dang it.
Hard to know what to say.

a wee confession

The Diva is home sick today and sitting glassy-eyed on the couch staring at Rolie Polie Olie. I hestitate to say she's watching it, simply because she doesn't seem to be taking much in, thanks to the decongestant head. As proof that she must not be feeling well, I am working at the computer and not being climbed or pestered or pulled or poked. This behavior should tell you more than my mere description can.

Now would be the perfect time to write a long dissseration about something, but I'm a little out of it myself. Last night was not full of good, restorative sleep for anyone in the house. Despite that, this column by Wil McCarthy about inbred gender differences pegged on Harvard pres Summers ill-advised comments about women in hard science raises my sleepy hackles. I've tried to ignore it, frankly, since the online pub he works for doesn't seem to believe that women actually exist in the world (or, if they do, exist only to fill-out tight latex suits a la Jennifer Garner in Elektra). This quote is McCarthy following his argument that women are good students but not risk takers and men are lousy students but will go for glory reap rewards to its logical (to him) conclusion:

"While it might seem a bit shocking to talk about phasing men down to just 33 percent of the population, this cockamamie plan does offer a number of advantages for both sexes. Women would enjoy a lower crime rate and probably a mellower, less dog-eat-dog society. Men would enjoy having fewer die-hard competitors to deal with, and more potential mates to choose from. Who knows, even harems might make a comeback—something few men would object to. And in purely economic terms, there'd be no surplus or shortage of "men's work" in the world, because the number of men could be adjusted every generation to suit demand."

And while there is a nugget of truth in there, I think he's leaving out a great deal about how women would actually feel about the whole harem thing and how women would respond to not having as many men around. Perhaps in McCarthy's mind, we'd all simply "become" lesbians and perform for the enjoyment of these lucky guys so that we can keep them amused and curb their destructive impulses.

Other parts of McCarthy's argument also hinge on his not knowing a lot about how women operate in the real world. While women may be better students because we aren't under the sway of as much testosterone (his contention), we do still compete with each other, in less obvious ways that may be more damaging than a simple male-style fight. But, since McCarthy is male and therefore unable to see subtlety (yes, I know how biased that is), he may not understand the tensions that are constantly roiling under the working and social relationships women have with each other. We do compete. We do take risks. But not in the ways that men can see. And the best female relationships cut past this bullshit, just like the best male relationships can cut past the need to compete to the death.

Of course, what the heck do I know? I'm female, have a kid (who is *thisclose* to falling asleep) and am therefore unambitious and unable to form a cogent argument.


On another note, the true confession -- I am absurdly excited that the Westminster Dog Show was on last night and tonight. My favorite group -- the Hounds -- will take the stage this evening. I have no idea why I like the WKC show. And, yet, I can't resist. I still miss Joe Garagiola, tho.


Ah, McCarthy's probably already in line for Episode 3 tickets, he knows nothing about women.

So what about the Summers comments? Not what he said, but the fact that what he said has raised a ruckus? It seems to me that the fact that a university president endeavored to spark debate over any issue should not be cause for alarm. Summers ended his comments thusly:

"Let me just conclude by saying that I've given you my best guesses after a fair amount of reading the literature and a lot of talking to people. They may be all wrong. I will have served my purpose if I have provoked thought on this question and provoked the marshalling of evidence to contradict what I have said. But I think we all need to be thinking very hard about how to do better on these issues and that they are too important to sentimentalize rather than to think about in as rigorous and careful ways as we can. "

Unfortunately, that's not what's being discussed in the press. The focus of the story is being put on his personality and how he expressed his thoughts. The real issue is that these things are not discussed, and the general reaction to his comments follows the script to a T.

It's also more than a bit troubling that I could only find a link to the actual comments on a Brit web site: http://news.ft.com/cms/s/9a37848c-8139-11d9-adb4-00000e2511c8.html.

Actual comments are here: http://www.president.harvard.edu/speeches/2005/nber.html

The biggest non-story around, though, is the Jeff Gannon depravity. Leslie Stahl was on the Bill Maher show last night, and asked how someone who was a gay prostitute got secret service clearance into the White House press pool under a psydonym. Of course, that's a rhetorical question.

Hey, do you or Scott know any lighting designers in the Detroit area? My company is producing online training videos, and we have our own little mini-studio, and need some help with the lighting.

Life officially sucks now:


Re: Summers.
Frankly, I think it's a good thing that he said what he said. I do wish that he'd had some solutions to offer for the problem -- like, should *anyone* male or female work and 80 hour week -- instead of just pointing a finger at women for failing to keep up with the guys. I don't think many in academia were surprised by his observation, just that he seemed to not have any idea what to do about it.

I somehow missed out on the whole "Jeff Gannon" debacle until yesterday. I can understand how it happens -- they don't checck creds that thoroughly, especially if you're on the same team -- but wonder how clueless the White House Corps had to be to not notice that he didn't fit the profile. Maybe he just was able to blend in really well. But most reporters I know aren't quite that buff or, um, endowed.

I know no one in the Detroit area. Would you like Scott's email?

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