A Cultural Scorecard Says West Is Ahead

“As the author of ‘Losing Ground’ (1984), which argued that social programs do more harm than good, and then, with Richard J. Herrnstein, of ‘The Bell Curve’ (1994), which theorized a genetic basis for class and IQ differences between blacks and whites, (Charles) Murray has repeatedly managed what for a scholar is too rare a feat to be entirely accidental: to capture the national spotlight by arousing public ire. Is it any surprise that his latest book seems intended to inflame passions once again?

Published on Oct. 21 by HarperCollins and accompanied by a publicity release optimistically anointing it ‘his most ambitious and controversial work yet,’ ‘Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 B.C. to 1950’ is well timed to stir debate. At a moment of considerable East-West tension, when the phrase ‘clash of civilizations’ has rarely had greater currency, Mr. Murray has issued what he says is a mathematically precise global assessment of human achievement, a ‘résumé’ of the species in which Europeans like Shakespeare, Beethoven and Einstein predominate and in which Christianity stands out as a crucial spur to excellence. Equally provocative, he maintains that the rate of Western accomplishment is currently in decline.” —New York Times


The Anger Management Industry

Calming Courses on the Rise, But Do They Work? “Anger management is a thriving industry in the United States. It is the subject of hundreds of books, workshops and videos. Across the nation, judges are now sending thousands of people to take anger management programs instead of serving jail time. And yet, as NPR’s Robert Siegel, host of All Things Considered, discovers, there is no national criteria, no oversight and no evaluation of the efficacy of these programs.

Siegel’s radio piece is punctuated by several outbursts of anger from celebrities. Listen to the outbursts and see if you can match the rant with the person below…” —NPR


Gadget may wreak traffic havoc

“In-car device lets drivers change stoplights; officials fear gridlock, seek to block signal:

Tired of sitting at endless red lights? Frustrated by lights that turn from green to red too quickly, trapping you in traffic?

Now anyone can breeze through congested intersections just like the police, thanks to a $300 dashboard device that changes traffic lights from red to green, making nasty commutes a thing of the past and leaving other drivers open-mouthed at your ability to manipulate traffic.

But what if everyone had one?

That’s the fear of traffic control officials, who believe chaos would take over the roads. That’s also the potential facing communities from Troy to Washington Township as Internet-marketed knockoffs of the device — originally intended only for police and fire vehicles — have become available to the public.

The knockoffs have traffic engineers investigating whether lockout measures will work against the copycats and whether hundreds of thousands of dollars in traffic technology investments will become obsolete.

Police are worried about the possibility of intersection chaos if people duel over control for lights. But even more fundamentally, the dashboard device may be impossible to detect even from a police car right next to it, and it may be perfectly legal anyway.”