Closing the information gap

first_img The former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney visited HLS in April for a Q&A session hosted by Dean Martha Minow. <a href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZv-qnJWGWU” rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank”> <img src=”https://img.youtube.com/vi/rZv-qnJWGWU/0.jpg” alt=”0″ title=”How To Choose The Correct Channel Type For Your Video Content ” /> </a> Campaigning for governor of Massachusetts in 2002, Mitt Romney, J.D./M.B.A. ’75, decided he would spend one day every week doing someone else’s job. He cooked hot dogs at Fenway Park, worked at a day care center, took a turn on a paving crew. One day he hung off the back of a garbage truck making its rounds through the city of Boston.“It was really educational,” Romney said, recalling the experience for a Harvard Law School audience on Friday. “We’d pull up to a corner and there’d be people waiting to cross the street, and I’m not more than two feet from these people. And they don’t see you. You’re invisible. If you’re on a garbage truck, you’re an invisible person.“I thought, wow — we don’t see each other as we ought to in society.”The former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential nominee, visiting Harvard Law School (HLS) for a Q&A session hosted by Dean Martha Minow, encouraged a renewed civility in politics and society, emphasizing the difference one person can make through serving others.Polarization in the country “is real and becoming worse,” Romney said. “One of the reasons for that is that we don’t get the same information. Thirty, 40 years ago, there were three networks, three news programs, and we all watched an hour of evening news. We also got our news from a certain number of newspapers … we had the same foundation in terms of information.“Today, conservatives tend to get their news from one series of sources that they tend to agree with, and liberals tend to get their news from another series of sources that they tend to agree with,” he continued. “We rarely have people with the same set of facts. That makes us become more and more polarized, because we look at others and say, ‘How in the world could you possibly think what you do? Knowing what I know, how could you think what you do?’ But they don’t know what you know, and you don’t know what they know, because you haven’t looked at the same facts.After the Q&A with Minow, Romney met with students.“I’m hopeful that people of capacity will take the time not just to read and to watch what they agree with, but to understand what they disagree with,” he said. “The more polarized we become, the more I look for the kind of person who can step forward and bring people together. There are people who say they will do that but don’t. Our country desperately needs leaders who will stand up and bring us together and find ways to bridge the gaps of understanding between people. We’ve been missing that, and we need it.”For Republicans to once more be competitive in the Northeast, he said, the party needs to do a better job of communicating why its policies are most effective at helping the poor and the middle class.“Our opposition party has done a great job of characterizing us as the party of the rich,” Romney said. “The rich will do fine whether Republicans or Democrats are presidents or governors. The rich do fine anywhere in the world. The rich take care of themselves very well. The question is, who is going to do the best job for the middle class and the poor?“The reason I ran for office — the reason I ran for governor, the reason I ran for president — is because I believed my policies and my leadership would be most likely to help people come out of poverty and most likely to help the middle class see better incomes and better outcomes. I’m convinced that conservative principles create more enterprises and more good jobs, which causes competition to hire people, which causes wages to go up. That’s why I’m a Republican. We have difficulty as a party breaking through and getting that message out.”Romney was asked by Minow if he ever draws on anything he learned at Harvard Law School.“Yes — argument,” Romney replied, to laughter from the more than 350 students in the audience in WCC Milstein East.Romney said law professors like Phillip Areeda and Stephen Breyer “would ask for you to state a case and express your opinion on an item, and inevitably they would ask, ‘Why?’ — and push you to defend your position.“I went through the joint business-law program,” he recalled. “A little saying we had was [that] you could tell the difference between law students and business students: Business students had bags under the eyes because of all the reading they had to do. Law students had furrowed brows, because of all the thinking they had to do.“I remember Professor Areeda one day was just zeroing in on me. I gave an answer and he came back and pushed against me and said, ‘Yes, but Mr. Romney, how about this and this and this?’ He kept on going and going for quite a while. … When he was finished with me, he moved on to somebody else. I went back to start writing down some notes of the interchange, and he came back and asked me what did I think about what she had said? I hadn’t paid any attention! He asked, ‘Mr. Romney, why weren’t you paying attention?’ I said I was too busy writing down what I had just said! He chuckled and moved on.“There’s no question the thinking process, the delving deeper, the pushing deeper in your analysis that is pursued here at the Law School is critical to a career in the private sector or in the public sector,” Romney said.Romney’s appearance was cosponsored by the HLS Dean’s Office, HLS Republicans, HLS Democrats, and the Harvard Federalist Society.A conversation with Mitt Romney at HLSlast_img read more

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Confession app draws attention

first_imgSince their recent launch of an iPhone app meant to guide Catholics through confession, Notre Dame doctoral candidate Ryan Kreager and his business partners Chip and Patrick Leinen have sold thousands of apps and received a great deal of media attention. The app, titled “Confession: A Roman Catholic App,” is based on an examination of consciousness by Fr. Dan Scheidt, pastor of Mishawaka’s Queen of Peace Church and a Notre Dame graduate. Scheidt originally developed it for use in his own parish. “The examination of consciousness at its very nature is a general diagnostic tool,” Scheidt said. “I took what I thought was most helpful from several and developed one for the adults in my parish.” Scheidt said the app helps Catholics focus during confession. “The app helps people who are so anxious about confession that they forget some or all of what they were going to say and it helps focus their thoughts,” Scheidt said. “An unanticipated way in which it is helping is students who have special needs. They use their iPhone to help focus on what they want to say.” Kreager said they launched the app through their business Little i Apps, LLC. He thought of the idea by talking to his sister’s boyfriend. “John [Deng] and I were just talking about confession,” Kreager said. “He made a comment about making confession easier and we thought there should be an app for that.” Deng did not want to be involved in the app development process, so Kreager took the idea to the Leinen brothers. They jumped at the chance. The three self-described “Catholic Geeks” did have some experience in programming and web development, but had never developed an app before. “There was a learning curve on the app development side,” Kreager said. “But for us, this was an evening and weekends project.” After about six months, they released a prototype of the app to a few close friends and a local youth group. Soon after their beta testing ended, the app was released. The app received an imprimatur, an official statement from a bishop that states that there are no doctrinal or moral errors. Bishop Kevin Rhoades, of the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese, granted the examination of consciousness the imprimatur. “As far as we know, we are the first app to receive this,” Kreager said. “It gave the app a credibility that it wouldn’t have had otherwise.” The examination of consciousness the app uses is what specifically received the imprimatur. Scheidt said non-Catholics also use the app just to look at their life and examine the choices they are making. “This gives non-Catholics who are unfamiliar with confession the ability to see and learn more about the sacrament,” Scheidt said. Even though the app has proved to be helpful, Kreager said there has been misleading media coverage of it. Originally, coverage was only picked up by some Catholic blogs and news sources, he said. Other media outlets eventually picked up the story of the app and some even reported that the Catholic Church had approved confession via iPhone. Some news sources retracted their false statements, while Kreager said others did not. “The Vatican released a statement saying that they are not opposed to the app as long as it is used correctly,” Kreager said. “We also issued a statement saying that we stand fully behind the Vatican’s statement and that the app is just an aid to confession, not a replacement.” Scheidt said the confession app “has generated a conversation about confession that would be difficult to pay an advertising company to replicate. It has gotten people talking and that’s a good thing.” With all the coverage, the app was even mentioned in jokes on both Conan O’Brien and Jay Leno’s television shows, Kreager said. Currently the team is working on adding new features such as customizable sin lists, porting it to the Android and translating the app into several other languages.last_img read more

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As baseball grapples with the definition of value, one MVP voter does the same

first_imgAs a study in how the game’s incentives have shifted, one evaluator pointed to the case of Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson. A center fielder with range, Pederson possessed the speed to steal 20 or more bases in each of his four minor league seasons. In the majors, Pederson became a completely different hitter. He re-oriented his approach toward power, and has never stolen more than six bases in a season. Eventually he became a platoon player, then a corner outfielder, and ever so briefly a first baseman.Pederson’s next home run will be his 25th. That’s how many home runs Kirk Gibson hit in 1988, when he was voted National League MVP. Through Tuesday, 22 NL players had 25 or more home runs.What if the most valuable player is not someone who conforms to the modern prototype? What if a player derives value by forcing others to redefine the game on his terms? There is no bat-wielding outlier in 2019 who falls into that category.There is, however, Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu.With an earned-run average of 1.45, Ryu is 66 percent better than the league average. That has never been done by a qualified pitcher in a full season. Greg Maddux came the closest, in 1994, with a 1.56 ERA for the Atlanta Braves. Unlike other elite pitchers today Ryu does not possess an exceptional strikeout rate. He allows batters to make contact like Maddox did, yet he is elite at stifling home runs.Related Articles Cody Bellinger homer gives Dodgers their first walkoff win of season Dodgers hit seven home runs, sweep Colorado Rockies Dodgers’ Will Smith: ‘I feel like it’s been five years’ since his 2019 debut In 2015, when Bryce Harper won the National League Most Valuable Player award, his isolated power was an otherworldly 113 percent above the league average. That was better than the best season of Albert Pujols’ career, or Manny Ramirez’s, or Duke Snider’s. Harper hit 42 home runs, batted .330, and was the unanimous choice among BBWAA voters.Isolated power isn’t a statistic in every baseball fan’s lexicon. It isn’t printed in box scores. It isn’t even found on the stats tables of Major League Baseball’s official website. (The formula for isolated power is as simple as it is anonymous: slugging percentage minus batting average.) Without it, however, we would have no context for what we saw then, and what we are seeing now.Three players – Cody Bellinger, Christian Yelich and Mike Trout – began the day with 39 home runs, three fewer than Harper’s 2015 total. They could each match Harper by the end of August, or the end of this week, or in a single night. Trout has the highest isolated slugging percentage of the three, 96 percent above the league average. Impressive as that is, it’s only a shade above Yelich (95), and a sequoia in the shadow of Harper’s 2015 redwood.Harper was an easy choice in 2015. I filed the first MVP ballot of my life that October. The Nationals were not a playoff team, and the thought that a star warranted demerit if his team didn’t make the playoffs still permeated MVP debates. One National League player generously volunteered to assist me in my thought process. He asked me how I defined “most valuable” player. “The best player is the most valuable,” I said. As the words left my mouth that sounded sensible, even trite. Truthfully I’ve been wrestling with what it means ever since. After one May game in which Ryu shut out the Mets for seven innings, I asked Manager Dave Roberts whether Ryu’s success was a byproduct of our era. Does mastering the ability to pitch to contact, relying on pinpoint command rather than elite velocity, allow a pitcher to succeed in a game that emphasizes strikeouts and home runs?“I think that with his stuff, he can survive in any era,” Roberts said of Ryu. “It’s always a good thing to be able to command the baseball and to use different pitches. I think now, when you’re talking about the ability to strike guys out, which he has, and the ability to put the ball on the ground – now you’re talking about shifting and defensive metrics and putting guys in the right spots, depending on the tendencies of the hitter – and you look at Hyun-Jin’s balls in play, they’re converted into outs more than any of our pitchers.“Right now, probably as an outlier, with the defensive metrics, gives him even a better opportunity for me.”I have my doubts that Ryu is truly more valuable to the Dodgers than Bellinger, or than Yelich is to the Brewers. I have no doubt that, if he keeps this up, Ryu is more than a mere “hipster pick” for MVP. He isn’t just redefining the game on his terms every time he pitches. He is the best practitioner of a kind of baseball that dominated for a century, only to be rejected in an era of home runs and strikeouts. In so doing Ryu just happens to lead the world in ERA, that most traditional of statistics, by a comical margin. I’m not sure what that means. There’s a bigger picture than the traditional stats are painting in 2019.center_img BBWAA awards ballots were distributed this week. I have a National League MVP ballot, so I’ll be wrestling with the definition of “value” again. The game has changed in the last four years, enough to force voters to re-frame what something as simple as a home run means.Before a recent game, I talked to a group of pro scouts who were grappling with the same problem. They didn’t have MVP votes. Their task was taller: to evaluate players for their major league readiness in strange places. The average Pacific Coast League game features 12 runs, the average International League game more than 10. A Triple-A pitcher with a 5.00 earned-run average is faring well. Hitting a home run means relatively little at that level – even less than in the big leagues, where the league-wide home run record is on pace to fall with two weeks left in the season.The ability to swat home runs, the historical gold standard of hitting prowess, is not the prized quality it once was. Scouts must train their eyes on each batter’s swing, looking for holes in his bat path. Any pitch not thrown to that hole is liable to leave a Triple-A ballpark. Anything inside the hole is exploitable by a pitcher with command. And if a swing can be exploited at Triple-A – even if the hitter is slugging 1.000 – it can and will be exploited even more at the major league level. The hitter with the fewest holes in his swing is the best; now the ball supplies his power. For a pitcher, the inverse is true: The ability to get hitters to swing and miss is king.The net effect of how evaluators grade players in 2019 speaks directly to the definition of “most valuable.” He who can master a game of home runs and strikeouts is deemed the best player. But how valuable is a 40-home run hitter in 2019? Or even a 50-home run hitter?“Hitters have no idea of what to do in situational hitting spots,” one scout told me. “Over 162 (games), the numbers are entertaining, but to win those last 11, you have to hit, get on base, take extra bases, and play some defense.” Fire danger is on Dave Roberts’ mind as Dodgers head to San Francisco How Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling topped the baseball podcast empire Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more

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