Do not forget the evil of North Korea

North Korean defectors: Escaping the reign of Kim Jong-Il | Matador Network: “North Korea talks about ‘Korean nation’ and reunification, but if you are impregnated by a South Korean,” says Joseph, “you are considered a political prisoner.” The officers waited until the woman’s pregnancy had reached its eighth month, then tied her arms and legs down on a table to perform an “abortion.” One of the men introduced himself as a doctor. Without giving the woman any anesthesia, he thrust his bare hands into the woman’s vagina and yanked the baby from her uterus.

“They did this because they considered the woman and her child to be traitors of the country. When they did it, the baby was alive,” Joseph says, quietly. The woman pleaded for the doctor to spare her crying baby, but he only tossed it to the military dogs. Watching her baby get torn into pieces, the mother passed out, laying still while bleeding. The guards took her for dead and brought her to a pile of cadavers.

Let’s Start Paying College Athletes -

Let’s Start Paying College Athletes - Players aren’t stupid. They look around and see jerseys with their names on them being sold in the bookstores. They see 100,000 people in the stands on a Saturday afternoon. During the season, they can end up putting in 50-hour weeks at their sports, and they learn early on not to take any course that might require real effort or interfere with the primary reason they are on campus: to play football or basketball. The N.C.A.A. can piously define them as students first, but the players know better. They know they are making money for the athletic department. The N.C.A.A.’s often-stated contention that it is protecting the players from “excessive commercialism” is ludicrous; the only thing it’s protecting is everyone else’s revenue stream. (The N.C.A.A. itself takes in nearly $800 million a year, mostly from its March Madness TV contracts.) “Athletes in football and basketball feel unfairly treated,” Leigh Steinberg, a prominent sports agent, says. “The dominant attitude among players is that there is no moral or ethical reason not to take money, because the system is ripping them off.”

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The accidental universe: Science's crisis of faith—By Alan P. Lightman (Harper's Magazine)

The accidental universe: Science's crisis of faith—By Alan P. Lightman (Harper's Magazine): Here we have a clear example of fine-tuning: out of all the possible amounts of dark energy that our universe might have, the actual amount lies in the tiny sliver of the range that allows life. There is little argument on this point. It does not depend on assumptions about whether we need liquid water for life or oxygen or particular biochemistries. As before, one is compelled to ask the question: Why does such fine-tuning occur? And the answer many physicists now believe: The multiverse. A vast number of universes may exist, with many different values of the amount of dark energy. Our particular universe is one of the universes with a small value, permitting the emergence of life. We are here, so our universe must be such a universe. We are an accident. From the cosmic lottery hat containing zillions of universes, we happened to draw a universe that allowed life. But then again, if we had not drawn such a ticket, we would not be here to ponder the odds.

Sidney Awardee: What College Rankings Really Tell Us : The New Yorker

What College Rankings Really Tell Us : The New Yorker: Some years ago, similarly, a former chief justice of the Michigan supreme court, Thomas Brennan, sent a questionnaire to a hundred or so of his fellow-lawyers, asking them to rank a list of ten law schools in order of quality. “They included a good sample of the big names. Harvard. Yale. University of Michigan. And some lesser-known schools. John Marshall. Thomas Cooley,” Brennan wrote. “As I recall, they ranked Penn State’s law school right about in the middle of the pack. Maybe fifth among the ten schools listed. Of course, Penn State doesn’t have a law school.”

Sidney Awardee: Xerox PARC, Apple, and the Creation of the Mouse : The New Yorker

Xerox PARC, Apple, and the Creation of the Mouse : The New Yorker: So was what Jobs took from Xerox the idea of the mouse? Not quite, because Xerox never owned the idea of the mouse. The PARC researchers got it from the computer scientist Douglas Engelbart, at Stanford Research Institute, fifteen minutes away on the other side of the university campus. Engelbart dreamed up the idea of moving the cursor around the screen with a stand-alone mechanical “animal” back in the mid- nineteen-sixties. His mouse was a bulky, rectangular affair, with what looked like steel roller-skate wheels. If you lined up Engelbart’s mouse, Xerox’s mouse, and Apple’s mouse, you would not see the serial reproduction of an object. You would see the evolution of a concept.


Breakthrough Journal: Issue 2 : MODERNIZING CONSERVATISM: The de facto starve-the-beast strategy was the great cop out of the Reagan years. By assuming that restricting revenues would eventually compel reductions in the size of government, the Reagan administration was able to justify avoiding any serious attempt to reform entitlement programs. Beyond a few very minor trims, every trial balloon of deeper entitlement reform was swiftly routed and withdrawn. It is uncomfortable but necessary for conservatives to acknowledge that Reagan's disinclination to attack entitlements was one reason for his popularity -- after an initial flurry, he did not seriously attack the welfare state.

Sidney Again: Paper Tigers

Paper Tigers: Though Chu is not merely fluent in En�glish but is officially the most distinguished poet of his class at Williams, he still worries that other aspects of his demeanor might attract the same kind of treatment his father received. “I’m really glad we’re having this conversation,” he says at one point—it is helpful to be remembering these lessons in self-presentation just as he prepares for job interviews.

It is a part of the bitter undercurrent of Asian-American life that meritocracy comes to an abrupt end after graduation.

“I guess what I would like is to become so good at something that my social deficiencies no longer matter,” he tells me. Chu is a bright, diligent, impeccably credentialed young man born in the United States. He is optimistic about his ability to earn respect in the world. But he doubts he will ever feel the same comfort in his skin that he glimpsed in the people he met at Williams. That kind of comfort, he says—“I think it’s generations away.”

Sidney Awards: A small town druggist

Pharmacist Don Colcord Sustains Nucla, Colorado : The New Yorker: Elderly folks refer to him as “Dr. Don,” although he has no medical degree and discourages people from using this title. He doesn’t wear a nametag. “I wear old Levi’s,” he says. “People want to talk to somebody who looks like them, talks like them, is part of the community. I know a lot of pharmacists wear a coat because it makes you look more professional. But it’s different here.” He would rather be known as a druggist. “A druggist is the guy who repairs your watch and your glasses,” he explains. “A pharmacist is the guy who works at Walmart.”


The decisions we pay attention to - the political fights, the dividing paths history writes of, the moments of personal anguish movies portray - these are only a part of the choices that bind and carry us, the visible actions. Our lives are much more shaped by a chorus of non-decision decisions - the times when our backgrounds and our identities shape our actions, in decision points so automatic we easily miss them as they pass by.

These decisions, these choices, are called culture. We give gifts for Christmas because we always have; we pass on the left because we always have; we work hard because we are supposed to - because working hard is a part of being ourselves.

For some of us.

The great work, the great discipline that we honor and know, is not in the single decisions, but in shaping the predictable long-term choices that we can expect from someone, of honesty and steadfastness.