Jewish World Review March 15, 2002 / 2 Nisan, 5762
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Harvard University history professor Joyce Chaplin has dispatched a memo to colleagues suggesting they go easy on grades this semester.
Here's an exerpt: "Events throughout the fall, starting with September 11th, have been distressing for everyone. ... There is every reason to suspect that students have not been able to perform at their hghtest levels. Despite the recent hullabaloo over grade inflations, this is not the best semester in which to crack down."
The "hullabaloo" remark refers to the fact that Harvard has come under fire because more than half its students have "A" averages, prompting critics -- and university president Lawrence Summers -- to observe that a Harvard degree just ain't what it used to be.
So what is the school doing about Chaplin's plea for grading leniency? It's giving her a pass. History department chairman David Blackbourn has declined to criticize her idea -- even though she oversees undergraduate education in history.
The only action he has taken -- is to blast the press for letting the public in on the charade.
Here's some self-serving news from the frontiers of medical research: Investigators at the London School of Economics say television is good for you.
Dr. Darron Hodgetts says, "television can be used as a ritualistic meeting place to share thoughts and feelings."
In other words, it's a big town square, where people can learn important stuff, like the latest fads and where to acquire them -- and where members of vast and sometimes lonely societies can find a sense of self.
Don't take my word, take that of Hodgetts, who again says "television can be health reinforcing." He says this is particularly true for guys, who get important bonding secrets -- like how to say, "Whasssuppp?"
Oh, sure, people who lounge endlessly before the tube can become fat loads, which is why Hodgetts cautions people not to do dumb things -- like become couch potatoes, or watch so long that your brain shuts off.
So there you have it. Watch -- but in moderation.
Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin has become the latest target of plagiarism charges, standing accused of lifting blocks of prose from a variety of authors in an assortment of books.
The News Hour with Jim Lehrer has placed her on indefinite leave and the University of Delaware rescinded its invitation to have her speak at this year's graduation. But the New York Times may have gone easy.
While the paper used the word "plagiarism" in describing a similar controversy involving historian Stephen Ambrose, a long article about Goodwin's transgressions resorted to euphemisms such as "passages copied, "repeated sentences" and "inappropriate borrowning."
That last description was too much for B.C. Milligan of Cockeysville, Maryland, who dispatched a letter to the paper. He mused about how the "inappropriate" label might spice up our penal code. He recommended re-labeling the crime of speeding as "inappropriate acceleration" and burglary as "inappropriate possession of the property and others."
He forgot to mention that the Times itself was guilty of