Friday, June 28, 2013

How I Spent MSV, #1

(More on resolutions later.)

Flying has to be the single worst part of traveling. At its best, if you have all the money in the world, you still have the hours of getting to the airport (a nightmare all its own in New York) and getting checked in and through security before you find your comfy chair on board a steel cylinder that weighs more than the average apartment building that is allegedly going to lift itself off the ground and fly across the globe at an altitude of about five miles above ground level. If you’re a normal traveler (which still means you have a lot of money, given the way airlines pile on the fees these days: any flight costs about twice the published price by the time all is said and done), you get all the pre-boarding hassles and on top of that, you’re squeezed into a seat that has been carefully engineered to allow the most number of seats across the fuselage and not the most amount of comfort for the seatees. I hear that the next generation of planes, about a foot wider than this generation, has two more seats across. Don’t even think about legroom.

Our flight to Paris from JFK was delayed over an hour because of bad weather. This doesn’t bother me, to tell you the truth. My theory is that one should leave as late at night as possible to encourage sleeping on the plane (or, more accurately, tossing and turning and drifting off on the plane achieving the partial illusion of sleep), so getting delayed a little bit isn’t so bad. We also spent a further hour of delay on the tarmac, which helped solve the other problem of arriving at your destination too early to check in. We had that one knocked before we even took off.

One curious thing: we had two seats of the three in our little patch of turf, and the third was vacant. This meant that we could marginally stretch out a bit, so to speak. I couldn’t believe our luck, and I kept waiting for that straggler to arrive just as the cabin doors closed, but it didn’t happen. We started away from the gate, and we still had the extra seat! Amazing. But, and this is even more amazing, about two hours into the flight, the stew came along with some guy and escorted him into the seat, waking and moving both of us in the process. I have no idea where this guy came from, and how he managed to board the plane 34,000 feet over Greenland. It was the neatest trick of the entire vacation. Maybe he was a variation on the famous William Shatner Twilight Zone gremlin.

I should also point out that while we were waiting to board, we were a little unsure of which gate was which. Then a woman in a wheelchair who was wearing a beret went to what we thought was our gate, which was a great relief, proving that we were at the right gate, as everyone knows that everyone in Paris does, indeed, wear a beret. At the DJ, back when we used to illustrate our stories, a French person without a beret was simply inconceivable. So it is, apparently in real life.

Of course, that was the last beret we saw for the next two weeks.

Anyhow, here’s the rule again: take the latest flight possible, get on board and spend all the time there trying to sleep. Don’t eat the food. Don’t watch a movie (they handed our loaded iPads on this flight, which was a new one on me). Don’t read Proust or listen to podcasts. No music. Sleep, period, with the eye mask they hand out (although I always bring my own, just in case) and noise-cancelling over-the-ear headphones. If you’re lucky, you’ll get three or four hours off and on, which is way way better than zero hours. I’ve tabbed some serious tournaments on way less sleep than that. (Maybe I shouldn't admit that.) And you’ll be as capable as possible when you finally arrive at your destination. To continue your war against jet lag, don’t nap. Get a good walk in the sun. Have a nice dinner. If you’re of age, drink a lot of wine with it, then go to sleep that night at a reasonably late hour on the local clock. The next morning you will then be ready for anything they can throw at you. Even if they’re French.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Christmas in June: The 2013-14 resolutions, part three, in which all good things, and some bad things, come to an end.

6. In the United States, the jurisdiction of a federally recognized tribal court ought to extend throughout the borders of the tribe’s reservation.

You know, I hate to admit it (and, for that matter, you know I hate to admit it, for those of you who understand the use of commas), but I have no idea what the point of this one is. The federal government has a special relationship with tribal governments, all of which is probably very interesting to learn about (in fact, I have in my day been quite a history buff in this area), but the underlying point of this one escapes me. The little bit of research I did online to clarify it didn’t help.

You can go here as a starting point:

I would hope that further analysis would uncover an area of tribal rights vs federal hegemony or something, and more to the point, material that would lead to understanding the unique plight of the tribes in America. But the fact that I can’t see it straight on makes me believe I’m either dipping too much into the sauce lately or that this one is going to be a bit of a muddle. I’m inclined to believe the latter, given the steadiness of my hand as I type.

Rating out of a high of ten: ? I’ll reserve judgment until someone explains this to me.

7. Placing political conditions on humanitarian aid to foreign countries is unjust.

If I’m not mistaken, I saw that somebody on Facebook claimed that this was their camp topic. I’m not particularly surprised. This is the second of the three no-brainers.

As a general rule, humanitarian needs do indeed trump politics for the US. If Iran has an earthquake, for instance, we send in a bunch of help without limitations, and they accept it, and then hostilities are suspended until the situation is resolved, at which point we’re back to calling each other names. This strikes me as a good thing. (And note that US is not mentioned in the rez.) But the key word in analyzing the rez is “unjust,” meaning that it’s not necessarily about what is most moral action. Fairness/justice makes you stop and think about this. Of course, my example of disaster aid is only one kind of humanitarian assistance. What about cases of less immediate import?

Anyhow, I see this as meaty and, potentially, again, Jan-May. I don’t know if I prefer it to the DNA topic; I have only just noticed that that one too does not say US, which allows for discussion of tyrannical governments using the DNA, which I don’t like much because of the inherent evil thereof. Oh, well. They are what they are.

Rating out of a high of ten: 8. (And if I were so inclined, I’d go back and similarly rank DNA as an 8, due to the non-US-ness.)

9. The United States ought to prioritize the pursuit of national security objectives above the digital privacy of its citizens.

The last of the no-brainers, and probably the best of the bunch. It’s real, immediate and long term, public safety v. individual rights. Do I need to say more? My only fear is that, because it is so clean and clear, it might not have four months of legs.

Rating out of a high of ten: 9.

10. When in conflict, developing countries ought to prioritize environmental protection over resource extraction.

The dangling modifier aside, this would be a great topic (it’s a chestnut, at least used twice before, I think) if one side argued the environment and the other argued economic development (a better wording concept that resource extraction). That’s why they say, when in conflict. Unfortunately, too great a number of debaters evaluate the resolution, for the neg, not as that resource ext would have to be prioritized over environmental protection, but that the environment need not be prioritized over resource extraction. In other words, the aff must argue for the environment while the neg, not feeling restricted to one or another, gets to argue something else, to wit, sustainability. Duh. Of course sustainability is better than either of the two alternatives, but the resolution, ineptly unfortunately, wants you to choose one or the other. That’s where the WIC comes from. It’s hard to argue that the weasel sustainability neg is a misreading, because it really isn’t. But it is weaselly. I judged a bazillion rounds of this back in the 90s, if I recollect the dates correctly. It was horrible. I kept wanting to hit negs over the head for being weasels, and then I wanted to hit the affs over the head for letting them get away with it. I probably voted reluctant negs almost every time. If you have some way of always going neg, and you’re a weasel, this is the topic for you. At its core, as a matter of fact, it’s pretty fascinating. But LD never looks at the core of an idea if it can help it. Never has, as far as I can remember.

Rating out of a high of ten: 3

And, obviously out of numerical order, I’ve saved this one for last.

8. The atomic bombing of Hiroshima was immoral.

Everyone who looks at this one has, I think, the same reaction: That’s not an LD resolution, probably because, at first glance, it does not ask what we should do in a certain situation. It asks what should we have done. Secondly, although we’ve argued nuclear issues all over the place as long as I can remember, those issues have always included the ideas of MAD and proliferation and nuclear holocaust and the like, none of which are relevant in 1945. We’d have to throw out the nuclear playbook, in other words, to argue this one.

Which is exactly what we should do. If this topic isn’t fun, I don’t know what is. I certainly wouldn’t want to see it for the Jan-May long haul, but as a NatNat or Districts topic, or even Sept-Oct or Nov-Dec, I think it would be a hoot. At its core, it asks key questions about warfare, while allowing for educational benefits in teaching history.

Please, people. Vote for this one.

Rating out of a high of ten: 10 for any time slot other than Jan-Feb.

So, my feeling about the list overall? Honestly, about the same as always. There's some really good ones, there's a couple of confused ones, there's some stinkers. Given the way these things are developed, it's a pretty good job. I only wish that more time and thought went into the whole thing rather than relying on a handful of hours at one event. Countless thousands of hours will go into debating them. A few more hours should go into developing them. But of course, we've discussed that at length in various places, including TVFT. It is what it is, until the NFL makes it better. If you want them better and you're an NFL member, you know who to talk to.

Coachean Feed: Aff-Act, Chomsky on Zizek, racism is over (feh!) and Windsor explained

More links of interest to the debate community.
  • Finally! The Fisher decision in Plain English If the legal contusions of the affirmative action decision left you more than a little contused yourself, this is it in straightforward language. AA stands, but under scrutiny.
  • Chomsky on Zizek and Lacan This video is a little repetitive, as Mr. C dismisses Zizek and Derrida as posturers. Mostly he keeps saying, Where's the beef? Where's the material on which to base action? Sounds like me, if you ask me.
  • Despite what you might have heard to the contrary, racism is now over. Or maybe the south is just no more racist than the north. Or something. Try this nice batch of articles on the Voting Rights Act for aficionados of such trivia starting here.
  • And as far as SCOTUS's parting shot, here's a good summary of what really happened with gay rights: A home run but not a grand slam for gay-marriage advocates: In Plain English
That's two hits from, by the way. It's a good resource.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Christmas in June: The 2013-14 resolutions, part two, the adolescent years

And so we continue.

3. Compulsory inclusion of non-felons’ DNA in any government database is just.

This is the first topic on the list that I think does what ought to be done. First of all, it’s a big issue for real. Secondly, it asks to weigh concerns of public safety versus concerns of individual privacy. Additionally, it forces us to understand exactly what it means, scientifically, to include DNA in a database. How does that compare to fingerprints? What can be done with this information other than tracking down perpetrators after a crime has been committed and DNA evidence discovered, which is presumably the reason for the db in the first place? Can we look at your DNA and see if you have some disease that will shorten your life, and somehow route that information to cause you harm? Is there a simple harm of invasion of privacy, period? What right does the government have at all to invade your body when you are not suspected of criminal activity? What’s the 4th Amendment in all of this?

In other words, you can argue this about twenty thousand different ways and the cows still won't be home yet. At first glance the wording doesn’t seem particularly problematic, although there may be some covert issues that will arise with deeper scrutiny. But why bother? The core content of the resolution is rich and full. Only those who refuse to argue the resolution at any cost will search elsewhere.

Rating out of a high of ten: 10. Good for literally any time period, and a contender for Jan-May (as the Jan-Feb topic is traditionally understood).

4. Hypersexualized representations by the media are immoral.


My guess is that this is presumably an attempt at a resolution that will incorporate feminist concerns, but I could be wrong. Maybe it’s about the fact that the unlimited adjective-free “media” (which would be books, movies, television, radio, vinyl records, the internet, advertisers thereon, and a whole lot of et cetera) is oversexed. In other words, the poster for the US version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo would be immoral, and the content of the book The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo would also be immoral. Maybe it’s about pandering to our basest instincts, if we wish to include sex among base instincts.

If the point was feminism, how about a resolution that says something like, Women in the US are disadvantaged because of their gender? That way we could look at real feminist materials and get some great reading and education done. We could also examine in a classroom setting the mechanisms of sexism (which are akin to the mechanisms of every other —ism). I mean, if that’s what the point here is. Or if the point is really to address sexy advertising (which I have to admit was the way I read this on first blush), then say so very specifically, because the word media standing all on its own is every medium under the sun.

The more I think about this one, the less I like it. I obviously question what it’s talking about as vague beyond understandability; as a group, will LDers grok it in the same way? I guess it’s the equivalent of “Use of sexual images in aid of commerce is wrong.” Well, maybe it is and maybe it isn’t, but the basic arguments in favor of free speech which must needs allow unfortunate speech as well are pretty canonical and accepted, so I guess the debate here is about morality at its most undebatable level.

Rating out of a high of ten: 1.

I’d stop here, but the next one is a piece of cake:

5. In the United States criminal justice system, truth-seeking ought to take precedence over attorney-client privilege.


At the point where my legal advocate is no longer my legal advocate, I have no legal advocate. At best there is an opportunity for learning here about the point of the justice system, but the legal system is what it is, and to suggest that we change it by eliminating privilege is to, essentially, kill all the lawyers, which is only a good idea if you happen not to need one. Look for 80% neg wins if this one passes (the 20% going into the random rounds where the top seeds hit first-years and eat them for breakfast).

Rating out of a high of ten: 1.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Christmas in June: The 2013-14 resolutions, part one, the early years

I just got back from vacation, and I’ll get around to talking about it sooner or later, or at least hitting the high points, but while I was gone the potential LD topics for next year were released, and I always like to bat these around while they’re still fresh. At least the ones that are fresh, that is. There’s usually a couple of chestnuts in the bunch, as there should be, if LD is going to remain even marginally true to its roots. The chestnuts (like no gov v. bad gov) tend to get chosen for NatNats, which is historically the most traditional of LD venues throughout the season. CatNats works in that same traditional arena with its unique judge panels, apparently chosen by scripture and geography or, perhaps, maybe not, but usually that venue is burdened with an impenetrable and unique resolution. Anyhow, resolutions determine the nature of the debate about them, at least to some extent, and it’s always fun to look at the possibilities and see what we can make of them.

1. A just society ought to presume consent for organ procurement from the deceased.

I saw that someone had gone into a complicated song-and-dance over the fact that we farm organs from the brain dead, who are perhaps classifiable as not deceased, but I don’t really think the issue here is whether one is merely dead versus really most sincerely dead, at least, not in any debate anybody wants to be involved in. Let’s just accept that what the rez is asking is whether society ought to be able to redistribute someone’s organs after that person is dead.

One problem I see with this is the exceptions for religion. At the point where we say that a just soc ought to presume unless the deceased’s religion says otherwise, we’re negating. The thing is, if we accept on the affirmative that there are limitations to what the society can do, we’re really not affirming. An aff has to say that society owns your body after you die, period, for any real clash. Of course, in our modern debate world of limited advocacies, I would imagine a lot of people getting away with loosey-goosey interpretations of this. In any case, religion trumps society by default, neg wins or no one wins. Not good.

Which brings us to the core. Let’s take it face on. Resolved: Society owns your body after you die, period. That’s what this rez is saying, and that’s the underlying position of the affirmative, and while I guess I could come up with some science fiction construct that justifies it, I wouldn’t really want to have to do so. Nor would I be sanguine about arguments regarding the difference between the individual alive and the individual dead. You do own your body when you’re alive, but not when you’re dead? Or you really don’t own your body ever, and it belongs to society as a whole? Since we obviously don’t believe that a just society has sovereignty over your body when you’re alive, any argument that says that it has sovereignty over it when you’re dead must needs lead to questions of whether it has sovereignty over it when you’re simply useless to society (e.g., serving a life sentence). How would these arguments not warrant harvesting organs from live imprisoned child molesters?

Honestly, I dislike this one more intuitively than intellectually. I just don’t see what it’s about, in a world where resolutions ought to be about something. Yes, there is more need for organs than there are organs available, but the main reason for this (I’m assuming) is the lack of available organs in the first place, since you’re mostly talking accidental deaths as the source. I don’t know of any great movement afoot of people protecting their organs after they’re dead, nor any great social movement afoot for getting those organs from the recalcitrant. This is not an issue of great social moment. So on the one hand, I don’t see any great educational benefit from the rez, and second, I don’t see any great ethical/moral dilemma leading to meaningful discussion. People probably could come up with arguments on this topic, but no one’s going to like it much.

Rating out of a high of ten: 3.5.

2. A progressive income tax is more just than a flat income tax.

Yes, it is, which is why it’s the standard pretty much worldwide, and even most flat taxes, as such, are modified by deductions that render them proportionate. What’s the point here? Aff gets to argue the de facto economic reality/necessity (which already biases those able to game it better, i.e., the rich) and the neg gets to argue that we should simply give it to the rich in the first place without forcing them to hire fancy lawyers and tax consultants?

I gather that flat taxes have the potential to raise more income, but that would not seem to be an issue of justice so much as an issue of fiscal (and perhaps totalitarian) management. I’m sure I'm missing something here, and there is a hidden wonderful basis for a round or two, but as I say, I’m missing it. With a resolution like this, going aff pretty much seems to guarantee victory (aside from the residual—inane—belief in neg presumption in LD). Feel free to explain why I’m wrong, but I fall asleep just thinking about this one. At least the one above had the potential for a Zombie K.

Rating out of a high of ten: 1

More to come tomorrow. Jet lag rules at the moment.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Official hiatus

I won't be posting for a while, and I wanted to point out it's not because I got run over by a bus and you missed the news on Twitter during the thirty-second interval when I was a trending hashtag. I shall return, the good Lord willin' and the creek don't rise. When I do, you will be the first to know.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Coachean Feed: semiotics, pistol-packin' ER, supererogatory acts, cowboys and noise

More links of interest to the debate community.
  • Sometimes very small changes can make a very big difference. It's all in the semiotics. Revamped disability icons coming to New York City
  • A marvel: Eleanor Roosevelt’s pistol licence. Who wants to get shot by an ex-First Lady?
  • I used to use a cap E on my flows to refer to arguments in rounds about supererogatory acts, finding this a unique abbreviation as nothing else regularly used an E, and it also reminded me how to spell the word correctly. Supererogation, Repetition and the Experience of Morning Coffee is a nice little piece on Super E and its transformation via repetition. (Do Super E acts ever come up in LD rounds anymore?)
  • Bibliokept is one of my favorite sites, for cartoons like this one:

  • If you've always scratched your head at the line in "Isn't It a Pity" that goes "My nights were sour / filled with Schopenhauer," why not find out why Herr S was quite unlikely to attach a music player to his sound-cancelling headphones: On Noise. (And if you've never heard the song "Isn't It a Pity," well, that really is a pity.)

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Have stuff, will travel

I am resolving conflicts about traveling and tech for my upcoming vacation. In the best of all possible worlds, I would have everything that I normally have available to me when I wanted it, but since that would mean either hiring a van to attach to the back of the plane or staying home, sacrifices must be made.

1. Must bring the iPad; this is a no-brainer. The iPad makes the plane trip zip by, for one thing. You can watch movies or play Civ or read books and magazines and listen to music. What else do you need? Once you arrive, you’ve got wifi for checking mail and plotting activities.
2. No phone. I thought about this long and hard, but since I won’t be getting a data plan, why bother? And I’m not getting a data plan because, first, I can use the iPad to check mail once a day, which is more than enough on vacation, and second, I can read a map, and I’m happy to get lost in Paris, so GPS will not be essential.
3. No DSLR because I’m tired of lugging around a big heavy camera (and often a second lens) on my vacations day in and day out. I’m using a little cheap point-and-shoot: 16 megapixel and 5X optical zoom makes little and cheap something fairly acceptable, I’d say.
4. Noise cancelling headphones. Don’t ride an airplane without them!
5. Obviously, no computer.
6. No Kindle, because there’s a Kindle app on the iPad. A fine collection of titles is already waiting for me, all of the vacation persuasion.
7. No iPods. The iPad will do the job, albeit with less choice. So I can live without some of the more obscure tunes for two weeks. It will be a sacrifice, but I think I can handle it.

This means, as far as I can see, traveling absolutely bare-bones. I’ve got only the iPad and a cheap carry-around camera. And some maps. And a hat to keep the sun off my bald head. I’ll probably also bring some pants and other items of a clothing nature.

And there you are.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Lean In - A sort of review

Discrimination has multiple aspects. And there are different kinds of discrimination. I wonder sometimes if, despite our presumed universal commitment to fighting discrimination in forensics, we are doing that good a job of it.

We always begin by thinking about things in terms of rights, this being a very elementary way to understand human entitlements. It’s built into our civics lessons from probably the first time we hear about US history in grammar school, that we are all endowed with certain unalienable rights; it’s a concept built into the value premise of the Declaration. It is an easy path from there to believing in civil rights for all. The Bill of Rights started it, and in our own educations we simply recapitulate it on a personal level. Legally we accept that everyone ought to be free to do and be whatever they want. So why, then, can’t everyone do and be whatever they want?

What we think, the very ideas in our head, do not arise there without context. Some of that context is our own experience. And a lot of that context is the social sphere in which we live. From the day we are born we are surrounded by information. That information, and how we process it, defines our selves. That information is, to wit, the culture in which we live.

Culture can be understood via meatballs. If you are born into a family from an Italian culture, your parents like meatballs. The day you are born, perhaps, your parents share a meatball sandwich while you’re taking your first nap. There are often meatballs cooking in your family’s kitchen, and in the kitchens of all of your relatives. Meatballs are taken for granted. They are a part of your culture. This doesn’t mean that they are always front and center, or that you personally like them or dislike them. It just means that they are there. Meatballs are an indisputable part of your existence.

All culture is meatballs. Religion? If your parents are observant, their religion surrounds you from day one. If your country is religious (e.g., you live in Pakistan), your country’s religion surrounds you from day one. Living in Pakistan doesn’t make you a Moslem, but you live in a space that’s Islamic. It’s a part of the information that surrounds you from birth. It and all the other aspects of culture, like language and art and climate and everything other thing you can think of, define the world that surrounds you; you as an individual are defined by how you act in and react to that world. If individuality itself is minimized by a culture, so be it. If individuality is maximized, so be that. It all varies, but the process is the same. The point is, all of us are products of our culture. Culture is the source of all information around us, including even the most natural of sensory data (we smell the meatballs). We can be separated from our culture, perhaps, but we cannot be separated from the fact that we as individuals are the end result of our responses to that culture. Most of it, we internalize our culture. That is, we accept it and it becomes part of us. Before you know it, we are sitting around eating meatballs with our own children.

One of the aspects of culture is perception of other people. This is not us as individuals reacting to others, but our culture actually defining the others. Obviously, if we are in a meatball-centric culture, cultures that are vegetarian are going to be radically different from our own. And our meatball-centric culture tells us what to think about vegetarians. Value judgments are made on a cultural level. Vegetarians are not as civilized as meatball eaters (or vice versa). We go on from there.

This is all basic stuff, Culture 101 if you will. And at the end of the course we understand that there are cultural prejudices that are built into us as individuals because we have been surrounded by them from Day One. And regardless of how enlightened we might be as individuals, stripping our selves of these prejudices on a personal level, the prejudices remain at a cultural level, unless we figure out a way to strip our entire culture of them.

The reason I think that we in forensics aren’t doing that great a job in this area, not simply of stripping prejudices from our selves but from our culture (the smaller culture of forensics and the larger culture of America as a whole), is that we look at it the wrong way. For one thing, and this is perhaps the biggest thing, we have some of the godawfulest literature to draw on. And worse, we aggressively use that literature in cases and in our self-education. We know just enough about, say, feminism, to think that what we need to do is read and cite Judith Butler. Even if we only look her up and just take a few shots off the bow of her impenetrable writing, we look to her, and others like her, as the source of our ideas. And we proceed accordingly, in an academic and ultimately jejune approach to a subject that is, frankly, neither academic nor jejune.

Sexual discrimination is real. Racial discrimination is real. LGBT discrimination is real. They are built into us as individuals and into our culture. We can establish as a goal the absorption of as much philosophical text as we can, in an attempt to understand it, or we can simply blink a few times and realize that there’s not much here to understand. For one reason or another, and yes, the histories here are different but the results are the same, people in positions of power often maintain that power by exercising it over others in a discriminatory way, often because they believe that their own position in society is more culturally “correct.” On the other side of the coin, the disempowered can be dispirited and, worse, even buy into the cultural biases themselves. The disempowered will alter their expectations based on the arbitrarily insignificant reasons for which they are disempowered (race, gender, sexual orientation).

There is need for two-pronged attacks against discrimination. On the one hand, we have to attack discrimination on the cultural level, removing it from the culture itself. I’ve always felt that education is one answer to this, and I would like to see lots of energy aimed in that direction. On the other hand, we have to attack discrimination on the personal level. And by this, I don’t mean that we have to not discriminate ourselves, although obviously that is a necessity, but those who are being discriminated against need to change themselves and not buy into their disempowerment.

All of which is prelude to my comments on Sandberg’s Lean In. I have to admit that I went into this book, having read the reviews, thinking that it might be a useful tool for debaters. I mean, since I started doing this job back in the Paleolithic Era, I have seen the culture of adolescents in general, and the role assignments that were being made, and the work that needed to be done to combat the bad stuff. (I’ve never particularly subscribed to the idea that debate is somehow worse than high school in general, aside from perhaps the idea that one would expect a little more enlightenment from tournament rats versus mall rats.) As I said above, I’m not a fan of the average sexual politics literature in the activity, so I was looking for something that would relate better to the average reader, something I could point out to a high school sophomore. Let’s face it: most of us couldn’t read Butler if we wanted to. How about something we could read? That was the goal.

Unfortunately, I was a little disappointed by the book. What I did like is the fact that she spends a lot of time talking to women directly, on how they have to change themselves and to combat the bad assumptions that is part of their enculturation. I think that is good stuff, and can be useful to young women, especially those starting out in careers. In other words, there’s some good stuff here for college students and young professionals. At the same time, there’s a certain hifalutin aspect to the book that keeps the reader from truly engaging. Sandberg’s personal story is so unusual, and her career is so high level, that sometimes it’s hard to push down the message she’s sending to a real level.

Probably it’s best that one take the book as a slogan and a concept more than, well, a book. It’s certainly an easy concept to understand; I’ll bet that watching Sandberg talk for half an hour would be more rewarding to almost anyone than reading the book, which ultimately just sort of slogs along. Still, in our little parochial world, where most of the literature is too old—feminism in 2013 is radically different from feminism in 1973, for instance, and Ms. magazine’s inaugural issue was closer to suffragist concerns than today’s, if you ask me—or too arcane, this may be the best book around to put in a young person’s hands, at least until the point is driven home. It won't hurt to take most of Sandberg's advice, and a lot of the facts and figures need to be seen. Just put aside that she was the top student in her Harvard class and after getting her MBA at Harvard Business she was a cabinet level chief of staff and VP at Google and COO at Facebook and that you, dear reader, are just another schmegeggie trying to find a place to park your bike out of the rain. She still has stuff to say to everyone; she just doesn't happen to be everyone.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

The Week in Facebook Poetry

Mechanical issue delay. Back to the gate.
Why am I just realizing now that they changed the back of the penny?!?!


Afternoon on the river.
She goes all the way to Jordan and buys jewelry.
My cat snores should I be worried?


A hammock of a Memorial Day evening ...
Traffic!!!!!!!!! Not with it!
Are we there yet?


Why is the Flinstone's theme song rolling around in my head?
Are you wearing your overalls, too?


How certain smells can help you lose weight.
Yes, we brought the flabongo to the wedding.


In Munich!
Today, my hair has discovered the secret of anti-gravity.


Chillin with vino.
Var föreställningen så bra som jag förespeglat?
The winner will be featured in Esquire.


Celebrating the new job with a good cigar.
Where are you these days?
I am the greatest conversationalist when talking to myself.