Dreadful Links

Just Dreadful is quickly becoming my favorite stop on the blogosphere, so it gets first few links of this edition.

Jenny expands on Dinesh D’Souza’s delineation of the difference between liberals and Islamists. In an interview on Townhall, D’Souza complains that although liberals are the “polar opposites” of Islamists, they don’t support killing large numbers of innocent people in order to destroy a regime that had nothing to do with Islamism. Jenny translates

So, one wants to impose its fundamentalist ideals on everyone, and the other wants to let people decide for themselves who to marry and when to have children.


So, even though the “cultural left” opposes fundamentalist extremism, they won’t get behind the invasion of a secular country that had nothing to do with 9-11? WTF? And as if that weren’t bad enough, they’re also against the erosion of our civil liberties, warantless wire-tapping, and other war-mongering activities!

Jessica notes that female athletes are paid horrendously little, anti-discrimination laws or no anti-discrimination laws. In the US, the situation got so bad that female soccer players went on strike. She explains,

We don’t hear much about female athletes, and if we hear anything about them at all, we only hear about tennis, golf, soccer, basketball and boxing. For the most part. Soccer is my thing, so that’s what’s up with all the soccer posts. What I say about soccer you can apply to almost any sport in which women compete (or try to compete) professionally. The US women’s national soccer team was one of the best in the world, yet becuase of a lack of funding, there is no longer a women’s major league (it used to be the WUSA). Yeah we can argue that Americans just don’t care about soccer, except for the fact that David Beckham is getting paid $1 million a week to play for the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Women always do the least appreciated jobs. It goes both ways: jobs that become predominantly female, as secretarial work did early last century, become underappreciated, and jobs that are underappreciated can become predominantly female. Globally, soccer is very popular, so it’s reserved for men, but in the US men play baseball and football. Now that Americans start caring about soccer, as seen in the Beckham situation, it’s likely American female soccer players will get shafted even more.

Jessica also rants about parents who want to genetically ensure their children are disabled. CNN quotes Slate as saying, “Old fear: designer babies. New fear: deformer babies.”

Ok, so parents want thier kid to look like them and be able to relate to them, but do they realize what the hell they are doing? As kids, they (the parents) probably had to endure teasing, feeling out of place, ect. And now they want to force that on thier child? I don’t know about you, but if I grew up constantly feeling out of place and being taunted and came to find out that my parents were responsable for all of that, I would be pretty damn pissed.

My own take on it is that disability isn’t race. It’s not something to be normalized; it’s a medical condition to be fought. Parents who overdose on identity politics and deliberately cripple their children are no different from parents who overdose on religion and chain their children to their bed until they repent.

Moving on to other blogs, Stentor quotes an ABA article on the problems ex-convicts face in the US.

There’s a nice — albeit too short — article (“Run-on Sentences”) about “collateral consequences” of being convicted (or sometimes just charged) with a crime.

By and large, people with felony convictions are banned from enlisting in the U.S. military. Fifteen states bar convicted drug offenders from recieving welfare or food stamps. In various states, people with convictions are excluded from public housing, barred from recieving educational loans, and denied driver’s licenses. In New York, for instance, a man who had learned to cut hair in prison was denied a barber’s license when he got out.


What’s more, if you’re one of those crazy people who think that the goal of the criminal justice system should be to reduce crime, these “collateral consequences” make no sense. It’s absurd to hold a strict “personality trait” theory of crime (that crime is solely the result of the perpetrator’s internal dispositions). Yet any theory that allows for situational influences would have to admit that taking away opportunities for a person to become better integrated into, and invested in, society will tend to increase crime.

Ann writes about maternity centers, where conservatives send unmarried women who get pregnant to give birth, give up the baby forever, and return to normal society.

So you know how, in the pre-Roe years, young women who found themselves with unwanted pregnancies were often sent away by their parents to deliver their babies in maternity homes?

Well, these homes still exist. And on Tuesday, three pregnant teens staged a jailbreak from the New Hope Maternity Center in rural Utah. They hit the director of the home with a frying pan, tied him up with electrical cords, and made off in a stolen van. Whoa. I know they’re “troubled teens,” and I’m not trying to justify their violent behavior, but things must have been pretty bad for them to resort to these tactics.

Jason Rosenhouse of EvolutionBlog is looking for math blogs. Many of the blogs listed appeared in my old “Where are all the math blogs?” post, but some don’t – Growth Rate n lg n, The n-Category Café, Recursivity, and Antopology, in particular.

Shnakepup, who was kind enough to whore my blog on EvolutionBlog, has a good post about Weinberg’s review of Dawkins’ book. The bone of contention is that Weinberg said scientists should be allowed to comment on philosophy and religion, and John Lynch said it was no better than theologians’ commenting on science. Says Shnakepup,

I’d like John to explain to me exactly how scientific expertise is qualitatively equal to non-scientific expertise.

In order for this to be true, one must assume that all forms of expertise are equal. Would my expertise in, say, the union attendance contracts at my job be qualitatively equal to, say, PZ’s Ph.D. in Biology? I would hope not.

Speaking of Growth Rate n lg n, Tyler assails the traditional American method of teaching math, which is very atomistic with classes specializing in algebra, geometry, trigonometry, etc.

The way mathematical concepts are communicated is fundamentally hierarchical. We teach it in a way that gives the impression that you have subjects with a successive level of difficulty. You start with arithmetic, move up to elementary algebra, then to geometry, then to more advanced algebraic concepts. Then the smarter kids who specialize in math move on to super advanced subjects like trigonometry, calculus and statistics. The kicker is this: I think this hierarchical communication of math is bad idea, and we should find a better way to do it.

The first problem with the hierarchy implicit in the method I described above is that it is entirely mythical. It is actually counter-intuitive to non-math students when I say that, overall, I find proofs in calculus and analytic geometry to be far easier than proofs in abstract algebra, which in turn I find overall a bit easier than problems in combinatorial logic (when they have any idea what the latter is). These misconceptions exist because math concepts were taught to them in a way conveyed the idea that algebra was an intermediate step between common arithmetic and advanced concepts like calculus and statistics. They would be highly surprised to learn that many of the problems in higher arithmetic are enough of a pain in the ass to make abstract algebra look like child’s play. Consider the quandary presented by Fermat’s last theorem:

Lindsay explains why she has absolutely no problem with Pelosi’s embrace of motherhood politics: politicians always project an image to help themselves get elected and stay popular.

On a gut level, I’m not crazy about the mommy schtick. Yet, as a feminist and a partisan Democrat, I’m not going to complain. As Amanda argued several week ago, Nancy Pelosi’s in-your-face parenthood seems to be reaching a lot of women who might otherwise feel alienated by Democrats.

Electoral politics is about symbolism, not syllogism. It’s like the Village People. Everyone needs a character.

Gordo writes about the United States’ gloriously anti-authoritarian Attorney General:

I wasn’t going to post anything this weekend, because my friend’s computer is difficult for me to work with, and because I don’t have much online time while I’m here in Portland, but I just have to comment on this video of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ testimony. In it, Gonzales says that the Constitution doesn’t guarantee the right of habeas corpus to individual Americans.

That’s the right the right to demand that the government present evidence before locking you up.

If you’re not reading Appletree, you don’t know what you’re missing. Even though Gordo’s not posting that much lately, the discussion threads there tend to be livelier than here. There’s even a very thoughtful conservative regular, Dana of Common Sense Political Thought.

6 Responses to Dreadful Links

  1. I actually saw the story about Gonzales on Dispatches today. I can’t help but think that, if someone so grossly ignorant of the Constitution can actually become Attorney General, we’re all doomed.

  2. And thanks for the props for math ed. post. I appreciate it.

  3. Fantastic link farm, Alon. The Dreadful sisters are duly flattered.

  4. Congratulations to a very nice post admin intermittently tear my eyes when I saw such beautiful articles

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