Saturday, March 8, 2008

Common Sense

Found an article by Heather MacDonald that demolishes the myth that "1 in 4 women are raped in college".

She presents the following story as fairly typical:
What can I tell you about being raped? Very little. I remember drinking with some girlfriends and then heading to a party in the house that some seniors were throwing. I’m told that I walked in and within 5 minutes was making out with one of the guys who lived there, who I’d talked to some in the dining hall but never really hung out with. I may have initiated it. I don’t remember arriving at the party; I dimly remember waking up at some point in the early morning in this guy’s room. I remember him walking me back to my room. I couldn’t have made it alone; I still had too much alcohol in my system to even stand up straight. I made myself vulnerable and even now it’s hard to think that someone here who I have talked and laughed with could be cold-hearted enough to take advantage of that vulnerability. I’d rather, sometimes, take half the blame than believe that a profound evil can exist in mankind. But it’s easy for me to say, that, of the two of us, I’m the only one who still has nightmares, found myself panicking and detaching during sex for many months afterwards, and spent more time looking into the abyss than any one person should.
The inequalities of the consequences of the night, the actions taken unintentionally or not, have changed the course of only one of our lives, irrevocably and profoundly.

Remarks MacDonald, "Even if the Harvard victim’s drunkenness cancels any responsibility that she might share for the interaction’s finale, is she equally without responsibility for all of her behavior up to that point, including getting so drunk that she can’t remember anything? Campus rape ideology holds that inebriation strips women of responsibility for their actions but preserves male responsibility not only for their own actions but for their partners’ as well. Thus do men again become the guardians of female well-being.

As for the story’s maudlin melodrama, perhaps the narrator’s life really has been 'irrevocably' changed, for which one sympathizes. One can’t help observing, however, that the effect of this 'profound evil' on at least her sex life appears to have been minimal—she 'detached' during sex for 'many months afterwards,' but sex she most certainly had."

Click here to read the whole thing.

Friday, March 7, 2008

There's that "lightening rod" again

I've blogged before on my pet peeves with some of the common mistakes in professional writing.

Today, Jonathan Chait in The New Republic quotes a Clinton memo: "Democrats may have a nominee who will be a lightening rod of controversy."

Enough with the enlightenment! Here's another memo: "lightening" is reducing the weight of something. "Lightning", on the other hand, is a spontaneous discharge of built up static electricity in the atmosphere. The rod is meant to attract lightning, not reduce weight.

While we're at it, you "toe" the line, not "tow" it.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Obama's First 100 Days

Michael Gerson in the Washington Post proposes a "thought experiment": considering the foreign-policy "achievements" of Obama's first 100 days, based on his campaign promises.

First up is Obama's pledge to meet with America's enemies without any conditions. Gerson quotes Kissinger: "When talks become their own objective, they are at the mercy of the party most prepared to break them off." Gerson paints a picture of Obama's, and America's, Chamberlainesque humiliation at the hands of Ahmadinejad as the press "... notes another of Obama's historic firsts: the first American president to meet with a Holocaust denier."

Gerson continues in the same vein, detailing Obama's disastrous meeting with Raul Castro as Hugo Chavez crows about Obama's "public apology for generations of American imperialism and militarism." Mexico and Canada, meanwhile, are incensed at being pressured to renegotiate NAFTA: "Why is the new president courting his enemies ... while insulting his closest friends?"

In Gerson's vision, the US military is outraged and demoralized as he yanks troops out of Iraq, undoing years of hard fought gains on the verge of success. Iraq devolves into renewed sectarian violence as a reprieved al Qaeda celebrates its "unexpected victory."

The conclusion:
Obama's 100-day agenda would be designed, in part, to improve America's global image. But there is something worse than being unpopular in the world -- and that is being a pleading, panting joke. By simultaneously embracing appeasement, protectionism and retreat, President Obama would manage to make Jimmy Carter look like Teddy Roosevelt.