Diagnosis: Personality Disorder, not sexual assault

This CNN piece suggests a pattern among women in the U.S. military branches who attest to being sexually assaulted: “women in all branches of the armed forces, including the Coast Guard, tell stories that follow a similar pattern — a sexual assault, a command dismissive of the allegations and a psychiatric discharge.”

Interesting, if depressing, is the persistence of the diagnosis of “personality disorder.”

In the military’s eyes, a personality disorder diagnosis is a pre-existing condition and does not constitute a service-related disability. That means sexual assault victims with personality disorder discharges don’t receive benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs to help with their trauma. They can still apply for benefits, but it’s considered an uphill battle.

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-California, says the military has used personality and other psychiatric diagnoses “almost robotically” to force women who report sexual assaults out of the service.

The numbers further into the article do raise this possibility: “In the Army, 16% of all soldiers are women, but females constitute 24% of all personality disorder discharges.”

(Thanks to David Slutsky for the link.)

Life as a black mathematician

From Jonathan Farley in the Guardian:

My third story is not that in 2002, after I wrote an article about Confederate remembrance, supporters of the Ku Klux Klan sent me death threats, forcing me to leave my home and my permanent job at Vanderbilt University. Others, such as Barrett Brown in the Guardian and in his book Hot, Fat, and Clouded, have recounted how little support I got from the university authorities during this ordeal.

The last tale is not either that, when I was a professor there, police at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology detained me on suspicion of being a bank robber.

No, my final story is that, in 2009, I was an invited speaker at the Counterterrorism Research Lab (CRL), along with US president Barack Obama’s soon-to-be cybersecurity tsar, Howard Schmidt. At one point, a fellow American brought up the civil war, and said – angrily – that the pro-black-slavery Confederacy had the right to secede. I objected as politely as I could. The man exploded, firing off a chain of expletives in front of the 80-person audience. I was blamed for his outburst, and a job offer that had been previously discussed disappeared (it had happened before, when prospective employers withdrew offers after hearing about the Klan attacks). Along the same lines, a senior officer of the National Academies ceased communication with me when he saw my essay in the Guardian about racism.

Before I was 30, I had solved decades-old problems posed by the world-renowned Richard Stanley at MIT. At 32, the Klan attack sidetracked me. I probably never would have won, but one must be under 40 to win a Fields, and I have not had time to focus on Fields medal-worthy pursuits. Other black people fared likewise.

Via New APPS.

What does a blog count for?

How should a blog be evaluated as part of a professor’s academic performance? One reaction might, perhaps, be that it is too ephemeral to count for anything at all. But if one doesn’t dismiss blog writing, then there are some more interesting things to think about. One question is which category the writing fits into. Service? Teaching? Research? How might one tell for any particular blog?

Accompanying the questions of categories are question of quantity and quality.

And perhaps as we think about this all, we might consider the extent to which non-refereed work on the web is an important rival to the refereed paper in a journal as a means of professional communication. Or should we think of it as more like communication to a more general academic community? Or something else?

Let us know what you think.

It would be great to hear of any depts who have actually worked out a policy on blog writing as a professional activity, but partial reflections are also very welcome.