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:: Saturday, October 26, 2002 ::

More on the Writings of Gore Vidal

I have been reading Sexually Speaking by Gore Vidal. This is wonderful stuff. It is quite extraordinary.

One of the most interesting aspects is the article Sex is Politics. In this article Vidal discusses the politics of family values. According to his theory, the theory of family values began with more industrial interests. As long as an employee has a family, they have more to loose from being unemployed. Ergo, employees that have families are more docile than single employees. Hence, independant career women who raise a child as well as homosexuals are a threat to industrial interests because they tend to break up the pattern of high school/college age marriage. This is an incredibly interesting theory. I think there is some truth to it. But I think it is perhaps too simple.

As described possibly most famously by Albert Jay Nock, government and social power are at odds. As government provided more and more assistance to individuals, family assistance declined. Inversely, the more people who take care of their friends and families, the less government will even have the oppertunity to force strangers to take care of them. The decline of families leads to individual helplessness in the face of the many trials and tribulations of life. As families take care of themselves less and less, the more it becomes the domain of the government and social planners. This leads directly to the expansion of the power of the government--a power which is inevitably abused. However, I don't think that the support of stronger family ties does not conflict with Vidal's opposition to the "family values" crowd, as I think that families can take on many shapes and forms. Individualization, the advent of the career woman, and the prominance of childless homosexuality need not lead to atomization (which after all is what a powerfull government wants--atomized individuals that they need the government more, and are easier to control)--but new and more complex and intertwined forms of families.

Furthermore, I believe that families need not be authoritarian even though the rearing of young chilldren probably needs to be.
:: Mike 9:02 PM [+] ::
This afternoon Gerarda Walsh was nice enough to drive me off to a wonderful party off at Dan's parents house. It was really nice. We had Fried Turkey and home brewed Pumpkin Ale. Good times were had by all on the North Shore.
:: Mike 8:36 PM [+] ::
Stephen Pinker

Yesterday I went to a talk by Stephen Pinker regarding his new book on the myth of the "Blank Slate". It was quite good. He went through several different theories of human nature: "The Blank Slate", "The Noble Savage", and "The Ghost In the Machine". He then demonstrated why all of these theories are incorrect. He proceeded to explain why he thinks there is a definite human nature. Unfortunately he did very little in the way of describing what that human nature might be.

He did speak on one topic in particular, though. He described how a scientific theory of human nature can advise people interested in how to raise children. Well, basically he said it doesn't. While many are interested in these theories that say spanking makes children violent, none of these studies deals with the genetic predisposition of children. He went on to describe how identical twins seperated at birth are incredibly similar, having many of the same personality traits. Violence is one of them. Furthermore, he suggested that the best environmental factors that lead kids to run into conflict with the law are within the local neighborhood culture the child grows up in and whether or not the local kids are violent or lawbreakers.

The talk was very good, yet I have left it with very little indication of what Mr. Pinker is claiming that human nature is.
:: Mike 8:34 PM [+] ::
:: Thursday, October 24, 2002 ::
Very Cool: Gore Vidal
Recently I have been reading Vidal's book The Golden Age. It is an interesting idea. It places various fictional(?) theories on secret political interactions of the men behind the scenes. The idea is quite insidious. It suggests various different theories of World War II and how the US, as an isolationistic nation, supported Roosavelt and his many different invitations to war. Part of this interest was supported by my interest in antiwar.com's Justin Raimondo (of "gay men for Buchanan" fame). The book even features some ideas regarding World War II that I have read in Raimondo's column suggesting the idea that Japan, for the most part, was not the evil empire that most American's think it to be. And of course (although I haven't gotten to it yet) I'm sure that the book will get to, suggesting that FDR had purposefully provoked Japan into attacking Pearl Harbor.

But onto Vidal. There is a great webpage chock full of Vidal information. The best part was tapes of a 1968 debate between Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley. Check it out. IT is greaaaaaaaaat.

Perhaps what the most interesting part of the above debate, and actually topical, is a discussion of whether or not we should have bombed the nuclear plants of the Red Chinese while they were developing their first bombs. Unsuprisingly, Vida was against it and Buckley was for it.
:: Mike 12:01 AM [+] ::
:: Wednesday, October 23, 2002 ::
Conversations From the Streetcar

Me: What do you think of Harry Potter, Sister

Annonymous Nun: I don't know, I haven't finished it yet

Me: I heard it was on the Index of Forbidden Books

Annonymous Nun: I once read that it was satanic and deals with witchcraft and such. I don't know. I have to read it for a class at Loyola

I wanted to talk further, but she didn't seem too interested in dealing with the issue of the index of forbidden books. Of course this doesn't exist anymore. I think it was silly, people who don't read things because they are scarred it could change their mind. Nonsense. I also think the idea of Harry Potter as satanic is silly. But oh well. My mother has a story of reading a forbidden book in high school, she was shamed for reading The Catcher in the Rye. Scarry stuff this book banning.
:: Mike 11:46 PM [+] ::
:: Monday, October 21, 2002 ::
Affirmative Actction for Men???

60 Minutes had a segment talking about the predominent success of women over men in elementary, secondary, college and even graduate education. It is pretty amazing to think about. Medical schools and now even law schools are graduating classes of as much of a 60/40 women/men ratio. One statistician says that if this gender trend continues, by 2060 there could be very few men in college at all. Of course, this prediction is somewhat dubious, at least to the idea of a "last man" in college by 2064. However, I think the concept of an increasing trend for women in white collar jobs and men in blue collar jobs is probably correct.

The trend is certainly taken seriously by college administrators, who try to maintain a 50/50 gender ballance. That is, they covertly adjust admission standards to maintain a gender ballance. This is somewhat perverse. I think that the problem for women is not in education, but is in the workplace and society in general. By forcing the issue in education we apparantly have short changed young males. It just doesn't solve the long run problem, except perhaps by keeping men out of the workplace. Yes there are problems, but the solution can't be by furthering the attack at the educational levil. That problem is over.

But lets not go too far. Affirmative action for males is overdone. We shouldn't want it. Instead we should encourage males as we do females to succeed.
:: Mike 12:29 AM [+] ::

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