Listen, My Children...

Every Little Helps

Sunday, November 30, 2003

On the legal status of "domestic partners"

From the WSJ:
In other words, domestic partnerships, if states elect to have them, should be nondiscriminatory and inclusive. They should be available to people based on needs, not on sex. The law certainly should not discriminate in favor of those unmarried people who are in sexual relationships over those with the same needs who, though committed to caring for each other, are not sexual partners. Widowed sisters living together and looking after each other, or an unmarried adult son taking care of his elderly father, may have the need for domestic partner benefits such as hospital visitation privileges and insurance rights.

What I've been saying all along; glad to see the WSJ feels the same.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Quote of the Day

We constantly have people after an incident call up and say, 'We did it. Look at us, aren't we wonderful. We killed a bunch of innocent men, women and children.'
-- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld

I'm Happy

IRS auditing National Education Association.

Maybe next they'll see if the tax-exempt designation needs to be taken away from some of the churches that strongly support political parties (my own, ECUSA, among them, with Suffragan Bishop "Jack-boot" Jane Dixon on stage at the DNC last time around) -- mind you, not supporting issues (like reminding congregations that Catholics should be anti-abortion and reminding them to check out where a person stands before they vote), but supporting parties as a whole and endorsing and providing donations to specific candidates. Heck, they took it away (and quite rightly) from Reverend Pat; let's get the rest too, and not leave out those on the other side!

Monday, November 24, 2003

Kanan Makiya

While I agree with this:
Kanan Makiya would be an excellent first president of a Free Iraq. His actions and his writings have been truly courageous.

... I think that there are some very good reasons it will never happen, one of the largest being that he is married to an Indian Catholic woman.
...and a professed and often evangelical atheist (as it were), even without a Catholic wife of another nationality, would not have much of a chance at the US presidency -- how much less would he have a chance at being accepted as the leader of a country whose citizens and whose (former?) allies have occasionally expressed fears that the US is trying to destroy Islam!

T3 (semi-spoiler)

Did anyone else have a great longing to have them play "We'll meet again" at the end of T3?

On Piracy, DVDs, and the Oscars

In NYC, I stayed partly with my cousin, a writer's assistant for one of the biggest shows on television. He's worked for the Academy Awards, the Grammys, the concerts at the Olympics, and, for many years, at the Sundance Film Festival. He took me around for a bit to go shopping; what struck my eye the most were the DVDs of Gothika, Cat in the Hat, and whatever else is new and not even out in the theatres yet.

I asked him about these DVDs; I was curious if that was what the Academy was trying to prevent by stopping screeners. "Yes and no," he responded. The existence of pirated pre-release copies is, ostensibly, the reason for the Academy's perturbation. However, he explained, the leaks generally come, not from screeners, but from people in low-level positions, not much higher than his coffee-fixing jobs in high school: often, this is people who are granted access to pre-release copies in order to proofread, as it were; to check to see that all the sound lines up, that the foley artists haven't screwed up, that the colors aren't off, etc. While there is a small amount of leakage from the Academy's chosen (I've watched screeners, obtained through a roommate's father's friend or whatnot), most of it comes from people inside the studio itself, my cousin told me.

He argues, and quite believably, that the reason for the Academy's short-lived ban was an interest in favor of big studios, whose work would be seen without Academy assistance, and opposed to indie films not often making it out of their small circles and getting noticed by the tv-ad-watching general public.

In short, Roger L. Simon's suspicions would seem to be correct.

The Glorious Lone Star State

There are many wonderful things about Texas. Hot cheerleaders in Dallas; cute people like my sister who want Texas to secede and become its own country again; real honest friendliness; exhileratingly low cost of living...

But the best of all, the main reason I'm thrilled to live here, rather than Boston or London or Germany (or, of course, Minneapolis), is that I can say with pretty good certainty that I will absolutely never start a post like this: "We were supposed to get NINE FEET of snow this weekend."

(What's more, I would not be disappointed when it didn't show up!)


Via Oxblog, one hears:
The European Union's racism watchdog has shelved a report on anti-semitism because the study concluded Muslims and pro-Palestinian groups were behind many of the incidents it examined.

Well, the leanings on all sides can't get much more obvious than that.

Back! and Blood

Had a great trip-- more later, after my exam tomorrow. Ahh, Texas, where grad students in Sanskrit can schedule their final exams before classes even finish, if they promise to keep coming to class!

I almost gave blood in NYC because of the education level of a Red Cross worker. I've long been annoyed by a very silly rule barring even frequent tourists to England from giving blood. So, when someone from a Red Cross van comes over and asks me to donate, I ask if I can, saying that I lived in England from 1993 to 1996. She says, "oh, that's fine. You can give." I get excited and start filling out the forms, only to have her come back and say, "oh, is England the UK or Great Britain? I didn't think it is, but my coworker says so."

Nope, still can't give.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Back Monday

New York, New York
What a wonderful town
The Bronx is up,
and the Battery's down
The people ride
In a hole in the ground
New York, New York...

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

What the?

A jilted pub owner in Britain who advertised in search of a “single white male” for companionship was told to remove the message because it was racist.

Well, that's a new one... I've frequently mentioned that mate-choice preferences based on external appearance were one of the few remaining acceptable racial preferences, although they are also not inviolate (hence the branding of any non-Asian guy dating an Asian girl as a "fetishist" -- perhaps I should have said, mate-choice preferences for someone of similar appearance). Well, looks like that one's fallen too. Personals, change your format.

Constitutional Right to Abortion

I keep hearing about a constitutional right to abortion. I know that there most certainly is nothing of the sort in the original document or in the amendments (speaking of which: what's all that about twenty dollars?), but they must be getting it somewhere.

While most of the people claiming a constitutional right probably do believe that there is one enumerated (they've just never read the constitution, so they don't know for themselves), I don't think everyone is just pulling it out of thin air. (I wonder how many of the ignorant masses would change their mind if told to find it in the constitution? When you inform uneducated opponents of genetically-modified food that, living in America, they're probably eating GM food every day, they do tend to say that perhaps it is harmless.) So: where do they get it? Is it all back to the Fourth Amendment and "The right of the people to be secure in their persons"? Or is it about the Thirteenth and "involuntary servitude"? It would seem rather a stretch for either, especially the latter.

Another Conspiracy Theory

There is actually no loony anti-war left.

Just like the more egregious collegiate racist attacks keep turning up to be fake, put forth by people trying to emphasize there is racism on campus by pretending there is racism on campus, I propose that all the crazier people in the anti-war marches are actually conservatives trying to make the left look bad.

And I have proof, too: Some people even have videotapes of themselves "protesting the protesters" with signs that are off the left end of the spectrum (one would hope); onstensibly, this is to make the protesters see the implications of their arguments, but in fact it is with the hopes of getting on the news and appearing like a real protester, thus making the sincere and harmless left look bad. Even I have been having fun in the past month, taking a position far to the left of the left-leaning person I encounter; it's remarkably entertaining, and it furthers the conspiracy.

So, the mayor of London, the pro-Saddam people, International ANSWER? All right-wingers trying to make the left look bad. And I've got my suspicions about Dean.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

New Conspiracy Theory

(This one's all mine, as far as I know. Heck, everyone else gets to come up with loony ones -- why not me?)

Anti-Jewish forces, while supporting attacks outside of Israel, are secretly trying to stop Palestinian violence; their goal: make Israel safe, scare all the Jews elsewhere into moving there, and then nuke the whole country! There, you've answered the "Jewish question," and you've finished the job!

UT Frats For War!

So a UT fraternity had a war-themed party last weekend, where the dress code was camo and the decor was aviation. The party has drawn them quite a bit of negative publicity: apparently, an anti-war campaigner made up fake flyers advertising the party as specifically celebrating deaths of Iraqi children.

Now, fake flyers are nothing new; that notwithstanding, "The IFC Judicial Board will investigate next week whether Zeta Psi violated the IFC code of conduct by intentionally engaging in a form of harassment." (Perhaps it's worse: perhaps that is acknowledging that they had nothing to do with the flyers; perhaps they are being investigated purely for having a war-themed party.)

They no more made ridiculous flyers than the pro-Dean people in Dartmouth made them; that said, just whom are they supposed to have been harassing?

Reading Material

The latest Mark Steyn is, as usual, angry and fairly entertaining with a few good points and no chance of convincing the opposition.

That said: I've been having fun lately, reading The Rise And Fall of the Third Reich and Goebbels' diaries, augmenting them today with bits of Churchill and Kennan on post-war USSR. Seeing as how we frequently get pro-soviets among the anti-war types, and occasionally even find those who will argue for the other side in WWII, it's good sometimes to refresh your memory with contemporary opinions.

Homosexual Marriage?

Leaning libertarian again, I suppose, I don't have quite the same problem with this that some others will. I still don't think it changes much of anything. Even on the "if it's legal, it increases acceptance of it" front -- well, one of the main arguments for it is that a ban is no different from a ban on miscegenation. Ok: anyone around think that, decades later, mixed-race couples are universally acceptable? If anything, they're becoming less acceptable from the perspective of some of the "culturally aware" groups involved, as I frequently gripe, and I doubt too many of the then-opponents have been won over!

If they take it beyond the civil sphere, however, I'll have more qualms. There have already been occasional discrimination suits, saying churches cannot hire and fire based on sexual behavior. If they say, as (I hear; no links) some lawsuits in Europe (with moderately state-controlled churches) are trying to say, that religious groups cannot deny a sacrament to a person based on sexual behavior... well, that will be another story.

But, Mitt Romney (incredibly attractive Governor) is trying to overturn it, so the issue may well be put off for some while.

UPDATE: Just a thought: What I hear often -- and heard again on the news just now -- is that same-sex couples want the same tax breaks (and, I suppose, tax penalties) and inheritance law as married couples. So: could this be solved by changing the laws to say you can designate anyone you wish as your dependant or whatnot, and you don't even have to be in a sexual relationship with them? That shouldn't bug the traditionalist types, and, while I'm sure it won't be enough for the same-sex types, at least it will really annoy them -- that is, from what I hear, it wouldn't give them any privileges they haven't already got under other names or by filling out various forms, but it would allow people to say, "look, you can get married by the unitarians, and we'll give you all the financial things, so you've got what you asked for -- now leave us alone!"

Monday, November 17, 2003

That British pro-Americanism...?

What? This goes against what we've been being told:
public opinion in Britain is overwhelmingly pro-American with 62% of voters believing that the US is 'generally speaking a force for good, not evil, in the world'.

Sunday, November 16, 2003


Nope, nothing even remotely romantic going on between these two:

And, anyone want suggestions for presents for female friends? Try this one.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Why I Need Glasses

Because I thought this article's headline was Officials Confirm Ebola Outbreak in Chicago.

For those of you (beekeeper) who know my morbid fascination with unusual or old-fashioned diseases, you will not be surprised to know that I was slightly disappointed when I discovered my error.

Early results

"8:45 p.m. 834 of 4143 precincts:
Blanco: 156,669
Jindal: 139,778."

Dean For President!

(This message brought to you by the RNC.)

OxBlog is debating today's hot topic, the Weekly Standard article on connections between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. It's an interesting argument. One point Josh Chafetz makes sounds like Chris Muir -- "Bush's political team would love for Dean to be the nominee -- they wouldn't do anything to try and derail him in the primaries." So many people keep seeing Dean as a huge threat to Bush; I'm with those two and seeing him as more of a threat to the rest of the Democrats.

Jindal for Governor!

The Advocate is reporting that the exit polls are too close to call...

Bobby Jindal in Indian news

I've just figured out why Bobby Jindal isn't getting as much play in Indian news as he might -- as, indeed, people running for state legislatures have gotten: apparently, "the Jindals are both former Hindus converted to Catholicism."

I haven't been over to the HinduUnity webforum in a few months; they've probably been talking about how it's all a sinister plot to 1) hand control of America to Muslims (you have no idea. They believe it), 2) convince the West that it is possible and acceptable to convert from Hinduism if you are brown-skinned, 3) make sure that any slots AA would give to Indian-Americans are taken by traitorous Christians...

Converts from Hinduism to Christianity aren't seen in too favorable a light there; no wonder he's only landed himself a few articles in my weekly Indian news crawl.

The Daily Texan on Race and Achievement

The Daily Texan is a surprisingly good paper. Very centrist (I assume -- it seems remarkably conservative to me, coming from a place where we'd all jump up and down and clap our hands when conservative viewpoints were well-presented, but campus conservatives refer to it as a "liberal rag"), fairly good reporting of campus events, frequent opinion pieces from other campus newspapers around the state and country, incredibly poor copy editing, and excellent layout for the most part.

One of the very pleasing articles lately touches on a current hot topic at UT, the uses of Affirmative Action. We've had the basic arguments: those who don't like AA are racist bigots; AA doesn't extend to all minorities at the college level (Asians, for example) nor does it take into account actual disparity in background and opportunity; any Asians who believe that are self-hating "model minority" pawns; etc. Some fools have written in to say that, since Asians are under-represented in low-paying civil service jobs (like postal work), they're being discriminated against!

Obi Ihekweazu, on the other hand, steps back from judging it all on skin color and decides that "success is not determined by race, but rather by the nature of one's personal environment and upbringing." Nigerian-Americans, high-achieving dark-skinned people (of which he presumably is one), are his main example. He makes good arguments; additionally, he writes well, which is refreshing. Go read it!

You learn something new every day

I had no idea whatsoever about Michael Bloomberg's faults. Hadn't followed the story. The only thing I knew was something that's the same in Boston: smoking bans in bars at 11pm really don't do much good -- you can't walk past the bar, because of the crowd of smokers clogging the sidewalks, and the bars lose money to people who say they're stepping outside for a smoke and then leave without getting the check.

Apparently, "Mr. Bloomberg's approval ratings were the lowest of any mayor on record, in Gray Davis territory with just 21% saying they wanted to re-elect him." It's interesting.

A Reminder

We must all remember that this is not a religious attack (despite the location at synagogues); it is a protest about the political actions of a country (in which none of the targets lived). There is no such thing as anti-semitism.

(More here.)

Jindal for Governor!

Bobby Jindal (apparently, he changed his given name; "Bobby" was, however, common among Indian Christians in the 1970s -- but for girls) looks pretty cool.

Still think Bob's cousin will be the first American-born Indian President. I'll let you know when he starts running for things.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Anti-Americanism in the UK

Andrew Sullivan reports on anti-Americanism and the reaction to Bush's visit in London. His correspondent writes: "After 22 years in Surrey we're looking to move to America."

As much as I miss aspects of London, what with the growing crime rate and laws making it illegal to act in self-defense when attacked, the growing hatred among young people for America (and occasional claims that the US and Mossad planned the WTC attacks, etc.), and the growing cost-of-living (bus fares are several times higher than they were ten years ago), I am glad I no longer live there. If I were still there, I'd be joining AS's correspondent on the next boat over.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Freedom of Choice

It's nice to have such a rational and logical person around.

On Excess Income

My new addition to the links section makes an excellent point about the living wage. Our lowest earners here in Texas, the illegal immigrants, send tons of money to Mexico. Obviously, they have more than enough to live on. Not more than enough to live on in Manhattan, probably (which is the main reason to oppose a national, rather than a state-set, minimum wage), but they clearly have surplus income in Texas.

I am now proudly financially independent; Bob does buy me dinner often, but I cook for him just as often, so it balances out. With my only source of income, my graduate fellowship, I am well below the poverty line; however, I have a luxurious apartment, money for driving to Houston twice a month, expensive food, a decent entertainment budget, and enough left over to pay off a trip to europe and travel out of state every month! (Berkeley last month; I'll be doing my Christmas shopping in NYC next weekend.)

New Links

Just finally made it over to Mark Harden's blog, and he's good! So, added him. Also added our enigmatic friend Mr. Raut. Go visit!

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Episcopalians and Race

A pictorial fisking!

And, lest it be said that those pictured are an unrepresentative sample, let me just say that Theuner, Griswold, and Robinson are the three main players on the pro-change side (the next three on the list are also white males: Rowan Williams, Jeffrey John, and Michael Inghram), and Akinola, Tay, etc. are the strongest primatial supporters of the traditionalist side.

On Freedom of Speech

Andrew Sullivan on the same topic. Odd line at the end, not quite fitting in, though.

UPDATE: And here is that post taken apart by a new blogger, about whom we as of yet know nothing aside from an interest in sibling-abuse survivors.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Please don't supersize it!

So I hear, increasingly often, about making bigger products for hugely fat people (link: Drudge). "While some researchers say the products can help overcome the stigma of being overweight, others suggest they might encourage obesity by making extra-large the norm," an article says.

Should there not be a stigma to being overweight, the same as a stigma to using foul language in polite situations, or a stigma (which definitely exists in much of the USA) to chain-smoking or drinking heavily, if you want something as genetically predisposed as obesity?

I side with the "others" in that quote; those of you who have met me know I'm fairly heavy. I refuse to shop at plus-size stores and wear tents, however, so my size has had to top out at Express size 14. Trendy stores aimed at obese young women, like Torrid, are not what I want! I do enjoy that they make clothes for the under-50 plus-size demographic, but they are another deterrent from further growth gone down the drain.

Making everything larger, from airplane seats to bustiers to bathtubs, and telling eating-concern helplines to say that being fat is not a problem is not the way to go. (I've called Harvard's helpline, out of curiosity, and was told that my self-esteem was much more important than my health; I should learn to love my body as it is and not force it to conform to societal norms of "healthy weight.") Richard Simmons (eww) attributes his pursuit of a healthy body to the politically incorrect statement of a friend that he was going to die if he stayed that fat. A fellow on the news started dieting (and lost over a hundred pounds) when the airlines told him he'd have to start buying two seats. People need wake-up calls; society today does give them, and we should not be telling society to shut up!

Martha Stewart

Samizdata says that "the feds have no case for insider trading against Martha because she is not an insider." It's an interesting argument. I know nothing about it; I just like her show and magazines, so I hope she gets to keep making them!

Freedom of speech

This is one of the main reasons I'm opposed to "hate speech" legislation:
A bishop who angered homosexuals by suggesting they seek a psychiatric cure is to be investigated by police to see if his outspoken views amount to a criminal offence, it emerged yesterday.
Martin Reynolds, the communication director of the LGCM, welcomed the investigation into what he described as 'scandalous' views. 'These are irresponsible remarks that could inflame latent homophobia,' he said.

This is not just a restriction on expression within a child custody case, which is heinous enough (and which I have now seen in other news outlets). This is not about making a child doubt the morality of the mother's former lover's behavior. This is about expressing commonly-held opinions, opinions held by many of those concerned (people who know through their own experience that desire for the same sex can be changed, in at least their own cases, to desire for the opposite sex; and people who believe, from their own experience, that desire for the same sex can stem from childhood neglect, absent father, violent father -- all of them things that psychological disorders are often blamed on). If a man now says, "I once considered myself homosexual; through therapy I have been freed from that self-destructive hell, and, if you think it's hell, and you want out (and you should), you should try it too!" -- something I have heard many men and not a few women say -- well, he can be charged with a crime.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

You learn something new every day

I'd never have thought that "it is against FedEx policy to ship body parts".

Recommended Reading

"An Anglican Looks At Icons," by my mother, the nun.

Friday, November 07, 2003

A New Kind of Crime

This just in:

Cross-dressing teens from Harvey Milk High School offered sex for money in Greenwich Village and then robbed the would-be johns — by pretending to be cops, sources said last night.

Haven't heard that one before!

On Outsourcing to India, II

John Edwards, my candidate of choice out of the Democrats, is blogging over at Lawrence Lessig's place. He discusses outsourcing to India etc. in a delightfully sensible manner: he does not call for barriers to make sure no non-Americans can work for American companies; he does not make the (often overtly) racist complaints some people make about the Asians taking the tech jobs; instead, he calls for America to produce enough adequately trained people and systems that the companies feel no need to look overseas. Several of his comments are sensible as well:
Is there necessarily a link between increased technology jobs in China and India (examples that you gave) and lost jobs for Americans? I am not so convinced that the data supports that conclusion; the technology sector is growing horizontally, not just vertically. However, even if Americans are “losing” jobs to China and India, I’m not so convinced that this is a problem. America has benefited for decades from intellectual flight from other countries, but technology now creates an opportunity for intellectuals to stay at home and bring value not only to America (as Americans and others hire and use their expertise) but also to boost their own economies by staying at home (not that immigrants should not be welcome, of course we should welcome them should they want to leave their homelands – many, however, do not, and technology now allows them to stay at home and make a decent living). In the U.S. we are a flexible, growing economy. Silicon Valley has had its bumps, but from a larger perspective the U.S. is still very close to what has been traditionally believed to be the static unemployment level. I think we’re all better off by using the increasingly better intellects of the Chinese and Indian technology minds: doing so is in fact an example of a strength of U.S. entrepreneurism, not a problem with it; using the best minds worldwide and creating great new products from them. Also, increasing labor standards worldwide is a noble objective, but don’t you think that doing so is often a (perhaps caché) form of market protectionism?

Some commenters are very protectionist; some point out that overseas salaries are extremely high for that country; some discuss the futility of any attempt to provide equally cheap and trained labor over here; some are snarky; one says Edwards proposes increased tax cuts for R&D; some post Indymedia articles in toto (!); and some make the anti-immigrant (and anti-naturalized-citizen) arguments Edwards wisely avoids (although one commenter thinks he's made them).

While I disagree strongly with him on several points, and would not vote for him (although at one point, before he'd defined all his positions, I thought I might), I do wish Edwards had a chance at winning the nomination. He's definitely not the worst of the bunch.

Thursday, November 06, 2003


Telegraph | News: "Tam Dalyell, the Father of the House, sparked outrage last night by accusing the Prime Minister of 'being unduly influenced by a cabal of Jewish advisers'."

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Never Too Late To Change

Go read this.

On Typecasting

I'm the kind of person actors hate. I will always see William Shatner as Kirk, no matter what low-quality movies he's in. I just saw an advertisement for PBS's "Oklahoma," starring Wolverine. I just bought a very enjoyable version of "A Christmas Carol," by all accounts, but it was starring Jean-Luc Picard. This handicap of mine is not confined to modern (or sci-fi) films; I recently saw "In the Good Old Summertime," a movie whose main memorable features are the title song and Judy Garland, but which also features an aged Buster Keaton. Yes, the Great Stone Face who was so excellent in silent comedies. I could hardly watch the movie -- every time he showed up, all I could think was, "it's Buster Keaton!" It's like seeing Meg Ryan trying to star as Sylvia Plath. In all of her movies, even when she was supposed to be a brilliant physicist, she's been the blonde ditz from "When Harry Met Sally"; seeing her in an incongruous role, even if she could somehow manage it, would just be distracting.

New Look

Still working out the kinks. Like it so far. Will change colors somewhat. We'll see. Have updated a few links; need to do more. Want to be linked? tell me. Have suggestions? tell me.

Schadenfreude, as usual

Back to the old topic of people rejoicing when bad things happen, because they can be used to make the other side look bad (from Best of the Web):
Well, then how about this cheery comment, posted Monday at, the Democratic National Committee's official Web site, again quoted verbatim: 'Morning all. It occured to me that all the bump that Bush got late last week from the economic figure went up in flames yesterday with that helicopter.' That would be the Chinook that was shot down in Baghdad Sunday, killing 15 soldiers. For the Angry Left, it seems, every dark cloud is a silver lining.

I understand this sentiment; I suppose we all do, to some extent. When the people you oppose do something bad, you feel vindicated; you think you're just celebrating that things are going well for your side, for the good guys, but in fact you're celebrating the things that any decent person would wish hadn't happened. Democrats should think that the Republicans have it wrong (or they should switch parties!), but they should be pleased when the economy goes up and grieved when helicopters get shot down. They can be pessimists ("eh, it'll go back down again") or detractors ("but where are the jobs?"), but they should not mourn a rise in the economy. They can point blame ("the helicopter wouldn't have gotten shot down if there weren't any helicopters there!"), but they should not rejoice.

We should all hope that things go well, even if those things are being run by people we disagree with and by methods we disagree with. We should not be like Jonah, told to prophesy a coming doom to an unrepentant Nineveh, who, when Nineveh repented, was angry that he would look silly because the prophesied doom would now not come.

No matter who wins the Houston runoff, for example, Owen and I should both hope that whichever man wins is honest, hardworking, truly has Houston's best interests at heart (rather than just thinking he does), and is good for the city. One of us will be disappointed; but we should not hope the victor lives up to our dire expectations just so that we can say, "I told you so!"

In all such things, may it go well for the people I predict it will go poorly for, may predicted calamities not strike no matter what damage it may do to the reputation of the predictor, and may the best man win no matter his party.

It's not bad, it's un-good

I think staying in academia might eventually drive me insane. One of my classes is currently on my pet topic, violent Hindu nationalism. But there's a twist, one I did not even come across at Harvard (although perhaps it was simply so widely understood that it was unvoiced): the teacher keeps emphasizing that there is no right or wrong in these situations and that we must remember there is a bias in our materials. I was hard pressed not to point out that perhaps it might be objectively wrong to impale babies' bodies on tridents and that a news report on the action might be straight reporting of something that should be unacceptable to any person, no matter what their religion. If the religion encourages the torture of innocents of other religions (or even of less-violent strains of the same religion), then the religion might be unacceptable. There are some things that ought not to be tolerated, and being biased against horrors is not necessarily a bad thing!

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

On Diversity in Advertising

Huzzah! Bob told me about it, but I've just now seen it for myself: the new Jetta ad has only Indians in it. And they're normal people with American accents and trouble with hyperactive kids. Joy!

Lest ye fear I've fallen into the clutches of mindless quota liberalism, let me reassure you: I haven't. I don't care whether or not the number of Indians in advertisements is the same as their percentage in the population. I'm glad that they're being put in as people, as average car-owning types, and I'll only make a fuss about it this once.

I'll make a fuss about it once, as well, the first time I see an American of Indian descent as one of the lead characters in a movie, with as little fuss made about race as is made about black-white couples in movies like the latest James Bond (or like Denzel Washington in "Much Ado About Nothing," for that matter). And by "fuss" I mean fuss within the movie. If people viewing the movie want to see it as a triumph or a scandal, that's fine. But the movie makes no issue of it. First we'll have to have a "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," I'm sure -- and not a fringe movie, either, like "Bhajji on the Beach" or "My Son the Fanatic," but a mainstream movie with known stars like Tracy, Hepburn, and Poitier, dealing with it as a Big Event. I suppose that's a stage that has to be gone through, before they can start treating such couples as normal, and stop expecting everyone to be an Apu or CNN's Sanjay Gupta with an added accent.

On Pregnancy as Forced Tenantship

As Owen Courrèges writes: "I may have property rights, and I may own a boat, but if a person climbs up on my boat from shark-infested waters, it would be wrong for me to kick him off."

Monday, November 03, 2003

On Late Night Talk Show Hosts

Several months ago, I asked readers which of the late-night hosts they preferred. The consensus, I believe, was that Leno was personally better, Letterman has better guests (or it could have been the other way around), and Conan's the one worth staying up for.

I've been doing some comparison of my own, now that, thanks to the time zone, everyone's on an hour earlier. Apparently, I'm with the majority in choosing Leno. My reason's different: I prefer him because 1) he has eye candy like Dolly Parton and Arnold, 2) he does not have spots with the people voted off of Survivor, and 3) he has a Boston accent. He does have some terrible guests, though, so I generally watch his patter at the start and then see who's on which show. I tried Conan a few times, and I will watch him if I don't feel like sleeping and there's nothing else to do, but it's just not my cup of tea -- probably because I'm the kind of person who likes a cup of tea. Guys I know love his habit of heaping scorn on the audience and having bits with Jack Black and other SNL-types. Guys I know also enjoy the crass and repugnant skits in SNL and Mad TV. And they laughed when Will Ferrell told jokes about shit (literally) at Harvard's Class Day. I suppose it must be a guy thing!

On Bobby Jindal

I like this candidate, in case y'all couldn't have guessed it.

Sunday, November 02, 2003

On the Pope

What with the pope's anniversary and his failing health, there have been quite a few news spots on the pontiff. Many of them have an aspect that surprises me: they comment on how conservative he is. Perhaps a Catholic would be better fit to comment on this, but: isn't JPII one of the more liberal among the higher-ups this century? Hasn't he been widely censured by traditionalists around the world for his liberal stances? I see where the news get their idea -- "he doesn't support civil unions? damn conservative." -- but he seems quite liberal to me, for a leader in the Roman Catholic Church. Am I wrong?