Day: February 6, 2005

Annals of the Decline and Fall (cont’d.)

The media and weblog nation are all over this massive study showing that students neither understand nor value their First Amendment rights. Many are drawing the wrong conclusion from this if they are primarily finding fault with the young people’s indifference or incomprehension. The more important finding is that the ignorance and apathy are directly related to the unwillingness of schools to teach the importance of free speech. But what do you expect? What proportion of American schools have caved on daring to teach evolution, for example? Besides, students have less free speech rights than almost any segment of society, so what do you expect them to learn?

Europe vs. America

I have been paying alot of attention recently to one inescapable fact. Denizens of the United States are the only people deluding themselves into believing that the United States is still the best place to live. In many of the respects that matter, quality of life is far better in the United States of Europe than it is here. ThisNew York Review of Books essay reviewing recent books on the theme by T. R. Reid, Jeremy Rifkin and Timothy Garton Ash manages to capture the essence of the debate. And you can’t simply dismiss it as typical NYRB America-bashing.

The Painful Truth

I have been fascinated and disturbed by the fact that the price paid for the reduction in battlefield mortality brought about by new body armor and combat medical intervention and evacuation techniques has been far more soldiers surviving with horrendous injuries to unprotected parts of their bodies such as limbs, and with horrendous acute and chronic pain. In a fascinating and disquieting Wired piece, Steve Silberman grapples with these implications as he profiles a pioneer of a revolutionary new anaesthetic pain relief technique known as continuous peripheral nerve block. I read this piece in the print edition of Wired and was impatient for it to appear online so I could blink to it.

Annals of the Decline and Fall (cont’d.)

The media and weblog nation are all over this massive study showing that students neither understand nor value their First Amendment rights. Many are drawing the wrong conclusion from this if they are primarily finding fault with the young people’s indifference or incomprehension. The more important finding is that the ignorance and apathy are directly related to the unwillingness of schools to teach the importance of free speech. But what do you expect? What proportion of American schools have caved on daring to teach evolution, for example? Besides, students have less free speech rights than almost any segment of society, so what do you expect them to learn?