- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 22, 2007

Truth to power

“Steve Jobs has guts — enough guts to speak his mind about what he thinks is wrong with public education even at the risk of harming his business interests.

“In a speech [Feb. 16], the chief executive officer of Apple and Disney honcho declared: ‘I believe that what’s wrong with our schools in this nation is that they have become unionized in the worst possible way.’

“The problem with unionization, Mr. Jobs argued, is that it has constrained schools from attracting and retaining the best teachers and from dismissing the less-effective ones. This, in turn, deters quality people from seeking to become principals and superintendents. …

“Steve Jobs has embarked on a perilous path, but with solid evidence and persuasive arguments, he can move all of us toward higher quality schools. He should be applauded for having the courage to say out loud what scores of other business leaders are too sheepish to say.”

— Jay Greene, writing on “Steve Jobs Has Guts,” Wednesday in the New York Sun

‘Cool to be a Jew’

“Talk of the dwindling number of Jews in the United States and the weakening of their bonds to Judaism always makes me feel as if I live on a different planet. … Such doom and gloom talk … seems out of sync with what I see going on where I live in Washington, D.C.

“Face is, it’s cool to be a Jew these days — here and everywhere — among kids, among non-Jews, among people who think they might have Jewish roots. I see Jewish ideas everywhere I look, and not just in traditionally Jewish places. Non-Jewish children read books infused with Jewish values and culture, books that have become part of mainstream American life. Yiddish, it seems, has melded with English. And there’s no lack of Jewish influence in the arts.”

— Nadine Epstein, writing a “From the Editor” column in the February issue of Moment

The end of privacy

“One 2006 government study … showed that 61 percent of 13-to-17-year-olds have a profile online, half with photos. A recent pew Internet Project study put it at 55 percent of 12-to-17-year-olds. These numbers are rising rapidly.

“It’s hard to pinpoint when the change began. Was it 1992, the first season of [MTV’s] ‘The Real World?’ … Or you could peg the true beginning as that primal national drama of the Paris Hilton sex tape, those strange weeks in 2004 when what initially struck me as a genuine and indelible humiliation — the kind of thing that lost former Miss America Vanessa Williams her crown 20 years earlier — transformed, in a matter of days, from a shocker into no big deal, and then into just another piece of publicity, and then into a kind of power.

“But maybe it’s a cheap shot to talk about reality television and Paris Hilton. Because what we’re discussing is something more radical, if only because it is more ordinary: the fact that we are in the sticky center of a vast psychological experiment, one that’s only just begun to show results. More young people are putting more personal information out in public than any older person ever would — and yet they seem mysteriously healthy and normal, save for an entirely different definition of privacy. …

“[I]t may be time to consider the possibility that young people who behave as if privacy doesn’t exist are actually the sane people, not the insane ones. For someone like me, who grew up sealing my diary with a literal lock, this may be tough to accept.”

— Emily Nussbaum, writing on “Say Everything,” in the Feb. 12 issue of New York

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