Thoughts and Notes

Authors and texts

Narnia's lion really is Jesus - Sunday Times - Times Online
AN unpublished letter from the novelist C S Lewis has provided conclusive proof of the Christian message in his Narnia children’s books.

In the letter [to be published in a new collection of Lewis' letters], sent to a child fan in 1961, Lewis writes: “The whole Narnian story is about Christ.â€?
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Identity and modularity

news @ nature.com - Mind trick 'whittles the waist' - Illusion helps scientists to spot brain regions that shape our body image.
Scientists have harnessed a perceptual trick known as the 'Pinocchio illusion' to help pinpoint the brain regions that control how we view our bodies. They made the discovery by scanning the brains of volunteers experiencing the illusion, which involved stimulating their wrist tendons to make them feel thinner.

Fiction as a resource for academic inquiry

John Grishamm, The Broker

Sure, this is a great book that fulfills all the prerequisite of its genre in a way that allows the reader to probe some of the possibilities of depth. The writing is taut (although I've only listened to it as a book on tape) and reminds me of the masters: Elmore Leonard and (my all time favorite) Carl Hiaasen.

Challenges facing feminism in post-communist Czech Republic

iDNES.cz - Nový zákon přesně urÄ?uje, co je sexuální obtěžování
Nový trestní zákon, který přijali poslanci tento týden, zavádí trestný Ä?in, který přesně definuje sexuální obtěžování. Od ledna 2007 bude za sexuální obtěžování bude hrozit od 6 měsíců do 8 let vězení.
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Conceptual consequences

Nature or nurture? - The Boston Globe
Well, it turns out that the more you believe homosexuality is innate, the more accepting you are of gay rights. A full 79 percent of people who think human beings are born with a sexual orientation support gay rights, including civil unions or marriage equality. But only 22 percent of those who believe homosexuality is a choice agree.

Culture wars and personal identity

Conservative U. -- in cyberspace - Los Angeles Times
FIFTEEN YEARS AGO, conservatives saw a country that was split about 50-50 between the left and the right, as it is today and will continue to be for a long time. But the country's main cultural institutions were nearly all liberal — making conservatives rage and despair. Things have now changed for the better, and technology has been the main enabler.

A Man's Right to Choose - A Feminist Issue?

A Man's Right to Choose - New York Times
NOBODY is arguing that we should let my friend who impregnated his girlfriend off the hook. If you play, you must pay. But if you pay, you should get some say. If a father is willing to legally commit to supporting and raising the child himself, why should a woman be able to end a pregnancy that she knew was a possibility of consensual sex? Why couldn't I make the same claim - that I am going to keep the baby regardless of whether she wants it or not?

Why is the 'new' UK drive toward synthetic phonics ridiculous

BBC NEWS | Education | Primary reading set for overhaul
The way children are taught to read in primary schools in England needs to be changed, says a government review.

It has backed the method synthetic phonics, which teaches children the sounds of letters and combination of letters before they move onto books.
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Terror's stealth weapon: women - Los Angeles Times

Terror's stealth weapon: women - Los Angeles Times
The stereotype exploited by terrorists is that women are gentle, submissive and nonviolent. Women evade most terrorist profiles because they are perceived as wives and mothers, victims of war-torn societies, not bombers. But terrorist organizations are increasingly employing women to carry out the most deadly attacks.

Labor's Lost Story

A column about labor relations and automotive job losses.

Labor's Lost Story
Almost everybody right of center sees the job losses as inevitable, the result of the American auto industry's failure to meet foreign competition and the "excessively" generous wages, health benefits and, especially, retirement programs negotiated by Reuther's union.

Real literacy?

Killing the written word by snippets - Los Angeles Times
Students are trading in books for search-and-seizure learning on the Internet, and real literacy is getting lost along the way.
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One memorable freshman sagely informed me that people shouldn't be reading entire volumes these days anyway.
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There's no 'good' divorce - The Boston Globe

There's no 'good' divorce - The Boston Globe
Many experts and parents embrace the idea, confident that it's not divorce itself that harms children but simply the way that parents divorce. If divorced parents stay involved with their child and don't fight with each other, they say, then children will be fine.

There's only one problem. It's not true.

Speed of technological progress and social effects

iDNES.cz - Å est Å¡kůdců, kteří zaruÄ?eně zniÄ?í váš poÄ?ítaÄ?
Pokud nenastane zvrat v použitých technologiích, za 15 let budou procesory a grafické Ä?ipy vyzařovat na centimetr Ä?vereÄ?ný stejné teplo jako sluneÄ?ní povrch.

Models in professional knowledge

Unexpected countenance of change - The Boston Globe
SOMEONE, a psychiatrist, discouragingly once said that people don't change very much, but the little ways they change, when they do change, are enormous. It seemed a dour but accurate assessment.

It was practical wisdom -- the kind someone would acquire after being in the business many admirable years. Just recently, a patient proved to me that it is utterly wrong.
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Discrepancies in Testing

Students Ace State Tests, but Earn D's From U.S. - New York Times
A comparison of state test results against the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress, a federal test mandated by the No Child Left Behind law, shows that wide discrepancies between the state and federal findings were commonplace.

The American Dream and varieties of national self-esteem

Replant the American Dream
When I lived abroad, Thanksgiving was always my favorite holiday. It was a chance to scrounge up a turkey, gather foreign and American friends, and celebrate what America represented to the world. I liked to give a sentimental toast when the turkey arrived at the table, and more than once I had my foreign guests in tears. They loved the American dream as much as I did.

They Held Their Noses, and Ate - New York Times

They Held Their Noses, and Ate - New York Times Proper notions of English husbandry generally demanded that flesh be domesticated, grain neatly planted and fruit and vegetables cultivated in gardens and orchards. Given these expectations, English migrants recoiled upon discovering that the native inhabitants hunted their game, grew their grain haphazardly and foraged for fruit and vegetables. Squash, corn, turkey and ripe cranberries might have tasted perfectly fine to the English settlers.

Turning academia into a cafeteria - Los Angeles Times

Turning academia into a cafeteria - Los Angeles Times DECADES AGO, I clutched an official New York state examination booklet as a proctor threatened me and hundreds of my nervous schoolmates with a felony conviction if we cheated. We dutifully signed a statement that declared we would not. Students still sign declarations on examination booklets, but the lingo has changed. Choice is now in.

On some mental representations of personal identity

Who would have thought that a simple misspelling of a person's name would cost me so much time. But it did happen and it was an entirely my fault. A friend whose name is pronounced by all and sundry Maia or Myra, spells her name (as a consequence of Welsh blood in her East Anglian veins) 'Mair' (the correct pronunciation of which is m-ay-rr, as I learned). Recently, on an occasion of no consequence to this story, I unthinkingly misspelled her name as Myra. I could simply berate myself for sloppiness and go on to do better next time.