Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Gender Mending Brouhaha

William Saletan wrote something very interesting on Slate.com last Friday. Harvard President Larry Summers has been dogged by bad press about his supposed "sexist" comments since his participation at an academic conference held on January 14. His critics have repeatedly called for his resignation which led to the release of the transcript. Well, no surprise that he was "miscontrued and misrepresented" as we often are when we're taken out of context to make for a better story (guilty as charged), but it's the stuff that Saletan wrote near the end of his critique that hit me like a stone:

"... he's stubborn and argumentative."

"The consistent tone of his remarks was 'Yeah, but ...'"

"... once he offers a hypothesis, he'd rather defend and extend it than listen objectively to the alternatives."

"He was so busy being skeptical of the popular explanation that he forgot to be skeptical of the unpopular one."

"He overstated his case ... not because he wanted to believe it, but because he didn't."

Self-revelation #402 (or some equally random number): It's no secret that I find it more fun to say no. Debate isn't mental foreplay unless you're both missile and target. But perhaps I am wrong to think that I can pull off interacting wth everyone - academically, socially and professionally - the same way. Maybe there really is a difference between having fun, getting laid and getting somewhere. Better nip this trait in the bud before I get myself into deep waters.

So for future reference: Keep it nice when your salary's at risk.

***

Going to read up on some more of this "Isreali kibbutz movement." I wonder why more people haven't heard of it (me included). Sounds fascinating in a "social Genesis" sort of way. A kind of "We tried to create an utopia, but its undoing could not have been helped." Very Dynasty or (not George Orwell, not George Orwell) Mac computers (damn you, George Orwell!).

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