Drug legalizers vs. sexual harassment.
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50 minutes ago
In the longer run the iPad will compete with your university, or in some ways enhance your university. It will offer homework services and instructional videos and courses, none of which can work well on the current iPhone or Kindle. The device also seems to allow for collaborative use.
Can you imagine one attached to every hospital bed or in the hands of every doctor and nurse?
10:21 Mark McClusky notes: In the web demo, you could see a broken plugin icon on NYTimes site. Does that mean there’s no Adobe Flash support on iPad?
The prison’s rationale for the ban is that playing D&D might stimulate “gang activity” by inmates. But the government conceded that there is no evidence that Dungeons and Dragons actually had stimulated gang activity in the past, either in this prison or elsewhere. The only evidence for the supposedly harmful effects of Dungeons and Dragons were a few cases from other states where playing the game supposedly led inmates to indulge in “escapism” and become divorced from reality, one case where two non-inmates committed a crime in which they “acted out” a D&D story-line, and one where a longtime D&D player (not an inmate) committed suicide. Obviously, almost any hobby or reading material might lead people to become divorced from reality, or in rare cases commit suicide. And disturbed individuals could potentially “act out” a crime based on a scenario in almost any film or literary work. Should prisons ban The Count of Monte Cristo on the grounds that it might encourage escape attempts? Moreover, the “escapism” rationale conflicts with the gang argument. People who become engrossed in escapism and retreat from society are presumably less likely to become active gang members.
That said, the Seventh Circuit decision may well be legally correct. It is based on the highly deferential standard under which most prison regulations are to be upheld against constitutional challenge so long as they are “rationally related” to some legitimate goal of prison administration. And, as lawyers know, when courts apply such a “rational basis” test, that usually means that almost anything goes. The test is mandated by Supreme Court precedent, and the Seventh Circuit judges had little choice but to follow it.
For all of the panic in Democratic ranks right now, the reality of the situation is stunningly simple. In the span of twenty-four hours, the House of Representatives--the House in which Democrats command a huge majority, in which liberals actually have some sway, and in which leadership actually has power--could put health care reform on the president's desk for signing.
One lousy vote. One lousy, stinking roll call vote. That's the only hurdle in the way of health care reform.
And if the parks and streets are safer, wouldn't that convince more people to live in those urban neighborhoods (say, instead of the suburbs)? Doesn't that ultimately have a green effect? I don't know how it all tallies up, but surely there are a few marks on the positive side of the dog externality ledger.
Gladwell's overarching thesis in Outliers is so obviously correct that it hardly merits discussion. "The people we surround ourselves with have a profound effect on who we are." Also, tomorrow is the beginning of the rest of your life. Gladwell writes as if he is the only person in the world in possession of this platitudinous wisdom. The central irony of Outliers is that, Gladwell's discomfort with the self-help genre notwithstanding, he has written a book that conforms to it perfectly. This is a motivational manual. It is larded with inspirational stories, and with interactive games to capture the reader's attention--with handy charts and portentous graphs. Its language puts one in mind of, say, Tony Robbins. (On his blog Gladwell recently referred to two speaking engagements on his book tour as "shows.") We are in guru-land here. "We're going to conduct a crash investigation," Gladwell exhorts--a little tastelessly--near the start of a chapter on plane wrecks. Occasionally he tells the reader to write things down. Sometimes he preaches hope: "The world could be so much richer than the world we have settled for." Si, se puede. His stories display the mild melodrama of all inspirational books: they are either uplifting or tragic (and therefore also uplifting). One subject's tale is called "heartbreaking" three times in less than six pages.
Unfortunately it is buried beneath more claims about society. "We think that, say, Nobel Prize winners in science must have the highest IQ scores imaginable, " Gladwell flatly states, before going on to patiently explain that many Nobel Prize winners do not go to Harvard. In a footnote, he admits that in fact Harvard "produces more Nobel Prize winners than any other school." Finally, he adds: "But wouldn't you expect schools like Harvard to win more Nobels than they do?" Here is the Gladwell method nicely on display: a questionable assumption, a partial walk-back of an earlier claim, and finally another questionable assumption synthesizing the half-reversal. The upshot is the mundane observation that Harvard produces more Nobel winners than anyone else, but not too many more. Gladwell wants to be provocative and inoffensive. It is, in fact, his special gift.