Webmonk alerted me to a post on Freakonomics about a test for eighth graders from 1895. The urban legend site Snopes labeled this as “False.” But the only false part of it seems to be the claim that it shows a decline in educational levels from then to now. The Snopes writer says that any test will look hard if you haven’t studied for it. But he doesn’t dispute that this is an actual test from 1895. In fact, here… Read more

Lest anyone assume that earthquakes only devastate poor Third World societies, consider what has happened in New Zealand: New Zealand’s prime minister says at least 65 people have died after a 6.3-magnitude earthquake hit Christchurch. John Key said the toll was expected to rise further, adding: “We may be witnessing New Zealand’s darkest day.” The tremor caused widespread damage as it occurred at a shallow depth of 5km (3.1 miles) during lunchtime when Christchurch was at its busiest. The mayor… Read more

As evidence that pro-lifers are winning the arguments, consider how pro-death activist Frances Kissling is recognizing that her movement needs to make some adjustments: We can no longer pretend the fetus is invisible. We can no longer seek to banish the state from our lives, but rather need to engage its power to improve women’s lives. We must end the fiction that an abortion at 26 weeks is no different from one at six weeks. These are not compromises or… Read more

A baby’s mind is bigger!  So says David Brooks, citing a Caltech scientist,  at the conclusion of a long, discursive essay in the New Yorker: We have a hundred billion neurons in the brain; infants create as many as 1.8 million neural connections per second; a mere sixty neurons are capable of making ten to the eighty-first possible connections, which is a number ten times as large as the number of particles in the observable universe; via What the science… Read more

In the monumental quest to improve D.C. schools, officials are collecting tons of data.  Here is a use of that information that might actually lead to genuine reforms:  evaluating not just teachers but the college departments of education that trained those teachers: A lesser-known result of such new systems is that they are generating mountains of data that school officials are starting to use to guide key decisions, aside from which teachers to fire or reward. For instance, by matching… Read more

The Epistle reading for yesterday included a verse that I had never heard preached on or exposited, one that I had never attended to before, despite years of Bible reading: For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s. (1 Corinthians 3:21-23) What do you make of that text? What does it mean and how… Read more

Have the Republicans found “the one”?  Read the Washington Post’s profile of the new Wisconsin governor, 43-year-old Scott Walker, whose hard line with the public employee union has teachers and other state employees taking to the streets.  (Note:  He is not taking away their right to collective bargaining, as is being charged.  Under his bill, which has Democrat legislators hiding out in Illinois to prevent a quorum for the vote, the union would still be able to negotiate wages, just… Read more

We keep hearing that the divorce rate among Christians is the same as–or maybe a little worse–than that of non-Christians.  That may not be true, at least when you factor in how serious the Christians in question are about their faith: “Christians divorce at roughly the same rate as the world!” It’s one of the most quoted stats by Christian leaders today. And it’s perhaps one of the most inaccurate. Based on the best data available, the divorce rate among… Read more

Now that the Egyptians have thrown off their authoritarian ruler, pro-democracy uprisings are threatening one of the worst dictators of all, Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi. He is reportedly responding with machine guns. The king of Bahrain is in trouble. Meanwhile, mass protests have also broken out in Iran, Algeria, Yemen, and Morocco. Also in China, with protesters calling for a “jasmine revolution.” via Anger on the streets: unrest in Iran, Algeria, Yemen, Morocco and China | World news | The Guardian…. Read more

The University of California-Davis has a new religious discrimination policy, according to which ONLY Christians can be accused of discriminating against other religions, and discrimination AGAINST Christians does not count: The UC-Davis policy defines “Religious/Spiritual Discrimination” as “the loss of power and privilege to those who do not practice the dominant culture’s religion. In the United States, this is institutionalized oppressions toward those who are not Christian.” “Christians deserve the same protections against religious discrimination as any other students on… Read more

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