Archive for August, 2009

Nix the Niqab?

August 31, 2009 Leave a comment

A controversy is growing in France over whether to “ban the burqa.” This question really troubles me; it pulls me both ways. Do citizens have the right to dress themselves as they please even if it may really be limiting their own liberty? I’d say yes normally but in many cases it seems like these women may not actually be truly choosing for themselves. If they are forced by dominating Islamists that poses real problems for secular and free societies.

For Mr. Sarkozy, who defends participation in the Afghan war as a matter of women’s rights, “the problem of the burqa is not a religious problem,” he said. “It is a problem of liberty and the dignity of women. It is a sign of servitude and degradation.”

Paranoid America

August 28, 2009 Leave a comment

The Economist issues a warning to Rick and Sean.

Belief in conspiracy theories can be comforting. If everything that goes wrong is the fault of a secret cabal, that relieves you of the tedious necessity of trying to understand how a complex world really works. And you can feel smug that you are smart enough to “see through” the official version of events. But widespread paranoia has drawbacks. For a start, it makes calm, rational debate rather tricky. How can you discuss the trade-offs of health-care reform, for example, with someone who thinks the government is plotting to kill grandma? It does not help, either, that politicians on both sides are willing to fan the flames. Sarah Palin calls Mr Obama’s health-care proposals “evil”. Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, calls the protesters who loudly oppose them “evil-mongers”. Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House of Representatives, calls them “un-American”.

Daniel Hannan rips Gordon Brown

August 27, 2009 Leave a comment

A British MEP give a libertarian critique of British policies. He could easily be speaking to American politicians.

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Stanley Fish sticks to his "core"

August 25, 2009 Leave a comment

Every time Stanley Fish ventures into the god topic he fails miserably and he aggravates me beyond belief. But to show I’m not a bigot regarding him I have to applaud his latest piece in the New York Times. He often writes on educational policy and I often find myself agreeing with him. Here he argues that writing courses should teach students how to write. I know it seems obvious but if only more colleges thought so.

A few years ago, when I was grading papers for a graduate literature course, I became alarmed at the inability of my students to write a clean English sentence. They could manage for about six words and then, almost invariably, the syntax (and everything else) fell apart. I became even more alarmed when I remembered that these same students were instructors in the college’s composition program. What, I wondered, could possibly be going on in their courses?

I decided to find out, and asked to see the lesson plans of the 104 sections. I read them and found that only four emphasized training in the craft of writing. Although the other 100 sections fulfilled the composition requirement, instruction in composition was not their focus. Instead, the students spent much of their time discussing novels, movies, TV shows and essays on a variety of hot-button issues — racism, sexism, immigration, globalization. These artifacts and topics are surely worthy of serious study, but they should have received it in courses that bore their name, if only as a matter of truth-in-advertising.

I apologize if exhibited any poor writing in this post. Part of my strong feelings on the subject are personal since I feel I never experienced a truly proper writing course myself.
Categories: Education, Stanley Fish

The Greatest Show on Earth, an excerpt

August 25, 2009 Leave a comment

From Richard Dawkins’ new book to be released on September 22nd.

Is there a case against gay marriage? ctd

August 21, 2009 Leave a comment

I just going to encourage you to read this short blog post from Andrew Sullivan’s blog page. Does anyone have any reason to be against gay marriage? Is anyone willing to take up Steve Chapman’s challenge and predict measurable social indicators that will negatively change because of gay marriage?

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I’m proud sometimes of Mass’s politicians

August 19, 2009 Leave a comment
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Looking back

August 18, 2009 Leave a comment

It appears Sarah Palin (after an initial bump) may have cost (or at least strongly hurt) John McCain the election. Richard Johnston and Emily Thorson look back at the polling data.

Throughout the rest of the campaign, vote intentions were closely tied to Palin’s approval ratings: each major Palin approval drop was followed, within a day or two, by a drop in McCain vote intention. No other factor moved McCain support with such precision. Comparison of the correlation between running mate approval ratings and vote intentions from 2000 and 2004 confirms Palin’s peculiar importance in 2008.

This doesn’t surprise me. She was the number 1 factor for why I didn’t vote for McCain. His arguably first “presidential” decision selecting her disqualified him.

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In Defense of Police

August 17, 2009 Leave a comment

My last few posts which discuss police officers have been hard on them. It’s not that I have anything against cops, per se. I’m just suspicious of any authority especially ones that carry guns. Of course, police play an essential role in our society and often risk their lives for us. So anything that can help lessen that risk for them I’m for. This idea by two veteran officers is at the top of my list.

Jacob Sullum of Reason magazine shares his thoughts on their op-ed.

The sorry state of the Left

August 16, 2009 Leave a comment

When Whole Foods can’t please them no one can.

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