A Busy Week in Madison

by Harry on February 5, 2007

I’ve got a busy week ahead, at two public events to which everyone around Madison is welcome, if they can bring themselves to leave their homes. The first is Tuesday night, at the Madison Public Library. UW Madison’s Center for the Humanities is sponsoring a 2-part forum on the topic of The Good Childhood (cool poster here). The speakers tomorrow are myself and Sally Schrag (an expert on child ddevelopment and educator of child-care workers); next Tuesday (the 13th) we’ll have Anne Lundin (of our SLIS department) and Carole Trone, who is a historian of childhood. Several respondents will also be at one event or another, including a newly minted member of the Wisconsin House of Representatives, and an excellent local elementary school principal.

On Wednesday and Thursday our Educational Policy Studies department is hosting its annual conference. This year the topic is “Education and Educational Research in an Era of Accountability: Insights and Blindspots“. The Keynote Speaker on Wednesday night is Richard Elmore. I’m speaking on Thursday at 9 am on the topic “Values in Evaluation: Why Empirical Evidence is Never Enough”. I’m currently trying to figure out how many nice things to say abut NCLB. This will be followed by excellent sessions looking at empirical evidence and the problems of gathering it. The past few conferences have been great, and the only thing that threatens this one is the weather.

London Review of Hezbollah, not.

by Chris Bertram on February 5, 2007

Eugene Goodheart writes in the latest issue of _Dissent_, in an article entitled “The London Review of Hezbollah”:http://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/?article=733 :

bq. The London Review of Books is an egregious instance of this one-sidedness. Almost _every issue contains several articles devoted to attacks on Israel_ [emphasis added], and the target is not simply the governing party, but the whole spectrum of Israeli political life. _Absent from the columns of the Review are the injustices and cruelties of political Islam_ [emphasis added].

Perhaps accuracy is not Mr Goodheart’s strong point. Maybe he is merely unfortunate that the latest issue of the LRB contains “an article by James Meek”:http://www.lrb.co.uk/v29/n03/meek01_.html that begins:

bq. In 1995, in Sudan, Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri put two teenage boys on trial for treason, sodomy and attempted murder, in a Sharia court of his own devising. Of the two boys, one, Ahmed, was only 13. Zawahiri, the partner in terror of Osama bin Laden, had them stripped naked; he showed that they had reached puberty, and therefore counted as adults. The court found the boys guilty. Zawahiri had them shot, filmed their confessions and executions, and put video copies out to warn other potential traitors.

But even allowing the publication of Meek’s article as a mere co-incidence that should not be held against him, Goodheart’s case is not strong. A perusal of the LRB’s online archives reveals a total of five articles about the Middle East in 2006, some of which are, of course, about Iraq. To those should no doubt be added the well-known Mearsheimer and Walt piece. The LRB is published 24 times a year.

UPDATE: it turns out (thanks to Henry and K. Williams in the comments below) that the LRB’s online indexing is crap. The final para above is incorrect, but the basic point stands and the following para would have been better:

But even allowing the publication of Meek’s article as a mere co-incidence that should not be held against him, Goodheart’s case is not strong. A perusal of the LRB’s back issues reveals a total of 17 articles critical of Israel in 2006, but ten of these come from two issues published during the invasion of Lebanon (and the LRB is published 24 times a year). It is certainly false to say, as Goodheart does, that “Almost every issue contains several articles devoted to attacks on Israel.”

Taxing Citizenship

by Harry on February 5, 2007

Yesterday’s NYT carries an editorial on proposed fee hikes at Citizenship and Immigration Services. It turns out that the section concerned with issuing visas and granting citizenship has to pay for itself, and is planning to raise fees in order to reduce the extraordinary waiting times and to improve customer service from the currently less-than-stellar levels (native American citizens might not know what I mean by that, but the immigrants among you do):

The application fee for citizenship would rise to $595 from $330. The fee for permanent residency would increase to $905 from $325, and charges for bringing in a foreign spouse or employee would more than double

The Times blames Congress for requiring that immigrants pay for the service which serves them, and I’m sure that there is no sensible economic rationale for that. But, I fear, Congress is unlikely to heed the Times’ advice. So what about an alternative: a tax on citizenship?

[click to continue…]

Science Wars: The Battle of Five Armies

by John Q on February 5, 2007

Chris Mooney, author of The Republican War on Science has joined forces with Alan Sokal, scourge of leftwing relativism and pseudoscience, in an LA Times op-ed piece on the current state of the Science Wars.

As Mooney and Sokal note, the decline of antiscience views on the left

frees up defenders of science to combat the enemy on our other flank: an unholy (and uneasy) alliance of economically driven attacks on science (on issues such as global climate change, mercury pollution and what constitutes a good diet) and theologically impelled ones (in areas such as evolution, reproductive health and embryonic stem cell research).

[click to continue…]