November 6, 2013 |
Constitutional issues involving the separation of church and state are full of paradoxes, and Wednesday's argument in the Supreme Court over prayers at town meetings illuminated one of them. The justices were reviewing a federal appeals court's ruling that the town of Greece, N.Y., violated the establishment clause of the 1st Amendment by beginning most of its monthly meetings with explicitly Christian prayers, some of them very detailed theologically. A lawyer for two citizens who opposed the prayer - one a Jew, one an atheist - asked the court to rule that prayers at government meetings must be nonsectarian.
August 14, 2013 |
On ce again, the MTA extends the L.A. Metro toward the airport -- and once again, it doesn't quite get to the airport. Reminds one of a famous Greek mathematical paradox. ALSO: The view from above Los Angeles Wishing for Hyperloop, betting on high-speed rail Photo essay: 10 reasons to salute L.A.'s transportation future Follow Ted Rall on Twitter @TedRall
July 10, 2013 |
The "faint young sun paradox" has been stumping scientists for decades, but in a new study two researchers say maybe the paradox isn't so paradoxical after all. The faint young sun paradox, or problem, was first brought to the attention of the scientific community in 1972 by Carl Sagan and George Muller. At issue were two facts that were difficult to reconcile. Fact one: The first microbial life appears in the fossil record about 3.8 billion years ago, suggesting that liquid water existed on the planet at the time.
April 24, 2013 |
Bob Hicok is one of my favorite poets. Partly, it's the movement of his lines, which are both conversational and utterly unexpected, almost as if he (or we) are joining a conversation that extends beyond the framework of the poem. “My heart is cold,” he writes in “Pilgrimage,” the opening effort in his new collection “Elegy Owed” (Copper Canyon: 112 pp., $22), “it should wear a mitten. My heart / is whatever temperature a heart is / in a man who doesn't believe in heaven.” And then there's that: his unrelenting vision , a sense of the world as both utterly real and utterly elusive, and heartbreaking because we have to die. Death is at the center of Hicok's writing - not in a maudlin, self-pitying way, but rather as a vivid presence, infusing everything, even the deepest moments of connection, with a steely sense of loss.
March 22, 2013 |
If you believe print is on the way out, Laura Miller wants you to think again. In Salon this week , she uses Simon & Schuster's recent deal with ebook phenom Hugh Howey , author of the “Wool” series, to suggest that, contrary to the myth that self-publishing represents a leveling of the playing field, many presses are thrilled to take advantage of such low-hanging fruit. “By the time a self-published author has made a success of his or her book,” Miller observes, “all the hard stuff is done, not just writing the manuscript but editing and the all-important marketing.
August 30, 2012 |
According to the most recent Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll on education, Americans are split over a lot of things about schools -- whether teachers should be evaluated in part on standardized test scores and the degree to which that should happen, whether private-school vouchers are a good idea, whether the children of illegal immigrants should be entitled to a free public education. One thing that Americans have been fairly consistent about in polls for many years, though, is that overall, they don't think very highly of public schools.