succumbing to peer pressure

Saturday, May 26, 2007

I'll probably go to hell for laughing at that, but damn it's funny. Get the t-shirt here.

File under we've come a long way, baby?

Former UCLA professor Janet Conney recently won a sexual discrimination suit against the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute and Hospital. " was discovered during court proceedings that her UCLA department had a secret reserve of money that they used to supplement the salaries of male faculty members only." This is in 2007 people. Yes, most common forms of sexual discrimination these days are more subtle, less egregious. But there are still people in power out there who blatantly believe that male employees deserve higher pay strictly based on their possession of a dick.

Also, check out this excellent blog project started by young women in India to document the men who harass them on the street.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Whoa. Bitter commenter:

why do people blog, why do you think anyone cares about your opinions or your woes. Don't bother to reply I don't think I'd ever come back to read your thoughts.

What I love is that this comment was buried on a post from a year ago! So this random person went digging through my archives, then bitched about what they found there. Huzzah.

Things up with which I've been meaning to catch...

Nearly a year ago I had the good fortune to hear two guest lectures from Neve Gordon, a professor at Ben-Gurion University in Israel. The first was specifically about the human rights violations of the wall around the occupied territories, delivered to my human rights class. The second was a more general history of the Israel-Palestine conflict and was open to the public. A few good points:
  • how do you reconcile the fact that today Israelis kill Palestinians and it isn't considered a crime with the fact that in the 60s and 70s the Israeli government immunized the Palestinian people (and even their cattle!)?
  • Golda Meir's security chief once said to her, with regard to the "Palestinian problem" "You want the dowry but not the wife!"
And the one that I'll never forget, the part that broke my heart. The audience was...somewhat less than sympathetic. And during the question and answer period someone asked Gordon how he justified standing next to a mass murderer (referencing some photograph of Gordon standing next to a Palestinian leader). Gordon smiled and sighed and said it's only in America that he is ever considered not Jewish enough. When teaching in front of a classroom of Israeli students at Ben-Gurion he can be much more critical of the Jewish state. Gordon is part of a group of what he calls second-tier peace negotiators. Academics and artists who keep trying to maintain communication with their Palestinian counterparts, keep trying to provide examples of the two groups getting along. And as part of that, he found himself standing next to this particular leader, with whom he certainly did not agree. But you see, he said, I was in the air force. Every Israeli serves in the military and I was in the air force. And there we were taught that if your group is advancing, and there is a fence in the way, covered in barbed wire, it is your job as a soldier to lie down on that fence, so that your fellow soldiers can use your body to climb safely over. So, he says, what was I doing standing next to that man? I was lying on the fence.

I was going to transition this into my notes from a lecture two months ago by Ken Stein, the man who resigned as Middle East Fellow at the Carter Center over his disagreements with Carter regarding Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid. For most people the initial problem with the book is the title - but since I first heard the current Israel-Palestine situation described as apartheid by Gordon, I didn't have quite the same guttural reaction as others. (and really, if we're going to be picky about word choice, it's hard to claim inaccuracy - apartheid: 2.any system or practice that separates people according to race, caste, etc.) Stein's lecture was really interesting - boiling the problem down to a disagreement over the interpretation of UN Resolution 242. A very complicated disagreement to be sure, and one over which I believe scholars can really gain traction and one that is worth discussion. But it's a disagreement that provides the media with a much less sexy tagline than simply, Carter hates the Jews (something I vehemently believe to be Not True).

So I was going to delve into that. But my notes are long and the problem is complicated and I'm lazy. So discuss among yourselves. I'm going back to dissertating.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

New Fantasy Job

While I would certainly still love to grow up to work at HRDAG (so I can be just like Amelia) I am facing the reality of the fact that they currently employ 1 PhD statistician. And I have this new mentor of sorts, a really excellent professor at another school who has an impressive history working in government, industry, and academia on all sorts of policy issues. And he made the best suggestion today, one that I hadn't even thought of, yet already feels like an excellent fit. He suggested I work for the National Academy of Sciences, where I could advise the government on policy issues, hang out with a bunch of other really smart people from different fields, and work on a wide range of topics and issues. To round out my wish list, he said it shouldn't be too hard to get an adjunct position at GW or Georgetown or American or UMD, so I can keep a foot in teaching. And oh yeah, he knows people at all those places, so just call him up when I'm ready to shop around my resume and he'll make sure it reaches all the right people.

But what really made my heart swell, if I may toot my own horn a bit here, is that a) he thinks my resume is awesome and b) he suggested that the reason he wants to help me get my dream job is because he wants to see more people like me in positions of power - people who care about human rights and social justice and responsible policy decisions.

Who knows? I may just yet grow up to be the person I always wanted/hoped to be.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Thanks, Dan Savage, for once again telling it like it is:

And up to now the mainstream media have refrained from calling the right's opposition to the HPV vaccine what it is—delusional, psychotic, homicidal—because up to now only women's lives were at stake.

That's about to change.

Here's the headline from my morning paper: "HPV Factors in Throat Cancer: Study Could Shift Debate About Vaccine." You bet it will. Up to now, the HPV vaccine—which, again, has proven 100 percent effective against the cancer-causing strains of the virus—could merely prevent 10,000 cases of cervical cancer in American women every year, along with 4,000 deaths. But now the debate could shift—it will shift, it already has shifted—because it's no longer "just" the lives of 4,000 American women that are on the line, but the sex lives of 150 million American men.

"If men got pregnant," goes the bumper sticker, "abortion would be a sacrament." Now that straight men can get cancer from eating pussy, the HPV vaccine is going to go from controversial to sacramental faster than you can say, "Suck my dick."