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April 2003

Future UNC-CH students get good news and bad news. The good news: the swimming test has been dropped. The bad news: "The curriculum puts a greater emphasis on foreign culture, language and diversity." See the proposal here. Unlike Duke's unimaginative eight-part matrix, UNC's curriculum has three rectangles with rounded corners, four colors, a five-part triangle, and six categories.

But unlike the old curriculum in which "fragmentation was a problem in several ways"--that's a direct quote from their document--this new curriculum will be so much . . . better. (Readers who believe that are invited to e-mail the Door to begin negotiating a price for the Brooklyn Bridge the Door has to sell.)

New article by Jared Diamond, apparently an extended advertisement for his forthcoming book. Interesting, as usual. But this time he has an overt political agenda, and this time his disregard for economic institutions undercuts his argument badly. His theme is short-sightedness. He decries mistakes allowed by the market: "For example, executives of Enron correctly calculated that they could gain huge sums of money for themselves by looting the company coffers and harming the rest of society, and that they were likely to get away with their gamble."

He doesn't seem to grasp the reasons why markets are generally less short-sighted than governments. (Though he does get closer to the truth with this comment: "Governments, too, regularly operate on a short-term focus: they feel overwhelmed by imminent disasters, and pay attention only to those problems on the verge of explosion and feel that they lack time or resources to devote to long-term problems." But notice the "too"!)