Archive for April, 2011

Headline of the Day

Posted on April 14th, 2011 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

From Gawker:

“Humanity’s Downfall is All James Franco’s Fault.”

I’d throw in Sarah Palin and the Trumpster (rhymes with “dumpster”), but basically, yes.

Is Sarah Palin Really Trig’s Grandmother?

Posted on April 14th, 2011 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

According to a new paper written by a Kentucky associate professor of journalism, the answer is…yes!

All right, that’s sort of wishful thinking. Here’s what Bradford W. Scharlott (he’s on the lower right here) of Northern Kentucky University, writes:

It is beyond the scope of this article to try to resolve the question of Trig’s parentage. Thepurpose here is to show that a diligent reporter could not conclude with certainty that Palin wastelling the truth and thus should not have treated her incredible story as beyond scrutiny. With veryfew exceptions, members of the press in the United States have failed to show appropriateskepticism about Palin’s unproven claim that she is the birth mother of Trig, a claim she has usedto turbo-charge her career.As Andrew Sullivan, who grew up in Britain but now lives in America, put it: “Maybe we have witnessed one of the biggest frauds in American political history.

I’m sold.

In Happier News

Posted on April 14th, 2011 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

A.J. Burnett, such a problem pitcher last year, now has more victories than does the entire Red Sox team.

“Oh My God, I Made a Mistake”

Posted on April 14th, 2011 in Uncategorized | 6 Comments »

That’s the line uttered by a mother who drove a minivan containing herself and her four young children into the Hudson River, killing them all three of them. The line was reported by the one child who managed to escape the sinking van.

Apologies for being morbid today, but this kind of thing—it’s just hard to understand.

The Times reports

….as the minivan began sinking Ms. Armstrong said, “Oh, my God, I made a mistake, I made a mistake.” He said she tried to shift into reverse. But the minivan was too far into the water to go back.

This idea that, if you’re going to commit suicide, you take your kids with you—it seems to be a modern thing, perhaps an extension of our self-esteem obsessed culture. Or its dark flip side, rather. (We’re all so important that it’s not just enough to kill ourselves, we need to take a few helpless children with us.)

Anyone know if there’s much cultural precedent for this kind of killing? It may also be the case that there’s a historical pattern that women who are depressed and despondent feel that they want to bring their children with them when they go…or lash out against the man who hurt them. (This woman’s husband was apparently cheating on her.)

And I expect that there are lots of parallels in nature for mothers killing their young when environmental circumstances unnerve them.

(It is part of human hubris that we think we are different from animals. If we accepted that we are just a different stage in a continuum, we could probably understand our behavior much more easily.)

The woman’s aunt said this…

“She’s a good mother,” Ms. Gilliam said. “Just because she drove a car…” Her voice trailed off. Then she said, “Nobody knows what my niece went through.

It’s hard to know what to say to that.

At Yale, A Freak Accident Ends in a Death

Posted on April 14th, 2011 in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

A young woman, a senior, dies in a machine shop. Incredibly sad.

As the Yale Daily News reports, she was an impressive person.

In particular, Dufault wanted to help other women succeed in physics — an area in which women are typically underrepresented, Urry said. Dufault was the “driving force” behind the Northeast Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics and helped host the conference at Yale for three years, physics professor Bonnie Fleming said in an email to the News.

The scene, as described here, must have been heartbreaking.

The memorial for Michele featured Yale traditions that usually mark more joyful scenes: The YPMB, of which she was a talented member, blasted its horns, white handkerchiefs flew in the air, and voices rang out with “Bright College Years.” The same songs will be sung at the Saybrook senior dinner at the end of this semester and played at countless football games come fall.

But when the YPMB finished their rendition of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” there was no energetic clapping. Instead, isolated sobs filled a hollow silence. Though this time the music brought tears to our eyes instead of cheers to our mouths, it showed that Michele’s vigil was no less a Yale event than Commencement. She brought us together.

People will certainly be wondering how a student could have been allowed to operate a lathe with no one else around. When I was in high school, I took a woodworking course for three years, and it was pretty advanced. But the shop master had a master key to the power box; you couldn’t operate any electric equipment when he wasn’t there.

I know college students are older, but…still. If you read Richard Levin’s statement, this line really jumps out at you:

Her body was found by other students who had been working in the building.

Shouldn’t there have been someone else there? Anyone happen to know what the relevant policies are at Harvard?

This has been a hard spring in New Haven.

The Whipping Post

Posted on April 13th, 2011 in Uncategorized | 12 Comments »

On his blog, Harry Lewis expands his argument that Harvard president Drew Faust has a moral role to play in overseeing the extracurricular professional activities of the faculty.

As I have said several times, I have no per se objection to Professor Porter working in Libya, and I have no reason to doubt that the country had great economic opportunities which Professor Porter’s advice, had it been taken, might have led to prosperity there. I simply have a particular affection for that word “democracy,” and the thing that embarrasses me is the twenty-two uses of that word and its cognates in Professor Porter’s slide deck, as describing not just the future promise but the actual status in 2006, at the time of the report. I imagine I got this fondness for “democracy” from my father, who fought for ours, and from my mother, whose parents crossed the Atlantic so their children could grow up in it. I attended a college that actually had the words “Free Society” in the name of its signature curriculum (in which my respected colleague Professor Hoffman taught). I miss that old place, so unapologetically devoted to human freedom. And I regret that we professors trust our leaders so little to use their voices wisely, that we would rather have them say nothing at all than to suggest that Harvard stands for democracy over tyranny.


Posted on April 13th, 2011 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Why does Snooki get paid more to make an appearance than Toni Morrison does?

No, it’s not because she’s way more fun.

Well, not entirely.

On the Times Economix blog, Catherine Rampell breaks down the economics of Snooki.

By my back-of-the-envelope calculation, Snooki can bring revenue that is tenfold her appearance fee….

Whereas I might actually pay not to see Toni Morrison.

Fact-Checking the Donald

Posted on April 13th, 2011 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Trump claims President Obama has spent $2 million trying to make the issue of his birth certificate “go away.”

He’s lying, of course.

Rainy Morning Zen

Posted on April 13th, 2011 in Uncategorized | No Comments »


Is Facebook F’ed?

Posted on April 12th, 2011 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Thanks to the commenter who posted the link for this astonishing story, about a lawsuit brought by a guy who claims that Mark Zuckerberg gave him 50% of Facebook in exchange for early seed money….

In these purported emails, which we have included below, Zuckerberg and [plaintiff Paul] Ceglia discuss “the face book” project in detail. They discuss how Ceglia will fund the project. They discuss how Ceglia has funded the project (proof of payment). They discuss how Zuckerberg has met some upperclassmen–the Winklevosses, presumably–who are pursuing a similar project, and how Zuckerberg is “stalling” them. They discuss how Zuckerberg has failed to complete the “face book” project on time. They discuss the launch of the face book, which Ceglia agrees looks great

Just as he did with the Winklevosses, according to Ceglia—who does have some credibility issues—Zuckerberg then lied to him and said the site was doing terribly and he wanted to shut it down and return Ceglia’s money…