A brief gallivant about the marketplace of ideas.

Month: February, 2013

Read — 2013/02/28

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. The Rise of the Well-Dressed Man“, by Guy Trebay (NY Times). A delightful romp of words concerning the average Joe’s fashion sense (name chosen intentionally). Memorable quote: “Chic is nothing. But it’s the right nothing.” (Patrick Kinmonth)
  2. Prada Goes with Her Feelings“, by Cathy Horyn (NY Times).
  3. World-Class Poverty“, by S.C. (The Economist). “[A] rare example of China’s government being treated unfairly by its own mouthpiece”. See the related article “Life at the Bottom of the Middle Kingdom“, by S.C. (The Economist, 2 Dec 2011).
  4. Our Debt, Ourselves“, by Robert M. Solow (NY Times). Six facts about the national debt from a Nobel laureate.
  5. White House Counts on G.O.P. to Bend as Cuts’ Effects Are Felt“, by Michael D. Shear (NY Times). Warning: The picture this article paints has been known to induce nausea, distaste, and in extreme cases, vomiting. “[Obama] has used the White House political machinery to raise public anxiety about the budget cuts, called sequestration…and to ensure that Republicans are blamed”…”there are not even meetings scheduled until one between Mr. Obama and Congressional leadership on Friday, the day the cuts are to go into effect”…”Strategists for Mr. Boehner believe that Republicans have been successful in branding the cuts as Mr. Obama’s idea”. Dear Washington: You are playing with people’s lives, not The Sims; this is a country, not a theatre. Please stand for principles and the people.
  6. Amateur Stargazing with a GPS Tour Guide“, by Kit Eaton (NY Times).
  7. Van Cliburn, Cold War Musical Envoy, Dies at 78“, by Anthony Tommasini (NY Times). N.B. The man was a classical pianist, not a musical envoy.
  8. Our Plan to Eradicate Polio“, by Michael Bloomberg & Bill Gates (Wall Street Journal). Two billionaires join forces to rid the world — developing and developed — of poliomyelitis.
  9. The Business Case for Healthier Food Options“, by Michelle Obama (Wall Street Journal). The First Lady’s case for why healthy food is a win-win.

Read — 2013/02/27

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. China Seeks to Boost Health Care in Lagging Rural Areas“, by Laurie Burkitt (Wall Street Journal). China encourages doctors to serve the non-citydwellers.
  2. The Unhappy Hookah“, by Merlyn A. Griffiths (Wall Street Journal). Debunking the myth that hookahs are healthier and less addictive than cigarettes. Hookah smoking is seen as a relaxing social activity, more shared than individuals standing in a circle taking drags of personal cigarettes. I guess the hope is that an effective campaign revealing the facts about hookah health will dissuade young people from this recreational activity.
  3. Desperate Hunt for Day Care in Japan“, by Hiroko Tabuchi (NY Times). Add “finding childcare” to the list of obstacles working women must overcome. Interesting statistic: “Almost 70 percent of Japan’s social welfare spending is directed at people 65 or older, while less than 4 percent supports children and families”.
  4. Home, Where the Fizz Is“, by Julia Moskin (NY Times). Quick poll: Which is more fun to hack, cell phones or soda-making machines?
  5. Gay Couples Face a Mixed Geography of Marriage“, by Kirk Johnson (NY Times).
  6. How Same-Sex Marriage Came to Be“, by Michael J. Klarman (Harvard Magazine).
  7. Online Evolution Accelerates” (Harvard Magazine). Developments present and yet-to-come in online education.
  8. Cheating the Reaper“, by Erin O’Donnell (Harvard Magazine). Take your pick: Brisk walk 150 minutes a week, or twice the exertion in half the time. But get out there and move!

Read — 2013/02/26

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. Head Start for All“, by the editors (Wall Street Journal). A call to carefully examine the research supporting universal preschool education, as well as the education’s costs versus benefits. Given that childhood environment plays a crucial role in shaping a child’s values, dreams, and expectations, perhaps the answer to “failing” early-education programs is not to abandon them, but rather to focus the money on educational aspects that research suggests are more useful (home visits [such as occur in Japan; apparently such visits are a part of the Head Start program], nutrition, etc.), on making personal connections and encouraging fostering communities, in school and at home. In short, fostering a society that values education, a community that enhances it, and individuals that not only believe but illustrate its power to improve.
  2. How Not to Fight Discrimination“, by Roger Clegg (Wall Street Journal). An argument against the disparate-impact benchmark.
  3. Male Nurses Earn More“, by Ben Casselman (Wall Street Journal). And kindly enough, the WSJ provides us with an opportunity to judge the usefulness of the disparate-impact approach.
  4. New Push for Early Testing, Treatment for Dementia“, by Laura Landro (Wall Street Journal).
  5. More on Those Punks and Slobs“, by Cathy Horyn (NY Times). Horyn pens some brief reflections on Versace and Prada.
  6. We Paid for the Research, So Let’s See It“, by the editors (NY Times). Are scholarly research articles private or public goods?
  7. The Owl Comes into Its Own“, by Natalie Angier (NY Times). Interesting facts about owl altruism, communication, flight, and hearing. And kudos to Ms Angier for her shout-out to Edward Lear.

Read — 2013/02/25

Today’s selection of articles includes (some from the weekend):

  1. A New Cold War, in Cyberspace, Tests U.S. Ties to China“, by David E. Sanger (NY Times).
  2. ‘Bloodless’ Lung Transplants Offer Hint at Surger’s Future“, by Kevin Sack (NY Times).
  3. Oscar Ballot” (NY Times). A list of the 2013 winners (and candidates).
  4. 2013 Oscars Red Carpet” (NY Times). N.B. The “Next >” and “< Prev" buttons are hidden along the right and left borders, respectively of the photos, halfway down.
  5. 2013: What *Should* We Be Worried About” ( Came here after reading an excerpt from David Gerlernter’s response — “Worry about Internet Drivel” — in the Wall Street Journal.

From the weekend (and before):

  1. Congress Set to Consider Tighter Rules on Firearms“, by Jennifer Steinhauer (NY Times).
  2. Don’t Call Him Mom, or an Imbecile“, by Hannah Seligson (NY Times). Reminds me of a Japanese TV series a former professor of mine had us watch, titled “At Home Dad“.
  3. The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food“, by Michael Moss (NY Times).
  4. The More the Merrier as Co-op Pursues Sustainability“, by Nancy Sarnoff (Houston Chronicle).

Read — 2013/02/22

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. The Ever-Receding Recovery“, by P.W. (The Economist). The EU’s economic woes worsen.
  2. A Titan’s How-To on Breaking the Glass Ceiling“, by Jodi Kantor (NY Times).
  3. The Carpetbagger’s 2013 Oscar Predictions“, by Melina Ryzik (NY Times).
  4. A Front-Row Seat via Video“, by Stephanie Clifford (NY Times).
  5. I Am Michiko Kakutani“, by Colin McEnroe. Searched for “Kakutani” instead of “Kakutani’s fixed-point theorem” and somehow wound up here. On the eve of Spring Break, made me wish I were back in college getting a fictional classmate through Constitutional Law. Warning: This essay contains material that some would call “inappropriate” and others would call “not everyone’s cup of tea”.
  6. U.S. Defeats Soviet Squad in Olympic History by 4-3“, by Gerald Eskenazi (NY Times, 22 Feb 1980).

Read — 2013/02/21

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. Iceland Looks to Export Power Bubbling from Below“, by Andrew Higgins (NY Times).
  2. Survey Finds that Fish Are Often Not What Label Says“, by Kirk Johnson (NY Times). “[A]bout one-third of the 1,215 fish samples bought…were mislabeld”. The culprits (or the duped, depending on your level of cynicism): “sushi bars topped the list [of places where fish were most likely to be misled] in ever city…while grocery stores were most likely to be selling fish honestly”. One of the study’s leading researchers cites “economic gain at the consumer’s expense, with understudy fish…often substituting for a menu’s star”. Looks like the cynics have it.
  3. Johnnie Won’t Walk Out” (The Economist). A report on the “special relation” between Scotch-whisky makers and EU markets.
  4. Commercially Creative“, by Cathy Horyn (NY Times). Another intriguing photo from London-based designer Emilia Wickstead.
  5. The Literary World of the Simpsons“. A short list of humorous authorial appearances.
  6. Malcolm X Shot to Death at Rally Here“, by Theodore Jones (NY Times, 21 Feb 195). A few days before his assassination, Malcolm X said the following about his past involvement with the Black Muslims, “I feel like a man who has been asleep somewhat and under someone else’s control. I feel what I’m thinking and saying now is for myself. “

Read — 2013/02/20

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. Justices Take Case on Overall Limit to Political Donations“, by Adam Liptak (NY Times).
  2. Fast New Test Could Help Find Leprosy before Damage Is Lasting“, by Donald G. McNeil, Jr. (NY Times).
  3. Dissecting a Trailer: The Parts of the Film that Make the Cut“, by Shan Carter, Amanda Cox, and Mike Bostock (NY Times). A sleek case study and presentation of whence in the actual film trailer clips come. Note the difference in clip length used in the French-film trailer versus those in the American-film trailers listed.
  4. Glenn Orbits Earth 3 Times Safely“, by Richard Witkin (NY Times, 20 Feb 1962). Also, Happy Birthday USPS! May your 221st birthday mark the year your financial hemorrhaging ceased!

Read — 2013/02/19

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. Bucking a Trend, Supreme Court Justices Reject Video Coverage“, by Adam Liptak (NY Times).
  2. The Trouble with Online Colleges“, by the Editorial Staff (NY Times).
  3. Chinese Army Unit Is Seen as Tied to Hacking against U.S.“, by David E. Sanger, David Barboza, and Nicole Perlroth (NY Times).
  4. Russians Wade into the Snow to Seek Treasure from the Sky“, by Andrew E. Kramer (NY Times).
  5. Gym Class Isn’t Just Fun and Games Anymore“, by Motoko Rich (NY Times).
  6. Looking Back at a Domestic Cri de Coeur“, by Janet Maslin (NY Times).
  7. Finding out Who Pays Your Doctor“, by the Editorial Staff (NY Times).
  8. U.S. Marines Storm Ashore on Iwo Island“, by The Associated Press (NY Times, 19 February 1945). Harrowing and humbling to be reminded of the profound sacrifice and valor of those who came before us; see also the Wikipedia articles on the Battle of Iwo Jima and the Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Read — 2013/02/16

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. How to Avert Armageddon“, by T.C. (The Economist). A short list of feasible plans to prevent Earth-bound meteors from becoming Earth-pounding meteorites. My favorite: Space graffiti and the Yarkovsky effect. (Love how The Economist isn’t afraid to link to Wikipedia — yay for the free sharing of knowledge!) Also, someone please read Armageddon’s Freedom crew their rights for flagrantly violating the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty — oh wait, that’s right, it’s not yet in effect.
  2. Shock Wave of Fireball Meteor Rattles Siberia, Injuring 1,200“, by Ellen Barry and Andrew Kramer (NY Times). This overview might spur you to read some first-hand accounts of the eerie event. Sonic booms, unreal light, and 3000 kilotons of TNT.
  3. The Myth of the Rich Who Flee from Taxes“, by James Stewart (NY Times). Let’s see what the disciplines say!
    • Sociology: “It’s very clear that, over all, modest changes in top tax rates do not affect millionaire migration” (Cristobal Young, Stanford).
    • Public Policy: Tax flight “is almost entirely bogus — it’s a myth” (Jon Shure, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities).
    • Economics: “[T]he tax difference between Florida and California is huge” (Gregory Mankiw, Harvard).

    Well, there you have it, folks — you don’t need to restrict yourself to just economists to get every possible opinion and then one!

  4. A Flash in Russian Skies, as Inspiration for Fantasy“, by John Williams (NY Times). “But who would save the day? ‘Clearly President Putin.'” (Is it true that comets pose a greater collision threat than asteroids, because the orbits of the former are almost impossible to predict until they’ve passed at least once?)