Mobile phones, mobile numbers

by Eszter Hargittai on October 22, 2003

For those who may not be in the know, starting Nov 24th it will be possible to switch your cell phone provider in the U.S. without having to get a new phone number. There have been several extensions granted to cell providers on meeting this requirement so we probably shouldn’t hold our breath, but it may happen this time. Wireless number portability – the official name for all this – should be useful for those who have been deterred from switching due to the costs of having to change one’s phone number.

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Leaves on the line

by Chris Bertram on October 22, 2003

Travellers on Britain’s rail network are used to long delays and an all-round miserable experience. They are also used to implausible sounding announcement involving excuses aimed at “customers” (“passengers” having been abolished by some deranged management consultant around the time of privatization). One well known one is “leaves on the line”. Now the Guardian “has an account”:http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,3604,1067932,00.html of why the leaves might indeed have become a problem, and only recently! “The wrong kind of snow” still awaits an adequate explanation. (Hat tip to “The Virtual Stoa”:http://users.ox.ac.uk/~magd1368/weblog/blogger.html .)

Home schooling

by Chris Bertram on October 22, 2003

I’ve just given a talk on education and social justice over at our Graduate School of Education. It was a fairly low key affair, aimed at some graduate students with no prior knowledge of political philosophy (and one CT-reader, as it turned out). So I concentrated on elaborating Rawls’s principles of justice and explaining how they might or might not feed into debates on educational policy. (I was greatly helped in this by reading Adam Swift’s extraordinarily clear and well-argued “How Not to Be a Hypocrite: School Choice for the Morally Perplexed Parent”:http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0415311179/junius-21 . Even if you disagree with Swift, he’ll help you to sort out your own thinking.) The point of the talk wasn’t to say that Rawlsian principles mandate this or that solution, but rather to explore how they could inform policy arguments. One of the questions I had from the floor concerned the permissibility of home schooling. Here’s, roughly, what I said as an off-the-top of my head Rawlsian response.

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Krugman watch

by Henry on October 22, 2003

Looks as though Dan’s “prediction”:https://www.crookedtimber.org/archives/000695.html has come to pass; Glenn Reynolds “claims grandly”:http://www.instapundit.com/archives/012127.php in Instabolded type that the “ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE is blasting Paul Krugman for anti-Semitism.” To put it as kindly as possible, this is a rather … overenthusiastic interpretation of the ADL’s “letter”:http://www.adl.org/media_watch/newspapers/20031021-NYTimes.htm to the New York Times, which merely suggests that Krugman “underestimates the significance of the anti-Semitic diatribe by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.” Of course, this isn’t the first time that Reynolds’ enthusiasm for a good slur has gotten in the way of the facts, but surely he can do better than this. Does he even read the stuff that he links to? I wonder.

Neighborhood values

by Henry on October 22, 2003

I went to see _Mystic River_ last weekend – strongly recommended. Sean Penn is outstanding, Tim Robbins very nearly as good, and there isn’t a single bad, or even middling performance. It’s the best movie that I’ve seen in the last two years. However, I still reckon that you should read Dennis Lehane’s original book too. The movie concentrates almost exclusively on the individuals and the moral choices that they make. It thus misses out on one of the richer aspects of the novel – the relationship between honour, community and assimilation among immigrant groups.

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Bumper Stickers

by Kieran Healy on October 22, 2003

David Bernstein at Volokh posts about his favorite bumper stickers. The central mystery about bumper stickers in the U.S., by the way, is why they are called “bumper stickers” in the first place seeing as Americans call bumpers “fenders.” But I digress.

David’s favorite stickers are determined wholly by his politics. One of his “all-time favorites” is “If you can’t read this, thank the public schools,” which doesn’t seem that interesting to me. (Its counterpart, “If you can read this, thank a teacher,” isn’t much good, either.) His least favorite ones endorse lefty sentiments that he has no time for. Two of my favorite stickers comment on religious matters, though they endorse differing world views. The first is “In case of Rapture, this vehicle will be empty.” The second, which I’ve only seen once (on a car in New Jersey), is “Jesus loves you, but everyone else thinks you’re an asshole.”