Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Green Bar Graph: "World Slowly Disappearing. Dibs on Mars!"


(click to enlarge)

Because you just looked like you needed another dose of frantic global alarmism. I like how every biome except (barely) temperate forest and woodland is being destroyed. What's replacing the destroyed biomes? Even desert is being destroyed! So much for the global peril of "desertification" I guess (remember that one from grade school? The encroaching deserts would cover New York in sand dunes by 2001, cause puppies to die of dehydration, and give nuns Indian rug burns.)

So what's replacing these biomes, of which most have had 60% or more in loss? A giant, sucking vacuum? Which, yunno, would actually be a huge problem. I hope, for the sake of mankind (and lemurs, those are cool too), that I'm misinterpreting this data. (found via PW).

Posted by Hello

deja vu

Heh. He sounds like a young me. But older, I mean, and with a posh writing gig.

update: the email in the column above was prompted by this column he wrote.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Why I will never go to Harvard (updated)

I mean, besides for the intelligence thing. Harvard bows to the forces of irrationality:
The Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard approved a resolution on Tuesday expressing a lack of confidence in the leadership of the university's president, Lawrence H. Summers, citing longstanding dissatisfaction with his management style and, to a lesser extent, his remarks in January about women in math and science.
Of course the remarks about dissatisfaction with leadership were just thrown on top--one cannot possibly maintain that if Summers hadn't made the remarks he made about women that he would still be in the same trouble. This is the left's "evolution" issue, that is, the subverting of science in the name of religion--although in this case the religion is the secular religion of radical feminism.

And notice that I speak of "radical" feminism--I believe that feminism, in itself, is a laudable ideology, and one that I believe most American's hold. I consider myself a feminist, in that I think women should be treated equally in civic society, as well as in most other aspects of life.

But, what most people don't seem to realize is that treating women equally is not the same thing as treating them like men in all respects. Women and men are different; it is not equality to treat unlikes the same--equality is not sticking square pegs in round holes, but rather finding the appropriate hole for each.

update: Maybe I shouldn't have sounded so unequivocal here. Maybe equality does require the like treatment of unlikes. In fact, I'm sure it does, at least in some aspects of life. The problem comes in finding in which situations one should opt for same treatment for unlikes (such as allowing all people to seek public office despite what innate characteristics may say about their potential ability to lead) and in which situations one should treat people equally by respecting their differences (not requiring females to register for the draft; not letting men use women's restrooms; allowing women maternity leave).

update 2: A timely coincidence: Keith Burgess-Jackson, the AnalPhilosopher, makes much the same observation regarding a professors remarks on the "equality" justication for same sex marriage:
Do we grant men a right to have an abortion? Of course not, because they can't have an abortion. Do we allow dogs or children to vote? Of course not, because they lack to competence to vote. Every parent of two or more children knows that equal consideration sometimes requires differential treatment—when there are relevant differences between the children. The question the law professor conveniently evades is whether, with respect to marriage, heterosexual and homosexual couples are relevantly similar. They're not, and nothing he says in this column shows that they are. Hence, the principle of equality does not require that they be treated alike. Indeed, it forbids it.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Eh?

Matt Labash on Canada:

WHENEVER I THINK OF CANADA . . . strike that. I'm an American, therefore I tend not to think of Canada. On the rare occasion when I have considered the country that Fleet Streeters call "The Great White Waste of Time," I've regarded it, as most Americans do, as North America's attic, a mildewy recess that adds little value to the house, but serves as an excellent dead space for stashing Nazi war criminals, drawing-room socialists, and hockey goons.

[...]

We all know the Canadian military has become a shadow of itself. Things have gotten so dire that a Queen's University study (titled "Canada Without Armed Forces?") predicted the imminent extinction of the air force. This unpreparedness has become such a joke that Ferguson says their military ranks just above Tonga's, which consists of nothing more than "a tape-recorded message yelling 'I surrender!' in thirty-two languages."

What many don't consider is how much Canada has oversold itself in the areas where it purportedly does succeed. While it's true that the government has been much friendlier than ours to gay marriage, only 39 percent of Canadians decidedly support it. While Canada is supposedly more environment-friendly, it has been cited for producing more waste per person than any other country. While Canada is supposedly safer, a 1996 study showed its banks had the highest stick-up rate of any industrialized nation (one in every six was robbed). And while a great deal is made of Americans' passion for firearms, the Edmonton Sun, citing Statistics Canada, reported that Canada has a higher crime rate than we do.

Canadians are supposedly less greedy than Americans, yet they lead the world in telemarketing fraud, and most of their victims are Americans. Are they more generous? Not by a long shot. The Vancouver-based Fraser Institute publishes a Generosity Index, which shows that more Americans give to charity, and give more when they do.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Must read article

This Atlantic Monthly article is a must read. It is about political talk radio, but I don't recommend it because of the subject. Rather, the writing is stellar, the wit amazing (I burst into laughter three or four times), and the layout is incredibly original (possibly revolutionary?).

The layout of the article is reminiscent of a web page layout, not entirely in appearance, but in effect. Certain words are highlighted and these highlighted words have a corresponding side-box with extra info about the highlighted words, editorial asides, or random information. In effect, these are much like the print version of hyperlinks. They allow for the insertion of opinion, but insertion in such a way that the reader recognizes it as such. They also allow for tangential musings and interesting info that might have been left out otherwise. It's like the text is almost interactive. Or maybe a more apt description would be "3D." Either way, I hope to see this style used more often.

The author, David Foster Wallace, weaves together a riveting narrative. His eye for minute details and ability to capture the essence of people is amazing. If you consider yourself a connoisseur of the art of journalism, or if you just love great writing, read this article.

For the children

Great news:
The sixth and final Star Wars movie may not be suitable for young children, film-maker George Lucas has said. He told US TV show 60 Minutes that Revenge of the Sith would be the darkest and most violent of the series. "I don't think I would take a five or six-year-old to this," he told the CBS programme, to be aired on Sunday.
Well, I wouldn't have taken a five or six-year old to the two other Star Wars prequels, being as how I'm against child abuse. Yeah, they were that bad, if not considerably worse.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Tolerating intolerance

What' s a diversophile to do?:

Swedish home furnishings giant IKEA is guilty of sex discrimination by showing only men putting together furniture in its instruction manuals, Norway's prime minister says.

IKEA, which has more than 200 stores in 32 nations, fears it might offend Muslims by depicting women assembling everything from cupboards to beds. Its manuals show only men or cartoon figures whose sex is unclear.

On the one hand we have the need to respect other cultures, on the other hand we have the need to not discriminate in hiring cartoon characters.

The cultural relativism that is an inherent part of diversity runs up against this contradiction: the only culture to actually treat all of its constituent parts as equals despite race, gender or religion is Western culture. Other cultures are coming around, but only after infusions of Western-style thought and governance. Is it right to tolerate cultures that are intolerant?

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Dilbert on Diversity


(click to enlarge)

Diversity training is such a ripe subject for Dilbert, it's somewhat surprising that Scott Adams hasn't poked more fun at it--and even here, it is done obliquely. Diversity training would seem to fall under Adams area of mocking expertise; it's a horrible waste of time, intellectually inane, too "touchy-feely" and sappy, and, most appealing of all to Adams, the newest fad in managment.

Adams should be all over that. But there might be a few reasons why he isn't.
1. I don't think Adams actually works in a cubicle anymore--maybe he is getting distanced from his subject material and simply hasn't realized the rich material that diversity would provide.

2. Maybe he doesn't want to touch diversity training with a ten-foot pole. In the past, Adams has touched on controversial topics (admittedly, none come immediately to mind, but I'm sure he has), but diversity training might seem to be simply one thing you don't mock.

3. Scott Adams might be a partisan hack. This I really doubt, though. In his email newsletter, Dogbert's New Ruling Class, Scott was an equal opportunity offender around the election. From reading his material, no real world view emerges, except a serious loathing for faddish management strategies, cubicles, and all the other inanities of the business world.

But, either way, I hope to see some serious diversity training mockage in the future. Scott could be ground breaking, here. His comic is the best comic that appears in newspapers today (and I say this as a comic connoisseur). Were he to reduce diversity training to a punchline, which it so richly deserves to be, real progress would be made on MLK Jr's goal of a world where people are judged by the content of character, not the color of their skin. Posted by Hello