Judith Shulevitz, “The Consequence of Overcontrolling Parenting” (h/t aldaily.com) – from the article: We keep our children off the streets out of an irrational fear of “stranger danger”—irrational, that is, in a city whose crime rate has declined dramatically over the past two decades—and overburden them with improving activities so as to ensure their entrance into Harvard. These charges are true, but don’t get to the heart of the problem. It would be disingenuous to claim that the specters of competitive admissions and downward mobility don’t haunt us or that we don’t obsessively replay in our minds the disappearance of Etan Patz. But such things are too abstract to make us squander precious hours a day acting as event coordinators. We do that because we think we have to.
Mark Bauerlein, “A Strange Take on Taxes” – from the article: Note the word “giving.” That’s an odd take of tax payments, one that reverses the order of transfer. When a government doesn’t take revenue from citizens, the logic goes, in effect it “gives” that money to them.
John Updike, “Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu” – from the essay: Williams’ career, in contrast [to Babe Ruth’s] has been a series of failures except for his averages. He flopped in the only World Series he ever played in (1946) when he batted only .200. He flopped in the playoff game with Cleveland in 1948. He flopped in the final game of the 1949 season with the pennant hinging on the outcome (Yanks 5, Sox 3). He flopped in 1950 when he returned to the lineup after a two-month absence and ruined the morale of a club that seemed pennant-bound under Steve O’Neill. It has always been Williams’ records first, the team second, and the Sox non-winning record is proof enough of that.
Megan McArdle, “Who Does Pharma Research?” – from the article: There is a fundamental misunderstanding of the way that a modern economy drives innovation. People tend to think in terms of a “eureka!” moment–a blockbuster idea or product that springs full blown from the head of Zeus, and then exists forever. But in fact, an enormous amount of productivity improvement is driven by tiny, continuous, incremental change. This is true of treating childhood cancer, it is true of drug discovery, and it is true of Toyotas.