Monthly Archives: August 2013

Malcolm Gladwell: College Football Should Be Banned

Sunday on Fareed Zarakia GPS, author Malcolm Gladwell discussed his proposal to abolish college football.

Here is an excerpt from the interview.

You compare football to dog fighting. Why?

Yes, I did a piece for The New Yorker a couple of years ago where I said it. This was at the time when, remember, Michael Vick, was convicted of dog fighting. And to me, that was such a kind of, and the whole world got up in arms about this. How could he use dogs in a violent manner, in a way that compromised their health and integrity?

And I was just struck at the time by the unbelievable hypocrisy of people in football, for goodness sake, getting up in arms about someone who chose to fight dogs, to pit one dog against each other.

In what way is dog fighting any different from football on a certain level, right? I mean you take a young, vulnerable dog who was made vulnerable because of his allegiance to the owner and you ask him to engage in serious sustained physical combat with another dog under the control of another owner, right?

Well, what’s football? We take young boys, essentially, and we have them repeatedly, over the course of the season, smash each other in the head, with known neurological consequences.

And why do they do that? Out of an allegiance to their owners and their coaches and a feeling they’re participating in some grand American spectacle.

They’re the same thing. And the idea that as a culture we would be absolutely quick and sure about coming to the moral boiling point over the notion that you would do this to dogs and yet completely blind to the notion you would do this to young men is, to my mind, astonishing.

I mean there’s a certain point where I just said, you know, we have to say enough is enough.


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August 29, 2013 · 9:44 pm

“Do Baby Girls Cause Divorce? “

That was the question explored by economists on the Freakonomics podcast.

Here is a description of the podcast:

This episode was inspired by a question from a reader named John Dolan-Heitlinger, who wrote the following:

My wife has observed that in marriages where there is a son there is less chance of the husband leaving the marriage.

I wonder if that is true.

Thanks for your consideration.

Mr. Dolan-Heitlinger asks, and we deliver. And his wife, as it turns out, is right. In a paper called “The Demand for Sons,” the economists Enrico Moretti and Gordon B. Dahl examined differences in marital rates based on whether a first-born child is a son or daughter. Here are some of their findings:

  • Couples who conceive a child out of wedlock and find out that it will be a boy are more likely to marry before the birth of their baby.
  • Parents who have first-born girls are significantly more likely to be divorced.
  • Fathers are significantly less likely to be living with their children if they have daughters versus sons.
  • In any given year, roughly 52,000 first-born daughters younger than 12 years (and all their siblings) would have had a resident father if they had been boys.
  • Divorced fathers are much more likely to obtain custody of sons compared to daughters.

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August 28, 2013 · 7:47 am

Mendocino County Marijuana Regulation v. Federal Prohibition


A recent episode of This American Life discussed the interaction between federal law, which prohibits marijuana growing; California law, which permits it in limited circumstances; and a Mendocino County regulation that attempted to reconcile the two. 


Here is a description of the story: 


Under California law, it’s legal to grow marijuana for medicinal purposes if you have a doctor’s recommendation. A few years ago, Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman was trying to find a way to deal with the proliferation of marijuana in his county. Allman wanted to spend less time dealing with growers who were growing small, legal amounts, so he could focus on other problems — including criminals who run massive marijuana farms in the Mendocino National Forest. So he came up with a plan to allow the small farmers to grow, if they registered with his office. Growers would pay for little zip-ties they could put around the base of their marijuana plants, and the cops would know to leave them alone. It saved time and generated revenue. Reporter Mary Cuddehe tells the story of how the county and the nation responded to the sheriff’s plan. (18 minutes)


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August 26, 2013 · 10:04 pm

NC Voter ID Law Revives Fears of Racial Disenfranchisement

Recently, NPR’s All Things Considered discussed a new North Carolina voter ID law that some critics fear will make if harder for minorities and the poor to access poling places. 

Here is a description of the story: 

North Carolina’s governor signed a new law requiring a state-approved photo ID to cast a vote in a polling place and shortening the period for early voting. The move comes just weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which had required large parts of the state to get federal approval before changing voting laws.

Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, says the new law will protect the state from voter fraud.Critics say it reverses crucial reforms designed to help protect the rights of African-Americans, young people and the poor.

NPR’s Ailsa Chang visited rural areas of North Carolina to report on how the changes could affect poor minority voters who live there.

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August 25, 2013 · 11:06 pm

Obamacare: Answers and Explanations

With key parts of the Affordable Care Act going into effect  in less that two months, NPR’s Morning Edition answers some common questions about the Act. 

Here is a description of the segment: 

The Oct. 1 launch of the new health insurance exchanges is now less than two months away, and people are starting to pay attention to the changes these new marketplaces may bring to the nation’s health care system.

We know it’s confusing, so we’re spending part of the summer and fall answering at least some of your questions about the law. You can see earlier pieces in our series here and here.

Today we’re answering questions regarding two of the more frequent topics raised: student health plans and possible penalties for failing to obtain health insurance.

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August 24, 2013 · 8:53 am

County Court Clerk Fired After Providing Public Document to Exonerated Defendant

The most recent episode of This American Life, titled “I Was Just Trying To Help,” told the story of Sharon Snyder a clerk for circuit court judge in Missouri who provided an inmate a motion for DNA testing.  

Here is a description of the story: 

Ira speaks with Sharon Snyder. Until recently, Sharon was a clerk for circuit court judge in Missouri. While she was at work, a man and a woman approached her looking for some paperwork so they could help out their brother, who was in prison for rape. The prisoner claimed he was innocent of the crime and had decided to file a motion for a DNA test. Sharon decided to help the man with the paperwork, which didn’t please her employer. (6 minutes)

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August 21, 2013 · 12:25 pm

New Yorker on Civil Forfeiture

In a recent issue of the New Yorker, Sarah Stillman discusses how local governments use civil forfeiture to raise revenue and how often citizens who have not been convicted of a crime lose their property.  Stillman sat down with Patrick Radden Keefe and Nicohlas Thompson to discuss her piece on the New Yorker: Out Loud podcast. 

Here is a description of the podcast: 

This week in the magazine, Sarah Stillman reports on how local governments around the country are invoking the powers of civil forfeiture to take money and property from people who haven’t been convicted of any crime. Here, Nicholas Thompson talks with Stillman and Patrick Radden Keefe about these abuses and what they mean for the citizens targeted and the law-enforcement agencies using it to fund their budgets.

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August 20, 2013 · 2:49 pm