Compassion for Child Abandonment

subway baby

I've been rooting for the cops to not catch the mother who abandoned her baby in a NYC subway station.  Turns out they did, and she's facing a felony charge for abandonment of a child. The reason I'm feeling queasy about the trial is the poor incentives it creates for desperate parents.  Given her limited options, the woman picked a pretty good place to leave a child.  I can see the logic in picking a busily trafficked subway platform where there would be a slew of witnesses to see you … [Read more...]

Anti-Homeless Laws with Teeth

RNS-HOMELESS-JESUS

China has added a new, less subtle trick to the annals of anti-homeless architecture.  Park benches in Yantai Park in Shangdong province now work according to coin operated timers.  Stop feeding the meter, and little iron spikes pop out to prick the unwary sitter.  According to the article: Park bosses got the idea from an art installation in Germany where sculptor Fabian Brunsing created a similar bench as a protest against the commercialisation of modern life. "He thought he was … [Read more...]

Selling Beauty Short

bernini1

Nathan Biberdorf would like us all to stop affirming each other by asserting that everyone is beautiful.  It's doing more harm than good. There are plenty of people that are not physically appealing to look at, the primary and most widely used meaning of the word “beautiful”. So why do we use the word as a catch-all for any sort of positive attribute? Nobody says, “Everybody is a good listener.” Nobody says, “Everyone is athletic to somebody.” Nobody says, “You are an … [Read more...]

Who Watches the Executioners?

syringe-from-vial

Yesterday, a federal judge rejected Marcus Wellons's plea for a stay of execution.  If no other intervention is forthcoming, Wellons will be executed this evening.  Wellons's argued that his death should be postponed until the state of Georgia was forced to disclose exactly which drugs they would be using to kill him. After the botched execution earlier this year in Ohio, courts have had to consider whether experimental executions constitute cruel and unusual punishment -- a sentence … [Read more...]

The Merry Merchant and the Sad Antonio

Photo courtesy of Allison Stock Photography

Last night, I had the pleasure of seeing the closing night performance of The Merchant of Venice, staged by The Shakespeare Forum.  It was a delightful production, and the cast did a great job making all the jokes (and there are many) land effectively, without undercutting the heartbreaking trial scene (I cried).  The humor of the background characters set apart the two antagonists, Shylock and Antonio, who are some of the only characters who never laughed joyfully. What struck me most … [Read more...]

The School Where Bullies Ask for Help

Bombaloo-angry-picture

The American Prospect has a beautiful feature on a high school that started trying out restorative justice, instead of defaulting to suspensions.  Here's the basic approach: The cornerstone of KCAPA’s program is the “restorative circle.” Drawing inspiration from the American Indian practice of the talking circle, in which a totem is passed around to signal the opportunity to speak, these meetings are convened for all kinds of reasons, from gauging students’ moods to addressing acts of … [Read more...]

The Loneliness of Lying

bridge-over-chasm-2

The Toast is in the middle of an ongoing, very funny series of reimagining the Harry Potter books as written by Ayn Rand.  I chortled my way through their take on Sorcerer's Stone (I think this was my favorite line): “Malfoy bought the whole team brand-new Nimbus Cleansweeps!” Ron said, like a poor person. “That’s not fair!” “Everything that is possible is fair,” Harry reminded him gently. “If he is able to purchase better equipment, that is his right as an individual. How … [Read more...]


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