Tuesday, November 06, 2018

May It Please the Court

When I was young I pitied the old. Now old, it is the young I pity.
— Jean Rostand, born in 1894

“To be a good human being,” philosopher Martha Nussbaum observed“is to have a kind of openness to the world, an ability to trust uncertain things beyond your own control” — to have, that is, a willingness to regard with an openhearted curiosity what is other than ourselves and therefore strange, discomfiting, difficult to fathom and relate to, difficult at first to love, for we cannot love what we do not understand ...

30 spies dead after Iran cracked CIA comms networkwith, er, Google search – new claim

Uncle Sam's snoops got sloppy with online chat, it seems

Can You Outsmart an Economist? is an excellent book of puzzles put together by Steven Landsburg. Steve includes a lot of classics such as the Girl Named Florida Problem, the Potato Paradox andNewcomb’s paradox, the former two problems are presented in slightly different and in the first case improved forms so you might not recognize them on first reading. Steve also includes many economic puzzles, Bayes puzzles, common knowledge problems and more. Readers of this blog will certainly know some of the puzzles but will also find lots of novel problems and puzzles. Also included are philosophical paradoxes. For example, the headache problem.
A billion people are experiencing fairly minor headaches, which will continue for another hour unless an innocent person is killed, in which case the headaches will cease immediately. Is it okay to kill that innocent person?
The puzzle here isn’t the answer. The answer is obvious. The puzzle is that smart people can’t agree which answer is obvious.

Isaac William Martin (UC-San Diego), How the Great American Tax Revolt Crossed the Atlantic, Modern American History 1 (Cambridge University Press 2018):

That a Tea Party helped bring down Margaret Thatcher's government should remind us that the transatlantic neoliberal project was never very coherent. Policy proposals sometimes traversed the Atlantic, but they did not come neatly wrapped in coherent ideological packages, nor were they vetted by learned experts. They circulated as examples—taken up selectively by advocacy groups and evaluated not for their ideological coherence or consistency, but instead for their promise as tactical weapons in conflicts that sometimes had little to do with what was happening on the other side of the ocean.

In the last several years, colleges have been criticized for their climbing walls and lazy rivers, which signal to some too much spending on nonacademic matters.

Wait until those critics hear about the latest trend: concierges for students.

New Mexico State University’s nearly one-year old concierge service -- the Crimson Concierge program -- offers students everything from help booking vacations, to, for an extra fee, doing their laundry.

New Mexico State relies on a popular vendor among colleges and universities, Sodexo, to carry out Crimson Concierge, and the company said it intends to expand to other institutions.
“We are very aware of the fact that a large percentage of students are making their ultimate selection on schools that really can fulfill the ‘college experience,’” said Steve Bettner, assistant vice president of auxiliary services at New Mexico State. “Places that have amenities.”
Forbes in a column over the weekend declared New Mexico State’s program “the only one in the country,” which is not the case. High Point University, a private institution in North Carolina, has since 2007 operated a concierge service [right] even more expansive than New Mexico State’s.

Wall Street Journal, Most U.S. College Students Afraid to Disagree with Professors:

Many U.S. college professors now regularly share their own social and political beliefs in class, and their students feel increasingly afraid to disagree. That’s according to a new national survey of undergraduates due out next week.