Search Results for: chris seck

Opinion  /  April 2, 2013  / 

Offering an Alternative

“Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you,” said Peter Dinklage’s character, a clever dwarf in HBO’s Game of Thrones. Sage advice for complex times. But what might it be like to wear your identity like armor? One might consider translating that into advice for three great institutions facing great challenges—one in business, one in religion, and one in politics. In Silicon Valley, Apple Inc. struggles to compete with Samsung. As its stock has fallen over 30% in the last six months, Apple wonders whether to submit to growing shareholder demands that it reduce its huge cash pile and start paying out bigger dividends. In the Vatican, the Catholic Church struggles with much of the Western world. Led by a new pope, the Church finds itself in sharp contradiction with popular secular positions … Continue reading

Opinion  /  March 12, 2013  / 

Optimism and Realism in the Holy Land

As President Barack Obama prepares to visit Israel, what should he say about prospects for peace in the Middle East? Most commentators are pessimistic: they believe that the Arab-Israeli conflict is unsolvable: The two-state solution is at an impasse. Israel refuses to dismantle its West Bank settlements. The Palestinians refuse to renounce the right of return. Hamas refuses to renounce violence. Syria continues to demand the return of the Golan Heights. Yet, in the face of all this, I still think there is room for cautious optimism. Notwithstanding their mutual hostility, Arab-Israeli relations have largely improved over the years. Consider where Israel stood four decades ago, and where it stands today. In the aftermath of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Israel was occupying five disputed territories: the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem. In turn, no Arab nation recognized Israel, and no … Continue reading

Opinion  /  February 25, 2013  / 

What is Marriage? What is Chess?

Last month, Harvard Law School hosted “What is Marriage? A Debate” between Andrew Koppelman, a professor at Northwestern Law School (arguing for same-sex marriage) and Sherif Girgis, a student from Yale Law School (arguing for traditional marriage). In arguing for same-sex marriage, Professor Koppelman used an interesting analogy: He compared marriage to the game of chess. Just as the rules of chess evolved over time, Koppelman argued, so too might the “rules” of marriage evolve to include same-sex couples. Koppelman had used this chess analogy previously. In his 2010 book, The Gay Rights Question in Contemporary American Law, Koppelman wrote: Chess hasn’t got an essence. Doubtless the present game of chess was developed through just such fiddling; perhaps someone once thought that the drunken reel of the knight was hostile to the essence of Chess. The question is what sort of chess rules are likely, under the circumstances, to best … Continue reading

Opinion  /  February 11, 2013  / 

Can MOOCs Pass the “Heft Test”?

“You wasted $150,000 on an education you coulda got for a buck fifty in late charges at the public library.” So said Matt Damon’s character in Good Will Hunting, a 1997 film about a clever janitor who easily solves math problems that leave MIT students stumped. He raised an interesting argument: Why attend college when you can read books at the library? Why invest in formal education when you can learn the same stuff informally? Fast forward to the new millennium, where we have heard rather more optimistic claims about how technological advances—particularly the rise of massive open online courses (MOOCs)—are destined to shake the foundations of higher education. “I can see a day soon where you’ll create your own college degree by taking the best online courses from the best professors from around the world,” journalist Thomas Friedman opines. Friedman adds, “Nothing [besides MOOCs] has more potential to lift … Continue reading

Opinion  /  January 28, 2013  / 

Women in Combat: Every Coin Has Two Sides

The Pentagon’s decision to lift the ban on women in front-line combat has led to both commendation and criticism. Supporters of the Pentagon’s move believe that having women in combat will increase opportunities for women and increase diversity. “Combat experience—and especially leadership of combat units—is a key factor in promotion decisions,” writes University of Southern California Professor Susan Estrich. In that vein, lifting the ban on women in combat gives women more opportunities for top military jobs. Detractors, however, believe that having women in combat will compromise the military’s culture. “To have women serving in infantry [...] could impair the mission essential task of those units, and that’s been proven in study after study,” Rep. Tom Cotton, a veteran, said. “It’s nature—upper body strength and physical movements and speed and endurance and so forth.” In contrast, female veteran Rep. Tulsi Gabbard offered an alternative opinion: “No one is asking for the … Continue reading

Opinion  /  November 28, 2012  / 

The Retirement of Ron Paul

Once in a generation, America encounters a non-traditional politician like Ron Paul. As a presidential candidate, Ron Paul was principled, but unelectable. Most of his ideas involved taking a sledgehammer to voters’ most cherished assumptions. Most of his political proposals, such as shuttering the Department of Education, were too radical for the average voter to contemplate. He offered a vision that was abstract, futuristic, and conditional on America pursuing a path far different from the one it has pursued for the past four decades. Ron Paul didn’t have the tools to appeal to most voters. Most voters do not have the inclination to develop complex or unorthodox political opinions, which require significant investments of time, energy, and intellectual effort. Rather, most people base their votes on instinct or emotion. In the process, they usually treat voting as an act of consumption—a way to signal one’s tastes, preferences, and identities. This … Continue reading

Opinion  /  November 14, 2012  / 

Uncle Sam Always Pays His Debts

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most money from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy followed by a dictatorship. – Alexander Tyler We are headed towards a “Fiscal Cliff” in 2013. If the partisan gridlock in Washington persists, America will face a barrage of spending cuts and tax increases. It’s not as bad as it sounds. For too many years, we’ve been taxing like a small government while spending like a big one. Too many Republicans view defense spending as sacrosanct, and are averse to increasing taxes. Too many Democrats view non-defense spending as sacrosanct, and are averse to increasing taxes on the middle class. Too … Continue reading

Opinion  /  November 7, 2012  / 

Don’t Blame Mitt

We live in a world where people often get judged based on results. We celebrate winners and criticize losers. In the coming months, Mitt Romney will likely face great criticism, especially as the Republican Party engages in “soul-searching” at its “crossroads.” Journalists and commentators will argue that Romney was a flawed candidate who ran a flawed campaign. Everybody will take turns telling stories about why Romney lost: Where did Mitt go wrong? Was it Big Bird? Binders full of women? The 47 percent? His tax returns? Or Clint Eastwood’s empty chair? Now that the election is over, and with the benefit of hindsight, many people will blame Mitt Romney. Such is the nature of our consequentialist ethic. But I prefer to offer an alternative perspective. Remember the candidates running in the Republican primaries? Mitt Romney was probably the most credible candidate that the GOP could have put up. Herman Cain … Continue reading

Opinion  /  October 31, 2012  / 

Billy Graham and the Last Crusade

At 93, the Rev. Billy Graham knows that his winter has come. He has been widowed for five years, having lost his wife of six decades. He has lost much of his vision and hearing. He can barely move his limbs. Over the past decade, his ailments have included bronchitis, hydrocephalus, pneumonia, pelvic fractures, prostate cancer, and Parkinson’s disease. His once-powerful voice now speaks in whispers. Yet, with his health failing and death on the horizon, why did Billy Graham intervene in the muddy world of politics? Billy Graham had nothing to gain, because his legacy was already set in stone long before this election. History will remember Billy Graham as registered Democrat who fought apartheid, fought segregation, and stood publicly with Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1950s. Billy Graham had conducted over 400 evangelical crusades in 185 countries and six continents. He has written dozens of bestselling books. … Continue reading

Opinion  /  October 24, 2012  / 

Why Naim Matters

Author’s note: Most of the facts in this story are taken from a 1998 law journal article by Prof. Gregory Michael Dorr. The article, titled “Principled Expediency,” can be accessed at the following URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/846216. Seventy years ago, a Chinese sailor named Ham Say Naim embarked on an American adventure. Born in Canton, Ham sought a new life. In 1942, he boarded a British merchant vessel and sailed halfway around the globe to the United States of America. Ten years later in Norfolk, Virginia, Ham met a white woman named Ruby Lamberth. The two fell in love. Unfortunately, Virginia forbade interracial marriage under the Racial Integrity Act. To evade the anti-miscegenation law, Ham and Ruby drove to North Carolina to get married. They got married on June 26, 1952, at 1:55 p.m. That same day, at 4:00 p.m., they were back in Norfolk, Virginia. It might have made for a … Continue reading