Ian Underwood

Rethinking Fairness in Education

Below is a picture of the current educational system.  We put kids in school for about 1000 hours per year, for 12 years, and see what happens. At the end of that time, some may be taking college-level courses. Others may still be unable to read.

Protecting the vote supply

The Red Cross Bloodmobile has an elegant procedure for dealing with people who shouldn’t donate blood, but who don’t want to have to admit that to their friends or employers. You go in with everyone else, and fill out the forms, and if there is something that would disqualify you as a donor, they put …

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The Department of Euphemisms

Confucius said that the first step towards wisdom is to call things by their right names.  What would happen if we applied this idea to renaming government agencies?

How to lose elections

I keep hearing that the GOP needs to get better at making use of social media, and the Internet in general.  And better at raising and spending money. But looking at the mass of campaign literature in my burn box, it occurs to me that a party only needs things like web sites and social …

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The 14th Suggestion

I’m amused to see people dragging out the 14th Amendment in response to President Trump’s suggestion that he’ll unilaterally end ‘birthright citizenship’ through executive action. For example, a recent piece in Reason ends this way: ‘The original meaning of the 14th Amendment has been clear since 1866. If Trump proceeds with his unconstitutional executive order …

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The Ikea Bill of Rights

I recently read about a psychological phenomenon called ‘the Ikea effect’.  Briefly, if you make something — or even just finish making what someone else has started — you value it more than if it’s already complete when you get it.  The work you put in gives you a sense of ownership. When I saw …

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The War on Ants

You find ants in your kitchen, or in your bathroom.  What do you do? There are some obvious things to try: Interdiction:  You try to find out how they’re getting in, and block those entrances. Preemption:   You make food harder to find by keeping everything in airtight containers, cleaning up all spills immediately, and so …

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Psych Diving

In the documentary Free Solo  (now in theaters), you can watch Alex Honnold climb El Capitan without a rope — something that doesn’t seem possible even after you’ve just watched him do it. Much of the film is about the reactions of the other people in his life, including his friends, who are making the …

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Voating Rites

Let me see if I have this right:  SB 3, which clarifies the process by which some people — mainly non-resident college students — can vote in New Hampshire, has been set aside (temporarily, at least) by a  Superior Court judge because these students might have trouble reading the new affidavit specified by the law, …

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