Two quick items and then a bunch of recommendations for excellent blog reads from this week:
1. I haven’t said anything about Penn State, mostly because I don’t have the heart to really get into it. I tried to read the grand jury presentment, but I had to stop because it I couldn’t take it; it was (literally) making me physically ill. I don’t see how any parent could read that whole thing. Sandusky is obviously a monster. Paterno, McQueary, and the Penn State administration are clearly morally bankrupt. The riot on Wednesday night might have been the dumbest protest/riot in U.S. history, and that’s saying something. And big-money college sports are perhaps beyond saving at this point.
The last point makes me sad because my one of my first sporting loves as a child was watching college basketball with my father. My parents’ house is spitting distance from Siena College, a tiny Catholic school with a cult following for its high mid-major basketball team. One thing you learn when you go to a lot of Catholic school college basketball games is that priests love college basketball. I can remember asking my father once why that was the case. And he said, “This — watching college sports — is pretty much the most wholesome and innocent entertainment available on a Saturday night in America.” That’s a fantasy I’ve always enjoyed, even as it has gradually crumbled for me. I won’t be able to stop watching Siena basketball, but I never really liked college football anyway. And so I’m done with it.
2. It’s Veteran’s Day. I have very mixed feelings about it as a holiday. I don’t believe in violence for either individuals or nations, except in the most direct cases of self defense. And I don’t believe that any modern war can be conducted in even a remotely just manner, certainly not by the classic Roman or Christian standards. Both of my grandfathers were in the Navy in WW2 — one as a radio operator on a boat in the Pacific, the other stateside as a chaplain counseling returning sailors — and while both of them always made the war seem like McHale’s Navy, it was pretty obvious that what they saw/heard scarred them for life.
On the other hand, I accept the imperfections of the world and I have an admiration for people who are willing to set their own lives aside for national service. I don’t hate the military; in fact, in an age of decreasing social mobility in America, it’s still one of the best ways for someone born into poverty to lift themselves and their family into the middle class. But I see a lot of people lament the muted celebrations of today compared to Veterans’ Days past — there’s no parade in my town today and the schools aren’t even closed — and I couldn’t disagree with them with more. Less celebration on Veteran’s Day indicates there are fewer veterans, which means fewer or less intense recent wars. And that is unambiguously a good thing.
Here’s a bunch of reads from this week that I highly recommend:
1. Brendan Nyhan and Jacob Montgomery have an excellent post on presidential election forecasting.
3. William Galston’s piece on mandatory voting provoked solid responses from Sides and from Jon Bernstein and also see this from Josh Huder. I also really liked Bernstein’s post on involving yourself in politics this electoral season.
4. And speaking of the Rule 22 bloggers, they are running a great political science series on institutions. Anyone interested in Congress should read it.
5. Buzz Bizzinger’s take on Penn State is a must-read.
6.. Bret Victor’s article on the future of technology is awesome.
7. I have no idea if he’s correct but Ken Anderson’s cold calculus about higher education is scary if you have kids.