Monday, August 31, 2009

Free classes from MIT

What's there not to like? Free education is always fun.



What the siblings shared — in addition to the grace, rare among Kennedys, of a ripe old age and a peaceful death — was a passionate liberalism and an abiding Roman Catholic faith. These two commitments were intertwined: Ted Kennedy’s tireless efforts on issues like health care, education and immigration were explicitly rooted in Catholic social teaching, and so was his sister’s lifelong labor on behalf of the physically and mentally impaired.

What separated them was abortion.

Along with her husband, Sargent Shriver, Eunice belonged to America’s dwindling population of outspoken pro-life liberals. Like her church, she saw a continuity, rather than a contradiction, between championing the poor, the marginalized and the oppressed and protecting unborn human life.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The pigs and the dogs

While I try to square this circle, I should say that even in my most pro-swine moments, I don’t have any difficulty seeing why people are more outraged by cruelty toward dogs than by cruelty toward pigs. Yes, the two species may be equally intelligent, but we have a different relationship with dogs than we do with pigs: we’ve bred them and trained them, across millenia, to be not only our subjects but our intimates, our partners, our friends. And relationships ought to matter in making moral judgments.

I don't recall breeding any dogs in the past few thousand years, but that's just me.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Not perfect?

It's ok, no one else is either.

The Peter Principle is the principle that "In a Hierarchy Every Employee Tends to Rise to His Level of Incompetence." As Wikipedia references people are promoted so long as they work competently. Sooner or later they are promoted to a position at which they are no longer competent (their "level of incompetence"), and there they remain, being unable to earn further promotions. I have found this principle to be easily observable in real life.

But I want to write about another principle, the St. Peter Principle which in many ways is opposite to the Peter Principle.

Read on as the Curt Jester explains why all is not lost just because it seems like all is lost.

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Items found on the sidewalk outside my house in Manhattan

cigarette butts
cigarette boxes
coffee cups
candy wrappers
Doritos bag containing rain-soaked Dorito mush
skeleton of a rat
weeds that a woman walking by claimed you can make into an anti-cancer tea
a middle school book on cells, in Spanish
a broken wheel from a shopping cart
a poem about the struggles of the life of a convict

I think that the fact that I did not find any condoms or needles is a very positive sign for my neighborhood. I really liked the poem about being a misunderstood convict. It was written in pen on a piece of paper that looks torn from a journal. I put it on my fridge.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Destruction for fun

Or, what happens when people with some anonymity decide to have fun by making others' lives miserable.


Everyone knows it's true but it's not

Running, it turns out, can actually be good for your knees as long as you don't have an existing injury. Which makes sense - after all, walking is good for your leg muscles as long as you don't have an existing injury.

I guess it's just a reminder that just because everyone knows something doesn't mean that it's true.

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Social isolation - turning weaknesses into strengths

Neither religion nor public life, and thus entirely off topic.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Only applies to women

After faculty members filed complaints with the EEOC and the North Carolina Department of Insurance, Belmont Abbey says the EEOC told the school in March 2009 that it would close the file on the discrimination charge, as it had not found the school's decision in violation of its statutes. But the agency later reversed itself, and issued a determination letter to the school on August 5 affirming that the ban amounted to gender discrimination, because it pertains only to women.

"By denying prescription contraception drugs, Respondent (the college) is discriminating based on gender because only females take oral prescription contraceptives," wrote Reuben Daniels Jr., the EEOC Charlotte District Office Director in the determination. "By denying coverage, men are not affected, only women."

Which implies that when the male contraceptive pills come on the market, the college's policy would become acceptable because it would apply equally to men and women.

But isn't it strange that it's illegal to deny one drug but denying two is fine?

I wonder if college health plans have to cover Viagra etc because denying it would be discriminatory. Research for another day perhaps.

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Sunday, August 09, 2009

Worse than death?

I soon discovered that giving one’s life can come in more than one form. For my brother, his life as he knew it was taken on January 14, 2007, in Baghdad, when an EFP—an explosively formed projectile device—detonated outside his Army Humvee, sending a shock wave through his brain, severely injuring him without leaving a mark on his body. Robert escaped death, but has paid a price almost as high. Today, he is back from war, 25 years old, brain-injured, and disabled.

Asking a man to die for his country is one thing, but asking him to live with half a brain seems worse somehow.


Thursday, August 06, 2009

Who insults religion

So true.

My favorite time was sitting next to someone venting about how much she hated Christians - I suppose she thought I was Jewish perhaps? I wonder if she ever figured it out.


A sad short film


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