Links: NSA, New Nobels, Marijuana Legalization, Corporations and the First Amendment, Roger Ebert, etc

  • A good article in Slate‘s Explainer column on what the legal repercussions would be for congressmen who revealed NSA secrets.

  • An interesting article by Graeme Wood in New York magazine about online reputation management.

  • Gene Weingarten, A story that could make Roger Ebert look bad. Too soon? Often Weingarten is a bit (or, well, more than a bit) much, but this isn’t bad.

  • A good interview on Fresh Air of Israel writer Yoram Kaniuk, who died recently. An important advocate for peace and decency.1

  • Should Happy Birthday to You be in the public domain? A new lawsuit.

  • An article on the proliferation of new Nobel-style academic prizes.

  • How Corporations Hijacked the First Amendment to Evade Regulation. A good article by Tim Wu in the New Republic.

  • A profile of Ethan Nadelmann, one of the leaders of the fight for drug legalization.2 Obviously, decriminalization of marijuana is important for so many reasons: the fight against marijuana has wasted our society’s resources, created many new sources of crime, deprived sick people with a drug that seems to help, and disproportionately targeted minority communities. That said, I fear the progress towards decriminalization won’t be done in the right way. First, it’s important to protect negative liberties; for example, I shouldn’t have to smell marijuana smoke in my apartment building. Second, it’s important to figure out some way of dissuading those at risk from trying marijuana, which though harmless for some can aggravate psychosis in others. (This is not to say that alcohol doesn’t have serious problems as well, of course.) It’s interesting to see how economics always prevails; entrenched medical marijuana now is sometimes opposing broader legalization.

  1. An interesting quote from this: “A Palestinian writer once accused the Palestinians and said to them, look, these Jews, I mean first of all they kill you. Then they moralize about it. Then they write the best poems about it.” 

  2. One quibble with the article. It notes that Nadelmann left a professorship at Princeton in 1994. It doesn’t specify at all why he left. In particular, had he been denied tenure? An article in the Princeton weekly bulletin says he resigns as an assistant professor. In a 1990 Daily Princetonian article, he acknowledged the risks of his focus on advocacy:

    Nadelman realizes his national reputation does not guarantee that he will receive tenure when his case comes up in 1992.

    “I think it helps in [the] eyes of some and hurts in the eyes of others,” Nadelmann says. “I think people respect the journals I’ve published in (including Science and Foreign Policy).”

    It seems likely, then, that he was denied tenure, and this led to his departure. (Correct me if I’m wrong!) This Daily Beast article is therefore probably incorrect in saying, “Had he stuck with Princeton, he’d likely be tenured, with an easy courseload and heaps of time to write books.”

    There is of course absolutely no shame in not receiving tenure—Nadelmann has probably done much more good than many who stay within the ivory tower—and I feel a bit of guilt in the gossipy nature of my question about it. But surely, in a case like this, a reporter has an obligation to understand and explain his departure from academia. Not to provide the clarification is a touch disingenuous.