Monthly Archives: April 2013

Fareed Zakaria on Boston Bombings: What We Should Learn.

I have been hesitant to post coverage of the Boston bombings, primarily because the coverage has been poor. The most notable example of this is CNN’s embarrassing speculation about the suspects.

In contrast, Fareed Zakaria provides thoughtful reflections on the attack and what we should take away from it.


April 23, 2013 · 1:54 pm

More on Rape and Victims’ Rights

After yesterday’s post about the emotional Radio Lab segment, “Rape and Reasonable Doubt”,  I was reminded of a Moral Maze episode that debated victims’ rights and how victims are/should be treated in the criminal justice system.  This Moral Maze debate provides an intellectual take on an issue that is emotionally charged and has high moral stakes.

Here is a part of Moral Maze‘s description of the episode:

The death of Frances Andrade, who killed herself days after testifying against Michael Brewer, the choirmaster who indecently assaulted her, has prompted a debate on how courts handle such cases. Could her suicide have been prevented? Did the defence counsel who cross-examined her, calling her a liar and a fantasist, bear some responsibility for her death? Or is it always important for the defence to challenge prosecution witnesses as robustly as the judge will allow? If so, the duty to protect vulnerable witnesses must rest with the police and the Crown Prosecution Service – and yet their overriding aim is to obtain a conviction. Frances Andrade was persuaded to give evidence (she did not herself initiate the investigation); perhaps she would have been better advised not to?

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April 22, 2013 · 8:49 am

Rape and Reasonable Doubt

NPR’s Radio Lab tells the chilling story of a man falsely convicted of rape.  

On July 29th, 1985, a 36-year-old woman named Penny Beerntsen went for a jog on the beach near her home. About a mile into her run, she passed a man in a leather jacket, said hello and kept running. On her way back, he re-appeared. What happened next would cause Penny to question everything she thought she knew about judging people — and, in the end, her ability to be certain of anything.

NOTE: This segment contains graphic descriptions of sexual assault and violence.

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April 21, 2013 · 8:24 pm

Teaching Grit: How “Non-Cognitive Skills” Lead to Success

Last year, Ira Glass devoted an episode of This American Life to interviewing Paul Tough, author of How Children Succeed.  

They talk about the focus on cognitive abilities, conventional “book smarts.” They discuss the current emphasis on these kinds of skills in American education, and the emphasis standardized testing, and then turn our attention to a growing body of research that suggests we may be on the verge of a new approach to some of the biggest challenges facing American schools today. Paul Tough discusses how “non-cognitive skills” — qualities like tenacity, resilience, impulse control — are being viewed as increasingly vital in education, and Ira speaks with economist James Heckman, who’s been at the center of this research and this shift.

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April 20, 2013 · 9:38 am

Daily Show on Second Amendment Hypocrisy

In the wake of terrorism in Boston, Jon Stewart chronicles Congressional Second Amendment hypocrisy.  Legislators who were unwilling to  curtail the Second Amendment in order to combat the scourge of violence in our inner cities (which has caused nearly a million American deaths since 1970) were more than willing to sacrifice other Constitutional liberties in order to combat terrorism (which has caused approximately 3,400 deaths since 1980). 

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April 19, 2013 · 11:26 pm

Daily Show on Immigration Reform

Jon Stewart and Al Madrigal discuss the GOP’s proposed path to citizenship and Latinos proposed path for the Republicans to the White House.  

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April 18, 2013 · 12:01 pm

Even More on Taxes: Donald Duck and Disney Propaganda

Planet Money recently re-aired an episode chronicling “The Surprisingly Entertaining History Of The Income Tax.” This history includes Donald Duck (above) and a dying Supreme Court Justice. To understand the Donald Duck propaganda (“Taxes to beat the Axis!”), I recommend listening the the Planet Money story first.

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April 17, 2013 · 12:21 pm