Sunday, August 16, 2015

Reflecting on life in college

This is a nice little account of how Harvard University is attempting to foster introspection in their students, by having them compare what they really value in life to what they need to do to get there, and how this may differ from how they actually spend their time.  I wish all education at all levels had a bit more of this, of making students really weigh what they want and believe in and make their lives more coherent with this.  Not just a few pilot groups at the nation's most elite university.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Poignant childhood romance

Here is an essay (accompanied by a video) written by a woman who was separated from her childhood boyfriend by the Bosnian war, and reunited with him sixteen years later.  It is so poignant and bittersweet, and hits me hard in this moment when my family is visiting Colombia for an extended period and I'm separated from the people I love.  My story is very different from the details of this author, but I have tasted in different proportions and combinations childhood, love, and the fear of violence.  So the essay really spoke to me.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Radically egalitarian entrepreneur

Here is an article about a tech startup owner that lowered his own salary in order to raise that of his employees.  Apparently this brought much consternation and censure from the business community at large.  To me such a reaction is another sign of the perverse commitment many in our society seem to have to inequality and injustice, almost extolling them as if they were virtues.  This inverted morality was also on display in the documentary video I linked to recently on inequality.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Tom Brady vs. a Little League team

This is an insightful analysis of "Deflategate", the scandal involving the New England Patriots' cheating by deflating the footballs they played with.  The author points out the racial double standard in US pro sports, whereby Richard Sherman, after making a good play and bragging about it, is demonized as unsportsmanlike (not to mention thuggish and apelike), while Tom Brady, after shitting on the very principle of sportsmanlike conduct by repeatedly, calculatedly cheating, receives little criticism.  The author also cites an all black Little League team from Roseland, Chicago who was stripped of their national championship due to a minor technical violation.  (The rule the team broke was recruiting from "outside their zone", which is absurd considering that the Roseland neighborhood is a very transient place of school closures, public housing relocation, and people moving in and out as their fortunes change.  I imagine it would be almost impossible to field an entire team of kids just from the neighborhood that stayed in exactly the same place for a whole year.)  Anyway, those big bad Chicago pre-teens had to be made an example of, though no one would ever think of robbing the poor little millinaires on the New England Patriots of the titles they've won while systematically cheating.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Documentary on wealth gaps


This documentary was made back in 2006.  I like it, though the filmmaker could have articulated his argument better, more concisely.  The scenes where he interviews Milton Friedman show that he doesn't have a very nuanced, clear idea of exactly what's wrong.  The filmmaker is instinctively aware that something is wrong, but the details escape him.  I can relate--the guy is probably about my age, and much of the nuance of my understanding of the current economic system has developed in the years since 2006.  Props to the Chicago wealthy heir, who is the one rich guy other than the filmmaker who is at least aware of and thinking about the implications of wealth disparities and gentrification.