Friday, September 13, 2002 My Public Spirit Stops at My Daughter
Lefty explains why she sent her daughter to a private school.

Our public school system suffers from scarce resources: not enough teachers, too-large classes, not enough fine arts instruction or computers, and a finite number of slots for children in the schools that will challenge them. Sadly, most educational opportunities seem tied to money in one way or another: the higher mortgage payments for homes near the best public schools, or the tuition payments and waiting lists for private schools.

The (private) elementary school I attended had scarce resources, not enough teachers, too-large classes (50 students per class), no fine arts instruction, and no computers (it was the 50s & 60s) yet I managed to learn how to read, write, and compute. Amazing! Course it wasn't a government school.

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

So someone has decided to remake The Four Feathers. For the 7th! time or so in movie history. The novel by the Victorian writer A.E.W. Mason is more of a study of personal and social attitudes towards courage than an action story. The films have tended to focus more on the action than on the discussions of the nature of courage and cowardice.

I wonder if any other novel has had so many movie versions?
Careful With Those Surveys

CAREFUL WITH THOSE SURVEYS: There's been much talk recently about the First Amendment Center / American Journalism Review survey that purportedly shows that Americans "think the First Amendment goes too far in the rights it guarantees." I say "purportedly" because I've come to distrust media accounts of surveys, especially if they do not contain links to the actual text of the survey instrument. (The American Journalism Review article that I cite does not include such a link, though it does say "poll to come"; perhaps they're planning to post it soon. In the meantime, if anyone knows where the text is posted, and can pass it along, I'd be much obliged.)

Here's the actual survey. A lot of the questions seem a bit flaky of the "Has the media been too aggressive in covering the WOT" variety. Not an FA question. Survey creators should try and be direct.

A more interesting question is whether or not the First Amendment has suffered in the WOT. I haven't seen too many cases. There's the webmaster being indicted for terrorism in a case that may raise issues about FA-protected activities which supply assistance to terrorists.

Probably the best tracking of FA terrorism problems is supplied by Chilling Effects of Anti-Terrorism "National Security" Toll on Freedom of Expression from the Electronic Frontier Foundation. A casual review of the list doesn't reveal any genuine shut down orders. Lots of talk-talk but very little action.

Monday, September 09, 2002

Eugene Volokh:

In a recent discussion on a lawprofs' discussion list, I again heard the claim that "the vast majority" of prisoners are not morally culpable because they're in prison for a drug-related crime. I'd heard this claim before, so I decided to look this up -- and it turns out that, at least as of 1997, 24% of the federal and state prisoners had drug offenses listed as their most serious offense.

But there is still the interesting question of other crimes beyond drugs. I don't know what Professor Volokh feels about malum in se vs malum prohibitum. Obviously, tax and regulatory crimes are not "wrongs" (including selling tobacco to 17-year olds). You can't go to hell for them. How bad can a crime be if it was not recognized as a crime until say 1986 (like money laundering)? Not very bad.