All entries by this author

Poetry and the Politics of Self-Expression

May 8th, 2003 | By Barney F. McClelland

You say, as I have often given tongue
In praise of what another’s said or sung.
‘Twere politic to do the like by these;
But was there ever a dog that praised his fleas?

William Butler Yeats

Some years ago, a mentor of mine put forth the argument: “Would you try to build a cabinet when you did not posses even the rudimentary woodworking skills or knowledge of the tools necessary to build the cabinet? Of course not, then why do so many people think they can write poetry without an iota of preparation?”

Still, many do. “Pop vocalists pose as opera singers. Important art museums exhibit installations that the cleaning staff mistakes for trash. Obscenity-riddled recitations, imposed over rhythm … Read the rest



No Facts Please, This is a Film *

May 7th, 2003 | Filed by

Cromwell transformed from theocrat to freedom fighter? Never mind, the truth doesn’t put bums on seats.… Read the rest



Who Cheesed His Virtue? *

May 6th, 2003 | Filed by

Virtuous Bill Bennett gambled away $8 million, but it’s okay because he started with church bingo.… Read the rest



Fear Is Not Rational *

May 5th, 2003 | Filed by

We’re more afraid of rare, unfamiliar dangers than more mundane and likely ones.… Read the rest



Cathartic or Inflaming? *

May 5th, 2003 | Filed by

Study says music with violent lyrics increases aggressive thoughts.… Read the rest



She Said He Said *

May 4th, 2003 | Filed by

Lynne Segal and Simon Baron-Cohen discuss whether men’s and women’s minds are really different.… Read the rest



Clothes Make the Academic

May 4th, 2003 12:30 am | By

In the very first Note and Comment of this year I linked to a heart-warming little story (the link is now dead, unfortunately) in the New York Observer about those wonderful hip folks at the Modern Language Association, which featured the profound, almost Gnostic aphorism, ‘Theorists are the snappiest dressers.’ What is it about lit crits these days, people often, often wonder; why are they so full of themselves, so grandiose, so deluded about their omniscience? It couldn’t be mere physics envy could it? Surely they’re too wised up and knowing to fall into that old trap!

Leonard Cassuto takes a look at the issue in this article in the Chronicle of Higher Education. He had to talk to … Read the rest



Is Name-Calling Free Speech? *

May 3rd, 2003 | Filed by

Organizing a demo is one thing, calling a teacher a fascist cow is another – right?… Read the rest



Violence, Mockery and Exaggeration *

May 3rd, 2003 | Filed by

Girly writing about tree-love is politically correct while boyish writing about action and adventure is not, says Thomas Newkirk.… Read the rest



Peer-review and Status Anxiety *

May 3rd, 2003 | Filed by

Scientists are more collegial and less condescending than humanists, a humanist discovers.… Read the rest



Student Evaluations *

May 2nd, 2003 | Filed by

Will Pick-a-Prof websites correct grade inflation or encourage it?… Read the rest



Bad Science *

May 2nd, 2003 | Filed by

Photograph your aura, avoid perfect spheres, keep SARS under holistic control.… Read the rest



Lukewarm or Bad-tempered *

May 2nd, 2003 | Filed by

Were Einstein and Newton mildly autistic? Or were they just too clever for small talk.… Read the rest



Cognitive Sex Differences *

May 2nd, 2003 | Filed by

The subject is a political minefield, but research is the only way to distinguish between facts and fact-free stereotypes.… Read the rest



L.A. Book Festival

May 1st, 2003 8:15 pm | By

There was a tiny local skirmish in the ongoing battle between scientists and their various critics, teasers and self-appointed scourges a few days ago at the Los Angeles Book Festival, which was shown on the defiantly uncommercial tv channel Cspan. The critic was one Jeffrey Schwartz, who made a bizarrely impassioned, over-emphatic near-oration on the perils of ‘scientism,’ the putative belief of scientists that only what can be measured is real and that science claims it knows everything worth knowing. Schwartz spoke fervently about the importance of inner experience (do a lot of people dispute that nowadays? Isn’t behaviorism kind of, like, over?) and claimed that it too should be treated as science, that there were ways (not specified) of … Read the rest



Neurotheology *

May 1st, 2003 | Filed by

Happenings in the brain interact with what we already know and want.… Read the rest



Interview With Daniel Dennett *

May 1st, 2003 | Filed by

Meaning doesn’t need magic, good ideas spread better than bad ones, reflection and choice matter.… Read the rest



Not New but Too Good to Miss *

May 1st, 2003 | Filed by

Critical theory grad student gets a little overwound, deconstructs Burrito Bandito.… Read the rest



Bigger, Realer America

May 1st, 2003 12:04 am | By

I generally do my best to ignore political commentary and rhetoric, especially of the right wing variety, because all it does is annoy, not to say infuriate. But once in awhile I bump into some by accident, and it’s invariably even worse than I had imagined. A few evenings ago for instance I tripped over some absurd person on tv (and not even on Murdoch’s Fox channel, but on Gates’ msnbc) ranting about those liberal elitists who dare to disagree with President Bush. That’s the definition of elitism? Disagreeing with Bush? Because…what? Bush was born in a mud hut? Bush is the twelfth child of Mississippi sharecroppers who got where he is today by sheer force of brains and talent? … Read the rest



Public Health Science Supplanted by Ideology *

Apr 30th, 2003 | Filed by

‘Family values’ trump science and evidence under Bush administration.… Read the rest