Links We’re Reading – January 10-20, 2011

One wonders why so many people wind up in the clink, and Sen. Webb wants to dig into that question, which is awesome.

My answer to him was, “John, when people thought the earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the earth was spherical, they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together.”

The basic trouble, you see, is that people think that “right” and “wrong” are absolute; that everything that isn’t perfectly and completely right is totally and equally wrong.

However, I don’t think that’s so. It seems to me that right and wrong are fuzzy concepts, and I will devote this essay to an explanation of why I think so. – Isaac Asimov

  • The Tucson Shooting’s Most Important Questions – A fantastic compilation of real questions in the wake of the attempted assassination of Rep. Giffords. Worth pondering.
  • A Divorce Dispute Becomes A Religious Cause – I grew up in New Hampshire, where this case is a cause celebre. The courts are asking the right question, what about the rights of a NON-religious parent?
  • The Relativity of Wrong – A classic Asimov essay on false equvilency, and worth revisiting after the tragedy in Tucson. Both sides do not “do it” to the same extent.
  • What Is Violent Rhetoric – A rhetorician (yes, that’s a word) actually defines “violent rhetoric.” Summary: audience matters.
  • Civility 101 – In the same vein, a Berkeley professor explains civility. “So when we ask for civility from our politicians, we are really asking for a recognition that they see themselves, along with us, as members of a cohesive and functional society. It would seem to be the least we can expect from them.”
  • To Understand Assassination Threat, Look Beyond Tucson – Nate Silver is able to take a step back, and hopefully we can all take that step back with him.
  • Post-Abortion Counseling Group Finds Itself on the Firing Line – A great article about an organization dedicated to counseling, rather than judging, after a woman has an abortion.
  • Forclosures In Focus At The Assembly – An article in which I agree, completely, with Bob Marshall. Maybe the President is right about this working together thing.
  • Taxes – Supervisor Miller does a fantastic job breaking down the most charged issue in Loudoun politics. If you read nothing else, read this.
  • Got Dough? How Billionaires Rule Our Schools – Fascinating expose of how private money defines the debate over schools, often to the detriment of meaningful results. An excerpt is worth repeating:

    To justify their campaign, ed reformers repeat, mantra-like, that U.S. students are trailing far behind their peers in other nations, that U.S. public schools are failing. The claims are specious. Two of the three major international tests-the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study and the Trends in International Math and Science Study-break down student scores according to the poverty rate in each school. The tests are given every five years. The most recent results (2006) showed the following: students in U.S. schools where the poverty rate was less than 10 percent ranked first in reading, first in science, and third in math. When the poverty rate was 10 percent to 25 percent, U.S. students still ranked first in reading and science. But as the poverty rate rose still higher, students ranked lower and lower. Twenty percent of all U.S. schools have poverty rates over 75 percent. The average ranking of American students reflects this. The problem is not public schools; it is poverty. And as dozens of studies have shown, the gap in cognitive, physical, and social development between children in poverty and middle-class children is set by age three.