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Current Topic: Society

21 and up - the single most regrettable decision
Topic: Society 1:07 am EDT, Jul 28, 2009

One of the people who was instrumental in pushing for laws to increase the legal drinking age to 21 now calls his actions "the single most regrettable decision" of his career.

Dr. Morris Chafetz, a psychiatrist who was on the presidential commission in the 1980s that recommended raising the drinking age to 21, made his remarks in an editorial that he is shopping for publication and which he released to the advocacy group Choose Responsibility.

21 and up - the single most regrettable decision

Gates Controversy - Some Cops Understand Disorderly Conduct
Topic: Society 2:37 pm EDT, Jul 25, 2009

Disorderly conduct has its roots in the mid-19th century, when police officers needed a way to quell street brawls that erupted frequently between recent immigrants and already established residents, often regarding labor issues. Crowds would gather and cops needed to restore order in public places.


Jon Shane, who spent 17 years as a police officer in hardscrabble Newark, N.J., said that had he been the cop called to Gates' house, he would have left Gates and his huffy comments alone once he was sure Gates was the homeowner. He admits he may well have been offended by the professor's alleged bluster, but that's just part of the job, so much so that there's a term in police vernacular devoted to situations like this: contempt of cop.

"In contempt of court, you get loud and abusive in a courtroom, and it's against the law," says Shane, now a professor of criminal justice at John Jay who specializes in police policy and practice. "With contempt of cop, you get loud and nasty and show scorn for a law enforcement officer, but a police officer can't go out and lock you up for disorderly conduct because you were disrespectful toward them." The First Amendment allows you to say pretty much anything to the police. "You could tell them to go f--k themselves," says Shane, "and that's fine."

It is interesting to look at the divide between law enforcement officials on whether they believe that they have to 'put up with' being verbally berated. Reading the various news stories, it is nice to see that some cops understand that as much as it sucks this really is part of the job and unique to their profession.

Gates Controversy - Some Cops Understand Disorderly Conduct

RE: Not Every Child Is Secretly a Genius
Topic: Society 5:52 pm EDT, Jun 27, 2009

Briefly, he has posited that our intellectual abilities are divided among at least eight abilities: verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, visual-spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, naturalistic, musical, interpersonal, and intrapersonal. The appealing elements of the theory are numerous.

It's "cool," to start with: The list-like format has great attraction for introductory psychology and education classes. It also seems to jibe well with the common observation that individuals have particular talents. More important, especially for education, it implicitly (although perhaps unintentionally on Gardner's part) promises that each child has strengths as well as weaknesses. With eight separate intelligences, the odds seem good that every child will be intelligent in one of those realms. After all, it's not called the theory of multiple stupidities.

Gardner's Theory of multiple intelligences almost certainly has a grain of truth. It is similar to the fact that the human body contains multiple types of fluids that need to be in good balance. The problem is that the fluids regulating the human body are not simply blood, bile, phlegm, and black bile as posited by medieval scholars who simply observed that people contained these loose categories of ooze.

Similarly, visual-spacial, verbal-linguistic, etc... are patterns that are evidently on the surface of learning, but I WILL EAT MY DIRTIEST, SMELLIEST OLD HAT if nature was to give up such a critical secret of human cognition so easily. I will go on record as strongly conjecturing that the neurotypical system of human learning is *at least* as complicated as the enzymatic chemistry that goes on in human cells.

On the other hand, one can rate the overall effectiveness of a system, and some systems are more effective. Part of me really doesn't want to believe that it is genetic, but one cannot ignore data.

I don't think that this invalidates meritocracy, however. I would rather work with a scientific researcher who is plain dumb but has placed 10,000 hours of hard work studying the subject and can collaborate than an incredibly clever individual who refuses to seriously study the literature and is arrogantly lacking in reflective criticism. I will also guarantee that the former will have a greater impact nine times out of ten.

RE: Not Every Child Is Secretly a Genius

Poland Rejects Proposed EU Software Patents - Majority Now Opposed
Topic: Society 10:19 pm EST, Nov 28, 2004

] Poland has tipped the scales by voting against the
] proposed text agreed to by the EU Council in May. A
] majority now opposes the current proposal. Those
] supporting the proposal now lack the votes to pass the
] proposal as written.

Poland Rejects Proposed EU Software Patents - Majority Now Opposed

On Liberalism
Topic: Society 10:20 am EST, Nov 27, 2004

Here is an idea. Everyone grab a hold of all the basic religious scripture and celebrated philosophical writings that they can, spend some time studying them, cast aside all cultural predispositions, and use the light of reason to cast a critical gaze upon the collected wisdom of the ages in an honest search for a path towards an ethically sound and spiritually fulfilled life.

Guess what, that is called 'liberalism'. That is what the definition of a religious liberal is. Apply the same line of thought to politics, and you have what is called a political liberal.

Unfortunately, we in the modern world have gotten into a fairly interesting political debate after the early success of free market capitalism transformed into industrialized oppression of a newly formed 'working class' at the turn of the last century. The reaction to this rather nebulous and yet obvious system of serfdom and resultant economic theory, communism, would unfortunately morph into a horrific system of bureaucratic oppression. Even though both of these inherently flawed ideas are now over a century old, it is still the fact that communism is newer than capitalism, and so it is widely viewed that the 'conservative' is one who supports the free market, and the 'liberal' is one that supports government intervention in an economic market. The answer to the question of government intervention in economics seems to involve a concept that has somehow become a four letter word in recent debate, that is 'nuance'. In reality, both major political parties in the United States support a wide variety of programs of government intervention ranging from corporate welfare and farm subsidies to social security and nationalized health insurance plans.

The honest truth of the matter is that if you subject our current political and social institutions to rational scrutiny and speak your mind concerning the fruits of your research independent without fear of the majority viewpoint then you are a liberal. Even if you don't have any sushi on the dinner table and hate government economic intervention you are a liberal. Thought you were a conservative? Well too bad.

I have a feeling that right now quite a few small-government liberals have been hoodwinked by political conservatives. They have been told that liberalism is socialism, when in fact it is an appeal to reason over what one is told. The political concept of 'conservatism' has been all dressed up with a bizarre infusion of the financial concept of 'fiscal conservatism', which ought to be relabeled 'fiscal sanity'. Holding onto ones money bears little resemblance to holding onto antiquated ideals and corrupt institutions.

Quite a few hawkish liberals have been hoodwinked by social conservatives. After the success of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. it has been easy to play semantic games and try to say that liberalism means nonviolence. Well, I will note that Bertrand Russell, one of the fathers of mod... [ Read More (0.2k in body) ]

Government Information Awareness
Topic: Society 1:03 am EDT, Jul  6, 2003

1984 turned inside out

Government Information Awareness

Possible King of Stonehenge Discovered
Topic: Society 8:43 pm EST, Feb 12, 2003

The Swiss excel at making clocks and also... henges?

A skeleton was found near Stonehenge hypothesized to be a regional bronze age king of Stonehenge who may have played an important role in the construction of Stonehenge and surprisingly, may be Swiss.

Possible King of Stonehenge Discovered

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