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Do You Like To Hear Good News?

Mary Katharine Ham strikes again:

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Politics” Friday, Apr 27 2007 07:55 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

MIT Admissions Dean Lied on Resume

Speaking of ironies, the Dean of the prestigious MIT's admissions office was found to have lied on her resume about her three degrees, and that same admissions office routinely does not accept into college those who are found to have lied on their admissions materials.

Marilee Jones is said to be a great person, who struggled to turn-around the expectation that massive overloads are required in school to obtain admissions to elite colleges, but that will all be overshadowed by yet another case of resume inflation via faked degrees.

She did write a book, though, on stressless college admissions.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “General” Friday, Apr 27 2007 09:18 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

The Great Ironies of History

Professor Ann Althouse asks, “By the way, what are the great ironies of history? I've never seen that top 10 list.” That's a good web community project if I ever saw one. But first, we have to figure out what kind of irony is relevant here.

The most common idea is the difference between intention and outcome when trying out great experiments, like the minimum wage hurting low income families. Another form was made famous by Socrates, where one acts ignorant in order to induce another to make statements that can be shown to be ignorant. For the most part, irony is assumed to be saying one thing and meaning another.

I would expect great historic ironies be based on intentions and outcomes, as politics is fraught with people that say one thing and mean another. So what would be the greatest of these?

Let me try one: UN General Resolution 181, otherwise known as the 1947 UN Partition Plan, intended to put an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict by creating the State of Israel. Instead it has been a focal point for continual unrest in the middle east. It lead immediately to the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and further conflicts ever since.

Or, perhaps, we should poke more at the comic ironies of history, for example The Prince by Nicolò Machiavelli, intended to be a satire but taken seriously by far too many people.

History must be full of ironies, what are the greatest ones?

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Politics” Thursday, Apr 26 2007 11:55 AM  |  Permalink  |  2 comments  |  No trackbacks

Virginia Tech

Of course the Virginia Tech shootings are a significant disaster, both in loss of life as well as public morale. It is horrible to see a single deranged individual pick up two commonplace handguns and end up killing 32 other people.

The question is what we will learn from it.

Already there are calls for more gun control, but it should be clear that gun control failed in this instance. He made it past the waiting periods, the background check, and laws making it illegal to bring them on campus. Of course, it's also illegal to murder people.

On the other side, what if one or two people had been able to have their own guns for self-defense? Would they have stopped the slaughter? History shows that while some victims are passive (rumors indicate that he lined people up and executed them), others take action to protect others while endangering themselves. Professor Liviu Librescu tried to block the killer out of his classroom and was shot for his trouble, but he may have saved his students.

I had believed that after 9/11 there would never be passive victims to such crimes again in our national memory. Now I don't know what to think.

Beyond guns there is a discussion about mental health. The warning signs of a troubled young man abounded here, with warnings from teachers and even court proceedings related to his mental state. Could we have understood him better and done something more in advance? There are limits, here, too. We can second-guess the judge that allowed him outpatient mental health care which kept the killer from being barred from owning a firearm, but what's the point? Dedicated individuals can find weaponry of any sort to act out their hate. Recall that dedicated Jihadis turn themselves or their cars into weapons or that Timothy McVeigh used fertilizer and diesel fuel to kill more than the VT killer did.

I believe that pre-emption against unknown threats is a fruitless endeavor and that the best strategy is improving our ability to react. In Iraq we dealt with a known serious threat with pre-emption. At home, where we don't know the threats, he harden the obvious targets and grow our ability to respond. The wrong response would be to soften obvious targets like schools and malls by prohibiting the very best tools of response.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Guns” Thursday, Apr 19 2007 11:26 AM  |  Permalink  |  1 comment  |  No trackbacks

Upgraded to MT-3.35

Another release of Movable Type, but the bug fixes are pretty cosmetic. They really rolled a release because of a template change? This template issue also only affects Internet Explorer, which I seldom if ever use. C'est la vie, I bumped it up.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Blogging” Thursday, Apr 19 2007 09:59 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

Vonage Woes

The judge in the patent infringement case against Vonage has ruled that Vonage cannot seek new customers until it stops infringing on Verizon's patents. I'm already looking at dropping my Vonage service for something else and this may be it for poor Vonage. Boy am I glad I did not participate in the Vonage IPO for its customers.

Update: Court of Appeals gave an emergency stay. Vonage can still get customers. But how successful will that be?

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Technology” Friday, Apr 6 2007 09:01 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

Personality Tests

A couple of personality tests making the rounds:

Which Political Leader are You Most Like?
Which Historical Military Leader are You Most Like?

My results after the jump.

Political leader: Andrew Jackson
Military leader: Teddy Roosevelt

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “General” Tuesday, Apr 3 2007 07:01 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks


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