Author Archives: JR

About JR

There is nothing of merit to say about myself. At this point in time, anyway. Besides, I can't remember what I was going to say about myself.

01/20/2017: Faces of History

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The New York Times, Nov. 11, 2016

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01/19/2017: Bradley (and Powers) on the Contrasts of WWII

In the fall of 1942 America was fighting two very different enemies.

The battles in North Africa were between Westernized armies who fought by the “rules.” Ernie Pyle assured his millions of American readers that there the Germans were fighting “a pretty clean war.” The German Panzer leader Hans von Luck called it the “always fair war,” and when, years later, the German radio-television network ORTF produced a film on the campaign, its title was The War Without Hate.

Gentlemen’s agreements suspended hostilities for the day at five o’clock each afternoon, and each side held its fire for medics to care for the wounded.

Combat was fierce, casualties were heavy, and passion ran high when fighting the Germans. But rules were followed and a sense of restraint existed in Europe that was absent in the Pacific.

– James Bradley (with Ron Powers)
Flags of Our Fathers
(New York: Bantam Books, 2000), pg. 65

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01/18/2017: Hurst on Video Games

Between 2000 and 2015, the employment rate for lower-skilled men and women between the ages of 21 and 55 fell by 7.5 percentage points. (I’m going to refer to “lower skilled” as anyone with less than a bachelor’s degree.) To be concrete, just over 84 percent of lower-skilled men aged 21–55 had a job in 2000. That number was under 77 percent in 2015. A 7.5 percentage point decline in employment rates is a massive change relative to historical levels. What I also want to stress is that the decline has been persistent. It was falling prior to the recession, fell sharply during the recession, and has barely rebounded after the recession.

– Erik Hurst, Chicago Booth Review, Sept. 1, 2016

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01/17/2017: King on the Church

There was a time when the church was very powerful–in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being “disturbers of the peace” and “outside agitators.”‘ But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were “a colony of heaven,” called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be “astronomically intimidated.” By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests. Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent–and often even vocal–sanction of things as they are.

– Martin Luther King, Jr., “Letter from A Birmingham Jail,” Apr. 16. 1963

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01/16/2017: Orwell on Coal Mining

I am not a manual labourer and please God I never shall be one, but there are some kinds of manual work that I could do if I had to. At a pitch I could be a tolerable road-sweeper or an inefficient gardener or even a tenth-rate farm hand. But by no conceivable amount of effort or training could I become a coal-miner; the work would kill me in a few weeks.

– George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier, (Harcourt 1958), pg. 32

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01/13/2017: de Ruiter on Peer Review

Reviewers often do not understand the difference between studies with results that they don’t like and studies that have scientific flaws. This effectively leads to reviewers using their power to eliminate or hamper competitors.

– JP de Ruiter, Open Science

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01/12/2017: Taranto on Media Bias

Nor is it very interesting. To those of us who are aware of media bias, it is so familiar that we find the subject almost as tiresome as do those who are suffused with, and therefore oblivious to, it.

James Taranto, “Best of the Web Today,” Jan. 03, 2017

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