The Rubber Room

Steven Brill writes in the New Yorker about the Rubber Room, a group of facilities where NYC teachers who are undergoing disciplinary proceedings and not authorized to teach spend their days while collecting full salaries, for months and years on end. The whole thing makes no sense, but is an illustration of special interests holding taxpayer resources hostage.

Ira Glass and the team at This American Life aired an episode about the rubber room earlier this year.

Home is where the brain is.

Benjamin Schrier writes in San Francisco magazine about the impact Asian-Indian immigrants have had on Silicon Valley, how the downturn and US immigration rules are affecting younger immigrant technology workers, and what this may mean for Silicon Valley’s long-term prospects. One of the men profiled in the article is the brother of a high-school friend, and I can relate to much of the article. I stayed with my first US employer for far longer than I would have if a work-visa were not a concern.

New Yorker: Health care and the public’s resistance to change.

James Surowiecki of the New Yorker provides an explanation out of the behavioral economist’s handbook for conflicting polling data on health-care. It’s reminiscent of the polls suggesting most Americans are unhappy with Congress in the abstract, but do claim to like and wish to retain their own congressman/congresswoman. The explanation is along the lines of, the devil you know, or a bird in hand is worth two in the bush.

Health Care Reform which puts the consumer and results first.

David Goldhill has a poignant and compelling article in the Atlantic Monthly titled How American Health Care Killed My Father about health-care reform. It deserves reading in it’s entirety.

The potential outcome Goldhill proposes is very similar to that advanced in John Mackey’s Op-Ed in the WSJ, except it’s more convincing, not nearly as strident, and doesn’t have an antagonistic title. Job better done.

Ted Kennedy, healthcare reform and cancer

Archival photo of Robert, Ted and John Kennedy
Archival photo of Robert, Ted and John Kennedy

Ted Kennedy died earlier today. The NY Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post have all published moving tributes to him.

There’s also an article that might get lost in the shuffle, but should not since it is a significant comment on the current debate on health-care reform. The US lags behind most developed countries on measures of public health and the cost-effectiveness of health-care delivered. One area, though, in which the US system leads others is in treating cancer. This is in large part due to cancer research funding from the federal government, i.e. government intervention in health-care. The American Cancer Society published a tribute to Kennedy lauding his work as a supporter of research on cancer.

This reminds me of the role Al Gore played in the Senate when the Internet and networked technologies were in their infancy, a role acknowledged by true Internet pioneers. Sometimes, a senator’s pet project can be a visionary success. Often, it’s a bridge to nowhere. – Winston Churchill was a Bolshevik

Salon writes about Churchill’s role in creating the NHS in a scathing commentary on the slurs being bandied about today. Many conservatives would much rather forget Churchill’s role int he creation of the British welfare state, and many more would like to forget that he went back and forth between the Liberal and Tory parties during his long political career. Churchill knew that a good idea can easily be taken too far by its most strident adherents.

WaPo – A Major Indian Artist Offends Hindus, and Galleries Turn Fearful

If you can put together an angry mob, it’s easy to silence someone in India. The Washington Post writes about how M.F. Husain’s work has been targeted by unruly mobs. This particular controversy is especially ridiculous for anyone who’s seen older temples and murals, or even read any contemporary Amar Chitra Katha. Husain is very firmly within an ancient artistic tradition that represents avatars in a sensual manner, a prime example is Krishna. Of course, he’s a politically expedient target for the VHP.

NY Times: Mad Men and Penn Station

The NY Times had a blog post about a recent episode of ‘Mad Men’ concerning the demolition of Penn Station to make way for Madison Square Garden, and a contemporaneous NY Times op-ed protesting the demolition.

The destruction of the original Penn Station is directly linked to the formation of the preservationist movement in New York City. There are plans to remake the current Penn Station and some of the designs evoke the original.