Mathematics is used as a hoop, a badge, a totem

Quote of the Day for Sunday, July 29th, 2012: Andrew Hacker, in today’s New York Times, asks: Is Algebra Necessary? Peter Braunfeld of the University of Illinois tells his students, “Our civilization would collapse without mathematics.” He’s absolutely right. Algebraic algorithms underpin animated movies, investment strategies and airline ticket prices. And we need people to understand how those things work and to advance our frontiers. Quantitative literacy clearly is useful in weighing all manner of public policies, from the Affordable Care Act, to th...

The Communist Party was my Nurse Ratched

Movie Director (e.g. “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”) and Czechoslovakian expatriate Milos Forman had an op-ed in the NY Times last week, using his experiences under communism as a context for criticizing the use of the term “socialist” to describe President Obama: The Communist Party was my Nurse Ratched, telling me what I could and could not do; what I was or was not allowed to say; where I was and was not allowed to go; even who I was and was not. Now, years later, I hear the word “socialist” being tossed around by the likes of Rick Perry, Newt Gin...

She delivered a devastating indictment of the entire U.S. political establishment

Quote of the Day for Friday, September 9th, 2011: Anand Giridharadas, writing in the NY Times on Sarah Palin’s speech at a TEA Party event in Iowa last week: Let us begin by confessing that, if Sarah Palin surfaced to say something intelligent and wise and fresh about the present American condition, many of us would fail to hear it. That is not how we’re primed to see Ms. Palin. A pugnacious Tea Partyer? Sure. A woman of the people? Yup. A Mama Grizzly? You betcha. But something curious happened when Ms. Palin strode onto the stage last weekend at a Tea ...

The tragedy is that they’re dead

Quote of the Day for June 27th, 2011: The New York Times’ Ross Douthat’s take on the Mara Hvistendahl book I posted on last Wednesday: This places many Western liberals, Hvistendahl included, in a distinctly uncomfortable position. Their own premises insist that the unborn aren’t human beings yet, and that the right to an abortion is nearly absolute. A self-proclaimed agnostic about when life begins, Hvistendahl insists that she hasn’t written “a book about death and killing.” But this leaves her struggling to define a victim for the crime th...

Almost 1,700 people had clicked that they “like” “General Rachid Ammar President”

Quote of the Day for Sunday, January 16, 2011: From the New York Times’ World News desk, in an article on the evolving – or devolving – political situation in Tunisia, following the sudden departure of long-entrenched President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali: On Saturday afternoon, there were some signs that General Ammar himself may now have an eye on politics. On Facebook, a staging ground of the street revolt, almost 1,700 people had clicked that they “like” a Web page named “General Rachid Ammar President” and emblazoned with his official photographs. Whi...

Vicious charges made by people who claimed to be criticizing viciousness

Quote of the Day for Wednesday, January 12th, 2011: New York Times columnist David Brooks, in a too-rare moment of lucidity, commenting Monday on the despicable liberal media spin on the Giffords shooting: Keith Olbermann demanded a Palin repudiation and the founder of the Daily Kos wrote on Twitter: “Mission Accomplished, Sarah Palin.” Others argued that the killing was fostered by a political climate of hate. These accusations — that political actors contributed to the murder of 6 people, including a 9-year-old girl — are extremely grave. … The...