What I’m Reading Tonight
- Great discussion chez Hugo on PETA’s dubious tactics and building uneasy coalitions. In particular, Pip weighs in:
What I’m suggesting is that in this case and many others, the absence of “common [ideological] ground” isn’t a barrier to co-operation, it’s the *basis* of it. Both sides are entirely clear-sighted about the nature and limits of the partnership. There’s no dreamy talk of “we all want the same thing really” — the point is, in a specific scenario, we all want *this* thing.
On the other hand, if you’re not entirely sure where you yourself are coming from ideologically — if you just somehow feel sure the war in Iraq is a BAD THING — then stepping out on a peace march in the company of Islamist fascists may not be such a great idea.
Now I can put my finger on why I feel uneasy at ANSWER events! They’re always ostensibly about a fairly specific thing, but judging by the people and the signs and the chants, they’re really about the communist revolution and veganism and all sorts of other things. It’s not that I don’t know where I’m coming from – I’m just always too lazy to bring my own sign, so I feel that my presence is being co-opted by movements which I either blandly fail to support (animal rights) or actively oppose (violent revolutionaries of various stripes). And I feel a little bit taken advantage of, too, when this tacit agreement to focus on a specific cause is violated.
I think I owe Hugo a fuller response on the PETA thing, too. Or maybe I just owe it to myself, I don’t know. Anyway I’d like to write one, but I’ve found myself unable to articulate it yet.
- Distinguishing schools of feminist thought at Alas.
- A discussion on the correct application of science-fu has erupted over at Pharyngula. In particular, I delight in these (woefully out-of-context, but the context is so dull!) remarks from Razib:
kevin drum, who has a degree in math from cal tech, seems at least as able to comment on network dynamics as PZ, a biologist.
non-trivial correction, drum went to cal tech for two years and majored in math, but transferred to cal state long beach and graduated with journalism.
Finally, someone recognizes that a Caltech undergraduate education does indeed give significant additional gravitas to one’s random spoutings-off on all things vaguely sciencey – HAH! Take that, everyone who didn’t like my plate tectonics post!
More relevantly, the virtues of science-fu are at issue in the upcoming Pasadena school board election. Scott Phelps – a geophysicist turned high school science teacher – writes in the voter guide that “I believe in using my Caltech-science sense to detect unscientific arguments and to not be ‘snowed’ by the administration.” Unfortunately for him, he’s running against incumbent Susan Kane, who lists her occupation as “research scientist” – she’s the associate director of research at the City of Hope medical center. I know Scott; he was one of the model teachers in my high school science teaching course. He’s a good guy; I don’t trust his political instincts (he caused a bit of a flap a while back…) but I do trust his take on the gritty details of curricula and testing. Since I haven’t been following local school politics, it’s hard for me to say which of these things is most important.
- I’d like to round this out with a link to something funny, but I haven’t seen anything notably funny today. Say something hilarious in the comments, won’t you?