5 Best Thursday Columns

Jennifer McCreight on 'Boobquake' data, E.J. Dionne on saving capitalism, and more

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  • Jennifer McCreight on Boobquake Data  In a column for The Guardian, McCreight, the Purdue University senior who created the irreverent scientific inquiry known as Boobquake, crunches the numbers from this week's experiment. "Not only did all of the earthquakes on Boobquake fall within the normal range of magnitudes, but the mean magnitude actually decreased slightly," she finds. (That 6.5 magnitude quake in Taiwan? Well within the probability window.) McCreight has a sense of humor about the whole affair ("We didn't have a control planet of women covered head to toe"), but she's quick to emphasize "the original message behind Boobquake. As a scientist and a sceptic, I firmly believe that we should test claims people make, especially when they're ridiculous."
  • Elizabeth Chang on Obama Checking 'Black'  Writing in The Washington Post, Chang, an editor of the Post's Sunday magazine, laments Obama's choice to identify as black on the census, despite his biracial background. "If the most powerful person in this country says that because society thinks he looks black, he is black, it sends a message that biracial children"--such as Chang's own--"have to identify with the side they most resemble," she writes. "There is an important consequence when our president does not acknowledge half of his heritage."
  • E. J. Dionne on Saving Capitalism  The Washington Post columnist looks down on the "new order" of capitalism, as epitomized by Fabrice Tourre's candor in his e-mails. "The inventiveness of our entrepreneurs goes not only into creating products that enhance our lives (from refrigerators to laptops to iPods) but also into fashioning "absolutely conceptual and highly theoretical" financial products whose main function is to enrich a very small number of well-placed people," Dionne reports. Allow the unregulated capitalism to continue, he warns, and socialism will become a real possibility. "The lesson is that the surest way to save capitalism is to regulate it in the public interest," he concludes.
  • David Ignatius on Politicians and Popularity  In light of the Senate's resolution condemning the value-added tax, the Washington Post columnist cogently explains politicians' desire "to be 'right' at the same time everyone else is -- with the result that they delay action until the crunch hits with devastating force." The result is a government that deals with unpopular issues only after they have become crises, which is all the more galling because they become crises of impotence, not ignorance. "It is part of the human comedy that we sense what's coming but do not take action," Ignatius laments. "The truly devastating shocks aren't the ones that sneak up on us but those we see approaching, inexorably, yet can't summon the political will to address."
  • Kris W. Kobach on Why Arizona Drew The Line  In an op-ed for The New York Times, the former immigration adviser to John Ashcroft and University of Missouri law professor systematically perforates the major criticisms of Arizona's controversial new immigration laws. Kobach dispels the notions that "reasonable suspicion" is a "meaningless term," or that the law will enable police to engage in racial profiling. "The Arizona law hardly creates a police state," concludes Kobach, declaring the law a "measured, reasonable step" towards combating illegal immigration. After all, "Arizona is the ground zero of illegal immigration," notes Kobach. "Phoenix is the hub of human smuggling and the kidnapping capital of America, with more than 240 incidents reported in 2008."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.