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The aggregation of years of dining hall conversations, tavern debates, and dorm room bull sessions are my most valuable memories. And honestly, I learned more ... That too will move online, in fact it already has. Facebook, twitter, blogs and for decades now, fora dedicated to discussion of specific subjects. That said, hands-on experience is still essential for many subjects and will continue to be. Plus, we already know, that lectures have their limitations and that chat-room discussions (or video conferences) are inferior to actually getting people together in one room. Third, college also teaches lots of important social skills e.g. collaboration, presentation and discussion. Those can be taught online as well, but so far that's been an inferior choice. If ultimately, most college educated people end up working from home as well that evaluation might change, but as long as most people work with co-workers at a workplace, we might as well prepare them for that experience in a similar environment. So at most we might end up with two "shifts" of students taught every year: Half during summer and winter, half during autumn and fall, with the rest of the time spent learning online or through books. Faculties will shrink and specialise and there'll probably and even stronger seperation between teaching faculty and research faculty. The benefit of a qualified teacher's presence (and his limited & paid time) can no more be supplanted by the internet and video technology than through a really good textbook.
Toggle Commented Sep 15, 2009 on Are Universities Doomed? at Obsidian Wings
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@Hartmut I imagine "that could have been you or someone you know" would work with some of the people you describe. Also, the alternative is not "going free" that's a different debate about the reach of criminal investigations and one's day in court, one in which e.g. Miranda skews things very much in favour of letting some criminals escape in order to avoid convicting innocents. That debate is pretty much over unless you're suspected of being a terrorist. The death penalty is just about sentencing and IMO the relevant dimension here is people's willingness to use criminal law to be vengeful and to inspire fear versus those interested in impartial justice. In that light, I think the massive influence of Christianity and it's US-specific focus on the old testament showing a God of wrath and fury is the pivot. Culturally we win this one to the extent that we're able to convince people that Jesus teachings of love, mercy and forgiveness are more important. There are states without a death penalty statute, so the evidence, that the sky doesn't fall if one stops executing people is already there. That said, I do think there's a bit of magical-silver-bullet-thinking behind the search for the one innocent person wrongfully executed.
Toggle Commented Sep 11, 2009 on Salon Redeems Itself at Obsidian Wings
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@Alex Russell As someone who agrees with Pithlord on this, I think you're reading to much into his words. I for one agree with the principle that we ought to keep it hard to put people in prison to the extend that lots of guilty people go free while the number of innocents who are wrongfully convicted is minimized. At the same time, we ought to have laxer standards for minor forms of harm so as to keep deterence high (and to have a way of getting at the drug kingpins who never touch the drugs themselves). The way we're currently going about this certainly can be improved e.g. by higher standards of proof, right to counsel and generous compensation if it turns out the police was wrong. But the principle itself is sound and certainly not one which all people of good conscience diagree with.
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@Marty Thanks for the link. There's lots about I don't like, but sure, in the context of other reforms, it could be tweaked. But the issue isn't how to get it done, there are lots of ways to do that. The problem is, AFAICT Republicans won't vote for any health insurance reform. Moreover, the support the death panel nonsense received from the party and its elected officials means this isn't the time to add something that is far more easily demagogued, thus actually might endanger reform and is not a priority for me. If there was a genuine bipartisan effort, or Republicans demanded such a plan on their own, sure. If they offer it up next time they're in power, sure, I'd support it.
Toggle Commented Aug 21, 2009 on "Unfair" Competition at Obsidian Wings
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Actually, his error is mostly in "Advising political negotiators to do so is simply stupid." since they've not done that. The second quote you picked is advice on bargaining strategy but crucially: (a) differs in that there were counter-proposals at the time (something relevant to the current post which didn't make it into your first quote) and (b) even there, he does not say what eventual outcome her or Hillary would/should accept. That's the difference between "we should split the bill" and "I'd take mandate-regulate-subsidize". That said, he's only right as far as negotiation tactics is concerned. He's wrong to think Yglesias is a progressive. He's a moderate, as evidenced by the fact that he'd be fine with a lot of outcomes true progressives would hate. He also vastly oversells the importance of the named bloggers to the negotions - for nothing more than a cheap intra-party shot. _That_ should have been the focus of your criticism, not the suggestion of a contradiction, which in itself is just a cheap shot back.
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@Brett How do you "walk away" when you get cancer? More importantly, what "advantages of competition" in health insurance are you looking for? The ones I can think of all apply even more so to single-payer, but I don't want to predjudice the debate, so please, give me your list. (For a quick list of why I don't think free market solutions work for health insurance, see http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/06/george-f-will-admits-public-option-will.html#comment-6304972393489946879 and the original post of that thread) On the serparation of insurance and employment I agree 100%, but that would be a major change for the majority of americans who are insured through their employer and as such is not going to happen. (Well, it could, if that was something Republicans got behind 100%. I'd love to see them do that. But without, it's just something that structurally can't happen right now.)
Toggle Commented Aug 21, 2009 on "Unfair" Competition at Obsidian Wings
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My response is simply: it's a public good and it's basic economic policy, just like roads etc. Compared to tax incentives to lure business to the area it's far less intrusive and far less susceptible to corruption. For the more economically inclined, point out it's going to be a monopoly, so the usual gains from competition won't be there. But ultimately it comes down to people having a reflexive preference for private actors versus people who just want to get the best possible results. If there was an actual benefit to having private actors involved (both in networks and health insurance) their proponents wouldn't have to resort to the fairness argument.
Toggle Commented Aug 21, 2009 on "Unfair" Competition at Obsidian Wings
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