All entries by this author

Samantha Power Reviews Chomsky *

Jan 7th, 2004 | Filed by

A glib and caustic tone; exaggerated claims not backed up; but worth reading.… Read the rest

Judith Butler Superstar

Jan 6th, 2004 8:17 pm | By

Okay, what’s the deal with Judith Butler. Why does everyone who writes about her call her a celebrity or a superstar. A superstar?? Someone who teaches gender studies at Berkeley? A superstar?

Berkeley’s Judith Butler, a superstar of gender and literary studies, drew a packed house with her analysis of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s bad grammar and slippery use of the term “sovereignty.”

I’m not making it up, that’s from the Boston Globe, from a story on the MLA convention. Not a very affectionate or over-impressed story, either – and yet Scott Jaschik calls Butler a superstar. Well if she got married in Las Vegas and then had the marriage annulled the next day, would we hear about it? … Read the rest

Anthropocentric Conceit *

Jan 6th, 2004 | Filed by

The creator of the fifteen-billion-year-old, multibillion-star universe thinks we’re just swell. Right?… Read the rest

Ha’aretz Meets Judith Butler *

Jan 6th, 2004 | Filed by

She’s a celebrity, she exudes charisma, followers line up for her talks. Hmm.… Read the rest

Daniel Mendelsohn on Donald Kagan *

Jan 6th, 2004 | Filed by

What does the Peloponnesian War mean in a world with only one superpower?… Read the rest

Adonis on the Veil *

Jan 6th, 2004 | Filed by

Arab poet has harsh words for the hijab and its fans.… Read the rest

Should NGOs be Accountable? *

Jan 6th, 2004 | Filed by

Who decides, and what are the criteria, and who decides that?… Read the rest

No Thank You

Jan 5th, 2004 9:52 pm | By

I read something interesting and even (very slightly) encouraging in a month-old New York Times magazine article on Pakistan by Barry Bearak.

Government by ”the mullahs” has long been a dreaded prospect by the vast majority of Pakistanis with less doctrinaire views, and the M.M.A.’s unexpected victories intensified fears that ”Talibanization” was creeping its way across the land.

It is good to know that the vast majority of Pakistanis (which I think is what that not very clear clause means: the vast majority of Pakistanis, who have less doctrinaire views, as opposed to the vast majority of Pakistanis-with-less-doctrinaire-views, which of course could be a much smaller number) dread the prospect of government by the mullahs. But it’s only a little … Read the rest

Incautious Precautionary Principle *

Jan 5th, 2004 | Filed by

Philip Stott on morally bankrupt opposition to GM crops in developing world.… Read the rest

Football Coach Millionaires *

Jan 5th, 2004 | Filed by

‘Many wonder how healthy it is to pay a football coach more than the president of a university.’… Read the rest

Uh, Er, Um, Like, You Know *

Jan 5th, 2004 | Filed by

Disfluency matters, but wait for tenure before studying ‘like.’… Read the rest

‘Superstars’ at the MLA *

Jan 5th, 2004 | Filed by

English professors used to criticize the Taliban, but that was then.… Read the rest

Jesting Pilate Goes to Hollywood

Jan 5th, 2004 12:24 am | By

The World Service, part 2. Another thing I heard this morning, while standing around with my nose in my first cup of coffee (or perhaps it was the second) and waiting for the living room to warm up a little, was a lively and too-brief discussion of the vexed question: does it matter if movies tell enormous lies about history? The historian Anthony Beevor argued that it does, some entertainment boffin whose name I instantly forgot argued (of course) that it doesn’t. If I’ve heard the boffin’s argument once I’ve heard it a thousand times. Movies are movies, they have to entertain (what does he mean ‘have to’?), they have to tell a story; nobody cares about the truth they … Read the rest


Jan 4th, 2004 9:24 pm | By

I heard something very irritating on the BBC World Service on the radio early this morning as I was bumbling around in waking-up mode. In beginning a feature on the religious avowals being made by all nine Democratic presidential candidates, the reporter said ‘The United States is a deeply devout country…’ I gave a kind of mental yowl of disgust and rage. It is not! It does have a lot of religious believers in it, to be sure, but the figure is not 100% yet! And it is possible to ignore the stuff most of the time. Really it is. People who’ve never been here will hear that kind of thing and imagine that every other building is a … Read the rest

Reports From the MLA *

Jan 4th, 2004 | Filed by

Interviews, paranoia, clothes, panels no one attends – life at an academic convention.… Read the rest

The ‘Little People’ *

Jan 4th, 2004 | Filed by

It’s fashionable to turn down a gong, but what does that say to unfashionable recipients?… Read the rest

What’s Wrong With US Schools? *

Jan 4th, 2004 | Filed by

Three new books examine the problems.… Read the rest

Postmodernism, Hindu Nationalism and ‘Vedic Science’

Jan 4th, 2004 | By Meera Nanda

The Vedas as books of science

In 1996, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) of the United Kingdom (U.K.) produced a slick looking book, with many well-produced pictures of colourfully dressed men and women performing Hindu ceremonies, accompanied with warm, fuzzy and completely sanitised description of the faith. The book, Explaining Hindu Dharma: A Guide for Teachers, offers “teaching suggestions for introducing Hindu ideas and topics in the classroom” at the middle to high school level in the British schools system. The authors and editors are all card-carrying members of the VHP. The book is now in its second edition and, going by the glowing reviews on the back-cover, it seems to have established itself as a much-used educational resource in … Read the rest

Why Did Bam’s Houses Fall Down? *

Jan 3rd, 2004 | Filed by

‘Iran is still being ruled by a useless, incompetent semi-theocracy…’… Read the rest

BBC on Bam Earthquake *

Jan 3rd, 2004 | Filed by

Authorities blame builders, Iranians blame authorities.… Read the rest