Pick of the Week— The Tyranny of the Billable Hour (Steven J. Harper, NYT)– I bill by the hour and it is a miserable way of life. Actually, “life” is a pretty poor way to describe it. After about a year, it starts to affect the way you think about doing ordinary pleasurable things, like having lunch with a friend or going to the doctor when you are sick.
A fairer way to evaluate teachers (Bill Gates, WaPo)– I think I have already said this elsewhere in The Nightstand, but my oldest daughter starts kindergarten next year (in Texas) and I am already dreading the avalanche of tests that are in front of us. She’s brilliant, so I am not worried about that part, but it’s not the best way to spend her time (or her teacher’s).
Essay-Grading Software Offers Professors a Break (John Markoff, NYT)
Data Comes to the Culture Wars (Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen, The American Prospect)
Can We Patent Life? (Michael Specter, The New Yorker)
Nature’s Case for Same-Sex Marriage (David George Haskell, NYT)
A Secret Deal on Drones, Sealed in Blood (Mark Mazzetti, NYT)
The case for expanding Social Security, not cutting it (Brad Plumer, Wonkblog)
The confused debate over Obamacare and insurance premiums (Ezra Klein, Wonkblog)
America’s taxes are the most progressive in the world. Its government is among the least. (Dylan Matthews, Wonkblog)
The gun debate’s inconvenient truths (Steve Erickson, The American Prospect)
Secrecy for Sale: Inside the global offshore money maze (The Center for Public Integrity)
The simple, boring reason why disability has exploded (Brad Plumer, Wonkblog)
Rewrite the Second Amendment (Zachery Elkins, NYT)– I still can’t quite get over when the Founders decided to put together the Bill of Rights, why guns had to be literally the second thing on the list.
When We Loved Form 1040 (Lawrence Zelenak, NYT)- My federal income tax class at Duke Law was taught by Zelenak. I have to admit that I do not find filing my taxes to be as painful as some apparently do. My wife and I more or less know that we will be getting a refund ahead of time and we are basically sitting on our computers waiting for all the forms to come in on January 31 so we can hit send through TurboTax. Also, very little sympathy for those who wait until April 15th to file.
Health Care: The New American Sadism (Charles Simic, NYRB)
Where I Left Conservatives (Matthew James, McSweeney’s)
How the IRS Hurts Mothers (Lilian Faulhaber, NYT)
Roger Ebert, A Critic for the Common Man (Douglas Martin, NYT)– After Ebert died, it was surprising to go back and see some of the real gems that he hated (Star Wars, Fight Club, The Usual Suspects) while he loved some duds (The Phantom Menace). I loved most of his reviews and found them quite useful, but he had more of a populist taste than some other critics.
When did you get hooked? (John Lanchester, London Review of Books)– Great primer to the first couple of Song of Ice and Fire books (and TV seasons). If you are thinking about getting into it, but have not, this is a good place to start. But be warned, spoilers abound.
What Being a Handyman has Taught Me About Male Insecurity (Andy Hinds, The Atlantic)– I have a handyman do almost everything around our house and it does not affect my male identity one bit. Ariel knows that if I have to do fix-it projects, it probably means me being sullen and mean for a whole day.
Why would I want a traditional marriage? (Elena Botella, Duke Chronicle)
The National Digital Public Library is Launched (Robert Darnton, NYRB)– This is the type of utopian project I am all for throwing a ridiculous amount of money towards.
Not Doing Better than our Parents and Loving It (or, Why Keynes Was Right) (Jerry Britto, the Umlaut)
The Bitcoin Bubble and the Future of Currency (Felix Salmon, Medium)
Questions (Steve Peck, By Common Consent)
Most of the posts on Mormon issues this week have to do with women and the priesthood. I am ultimately in favor of this change. I think that whatever changes might be made, true equality in the Church does not come until women hold the priesthood. I’m also convinced that, whether a revelation needs to be received or not, we are at least a generation away from having a leadership and membership that is ready to receive it.
Established by Jesus Christ himself (Kaimi Wenger, Times & Seasons)
Strands of Priesthood (Julie M. Smith, Times & Seasons)
‘Some women are concerned that they don’t hold the priesthood’ (Julie M. Smith, Times & Seasons)
A short post about Christ’s priesthood (Reese Dixon, Feminist Mormon Housewives)
Mormonism, Interfaith Marriage, and the Practice of Pluralism (Ben Park, Peculiar People)
‘A foot washing Jesuit’ (Ron Madson, The Mormon Worker)
Marrying Out of the Faith (Stanley Fish, NYT)
Scientology: The Story (Diane Johnson, NYRB)
Pope Francis: A Jesuit self in the world (J. Michelle Molina, WaPo)
For the Supreme Court, Silence can be Golden (Cass Sunstein, Bloomberg View)
Why Gay Marriages are a Good Idea, but Marriage Equality Worries Me (Nate Oman, Times & Seasons)
In Mexican Villages, Few are Left to Dream of US (Damien Cave, NYT)
Elite in China Face Austerity Under Xi’s Rule (Andrew Jacobs, NYT)
Low-Cost Drugs in Poor Nations Get a Life in Indian Court (Gardiner Harris, Katie Thomas, NYT)- I wrote about something similar as part of my journal article at Duke Law. Bottom line– if fancy new drugs are going to be tested on poor, sick populations in developing countries, those same populations should be given preferential cheap access to the same drugs.