Further Musings

Beauty smote his heart, he looked up from the forsaken land & hope returned to him

Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

International Adoption Trends

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Written by furthermusings

December 29, 2012 at 9:31 am

Posted in Politics

Drones in America

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This week’s New Yorker contemplates the future of life with drones as regular part of American life.  What will this mean for our privacy, both from the government and from each other?

The technology is amazing.  Hummingbird shaped drones that get attacked by other hummingbirds because they’re so life like.  And then there’s the swarm below.  So far these guys only function in the lab… but they’re coming… and I kinda want one!

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Less fun but more technically wondrous.  How awesome would it be to work in this research lab?!

Written by furthermusings

May 12, 2012 at 8:23 am

DPP Day 11: One Cool Cat?

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Written by furthermusings

December 17, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Posted in Politics, Travel

The Shame of College Sports

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Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and UNC grad Taylor Branch has an article titled “The Shame of College Sports” in this week’s Atlantic Monthly.

It’s a long, disturbing article.  A few of the main points that I picked out.

1) The hypocrisy of the NCAA prosecuting players for making money off of selling clothing given to them or taking small favors is spectacular, given that the NCAA is also selling the jersey at the same time.  The NCAA in these cases is more like a cartel protecting its own sales than a benevolent governing body looking out for the players.

2) The shadow court system of the NCAA is terrible.  The NCAA’s uneven enforcement of the rules enables them to bully the masses, give way to the important, and scapegoat the helpless.

3) “Free tuition” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  First, coaches have the right to cut under-performing players.  Shockingly (to me) NCAA basketball coaches cut 22% of their players after the 2008 school season.  The example from the story was of a senior who was one year short of graduating.  Now instead of a full ride he faced $35,000 in costs.  Second, students have no workers-comp right.  Unlike a normal buisness, where on the job injuries (like paralisis for instance) can result in lifetime benefits, any long-term injuries suffered on the field need not be compensated as the paralyzed player was not an employee.  He was just there for fun.

4) The NCAA deprives young men and women, schools, and teachers of due process.  Particularly horrifying (for a college professor) was how the NCAA banned all its member universities from hiring a particular instructor under threat of an intense audit (which is sure to find evidence of a violation of the NCAA’s several hundred page rule book).  The instructor in question allowed one player to type up another player’s written test answers and submit it online.  No plagiarism took place.  When it came to light, she resigned for the good of the program and fully cooperated with the NCAA’s investigation.  Nevertheless they blackballed her from academics.

5) The NCAA’s massive legal resources enable them to bully anyone who can’t summon the millions of dollars in lawyer fees that they can (like the poor woman mentioned above).  They do so with vengeance.

6) The founding myth of the “student-athlete” is powerful.  The term was created to keep universities from having give players the legal protections regular workers have.  It keeps its power in the legal world and the court of public opinion.  The term immediately conjures an image of students who are engaging hardy extra-curricular sport.  It doesn’t make one think of the money & pressure of big-time college sports.  These warp the student experience beyond anything most people would recognize.

It makes me wonder about the student athletes that I teach every week.  What are we, the university, asking of them?  What are we, as a society, taking from them?  Their rights and their health in exchange for a lot of money to the university and corporations and for our own entertainment?  Sounds broken to me.

Written by furthermusings

September 15, 2011 at 8:17 pm

Posted in Politics

It’s Not about You

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Today’s column by David Brooks captures a lot of what I’ve been thinking about lately.  I think he’s right that devotion to an institution (a church, a workplace, a community, or a marriage) brings meaning, changes you, and enables you to create changes in life.  It’s a nice tonic to the individualism that is so ingrained in American character, especially during a graduation season that extolls a new graduate’s ability to make change singlehandedly in the world.

Written by furthermusings

May 31, 2011 at 8:27 am

Posted in Politics, Reflections

NC House budget means at least 18,000 jobs eliminated

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I know you’re all reading this blog because you love to read about NC state politics.  Hope to post about more personal things soon.

That said, I can’t help noticing the news that the state budget put forward by the NC House of Representatives will eliminate at least 18,000 jobs (by the Republican estimates).  The Democratic Governor says 30,000 is closer.  That’s a lot of people without jobs July 1st.

Three questions to consider when evaluating if this was a good idea:

1) Were the people in these positions creating more value for society by teaching students, enforcing laws, or helping the mentally disabled than their salaries cost?

2) Were those jobs/services protecting the vulnerable in important ways that we value even if they aren’t productive?

3) Who gets more money in their pockets by having the lower taxes that these cuts allow?

Written by furthermusings

May 5, 2011 at 10:38 am

Posted in Politics

Keynes vs. Hayek: The Rematch

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Fabulous.  If you want some nicely done macroeconomics thrown at you this is the way to go.

Written by furthermusings

May 4, 2011 at 8:01 am