The Nightstand Vol 2.13 (March 25-31)

Pick of the Week— The Ivy League was Another Planet (Claire Vaye Watkins, NYT)– I’m more interested in the research findings referenced here (namely, that poor students do not apply to schools that would be both of higher quality academically and more affordable (because of increased financial aid at more prestigious schools)), rather than the overarching suggestion that colleges and universities need to market themselves the way the military does.

Gay Marriage

Marriage Equality: Not Now, But Soon? (David Cole, NYRB)– Similar take by David Cole in the NYT here.

What about the effects on society if gays are allowed to marry? (sisterarnell, Shut the Door!)

Gay-Marriage Opponents, Left Behind (Gabriel Arana, The American Prospect)

Politics

Freedom Map and the Fallacies of Libertarianism (Matthew Yglesias, Slate)

Not Fun to Visit, and You Wouldn’t Want to Live There.  But the Taxes are Low! (Paul Waldman, The American Prospect)

On the Distribution of Income (Matthew Yglesias, Slate)

How an anti-rentier agenda might bring liberals and conservatives together (Mike Konczal, Wonkblog)

Harold Pollack: What ‘This American Life’ Missed on Disability Insurance (Brad Plumer, Wonkblog)– A follow up to the TAL podcast I linked to last week.  I mentioned that there were some problems.  I have now listened to the podcast and this post I think sums up most of the difficulties.

Three cheers for the nanny state (Sarah Conly, NYT)– As much as I can appreciate more libertarian arguments about choice and LDS theological arguments regarding agency, I think those arguments are significantly weakened by an appropriate skepticism about human rationality given the cognitive and behavioral research that has been done recently.

States gone wild (Bill Keller, NYT)

Remember: A Country is not a Company (Stephen Kinsella, Harvard Business Review)– In other words, beware anyone trying to make an analogy between the need for a family to balance its budget and a country (specifically, the United States) needing to balance its.  This is nonsense.

Culture

Google no longer needs the media (Paul Ford, Financial Times)– I am sad that Google Reader is going away, but I am really really enjoying my experience using Feedly, which, like Google Reader, carries over seamlessly with my laptop, work computer, iPad and iPhone.

Derrida: the excluded favorite (Emily Eakin, NYRB)– I love the anecdote in this story where Derrida’s entrance to the Ecole Normale Superieure was rejected on the basis that he was already using deconstruction on the exam.

The Nerd as Auteur in Bioshock Infinite (Harold Goldberg, NYT)-  I finished Bioshock Infinite about a week ago and it is as stunning as all the reviews say.  It is a perfect example of where all games ought to go– still fun, but literary and thought-provoking all at the same time.

Everything you think you know about poverty is wrong (Mercedes White, Deseret News)– Really proud of the fact that  this shows up in the Deseret News, which is, generally speaking, a more reactionary news organ.

Why I do not watch R-rated movies? (Aaron R., By Common Consent)– Currently my wife and I enjoy watching a number of R-rated movies through the ClearPlay DVD player, which allows us to customize our viewing to exclude some objectionable elements.  In general, it has worked pretty well for us, especially since I think there is a serious dearth of high-quality cinema in the PG and PG-13 categories.  However, I am constantly afraid that the ClearPlay company will go out of business, particularly since they have, as of yet, made no attempt to enter the Blu-Ray market and show no signs of trying to integrate their technology with the various streaming services that are becoming an increasing outlet for home movies.  What will I do when watching a cleaned-up R-rated movie is no longer an option?  If I am honest with myself, it is unrealistic that I will never see an uncensored R-rated movie again.  I may choose to be more discriminating and thoughtful about how many and what kinds of R-rated entertainment I see, but I will probably fold on this one.  Given that in terms of this “rule’s” history (as part of guidelines applicable to youth only) as compared to contemporary use (the R-rated specification is no longer taught as part of the rule), as well as its uneven application to foreign countries, it is hard to see that this is a rule that I should continue applying to myself as an adult.  Lots of fellow Mormons will probably sharply disagree with this choice of art and entertainment, but I have a pretty low opinion of their taste anyway.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, the Sequel (Rebecca Skloot, NYT)

Women and the LDS Priesthood

Unequal equalities (John C., By Common Consent)

Thoughts on the Ordination of Women: Our Diversity of Views (Feminist Mormon Housewives)– I thought this was a great encapsulation of the many different opinions among women (and men) who declare themselves as “feminists.”  This is not to mention the great majority of Mormon women that likely would shy away from such self-labeling.  In my own opinion, it will happen and it should happen.  For all of the emphasis on separating priesthood and motherhood, there is nothing, and I repeat, NOTHING in the LDS scriptural canon which both declares why only men can hold the priesthood and explains why.  There are plenty of places going back to the OT where it is simply assumed that only men can hold the priesthood.  Given that we do not (nor should we) accept many of the assumptions that held weight in those cultures, it is hard to make out a strictly scriptural case for such a restriction.  This, just like the priesthood ban on those of African descent, appears to be a policy wrapped in a tradition (or maybe its the other way around).  All of the standard logic that gets trotted out to defend the gender distinction is, like the same types of stories that floated about regarding Africans, folklore used to justify discrimination.  We ought to call it that and either forthrightly declare that women cannot, and will never, hold the priesthood and explain why, or get it over with.

The Brother of Jared Model: How do you ask for change in a church driven by revelation? (nat kelly, Feminist Mormon Housewives)

The Case Against Scouting (Nate Oman, Times & Seasons)– Amen and amen.  I say this as someone who, even not being LDS at the time, proceeded through the ranks and got my Eagle Scout, Order of the Arrow, yadda yadda yadda.  Even excluding from consideration the various BSA controversies, I remain unconvinced that the skills (camping, hiking, knot-tying) that Scouting spends a disproportionate amount of time focusing on are necessarily the ones that we ought to put our energy toward for any young man, not to mention as part of the Young Men’s program at church.

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