Thursday, December 28, 2006

Peyton Place in the Pleistocene

Excellent spoof of evolutionary psychology from Eye of a Cat - with the obligatory objections of fans of EP.

ANCESTRAL WOMAN: Y'know, I don't think primatology a million years from now is really going to support that simplistic a conclusion about relationships between the sexes. Chimp societies definitely don't work that way, and as for the bonobos -

ANCESTRAL MAN: Again, you're not exactly being constructive.

ANCESTRAL WOMAN: I'm fed up with getting all the shortest lines.

ANCESTRAL MAN: But you can't argue with my conclusions. Human behaviour is governed by programs created for the society we live in now: nuclear families, strongly-marked hierarchies, rich and poor individuals, men who provide and women who nurture. And this explains why, in a million years, men will get paid more and women will be gold-digging whores. It's genetic. And anyone who thinks that people's lives and expectations might be significantly shaped by their societies in the future is just kidding themselves. We should run our societies based on the way they already are, since that's obviously basic human nature, and entirely unchangeable.

ANCESTRAL WOMAN: Is that, um, perhaps getting a bit too close to the is/ought fallacy?

ANCESTRAL MAN: [Sighs] More like taking the is/ought fallacy home and introducing it to your parents.

[Long silence. They stare at the mammoth slowly cooking on the fire in front of them.]

ANCESTRAL WOMAN: You know, I'd like to live in one of those real hunter-gatherer societies. The ones where people live in small communities rather than nuclear families, so nobody has to worry about getting a specific partner to provide them with specific things. The ones where labour's divided up between the sexes, and there's no real hierarchy or concepts of wealth. I don't know why, I just...

ANCESTRAL MAN: Get the impression that they'd cope far better in the Pleistocene savannah than we do?


[Another long silence.]

ANCESTRAL MAN: It wouldn't work, you know.

ANCESTRAL WOMAN: Because the conclusions drawn by large portions of evolutionary psychology tend to be based on naive, poorly-researched ideas of prehistoric society that rarely specify anything more than 'during evolution', entirely ignore the role played by nurture, pay little attention to the idea of adaptability being one thing that's always going to be useful for human brains, reduce all human behaviour to the level of genetic reproduction even when the connection's clearly tenuous, and come up with some pretty iffy and often misogynistic conclusions that seem to be based far more in justifying contemporary society and the speaker's own place within it than explaining the limitations and capabilities of human behaviour?

ANCESTRAL MAN: Well... you could say that. But, see, you're a woman. You're more emotional. That's why you're letting your idealistic, head-in-the-clouds nonsense about hunter-gatherer societies cloud your perception of the Harsh Truth.


ANCESTRAL MAN: That that the default setting for humanity is the gender roles and domestic arrangements of the worst stereotypes of 1950s suburbia.

ANCESTRAL WOMAN: White picket fences and all.

"lingerie Stockholm syndrome"

...a striking phrase from today's NYTimes article on strapless bras.

For those who don't know what Stockholm syndrome is,
according to
People suffering from Stockholm syndrome come to identify with and even care for their captors in a desperate, usually unconscious act of self-preservation. It occurs in the most psychologically traumatic situations, often hostage situations or kidnappings, and its effects usually do not end when the crisis ends. In the most classic cases, victims continue to defend and care about their captors even after they escape captivity. Symptoms of Stockholm syndrome have also been identified in the slave/master relationship, in battered-spouse cases and in members of destructive cults.

I would say that the entire fashion industry for women is a kind of Stockholm syndrome.

There's a reason that men don't wear strapless stuff - it's cold, it's silly, and it makes you look vulnerable. But of course 95% of women's fashion is about looking vulnerable, whether it's stick high heels or short short skirts or long fingernails or corsets or foot-binding. Strapless clothing is just one more variation on the theme.

Interesting to note that virtually all bridal dresses these days are strapless. As if to say, "don't worry honey - I earn my own money, do weight-training, can divorce you if I want, but I'm still just a helpless vulnerable lil woman!"

That's why I'm all for gay marriage. But heterosexual marriage, with its history of women-owning and women abuse is just a bad bad idea.

The very quintessence of helplessness is on display by the writer of the Times article in this section:
But Danny Koch, the owner of Town Shop, a Manhattan lingerie boutique that fits women with cup sizes A to G, said there is no reason for that.

“There is a definite stigma attached to strapless bras that no one will ever find one that works or fits,” he said. “But it’s just not true.”

Spoken by someone who does not have to wear one

Guess what Stephanie Rosenbloom? YOU AIN'T GOT TO WEAR ONE EITHER!

How sick is it that Stephanie Rosenbloom recognizes the symptoms of Stockholms syndrome, yet blithely wallows in it?

But so many female writers push that helpless girly-girl bit at the Times, from Maureen Dowd to Judith (my husband would rather watch TV than talk to me) Warner to the dread Daphne Merkin, I'm starting to think of it as the NYTimes syndrome.

And then they whine about girls wanting to be princesses without any acknowledgement of the role the NYTimes plays in pushing traditional gender concepts. Duh.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Jesus hanging on the cross - my horrible misdeeds as a child...

When I was four years old my mother taught me to recite this while staring at a small sculptural representation of a man dying an agonizing death...

Jesus, hanging on the Cross,
Tell me, was it I?
There are great big teardrops, Lord.
Did I make You cry?
I have been the best person that I can be,
So won't you, dear Lord Jesus,
Please pardon me.

If only I hadn't swiped that chocolate-chip cookie!

For years I thought my mother made the prayer up, but found on the Internet (where everything is) that she probably didn't since it's also here.

Christianity is a sick sick religion. But then any religion that teaches that a loving deity sends people to hell to be tortured for eternity is based on perfect cruelty.

Friday, December 15, 2006

News flash: Razib (Newamul K. Khan) is a right-wing asshole

I don't know what's wrong with these science bloggers. Haven't they heard of Google? You can find out all kinds of stuff about right-wing Razib of Gene Expression by using it. I blogged about him back in August but I guess Janet D. Stemwedel doesn't read my blog, or she wouldn't think it was such a big deal that Razib thinks attractive women don't read science fiction. That's exactly the stupid, ev-psych-based generalization that Razib would make. And then back pedal and try to play it off as a joke. Classic sexist ploy - antagonize feminists with some stupid, non-humourous-by-any-human-standard comment, and then say you're joking, and why don't feminists have a sense of humor. Razib is not only sexist and racist - he's a pusillanimous sexist/racist.

Although you'd at least think that Razib including hard-core racist Steve Sailer in his blog roll would give these science types a clue. Maybe they should get their heads out of their test tubes and pay more attention to where some of these "science" bloggers are coming from.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Now THAT's funny!

As a Google maps addict, I had to love this picture:

Via Ann Bartow at Sivacracy

Thursday, November 30, 2006

First the good news

The good news is that the New Yorker has shit-canned the Marabel Morgan of the 21st century, Caitlin Flanagan. (Rejoicing by Echidne and Pandagon.

The bad news is that ex-New Yorker writer, Jon Stewart-hatah and irritant-about-town Daphne Merkin has escaped the artistic Siberia of the style n fashion section, where she had been justly exiled, into the theatre section of the NYTimes. Another classic from Merkin - a worshipful Great Man of the Arts profile in the New Yorker mold, yet whiney too - why is Tom Stoppard so irritatingly content with his cushy Great Man of the Arts lifestyle? wonders Merkin.

With so many good, smart, feminist writers out there, why do these dipshits earn a good living by irritating me in the few mainstream media outlets I still patronize?

Friday, November 24, 2006

Family Planning Farce

In the NYTimes
When speaking at abstinence conferences across the country, and in his writings, Dr. Keroack has promoted the novel argument that sex with multiple partners alters brain chemistry in a way that makes it harder for women to form bonding relationships. One of the researchers cited by Dr. Keroack has called the claim “complete pseudoscience” unsupported by her findings.

Armed with these credentials, Dr. Keroack has been drafted to lead the federal office that finances birth control, pregnancy tests, breast cancer screening and other critical health care services for five million poor people annually, and to advise Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt on family planning issues. Americans who were expecting a more moderate administration in the wake of this month’s elections may find all this shocking. But to the unchastened Bush White House, apparent opposition to contraceptives, abortion and science was the opposite of disqualifying. It was a winning trifecta.

Worst. President. EVER.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Whoohoo! Militant Atheist Scientists!

In the NYTimes
This article is currently the 3rd most emailed at the Times.

I'm not a huge fan of Richard Dawkins since he's a big ole evolutionary psychologist - although certainly not the worst - but I do enjoy his in-your-face lack of God:
Before he left to fly back home to Austin, Dr. Weinberg seemed to soften for a moment, describing religion a bit fondly as a crazy old aunt.

“She tells lies, and she stirs up all sorts of mischief and she’s getting on, and she may not have that much life left in her, but she was beautiful once,” he lamented. “When she’s gone, we may miss her.”

Dr. Dawkins wasn’t buying it. “I won't miss her at all,” he said. “Not a scrap. Not a smidgen.”

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A Streetcar Named Bite Me

When I first began my playwrights group, NYCPlaywrights, I advertised it as a group for liberals. The first couple of years I paid for the meeting space myself, which is mighty expensive in Manhattan, and I did not want to give any conservatives a free ride.

I soon gave it up, because to have such a stricture meant I would have to give prospective members a test to weed out the right-wingers, and that would have been a pain in the ass and would have turned me into some kind of commissar. And besides, plenty of people who think of themselves as liberals carry some appallingly regressive attitudes around in their heads, especially about gender roles.

Harvard psychology professor Elizabeth Spelke has documented the sexism of people who consider themselves enlightened and fair-minded. She mentioned it in her debate with evolutionary psychology proponent Steven Pinker:
I will give you one last version of a gender-labeling study. This one hits particularly close to home. The subjects in the study were people like Steve and me: professors of psychology, who were sent some vitas to evaluate as applicants for a tenure track position. Two different vitas were used in the study. One was a vita of a walk-on-water candidate, best candidate you've ever seen, you would die to have this person on your faculty. The other vita was a middling, average vita among successful candidates. For half the professors, the name on the vita was male, for the other half the name was female. People were asked a series of questions: What do you think about this candidate's research productivity? What do you think about his or her teaching experience? And finally, Would you hire this candidate at your university?

For the walk-on-water candidate, there was no effect of gender labeling on these judgments. I think this finding supports Steve's view that we're dealing with little overt discrimination at universities. It's not as if professors see a female name on a vita and think, I don't want her. When the vita's great, everybody says great, let's hire.

What about the average successful vita, though: that is to say, the kind of vita that professors most often must evaluate? In that case, there were differences. The male was rated as having higher research productivity. These psychologists, Steve's and my colleagues, looked at the same number of publications and thought, "good productivity" when the name was male, and "less good productivity" when the name was female. Same thing for teaching experience. The very same list of courses was seen as good teaching experience when the name was male, and less good teaching experience when the name was female. In answer to the question would they hire the candidate, 70% said yes for the male, 45% for the female. If the decision were made by majority rule, the male would get hired and the female would not.

A couple other interesting things came out of this study. The effects were every bit as strong among the female respondents as among the male respondents. Men are not the culprits here. There were effects at the tenure level as well. At the tenure level, professors evaluated a very strong candidate, and almost everyone said this looked like a good case for tenure. But people were invited to express their reservations, and they came up with some very reasonable doubts. For example, "This person looks very strong, but before I agree to give her tenure I would need to know, was this her own work or the work of her adviser?" Now that's a perfectly reasonable question to ask. But what ought to give us pause is that those kinds of reservations were expressed four times more often when the name was female than when the name was male.

So there's a pervasive difference in perceptions, and I think the difference matters. Scientists' perception of the quality of a candidate will influence the likelihood that the candidate will get a fellowship, a job, resources, or a promotion. A pattern of biased evaluation therefore will occur even in people who are absolutely committed to gender equity.

No member of NYCPlaywrights is a raging misogynist, as far as I can tell, but it’s clear that some of them have gender-role concepts that are informed by attitudes from about the middle of the 20th century. Especially by Tennessee Williams’ play A Streetcar Named Desire.

In case you don’t know the plot of Streetcar, I’ll sum it up: Blanche Dubois and her sister Stella were once Southern belles. But they lost their money and so had to depend on the kindness of strangers. Stella gets married to a lower-class lug and Blanche has sexual adventures. As a result, Blanche is a social leper, and has to go and live with Stella and her husband Stanley Kowalski. Soon Stanley gets fed up with Blanche and once he finds out about her sexual past, rapes her, which causes her to go nuts. In the last scene she’s carted off to a looney bin, with Stella refusing to believe Blanche’s story about being raped.

Blanche does make one attempt to create a new life for herself before the assault – she tries to get Mitch, a schlubby friend of Stanley to marry her. But then Stanley clues him in to Blanche’s past. So Mitch dumps Blanche. He doesn’t mind that she’s so very old – the same age as he is, around 30 – but she’s not a good girl and so he won’t marry her. He does offer to have sex with her though.

Academic types like to make a big deal out of Southern gentility versus cold modern cruelty as the theme of this play. They ignore that fact that the play contains the greatest hits of male supremacy – female economic dependence, domestic violence, sexual double-standards and unreported rapes. Without those things, there could be no A Streetcar Named Desire. Thirty-year-old women aren’t considered washed up old maids any more who have to grab the first man who will have them, be he ever so unsavory. Women have options in the 21st century that have changed gender power dynamics forever. Everybody knows this.

Or so I thought.

A couple of weeks ago, one of the NYCPlaywrights members had a reading of his play, in which one of the characters was a woman pushing 30. She’s living in an apartment of a building owned by her uncle. Her boyfriend is a cab driver. She doesn’t like to have sex with him, she doesn’t think his jokes are funny any more, and he’s an all-around big jerk. But she’s considering adopting a baby with him, because she’s pushing 30 and she has to settle down. And mind you, this is in the same play where a male character in his 60s is trying to get it on with an 18-year-old woman. At the beginning of the feedback session, I asked if the play was set in the present, dreading the answer because I knew what it would be. Yes, it was set in the present.

I lit into the playwright pretty strongly during the feedback session. I think some of the people in the group disapproved of me because the playwright is pretty old.

But he asked for feedback, and so he got it. That’s how it works at NYCPlaywrights.

OK, so it’s a fluke right? One old guy has not reconsidered gender roles since the 1950s. Except that exactly one week later, another guy, younger than the first one, but still over 50, does a reading of his play in which a woman pushing 30 meets a man who she thinks is unattractive, and who has been rude and obnoxious to her for the entire 10 minute play, and decides that she’d better settle for him, since she’s, you know, so old and desperate.

But even worse than the play was the reaction on the part of some of the other people in the room, who were under 50. Under 40 in some cases. They saw the play as one in which the woman “wins” because she gets the last word at the end - an internal monologue about how she has to settle for this creep. And when I vehemently disagreed, one of them says “yes Nancy, we know you think this play is sexist” in this exasperated tone. As if I’m crazy for thinking the play is sexist. Or I’m annoying for making a big deal about the sexism.

Apparently a woman wins if at the end of the play she hasn’t experienced total humiliating defeat - like being raped by her brother-in-law and getting carted off to an asylum.

Maybe the refusal to incorporate the reality of female economic independence, the growth of female aspirations and an upgrade in the concept of female success into dramatic works is part of Patriarchy’s last hurrah, along with evolutionary psychology. If women can’t be persuaded by the likes of Steven Pinker and Lawrence Summers that they are genetically inferior or are not sufficiently interested to succeed in some fields, then perhaps we can pretend that women still believe they must settle for any creep they meet once they get to their sell-by date.

The Japanese have a term for it, “Christmas cake” on the theory that Christmas cakes aren't worth much after the 25th, and neither are women. Perhaps we should be grateful that the age has been pushed to 30 in the West.

Well I’m 45, it’s the 21st century, and anybody who thinks I should settle for the first creepy old loser who comes along can bite me.

UPDATE: Interesting blog post about the power of plays to influence gender attitudes

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Ann Bartow is the coolest

She got me this excellent Drain the Swamp mug and wall calendar in celebration of the recent election results. Thanks Ann!!!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

ooooh yeah time to drain the swamp

Dems Take Control of the House

President Bush today telephoned Ms. Pelosi, the California Democrat who will become the first woman to serve as Speaker of the House.

Great success! I like. It niiice.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

"I've put people in jail for this kind of shenanigans"

That's what Judge Kaplan said to attorney David Einhorn during Friday's hearing. Although the Einhorns promised in court back in April to de-register Edward Einhorn's unauthorized derivative "blocking and choreography" script, they still haven't done it.

Apparently the Copyright Office will only accept one of three reasons (in writing) as valid for the de-registration of a copyright - the material wasn't copyrightable; the derivative copyright wasn't authorized; or fraud.

Instead of multiple choice, the Einhorns tried to turn it into an essay question and get extra credit for creativity. Instead of picking the choices the Copyright Office offered, David Einhorn wrote a letter saying that since they no longer had any intention of suing us over the copyright, it was no longer needed (!!!!)

As a result, the Copyright Office wouldn't de-register the copyright. Which is why we asked the judge to have a talk with David Einhorn. Judge Kaplan was not pleased to see David Einhorn, and gave him two weeks to de-register the copyright. He said many other choice things and I hope to post the court transcript here soon.

One of the most appalling parts of the hearing is that at one point Einhorn seemed to be trying to convince the judge that since the Einhorns promised they wouldn't take action against us in the future for violating an unauthorized derivative copyright, we should all just forget about cancelling it. As if the entire trial, and their agreement to de-register the copyright, and the $100K+ we spent never happened. The reason we had a trial is because that is exactly what they kept offering us during settlement hearings - a promise not to sue us in the future for violating Edward's unauthorized derivative copyright.

We will NEVER accept Edward Einhorn's unauthorized derivative copyright on TAM LIN. The Einhorns may live in some dreamland where people go through hell to get a copyright deregistered only to say - "oh, you don't think you should have to admit it was unauthorized because you (incredibly) say you don't believe it was? OK then, never mind." But I don't live in dreamland. And neither does Judge Kaplan. And if the Einhorns don't snap out of their dream and do the right thing in the next 2 weeks, Judge Kaplan may well throw a bucket of ice water in their faces.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Worst Congress Ever

There is an important article in Rolling Stone, The Worst Congress Ever by Matt Taibbi.

If you've been paying attention for the last sixs years, most of this stuff will not surprise you. But to have it laid out so succinctly packs a mighty wallop of disgust that will leave you reeling with a combination of white-hot anger and nausea. For example, what every liberal's been mad about since the Clinton impeachment, but reading it in Taibbi's inimitable style will piss you off all over again:
The constitution is very clear on the responsibility of Congress to serve as a check on the excesses of the executive branch. The House and Senate, after all, are supposed to pass all laws -- the president is simply supposed to execute them. Over the years, despite some ups and downs, Congress has been fairly consistent in upholding this fundamental responsibility, regardless of which party controlled the legislative branch. Elected representatives saw themselves as beholden not to their own party or the president but to the institution of Congress itself. The model of congressional independence was Sen. William Fulbright, who took on McCarthy, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon with equal vigor during the course of his long career.

"Fulbright behaved the same way with Nixon as he did with Johnson," says Wheeler, the former Senate aide who worked on both sides of the aisle. "You wouldn't see that today."

In fact, the Republican-controlled Congress has created a new standard for the use of oversight powers. That standard seems to be that when a Democratic president is in power, there are no matters too stupid or meaningless to be investigated fully -- but when George Bush is president, no evidence of corruption or incompetence is shocking enough to warrant congressional attention. One gets the sense that Bush would have to drink the blood of Christian babies to inspire hearings in Congress -- and only then if he did it during a nationally televised State of the Union address and the babies were from Pennsylvania, where Senate Judiciary chairman Arlen Specter was running ten points behind in an election year.

The numbers bear this out. From the McCarthy era in the 1950s through the Republican takeover of Congress in 1995, no Democratic committee chairman issued a subpoena without either minority consent or a committee vote. In the Clinton years, Republicans chucked that long-standing arrangement and issued more than 1,000 subpoenas to investigate alleged administration and Democratic misconduct, reviewing more than 2 million pages of government documents.

Guess how many subpoenas have been issued to the White House since George Bush took office? Zero -- that's right, zero, the same as the number of open rules debated this year; two fewer than the number of appropriations bills passed on time.

And the cost? Republicans in the Clinton years spent more than $35 million investigating the administration. The total amount of taxpayer funds spent, when independent counsels are taken into account, was more than $150 million. Included in that number was $2.2 million to investigate former HUD secretary Henry Cisneros for lying about improper payments he made to a mistress. In contrast, today's Congress spent barely half a million dollars investigating the outright fraud and government bungling that followed Hurricane Katrina, the largest natural disaster in American history.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Strange Case in Brooklyn

Brooklyn Law School hosts a lecture, called Art Isn't Easy: Protecting the American Playwright
by John Weidman, Esq., President of the Dramatists Guild of America tomorrow, October 25, 2006 12:30-2:00 p.m. at the Subotnick Center in Brooklyn Heights.

He will specifically discuss The Strange Case of Edward Einhorn v. Mergatroyd Productions and there's a link to that site from the Brooklyn Law page.

Unfortunately I can't make it to the lecture because I have a 9 - 5 job. But Edward Einhorn doesn't, so I wonder if he will be there. The Brooklyn law page also links to his "director's copyright" page. My site provides the URL for that page too, BTW. Of course Einhorn's page doesn't even mention my site.

We've gotten overwhelming support for this case from so many people - on one web site I was called the Joan of Arc of playwrights. An actor in the midwest sent a check to help defray our legal expenses. I've yet to hear of any playwright, other than Einhorn himself, who supports the idea of a director's copyright. I even wrote to Vaclav Havel to find out what he thinks of it - Einhorn is doing some of his plays now - but I haven't heard back yet. If/when I do, I will certainly post it here. I can't imagine that Havel would want to have Einhorn try to claim royalty rights to HIS plays either.

Meanwhile, David Einhorn sent a very feeble excuse to the copyright office for why he and his brother wish to now de-register Edward Einhorn's exceedingly lame "blocking and choreography" script. He did not admit that they did not have my authorization to create the script, but rather explained that since they had no desire to sue me in the future, there's no point to having a copyright(!!!)

Apparently the copyright office isn't buying it, since Einhorn's ill-gotten registration is STILL on the Copyright Office's web site. (Use the "Search Records" button.)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Another unfortunate Merkin experience

My first mistake was clicking the Beauty Fall 2006 link on the home page of I almost never read any of the style/beauty articles in the Times, but I was curious to see what the deal was with the woman in the photo. OK, so that was dumb, but my next mistake was inexcusable. I clicked on the Daphne Merkin byline link.

I long ago vowed to avoid anything with a Merkin byline, since reading Merkin never failed to provide me with minutes of intense irritation. But alas, back in February, Amanda at Pandagon mentioned her, causing me to blog about her. As a result, I got a nasty email from someone claiming to be Merkin herself. I demanded proof of identification, but never got any, but concluded that it probably really was Merkin, since it seemed unlikely that anybody could capture her supremely annoying style so perfectly in a brief email.

Merkin typically combines pretentious highbrow celebrity name-dropping with shallow subjects (fashion, herself) and world-class cluelessness. Her latest piece, "Against Lip Gloss, or New Notes on Camp" is a perfect specimen:

Seems hard to believe now that there was ever an age before ironic appropriation, before John Currin and Vic Muniz. Did Rembrandt think of himself in quotes, as “Rembrandt”? And is there any chance that we will ever know, buried as we are beneath the rubble of postmodern rhetoric, attuned to the chipmunk chirps of vituperative bloggers and smug talk show hosts (I say this without ever having had the patience to watch more than five minutes of Jon Stewart)?

She doesn't have the patience to watch Jon Stewart, who is not actually smug, and at times verges on genius, but was able to sit through a four-hour documentary about Andy Warhol. But of course the rabble and hoi polloi and bloggers watch Jon Stewart, so Merkin will have none of it. You get no East 79th Street cred from admitting you watch Jon Stewart.

Mean old vituperative bloggers have crushed the petals of Merkin's delicate psyche because they have criticized her. But it isn't like Merkin can't give as good as she gets - in response to my unflattering blog post about her she retorted:
" sound like a generally unreflective and overly self-regarding person. >From glancing quickly at your bio, I gather your own "feminist" credentials are less than wonderful, since you seem to have abandoned one early putative interest (illustrating) for another ( playacting) on the basis of meeting a "beautiful young man." Your blog makes me fshudder on behalf of bloggerdom, seething as it is with envy and bravado and received wisdom."

Sounds like the barking of a prairie dog to me.

And just as Merkin can't distinguish Jon Stewart from, say, Bill Maher, she can't tell the difference between lip balm and lip gloss:

I eavesdropped raptly, being myself the dissatisfied owner of many tubes and pots of said product — from the lowly Blistex and ChapStick versions to the designer jobs that can go for as much as $50 — as well as of a mouth that always insists on returning to type, which is a recalcitrant state of matte dryness. The potential staying power of cosmetics is an inherently unsettling concept, suggestive as it is of a kind of Viagra principle of female enhancement — indeed, of a core confusion between the messy imperatives of reality and the contrivances of theater, which is at the heart of everything that is problematic, if not unbearable, about the way we live now. It is, all the same, a concept that has been picked up with alacrity by gay male commentators on the E! channel who espouse the need for cosmetic “fixatives.”

I've called Merkin a whiner in the past, but this whine gets a 99 point best buy rating. Merkin has somehow made the leap from a beneficial and guileless product that prevents lips from chapping or becoming sunburnt - ChapStick's web site makes no mention at all of lip gloss - to the galloping reality dissonance of The Way We Live Now.

Do NYTimes writers live on the same planet as the rest of us? And what kind of ninny would spend 50 bucks for lip balm or lip gloss anyway? The kind that gets paid too much by the NYTimes to make a career out of whining.

Merkin accused me of envy because I said I didn't think she should get paid for writing whiny banal semi-reactionary personal observations, since you can get that - and much BETTER than that on many blogs for free. But I don't envy her. I'd rather get paid to do honest technical writing than get my knickers in a public twist over the imaginary Triumph of Camp.

In fact, I am a technical writer so that I don't have to worry about earning a living writing about that kind of stupid shit. I can write whatever content I want both in plays and on blog posts. Not that Merkin believes she's writing stupid shit. I'm sure she believes she's writing extremely important shit.

In general I'd say that Daphne Merkin and I are very different people, and boy does that make me glad. Self-regarding even.

One of my more favorite differences between Merkin and me is her belief that by admitting that I was lured from an old area of interest into a new area of interest due to sexual desire, I displayed faulty feminist credentials. How DOES she figure that? Is this the result of her faith in the guiding principle of evolutionary psychology, which is that men and women are opposite beings, especially when it comes to sexual desire? Men admit to doing things out of sexual desire all the time - brag about it even. Why can't I admit it? Does she think that androphilia betrays feminism? That sexual desire itself is anti-feminist?

As always, the mechanisms behind the Merkin leaps of logic are shrouded in mystery.

She admits to only glancing quickly at my bio, so maybe she missed the part where I said that even though things did not work out with me and that guy, I kept with the playwriting. If I gave up the playwriting because it no longer helped me get the guy, she MIGHT have a point. But that's not what happened.

Thinking about that guy though, reminds me of another Merkin topic - women over 50. She wrote a column for the Times back in February in which she claimed that while men over 45 were living large with barely legal babes, women over 45 got nothing - extrapolating as usual from her own dolor to the rest of the world. At one time I too bought into one of the most pernicious myths of the patriarchy, like Merkin does.

That guy, who I'll call Keith, was a phenomenon. He was the sexiest person I have ever known, even sexier than my friend Earl, which coworkers who knew Earl (but never met Keith) could not believe when I told them. It blows my mind that I met the two sexiest men on Earth - and shared an office with each one - in the span of three years. How did I survive so much unrequitedness?

Keith was twenty-five when I met him, and looked like a cross between Michaelangelo's David and a young Harrison Ford with a soupcon of Chris Isaak. But with a personality closer to John Goodman's. I still have erotic dreams about him, and it's over ten years since I've last seen him. Time may not have been kind to his beauty. I once heard him say that he enjoyed eating more than having sex, and that's not a helpful attitude once you get past 30 - he quite possibly looks like John Goodman at this point. But I doubt I will ever see him again, and so I will always think of him as an absolutely stunning 20-something.

I was introduced to Keith in late August 1991 when I was hired to work as a temp doing computer graphics - I was going to assist Keith, since I knew more than most people about desktop publishing in those days. I still remember the exact moment when I first saw him, standing in the doorway of our manager Renee's office. I was stunned by his exquisiteness. And I guessed that every woman in the office was in love, or at least in lust with him, including Renee. I was right.

Even so, it came as a surprise to me when I realized that Joan the receptionist wanted him. Because she was over 50. I had completely bought into the idea that women only desired men their own age, or older. And this was before evolutionary psychology came along to claim this was part of our Darwinian natures. But there was no mistaking Joan's smile or the way her eyes lit up when Keith stopped by her desk to banter with her.

I had to spend every weekday for six months in a small office with Keith, and it was a kind of exquisite torture. I was involved in a long-term relationship at the time, and Keith was dating the woman that he would eventually marry but that didn't matter. I wanted him. From the moment I saw him. At night after work. On the weekends, waiting impatiently for Monday. But especially when I was with him in the office. I would spend all day in a state of arousal and go home at night with blue ovaries - which feel like mild persistent menstrual cramps, in case you're wondering.

When my temp assigment ended, I was both relieved and dismayed. It's rough living with intense but unfulfillable desire, but I still wanted a daily weekday fix. I was totally high on the endorphins much of the time, even after I got a new job and had no reason to see him again. And I was thrilled/tortured by constant fantasies about him, elaborate, detailed fantasies.

During my brief time working with Keith, he was involved in community theatre, and was in a production of LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, performing as Audrey II (that would be the giant man-eating plant, if you haven't seen it) which required him to wear a skin-tight black bodystocking while in the plant, and which was the only thing he wore during the curtain call at the performance I attended, that sadistic teasing bastard.

I still have no idea if he had any feelings for me. He did once invite me to his apartment and like an idiot I didn't go because I had a meeting (and also out of guilt because of my boyfriend.) But maybe he just wanted to get my reaction to the invitation, so he could enjoy the power that gorgeous people have over the rest of us.

A few months after I left the job working with Keith I saw that the community theatre he was involved in was holding a playwriting contest. I wrote my first play in hopes that it would be selected and I would see him at the theatre. It was selected, but I did not see him at the theatre. He wasn't all that involved in the theatre, and except for playing the role of Two Bit in their production of THE OUTSIDERS, I don't think he had anything else to do with the theatre. He was too busy starting up his own graphics business. But writing the play had been theraputic - I was able to express feelings in the context of a play that I could not through visual arts (not counting the erotic pictures I drew from imagination of Keith.) And so I kept at writing plays.

Being a playwright will not get you laid if you are a hetero woman. It could be claimed that straight men become writers to get laid, because women are attracted to writers. I don't know if this is social or biological, but it sure makes it regrettable that I'm not a straight man or a lesbian.

Once Keith married his girlfriend I gave up all hopes of him. Through a little innocuous cyber-stalking it appears that he and his wife are still together (and anyway he probably looks like John Goodman now so hah hah hah.) But I'm still a playwright. So I don't know what that crazy-ass Daphne Merkin is on about my "less than wonderful" feminist credentials. I was turned on by a hot hot man. That lead to my becoming a playwright. Oh the horror. I can feel myself mind-melding with Phyllis Schlafly.

But damn was he hot. This song dedication goes out to Keith - Chris Isaak's "Cant Do A Thing (To Stop Me)":

Here I go again, dreaming, here I go again.
(Can't do a thing to stop me now)
(Can't do a thing to stop me now)

Having a good time baby, wish you were here.
Thinking about you baby, it feels like you're near,
And you can't do a thing, to stop me.
(Can't do a thing to stop me now)
No you can't do a thing, to stop me.
(Can't do a thing to stop me now)

Days can be lonely, nights dreams come true.
Making love with somebody, exactly like you.
And you can't do a thing, to stop me.
(Can't do a thing to stop me now)
No you can't do a thing, to stop me.
(Can't do a thing to stop me now)
Oh try.

(Can't do a thing to stop me now)
Can't do a thing to stop me
(Can't do a thing to stop me now) Oh.
(Can't do a thing to stop me)

Couldn't stop myself if I tried.
Because I got you too deep inside.

And you can't do a thing, to stop me.
(Can't do a thing to stop me now)
No you can't do a thing, to stop me.
(Can't do a thing to stop me now)

Friday, October 20, 2006

Documentary on the 101st Fighting Keyboarders by Ken Burns*

* Not really.

But hysterically funny.

Via Pandagon.

I like the fact that the third installment ends with Bush and other assorted assholes yukking it up at the Radio and Television Correspondents Dinner back in 2004, when Bush did a standup routine about not finding weapons of mass destruction. That dinner will always represent the Bush administration to me. Bush and his rich pals, politicians and media people having a great old time, utterly oblivious to their own hideous obscenity.

The incident got a goodly amount of attention at the time, but in my opinion every American should be required to watch that performance at least once a year - and morons who voted for Bush in 2004 should be forced to watch it every single day - for the rest of their lives.

The unvarnished performance is ghastly enough all by itself, but this web site has a take on it that treats this mind-blowingly grotesque moment in American history with the scathing contempt it deserves: Bush Joke Video

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Desperately Seeking Susan

Good NYTimes article about the anti-abortion gang trying to kidnap Susan B. Anthony.

My favorite part is the ending:
For what it’s worth, Anthony has ceded her place on the dollar to another steely and resourceful woman, the face of manifest destiny, who — coincidentally? — appears always with a child strapped to her back, the original rendition of backwards-and-in-heels. Sacagawea may have been a crackerjack scout, but she left no paper trail. Who knows what she thought about white men or westward expansion? She’s up for grabs, an icon without a cause. Feminists for Life may want to hurry, before the logging industry gets there first.

Found through Feminist Law Professors and Pandagon.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Escorts at the Women's Center

Here's the whole crew of clinic escorts at the Cherry Hill Women's Center a few years back. I'm on the far left holding a video camera in front of my face. The anti-abortion protestors are behind the escorts and also on the right-hand side. My daughter is in-between her boyfriend and the security guard.

Kings Highway is in the background. The clinic is behind the photographer. The photographer is my friend Bob, one of the most dedicated clinic escorts. The antis couldn't make up their minds whether he was a clinic escort because he was gay, and killing babies is part of the gay agenda, or if he was straight, and therefore in favor of abortion so that he wouldn't have to take responsibility for the results of his womanizing ways.

You can see a larger version here.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Eyes on the Prize

Rosa Parks' mug shot

I caught the first installment of PBS's re-airing of the absolutely amazing series Eyes on the Prize.

The Civil Rights movement had its big events, like the Montgomery bus boycott and the march on Washington, but there were so many other important events, and Prize covers them with fantastic archival footage. See it - you'll learn alot.

One thing I learned, although I admit it's not an especially elevated piece of knowledge - I learned that when he was in his 20s, Martin Luther King, Jr. was a fine fine fine looking man. And I don't just mean when he was orating, although as a genius of the art and the foremost orator of the 20th century, watching him deliver a speech certainly has a sexy charm. But I mean even just images of him sitting on a bus - if you didn't know who he was and you happened upon him on the street, you would say to yourself that this was a hot guy. It seems almost sacriligeous to say it because everybody's image of King is as the symbol of the civil rights movement, all austere and noble. But it certainly puts his infidelities in perspective - women were probably throwing themselves at him, and it was tough for him to resist the temptation.

But there's so much more to the series than my own cute-guy mania. You'll be astounded, appalled, heart-broken, exhilarated and riveted by this series. And you'll be amazed you didn't know half this stuff - especially if you consider yourself generally well-read and up on recent history. The web site I linked to above has video clips so you can get a sense of the mind-blowing footage of this incredible time period, some of which happened during my own lifetime.

The first part of the re-broadcast is playing on cable channel 13 in the NYC market. Check your listings if you live elsewhere. I think each installment gets a week of broadcasts.

But I swear, if I have to hear one more Southerner whine about how desegregation is going to destroy his precious white "heritage" I'm gonna reach through the TV, across the country and through time and smack the living shit out of him.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Glad he noticed too.

Back in July I blogged about
the similarities between Ana Marie Cox and Maureen Dowd.

I see that Wolcott concurs:
Also on the panel was Ana Marie Coy Expressions, who needs to run a comb through her hair before going on camera and knock off the discount Maureen Dowdisms.

Sadly true.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Mark Twain's study

I went on a literary pilgrimage recently to Elmira New York to see the study in which Mark Twain wrote Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, among other works.

I videoed much of it, and I'll have that online hopefully soon. I have less blogging time since I started a full-time technical writing gig.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Strange Case of Edward Einhorn

My article about our recent federal court case is in the latest issue of The Dramatist, the magazine of the Dramatists Guild.

An online version, with hyperlink annotations of The Strange Case of Edward Einhorn v. Mergatroyd Productions is now available.

Also The Strange Case of Edward Einhorn v. Mergatroyd Productions

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Our government is evil

The Abuse Can Continue
Senators won't authorize torture, but they won't prevent it, either.

Maybe Hugo Chavez wasn't so over the top after all.

How much longer until people with a conscience and enough money are going to start moving to Canada or Europe for their own safety? Does anybody in the world NOT understand that if given half the chance, Bush and his cronies would jail and torture their political enemies? This is step one.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering

The report, by the National Academy of Sciences says:

1. Women have the ability and drive to succeed in science and engineering. Studies of brain structure and function, of hormonal modulation of performance, of human cognitive development, and of human evolution have not found any significant biological differences between men and women in performing science and mathematics that can account for the lower representation of women in academic faculty and scientific leadership positions in these fields. The drive and motivation of women scientists and engineers is demonstrated by those women who persist in academic careers despite barriers that disproportionately disadvantage them.

2. Women who are interested in science and engineering careers are lost at every educational transition. With each step up the academic ladder, from high school on through full professorships, the representation of women in science and engineering drops substantially. As they move from high school to college, more women than men who have expressed an interest in science or engineering decide to major in something else; in the transition to graduate school, more women than men with science and engineering degrees opt into other fields of study; from doctorate to first position, there are proportionately fewer women than men in the applicant pool for tenure-track positions; active recruiting can overcome this deficit.

3. The problem is not simply the pipeline. In several fields, the pipeline has reached gender parity. For over 30 years, women have made up over 30% of the doctorates in social sciences and behavioral sciences and over 20% in the life sciences. Yet, at the top research institutions, only 15.4% of the full professors in the social and behavioral sciences and 14.8% in the life sciences are women—and these are the only fields in science and engineering where the proportion of women reaches into the double digits. Women from minority racial and ethnic backgrounds are virtually absent from the nation’s leading science and engineering departments.

4. Women are very likely to face discrimination in every field of science and engineering. Considerable research has shown the barriers limiting the appointment, retention, and advancement of women faculty. Overall, scientists and engineers who are women or members of racial or ethnic minority groups have had to function in environments that favor— sometimes deliberately but often inadvertently—the men who have traditionally dominated science and engineering. Well-qualified and highly productive women scientists have also had to contend with continuing questioning of their own abilities in science and mathematics and their commitment to an academic career. Minority-group women are subject to dual discrimination and face even more barriers to success. As a result, throughout their careers, women have not received the opportunities and encouragement provided to men to develop their interests and abilities to the fullest; this accumulation of disadvantage becomes acute in more senior positions. These barriers have differential impact by field and by career stage. Some fields, such as physics and engineering, have a low proportion of women bachelor’s and doctorates, but hiring into faculty positions appears to match the available pool. In other fields, including chemistry and biological sciences, the proportion of women remains high through bachelor’s and doctorate degrees, but hiring into faculty positions is well below the available pool.

5. A substantial body of evidence establishes that most people—men and women— hold implicit biases. Decades of cognitive psychology research reveals that most of us carry prejudices of which we are unaware but that nonetheless play a large role in our evaluations of people and their work. An impressive body of controlled experimental studies and examination of decision-making processes in real life show that, on the average, people are less likely to hire a woman than a man with identical qualifications, are less likely to ascribe credit to a woman than to a man for identical accomplishments, and, when information is scarce, will far more often give the benefit of the doubt to a man than to a woman. Although most scientists and engineers believe that they are objective and intend to be fair, research shows that they are not exempt from those tendencies.

Read the entire executive summary of the report online here.

The 5th point is one that Elizabeth Spelke used to good effect in her epic battle with Steven Pinker, in which she smited evolutionary psychology Tales of Manly Superiority with the mighty Scimitar of Data.

I see the ever-awesome Ann Bartow, feminist law professor has also blogged about the report.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

I write letters

My friend Maxine Margolis, a professor of anthropology, suggested I respond to the latest column promoting evolutionary psychology from the NYTimes. This is one by David Brooks (known as "Bobo" in the left-wing blogosphere), and he and his right-wing twin John Tierney have each written several, and so-called liberal Maureen Dowd has written some.

To better understand my response, it helps to know that Brooks's column begins:
Over the past several weeks, I’ve found I can change the conversation at any social gathering by mentioning Louann Brizendine’s book, “The Female Brain.” Brizendine is a neuropsychiatrist and the founder of the Women’s and Teen Girls’ Mood and Hormone Clinic in San Francisco. She’s written a breezy — maybe too breezy — summary of hundreds of studies on the neurological differences between men and women.

My response:
Whenever anybody discovers even the slightest male-female difference it’s pounced on by the evolutionary psychology-minded as proof of genetic destiny, and then used by the Right to argue for female inferiority.

But it takes the finely-honed mind of a New York Times op-ed columnist like David Brooks to make the leap into a sentence such as this:

“Once radicals dreamed of new ways of living, but now happiness seems to consist of living in harmony with the patterns that nature and evolution laid down long, long ago.”

Of course nobody knows which radicals David Brooks is talking about, but all the radicals I’ve ever heard of were trying to change the societies they were living in. Societies that allowed slavery, or gave monarchs absolute power, or allowed parents to arrange marriages for political or economic gain. Last I heard, “patterns that nature and evolution laid down long ago” didn’t include those things.

Certainly you couldn’t expect Brooks’s social circle to have heard of Elizabeth Spelke, the Harvard psychologist who has made a career of studying the way that babies think, and who has found almost no gender differences. And the differences that have been found are no use in making a case for the superiority of a suburban 1950s American upper-middle-class lifestyle, which Brooks and so many promoters of evolutionary psychology mistake for “nature.”

No, give the David Brooks set breezy books aimed at the ever-lucrative Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus market, and designed to promote Louann Brizendine’s hormone and mood clinics. I’m sure those books make a nice conversational break from discussing the various Brooksian ways of living in harmony with nature, like killing the estate tax or invading Iraq.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

God Spoke

I've been a fan of Al Franken since "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot" so I was pretty familiar with lots of the stuff covered in the new movie "God Spoke", a documentary about Al Franken. But I enjoyed watching it all there up on the screen last night. I personally can't get enough of Franken baiting blotchy sexual-harrassment bully Bill O'Reilly.

The movie focused too much on the 2004 election though, and because of that it ends on a down note.

But I did learn one thing from this movie - Ann Coulter has grotesque legs. There was a scene showing her in her usual miniskirt, and as soon as they flashed a full-length view of her, my daughter and I both went "ew!"

I mean, fashion models are extremely thin too, but their legs somehow look almost normal. And Ann Coulter mostly looks normal in spite of her extremely low body fat. But she has the legs of a concentration camp victim - two skeletal sticks in high heels - I'm serious, just watch the movie and see for yourself. Fortunately the shot doesn't last long.

Another thing I cannot get enough of - Al Franken's impersonations of the late racist old coot Strom Thurmond - "the pecker knows no bigotrah!" Priceless.

And Franken himself showed up before the movie began. He was charming and he promoted Minnesota Congressional candidate Patty Wetterling.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Buffy Sing-along at IFC


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Bill Clinton's on a roll

Meeting with liberal bloggers including two on my blog roll - John from America blog and Duncan from Eschaton.

Plus a massive feature article in this week's New Yorker - but it's not online. However, you can read a discussion of the article online here.

The most memorable paragraph in the article might be this one:
Clinton left the White House angry, exhausted and broke. He also had to live with the fact that he had hurt Al Gore in the 2000 election, thereby jeopardizing his Presidential legacy - and, as it turned out, so much else. Not a few people made the calculation that if Monica Lewinsky hadn't been on pizza duty during the government shutdown of 1995 (and Clinton not so predisposed to share the snack) there might never have been a Bush Presidency at all, or a hyped case for war in Iraq, a botched occupation, a skyrocketing budget deficit, a morally and bureaucratically bungled reaction to Hurricane Katrina, and a loss of American prestige around the world. His kingdom for a slice!

UPDATE: the nice but unremarkable meeting between Clinton and liberal bloggers has caused a scandal in the right-wing blogosophere because a photo from the event shows A YOUNG WOMAN STANDING NEAR BILL CLINTON!

Both Amanda at Pandagon and Echidne blogged about it. Perp Ann Althouse is the Bizarro World's Feminist Law Professor Ann Bartow.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

View from the balcony

World Trade Center lights, AKA "Tribute in Light" plus fireworks from Hoboken.

See and hear a longer clip in Quicktime .mov format

The angle from my apartment is such that the two lights of the tribute, one for the north tower and one for the south, appear to be combined into one.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Sundry amusements

A great country song about God

Via The Reverend Bookburn.

More amusements at Falafelsex

Good news from the NYTimes

Cheney’s Power No Longer Goes Unquestioned
There is little question that Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney still share the goal of expanding the power of the presidency: legislation they have sent to Congress would, if passed unamended, essentially allow them to set the rules of evidence, define interrogation techniques and intercept domestic communications as they have for the past five years.

But they have been stymied in their effort to simply assert those powers and carry them out with minimal oversight, as part of Mr. Cheney’s declared goal to restore to the presidency an authority that he believed was dangerously eroded after Vietnam and Watergate.

Bill Clinton is righteously pissed

Over at TPM Cafe
In addition, ABC’s own counter-terrorism consultant, Richard Clarke, has said that contrary to the movie:

1) No US military or CIA personnel were on the ground in Afghanistan and saw bin Laden;

2) The head of the Northern Alliance, Masood, was nowhere near the alleged bin Laden camp and did not see bin Laden; and

3) CIA Director Tenet said that he could not recommend a strike on the camp because the information was single-sourced and there would be no way to know if bin Laden was in the target area by the time a cruise missile hit it.

As Clarke and others will corroborate, President Clinton did in fact approve of a standing plan to use Afghans who worked for the CIA to capture bin Laden. The CIA’s Afghan operatives were never able to carry out the operation and the CIA recommended against inserting Agency personnel to do it. The Department of Defense, when asked by President Clinton to examine the use of US troops to capture bin Laden, also recommended against that option.

John at Americablog is totally on this case

So is Media Matters for America

that crazy Dinesh D'Souza

Tom Tomorrow links to his own excellent cartoon from the early days of the war on terror. He anticipated Dinesh D'Souza's insanity by five years.

Berube has an interesting post about D'Souza from 2004 on his blog. Here he simply lists D'Souza's own comments, and then starts his discussion of D'Souza with a great first sentence of his own:

-- All right, now, does any of this matter 13 years (or 23 years) later? Not necessarily, save for the fact that D’Souza has never apologized for, or even acknowledged, his conduct in this affair. But for those of you who are more interested in the Mature D’Souza, here are some highlights from his magnum opus, the D’Souza Moby-Dick, more commonly known as The End of Racism:

-----> “[The Civil Rights Movement] sought to undermine white racism through a protest strategy that emphasized the recognition of basic rights for blacks, without considering that racism might be fortified if blacks were unable to exercise their rights effectively and responsibly.”

-----> “Most African American scholars simply refuse to acknowledge the pathology of violence in the black underclass, apparently convinced that black criminals as well as their targets are both victims: the real culprit is societal racism. Activists recommend federal jobs programs and recruitment into the private sector. Yet it seems unrealistic, bordering on the surreal, to imagine underclass blacks with their gold chains, limping walk, obscene language, and arsenal of weapons doing nine-to-five jobs at Procter and Gamble or the State Department.”

-----> “Increasingly it appears that it is liberal antiracism that is based on ignorance and fear: ignorance of the true nature of racism, and fear that the racist point of view better explains the world than its liberal counterpart.”

-----> “The American slave was treated like property, which is to say, pretty well.”

-----> “The popular conception seems to be that American slavery as an institution involved white slaveowners and black slaves. Consequently, it is easy to view slavery as a racist institution. But this image is complicated when we discover that most whites did not own slaves, even in the South; that not all blacks were slaves; that several thousand free blacks and American Indians owned black slaves. An examination of these frequently obscured aspects of American slavery calls into question the facile equation of racism and slavery.”

-----> “If America as a nation owes blacks as a group reparations for slavery, what do blacks as a group owe America for the abolition of slavery?”

-----> “How did [Martin Luther] King succeed, almost single-handedly, in winning support for his agenda? Why was his Southern opposition virtually silent in making counterarguments?”

Passages like these lead readers like me to believe that the easiest way to slander D’Souza is to quote him directly.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Like we didn't see this coming

As Wal-Mart Stores struggles to rebut criticism from unions and Democratic leaders, the company has discovered a reliable ally: prominent conservative research groups like the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation and the Manhattan Institute.

Top policy analysts at these groups have written newspaper opinion pieces around the country supporting Wal-Mart, defended the company in interviews with reporters and testified on its behalf before government committees in Washington.

But the groups — and their employees — have consistently failed to disclose a tie to the giant discount retailer: financing from the Walton Family Foundation, which is run by the Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton’s three children, who have a controlling stake in the company.
More at the NYTimes

Remembrance of Things Past

A note exchanged during Pennsauken High School math class taught by a Mrs. Flowers some time in the late 1970s.

Hi Ar!

Who snagged you for cutting? Flowers? Are you going to be outside 7th? I am. Did you get fucked up New Years? How was Kate's party?




No, Adelman and Benen for Thurs but I wasn't here.

I'm going outside and so is Rita and if Gale isn't there we'll party.

Yes I got totaled on New Years. Kate's party was great, almost every five minutes somebody said "Let's go Party" I couldn't even walk, it's lucky my Mom & Dad weren't home because I would've been snagged.

This fucking lady is an old fucking Hag!! I stopped trying in this class because of her. I hate her so much you wouldn't believe!

Don't write back, I'll talk to you after.

The verb "to party" in this usage means "smoking marijuana." Usually you partied with other people, but it was possible to party by yourself. And as in the example above, you could go party when you were already at a party. This did not strike us as odd.

(Mr.) Gale ( AKA "The Whale" - he was pretty heavy) was the school narcotics officer - although not a member of the police force, as far as I was aware.

Last I heard, Kate is a working anthropologist and Rita is a freelance writer, married to a surgeon in Maryland. I have no idea what Ar(lene) is up to. I don't even remember her last name. Too much Partying I guess.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Monday, September 04, 2006

Adventures in Ethics and Science - new blogroll member

Adventures in Ethics and Science - this blog is not only very good in its own right, but blogmeister Janet said some nice things in reference to my comment at Pandagon back in July although I just found out about it today.

Sympathy for the devil

John Mills is the consummate liberal - he has sympathy for anybody in a tough situation, even carnivores and smokers. Here's his song about it:

Nonsmoking Vegetarian

If you should come to Ithaca and want to settle down
You'll find some friendly people in a lovely little town
No one will ever tell you how you ought to wear your hair
But one thing you will notice looking for houses to share

Nonsmoking vegetarian who's gay affirmative
Nonsmoking vegetarian with vegetarian cat
Nonsmoking vegetarian seeks nice cooperative
But where oh where are smoking carnivores supposed to live?

Now you can go to meetings four lane highways to prevent
Put money in Alternatives with local good intent
But if you still are smoking and you need to eat red meat
Don't ask me why you're here a year and still sleep on the street
You're not...

Nonsmoking vegetarian who's gay affirmative
Nonsmoking vegetarian with vegetarian cat
Nonsmoking vegetarian seeks nice cooperative
But where oh where are smoking carnivores supposed to live?

Homeless are the smokers and the eaters of red meat
They're lucky that we tolerate their presence on the street
Now should we build a home where smoky bloody people stay?
Or should we wash our hands and clothes and hope they go away

Nonsmoking vegetarian who's gay affirmative
Nonsmoking vegetarian with vegetarian cat
Nonsmoking vegetarian seeks nice cooperative
But where oh where are smoking carnivores supposed to live?

Now famous are the words to give me liberty or death
The man who said it didn't choke and said it in one breath
But liberty or death for smoking carnivores I fear
That they can have them both at once but they cannot live here

Nonsmoking vegetarian who's gay affirmative
Nonsmoking vegetarian with vegetarian cat
Nonsmoking vegetarian seeks nice cooperative
But where oh where are smoking carnivores supposed to live?

It's true all of the rooms to rent are for the NSVs
It doesn't matter how sincerely you might try to please
Though we live in a liberal town this strictly is obeyed
No rooms for smoking carnivores supporting contra aid

Nonsmoking vegetarian who's gay affirmative
Nonsmoking vegetarian with vegetarian cat
Nonsmoking vegetarian seeks nice cooperative
But where oh where are smoking carnivores supposed to live?

Yes where oh where are smoking carnivores supposed to live?

John Mills
copyright 1987
all rights reserved

If you wanna talk to John Mills directly -

Friday, September 01, 2006

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Spelke in the New Yorker

There's a great article about Elizabeth Spelke and her work ("The Baby Lab") in this week's New Yorker. Unfortunately it isn't available at the online New Yorker site, so go buy a copy of the September 4 2006 Education Issue.

I first heard of Spelke through her debate with Steven Pinker. I had no idea she was such a big deal in the world of psychology and even Pinker knows it - at least he did five years ago:
Spelke's ideas have been enormously influential among academics. "Nowadays every psychology student is taught that James and Piaget were wrong, "the cognitive scientist and evolutionary psychologist Steven Pinker wrote in Time five years ago. "From their earliest months, in fact, children interpret the world as a real and predictable place... This new understanding is largely the legacy of Harvard psychologist Elixabeth Spelk." Karen Wynn, an infant-cognition researcher at Yale, told me, "Spelke has done more to shape our understanding of how the human mind initially grasps the world than anyone else." In 2000, when the Association for Psychological Science gave her its William James Fellow Award, the citation noted that Spelke had "developed techniques of studying infants' beliefs that are far more probative than might have been imagined only a short time ago," and that her work had begun "to answer the perennial philosophical questions about the origins of human knowledge about space, objects, motion, unity, persistence, identity, and number."
Although I knew about Spelke-Pinker debate I didn't know this:
Spelke had been one of Summers's fiercest critics, calling his remarks "wrong, point for point." And she lambasted him for ignoring a more obvious explanation for the disparity of achievement: "the impediments to women's progress posed by long-standing patters of prejudice, unwelcoming environments, and unequal resources."

This observation, by the article's author Margaret Talbot, is certainly accurate, but I'd say an understatement:
The field of evolutionary psychology is prone to a cheerful - sometimes gleeful - fatalism about sex differences. (Older men ditching their aging wives for nubile misstresses? Men are genetically programmed to spread their DNA! Women more inclined toward gardening than particle physics? Blame it on our hunter-gatherer ancestors!)

Later in the article, the author gets in this excellent gibe at Pinker:
Men across cultures (Pinker) noted, constituted the more risk-taking and competitive sex - though why risk-taking and competitiveness were more adaptive attributes for, say, aspiring mathemeticians than for aspiring sociologists wasn't exactly clear.

Then Talbot gives this amusing description of the Spelke-Pinker debate:
After Pinker and Spelke had given their talks, they sat at a table onstage, and listened to each other with interrupting. But when Pinker spoke, Spelke wore one of those smiles which suggest a certain effort - and when she spoke she used her large hands to make sweeping gestures, as if she were dismissing one silly notion after another. When Pinker started talking about how "the most subjective fields in academia - the social sciences, the humanities, the helping professions" had the greatest representation of women because the jibed with "what gave women satisfaction in life," Spelke looked as though she'd had enough. "I think it's a really interesting possibility that the forces that were active in our evolutionary past have led men and women to evolved somewhate differing concerns," she began. "But to jump from that possibility to the present, and draw conclusions about what people's motives will be for pursuing one or another career is way too big a stretch." The career choices people pursue now, she concluded acidly, were "radically different from anything that anybody faced back in the Pleistocene."

Pinker was suggesting that, because of both sexual selection and parental-investment issues, women are selected to be more nurturing and men more competitive. Suppose that this were true, Spelke said, in the final words of the debate. What sort of motivation made a better scientist? Was it "competitive motives like those J. D. Watson described in 'The Double Helix' to get the structure of DNA before Lunus Pauling did?* Or nurturant motives of the kind that Doug Melton" - the Harvard developmental biologist = "described recently to explain why he's going into stem-cell research: to find a cure for juvenile diabetes, which his children suffer from? I think it's anything but clear how motives from our past translate into modern contexts. We would need to do the experiment, getting rid of discrimination and social pressures, in order to find out."

But while Spelke's reputation will hopefully be enhanced by this article, it also gives Steven Pinker a way to dismiss Spelke. For although Pinker will give respectful interviews to the racists and hard-core right-wingers at Gene Expression (NOTE - the link now redirects to Khan's Discover Magazine blog, but I found the Pinker interview via the Wayback Machine. Enjoy - also if Khan has that removed, I downloaded a copy - just ask me for it) he dismissed evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould's critiques this way: "The criticisms of Stephen Jay Gould have been extensively addressed in my writings and others, and I believe they stem more from his political ideology than from the empirical literature."

You see, Gould was a leftist. Only right-wingers can hold opinions that don't pollute their empirical arguments, apparently according to Steven Pinker.

And Spelke is also left of the gang at Gene Expression. Spelke is
A committed liberal who talks indignantly about race and gender discrimination

Maybe the best part of the article though is this:
It was a civil occasion, certainly, but (the Spelke-Pinker debate) was lively enough that the Harvard Crimson couldn't quite resist calling the exchange a "showdown of the sexes."

I think Steven Pinker does deserve the fate of going down in history as a scientific Bobby Riggs.

* And of course Watson was helped immensely by the work of British researcher Rosalind Franklin who died of cancer at 37 before she could receive a Nobel Prize for her work.)

Monday, August 28, 2006

More blogging frivolity

You can watch excerpts of Eddie Izzard performances here.

I passed Eddie Izzard on the street before I knew who he was. I was headed for my Wednesday NYCPlaywrights meeting, which used to be on Christopher Street. So I'm walking through Greenwich Village, and coming towards me was what I took to be a striking, but very butch looking female real estate agent. I guess real estate agent because "she" was quite made-up but sharp looking, even "executive" and self-possessed. Only as we passed by did I suddenly think - "oh, it's a guy." Of course this was Greenwich Village, so don't ask me why it took another whole block to think "oh wait - it's probably a professional transvestite."

It was Eddie Izzard, executive transvestite. I later learned that during that time he was performing in A DAY IN THE DEATH OF JOE EGG on Broadway and living in Greenwich Village.

A month or so later I caught Izzard's Dressed to Kill on HBO and I said HEY! I've seen that guy!

Izzard's been around for ages, so I don't know how it took me so long to catch on to him, but I'm glad I finally did. He's incredibly hip - he doesn't just like to dress as a woman, he wants to be a woman, but he's straight, and doesn't want to get a sex change. Plus he's cute and funny as hell and into things like the European Union and the environment, and he's just coolness personified. More guys should be like Eddie Izzard.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

my newest iPod playlist

Trip down memory lane...

Discovering Japan by Graham Parker - amaaazing guitar, clever lyrics and kickass climax.

Genius of Love by Tom Tom Club. The Club was a brief spin-off of Talking Heads, fronted by drummer Chris Frantz and bassist Tina Weymouth. So catchy and funky. "That's one time I'm glad I'm not a man." Watch the video here.

Losing My Religion by R.E.M. - smokey middle period R.E.M. with strings, nice clap-laden finish.

Hitsville U.K. by the Clash - infectious late-period Clash, rare female backing vocals. Righteous glockenspiel. Even more radio-friendly than Rock the Casbah.

We're the Replacements by They Might Be Giants. Better than anything by the actual band The Replacements in my considered opinion (IMCO) - nice complement to TMBG's "Famous Polka"

Lust for Life by Iggy Pop - still kicking ass in spite of being pimped out recently to a travel commercial. For some reason Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines never played the line "Well I am just a modern guy - of course I've had it in the ear before."

Can't Do a Thing to Stop Me by Chris Isaak, from his surf-bum Romeo phase. Big haunting sound - Chris is very emotional. And damn was he fine.

Call of the Wighat by The Cramps - obscure greatness from the semi-obscure The Cramps. "I can still hear momma calling, 'Junior get home - what's got into you? What's that on your dome?'"hear brief excerpt

I Don't Like Mondays by Boomtown Rats - one of the best songs ever in the "immortalizing the psychotic words of a teenage girl with mass-murdering impulses" category. Great piano.

What's the Frequency Kenneth? by R.E.M. - one of the best songs ever in the "immortalizing the enigmatic words of a middle-aged crazy man" category. Believed by some to be the soundtrack of the mystical Great Irony Divide.

Do You Really Want to Hurt Me? by Culture Club - I've had the Violent Femmes version for years, and figured it was time to hear the original, from back before Boy George was a theatre guy with wax on his head. Really cute chime accents.

Punkrock Girl by The Dead Milkmen. Favorite 80s-90s Philly band. Fun bad guitar solo, fun lyrics like "we got into a car away we started rolling I said how much you pay for this she said 'nothing man, it's stolen'"

I Touch Myself by the Divinyls - early 90s celebration of sisters doin it for themselves - sing-along refrain - every body now! "I don't want anybody else, when I think about you I touch myself!"

Pretty in Pink by the Psychedelic Furs - a punk's punk band in spite of the connection with the Molly Ringwald movie. Cool synthesizery drone tone floating under the hook.

The Blue Dress by Depeche Mode - the original electronic torch song. Not usually my cup of tea, but I heard this on college radio back in the 90s and it stuck in my brain. Plus, it's just fun to say "depeche mode." Scary Blue Meanie sounds at the end. hear excerpt

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Strange Case of Edward Einhorn

Read all about Edward Einhorn here.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Coming soon...

Edward Einhorn registered an unauthorized derivative copyright on my play TAM LIN, claiming that directors have a right to create copyrights based on their directing an author's work. And on the basis of that copyright registration, he sued me, claiming I violated his copyright when I produced my own play in 2005 - even though I directed that production myself, with a new set and revised script. The upshot of the strange case of Einhorn v. Mergatroyd Productions was that the Court compelled Einhorn to cancel this registration.

Thanks to the lawsuit, Mergatroyd Productions can't afford to put TAM LIN on this year, except as a reading.

Mergatroyd Productions paid each actor in the 2005 production a thousand dollars, which, although not quite Actors Equity rates, is fairly high for an off-off Broadway non-Equity show. Thanks to Edward Einhorn, actors who would have had paying work with TAM LIN in 2006 will not have it. Not that Edward Einhorn is concerned about paying actors. In an email to me, which Einhorn himself offered as one of his lawsuit exhibits, he explained his philosophy about paying theater tech people and designers and especially directors, more than actors: "actors get the glory of having being on stage, which is why they are usually happy to work for free."

When we were negotiating with Einhorn over his fee for directing TAM LIN in 2004, he asked for more money than we initially offered for a director. When we said we couldn't afford to increase the budget for the director, he suggested that we pay all the actors less than we originally planned, and pass the savings onto himself.

Not a single actor to whom I've mentioned these things has failed to express disgust with Edward Einhorn.

Friday, August 18, 2006

I'm it!

aeonsomnia of Evil Li-brul Overlord >:D has tagged me in the book meme. Here goes:

1. One book that changed your life?

Black Like Me - the first work of non-fiction written for adults that I ever read, it convinced me that sexual intercourse wasn't just a tall tale invented by Catholic school boys trying to be really gross.

2. One book you have read more than once?

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - most recently as I was creating an audio book from it.

3. One book you would want on a desert island?

SAS Survival Guide: How to Survive Anywhere, on Land or at Sea

4. One book that made you laugh?

Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot and other observations the index alone made me laugh.

5. One book that made you cry?

The Return of the King I thought Shelob really got Frodo that time. I felt terrible for Sam.

6. One book you wish had been written?

"How to Escape from a Desert Island Containing Only One Book"

7. One book you wish had never had been written?

"Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion" - oh wait, turns out it was a hoax.

8. One book you are currently reading?

Tom Sawyer, Detective just to complete Twain's Tom/Huck stories. But lordy, there is a reason why you never hear much about that one or Tom Sawyer Abroad.

9. One book you have been meaning to read?

Everything by Niles Eldredge - I'm hoping to interview him sometime in the next few months and I want to be prepared.

OKAY, now I tag my best blog friend Ann Bartow of Sivacracy and Feminist Law Professors and Katha Pollitt (even though she doesn't blog too often.)

Thursday, August 17, 2006

All about Revolver

The greatest album cover ever.

There's a very cool thing online now, Abracadabra! vol 1, A free e-book telling the story of the Beatles 1966 album Revolver.

You have to love George Harrison. Even though he was indisputably not as talented as Lennon and McCartney (the same can be said of the vast majority of humanity) he had a way of demystifying the Beatles, and bringing things down to earth. I should collect all my favorite droll Harrison observations, and include this new one from the Revolver book:
Lennon was cut off not only from his social life, but also from the studio which was the band's collective home, and the one place where he could really express his frustration. It actually took Lennon a full hour to drive from Abbey Road Studios to Weybridge, whereas McCartney could walk to the studio in his slippers. Lennon began to feel insecure. At the same time, and almost without trying, McCartney was usurping Lennon's dominant position in the group, and his place in the public imagination as "the clever Beatle" - "he and Paul got into a bit of one-upmanship over who knew the most about everything" at this time, recalls Harrison.

I learned about this book in a recent issue of Rolling Stone. The issue also has a piece about Kurt Vonnegut, who said one of the best things ever about the Beatles: "I say in speeches that a plausible mission of artists is to make people appreciate being alive at least a little bit. I am then asked if I know of any artists who pulled that off. I reply, 'The Beatles did.'"

It's a miracle

This guy has shown that even The Lockhorns can be made hysterically funny with a wry meta-comics commentary.

Via Wolcott

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Louis Menand on The Blank Slate

Since I'm on a Wacky Evolutionary Psychology tear, it occurs to me that I should post a link to Louis Menand's sublime evisceration of The Blank Slate published in the New Yorker a few years ago.
Pinker doesn't care much for art, though. When he does care for something—cognitive science, for example—he is all in favor of training people to do it, even though, as he admits, many of the methods and assumptions of modern science are counter-intuitive. The fact that innate mathematical ability is still in the Stone Age distresses him; he has fewer problems with Stone Age sex drives. He objects to using education "to instill desirable attitudes toward the environment, gender, sexuality, and ethnic diversity"; but he insists that "the obvious cure for the tragic shortcomings of human intuition in a high-tech world is education." He thinks that we should be teaching economics, evolutionary biology, and probability and statistics, even if we have to stop teaching literature and the classics. It's O.K. to rewire people's "natural" sense of a just price or the movement of a subatomic particle, in other words, but it's a waste of time to tinker with their untutored notions of gender difference.

Having it both ways is an irritating feature of "The Blank Slate." Pinker can write, in refutation of the scarecrow theory of violent behavior, "The sad fact is that despite the repeated assurances that 'we know the conditions that breed violence,' we barely have a clue," and then, a few pages later, "It is not surprising, then, that when African American teenagers are taken out of underclass neighborhoods they are no more violent or delinquent than white teenagers." Well, that should give us one clue. He sums the matter up: "With violence, as with so many other concerns, human nature is the problem, but human nature is also the solution." This is just another way of saying that it is in human nature to socialize and to be socialized, which is, pragmatically, exactly the view of the "intellectuals."

The insistence on deprecating the efficacy of socialization leads Pinker into absurdities that he handles with a blitheness that would be charming if his self-assurance were not so overdeveloped. He argues, for example, that democracy, the rule of law, and women's reproductive freedom are all products of evolution. The Founding Fathers understood that the ideas of power sharing and individual rights are grounded in human nature. And he quotes, with approval, the claim of two evolutionary psychologists that the "evolutionary calculus" explains why women evolved "to exert control over their own sexuality, over the terms of their relationships, and over the choice of which men are to be the fathers of their children." Now, democracy, individual rights, and women's sexual autonomy are concepts almost nowhere to be found, even in the West, before the eighteenth century. Either human beings spent ten thousand years denying their own nature by slavishly obeying the whims of the rich and powerful, cheerfully burning heretics at the stake, and arranging their daughters' marriages (which would imply a pretty effective system of socialization), or modern liberal society is largely a social construction. Which hypothesis seems more plausible?

Amazing changing comments at Gene Expression

Gene Expression is a full-blown racist site - and Steven Pinker gladly lends his name to it. Based on a few hours of studying the contents, the most seriously misogynistic of the regular contributors is a critter named TangoMan, and the most hardcore racist is called razib.

Of course neither of them will admit to being misognyist and racist. In their minds, they are intrepid scientists, searching for data to prove their hypothesis that women and non-whites (especially blacks) are inferior in a world full of politically correct nazis out to thwart the TRUTH. As razib explains it:
I believe different groups probably have different aptitudes (not moral inferiority or superiority)-and the axiom of equality-that all groups have the exact same tendencies as our common evolutionary heritage, could cause serious problems when applied to public policy"

As for TangoMan, he likes to let his racist and sexist freak flag fly over at Pandagon until I chase him back to the GNXP asylum. I couldn't believe he actually linked to the post himself from You know you're in for a stimulating intellectual exercise when the author's opening shot is to make a deal out of a typo.

But since they are so typically craven about admitting their true, right-wing beliefs, I wasn't at all surprised with what occured tonight.

I saw this post on the home page of Gene Expression:

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Hot, smart brown girls

Sometimes you notice patterns that don't fully crystallize consciously until some precipitating event really "wakes you up" to the reality. I was riding the metro home tonight and across from me was a girl who was engrossed in Kafka on the Shore -- apparently a high-brow fiction book, not like The Da Vinci Code or something (I don't keep up to date on fiction) -- and who got off at the extremely affluent Friendship Heights neighborhood. So you get the rough idea of her IQ. Unusually for someone that smart & well-to-do, at least in my experience, she was smoking hot. She looked South Asian, maybe Persian. Then it clicked on a conscious level: for those of you who are say, aged 18-40 -- have you ever noticed how many hot, smart brown girls there are in your age group?

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Read full post....
posted by agnostic | 8:00 PM | Comments (1) |

I didn't read the full post, but went directly to the comments. There I found a most amazingly racist comment from razib. So I responded - I found it hard to believe he was serious, and didn't want to assume he was. What happened next convinced me that he was. Now I've seen what pussilanimous little cowards these racists were in action on their own site and on Pandagon so I expected them to screw with my comment, or delete it completely. So I copied the comment thread after I left my comment. See it here.

A couple of hours later, this is what it looked like.

The original post now included this transparent excuse: [Originally posted by agnostic, reposted by Razib since blogger mystifies his assoliphic self]

I love the fact that Steven Pinker hobnobs with these creeps.

UPDATE: this web site has some interesting info on razib

so does this one

And in case there is any doubt exactly what Razib means about social policy and certain groups, here is what he wrote in another blogger's comments:
right now, we assume that ALL GROUPS HAVE EQUAL APTITUDES. the result is that liberals devise new social programs to “uplift” groups to express their potentional. conservatives excoriate underclass social structures and cultures and encourage their own rival social engineering programs (vouchers, enterprise zones, privating public housing). if some aptitudes were genetic on average between groups, then we have an even harder task: identify the points in the genome that effect “g”-general intelligence, and figure out ways to manipulate these segments of the genome (gene therapy).

You see, razib does want to help "groups" with their "aptitude" problem. He doesn't want to help them with social programs, because the problem isn't discrimination or lack of opportunity for the "group" - they are suffering from bad genetics and need gene therapy.

I can't believe some newspaper or magazine hasn't focused on Steven Pinker's support for such raging racists.

In addition to Steven Pinker, Razib Khan pals around with David Horowitz, John Derbyshire giving him Randy Thornhill-type advice on rape, and his pal Steve Sailer is a regular contributor to Gene Expression, as in this comment thread in which they all desperately try to find a comfortable explanation for why it appears that black and white intelligences as measured by IQ tests are converging. He writes for American Conservative Magazine. Razib also does book reviews for Science & Spirit. Here he argues American liberalism is about fleeing reason. Truly amazing - the person who argues that a certain "group" needs gene therapy to increase its intelligence level says this:
over the past few years I have had the recurrent experience of being first thought of as a member of an ethno-national group (after physical inspection of my appearance) and so resulting in a barrage of questions about South Indian Hindu temples, vegetarianism and the like, and when I respond that this is inappropriate, most people have the decency to be embarrassed, but several have simply stated to me plainly that I should know what my true culture is. The implication is that my true culture is encoded in my DNA, in my blood, in my ancestry. There is where the flight from reason will always lead.

Talk about a complete lack of self-awareness.