Thursday, May 8, 2008

Hillary Clinton's inexcusable bigotry

So I see that this quote from Hillary Clinton is now making the blog rounds:

"I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on," she said in an interview with USA TODAY. As evidence, Clinton cited an Associated Press article "that found how Sen. Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me."
Naturally, the debate is over whether Clinton's linkage of "hard-working Americans" to "white Americans" carries just the teensiest tinge of racism.

That's not my concern. My concern is that she links "hard-working Americans" to those "who had not completed college." The notion that college-educated workers do not work hard is, I'm sorry, complete and utter horses**t.

[So, have you finished your grading for the semester?--ed. Er, yes. Are you teaching this summer?--ed. Not really, no. Do you see where I'm going with this?--ed. Sure -- if you don't count editing one book, writing part of another book, prepping two grant proposals, drafting two additional articles I've committed to writing, and refereeing a few articles and book manuscripts, I have no real work to do. I think I've made my point about your "job," Mr. Hey-Look-At-Me-I'm-A-Full-Professor!--ed.]

For some reason, whenever I'm told that I don't work that hard, my mind drifts to end of this scene:

posted by Dan at 03:54 PM | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)

So Tuesday was a pretty good day....

Earlier this week I received official word that I've been promoted to full professor, after a remarkably transparent and stress-free process.

So how does it feel? Pretty damn good. After all, this happened just two and a half years years after the late unpleasantness. Despite that, it happened before I turned forty (I was genuinely surprised how pleased this last fact left me).

The real reason this is great news, however, are the benefits that come with being a full professor. The benefit of being promoted to associate professor* -- tenure -- is pretty friggin' obvious. What's the difference between associate and full?

Unless you're actually a full professor, you would never know. Now that these fools esteemed colleagues have let a full-blooded blogger into their priesthood, however (suck on that, Ivan Tribble!!), I shall fearlessly reveal the great benefits of this kind of promotion.

By some interesting quirk of fate, there are exactly ten benefits that emanate from the promotion to full professor.....


10) You get to pig out. More attractive professors tend to do better in student evaluations and other metrics to rate professors. This is not surprising -- after all, the attractive receive a similar dividend across professions.

There's no rank beyond full professor, however. So, that's it for me. My fight against my expanding waistline was rapidly turning into a quagmire anyway. From now on, it's not going to be an either/or choice with me -- I'm going to both Dunkin' Donuts and Starbucks whenever I see one on the road!!

9) Cameo appearances in bad science fiction movies/television shows. You know those scenes where a protagonist must make some appeal to a futuristic "Council" of some kind? All those council people are full professors -- it's the closest most of them come to exercising actual power.

This perk used to be a well-kept secret, but Cornel West ruined it for everyone.

8) Free Awesome Blossoms at Chili's. This makes #10 that much easier to achieve.

7) Superdelegate status in the Democratic Party. Well, them or the Greens -- curiously, those appear to be the only possible choices.

I'm also holding out for $20 million for my endorsement, by the way.

6) Something better than that stupid f@#%ing pen ceremony. As this site observes, "The scene in the movie A Beautiful Mind in which mathematics professors ritualistically present pens to Nash was completely fabricated in Hollywood. No such custom exists."

In the actual ceremony, colleagues ritualistically present signed and notarized statements in which they confess that they were in error when they labeled your research as "putrid swill" back when you were a post-doc.

5) I can now pursue my hobbies with a vengeance. Some colleagues write about UFOs when they get promoted to full. Others write novels or musical careers. Me, I'm finally going to indulge my hobby of collecting refrigerator magnets with a resoluteness that would scare a Clinton.

4) When required to wear full academic regalia, full professors get to wear swords. Nobody better mess with me at commencement.

3) I'm now gently encouraged to -- on occasion -- publish in more widely read outlets. Apparently this will let me acquire "a public voice" or something.

2) Bobblehead night in my honor at next faculty meeting.

1) When the moon is full, I get to kill a student.

UPDATE: This list should have gone to 11, as Tyler Cowen points out. Also, apologies to everyone trying to post a comment -- they're still down. Now that I'm full, however, I promise to blow off important committee work and get cracking on fixing the problem.

*For the purposes of this post, we're just going to ignore the rather bizarre Ivy League system of being assiciate without tenure.

posted by Dan at 12:39 PM | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)

The best commencement address you'll never hear

Tis the season for commencement addresses. In the Los Angeles Times, P.J. O'Rourke provides advice you're unlikely to hear elsewhere. My favorite bit:

Here we are living in the world's most prosperous country, surrounded by all the comforts, conveniences and security that money can provide. Yet no American political, intellectual or cultural leader ever says to young people, "Go out and make a bunch of money." Instead, they tell you that money can't buy happiness. Maybe, but money can rent it.

There's nothing the matter with honest moneymaking. Wealth is not a pizza, where if I have too many slices you have to eat the Domino's box. In a free society, with the rule of law and property rights, no one loses when someone else gets rich....

Don't chain yourself to a redwood tree. Instead, be a corporate lawyer and make $500,000 a year. No matter how much you cheat the IRS, you'll still end up paying $100,000 in property, sales and excise taxes. That's $100,000 to schools, sewers, roads, firefighters and police. You'll be doing good for society. Does chaining yourself to a redwood tree do society $100,000 worth of good?

Idealists are also bullies. The idealist says, "I care more about the redwood trees than you do. I care so much I can't eat. I can't sleep. It broke up my marriage. And because I care more than you do, I'm a better person. And because I'm the better person, I have the right to boss you around."

Get a pair of bolt cutters and liberate that tree.

posted by Dan at 11:48 AM | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Some final thoughts on Hillary Clinton

In the wake of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign being declared effectively dead by one and all, it is worth reflecting on what she gained by staying in the race for the past two months and change.

Primarily, she managed to graft Bill Clinton's reputation as the indefatigable fighter who can always come back from the dead onto herself. There's also the working class hero thing, though I suspect that will fade. Finally, she's managed the rare reverse Greenhouse Effect, earning Strange New Respect from Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, and Patrick Buchanan.

These are not insignificant gifts. When her political fortunes are discussed from here on out, they will frame the media's perception of her. She will always be painted as someone who should not be ruled out in a political fight, and it will surprise no one if she mounts another presidential candidacy.

There's a more important reason why these past six weeks have helped her immeasurably. Had she dropped out of the race back in early March, the narrative frame would have been how Hillary Clinton blew the nomination in spectacular fashion.

Stepping back, it's hard to overstate the advantages she brought to the primary race. She possessed unbelievable name recognition, a well-oiled fund-raising machine, a strong association with the most successful Democratic president of the past 50 years, an, er, Clintonian grasp of policy detail, strong ties to the women's vote and (until very late in this electoral cycle) the African-American vote, and tight connections with the Democratic party establishment. In the aftermath of New Hampshire, she could claim, plausibly and simultaneously, to be the most experienced candidate and a candidate that would represent a real change from the staus quo. With no appreciable domestic policy differences among the Democratic candidates, there was every reason to believe that Hillary Clinton was going to win.

Despite all this, Hillary Clinton did not win the nomination. Her failure to win says less about her defects than Barack Obama's strengths. But if nothing else, her performance over the past few months has managed to shift perceptions about her in ways that salvage her reputation as a politician of national standing.

posted by Dan at 10:36 AM | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)

Monday, May 5, 2008

America's awesome influence over the G8

From today's Financial Times:

Dan Price, the international economics official at the White House National Security Council, said the Group of Eight rich countries must “lead by example”. Mr Price, one of the key officials preparing for the July G8 summit in Japan, told the Financial Times that the group should issue “a strong . . . statement on open investment and trade policies”. This should be “aimed not only outward but to the G8 countries themselves”.
Also in today's Financial Times:
In one of his last acts as Russian president, Vladimir Putin on Monday signed a long-awaited law restricting foreign investment in 42 “strategic” sectors, including energy, telecoms and aerospace....

Russian officials claim the rules are more liberal than those in many other countries. But some foreign investors have said the list of restricted sectors is too long – by some estimates, accounting for more than half the economy – and that the language leaves too much scope for interpretation.

Analysts also warn that the law leaves the door open for more sectors to be included in the future....

Under the new rules, foreign private investors will have to seek permission from a committee chaired by the Russian prime minister – set to be Mr Putin after he stands down as president this week – to take more than 50 per cent of companies in strategic sectors.

Foreign state-controlled companies will be barred from taking a controlling stake in strategic companies, and will have to seek permission for a stake of more than 25 per cent.

As well as energy, aerospace and defence, sectors defined as strategic include mining, space technology and nuclear energy. “Dominant” fixed-line telecommunications companies are also included.

Broadcast media covering at least half the country are deemed strategic, as are large-circulation newspapers and publishing companies. Some eyebrows were raised at the late inclusion of the fishing industry.

posted by Dan at 11:38 PM | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)

Hillary Clinton's contribution to the all-purpose excuse genre

To date, this blog has observed the political innovation of the All-Purpose Excuse -- the signature line that can be used to justify anything. Two examples:

1) "If we don't do it, the terrorists will win."

2) "If we don't do it, the Republicans will do it in the fall."

Hillary Clinton came up with a new one yesterday on This Week:
"I’m not going to put my lot in with economists."
Try it around the house -- it's easy and fun!:
Honey, you should really brush your teeth before you go to sleep.

I’m not going to put my lot in with dentists.

Will we have enough money to pay our bills this month?

I’m not going to put my lot in with accountants.

That cop has his sirens on... maybe you should pull over.

I’m not going to put my lot in with the heat.

posted by Dan at 08:49 AM | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)