Washington State University gets all the fun

This seems like a fun thing:

An anonymous hacker wearing a Guy Fawkes mask took over classroom projection screens at Washington State University last Friday, the fifth of November, to broadcast a prerecorded message adapted from V For Vendetta, in a prank that evidently alarmed administrators and amused students.

The nearly four minute video, which was also posted on YouTube, and has its own website, Facebook page and Twitter hashtag, criticizes the university’s IT department. It also urges the student body to rise up against squirrels on the campus grounds. The rodents, the ersatz V complains, do nothing but “eat, drink and breed.”

A spokeswoman told the Chronicle of Higher Education that campus police were working to identify the perpetrator. “Childish pranks just don’t have a place anymore,” said Darin Watkins. “What may have been seen as cute and clever years ago really doesn’t get that kind of reaction today.”

(Emphasis mine)

My question – why? Why do they react in fear when before they would’ve laughed at a joke? I wish something like this would happen at Brandeis – it’d be fun and interesting. I wonder if we’d hear something like that out of Ed Callahan. I doubt it – he’s a decent man and I don’t think he’d try to pin “serious charges” on something like that.

Also of note – the prank also has its own website and facebook page, and it is sparking discussion of serious issues like “university governance, course cuts, and tuition hikes.” What an interesting take on campus activism. I like it.

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The failure of academia

Really interesting article in the Chronicle of Higher Education today: Larry Summers and the Subversion of Economics.

There’s a lot to unpack (read the whole thing), but one strong point the article makes is this:

Over the past 30 years, the economics profession—in economics departments, and in business, public policy, and law schools—has become so compromised by conflicts of interest that it now functions almost as a support group for financial services and other industries whose profits depend heavily on government policy. The route to the 2008 financial crisis, and the economic problems that still plague us, runs straight through the economics discipline. And it’s due not just to ideology; it’s also about straightforward, old-fashioned money.

Read the article