Archive for the 'unhappy endings' Category

May 4th 2013
Just another occasion to feel entirely alienated from American culture and values

Posted under American history & class & jobs & students & unhappy endings & wankers & weirdness

Baa Ram U. announced that tuition next year will increase by 9%, making the cost of one year at my university for Colorado residents the princely sum of $7,494.  Unfortunately, the Denver Post buried the lede in the final paragraph, in which the uni’s president notes that “‘If you’re the one writing the check for that $619 increase, that’s what you see, that you’re being forced to pay more money,’ [Tony] Frank said of [the tuition] hike. “That’s not abstract — but what people don’t see is how less of your taxes are being used to buy down the cost of that education.’”

No $hit, Fred.  And yet, we’re still treated to blathering by people–most of whose college degrees have at least 25 years’ worth of dust on them–who want the American people to question the value of a college education.  Moreover, these are in many cases the exact same people who have championed the disinvestment in higher education that started more than thirty years ago.

Interestingly enough, in the very same newspaper in which I read of this tuition increase, I learned from Ask Amy that the average price of a wedding in the United States is now $30,000.  If that number is anywhere near true, then I call bull$hit not just on the Bill Bennett’s of the world, but on the spending priorities of the American people.  Continue Reading »

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April 22nd 2013
Boston 4/15 and the selective American notion of who is a “terrorist”

Posted under American history & Gender & race & unhappy endings

Joan Walsh argues that the perps of last week’s attack at the Boston Marathon must be thought of more like domestic mass-murders than “terrorists” with foreign ties:

We still know comparatively little about the Tsarnaev brothers, but they seem to have more in common with other American mass murderers than with al-Qaida terrorists of any race and ethnicity. No less an expert than former CIA Deputy Director Phillip Mudd said on Fox News Sunday that they have more in common with the Columbine killers than with hardened al-Qaida terrorists. Likewise, Columbine expert Dave Cullen compares the “dyad” of apparent mastermind Tamarlan and follower-younger brother Dzhokhar to the Columbine pair of disturbed plot architect Eric Harris and follower Dylan Klebold.

It also must be noted, while we’re on the subject of profiling, that this is a problem of American males roughly between the ages of 18 and 26: Harris and Klebold were 18; Virginia Tech mass-murderer Seung-Hui Cho was 23; more recently, the Aurora, Colo., theater shooter, James Holmes, is 25; Clackamas, Ore., mall shooter Jason Tyler Roberts is 22; Newtown’s Adam Lanza was 20. We may well learn that radical Islam drew the alienated 26-year-old Tamarlan Tsarnaev toward violence – right now we have no evidence that 19-year-old Dzhokhar had any connection to Islamic militants — but we should also acknowledge his alienation is a common trait among American men his age. Continue Reading »

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April 8th 2013
Are you there, God? It’s Margaret.

Posted under European history & Gender & jobs & unhappy endings & women's history

A savage handbagging!

It’s a big day for women’s history today as we note the death of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.  Here’s a roundup up some of the things I’ve seen on the non-peer reviewed interwebs:

  • Echidne weighs in on Mags:  “Thatcher was not a feminist, of course.  She is famous for openly disliking feminism, partly because she was blind to what feminism had given her:  The right to run for office, the right to vote.  She believed that her successes were based on nothing but her own talents and her own hard work.  Women’s concerns she brushed off like so much dandruff on the shoulders of her black suit. . . . So what is Thatcher’s legacy for women?  I would imagine that she would be angry at such a question.  Those women, always pestering her when she was nothing like them!  She was one of the boys, or at least a Smurfette among Smurfs.
  • Note:  when Echidne calls Mags a “Smurfette among Smurfs,” she’s not suggesting that her legacy is tiny or mockable.  She’s pointing out that there is only *one* Smurfette among a whole colony of Smurfs, and that Smurfettes therefore tend to spend a lot more time and energy defending their position in the boys’ club rather than opening the door to and making room for more Smurfettes.  Just so that we’re clear on that point. Continue Reading »

7 Comments »

March 18th 2013
Being wrong & never paying the price: a Washington journalist testifies on the tenth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq

Posted under American history & Gender & unhappy endings & wankers

On the day before the tenth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, John Judis has an interesting reflection on “What it Was Like to Oppose the Iraq War in 2003.”  He reviews the crazy consensus among “serious” thinkers (even of the so-called “liberal” sort) about the righteousness of the Bush administration’s obvious hard-on to take out Saddam:

In December of 2002, I was invited by the Ethics and Public Policy Center to a ritzy conference at an ocean front resort in Key West. The subject was to be Political Islam, and many of the best-known political journalists from Washington and New York were there. The conversation invariably got around to Iraq, and I found myself one of the few attendees who outright opposed an invasion. Two of the speakers at the event—Christopher Hitchens, who was then writing for Slate, and Jeffrey Goldberg, who was then writing for The New Yorker—generously offered to school me on the errors of my way.

More interesting to me was something Judis writes in the second paragraph in his article:

[W]ithin political Washington, it was difficult to find like-minded foes [of the plan to invade]. When The New Republic’s editor-in-chief and editor proclaimed the need for a “muscular” foreign policy, I was usually the only vocal dissenter, and the only people who agreed with me were the women on staff: Michelle Cottle, Laura Obolensky and Sarah Wildman. Both of the major national dailies—The Washington Post and The New York Times (featuring Judith Miller’s reporting)—were beating the drums for war. Except for Jessica Mathews at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington’s thinktank honchos were also lined up behind the war.

I wish he had paused to reflect on the obviously gendered language he uses here, as well as the clear gender divide he recounts here in pro- versus anti-invasion journalist and think-tank opinions (Judith Miller excepted).  Continue Reading »

22 Comments »

March 12th 2013
SCOTUS Cowgirl Sandra Day O’Connor

Posted under American history & Gender & unhappy endings & women's history

OK, so enough of the images of dudes with mustaches.  Did anyone hear this interview on Fresh Air with Arizona’s Sandra Day O’Connor last week?  Man, she’s a tough cowgirl, ain’t she?  Half the time I was thinking, “what a jerk,” but the other half of the time I was thinking, “now that’s a real western woman.” Plenty of attitude, and no deference whatsoever to Miss Terry Gross.  I mean, none, even though her publicist surely booked her on Fresh Air to let Miss Terry Gross help her sell some damn books, right?  It’s not like Fresh Air showed up at the ranch uninvited.

(Whereas you know that if I ever get invited to be on Miss Terry Gross’s show, I’d be as slobbering and deferential as a Golden Retriever.  Sandra Day O’Connor treats Miss Terry Gross like an irritating college intern in this interview!  But Miss Terry Gross knows that there’s a big difference between Sandra Day O’Connor, for example, and your garden-variety douchehats like Bill O’Reilly or Gene Simmons, so she’s very good-humored about it all.) Continue Reading »

10 Comments »

March 6th 2013
Suck on this!

Posted under American history & bad language & class & students & technoskepticism & unhappy endings & wankers

What I learned from Thomas Friedman this morning in the New York Times:

  • No one cares what you learn in college, because Google!
  • College professors have no certification that we can teach, and all we do is lecture at students who passively take notes, and then administer tests of their passive learning skills.
  • Lecturing to 14,000 “with audience participation” is a terrific way to share knowledge.

I just love these experts in “disruptive innovation” who trash learning in college classrooms and lecture halls with 15, 40, or 125 students because “all professors do is lecture,” who then turn around and brag about how scalable their educational model is because–wait for it!–it’s based on lectures!  To 14,000 people who swooned like bobby-soxers fainting for Frank Sinatra.
Continue Reading »

30 Comments »

March 3rd 2013
Jonah Lehrer: a weird old trick that melts belly fat and makes 54-year old mom look 27!

Posted under American history & Gender & race & unhappy endings & wankers

Modern publishing: just a sausage party.

From the “if it looks too good to be true, it probably is” file:

Two weeks after disgraced journalist Jonah Lehrer publicly apologized for the “frailties” and “weaknesses” that lead to his firing from The New Yorker and withdrawal of his bestselling book Imagine, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), publisher of all three of Lehrer’s books, has decided it will no longer offer for sale his second book, How We Decide. After an internal review uncovered significant problems with the book, the publisher is “taking How We Decide off-sale” and has “no plans to reissue it in the future,” HMH senior vice president Bruce Nichols said in an email.

HMH, who pulled Imagine from shelves in July and offered refunds to those who had purchased the book, will “shortly alert accounts about How We Decide and offer to refund returns” from customers, Nichols said. He also noted that the company’s review of Proust Was a Neuroscientist, Lehrer’s first book, did not uncover any problems and that it “will remain in print.”

Nichols didn’t reveal the specifics of HMH’s findings, but shortly after the company withdrew Imagine I privately provided them with a handful of problematic passages, gleaned from a cursory look at How We Decide.

HA-hahahahahaha!  The author of this article, Michael Moynihan, goes on to reveal that his “cursory look” at How We Decide probably involved no more than a simple Google search of Lehrer’s prose and a look at Wikipedia.  That’s right:  the world’s most obvious undergraduate-style plagiarist was getting paid to write for The New Yorker and publishing books with HMH.  Most of you professor types probably would have found him out a lot sooner if he were trying to pass his stuff off on you than his editors or readers did. Continue Reading »

19 Comments »

March 2nd 2013
New research on Nazi slave labor camps shocks even Holocaust scholars

Posted under captivity & Gender & Intersectionality & race & the body & unhappy endings & women's history

This is certainly shocking to me as well. From the New York Times article:

[R]esearchers have cataloged some 42,500 Nazi ghettos and camps throughout Europe, spanning German-controlled areas from France to Russia and Germany itself, during Hitler’s reign of brutality from 1933 to 1945.

The figure is so staggering that even fellow Holocaust scholars had to make sure they had heard it correctly when the lead researchers previewed their findings at an academic forum in late January at the German Historical Institute in Washington.

Interestingly, the researchers at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. have uncovered a number of camps and slave labor sites in which sexuality and reproduction were central to the torture inflicted on women.  Continue Reading »

10 Comments »

February 26th 2013
Missing persons alert!

Posted under American history & class & Gender & jobs & unhappy endings & women's history

If any of you can find the disappeared daddies in this article, please let me know.  I’m terribly worried about them!  Why, I wonder, is no one looking for them or asking them to do anything, not even apparently their own wives and children?

It sounds to me like Sheryl Sandberg’s and Marissa Mayer’s advice is for people who want to succeed in the real world now.  Even if the U.S. abandons its history and temperament to offer free child care to all children from birth to age 6, that still won’t completely level the playing field between men and women (although it certainly would help!)

Here’s the raw truth:  Continue Reading »

23 Comments »

February 25th 2013
Oscar d00dly b00bfest best for lying down, avoiding

Posted under American history & art & bad language & Gender & Intersectionality & jobs & race & the body & unhappy endings & wankers & weirdness & women's history

We had a much-needed little Front Range snowstorm yesterday.  It was so peaceful and quiet–Sundays are usually pretty quiet days in Potterville, but with the snow swallowing all outdoor sounds, it was even quieter.  I had a beef burgundy* in the oven, and we made a fire and watched a Harry Potter movie instead of the Academy Awards.

It turns out that it was a really excellent decision to shut out the rest of the world last night.  I keep thinking about the old Monty Python skit about Australian wines:  “this isn’t a wine for drinking!  It’s a wine for lying down and avoiding.”  (Don’t miss Linda Holmes’s review at NPR.)  In the end, I think Amy Davidson’s analysis was the best I’ve read today:

Watching the Oscars last night meant sitting through a series of crudely sexist antics led by a scrubby, self-satisfied Seth MacFarlane. That would be tedious enough. But the evening’s misogyny involved a specific hostility to women in the workplace, which raises broader questions than whether the Academy can possibly get Tina Fey and Amy Poehler to host next year. It was unattractive and sour, and started with a number called “We Saw Your Boobs.”

“We Saw Your Boobs” was as a song-and-dance routine in which MacFarlane and some grinning guys named actresses in the audience and the movies in which their breasts were visible. That’s about it. Continue Reading »

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