Category Archives: Popular Culture

What Keeps Women Out Of STEM

Among other things, they don’t like the dating pool. I wonder if The Big Bang Theory helps, or hurts with that perception?

[Update a few minutes later]

This seems vaguely related: Redefining boyhood. As a disease to be treated.

I guess you could say it’s a pre-existing condition.


Chad Orzell has some problems with the reboot. So do I and while it’s not his main concern, he puts his finger on it:

The bit where he called out young-Earth creationism for the impoverished scale of its vision was cute, too, though I’m not sure it was all that necessary or useful (in that the people who believe that won’t be watching, and wouldn’t be convinced), but then the show has clearly established a pattern of throwing red meat to the anti-religious from time to time.

Yes, if by “from time to time” he means every episode so far. I’m not traditionally religious, but I find it gratuitous and off putting. The writers and Tyson seem to get some sort of righteous satisfaction from putting a rhetorical thumb in the eyes of believers. It does not advance science, or their own secular religious cause.

Woody Allen Versus The Coens

Lileks describes:

Woody Allen has put more wood in the mouth of his characters than the guy who invented the disposable tongue depressor. Perhaps it’s this: Allen is a nihilist whose characters search for meaning; the Coen Brothers are romantics whose characters confront reality. The former example is grounded in the futility of it all; the latter is a caution against finding too much meaning in the swells and peaks and troughs of life. Not to say you shouldn’t look: that’s what art is for, as “Finding” clearly suggests. Something makes him sing like that. But in the end it’s not art that redeems him. The idea seems ridiculous, a sophomoric conceit.


A Modeling First

According to a Zero-G press release, Kate Upton did a weightless photo shoot in a Zero-G flight for the fiftieth Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition.

[Update a few minutes later]

From the release:

The shoot took place on March 18, 2013; Upton and ZERO-G flew out of Space Coast Regional Airport in Titusville, Florida. A specially modified Boeing-727, known as G-FORCE ONE®, performed a series of 17 parabolas – 13 zero gravity and four replicating lunar gravity – as Upton bounced and soared through the plane for the cameras. Upton’s weightless experience was not simulated; ZERO-G is the first and only FAA-approved provider of commercial weightless airline flights for the public.

“The ZERO-G experience was really exhilarating for everyone involved,” said MJ Day, editor of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. “We have been almost everywhere in the past 50 years with SI Swimsuit, but we have never done anything like this. It was certainly the most out-of-the-box shoot. Once again, Kate surprised us all with how she handled modeling in weightlessness.”

Hard to really capture it in stills. I assume they shot video as well. I wonder if we’ll see it.

[Late morning update]

OK, due to unpopular demand, I’m moving the pics under the fold to make it Safe for Married Men @Home.

Continue reading

From Russia, With Euphemisms

@JonahNRO on the historical ignorance of the Olympics coverage:

In America, we constantly, almost obsessively, wrestle with the “legacy of slavery.” That speaks well of us. But what does it say that so few care that the Soviet Union was built — literally — on the legacy of slavery? The founding fathers of the Russian Revolution — Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky — started “small,” merely throwing hundreds of thousands of people into kontslagerya (concentration camps).

By the time Western intellectuals and youthful folksingers like Pete Seeger were lavishing praise on the Soviet Union as the greatest experiment in the world, Joseph Stalin was corralling millions of his own people into slavery. Not metaphorical slavery, but real slavery complete with systematized torture, rape, and starvation. Watching the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, you’d have no idea that from the Moscow metro system to, literally, the roads to Sochi, the Soviet Union — the supposed epitome of modernity and “scientific socialism” — was built on a mountain of broken lives and unremembered corpses.

As he points out, imagine the outrage if similar language were used to describe the Nazi regime, complete with Swastikas. In a sane world, the hammer and sickle would draw just as much, if not more opprobrium.

More Pete Seeger Thoughts

You can’t separate the man from the music:

Someone should assign Miller, Fusilli, and Bruce Springsteen to read in its entirety Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago. Perhaps, then, they would come to understand the cause that Pete Seeger’s championing of unions, civil rights, and environmentalism was really intended to serve.

The idea of using music and the arts more generally to subvert allegiance to this country and to make Americans thoroughly ashamed of a history that is for the most part admirable, the idea of using music and the arts more generally to undermine the principles that make this country prosperous and free, and the idea of using music and the arts to lay the groundwork for the establishment of a thuggish, populist, kleptocratic dictatorship here — that is Peter Seeger’s legacy, and it is, alas, enduring.

And David Goldman thinks that the music was his greatest sin:

Seeger’s (and Guthrie’s) notion of folk music had less to do with actual American sources than with a Communist-inspired Yankee version of Proletkult. The highly personalized style of a Robert Johnson and other Delta bluesmen didn’t belong in the organizing handbook of the “folk” exponents who grew up in the Communist Party’s failed efforts to control the trade union movement of the 1940s. The music of the American people grew out of their churches. Their instrument was the piano, not the guitar, and their style was harmonized singing of religious texts rather than the nasal wailing that Guthrie made famous. Seeger, the son of an academic musicologist and a classical violinist, was no mountain primitive, but a slick commercializer of “folk” themes with a nasty political agenda. His capacity to apologize for the brutalities of Communist regimes — including their repression of their own “folksingers” — remained undiminished with age, as David Graham reported in the Atlantic.

I’m willing to forgive Seeger his Stalinism. Some of my most-admired artists were Stalinists, for example, Bertolt Brecht, whose rendition of his own “Song of the Unattainability of Human Striving” from The Threepenny Opera is the funniest performance of the funniest song of the 20th century. I can’t forgive him his musical fraud: the mind-deadening, saccharine, sentimental appeal to the lowest common denominator of taste in his signature songs — “I Had a Hammer,” “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?,” and so forth. Bob Dylan (of whom I’m not much of a fan) rescued himself from the bathos by poisoning the well of sentimentality with irony. His inheritance is less Dylan than the odious Peter, Paul and Mary.

I liked Peter, Paul and Mary as a kid, but the point is taken.

The Death Of The Humanities

Thoughts on the depths to which they’ve plunged, by classics professor Victor Davis Hanson:

…classical liberal education—despite the fashionable critique that it had never been disinterested—for a century was largely apolitical. Odysseus was critiqued as everyman, not an American CEO, a proto-Christian saint, or the caricature of white patriarchal privilege. Instead Homer made students of all races and classes and both genders think twice about the contradictions of the human experience: which is the greatest danger to civilization, the Lala land of the comfortable Lotus Eaters, or the brutal pre-polis savagery of the tribal Cyclopes? Telemachus was incidentally white, rich, and male, but essentially a youthful everyman coming of age, with all the angst and insecurities that will either overwhelm the inexperienced and lead to perpetual adolescence, or must be conquered on the path to adulthood. Odysseus towers among his lesser conniving and squabbling crewmen—but why then does his curiosity and audacity ensure that all his crewmen who hitch their star to the great man end up dead?

In the zero-sum game of the college curricula, what was crowded out over the last half-century was often the very sort of instruction that had once made employers take a risk in hiring a liberal arts major. Humanities students were more likely to craft good prose. They were trained to be inductive rather than deductive in their reasoning, possessed an appreciation of language and art, and knew the referents of the past well enough to put contemporary events into some sort of larger abstract context. In short, they were often considered ideal prospects as future captains of business, law, medicine, or engineering.

Not now. The world beyond the campus has learned that college students know how and why to take a political position but not how to defend it through logic and example. If employers are turned off by a lack of real knowledge, they are even more so when it is accompanied by zealousness. Ignorance and arrogance are a fatal combination.

Ignorance and arrogance is a deadly combo, as demonstrated by the current occupant of the Oval Office.

Pete Seeger

I love this line in this NPR puff piece:

Seeger actually was a member of the Communist Party in those early days, though he later said he quit after coming to understand the evils of Josef Stalin.

Yeah. You know when he came to “understand the evils of Josef Stalin”? Not until the nineties. He was in his seventies before he figured out what I knew as a kid in the sixties.

[Update a while later]

Glossing over the dark side:

As an apology Seeger’s words are underwhelming. While “cruel misleader” is by no means a term of endearment, in light of Stalin’s monstrous record, it vastly understates the depth of his depravity and the true horror of Stalinism. There are many more apt nouns and adjectives in the English language to describe the man who gave us the purges of the Great Terror, the Gulag, and the Ukrainian Terror Famine. Lost in the obfuscations of Seeger’s moral equivalencies is the fact that contemporary Christians, White people, and Mongolians are not responsible for the acts, however heinous, of Christians, white people, or Mongolians of the past, because they had nothing to do with them. Whereas Seeger is all too culpable for the crimes of Stalin because he was an open apologist for “old cruel Joe” and other communist thugs at the very time they were slaughtering millions.


[Late-morning update]

If only Leni Riefenstahl was a communist like Pete Seeger.