Category Archives: that which doth irk

August 16, 2010, 7:08 am

It's not nutpicking if it's in the NYT, I swear.

I wish I could get paid to peddle ignorance.  (Hush, you.)  Seriously.  Douthat wants American Muslims to recognize that to fit into the American Protestant religious model,  they must reject radicalism in favor of bland assimilationist piety consonant with Western values.

I have an idea!  Maybe one of those moderate imams, you know, the trusted sort that Bush’s administration could consult with after 9/11, one of the good guys, should start a, what should we call it, maybe a Muslim Knights of Columbus or YMMA, a-a-a cultural center!  and put it in a modest, nondescript building in a major metropolitan area.  That would be a good way to show willing.  And they shouldn’t name it something foreign-sounding, but maybe pick an easy-to-pronounce Western name that evokes a place where scholars from all religions could come and work and learn together.

(I wonder where Opus Dei’s NYC…

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July 6, 2010, 5:44 pm

One wonders what the kerning is on a kitten heel.

I’ve mostly ignored this over the past few months because I believe that examining pictures of a pregnant woman with an eye to figuring out whether her shape is appropriate to the gestation of the fetus is morally degrading to the examiner.  But I have to say that I’m with Amanda here, and I’m very surprised at the quarters whence the newest round of conspiracy theory comes.

Don’t get me wrong.  It strikes me as completely plausible that Palin, a woman whose public persona is constructed around a conservative fantasy, the tough woman who proves liberals wrong by having Christ, a career, children, and a perfect coiffure, exaggerated the extent to which she was in labor during the plane flight (here’s one account, where the doc says she induced labor upon landing)  This would not be surprising for any politician whose career depends more than most on personal charisma and narrative. …

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June 8, 2010, 10:47 am

Inference to the best explanation suggests a boot to the head

what LB said, about this terribly daring article that seems to suggest that the importance of identifying and eliminating bias affecting women in the sciences cannot be determined unless science has established that men and women have the same innate* mathematical abilities.  To this I’d add the following:

1) This argument apparently only works for math. If we’re talking at the level of the facts people normally pull out here, there’s some research that suggests that at the tip of the tail, the brightest men are better at math than the brightest women, and the usual argument proceeds from here to conclude that this explains why men are more likely to be PhD’s in math, etc.  But similar research shows that the best female communicators are better than their male counterparts, and that women are natural consensus builders and yet no one suggests that top literature and political…

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April 10, 2010, 6:02 am

I can't figure out why there are so few women in this discipline. It must be because logic is hard.

January 13, 2010, 6:50 am

Given this economy, perhaps we should get counseling.

From the web edition of Jobs for Philosophers, put out by the American Philosophical Association:

306. SAINT MARY’S COLLEGE OF CALIFORNIA, MORAGA, CA. POSTDOCTORAL RESIDENT, COUNSELING CENTER. Saint Mary’s College of California – Moraga, CA. For the 2010-2011 academic year. The Residency requires a 9.5 month, 5 day per week commitment in order to meet California licensing requirements of 1500 hours supervised postdoctoral experience. Qualifications: Psy.D, Ph. D. in Clinical/Counseling Psychology. College/University Counseling Center experience at practicum and/or internship level (desired). Fluency in Spanish (desired). Salary and benefits are competitive and subject to the availability of funding sources. Complete details are available at Preferred deadline is 01/18/10. Open until filled. EOE. (184W), posted 1/11/10

Yes, that…

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October 11, 2009, 7:47 am

In which I abuse some poor defenseless numbers.

I’ve hesitated to post on this for a couple of days now, largely because I am in agreement with the conclusion: men, don’t hit on strange women in public, it’s obnoxious as hell.  But I find the reasoning to be pernicious, and since I’ve been thinking about it for three days…

The piece follows on the heels of this boneheaded xkcd comic, in which hero Stick Man decides not to talk to a strange woman on the train because he doesn’t want to come off as creepy, and it turns out she was trying to attract him by pulling out her netbook!  True love lost!  The takeaway, I imagine, is that nice guys lose, because they no longer read the universal symbol of desire that is the eeePC.

So, the piece.   It’s called Schrödinger’s Rapist.  Nice men should not approach women on trains because women think like this:

So when you, a stranger, approach me, I have to ask myself: Will this man rape …

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October 9, 2009, 6:27 pm

This being my only comment this season on the state of the academic job market in philosophy.

There’s something strange about the popular area of specialization this year:


September 24, 2009, 11:23 am

In which I am not perky.

So this is not cool. It’s a little better in context, where Kealey is writing on the sin of “lust” as one of the seven deadly sins of the academy, and it’s meant to be lighthearted.  But it really should go without saying that female students are not “perks” and it’s entirely possible that the curvy young woman asking for help on an essay just wants help on an essay, and good advice would not say “look, but don’t touch”, but “be a professional.”

The problem here is not the common claim that Kealey was brave enough to voice that “look, don’t touch” ethic that all professors have towards their female students but are terrified to mention because of the fear of PC police.  It flirts with establishing the idea that female students should expect to be ogled, and as long as one goes home and tackles the wife* afterwards in lieu of taking up with the student, there’s no harm done.


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July 6, 2009, 7:09 am

We only like C students who PAY to get into Yale.


This ideal has had a tough 10 months. It’s been tarnished by Palin herself, obviously. With her missteps, scandals, dreadful interviews and self-pitying monologues, she’s botched an essential democratic role — the ordinary citizen who takes on the elites, the up-by-your-bootstraps role embodied by politicians from Andrew Jackson down to Harry Truman.

Sarah Palin is beloved by millions because her rise suggested, however temporarily, that the old American aphorism about how anyone can grow up to be president might actually be true.

I’m sorry, what? “Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” or “humble beginnings” or “son of a millworker”  or whatever nonsense does not mean “remain mediocre your whole life and get handed the Presidency.”  Jackson was a military man.  Truman had decades of experience before becoming President.  Neither of them winked in a job…

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June 10, 2009, 12:07 pm

You weren’t excluded. You lost.

There’s a newly prominent argument on the right that holds that if only we overturned Roe, happy Americans free of insidious judicial activism would ensure that women had reasonable access to abortion, like in Europe.  Since this isn’t the case, the poor anti-abortion Americans, barred from the political process, have no choice but to murder doctors (though everyone condemns it, tsk tsk tsk.)  Scott Lemieux has an excellent takedown that everyone should read, as does hilzoy.  I have but two things to add:

1) It is intellectually dishonest to pretend that anti-abortion groups and pro-choice groups are on the same page, and merely disagree over the  method of implementation, legislative or judicial.  There are states with trigger laws.  This is not a proposal being offered as a compromise, even were it not offered at gunpoint.

2) Once again, I point out that there have been several…

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June 3, 2009, 7:06 am

Four months, three weeks, and two days of poor arguments.

I have little to say on the murder of Dr. Tiller than hasn’t been covered adequately elsewhere (e.g.).  But two persistent points have been getting on my nerves regarding late-term abortion in which Dr. Tiller had specialized.   So let’s have some data.


May 27, 2009, 7:26 am

With all the rights and responsibilities thereto.

As I am not a scholar of the law, I do not have much to add to the conversation concerning Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court.  Kevin Drum is almost assuredly correct about the end result following the mandatory political theater; Kieran Healy provides us with the program notes.

So in lieu of analysis, I have for you a mental toy inspired in part by the end of the spring semester and joyful graduation ceremonies everywhere and the rise once again, dissected here, of the zombie affirmative action meme.  (It says “GRAAADESSSS! GRAAAAADES!”)

Imagine you’re a political pundit.   Your little girl has just graduated from Yale Law School, where she distinguished herself at the Yale Law Journal.  Four years earlier you had wept with joy as your little girl, first in her family to go to college, graduated summa cum laude from Princeton.  You feel as if you would burst with …

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May 5, 2009, 1:32 pm

Even the pearls you clutch are glistening white

Clutching Pearls

I tend to be on the cranky-about-affirmative-action end of the liberal spectrum, so if even the reactionary N. Merrill is peeved about some race issue, it must be awful. Yet I am peeved.

And the proximate cause of the peevishness is the way in which pundits have talked about Obama’s search for Souter’s replacement. See here and here and here for examples.

Three obvious thoughts, stated here only because I’m surprised and annoyed by the inanity of the pundit conversations so far:

May 3, 2009, 9:49 am


I haven’t posted at all regarding the torture memos because I’ve been far too angry to write much more than expletives or “seriously?”  But here is something poorly reasoned from the chief of the CIA’s Osama bin Laden unit*: that we need to be able to torture because one day, we might catch Osama, he might tell us that he knows where all of the bombs are, and Obama won’t let us beat him up in order to save American lives….

A response,one that contains no ventings of spleens, after the jump.


April 11, 2009, 8:15 am

She must choose to write the essays in this sort of style, after all.

The excellent Hilzoy has a post on why women stay with their abusers that is worth everyone’s time.  What she doesn’t do is give a direct response to Linda Hirshman*, who is here making a claim in her usual manner: say something indefensible wrapped up in a misty old-school feminism that is just near enough to a defensible position to give plausible cover.**  Here the claim is that unlike those other feminists who say “don’t ask an abused woman why she didn’t leave”, Hirshman knows that one must ask why she didn’t choose to leave, in order to respect women’s agency.

Sounds sensible, until you understand exactly what she means.  From the post describing the book:

The somewhat fictionalized memoir (Steiner says she changed some identifying details and combined some characters) follows earlier essays in which she chronicled her anorexia and financial dependence. In this latest episode…

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