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Archive for the ‘Society’ Category

The “small schools are better” dogma

At times it seems that everyone in the education debate is in favor of smaller schools and class sizes. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has spent millions to break up bigger schools. A new movie, Waiting for Superman, extols the benefits of charter schools with smaller-than-usual student numbers. As commensensical as it sounds, there is […]

Mapping segregation in New York and other cities

Thumbnail : Mapping segregation in New York and other cities

An interesting map of segregation by race in New York City, by Eric Fischer. Red is for Whites, Blue is for Blacks, Green is for Asians, Orange is for Hispanics, Gray is for Others. Each dot is 25 people. Fischer has mapped the largest 40 cities in the US (see here). Hard to know exactly what […]

Let the kids walk to school!

Thumbnail : Let the kids walk to school!

    The always-interesting (and funny) Lenore Skenazy has a superb opinion piece in today’s Wall Street Journal, in honor of the start to the school year. Skenazy cites a statistic that only about one in 10 kids walks to school today. Even kids that live within walking distance aren’t walking to school. And forget about biking to school too. […]

Race to the Top: lasting damage in exchange for peanuts for a few

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced that 10 states won education reform money in the second round of the administration’s “Race to the Top” contest. Now that nearly all the federal finance has been distributed, perhaps people will sit back and evaluate the competition in a more sober way. New York was one of the […]

Jay-Z’s “Empire State”: not the anthem to modernity we need

James Harkin’s recent comment piece in The Guardian, “Jay-Z’s hymn to modernity”, does not get the significance of this rap mega-hit exactly right. Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind” does celebrate New York City, but falls short of upholding the challenge and potential of modernity – something that New York sorely needs today. Harkin says that, […]

Steven Slater, folk hero for our times

Steven Slater appears to have captured the imaginations of many Americans. Slater is the Jet Blue flight attendant who quit his job in dramatic fashion. As his plane had arrived but was not yet ready to de-board at JFK, a passenger got up early to grab her bag from the overhead compartment. Slater told her […]

Behavioralism leads to “monkeynomics”

Laurie Santos from Yale University in a TED talk that looks for the roots of human irrationality by watching the way primates make decisions. Santos says that her experiments in “monkeynomics” shows that some of the silly choices humans make, monkeys make too. It is bad enough that the financial crisis and the Gulf of Mexico oil […]

Thank you for exterminating the Prospect Park geese!

The New York Times reports that wildlife biologists working with the federal Agriculture Department last week gassed to death nearly 400 geese in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park.  The reason for the extermination was to cull the large geese population which threaten airplane flights over the city. Prospect Park is near to both JFK and La Guardia […]

The problem with “cyberbullying”

The New York Times on Monday ran a front-page feature about how school administrators and teachers were being pulled into cases of “cyberbullying” of students outside of school hours. The Timesarticle admits that “cyberbulling” is an “imprecise label for online activities ranging from barrages of teasing texts to sexually harassing group sites”. In a 2010 study, an organization called […]

“Addicted” to gadgets?

There’s been much written lately about the impact of electronic gadgets on our everyday lives. First, there have been reviews and articles about Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains. Second, the New York Times ran a long feature on Monday called “Hooked on gadgets, and paying a mental price”. I […]

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