The return of federal executions

“Anyone who has witnessed the steady rise of Trump, with the thumbs-up, thumbs-down swagger of an omnipotent Roman emperor,” knew this day was coming.  Attorney General William Barr has just announced the end of the Justice Department’s unofficial, 16-year-long moratorium on executing federal prisoners. The department plans to put five inmates to death in December …

Continue reading ‘The return of federal executions’ »

The British political system is bankrupt (and in good company)

The Queen, who by tradition does not comment on politics, is quoted as saying that the political class is incapable of governing.  Amen to that. Robert Unger, a philosopher at Harvard, says that European politicians don’t know how to do anything apart from splitting the difference, and are incapable of facing up to fundamental problems.  This …

Continue reading ‘The British political system is bankrupt (and in good company)’ »

Drug deaths in the US and some unintended consequences. No. 2

Well-intentioned policies can have unintended consequences. For example, while the rate of new opioid prescriptions has fallen in recent years, a large number of physicians have stopped initiating opioids altogether.  While that may sound like a good thing, it’s not clear whether this does more good or harm to patients in severe pain. This isn’t …

Continue reading ‘Drug deaths in the US and some unintended consequences. No. 2’ »

Collectively we are all guilty of perpetuating misleading “facts”.

From the Harvard Gazette: We are all too ready to judge the world though anecdotes, images and distorted reporting designed to sell news, rather than quietly studying the actual facts.  Some examples:    –   Trump refers to American “carnage” in an era in which violent crime rates are close to historical lows. Bush created …

Continue reading ‘Collectively we are all guilty of perpetuating misleading “facts”.’ »

A statistic that needs no comment

Out of England’s 334 high-rise blocks of flats with the same cladding as Grenfell Tower, 69 have so far had it removed.  ( U.K Ministry of Housing) (The cladding on Grenfell Tower turned out to be flammable.  Scores of people were trapped in the burning high-rise apartment block on 14 June 2017 and were killed)

The death penalty

The American Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Thursday that it will resume capital punishment for the first time in nearly two decades. Only three federal executions have taken place since 1988, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. All five of the death-row inmates named in Thursday’s release were convicted for the murders of children. …

Continue reading ‘The death penalty’ »

The allure of handwriting

“We are more than ever obsessed with individual identity, our personal brand, putting our stamp on the world. But we bow to the plain text of the smartphone, bland and unblotted. A WhatsApp message will never have the personality of a sibling’s spider-scribble. Digital communication can never match the intimacy of a handwritten letter. If …

Continue reading ‘The allure of handwriting’ »