Attend to your parents — or else
If you’re a grown-up with parents, you may think it’s a major pain to have to take time out of your busy life to go see them or have them over. You may get tired of their hints that they don’t get enough attention. You may even have to listen to resentful complaints or demands. Plus those questions about why you let your kids get away with (fill-in-the-blank) ...
The etiquette of texting: The need for social rules?
As I watch people text in public - head down, earplugs in, oblivious but still shuffling forward a la the Walking Dead - I can’t help but wonder when we’ll see a news story about one of them strolling into traffic and being run over.
How did we get so hooked? Texting is one of those habits that came so quickly to our society that everything from schools to hospitals to state capitals - institutions that say things in full sentences and without emoticons - are scrambling to impose rules of the road, literally and figuratively.
Britain’s plan to regulate the press goes too far
Britain’s three major political parties have agreed on a new system of regulating newspapers in the aftermath of shocking invasions of privacy by some tabloid journalists
Who pays ‘unpaid’ writers’ bills?
People who make their living by writing for publication had good reason to follow the recent hoo-hah over publishers who think paying writers for their work is optional.
Gina Barreca: Social networks like getting pimples again
Social networking makes teenagers of us all. Lots of my ridiculously successful friends - some of whom appear regularly on television, give TED talks and are the kind of people who get harassed in restaurants by their fans (while my fans remain remarkably good-mannered and never, ever come over to introduce themselves or say a word) - will still not permit themselves to have a Facebook account because the thought of people unfriending them is terrifying.
Asking the right questions about online courses
The debate about massively open online courses, or MOOCs, has reached such fevered pitch that we recently got to witness an internecine argument about it at The New York Times. On one side was the technology-optimist columnist Thomas Friedman, who imagines a time when students in a remote village in Egypt could install a couple of computers with high-speed Internet access, hire a local facilitator and study with the best professors in the world. On the other side, the Times' editorial board felt compelled to point out that most online courses are pretty dreadful, with high dropout rates and poor learning outcomes.
Schmoozing in a wired world
I recently hired a student to help me get wired into what I’m told is the minimum needed to survive in today’s digital world. So now in addition to Facebook, I am able to link in, tweet, Google Plus and other things I can’t remember because I haven’t used them yet.
I’m hardly a technophobe; in fact, I tend toward geek. Where else but Facebook would I have found Ellen Degeneres’ delicious take on Bic pens for women? NASA Gangnam Style? Talking cats playing patty cake? During the election, political humor on Facebook kept me sane, and articles shared by smart friends kept me informed. Mostly, I like seeing what former students and old friends are up to.
Still, I’ve been more than hesitant to dive head first into the rest of the social media thing, and I was not clear why. And then it came to me: I’m just not that social.
Campaign donations on trial
The Supreme Court long ago established that Americans have a 1st Amendment right to spend unlimited amounts on behalf of a political candidate as long as the money is spent independently - and not given directly to or coordinated with the candidate’s campaign. But even as the court has upheld limitless independent spending, it has also repeatedly acknowledged Congress’ authority to set limits on direct contributions to political campaigns.
Now, in an ominous sign that that distinction may soon fall by the wayside, the court has agreed to hear a constitutional challenge to the long-standing federal limits on the total amount an individual may donate to candidates and political committees during an election cycle. If the challenge is successful, it would undermine a crucial premise of campaign-reform law dating back to the 1970s.