Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Caught in the undertow

Stupid mistake today. Last night, I got it into my head that today was Thursday so I went to bed early since my Extreme Body Makeover class starts on Sept 1. I woke up at 5:40am today, and made it to the gym by 6:10. Perfect timing, except... it's Wednesday and my class doesn't start till tomorrow. I'm such a dork. So rather than being a woose (I know others disagree with my spelling, but I don't care!) I stayed and did a 40-min cardio workout. I even did a bit of running on the treadmill, thanks to Jay-Z and Linkin Park. (Something about their music makes me want to run. And no, I don't mean that because it's bad.)

Thomas Friedman was at Microsoft giving a talk yesterday. I'm glad I went. He was a little annoying in terms of talking about how earthshattering his ideas were, but otherwise a very interesting talk. There were a *lot* of people who attended.

Today is Blog Day 2005. According to who, I'm not sure, but it's all over Technorati. I'm supposed to recommend 5 blogs to you. Choose your 5 from the list on the right.

TJ is making great progress on getting his motorcycle back together - he got the new painted parts yesterday (a nice sparkly dark blue, which I helped him pick!). It looks like he may get to ride it before the nice weather is gone. Woo hoo! Almost makes me want to get another bike. Maybe next year.

Have a great day!


  1. Thomas Friedman is the NYT columnist who annoys the crap out of me. He's a good writer, but an uninformed pundit who currently rants and raves about the evils of Islam. I highly recommend the book "Why America's Top Pundits are Wrong," edited by Catherine Bestemen and Hugh Gusterson. It's a collection of essays written by anthropologists who actually study the cultures and peoples who are misrepresented by the likes of Friedman and Samuel Huntington, who draw conclusions about entire societies based on their three-night stays in four-star hotels in one city in that country. A few chapters are dedicated to Friedman, and one of the authors informed me they are preparing for a second edition. I'm going to request more chapters to address Friedman's obsession with the Muslim Terrorist.

  2. Suz -

    The talk yesterday was about technology and globalization. I'm not familiar with his rants on the evils of Islam. I suspect if you're annoyed, I'd be too. He definitely has this "I'm so clued in, and you're not" attitude that's irritating, but his thoughts on technology making the world a "flatter" place are spot-on. I'll stay away from his post-9/11 stuff. He did allude to being so stuck in that stuff that he missed the technology "revolution" that was going on.

  3. Well, it's like how I feel about Pinker. He writes brilliant stuff about linguistics, but his social Darwinist-leanings and sexist sentiments are appalling. I try to appreciate some of his writings nonetheless.

  4. TJ's bike looks SWEET!

    I've also heard mixed reviews about Thomas Friedman, including one very negative viewpoint from a Jordanian woman friend who tended to share my views on other things. Having never read him, I won't pass judgment. Still, I'll make sure to counterbalance his stuff with something from Edward Said (who wrote the classic _Orientalism_ among other things about the Middle East).

  5. the Economist really trashed his book, calling it "sloppy" with lots of inaccuracies.

    But Suz, what don't you like about my hero Steven Pinker? I challenge you to find a single sentence he has ever written or spoken (in context or out) that you would call "sexist"?

  6. I like this line from the review Richard mentioned - "Rarely has so much information been collected to so little effect". I felt like Friedman's 45 min talk concisely summarized his points. I think actually reading the book might be a waste of time, though it may have some entertaining anecdotes.

    (And he alluded to Columbus discovering the world was round in his talk, and that didn't quite sit right with me either, but I couldn't figure out why. The Economist review confirmed why - it was actually Magellan that figured it out. Another mystery cleared up. Thanks Richard!)

  7. "But Suz, what don't you like about my hero Steven Pinker? I challenge you to find a single sentence he has ever written or spoken (in context or out) that you would call "sexist"?"

    Surely you are being sarcastic... the challenge is rather generous (something in or out of context written or spoken that *I* would call "sexist")

    For starters, how about Pinker's response to Prof. Nancy Hopkins's response to Larry Summers?

    Instead of making any attempt to understand where she's coming from (or her argument, or the problems with Summers's claims as discussed by the sociologists Summers quoted but whose work he misunderstood), Pinker makes the assumption that Hopkins, an accomplished geneticist who has also extensively studied the topic on which Summers babbled incoherently, didn't "get" the concept of free inquiry:

    "People who storm out of a meeting at the mention of a hypothesis, or declare it taboo or offensive without providing arguments or evidence, don’t get the concept of a university or free inquiry."

    (Note how he shifted his argument to it being about "free inquiry" when it became increasingly evident he and Summers did not have a leg to stand on with the ir claims of female inferiority in science.)

    Or how about Pinker's own babbling in the psych classes he taught here at MIT before he moved to Harvard, something along the lines of ""the reason blondes are more attractive is because their flowing hair reminds us of our prehistory in the Savanah."

    Or his praise-filled introduction for the book "A Natural History of Rape," based on completely shoddy "data" with the aim of excusing rape as inherently natural and that women should stop wearing short skirts if they don't want to be raped?

    You were kidding, right?


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