Pick One!

So which one is it? Women don’t go into STEM because there aren’t enough female role models, because we don’t like “geek culture” stuff, or because we aren’t smart enough. Pick one, dang it, and stick with it.

What? You didn’t know that Star Trek, Star Wars, and other sci-fi things were sexist and off-putting to women? That’s according to a librarian at MIT, so it must be true. Especially since there is an academic study to support the assertion (“Ambient Belonging: How Stereotypical Cues Impact Gender Participation in Computer Science” by Cheryan et al in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2009, Vol. 97, No. 6, 1045–1060) Continue reading


Songs that Aren’t Funny Anymore (But Are)

I was listening to a Limelighters recording, and they did “Have some Madeira, My Dear.” I laughed, a lot, in part because “Have some Madeira, my dear?” was a catch-phrase my parents used back when. Then I realized that I probably shouldn’t be laughing at the song, because it is really not funny. But it is, especially when the lead plays up the old lech’s part very, very well. So do I laugh? And can we even sing, let alone write, stuff like that any more? Continue reading

If so, then Why Tell Stories?

In the comments on an article The Passive Voice linked to about automation and if it is what defines humans from non-human creatures, a discussion got started about what separates humans from other critters, if anything.

I stayed out of it because I have some very, very strong thoughts on that topic but don’t have the philosophy and biology chops to argue my case. When someone begins by saying “humans are no different from other animals…” what follows often tends towards either an anti-people statement, or a justification for something that society frowns on for good reason. I would argue that humans are different because we have souls, because we seek for something greater than we are greater than we can be, but keep searching and striving anyway. Continue reading

Teaching, Schooling, and Coping

The mess/massacre/act of evil at the school in Florida this past week, combined with totally unrelated things at Day Job, poked me to think about education, school, and teaching. I started out in an excellent, Odd, small district, then moved to a public school district that I managed to escape from more-or-less tolerably educated, and now I work at a very small religious school. One of the things that came to mind was the difficulty of students who do not get taught how to cope with their problems. Continue reading

Gentlemen and Ladies

What defines a gentleman and a lady? Peggy Noonan had a few good ideas two weeks ago in her Saturday column in the Wall Street Journal. She was considering the reported actions of an actor and the woman who ended up having serious regrets about not saying “no.” Noonan was too kind: I think the man was a cad. However, since the woman went along with his advances, even though she says that she really did not want to, letch and manipulative bounder will have to suffice, if the man did as reported.

Noonan wanted to know what defines a gentleman. She did not ask the next question: what defines a lady? Continue reading

Those Who Return to Omelas?

The late Ursula K Le Guin’s short stories tend to show up in anthologies, or I should say, one in particular turns up quite often: “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas.”

Another full-text source.

If you have not read the piece, I encourage you to do so, then come back. It was first published in 1973 and has appeared in many anthologies, as well as at least two collections of Le Guin’s own works since then. Continue reading

“Oh Yes, All-Highest…”

Rant follows. For lighter content, come back tomorrow.

It is one of Kipling’s poems that bugged me for a very long time, in part because it requires some context to really “get.” It is from 1918, entitled “The Death Bed.”

I got some of the ideas, but not really what he meant.* However, the opening lines have been floating around in my mind recently. “This is the State above the Law/ The State that exists for the State alone.” And later,  “There is neither Evil nor Good in Life/ Except as the needs of the State ordain.” Continue reading