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Remember Who The Enemy Is

Good article on Catching Fire. (I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I like this analysis.) The personal is political because there is no personal. There is no private realm to retreat into. Haymitch tells Katniss and Peeta that they will never get off the train – meaning that the reality TV parts they are required to play will continue until their deaths. It’s all an act, but there’s no…

Robert T. Conrad, Whig mayor of Philadelphia, 1854-1856.
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Rare Philadelphia win – for a Whig!

For the first time in 159 years, Philadelphians have elected a Whig to public office – specifically, putting a member of the Modern Whig Party into a spot as judge of elections in Northeast Philadelphia’s 56th Ward, in the Rhawnhurst section. Robert “Heshy” Bucholz, 39, a software engineer with four children and a fifth on the way, went door to door soliciting support from his neighbors and wound up garnering…

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Obamacare’s broken website cost more than LinkedIn, Spotify combined

Much of the criticism of Healthcare.gov has come from people who are fundamentally opposed to the idea of a government-mandaded website that manages the individual citizen’s purchase of health insurance from private providers. So, while I have been following with shock and dismay the  horror stories (long waits, incomprehensible error message, unhelpful live chats, unpopulated drop-down lists, etc.), when the critique of the website is used to justify opposition to…

A teacher’s troubling account of giving a 106-question standardized test to 11 year olds

All of that test-taking robs students of real learning time. This teacher reports that her students lost four class periods alone taking the GRADE. Even worse, her students are about to take another round of tests, the CDT’s, which are given on computers. Because the school’s classes are too large to fit in the computer lab, and there are so many classes that need to schedule testing, the lab won’t…

Comedian punches reporter who tweet-heckled him at ‘Funniest Celebrity in Washington’ contest

The tweets in question were pretty mild. In my journalism class, we’ve been talking a bit about the value of having a thick skin and taking the high road. Here’s an example of what can happen in the real world. Stand-up comic Dan Nainan, a comedy club road warrior whose credits include performing for President Obama, was arrested for allegedly punching a reporter in the face Wednesday night after his…

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The Case Against High-School Sports

“I’ve been in hundreds of classrooms,” says Singleton, who has spent 15 years as a principal and helped turn around other struggling schools. “This was the worst I’ve seen in my career. The kids were in control. The language was filthy. The teachers were not prepared.” By suspending sports, Singleton realized, he could save $150,000 in one year. A third of this amount was being paid to teachers as coaching…

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Intimations of Mortality

Plato, Montaigne, Pascal—those were the major figures in the philosophical pantheon of my student days. But concurrently, in my literature classes, I came to be moved by poems such as John Donne’s defiant sonnet “Death Be Not Proud,” which concludes on the paradoxically triumphant note that, for the dead, death shall be no more, that death shall die. I was later even more moved—no doubt because of the association with…

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Why I Like Papers, Please

At a certain point, the transit papers will get so complex that you will, inevitably, start making a lot of mistakes. This can become a serious problem as every incorrectly reviewed passport will deduct more and more cash from your pay at the end of the day. With your family’s lives on the line and the job getting tougher and tougher, the game asks you — like actually asks you,…

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Mars Curiosity rover sings ‘Happy Birthday,’ dares Earth to collect royalties

  One year ago today, NASA’s Curiosity rover touched down on the surface of Mars and began studying the planet. The rover may be lonely out there on its first birthday, but it won’t go entirely without celebration: NASA has repurposed Curiosity’s soil analysis system to play the tune of “Happy Birthday to You” out loud for all of Mars to hear. Though the analysis system doesn’t include a loudspeaker, it does…

America is raising a generation of interns – The Week

After hearing these numbers, I began to understand why Jessica felt lucky. Maybe she is fortunate to be earning $4.35 an hour at her ivory-tower job while she works nights and weekends as a waitress. Maybe a 10-month paid internship followed by graduate school and then perhaps another internship is the new lucky, particularly at a time when so many young people can’t find work at all. Still, I wondered:…