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Current Affairs

September 22, 2014

"The Downside of Giving Every Student a Laptop"

I believe it

A new study suggests the policy may be doing more harm than good. It finds public school students in North Carolina who gain their first regular access to a home computer between the fifth and eighth grades experience “a persistent decline in reading and math test scores.”

In their analysis of data from 2000 to 2005, economist Jacob Vigdor and his colleagues warn that, for disadvantaged youngsters, the positive impact of having access to online instruction “may be negated by counterproductive use of computers, particularly by students in unsupervised home environments.”

Makes L.A.'s initiative seem all the more dopey: "Supt. Deasy's early and avid support of iPads under intense scrutiny".

"The Subsidy Show: Colbert, Fallon and the crony capitalism of the creative class"

More refutation of "government is the name we give to things we do together". Why should New York residents have to pay to keep Colbert and Fallon where they were going to stay anyway?

See also "California Triples Film And Tax Credits Even As Other States Say They're A Huge Waste Of Money" and "Are film tax credits cost effective?"

September 18, 2014

"Common Core’s Five Big Half-Truths"

Frederick Hess of AEI whacks common core some.

September 17, 2014

"There Are Now 52 Explanations For The Pause In Global Warming"

60? Do I hear 60?

(Call me crazy, but this reminds me of Ptolmaic epicycles.)

September 16, 2014

"Sinkhole of bureaucracy"

I would say I didn't believe it, but these days I'd believe almost anything about the federal government.

This is one of the weirdest workplaces in the U.S. government — both for where it is and for what it does.

Here, inside the caverns of an old Pennsylvania limestone mine, there are 600 employees of the Office of Personnel Management. Their task is nothing top-secret. It is to process the retirement papers of the government’s own workers.

But that system has a spectacular flaw. It still must be done entirely by hand, and almost entirely on paper.

Link courtesy of Patrick S.

"5 Feminist Myths That Will Not Die"

Some nice examples of a lesson I tried very hard to teach my students: it's a good idea to check original sources

Much of what we hear about the plight of American women is false. Some faux facts have been repeated so often they are almost beyond the reach of critical analysis. Though they are baseless, these canards have become the foundation of Congressional debates, the inspiration for new legislation and the focus of college programs. Here are five of the most popular myths that should be rejected by all who are genuinely committed to improving the circumstances of women . . . 

"Bond market conundrum redux"

A distiniguished economist, James Hamilton, tries to figure out what's going on with long-term interest rates and equities

One old "joke" about conservatives is now obsolete

There's a joke about conservatives that runs along the line of "A conservative is someone who's desperately afraid that someone, somewhere is having fun."

But now in the very, very liberal UK Guardian we have this: "Brunch is a waste of time, money and drunken pleasure that you don't have".

(Is it satire? No, I don't think so, but make up your own minds.)

September 15, 2014

"Are Republicans smart enough to become the party of the millennials?"

I'd like to think so, but I have my doubts. (Irving Kristol memorably labeled Republicans "The Stupid Party".)

Chamorro-Premuzic notes that millennials are more likely to highly value freedom and independence, and to overestimate their own talents and to underestimate the difficulties inherent in entrepreneurial endeavors.

The key here is millennials hate to be told what to do. They want to do things their way and be creative about it. Getting rich isn't their first priority. . . . 

Regardless why millennials want to be independent, that desire could make them unusually receptive to a political message that emphasizes the importance of encouraging entrepreneurial freedom.

"The Simple Lesson We Should Learn from Global Economics"

Daniel J. Mitchell, senior fellow at Cato:

I very rarely feel sorry for statists. After all, these are the people who think that their feelings of envy and inadequacy justify bigger and more coercive government. . . .

But I nonetheless feel sorry for statists when I see them fumble, stumble, duck, and weave when asked why global evidence contradicts them.

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