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Archive for the ‘Society’ Category

“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 […]

1,200 troops sent to Mexican border to… do what exactly?

President Obama has ordered 1,200 National Guard troops to the border in the Southwest. The New York Times reports that Obama’s decision came after Obama met with Republican senators who had demanded more troops. But Republicans were generally not placated. Senator John McCain of Arizona said it was not enough, and called for 6,000 in […]

Unhappy meals: ban on fast-food toys is an attack on parental authority

  This video tells the story of a move by Santa Clara county in California to ban restaurants from giving toys along with their fast-food meals. To many, the idea of a ban seems obviously ridiculous. What killjoys. Don’t the politicians have better things to do. But in 2008, it was the Santa Clara board that led the […]

Debate over charter schools gets going

It looks like the debate over charter schools is picking up. Last Sunday, the New York Times published a front-page feature on charter schools. It is the first major article I can think of that was critical of charter schools. The article noted that the charter school “movement” has the support of philanthropists (Bill Gates, […]

Don’t boycott Arizona!

Thumbnail : Don’t boycott Arizona!

In response to the Arizona immigration law introduced about 10 days ago, various pro-immigration groups condemned Arizonans for being bigots, and have called for a boycott of the state. But name-calling and boycotting are the wrong ways to oppose Arizona’s law, and will only make matters worse.  I say this as someone who opposes the law. […]

Bill Gates and the problem with philanthropy

Last week the Wall Street Journal published an interesting story called “Gates rethinks his war on polio”. It tells how polio has spread across Africa, even after Bill Gates had donated $700 million to try to eradicate it. The Journal said the spread “marks a setback for the Microsoft Corp. co-founder’s new career as a […]

South Park: internalizing the fatwa

Thumbnail : <i>South Park</i>: internalizing the fatwa

Toward the end of last week, the South Park producers Trey Parker and Matt Stone said that Comedy Central had censored its episode that aired last Wednesday, to remove references to the prophet Muhammad. The Viacom-owned network also pulled the episode off its website. In an earlier episode that aired on April 14, the show’s […]

Victory for free speech and human (not animal) rights

In a defense of the First Amendment free-speech rights, the Supreme Court struck down a federal law that banned videos and other depictions of cruel acts against animals. There are a few areas, such as child pornography, where speech is considered to fall outside of the First Amendment. The law effectively sought to have animal […]

Technical-fix education reforms have failed

I’m in Chicago, and I was pleased to open the Chicago Tribune and read a sensible op-ed by Steve Chapman on education reforms. Considering reform moves over the past two decades, Chapman finds that “Coming up with solutions for public education, it turns out, is easy. Coming up with solutions that actually work – well, that’s […]

Nebraska law is first to ban abortion on fetal pain basis

Nebraska passed a law on Tuesday that bans most abortions 20 weeks after conception or later. What’s unique about this law is that is is the first to restrict abortions on the grounds that the fetus feels pain. Some states require counseling to women contemplating an abortion, and are told then how fetuses may experience […]

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