All entries by this author

Those Endless Twin Studies *

Apr 6th, 2003 | Filed by

Exactly how much do genes determine? Natalie Angier says nobody knows yet.… Read the rest



‘The Hook-handed Cleric’ *

Apr 6th, 2003 | Filed by

Is it hysteria, or caution born of experience, that prompts fears about ‘radical Muslim clerics’?… Read the rest



Interview with Azar Nafisi *

Apr 5th, 2003 | Filed by

Female genital mutilation, oppression in general, should not be brushed off as someone’s ‘culture’, Iranian teacher in exile says.… Read the rest



‘Meritocracy’ is a Canard *

Apr 5th, 2003 | Filed by

Louis Menand says American education is not meritocratic and never has been.… Read the rest



Jagged and Brittle Style *

Apr 5th, 2003 | Filed by

Slate adds that the hostile voice of Kelly’s column was hard to square with his personality.… Read the rest



Michael Kelly *

Apr 5th, 2003 | Filed by

Four New Republic writers on disliking Kelly’s politics while loving his personal qualities.… Read the rest



Insightful on Flabby Presuppositions *

Apr 5th, 2003 | Filed by

Daniel Dennett joins his enthusiasm for Darwinian biology to years of thinking about free will in ‘Freedom Evolves’.… Read the rest



Hutton and Kagan

Apr 4th, 2003 5:41 pm | By

I usually whinge a lot about the mediocrity and tameness and blandness of the US public television network, but it does have one excellent show (no, two, Nova is a frequently-good science show): Frontline. It outdid itself last night with its account of Tony Blair’s struggle to keep George Bush and his neoconservative advisers from attacking Iraq without UN sanction. And today it offers an array of fascinating interviews, debates, email arguments on its website.

This one for instance between Will Hutton and Robert Kagan, in which Hutton reminds Kagan that the US is an Enlightenment product too, not a strange Martian novelty.

For what needs to be said as loudly and clearly as possible is that the U.S.A. is

Read the rest


Background on Blair, Bush, and the War *

Apr 4th, 2003 | Filed by

The PBS show ‘Frontline’ offers a wealth of material on the negotiations over Iraq, the UN, diplomacy, pre-emptive war, and Blair’s role.… Read the rest



A Divided Left *

Apr 4th, 2003 | Filed by

Paul Berman, Timothy Garton Ash, David Rieff discuss the Iraq war.… Read the rest



Class Divide in Education *

Apr 3rd, 2003 | Filed by

Report ‘shows that educational success in Britain is more determined by social class than in any other country.’… Read the rest



Supremes Release Tape *

Apr 3rd, 2003 | Filed by

Wide interest in affirmative action case prompts the Supreme Court to release tape of the hearings.… Read the rest



Are Private Schools Unfair? *

Apr 3rd, 2003 | Filed by

Adam Swift’s new book argues that educational privilege is incompatible with equality of opportunity.… Read the rest



Two of Them

Apr 2nd, 2003 9:08 pm | By

So there (see below) are two of my operating assumptions. That many words important for our understanding and conversation are not transparent, not self-evident – indeed are worse than that, are apparently self-evident and straightforward but in fact not. Thus we have a false sense of security when we use them, we take them for granted and at face value, and assume that everyone understands them exactly as we do. But such is not the case. My second operating assumption is that this matters, it’s a problem, it causes problems, and should never be lost sight of.

Elitism is one of those words. I have a running argument with a friend, who is forever telling me that I’m an elitist … Read the rest



Operating Assumptions

Apr 2nd, 2003 6:53 pm | By

We all have our operating assumptions, and it can be interesting and even useful sometimes to figure out what our own and other people’s are. One of my own that I often notice is not universal, is that Things Could Be Better. That improvement is needed, that there are errors and misunderstandings that need pointing out and fixing. Of course, in one sense, that’s too obvious to need stating, and everyone knows it: no one is fool enough to think everything everywhere is perfect at all times. But some people do seem to have a default assumption that the world is all right and
straightforward and self-evident and easily managed, that problems and confusions and mistakes are the exception not … Read the rest



What is Hypocrisy? *

Apr 2nd, 2003 | Filed by

Adam Swift examines some bad moves in the argument over education.… Read the rest



E.O. Wilson *

Apr 2nd, 2003 | Filed by

Harvard profiles the pioneer of sociobiology.… Read the rest



Two Very Different Views of the War *

Apr 2nd, 2003 | Filed by

One speaker critical of Bush’s foreign policy, one who helped create it.… Read the rest



Audio of Supreme Court Debate *

Apr 2nd, 2003 | Filed by

National Public Radio offers highlights of arguments on Affirmative Action. Hear Scalia in full sarcastic mode.… Read the rest



US Supreme Court Hears Affirmative Action Case *

Apr 2nd, 2003 | Filed by

Rice backs Bush but acknowledges she was a beneficiary of Affirmative Action; Powell disagrees with the President.… Read the rest