Saturday, March 8, 2014

Saturday grab-bag

● I graduated in 1984 and don't have kids, so I need reminding from time to time how nuts our high stakes test-driven education-like system has become. 

● Everything you always wanted to know about the insanely dysfunctional fragmentation of municipal governance in Pennsylvania. I know, it's a real eye-glazer of a topic, but it matters, and the linked article is a great overview. (3,228 separate pension plans!)

● Noah Smith's comparison of the U.S. with Ming-dynasty China is way too glib (and I expect he knows it), but it's fun to read, and this paragraph hits the mark: 

We tell ourselves robotically that we have "the best health-care system in the world," when in fact it underperforms most other rich countries. We gape and gawk when we first travel to Japan or Switzerland and find that all the trains run perfectly on time — not to mention the fact that there are trains in the first place. We ignore our sky-high infrastructure costs and grumble about potholed roads, never pausing to wonder why West Europe and East Asia don't have these problems. We tell ourselves that we're the "land of the free," ignoring the fact that in Japan you can drink a beer in the park without getting arrested. We say that anyone in America can get rich, ignoring the fact that economic mobility is lower here than in almost any other rich country.
 Conversely, you can go too far with the America-as-dystopia trope. As far as I can tell, it's not Mad Max territory out there, but don't try telling that to Wayne LaPierre. Jeezus. 

Video of the week: I found out this week that my cousin, John Stuhldreher, is making a feature film. Very cool! Here's the preview - check it out. (Sports fans will like the name of his production company.)  

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