In cleaning out a file cabinet, I came across the Qualifying Exam that I had to take in order to pursue a degree in Physics at Stanford University. On top was a cover letter by Dr. Bob Laughlin, which I reproduce below. Hopefully he won’t have any issue with that! 🙂
It’s a truism that’s become so trite it hardly rises to the level of a bumper sticker: Freedom isn’t free. You see it slapped across the back of SUVs, taped to the windows in Circle-K’s. Some days, it seems everyone can mouth the words but nobody understands them. Freedom isn’t free. It has always carried a cost, demanded a sacrifice. In any society that claims to be free, that liberty must be purchased.
Here I am not talking about, say, taxes. Taxes are not the price of liberty. I am not an anti-tax nut. I recognize, as Justice Holmes did, that “taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society”. Taxes pay for the police and the courts, the schools and the hospitals, for sanitation and water and roads. But that’s true for any civilization. Taxes make the modern American civilization possible. They do not make it free. One of the staggering lessons of history, quite unwelcome at the moment of triumph of global capitalism, is that the price of freedom is not set in dollars, or in yuan, or in barrels of petroleum, or in bullion.
The price of freedom is blood.
I’m a fan of the new, “re-imagined” Battlestar Galactica on the Sci Fi channel. (Shamefaced confession: I am also a fan of the original schlocky BSG from 1978 — in fact I was one of those loudly decrying the new one as yet another unholy exploitation of the greats of my childhood. Oopsie.) I like the action, I like the characters, I like the surprising emotional depth. But one of the things that really makes the show for me is the soundtrack, arranged by Bear McCreary.
Last night I went to see Superman Returns by accident, sort of. (I went to see Cars but it wasn’t playing — curse you and your occasionally-inaccurate schedules, Yahoo! Movies!) Having slogged all the way out to the theater, and having expectations that I’d see this sooner or later, I bought a ticket to Bryan (“X-Men”) Singer’s attempt to revitalize the Superman mythos on the big screen. I am a fan of the comic book genre, so I had reasonably high hopes.
Be warned: There will likely be spoilers in here.
OK, nominally this blog is supposedly about education. But school’s out, I don’t have any urgent education-think to lay out there, and there are other issues that speak to me. Today it’s about the so-called “flag burning amendment”. For those who object to political content bleeding into “neutral” areas, I’ll quarantine it behind a “Read the rest of this entry…” link.
I saw this piece on slashdot. It’s about a librarian (Michele Reuty) who is coming under fire for — gasp! — insisting that police follow the laws of New Jersey and obtain a warrant before rifling through the records of a public library. Despite following the policies of the library and, you know, the law, she is being accused of being soft on criminals and of putting the library ahead of the needs of the police. The suspect sought had allegedly threatened a young girl, so the predictable cries — Think of the children! Oh, dear God, won’t somebody think of the children! — have sprung up. Continue reading “The Rule of Law in Libraries”
Well, I went away to Vermont for four days and nearly missed the telltale sign that my blog is Out There in cyberspace. That’s right, I got my first spam comment yesterday morning. I must be on somebody’s radar… 🙂 Interestingly enough I was wondering if having comment moderation turned on was overkill. Guess that’s been answered.
First of all, as noted on the About page, the title of this blog comes from a Dylan song, “My Back Pages”, specifically
In a soldier’s stance I aim my hands
At the mongrel dogs who teach
Fearing not I become my enemy
In the moment that I preach
I like the euphony of the line. Also, it’s been said that “My Back Pages” was a reaction by Dylan against the naive rebellion of his earlier songs. And the paradox of the refrain — Oh, but I was so much older then // I’m younger than that now — is just nifty. Continue reading “Why “Mongrel Dogs”?”
There’s a pretty decent explanation of the social history underlying the fight for Net Neutrality. This is going to be a big fight, and the author creates a useful narrative to understand it. As a teacher, I could wish for somewhat better editing and prose, but hey, it’s the summer and I’m off the clock. 🙂
Not really — not in mid-June in New Jersey — but I’m still learning WordPress and wanted to try uploading a picture.
If I’ve done everything correctly, there should be a thumbnail image above, which links to the full image. This one happens to have been taken from the Russell portico roof on 2003 December 5 and is my favorite of the many many snow day pictures I’ve taken. Yay.