Friday, February 18, 2005

Larry Summers

I took a look at the Laurence Summers transcript because of all the hooplah and the calls for his resignation. Essentially he throws out some reasons as to why women are not as well represented in math and science as men. The sad fact is that he says some pretty ridiculous things about innate differences between men and women (especially the standard deviation stuff), but what I find particularly frightening is the fact that we in the academy are completely incapable of having a conversation about issues of racial and gender diversity without someone being called a nazi.

The assumptions out there is that all behavior is based on socialization. This may or may not be true, but anyone coming down on the "wrong" side of this issue is labelled a fascist. The sad truth is that there are racial and gender disparities throughtout the academy, and we have no idea why. Part of it is probably discrimination, but in my experience, the faculty at universities are some of the most liberal people you'll find on the planet (which is probably why i'm an academic)....so what gives? If it's inadequate support for child-bearing, bias by white male senior faculty, etc...we'll never know because the questions can't be raised.

At any rate, my fellow immoral minorities, i'd like you to read his remarks and hear your comments.

Go Go Gadget

For some reason my web surfing increases friday afternoons. Mobile PC Magazine has the Top 100 Gadgets of all times right here .

atari

The Atari 2600 may not be number 1 in the list, but it is in my book.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Iron Hymen

Whenever the liberal media gets me down, I check out whitehouse.org, a reliable source for cutting out the flowery language and delivering the unvarnished right-wing agenda.

For Valentines Day the good people at the whitehouse rolled out a couple sites for the kids: iron hymen and sex is for fags, complete with cool merchandise. I know what you all are getting for your birthdays.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Arthur Miller

David Mamet wrote an obituary for Arthur Miller in the Times today:

DUSTIN HOFFMAN was playing Willy Loman in "Death of a Salesman." I met Arthur Miller backstage after a performance. "Arthur," I said, "it's the oddest thing, but in the scene between Biff and Willy, it was as if I was listening to a play about my own relationship with my father."

I went on a bit, and looked over to see a small, distracted smile on his face. Of course, I thought. He's not only heard this comment thousands of times, he has probably heard it from every man who ever saw the play.

It is the great American Domestic Tragedy.

And "The Crucible" is the American Political Tragedy.

He wrote it to protest the horror of the McCarthy era. The plays are tragedies as each reasoned step brings the protagonists closer to their inevitable doom. We pity them as they are powerless to escape their fate. We feel fear because we recognize, in them, our own dilemmas. This is the purpose of drama, and particularly of tragedy: to allow us to participate in the repressed.

We are freed, at the end of these two dramas, not because the playwright has arrived at a solution, but because he has reconciled us to the notion that there is no solution - that it is the human lot to try and fail, and that no one is immune from self-deception. We have, through following the course of the drama, laid aside, for two hours, the delusion that we are powerful and wise, and we leave the theater better for the rest.

Bad drama reinforces our prejudices. It informs us of what we knew when we came into the theater - the infirm have rights, homosexuals are people, too, it's difficult to die. It appeals to our sense of self-worth, and, as such, is but old-fashioned melodrama come again in modern clothes (the villain here not black-mustachioed, but opposed to women, gays, racial harmony, etc.).

The good drama survives because it appeals not to the fashion of the moment, but to the problems both universal and eternal, as they are insoluble.

To find beauty in the sad, hope in the midst of loss, and dignity in failure is great poetic art.

Arthur Miller's wonder at his country and his time will redound to America's credit when the supposed accomplishments of the enthusiastic are long forgotten. His work and the example of a life lived with quiet dignity are each an inspiration. I spoke at his 80th birthday celebration, my speech a prayer from Kipling that I will, again, offer here:

One service more we dare to ask -
Pray for us, heroes, pray,
That when Fate lays on us our task
We do not shame the day.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Hitch

A.O. Scott writes yet another amazing review of the new Will Smith movie....and when I say "amazing", i'm referring to the quality of the writing, not the quality of the film. Read it here in the Times.

Even Scott'srating of the film is great:

"Hitch" is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). It treats sex with more gallantry than prurience, and the word most frequently heard on the real streets of Manhattan is uttered exactly once, and with a smile."

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Anti-Thong Bill

Having solved the problems of poverty, crime, and civil rights, the Virginia state legislature has passed a law that fines folks $50 for saggy pants that expose underwear in public. The BBC is there .

I guess police now have more power to randomly stop certain segments of the population. Guess who? Hint: It ain't white folks.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Democracy by force

Murray found these awesome links showing how 'happy' the U.S. was in the 1960s when Vietnam had its first elections. Spreading democracy from the other side of an AK-47. 1967 Propaganda and Vietnam Ballot. So, about that importance of studying history thing....

On a lighter note, they do air the Superbowl over here. I knew you were wondering. No, I'm not going to watch it. Too many back episodes of The O.C. and Desperate Housewives to get through :-)

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

SOTU

Well, I got home late and missed the big speech. Any update on the war on steroids? And how about that big mars mission? And the hunt for old whats'isname--obama?

UPDATE: I was finally able to see the speech here. Pretty powerful stuff.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

How prejudice are you?

This site is sort of interesting. I heard about it from on my favoriate blogs 3 Quarks Daily . It's an on-line test of your unconscious bias for or against groups of people. It's basically a categorization task...you have to judge whether a picture belongs to a person of a certain group while at the same time judging whether a word is positive or negative.

Having done it, there are all sorts of experimental problems with the on-line study, but i'm guessing the on-line version is just a demo. That said, it's pretty cool. You can see how much you hate women, blacks, gays, the elderly, etc...I haven't done all the tests, but apparently i have a slight bias against older people. Who knew.

Freedom's just another word for shut up

Here's another rant from your favorite ho and mine Postmodern Courtesan about how high school students in America don't believe in freedom of the press and think the government should be able to censor the news. Who asked them anyway? Shouldn't they be out drinking, smoking, humping and buying over-priced gliterry things?

It's like a bad acid trip where pink floyd lyrics come true. All together now, 'we don't need no edu-cay-shun...'