A brief gallivant about the marketplace of ideas.

Month: September, 2012

Read — 2012/09/19

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. Young, Gifted, and Neglected“, by Chester E. Finn, Jr. (NY Times).
  2. A Faded Piece of Papyrun Refers to Jesus’ Wife“, by Laurie Goodstein (NY Times).
  3. Cheating Scandal Dulls Price in Athletics at Harvard“, by Bill Pennington (NY Times).

Read — 2012/09/18

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. Suggestions of a Married Jesus“, by B. D. Colen (Harvard Gazette).
  2. Maskin Named University Professor” (Harvard Gazette).
  3. In Car Country, Obama Trumpets China Trade Case“, by Mark Landler (NY Times).
  4. One Day, Growing Spare Parts inside the Body“, by Henry Fountain (NY Times). Never Let Me Go, anyone?
  5. A Possible Breakthrough in Explaining a Mathematical Riddle“, by Kenneth Chang (NY Times). An admittedly coarse discussion of a recently posted set of papers on the abc conjecture.
  6. How to Fix the Schools“, by Joe Nocera (NY Times). The article notes that (i) American teachers are undertrained on average (in teacher education, “we neither emphasize pedagogy…nor demand mastery of the subject matter”), and (ii) American society does not respect teaching as a profession. Both points ring true. The question remains, how do we address these shortcomings?
  7. Look How Far We’ve Come Apart“, by Jonathan Haidt and Marc J. Hetherington (NY Times). Lovely if lengthy article associating the increasing political polarization in America with three graphs: (1) increasing divisions within Congress, (2) increasing distrust between members of opposing political parties, and (3) increasing distrust of government. Data suggest that Republicans trust government during a Republican presidency but not during a Democratic one (thus conflating, rightly or wrongly, “government” with “presidency”). P.S. Love the title.

Read — 2012/09/08

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. After High Note for Euro Plan, Discord Emerges“, by Steven Erlanger (NY Times).
  2. Canada Closes Tehran Embassy and Orders Iran Envoys to Leave“, by Ian Austen (NY Times).
  3. Managing a Child’s Allowance, the Online Version“, by Ron Lieber (NY Times).
  4. Space Tourism Is Here! Wealthy Adventurers Wanted“, by Jesse McKinley (NY Times).
  5. Reading, Math, and Grit“, by Joe Nocera (NY Times). Asserts that “resilience, integrity, resourcefulness, professionalism and ambition” can be instilled in and are crucial to the success of teenage schoolchildren.
  6. The Organic Fable“, by Roger Cohen (NY Times). At times reads like a vindictive vendetta against the admitted sometime excess of the organic craze. Interesting to read that a Stanford University study found that “fruits and vegetables labeled organic are, on average, no more nutritious than their cheaper conventional counterparts” and that “organic meats offered no obvious health advantages”. I wonder if the study could compare the top 10% of organic products against the top 10% of non-organic products? Or explore whether people can taste a difference between the two? (Go go Gadget control group!)

Read — 2012/09/07

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. Study Shows Why Lawyers Are So Smart“, by Sam Favate (Wall Street Journal). Reports findings from UC Berkeley researchers that studying for the LSAT can change the way you think and make you smarter. More generally, the findings suggest that “brain pathways important for thinking and reasoning remain plastic in adulthood”.
  2. Tricks from the Elderly to Stop Worrying“, by Shirley W. Wang (Wall Street Journal). Go easy on yourself, focus on the present, think happy thoughts.
  3. Self-Help for Skeptics“, by Elizabeth Bernstein (Wall Street Journal). I like the password suggestion, especially after having been apprised that it is the length, not the number of random symbols, that makes a password hard to crack. Just make sure you’re message isn’t a commonly used (and hence easily guessed) phrase!
  4. Tennis Double-Faults on Statistics“, by Carl Bialik (Wall Street Journal). 140% of services won? Not bad, even for Federer.