Worth Reading for March 2006

3/31 Being a Brief Guide to Religious Denominations in America:

A Baptist is a man who got saved.

A Methodist is a Baptist who got shoes.

A Congregationalist is a Methodist who moved to town.

A Presbyterian is a Congregationalist who got rich.

An Episcopalian is a Presbyterian who ran for public office.

(Author unknown.)

3/30 In the Chronicle, Diane Ravitch has a short history of the College Boards and SAT—and a suggestion that we revive the College Boards.

3/29 An extended interview with Chinese democracy activist Wei Jingsheng, who was imprisoned by the communist Chinese for twenty years. And here’s an interesting, briefer interview with Shelby Steele, author of the new classic The Content of Our Character.

3/28 Professor David Mayer argues that political “progressives” are anything but that.

3/27 Do you recall the (now-debunked) claim that 500 scientists had signed a letter opposing evolution and supporting “Intelligent Design”? Here’s a snappy comeback: the Alliance for Science has published a letter with the signatures of 10,000 members of the clergy who support evolution. And here is a troubling item: some public school districts in Arkansas prohibit teachers from mentioning evolution.

3/25 Collectivism and human rights: Disabled newborns are killed in North Korea, says a defector. Here is a musical based on an unlikely theme: North Korean concentration camps. (Thanks to Karen for the link.) A picture that is worth one-hundred-thousand words: North Korea is dark. And R. J. Rummel has this summary overview of the horror that is living in North Korea.

3/24 In Wired, Will Wright, creator of The Sims, argues that video games build “creativity, community, self-esteem, problem-solving” skills. Not to mention that growing up on video games means you can kick tail on the real battlefield.

3/23 Political philosopher Tibor Machan takes the editors of a recent book on business ethics to task for a package-deal besmirching of libertarianism. And economist George Reisman places the blame for higher oil prices on those who help prop up the Middle Eastern cartel—including the U.S. Senate.

3/22 Is it teaching-versus-research in higher education? Professor Jonathan Zimmerman argues that it is time to give teaching more weight. Or is it athletics-versus-education at some state universities? Nobel Prize-winning physicist Carl Wieman is fed up with the University of Colorado. And here is an example of the education bureaucrat mindset in action. (Via John Enright.)

3/21 Fascinating: a study released in 2005 by Shanghai Jiao Tong University: The Top 100 Universities in the World. The global-distribution patterns are striking: Of the top 10 in the world—8 are in North America, and 2 are in Europe. Of the top 30 universities—23 are in North America, 5 are in Europe, and 2 are in Asia. Of the top 50 universities—39 are in North America, 9 are in Europe, and 2 are in Asia.

3/20 Fortune magazine has a list of 10 cool colleges for entrepreneurs. I especially like the University of Rochester’s idea of integrating entrepreneurship across the curriculum rather than having it located only in the business department. And Forbes has a great list: The Twenty Most Important Tools Ever. (Thanks to Roger for the link.)

3/19 Art insight: painter Michael Newberry explains and illustrates triangulation of light and color.

3/18 Aesthetics—from beauty to edginess: Donald Pittenger begins a chronicle on the decline and fall of the classical face.

3/17 Professor Margaret Soltan suggests that the professor-as-intellectual is obsolete and asks a dangerous question: Do sabbaticals create more value than they cost?

3/16 Fruits of the Enlightenment: Researchers have restored the vision of mice blinded by brain damage. And scientists have harvested stem cells from menstrual blood.

3/15 Bjørn Stærk requests that we translate Shakespeare into English.

3/14 With March Madness upon us, Neal McCluskey takes on the morality of taxpayer money and public university sports programs. (Via University Diaries.)

3/13 Why are there so many unhappy endings in great literature? And how can we change that? Ben Macintyre shows us how To Cuddle a Mockingbird.

3/11 Has another Michelangelo fresco been authenticated? And here is a site with some good quality images of Leonardo da Vinci sketches.

3/10 FIRE has announced its college speech code of the month.

3/9 When government schools fail, some of them turn to the private sector for help. On the other hand, as Mark Lerner reports, some failing government schools turn to yet more centralized, top-down control.

3/8 Simply excellent: Dr. Wafa Sultan on Al Jazeera television. Joshua Zader also has the link and some key quotations from the talk. And R. J. Rummel has the text of a widely-distributed letter written by Major General Vernon Chong, Command Surgeon, Headquarters U.S. European Command, Stuttgart, Germany. Update: Here is a follow-up article on Waha Sultan and her outstanding interview. (Thanks to Karen for the Sultan links.)

3/7 In the new Cato Unbound, philosopher David Schmidtz asks: When does inequality actually make a difference?

3/6 Breath-taking photographs of aurora phenomena. And is Jupiter developing a new red spot?

3/4 In the Literary Encyclopedia, Ashland University’s John Lewis states that “Ayn Rand wrote the most intellectually challenging fiction of her generation” and provides an introduction to the themes of Rand’s novels. Grant Schulyer opines about the state of the debate about Ayn Rand’s literary and philosophical significance. In a talk to SLIS, doctoral student Robert White gives an overview of Ayn Rand’s thought and significance. And if your German is up to it, check out Kapitalismus-Magazin, Freie Radikale—Das Blog der deutsch- sprachigen Objektivisten, and Objektivismus. Update: George Reisman takes Robert Mayhew to task for altering Ayn Rand’s wording in a newly-published volume of her Q & A.

3/3 For researchers and admirers of the Enlightenment: Electronic Enlightenment, a developing site with texts and correspondence of over 3,800 eighteenth-century figures. Check out also the Voltaire Foundation, the force behind Electronic Enlightenment.

3/2 In The New York Times, Dr. Brian Day on Canada’s socialized medical system: “This is a country in which dogs can get a hip replacement in under a week and in which humans can wait two to three years.” Worth reading again is Mark Steyn’s review of a Canadian film, The Barbarian Invasions. And at Division of Labour, Frank Stephenson follows up on the issue of how much high medical bills contribute to personal bankruptcies in the USA.

3/1 At San Francisco’s Exploratorium, a set of science experiments anyone can do. And Australian scientists have grown a prostate gland from stem cells.