocolates will be given as gifts today. The holiday comes, in part, from the ancient Romans' holiday honoring Juno, the goddess of women and marriage, on the night before the Feast of Lupercalia. Roman girls would put slips of paper with their names on them into a clay jar, and the boys would choose their partner for the festival by taking a slip from the jar. This was one of the few times girls and boys were allowed to socialize, and the dancing and games often evolved into courtship and marriage. Tradition has it that Valentine's Day as we know it began sometime in the middle of the third century. Claudius II of Rome was waging several wars and needed to recruit more soldiers for his armies. He thought that many men were reluctant to join because they didn't want to leave their wives and families, and so he temporarily banned engagements and marriages. Saint Valentine was working as a priest at the time and he and his partner Saint Marius broke the law and secretly married couples in small, candlelit rooms, whispering the ceremonial rites. Eventually Saint Valentine was caught and sentenced to death. While awaiting his punishment he would talk with the young daughter of the prison guard whose father allowed her to visit occasionally. Saint Valentine was killed on February 14, 269 A.D., but he had left a note for the guard's daughter, signed, "Love from your Valentine."

Coke in the News

I think Coke is out to get me. It looks like they've axed my two favorite flavors: C2 and Vanilla. I tried the black cherry vanilla, but it seemed barely distinguishable from cherry. Apparently they're out to get truckers too. The American Trucking Association is getting all sensitive about a Coke Super Bowl commercial. From an article in CNNMoney:

Truckers want Coca-Cola to slam the brakes on a planned Super Bowl ad for its Full Throttle energy drink. The American Trucking Associations has written a letter to Coca-Cola Chairman and CEO E. Neville Isdell urging that the ad be pulled or changed. Coke is the sponsor of the "Full Throttle Kick-Off Show" on ABC just before the Super Bowl, and the 60-second ad is the last one that will be shown on the broadcast. It includes the slogan "Let Your Man Out." But the trucking group says the ad reinforces what it says is an unfair negative image about truckers. A statement from ATA President and CEO Bill Graves says the ad shows a large truck full of Full Throttle forcing a small passenger car off the road. Trade publication Advertising Age says the ad also shows the Full Throttle truck tailgating and forcing a smaller vehicle -- adorned with the rival Red Bull logo -- off the main road. Graves' statement said the ad "will reinforce and help perpetuate a negative stereotype that the trucking industry and our professional drivers have fought long and hard to overcome."

And from an article in Fortune by Katrina Brooker called "How Pepsi outgunned Coke":

Pepsi beat Coke in December for the first time in their 108-year rivalry, surpassing its nemesis in market capitalization. The great irony of Pepsi's rise is this: It has never sold more soda than Coke, even today. "Pepsi's been on fire," notes Robert van Brugge, beverage analyst with Sanford Bernstein. Over the past five years its stock has risen more than a third, while Coke's has sunk 30 percent. "They were the first to recognize that the consumer was moving to noncarbonated products, and they innovated aggressively," observes Gary Hemphill of Beverage Marketing. PepsiCo embraced bottled water and sports drinks much earlier than its rival. Pepsi's Aquafina is the No. 1 water brand, with Coke's Dasani trailing; in sports drinks, Pepsi's Gatorade owns 80 percent of the market while Coke's Powerade has 15 percent. But Pepsi's strongest business lies outside drinks altogether. Over the past ten years, the Frito-Lay division -- which seems like it sells practically every chip in every store in the country -- has become a powerhouse, controlling 60 percent of the U.S. snack-food market. So strong is Pepsi in this arena, in fact, that many investors no longer judge it by how it stacks up against Coke.

Free Speech


From an article in The Washington Post:

Acquitting a Germantown man who exposed his buttocks during an argument with a neighbor, a Montgomery County Circuit Court judge ruled yesterday that mooning, while distasteful, is not illegal in Maryland. "If exposure of half of the buttock constituted indecent exposure, any woman wearing a thong at the beach at Ocean City would be guilty," Judge John W. Debelius III said after the bench trial, reversing the ruling of a District Court judge. Debelius made clear his disdain for the defendant, calling the alleged act "disgusting" and "demeaning." The outcome could have been different, he suggested, if the man had been on trial for "being a jerk." The case went to trial Sept. 12 before Montgomery District Court Judge Eugene Wolfe, who ruled against the defendant. Indecent exposure in Maryland is punishable by as much as three years in prison and a $1,000 fine. McNealy's attorneys appealed the verdict, arguing that indecent exposure in Maryland constitutes the willful public display of a person's "private parts" -- which, they argued, do not include a person's buttocks. Senior Assistant State's Attorney Dan Barnett said the indecent exposure law in Maryland is ambiguous. Defense attorneys cited a 1983 case of a woman who was arrested after protesting in front of the U.S. Supreme Court wearing nothing but a cardboard sign that covered the front of her body. The D.C. Court of Appeals ruled in 1986 that indecent exposure is limited to a person's genitals. James Maxwell, one of McNealy's attorneys, said yesterday's ruling should "bring comfort to all beachgoers and plumbers" in the state.

Wal-Mart Ends Food Donations

Another sad consequence of our overly-litigious society...From an article in The Sacramento Bee:

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., the nation's largest food retailer, said Thursday it will no longer donate nearly-expired or expired food to local groups feeding the hungry. Instead, that food will be thrown away, a move several Sacramento charities consider wasteful. Olan James, a Wal-Mart spokesman, said the policy, which applies to all 1,224 Wal-Marts, 1,929 Supercenters and 558 Sam's Clubs, is an attempt to protect the corporation from liability in case someone who eats the donated food gets sick. "We can't guarantee the safety of the merchandise, and consumer safety is our top priority," said James in a telephone interview from Wal-Mart headquarters in Arkansas.


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