Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Like many, I have recently replaced books with electronic reading; my current preference is for a Nook. I love the convenience, the ability to take several books with me in one package, the way I can puff up the font in the evening to adjust for my declining eyesight.
What do I hate? The appalling number of errors in the transcriptions. Granted, having grown up in the era of most of these books, I can quickly correct the mistakes; dear is actually clear (or vice-versa); tle is probably the, and le is probably he.
Consider, for example, Norman Mailer's well-known article for Dissent, The White Negro
. I'm certainly no fan of Mailer, but his writing deserves better than this hash
at the Dissent website.
Our search for the rebels of the generation led us to the hipster. The hipster is an enfant terrible turned inside out. In character with his time, he is trying to get back at the conformists by lying tow …
? Yep, in the second sentence of a major work by a major writer, there's an obvious error, one that I have no doubt did not appear in the original. But as we shall see, this is only tle tip of the iceberg:
it is tempting to describe the hipster in psychiatric terms as infantile, but the style of his infantilism is a sign of the times, lie does not try to enforce his will on others, Napoleon-fashion, but contents himself with a magical omnipotence never disproved because never tested
These first two bits are from the opening paragraph, and they are not by Mailer himself, but his quote from a Harper's article by Caroline Bird. But the errors are all modern, as is evident from further quotes in the article:
For if tens of millions were killed in concentration camps out of the inexorable agonies and contractions of super-states founded upon the always insoluble contradictions of injustice, one was then obliged also to see that no matter how crippled and perverted an image of man was the society he had created, it wits nonetheless his creation, his collective creation (at least his collective creation from the past) and if society was so murderous, then who could ignore the most hideous of questions about his own nature?
Bolding added for emphasis.
The cameos of security for the average white: mother and the home, lob and the family, are not even a mockery to millions of Negroes; they are impossible.
Bolding added for emphasis.
It just goes on and on. It's tempting to think that the obvious mistakes will be fixed, but the language changes. Maybe someone will point out that Arthur Ashe couldn't lob like white tennis players.
And I am not confident that the rest of the Western canon is being faithfully reproduced electronically. Let's face it, if the editors at Dissent can't fix some obvious bloopers, why should we think that the editors at Random House, who are probably seeing their future disappear anyway, are going to be more careful?
Saturday, March 30, 2013
My old blog-buddy Rick Moran checks in with a post about Dr Benjamin Carson's rather odd talk
on Sean Hannity's TV show:
Dr. Ben Carson is an urbane, sophisticated, very intelligent man, as
he has demonstrated in his public appearances over the last few months.
So what possessed him to say this to Sean Hannity on Fox the other night?
Marriage is between a man and a woman. No group, be they
gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality, it
doesn’t matter what they are. They don’t get to change the definition.
I don't know why he brought NAMBLA or dog-fetishists into the conversation; it would be much easier (and less cringe-worthy) to bring up polygamists. Of course, his antiquated notion that marriage is between a man and a woman was mainstream Democrat only a few years ago
But Rick himself makes an oddball aside:
It should be noted that if he believes that gays should have “all the
rights anyone else has,” then he should be supporting gay marriage.
Obviously, it was an inartful way to say he doesn’t think gays should be
discriminated against — a position at odds with most of the Republican
base who don’t think gays should be protected under affirmative action
I don't think gays should be discriminated against, but I am not sure that the government should create laws banning such discrimination (other than, say, discrimination by the government). And I for damn sure don't think gays should be "protected" under affirmative action. Affirmative action is supposedly intended to right past wrongs, but, and this is the key, it's supposed to right past wrongs against one's ancestors. But gays (mostly) don't have gay ancestors; by definition almost all have been born to heterosexual couples.
Sunday, March 24, 2013
I'm Completely Baffled, Too!
The New York Times finds a conundrum
in the city's elite public schools:
At all eight of the schools that admit students based on an eighth-grade
test, boys outnumber girls, sometimes emphatically.
And thus, the whole focus of the article becomes why that particular result occurred. But note that no question is raised about some other results:
In the United States, girls have outshined boys in high school for
years, amassing more A’s, earning more diplomas and gliding more readily
into college, where they rack up more degrees — whether at the
bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral levels.
That result is just accepted as normal and natural. The idea that boys might do better on standardized tests, or more specifically, the very top rung of boys might do better than the very top rung of girls on those tests, hey, we gotta find an explanation.
“It is very suspect that you don’t have as many girls as boys in New York City’s specialized schools,” said Janet S. Hyde,
a psychology professor at the University of Wisconsin who has published
research on girls’ performance in math and science from elementary
school through college. Individual girls might be losing opportunities,
she said, “but it is also bad for society as a whole because in a global
economy we need to identify the best scientists and mathematicians.”
Some might say that's the whole point of standardized tests. The article notes:
This year, of those who took the Specialized High School Admissions
Test, 51 percent were girls. But only 45 percent of those offered seats
in the schools were girls.
Ah, but then where do you get imbalances like those noted here:
Boys make up nearly 60 percent of the largest and most renowned schools, Stuyvesant, the Bronx High School of Science and Brooklyn Tech, and as much as 67 percent at the High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering at City College, according to city statistics.
I suspect strongly that a higher percentage of boys accept the seats, a fact that is hinted at here:
“I feel like, all the other schools, they mainly specialize in math and
science, and, I don’t know, that doesn’t sound appealing to me,” said
Ritika Modi, 16, a junior. She said she did not even apply to any
specialized schools. Also, as a resident of Queens Village, she said,
her parents “weren’t O.K.” with her commuting as far as Brooklyn or the
Bronx, an issue several other girls noted.
As for the differences in passing rates on the specialized exam, it is really not all that hard to figure out. Boys have a larger standard deviation in their mental abilities; more men are geniuses and more men are retarded than women. Hence there will be more boys in the gifted class and more in the special ed class.
Tuesday, March 05, 2013
Monk Season 4
Some terrific episodes here, although I do note that the comedy aspect has been the focus as compared to the detective aspect. For example, in the Mr Monk Goes To A Wedding episode, Randy Disher is run down by a speeding car while escorting Natalie to her brother's wedding. Despite severe injuries including a broken arm and broken leg, he is still staying at the hotel where the wedding is taking place.
Other bits are obviously anachronistic. In the Mr Monk and Mrs Monk episode, the apparent Mrs Monk rips the film out of Natalie's camera. In 2005? The scene is especially obvious because in the prior episode (Mr Monk Gets Drunk), a digital photograph is erased the modern way, by deleting it from the camera's flash memory.
And in the otherwise charming Mr Monk and Little Monk episode, there are two gaping flaws. One, the girl from Monk's past whom he rescued from being accused of theft, remembers him instead (according to her husband) as never having taken gym class. First, if somebody helped you out in eighth grade by finding out who really stole the money, wouldn't you remember that as the most significant thing about that person? And second, in my school years, gym was segregated by gender, so the girls would have no clue what I did. I don't have a clue what the girls did in that class either.
But aside from these flaws, the Fourth Season is terrific and (as I said at the beginning) very funny.
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
I've been watching the DVDs of this series (the only way to watch television) the last couple of weeks, and find them terrific. The show features Tony Shahloub as Adrian Monk, a brilliant detective and mental basket case. Monk is a caricature of an obsessive-compulsive type.
The stories generally take the form of a howdunnit rather than a whodunnit. Monk frequently identifies the murderer rather early in the show ("He's the guy!") and the remainder of the show is him trying to figure out how the killer's apparently airtight alibi is actually phony.
Shahloub's acting is sheer genius; he is a master of the physical comedy that his character requires. And the rest of the cast plays off each other well. Ted Levine is Captain Stottlemeyer, a chief of detectives who hires Monk on a consulting basis. He has an exasperated air with Monk's obsessions and the goofy suppositions of his Lieutenant, Randy Disher. Disher, played by Jason Grey-Stanford in turn tries to hit on Monk's assistant (and former nurse) Sharona Fleming (Bitty Schram). I have just now gotten to the part of the series (third season) where Sharona leaves for good and is replaced by Natalie Teeger (Traylor Howard), so it's hard to say yet whether that chemistry will last.
About the only negative I can find in the series is that it doesn't have a very good sense of place. The show is set in San Francisco, but aside from a few establishing shots of the Transamerica Pyramid and the occasional cable car, you don't get the feeling that much of the show really happens in the City by the Bay. There's no fog, no cold, no wind. In an early episode, it is remarked that the weather that day was 95 degrees, which would be an exceedingly rare event in San Francisco. I lived there for three years and never once needed air conditioning.
And, notable in probably the gayest town in America, there are almost no apparent homosexual characters, either recurring or single episode. In one show only, a character is referred to as "playing for the other team," which causes Monk some confusion until Sharona explains that, "He's... you know."
Thursday, January 10, 2013
You Gotta Love This
Dave Weigel inadvertently reveals something in an article
intended to quell concerns about Biden's claim that Obama will handle gun control via an executive order. One of the suggestions by gun control advocates:
Directing the DOJ to prosecute more "prohibited purchasers"
when they attempt to buy guns. In 2009, the FBI referred 71,000 cases
of thse buyers, mostly felons. U.S. attorneys prosecuted only 77 cases.
Yep, that's right. When convicted felons, the one group of people who everyone agrees shouldn't have guns, attempted to purchase a gun, about 1 in a thousand was actually prosecuted for that crime.
Tuesday, January 01, 2013
Poverty Does Cause Terrorism
Just not the kind of poverty
that liberals spend their time talking about. Instead it's the poverty of values that liberals fail to inculcate in their children, because they are so afraid of making any kind of judgment.
The privileged daughter of a prominent city doctor, and her boyfriend — a
Harvard grad and Occupy Wall Street activist — have been busted for
allegedly having a cache of weapons and a bombmaking explosive in their
Greenwich Village apartment.
It is often forgotten that Bill Ayers was the son of the CEO of Commonwealth Edison, Bernadine Dohrn grew up in an upper-middle class suburb, and Mohamed Atta was the son of a doctor. My guess is that all their parents were liberal in their approach to child-rearing, just as I presume the same applies to the privileged daughter and her boyfriend in the linked story.