Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My political leanings...

Took a "politics" quiz on OKCupid, and here are the results:

You are a

Social Liberal
(85% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(25% permissive)

You are best described as a:

Strong Democrat

Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

Shocked! I am shocked!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Matt Taibbi helping the Palinization of America...?

So Matt Taibbi gets all "hail the working poor, us elites don't really work!" over David Brooks here. Several liberals in my Twitter feed were jumping for joy at Taibbi's put-down of Brooks. I wasn't too pleased, but I couldn't put my finger on it till this morning.

Taibbi's thesis apparently is that only the proletariat do "real" work. Only if someone puts in 80 hours/week on a demolition crew or other shitty manual labor, can it be called "real" work. The others - writers, intellectuals who generate ideas, pursue "work" that they love - aren't worth shit.

Not to go all John Galt, but this is a romanticization of manual labor that is completely unnecessary and even dangerous. If what I do as a scientist - a lot of writing, and yes, some of the research, things I actually love to do - is not "real" work and all these liberal commentators and yes, intellectuals push it accordingly - the results of my labors aren't going to be appreciated by the layman/proletariat, who only respect the fruits of real hard work. And who do you think produces reports on climate change? So-called "ivory-tower" intellectuals (including climate modelers!)

One of the annoying left-right divides in the US is anthropogenic climate change, which has become highly politicized, and it is quite frustrating that most GOPers (as represented by their Senators and Congressmen) believe humans don't contribute to climate change. Part of the reasoning stems from a lack of respect for climate scientists - "they are only in it for future funding!" And folks like Matt Taibbi - who romanticize "real" work - only help make the case against the intellectual labors of climate scientists stronger (among other creative/intellectual endeavors.)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Notes from a Speak Easy

I am in North Carolina on a project with the EPA, and that gives me a chance to look around the Raleigh-Durham area. Yesterday, I decided to look up Carmen's Cafe, a Cuban joint - or that was the description, anyway! When I showed up around 10:30 PM, turned out there was a Speak Easy rather than Salsa dancing. Figured I'd hang out and see what it was all about.

The demographics were interesting - I was definitely the only Indian, but unlike Colorado bars (mostly White), this place was filled with African-Americans. Maybe 1 or 2 Caucasians, and the two bartenders were Latino. The Speak Easy (not a speakeasy) was essentially a sort of vox populi, with moderators posing questions, and audience members chiming in. As the tagline put it, "combining entertainment with intellect!"

The first question was about a woman who, six months into a relationship, found out the guy was a convict out on parole, after 10 years for armed robbery. What should she do? Opinions varied, and a spirited debate ensued: a guy saying "women won't go out with a convict", women saying it was about honesty, one woman saying 18-19 year-olds do stupid things that should not weigh them down forever, but finally, a woman ended that discussion with "we don't tell men we were hos!"
A later question was about problems with the school system, focusing on cross-dressing school kids and whether the schools should do anything about it. There was some conservatism - "parents should tell their kids they are going to school to study, not to bring attention to themselves"; caution ("schools can get sued!"); but also a female school teacher who said "these days, it does not cause disruption; 10 years back, gays and lesbians were outcasts, but now they are normal."

Today, I had the familiar l'escalier effect - what I should have said. As the school teacher pointed out, cross-dressing kids might well be viewed as normal by the other kids. In my opinion, the Speak Easy missed the bigger point - the problem with schoolkids is not the cross-dressing kids (if at all), so much as kids who bring guns and knives, forcing the school to install metal detectors. What sort of parents and school system allow this behavior to continue? And tying the two discussions together - isn't not-controlling violent kids (and instead, worrying about the "disruptive" effects of cross-dressing kids) what leads to the stupid things that 18-19 year-olds do that ends up with them in prison?