December 13, 1994 |
Common sense provides us the ability to differentiate right and wrong. Whether for a huge moral question (e.g., abortion) or for simple household safeguards (keeping sharp objects away from children), common sense is the compass that allows us to think, determine a course of action, and predict the outcome of those actions. But common sense is under siege. Elected officials, activists and others use the mainstream media to bombard us with an agenda that defies this internal compass.
March 3, 1986
Educators are still pressured by the "publish-or-perish" syndrome even if only in a letter to the newspaper expounding some idiotic idea that increases the cost of education. Requiring Spanish to exit is one; forcing college students to buy computers is another (fine for the computer companies, bad for students and parents struggling with high tuition bills). Years ago when I first saw the new-math book my kid brought home I almost went into orbit. As an engineer I knew it was a bad idea: too rigorous.
March 15, 2013 |
THE NHL MAP is finally in order with Detroit and Columbus heading east, and Winnipeg moving west. "We're thrilled, absolutely thrilled," Blue Jackets executive John Davidson said on a conference call Thursday, shortly after the realignment plan was approved in a vote by the league's board of governors. "We tend to use the [term] common sense around here. This seems to make a lot of common sense. " The new format goes into effect next season, and will feature two eight-team divisions in the Eastern Conference, including the Red Wings and Blue Jackets.
January 1, 2007 |
One of my favorite subjects in college was logic. Naturally, I couldn't get enough of Mr. Spock on Star Trek. Spock: Random chance seems to have operated in our favor. McCoy: In plain, non-Vulcan English, we've been lucky. Spock: I believe I said that, Doctor. That kind of talk never fails to give me goosebumps. Admittedly, my time in college was a long time ago, and over the years, the dapper Professor Adalja's carefully drawn distinction between deductive and inductive reasoning has decomposed in my mind into something less.
January 21, 1995
When it comes to human biology, technology is about three football fields ahead of common sense. The simple act of human reproduction was once a private matter between a woman, a man, her family, his family, the priest-rabbi-minister-shaman and the entire village. They all agreed, at least, on what constituted a proper home for a child. No longer. Now reproduction can take place between a dead man and his wife, or a divorced couple who froze a few embryos, or a man and a woman who have never met each other but communicated through a turkey baster.
December 28, 2004 |
Ten-year-old Porsche Brown's childhood was cruelly interrupted on Dec. 9. This fourth-grader from Holme Elementary School in Philadelphia was removed from her classroom, handcuffed by police, loaded into a police wagon, and driven to the police station. Her crime? A pair of scissors was found in her backpack, and she was promptly suspended. Across the country, schools are criminalizing behavior that used to be handled in families, neighborhoods and the principal's office, and Philadelphia is no exception.
November 18, 1993
Early this year, while Sheldon Hackney was busy posturing his way into an appointment to head the National Endowment for the Arts, the University of Pennsylvania - where he was nominally in charge - was torn apart by two incidents that mocked the ideals that should define campus life. In January, when five African-American undergraduates claimed a white student had called them "black water buffalo," a nationwide debate on speech codes was set in motion: The accused took his case to the Wall Stret Journal editorial page, while his accusers tried in vain to get the matter resolved through Penn's byzantine internal judicial procedures.
March 1, 1995 |
It was a little after midnight, the day after Christmas, when I heard unusually loud thumping from the stairway of the house adjoining my father's. I rushed outside and saw a woman I did not recognize, but assumed lived in the adjoining house, leaning against my car, looking up to the house. "What's the matter?" I asked. "The house is on fire," she answered. I was incredulous. I wondered why no one in that house had the presence of mind to warn me, my father and cousin.
February 3, 1986 |
We recently celebrated the 210th anniversary of one of the great literary products of America - Thomas Paine's "Common Sense. " One of the most quoted passages from Paine's classic tells us a great deal about today's Philadelphia: "Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one. " Unfortunately, Philadelphia's government is not in the best state today; we may be approaching the intolerable stage....