Are Speech Rights for Sale?

An interesting free speech conundrum: HR 3600 (“To restore the Free Speech and First Amendment rights of churches and exempt organizations by repealing the 1954 Johnson Amendment.”). This bill – which has been floating about in some form or another since at least 2007, and was recently introduced again – wants to allow tax-exempt organizations,…

Money in, Brains out

The LSE homepage links to a study purporting to show that teacher pay is well-correlated with student performance. How well do they do? Pretty well, actually. There’s a lot of variation in this data, but the trend seems reasonably clear: The study uses TIMSS and PISA scores for “performance.” Now, here are some interesting passages…

Shutter Island

Don’t read this review if you haven’t seen Shutter Island and don’t want to know the end. Mkay. This is one of those movies – like The Usual Suspects or The Sixth Sense – where you’re apparently supposed to be surprised at the ending, but the truth is it’s pretty obvious from the getgo. Or,…

WordPress Upgrade

Well, I’ve just upgraded to the latest version of WordPress (3.3 at the time of writing), and the whole process can be a lot easier than the instructions they give you on the WordPress website, so I thought I’d post my process. I guess it’s no secret that my blog is hosted in a subdirectory…

Chomsky and his Awesomeness

Vaclav Havel has recently died – along with other fathers of nations like Kim Jong Il and Christopher Hitchens. One person who didn’t write an obituary but probably should have done is Noam Chomsky, who, I have recently discovered (HT BattleSwarm) had some unkind things to say about Havel. The link goes to a letter…

How to Spot a Media Conspiracy – or not

A friend on Facebook links to the following list of top 10 media manipulation strategies, which is attributed to Noam Chomsky. Now, any native English speaker will quickly notice that Chomsky himself cannot have written the text for this, as much of it is nearly unintelligible. Of course, anyone who’s read Chomsky’s syntax papers might…

Fact-Check FAIL

In a review of the upcoming The Iron Lady, Bill Gibron has this unfortunate thing to say: With their take on former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, writer Abi Morgan and director Phyllida Lloyd have decided to jumble the already muddled mythos revolving around England’s first female leader. While true to many of the actual…

Homosexuality

A friend on Facebook asks people in his network to comment on homosexuality. Note, not “same-sex marriage,” but homosexuality itself. I think that’s an interesting question, and assuming people would be honest in public (unlikely, given the political volatility of the associated issues currently), I’d very much like to hear the answers. But it’s also…

Boardgames are Weird: Settlers of Catan edition

Strategy board games are a weird thing. On the one hand, they’re strategy games, and so a contest of wits. But on the other hand, they’re usually wrapped in some kind of escapist fantasy that has nothing really to do with the battle of wits going on. So, what you usually end up with is…