Monday, August 29, 2011

Rule of Law

The idea that there is no limit to the powers of the legislator is in part a result of popular sovereignty and democratic government. It has been strengthened by the belief that, so long as all actions of the state are duly authorized by legislation, the Rule of Law will be preserved. But this is completely to misconceive the meaning of the Rule of Law. This rule has little to do with the question whether all actions of government are legal in the juridical sense. They may well be and yet not conform to the Rule of Law.

. . . .

To say that in a planned society the Rule of Law cannot hold is, therefore, not to say that the actions of the government will not be legal or that such a society will necessarily be lawless. It means only that the use of the government's coercive powers will no longer be limited and determined by pre-established rules. The law can, and to make a central direction of economic activity possible must, legalize what ot all intends and purposes remains arbitrary action. If the law says that such a board or authority may do what it pleases, anything that board or authority does is legal -- but its actions are certainly not subject to the Rule of Law. By giving the government unlimited powers, the most arbitrary rule can be made legal; and in this way a democracy may set up the most complete despotism imaginable.

The Road to Serfdom: Text and Documents--The Definitive Edition (The Collected Works of F. A. Hayek, Volume 2), p. 119. (978-0-226-32055-7)

In my CC class (hi Naomi) we once had a debate over whether the (US) Constitution was a purely formal document or whether it prescribed a certain sort of government, rather than a certain form. I believe the conclusion was that while only a form was required, the form was senseless without a certain set of assumptions or values. So carrying out the motions required by the Constitution without holding to the prerequisite values would be sort of like taking the choreography from "West Side Story" and dancing it to the music of "42nd Street". You wouldn't really be getting much out of it.

A similar idea, I think, with the "Rule of Law". Just because a legislator has passed a bunch of laws doesn't mean that the result is the sort of state that is traditionally associated with free nations.

Labels: ,

Decision Fatigue

Apparently exercising your will-power also depletes it. The research has implications for many aspects of daily life, from maintaining will-power in dieting and shopping, to arbitrary decisions from parole officers. Of great interest to me are the implications for educations. When final exams are scheduled back-to-back for example, students inevitably do worse on the second exam. Students become mentally fatigued of multiple-choice tests, they may be getting hungry, glucose-levels can be low in the brain. The long-term effects of their choices become less important to the more instantly gratifying choices of taking a break, eating, or having fun. I have observed this in students who have had to make-up tests after-school. They rush through the test, and when unsure of an answer they leave it blank or take a random guess, rather than applying themselves and taking their time as they would have if they had taken the test in the morning.

The research also suggests that decision-making fatigue is more taxing on the poor, who are burdened by more trade-off decisions in shopping than they wealthy. On a tighter budget each item has to be more carefully considered in terms of price. Ironically the toll of decision-fatigue is more impulsive and poorer decisions, such as grabbing that candy bar at the check-out counter.

How to prevent decision-fatigue? Some quick tricks:
- Steady supply of glucose throughout the day. (Protein and complex carbohydrates.)
- Taking breaks and snacks during long and decision taxing exercises.
- Ample sleep.
- Avoid late-in-the-day decisions.
- Structure your day so as to avoid taxing the ego. For example having a schedule to exercise or study with a friend so that it doesn't become a daily decision of will-power to work-out or study, but just a routine you follow.

Useful article! Something our society needs to look at more!

Labels: ,

Replacing senioritis with meaningful life experience

How much did you learn spring semester of your senior year of college? Honestly, the most meaningful experience for me was volunteering with autistic and special education students at a local elementary school after I took the English AP exam. Perhaps that very experience is part of the reason I am a teacher today. I can't say I learned too much in my other classes.

Let's face it, seniors have no will-power at the end of the high-school career to keep schlepping through traditional academic course-work. Once accepted to college, the only ambition seems to keep your GPA high-enough to avoid losing admission or any scholarships. Not much intrinsic motivation there. But what if you could put those students into real-world working situations? What if we could expose students to team-work, the work place, and give them internships and projects that are tailored to their interests? Well WISE has been doing precisely that since 1972. Founded in Greenburgh, New York, the program now has national scope, and continues to spread to high schools across the country. My only question is, how come I haven't heard of this program sooner?

I am excited that the school where I will be teaching this fall will be implementing this program for the first time for its seniors.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Important Hurricane Survival Skills - Soldering

Labels: ,


A response to Mr. Buffet's call for higher taxes on the wealthy - some interesting factoids, e.g.:

Today, top earners—the 250,000 people who earn $1 million or more—pay 20% of all income taxes, and the 3% who earn more than $200,000 pay almost half. Almost half of all filers pay no income taxes at all. Clearly they earn less and should pay less. But they should pay something and have a stake in our government spending their money too.

Labels: ,

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The right to confuse people

Ms Torres announced her candidacy for the governing party despite a constitutional ban on relatives of the president standing to succeed him.

Her lawyers argue that the ban infringes the right of all Guatemalans to stand for election.

Sounds legit. I'm sure the Guatemalan constitution is a living document, after all. Why bother doing what it says?

Labels: ,

Lack of Homeric knowledge

After someone refers to the Trojans as the "Troyans":

August 20, 2011 at 12:57 pm

no… the trojans were the ones who USED that giant wooden horse. hence, TROJAN HORSE.


August 20, 2011 at 1:09 pm

Not sure if trolling, or never read Homer.

Labels: ,

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Justin Acocella - RIP

You will be missed.

"Lord," Martha said to Jesus, "if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask."

Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again"

Labels: ,

BART Mubaraks

This week, EFF has seen censorship stories move closer and closer to home — first Iran, then the UK, and now San Francisco, an early locus of the modern free speech movement. Operators of the Bay Area Rapid Transit system (BART) shut down cell phone service to four stations in downtown San Francisco yesterday in response to a planned protest.

Land of the free . . .

Labels: ,

Monday, August 08, 2011

Unger on worker co-ops

In a conventional business, there is a strong built-in conflict between employees and management. Management, representing the owners, wants to minimize the cost of the employees (wages and benefits) and to maximize their contributions to profit. The employees (workers) want to maximize their wages and benefits, and to work under safe, satisfying conditions.

. . .

A promising way to deal with the conflict between workers and owners is to eliminate it altogether by making the workers the owners. A company of this type is called a worker co-op. Let's look at how such organizations operate, the successes, problems, and solutions. But first consider a partial step in that direction which is more common in the US.

Fascinating, do tell me more.


Sunday, August 07, 2011

Copyright in Russia

"In Russia, you reform copyright law. In America, copyright law reforms you..."

Labels: ,

Mark Shea's roundup of government making you safer

A lovely collection of dudes getting threatened for taking photos of their children and children getting fined for saving woodpeckers from cats.

Labels: ,

I am a middle aged man

So certain individuals have always suspect me to be in my mid thirties, even when I had just graduated from college. It turns out that Google agrees with them.

Here are my Google ad prefs, which is sort of what Google infers from your searches. You can see your own here.

If you look closely, it says

Demographics - Age - 35-44

Seems like I skipped a few years there.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

The Nine Days

Or as a Lit Hum classmate of mine once said, "Happy Ash Wednesday!".

Labels: ,

Monday, August 01, 2011

LotH in NYC

Where can you pray your Divine Office together with the faithful in NYC? I know of a few places:

1) St. Frances de Chantal in the Bronx
Location: 190 Hollywood Ave., Bronx, NY 10465
Available: Morning Prayer (Lauds) 8:40 am - (Preceding 9 AM mass)

2) Notre Dame in Morningside Heights - Manhattan
Location: 405 West 114th Street, New York, NY 10025
Available: Morning Prayer (Lauds) - daily following 8 am mass. Evening Prayer (Vespers): Monday - Friday following 5:30 mass.

3) Church of the Holy Innocents, Midtown Manhattan
Location: 128 West 37th Street, New York, NY 10018
Available: Midday Prayer: Mondays & Fridays at 12:05 pm

4) Saint Jean Baptiste - Upper East Side of Manhattan
Location: 184 E. 76th St., New York, NY 10021
Available: Morning Prayer: Monday through Friday at 8 am. Evening Prayer: Monday-Friday, and Sunday, all at 5 pm!

5) Various religious communities. For example the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal have Eucharistic adoration on Fridays from 2 pm to 6 pm at St. Adalbert's, 420 E. 156th St., Bronx, NY 10455. If I recall correctly, they close with vespers and benediction.

6) Some Catholic schools: St. Raymond High School for Boys in the Bronx, at least two years ago when I taught there, had morning prayer and mass Tuesday through Thursday in their chapel at 8 am. This is really for the school community though.

6) The environs: It's not the Bronx, but St. Joseph in Bronxville has morning prayer preceding the 9 am mass, Monday through Friday.

Any other good places to pray the Liturgy of the Hours? Not all churches advertise this kind of thing on, so I would appreciate any further listings. Also, what places offer singing with the office, such as the practice of singing a hymn to open the prayers? Anybody chant the psalms? Any small groups starting this up in your parish? Let us know!

Labels: , , ,

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?