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This isn’t a shocking novelty to me, and it isn’t my first post on this topic. Yet it makes me despair when I see astronomy conferences taken over by irrelevant left-wing social issues. There’s an astrobiology conference going on now and, while I’m not there, I’ve been enjoying following the discoveries and new research online.
Today, though, the NASA Astrobiology Twitter feed is preoccupied with retweeting social issues that are apparently coming up. My inspiration for the post is this tweet, which complains about color-blindness in the workplace. Remember: racism is wrong because we’re all the same, deep down, and if you treat everybody the same, you’re a racist for not recognizing our differences. Her follow-up tweet here reminds us that because we need to make the culture of science inclusive, which means explicitly excluding “white male” science culture. This tweet celebrates the underrepresentation of men on one discussion panel, while this tweet complains about their overrepresentation on another.
I avoided this year’s big American Astronomical Society meeting in part because of the town hall session titled “Racism: Racial Prejudice Plus Power.” Note the session’s axiom:
Republican strategists may need to face up to an inconvenient truth: conservative social positions are no longer a thorn in the GOP’s side. We can win with them. Without them, it’s tough to say.
For some, this is a hard pill to swallow. Many Republicans are quite attached to a progressive social narrative, and strategic considerations have long been the justification for telling religious conservatives that they’re on the wrong side of history. Whether that’s true still remains to be seen. This most recent election, however, showed us Democrats desperately trying to gin up some resentment over social issues, and losing. Meanwhile we saw pro-life, pro-traditional marriage conservatives winning across the map, sometimes in fairly blue states.
“The problem for Republicans is that they won on partial-birth abortion — it is now a federal crime — and haven’t found a similar issue where the public is on their side. “Compounding the problem is that many Republicans don’t understand that they need to find such an issue. They don’t grasp that not talking […]
In modern society there are few rules that are as reverently observed — or so truculently censured upon transgression — as the rule about waiting in line.
In fact, you could argue that “the line” is the founding principal of civilization; the idea on which all other laws depend. It is the principal that, in an ordered society, no one has the right to place their needs ahead of anyone else’s. It is the core of democracy in that it prescribes that no precedence among men, no aristocracy, exists that overrules the trivial fact of having been through the door before the other guy.
As to the historical origin of the line (or the British “queue”) even the omniscient Google is silent. Well, okay, Google is never silent. But let’s say Google is confused.
Just issued by Rev. Charles Chaput, Archbishop of Philadelphia:
Today’s federal district court decision striking down Pennsylvania’s Defense of Marriage Act is a mistake with long-term, negative consequences. Like many other Pennsylvanians, I hope that an appeal will be made promptly. Laws that defend the traditional definition of marriage were enacted for sound reasons—namely to defend the rights of children and contribute to the well-being of the larger community.
A few years ago, while giving a series of talks on a long essay I had written about the malignant influence of teacher unions in California, I got a question from an audience member (or rather the kind of monologue that often substitutes for a question), in which the interlocutor, agreeing with my basic points, essentially said that all of the problems facing public education would fade away if only the union influence was undone.
I agreed that such a scenario would reap substantial dividends, but had to balk at the utopian idea that it was a silver bullet. Even if education was reformed along the exact lines that conservatives preferred, I argued, there’d still be plenty of problems. Why? Because the underlying variables are human. There’s no public policy fix to make kids study instead of goofing off, to get parents more engaged in their children’s education, or to make a 15-year-old think on a time horizon that extends beyond the next weekend. These things either happen or they don’t. Public policy might affect them at the margins, but they are shaped primarily at the social and individual levels.
I want to start this post out by trying to establish my bona fides regarding the subject that I am about to talk about. I have seen a reasonably broad swath of socioeconomic status in my life. My parents started out as fairly typical, middle-class people. My mother’s family (from rural Green Bay, Wisconsin) were almost uniformly blue-collar (my grandfather failed to finish high school) while my father’s family (mostly college-educated) were landowners and timber barons in Idaho … but they ultimately lost it all.
Thus I certainly didn’t come from money, despite the fact that improvements in my father’s employment allowed him to purchase many nicer things for my younger sister than I had when I was her age. This is the nature of things. There was a little bit of Fishtown and a little bit of Belmont in my upbringing. But there was never a hint of the negative stereotypes of Fishtown.
I’d like to ask the dads here: when did you first think it might be great, or kinda cool, or even possible for you to become a dad someday?
I have a 20-something son and have known my daughter’s 20-something boyfriend for years now, and both are wonderful guys. My daughter and her female friends make no bones about fussing delightedly over babies brought to work or babysitting for their nieces and nephews. It’s probably very normal that these guys keep their arms safely locked behind their backs when a baby is in the room, and conveniently have important meetings to get to when there is babysitting to be done.
The quarterback on my high school football team used to say that the only foreign phrase his father used was “Mo’ de La’.” That was French for “Cut the grass.” As kids, we all were well versed in variations of that theme.
I was reminded of that recently, at a funeral. The father of one of my friends had died. My friend and his brothers waxed eloquent about their father’s character. He was a member of the Greatest Generation — a giant who had raised three sons now raising giants of their own.
I’m writing a paper about “third party reproduction.” If you’re not familiar, this is what they call it when a person or couple decide to make a baby but involve a third party in the process, either as a source of genetic material or as a host for purposes of gestation. Surrogacy and artificial insemination are two of the primary examples.
Third-party reproduction is going to become a big bioethical debate over the next few years. It’s not a new thing, but the pressures to make it easier and cheaper are intensifying rapidly. The reason is obvious. Same-sex couples are creating a market for children. The fertility industry is looking to meet that demand.
I’ve been working on an analogy and I’m curious how it strikes people. I’d be grateful if people would tell me what intuitions they have about it.