Century Marks

Century Marks

Like flipping a coin

Students at Hamilton College analyzed prognostications by 26 political and economic pundits during a 16-month period in 2007–2008 to see how accurate they were. They concluded that only nine of the pundits were more accurate than the flip of a coin, two were much less accurate, and the remaining 14 were statistically as reliable as a coin toss. Princeton economist Paul Krugman, columnist for the New York Times, came out on top. The worst prognosticator was conservative columnist Cal Thomas (Poynter.org, May 2).

Training school

"Imagine an institution that requires its leaders to attend not only college, but graduate school. Imagine that the graduate school in question is constitutionally forbidden from receiving any form of government aid, that it typically requires three years of full-time schooling for the diploma, that the nature of the schooling bears almost no resemblance to the job in question, and that the pay for graduates is far lower than other professions. You have just imagined the relationship between the Christian church and her seminaries" (Jerry Bowyer at Forbes.com blog, April 20).

Fallen hero?

Americans have a deep desire for heroes, and Greg Mortenson (author of Three Cups of Tea and its sequel, Stones into Schools) has fulfilled that desire. But recently he has been charged with fabricating parts of his story about building schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan and with mishandling the funds that have been donated to his Central Asia Institute. A former colleague says Mortenson is "a symptom of Afghanistan. Things are so bad that everybody's desperate for even one good-news story. And Greg is it" (Newsweek, May 2).

Second chance?

In 2002 five boys bound and brutally beat a 61-year-old man to death. Two of the assailants were sentenced to prison for life, the others for 14 years. Now Chris Paul, a grandson of the murdered man, would like to see the guilty set free from prison. Paul, a star in the National Basketball Association, was very close to his grandfather and was devastated by his killing. But Paul, who is about the same age as the men convicted, says they have a lot of life ahead of them and he'd like them to have a second chance (ESPN.com, April 27).

Hit number

The singing of "Ubi Caritas," a composition by Paul Mealor, a little-known 35-year-old Welsh composer, was one of the surprises at the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Mealor received a letter last December from the royal couple, requesting a musical contribution. The sixth-century text he chose for this choral anthem is traditionally used for foot washing on Maundy Thursday. It's a prayer about love and service. "Jesus came to serve," said Mealor, "and the young couple are about to enter a long period of service to the nation" (Guardian, April 29).