Rainy Afternoon Links

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

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43 Responses to “Rainy Afternoon Links”

  1. #1 |  random guy | 

    “God made the idiot for practice, then he made the school board.”
    – Mark Twain

    If by ‘hilarious’ you mean depressing, then yeah. Writing Thomas Jefferson out of the enlightenment section of the curriculum to insert John Calvin and Thomas Aquinas (neither of which were part of the enlightenment) is something alright. Of course this is what happens when people like Cynthia Dunbar get elected to public office. A woman who believes public education is evil, not just unconstitutional or flawed but evil in a biblical sense, was given power over these institutions by Texan voters.

    I pity the Texas schoolchildren, the number of remedial classes they are going to have to take in college is going to be enormous.

  2. #2 |  Mike | 

    Strange how people so object to doing to the legal industry what everyone wants to do to the medical industry.

  3. #3 |  Lior | 

    Netflix themselves should have given up on the competition regardless of the FTC lawsuit. There are serious privacy issues with releasing the data — it’s possible to recover the identities of the subscribers from the list of movies they saw and information from other web databases. Finding a way to genuinely anonymize the data is a highly non-trivial open problem; I’d say it makes sense to have just this bit the subject of the competition.

  4. #4 |  Anthony Knox | 

    My leg!

    And they wonder why people don’t watch soccer in the U.S.

    If we want to see a bunch of flopping whiners, we can always watch the NBA.

  5. #5 |  Mattocracy | 

    That is an epic mustache. Alas, a mustache of doucheness.

  6. #6 |  ClubMedSux | 

    Re: the Scott Greenfield link…

    I find it amusing that a law professor would harp about the lack of affordable legal services. Here’s my question to Gillian Hadfield, the USC law professor quoted in the article: Law school tuition at USC in 1999 was $26,092/year. A decade later, it is $44,674. That’s a 71% increase. Legal services are so expensive in part because young lawyers like myself have to pay back $150,000+ in student loans. So, Ms. Hadfield, how hard have you pushed to keep law school tuition down? Because if your answer is what I expect it is, then you should shut your pie hole.

  7. #7 |  Marty | 

    it was kinda surreal reading the article about keeping legal fees down and then reading about legal action shutting netflix’s attempt to innovate down… these two articles, along with articles about plea bargaining and people going to prison for victimless crimes, make it clear that it is way past time for us to figure out how to bring the law back to the people.

  8. #8 |  Frank | 

    @1 The problem is that Texas wags the entire national textbook dog. This is going to effect schools nationwide.

  9. #9 |  Evan | 

    Brad Mehldau is great. I just got Highway Rider today, didn’t have a chance to listen to it yet. I saw him at the Kimmel Center in Philly a couple of years ago. He played solo for about 2 hours and everyone was riveted. One of the best concerts I’ve seen.

  10. #10 |  random guy | 

    Im aware of that Frank, for those that don’t know currently textbook publishers change thier books to meet the demands of the big two markets, Texas and California. Texas actually has a bigger influence in this regard as they purchase the textbooks statewide whereas California leaves it to the individual districts to select their books. So essentially every other state has to choose from books that have been tailored to meet the demands of these markets, ie the curriculum of Texas and/or California. For most subjects its no bid deal, but with the increasing trend to politicize history and science especially from the far right

    But the economics of that might change soon if the curriculum for Texas becomes so divorced from reality that no other state can use them. Essentially publishers will have to choose between books that can be sold in Texas and books that can be sold anywhere else because they aren’t full of revisionist-history-Christian-nation idiocy.

  11. #11 |  random guy | 

    Ugh. That should read:

    “For most subjects its no bid deal, but the increasing trend to politicize history and science, especially from the far right, affects how these subjects are taught on a national level.”

  12. #12 |  Matt D | 

    Agreed with #3. We’re not talking about Netflix’s freedom to innovate, we’re talking about their freedom to innovate by releasing massive amounts of ostensibly-private customer data to the public. Being as they don’t give their customers any choice about having their rental history included in that data, I’m not sure what exactly a person is supposed to do except sue.

  13. #13 |  Xenocles | 

    Anyone seen this one? http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35853365/ns/us_news-life//

    It seems the police in this case just decided to out the woman because she was being uppity.

  14. #14 |  Marc | 

    Remember when states were pitching the idea to band together and throw all their electoral votes to whomever won the popular vote for President, hoping to get a majority of electoral votes with the pact and thereby completely destroy the electoral college? Whether or not you agreed with that plan, I think the states out there that are still sane need to band together like that on the subject of school textbooks, so that they can amass a larger combined market than Texas, demand textbooks that do not follow these new Texas BOE standards, and make sure this bullshit never poisons the minds of anyone outside of Texas.

    All I know is, if I did end up having children, and they went to school and brought home a textbook with that information / lack of information, I’d scream bloody murder!

  15. #15 |  Sky | 

    Re: Texas Education…here’s another take on the story


    I’m scared to admit this is my home state and our children(thank god mine is grown) are f*cked.

  16. #16 |  Toonhead | 

    I suspect as laptop and electronic publishing becomes more widespread, the influence of Texas BOE will diminish.

  17. #17 |  Aresen | 

    @ Xenocles | March 13th, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    Looks like pure blue douchebaggery to me. No reason to out her in the report – other than the fact that she didn’t jump through hoops like they wanted her to.

    I hope she sues their blue asses off.

  18. #18 |  B | 

    I’m guessing the fundies on the TX BOE are still pissed about Jefferson editing Jesus’ divinity out of the Bible.

    It would be funny to think of this as a sort of tit-for-tat across the centuries…if I actually believed for a minute that they knew their history well enough to even know about that…

  19. #19 |  anne | 

    If it makes any of you feel better, I am a high school teacher and can attest that these so called standards are basically just an excuse for these idiots to circle jerk themselves for a few weeks. Teachers basically ignore them and teach what they want. Perhaps that itself is a problem, but at least it’s a decentralized one and any egregious educational damage is minimal.
    Also, take it from me: most of the kids aren’t paying attention anyway -even to good teachers. Long story short, there are a ton of steps, filters, factors, variables, etc. between these morons’ work and the kids.

  20. #20 |  Buc | 

    Damn, read that cannabis in Hawaii article and got pissed.

    Besides the usual stuff like the world’s biggest gang being involved, the commenters consistently bring up the argument that resources should be used to go after ‘hard drugs’ like meth and heroin. This implies that these resources can only be used to go after consensual crime and not anything else such as… giving people back the money that was stolen from them in the form of the income tax.

    Give me a break and stop being so damn hypocritical. How about you just reduce the size of police forces since there are, apparently, all these resources that can be used elsewhere.

    Legalizing all drugs would reduce real crime in 2 ways:
    1) Cartels would no longer receive nearly as much funding as they do now.
    2) Police would no longer receive nearly as much funding as they do now.

  21. #21 |  j a higginbotham | 

    Cool! That’s two links I’ve mentioned in comments this week which have made it to the big time. :-)

    Journalists who have been in the game far longer than I tell me this kind of thing happens all the time. Bigger outlets don’t really feel obligated to credit smaller ones for breaking stories.

  22. #22 |  TC | 

    Anthony Knox

    “If we want to see a bunch of flopping whiners, we can always watch the NBA.”

    That flick should be titled “Manu Ginnobli and the art of the flop”!



    ” …..are basically just an excuse for these idiots to circle jerk themselves for a few weeks.” ….

    I was feeling the exact same way about the gathering. Whacking off so they can tell us how to study ejaculates!

    “…. most of the kids aren’t paying attention anyway …..”

    Not many college level history folks are going to even care. But HS students…. they are wondering how they can get into a circle jerk!

  23. #23 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    Um, Radley, the Netflix program was revealing a lot of personal data. And it was demonstrated that it could be de-anonymised fairly easily. And they were revealing this pretty much to *anyone*.

    That’s not an issue you care about?

  24. #24 |  ClassAction | 

    I am a lawyer and have always been vociferously opposed to the legal monopoly. The truth is, and every American lawyer knows it, attendance at a three year law school is nothing more than an expensive barrier to the practice of law to keep out the hoi polloi. Once you’re committed to repaying $100,000 in student loans, you find out how quickly your priorities in practicing law change.

    The three year law school is a recent invention. It used to be that there were multiple paths to the practice of law, including paths that Abraham Lincoln and John Adams took – self-study coupled with a brief apprenticeship with a practicing lawyer to learn the ropes. There are many, many legal services, needed especially by the poor, that trained paralegals would be more than able to provide excellent representation for. I worked for legal services during law school, and paralegals with a little practical training could have easily represented our clients for anything in front of an administrative law judge – unemployment hearings, social security hearings, meetings with the IRS, dealing with agencies like the DMV, etc. A lot of them who had been doing this stuff for years would have been better advocates than I was at that point in my career.

  25. #25 |  David Whitton | 

    I think the Texas BOE don’t know much about Thomas Aquinas, I’m no scholar but I read that he was all for the supremacy of logic over any literal reading of the Bible. He wrote:
    “Beware the man of one book”

  26. #26 |  boomshanka | 

    #24 Class Action – agree with you completely. The 3rd year of law school is a complete waste of time, and still most law grads don’t know how to practice when they leave. There’s too much emphasis on “thinking like a lawyer” rather than training students to actually represent a client in the real world. There are plenty of recent grads who end up underemployed but would gladly provide services for $50/hr if they knew what they hell they were doing. But most law schools still expect the grad’s first employer to teach them how to be a lawyer instead of just thinking like one.

  27. #27 |  Frank | 

    No Sunday blog up yet, so I’ll pass on that a certain Vermont coffee house is having their facebook page slammed over getting a photographer who was taking pictures on public space banned from an entire mall.


  28. #28 |  Mo | 

    Looks like they’re well on the way to killing Texas’ stranglehold on textbooks.


  29. #29 |  Steve | 

    Football flopping reminds me of Sean Avery:


    You know how the NHL dealt with the problem? a list of every player who got a diving penalty in the last week was mailed to every single franchise and prominantly displayed in the locker rooms of each team.


  30. #30 |  flukebucket | 

    I refuse to believe that a man with such an amazing mustache could be such a twerp.

    Not only a twerp but a convicted murderer. Stabs his brother to death and gets 4 years? Damn.

  31. #31 |  ktc2 | 

    So, Texas or Kansas, which has the dumbest school board?

    What an embarassment.

  32. #32 |  Alex | 

    I’m confused on the education story. There must be some reason you all are siding with a lefty Austin group, but I’m not seeing it.

    The Jefferson question is complicated, but in a world history course, what’s wrong erring on the side of not repeating US history? Besides, as Enlightenment philosophers go, Smith and Franklin are at least as important as Jefferson. And understanding Aquinas and Calvin is actually pretty important to understanding Enlightenment philosophers.

    The second part is beyond my comprehension. Gun control advocates don’t want the Second Amendment emphasized as much as the First . . . and you guys are on board.

    “Board member Mavis Knight offers the following amendment: “examine the reasons the Founding Fathers protected religious freedom in America by barring government from promoting or disfavoring any particular religion over all others.” — They go on to hyperventilate over this failing. Established churches aside (Mass, etc.), I’ve never heard the First Amendment interpreted this strongly. If it’s true, wouldn’t every soldier be entitled to his own personal chaplain? What about Christmas holidays? I’m pretty sure this didn’t merit their histrionic conclusion.

  33. #33 |  Cynical in CA | 

    Kurt Vonnegut defined a twerp as, “A guy who puts false teeth in his ass and bites the buttons off taxi cab seats.”

  34. #34 |  random guy | 

    Alex –

    The board was specifically dealing with a section about the development of liberal democracy. The board removed references to the Enlightenment and Thomas Jefferson and inserted a reference to John Calvin, the man who believed submission to tyrants was equivalent to obedience to God. Calvin had nothing to do with the formation of liberal democracy, and to include him in place of the Enlightenment or Jefferson is a travesty. So it isn’t as complicated in context.

    The ranting about the second amendment came up during a discussion covering the teaching of the first amendment. It wasn’t about gun control advocates wanting to diminish the second amendment, it was about the board needlessly inserting discussion of the second amendment in unrelated sections. Cynthia Dunbar even suggested removing the entire section dealing with the first amendment, unless discussion of the second was included in that section, ignoring the fact that the second was already covered elsewhere in the curriculum. The first amendment is usually covered separately because it concerns five different rights, each with a long history in court cases and civil struggles throughout US History. Throwing the second amendment in that section was a complete non sequitur. If they wanted to improve the coverage of the second amendment they should have dealt with section covering the other amendments.

    They even voted to remove the section discussing freedom of religion in America, because people like Cynthia Dunbar think the founding fathers wanted to promote religion and that the amendment “isn’t historically accurate”. She thinks the people who wrote the constitution got it wrong, and she is getting her crazy opinions put into Texas public schools. Its not just about her either, the other republicans on the board agree with her and vote along the same lines, these people are ignorant of history and science and they appear to just be filling in the blanks of their knowledge with crackpot ideology.

  35. #35 |  Alex | 

    I don’t think you have a very good grasp of what the Texas Freedom Network is (hint: it’s not libertarian). If you do, we’re just going to have to agree to disagree on what kind of bias is in blogs like these. Also:

    I think the most published of the major Protestant reformers is worth studying relative to the Enlightenment (maybe not HS though) and most definitely was an early contributor to the formation of representative, if not liberal, democracies.

    And I really can’t believe you’re defending that amendment. How does “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” equal “barring government from promoting or disfavoring any particular religion over all others.” It doesn’t. Connecticut. QED.

  36. #36 |  ClassAction | 


    What’s your preoccupation with identifying the political orientation of the group in question? Who cares? Their criticisms of the Texas school board are either legitimate on their merits or not. Whether they are a “lefty” organization or just “not libertarian” is irrelevant to whether their particular stance on this issue is correct or not.

  37. #37 |  Andrew Williams | 

    And people wonder why George W Bush went around the country saying things like, “Is our children learning.”

    Sheesh, Texas, get your fucking act together.

  38. #38 |  Andrew Williams | 

    #33 C in CA: If I remember right, Vonnegut added to his definition of twerps to include guys who sniff girls’ bicycle seats.

  39. #39 |  Cynical in CA | 

    Andrew, that’s called a “snarf.”


    OMG, I’m so nerdy.

  40. #40 |  Alex | 

    “Their criticisms of the Texas school board are either legitimate on their merits or not. Whether they are a “lefty” organization or just “not libertarian” is irrelevant to whether their particular stance on this issue is correct or not.”

    It’s not their criticisms that are the problem as much as the reporting. Is their any journalistic medium like to be more biased than a 501 blog? If you take at face value all blogs by Balko’s friend’s friends go right ahead, but I have standards. One of those standards involves knowing the history of 2nd Amendment debate in the Texas BOE and that this particular accounting of a couple minutes does no justice to the real, longstanding feud. But whatever, you saw a blog.

    BTW, I’m not the boogieman you want me to be. I’ve criticized citing AEI here also because IMO their scholarly work is overshadowed by their devotion to an anti-environmentalism, anti-regulation agenda. I know from personal experience that their “scholars” are mostly post-docs who have not a clue about the complex industries they attempt to analyze. If AEI declared economic policy and TFN social, the country would be far better off. But that doesn’t mean they’re not political animals better suited for debating than reporting.

  41. #41 |  ClassAction | 


    You are a legend in your own mind. 90% of your response details a response to an argument that exists only in your head. I’ve never held you out to be a “boogieman.” I simplymade one criticism regarding your preoccupation with the political orientation of the group, and pointed out that a position stands or falls on its own merits, not because the group or person that argues it subscribes to a disfavored or favored political ideology.

  42. #42 |  random guy | 

    “And I really can’t believe you’re defending that amendment. How does “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” equal “barring government from promoting or disfavoring any particular religion over all others.” It doesn’t. Connecticut. QED.” – Alex.

    Are you purposely being obtuse or just accidentally? In order for the government to officially support or condemn a religion it would have to be drafted into law, which the amendment forbids. If such a directive isn’t a law there is no obligation to obey it, if it is a law then it makes an unconstitutional reference to religion. A legislator, or anyone else for that matter, is free to hold a different opinion but as far as the amendment is worded the intent is very clear.

    You haven’t referenced another source regarding the Texas BOE meeting, if the blog is wrong then by all means do us a favor and give us a better source. But you can’t claim to know that the report is wrong because of bias, based on nothing but your own bias. Aside from your vague claims to some kind of insider knowledge, you haven’t added any real information to the discussion, just smug assertions. So yeah, you’re not a boogieman, just a nameless, sourceless, naysayer.

  43. #43 |  albatross | 

    The most important thing you can do to overcome the impact of stupid, politicized textbook committees, stupid politicized school boards, stupid politicized teachers, etc., is to teach your own kids to think outside the range of what they’re told to think. Propaganda will always be with us, and most of it that your kids and mine will encounter will be smarter than the state-sponsored fairy tales they get in high school American History class. They need to develop immunity to it.

    This doesn’t help the rest of the kids so much. But the dumb and uninterested ones won’t retain much of whatever fairy tales they’re taught, and most of the smart ones will notice they’re being lied to and, after a period of overcompensation (aka college years), will develop a stronger intellectual immune system for it.