February 28, 2007

Thomas Friedman is a Moron

Stop the presses! The world is not flat! Seriously, someone needs to alert Thomas Friedman as soon as possible. The over-mustachioed and under-informed pundit has made a name (and fortune) for himself as the prophet of a glorious future in which globalization makes all things possible and all things wonderful. The thing is, no matter how appealing and optimistic, his overly simplistic tripe is just wrong.

Pankaj Ghemawat, a professor of global strategy at IESE business school, has written a brilliant and concise piece in Foreign Policy that eviscerates the idiocy that has become conventional wisdom. Ghemawat shows how the vast majority (typically 90%) of “globalization indicators,” like investment and communication, continue to operate within a nation’s borders. But this isn’t just a matter of being wrong. With something as nebulous as globalization, the assumptions made by academics and public figures are taken as truth, not theory, and have powerful implications for policy. For example, the decades long assault on welfare expenditure has operated under the assumption that it is incompatible with globalized competition.

As Ghemawat sharply observes:

The champions of globalization are describing a world that doesn’t exist. It’s a fine strategy to sell books and even describe a potential environment that may someday exist. Because such episodes of mass delusion tend to be relatively short-lived even when they do achieve broad currency, one might simply be tempted to wait this one out as well. But the stakes are far too high for that. Governments that buy into the flat world are likely to pay too much attention to the “golden straitjacket” that Friedman emphasized in his earlier book, The Lexus and the Olive Tree, which is supposed to ensure that economics matters more and more and politics less and less. Buying into this version of an integrated world—or worse, using it as a basis for policymaking—is not only unproductive. It is dangerous.”

Cross-posted at Campus Progress

February 27, 2007

Heintz's response

Carlos Mejia wrote in to The D yesterday arguing that the publication of the names of the candidates for Dean of the College was irresponsible and improper.
Paul Heintz wrote in today arguing that Carlos was pushing for censorship of his beloved D (which sponsored his sporadically amusing comic strip Guy and Fellow, thereby feeding his megalomania. Unfortunately, the DFP may have had a hand in that feeding as well, supporting him in his ultimately unsuccessful run for SA President.) Censorship, however nasty a word, was not the point, of course, but Heintz's careful reconstruction of the piece (and by careful reconstruction, I mean hatchet job) made it seem like it was.

Regardless, Heintz’s column represented everything that is wrong about the paper that he once worked for. Heintz displayed all the self-importance and preeningly purposeless aggressiveness that led to The Dartmouth’s decision to print those names. Without blinking, Heintz arrogates to his former paper the same status and sense of natural right that a national newspaper has, justifying its actions by equating them with wartime reporting.

On the contrary, The Dartmouth’s decision to print those names owes more to yellow journalism and tabloids than it does to Christiane Amanpour. And while its staff can chant “independent organization” all it wants, it does not change the fact that the staff of The Dartmouth still has responsibilities outside its (College-owned) walls.

That mantra, however—that The Dartmouth is independent of the College—buries the deeper truth of the matter. While the organization is independent of the College, its students are not. The Dartmouth routinely relies on this separation of identity to expand their sense of entitlement and quash any sense that they are still our peers. This independence allows them a sense of privilege, giving them a totally different set of responsibilities simply because they have a notepad in hand.

The Dartmouth staff should remember that they are students of Dartmouth first, journalists second. And while that certainly doesn’t mean blind loyalty to the administration, it does mean due consideration of the effects of one’s actions. Such consideration was notably lacking last week, and in many weeks before.

February 25, 2007

Lubezki is mugged

Even if Pan's Labyrinth is as amazing as everyone thinks it is (I'm waiting to see it until I can do so for free at the Hop, March 7), nothing could surpass the cinematography of Emmanuel Lubezki in Children of Men this year. From a technical standpoint, Lubezki pulled off the two most mind-bogglingly tricky tracking shots I have ever seen in a film. From an artistic standpoint, the film mixes the visual and the visceral in a way that is almost hallucinatory in its ability to affect your perceptions on a very deep level, riveting, and strangely enlivening.

To make matters worse, this is the second straight year that a transcendent effort by Lubezki was snubbed. The New World last year was nearly as good as Children of Men.

Malchow reaches a not-quite-record low

On the Duke-Dartmouth lacrosse match:
The Duke Lacrosse team opened the 2007 season yesterday, at home in Durham, to a near-record crowd of 6,485 fans. Before the game, Duke installed signs along the field fence bearing the inscription Succisa virescit, which was the motto of Reade Seligmann’s Morristown, New Jersey high school. It means cut it down, and it grows back greener.

The gentlemen from Duke beat Dartmouth 17-11.

Malchow's love for accused rapists exceeds his love for Dartmouth. Mark it down.


There is now (I'm sure you're overwhelmed) "a much-needed alternative to Wikipedia, which is increasingly anti-Christian and anti-American," and it is called Conservapedia.

Conservapedia is "a conservative encyclopedia you can trust," and, in case you've been worried, has a handy list of "examples of bias in Wikipedia." Thank G-d for that. And it's already had great social impact—"A Conservapedia contributor helps defeat mandatory vaccination; Merck cancels its million-dollar lobbying effort." I have no idea what this Merck thing is, but defeating mandatory vaccinations sounds like fun. Where do I sign up?

February 22, 2007

Dean of the College article

The Daily D got a big scoop this morning: they revealed the names of three of the four finalists for the position of Dean of the College.

Actually, it isn't that big of a scoop. Sure, they published the names well before the search committee was ready to release them but I'm not sure any students actually care.

We should, though. Revealing those names constitutes a complete breach of confidentiality—confidentiality which is absolutely crucial in a job search like this.

If I'm employed at, say, Bowdoin and would like to make a move up to, say, Dartmouth, I probably am not eager for Bowdoin to know I'm dissatisfied and am looking for a job elsewhere. If I'm trying to get a jump on my job search because my contract will be up in a year or two, I probably don't want Bowdoin to know I'm not planning on renewing. I might get fired or demoted; I might be given less funding or staff; I might just get a lot of angry looks from other faculty. But none of that has to happen, nor should it.

Because of The D's actions, the candidates who are still at other institutions are open to all of that. And the other, who got a mug-shot-looking picture on the front page of the paper, probably doesn't want her recent employment history being floated about in a college newspaper. Additionally, since the information passed to The D is incomplete, the article will only invite poorly-informed speculation.

So Dartmouth College looks like an institution that can't protect its job applicants from getting their names waved around the internet. I bet that will encourage people to send us their resumes, especially well-qualified candidates who have a much wider field to apply to. Why bother with a College which has a confidentiality problem when you have your pick anyway?
Not only that, but who wants to work at a college with a student newspaper which will post mugshot-quality pictures of you if they think it'll get them a scoop?

The search for the Dean of the College isn't the only one going on; Dartmouth is looking to replace the Dean of OPAL and the Dean of Admissions. I hope we still get good applicants despite this action.

"Rape Zones"

Max Bryer, this doesn't make sense.

"the charge that all fraternities across the board are either directly responsible or inherently complicit in sexual crimes is simply too broad to command much credence."

So generalizations are bad, huh? Funny you should think so, because in a preceding paragraph, you come up with this whopper:

"Sexual assault is the truly unfortunate consequence inherent in any large social gathering. A large social event is bound to contain any number of scumbags who will try to take advantage of someone... Rape happens wherever people congregate because schmucks are everywhere."


So frats aren't all bad, but big groups of people--all big groups of people--are. We shouldn't generalize about frats, but generalizing about the whole human race is perfectly acceptable.

Strange, but I'll grant you both the generalization and this odd exception for the moment.

The problem I have with your argument is that you have no idea what Andreadis's "rape zones" plan was for. It was not, as you seem to think, intended merely to compare frats and prove which ones are the "worst." It wasn't even designed as a way to prove to the campus that sexual assault happens om the frats. The project was by no means even supposed to be limited to fraternities at all—it would have included all spaces which students frequent. The intention was to give students the information which would allow and encourage them to take responsibility for the spaces over which they have some control.

If I were a brother at a frat, even if I was sure my fellow brothers would never, even under the influence of alcohol, sexually assault women, I would want to know if somebody else was at one of my parties. If Bryer's generalization about big groups of people--that they'll always have scumbags among them--is even often true, I'd want to know if those scumbags are showing up at my house and assaulting women in my space. If it turned out that my house and my house's hospitality was being used in this way, I would use that information to figure out what kind of steps needed to be taken to make my parties safe for everyone. On a personal level, I'd try to look around a little bit more when the basement's open or the dance party's on and see if I can help head off any problems. At any rate, if I know that sexual assault occurs in my house, I'd certainly feel more impelled to consider sexual assault as something that affects me and isn't just something that happens at other houses.

But maybe that's just me.

February 21, 2007

Sex on Campus

I read Matt Nolan's op-ed today with some interest—rarely do we get a downright moralistic jeremiad in The D. Wait, that's completely false; we get them all the time.

We don't, however, get too many writers who quite so openly tell us that other people's frankness is screwing with their efforts at self-repression.

But that's not the most interesting article on sex I read today—Meghan O'Rourke, who writes the Highbrow column for Slate, takes on a new book that shines the old conservative chestnut that women who have sex and don't hold out for love will have bad sex and no romance:
[Using the common] metaphor of [casual sex as] practice for a grueling competition says a lot about both the phenomenon Stepp is describing and her blinkered perspective. What her own reporting suggests, but she doesn't seem to see, is that if there is a problem, it isn't that young women are separating love and sex. It's that they are blurring sex and work: The hookup culture is part of a wider ethos of status-seeking achievement. As one girl puts it: "Dating is a drain on energy and intellect, and we are overwhelmed, overprogrammed and overcommitted just trying to get into grad school." So they throw themselves into erotic liaisons with the same competitive zeal they bring to résumé-building: "If you mention you think a guy is hot, your friend may be, 'Oh, he is hot. I'm gonna go get with him,' " Anna, a high-school student, reveals. The combination of postfeminist liberation and pressure from parents to "do it all"—as one kid puts it—has led girls to confuse the need to be independent (which they associate with success) with the need to be invulnerable. Thus, they frame their seemingly explorative sex lives in rigid, instrumental terms, believing that vulnerability of any sort signals a confusing dependence. The result? Shying away from relationships that can hurt them—which includes even fleeting obsessions that can knock them off balance.

If this is true, the last thing young women need is more assignments from those who view relationships as yet another arena in which they better "win." In that sense, Unhooked is part of the very problem it's trying to offset. While noting that a fear of "failing" makes college girls insist that they've got matters under control when they don't, Stepp offers up the same prescriptive diagnoses that get in the way of young women asking themselves what they—as individuals—might really want: "I hope to encourage girls to think hard about whether they're 'getting it right,' " Stepp says. At the same time, young men get away without such cautionary lessons: Stepp follows a long pattern of leaving them out of the picture. From at least the 1920s (when everyone thought flappers were destroying manners) on through the 1980s (when teen pregnancy rates had everyone alarmed), girls have been hearing that their sex lives are the symbol of generational decadence.

The truth is that even the sex-as-work ethic has an upside—one Stepp fails to see. For the first time in ages, young women are actually concentrating, in some fashion, more on their work and on their female friendships than on love and sex, and many do feel empowered by this. One of the studies Stepp cites found that young women feel less pressured to engage in sex than their male peers do. If some have a tough time figuring out what romantic or sexual pleasure is, they are nonetheless hardheaded about their status as pioneers in a new sexual landscape. "If there's one thing that I know about adults, it's that they pounce on adolescent sexuality with zeal," says Alicia, a student at Duke, aptly pinpointing the adult impulse to scold. Stepp couldn't resist the impulse herself. Buying into alarmism about women, Unhooked makes sex into a bigger, scarier, and more dangerous thing than it already is. The fact is, love is a messy arena, and in it most of us make both wise and foolish choices. C'est la vie, if not l'amour.

Honestly, any Sex & the City episode will give you this same insight, but O'Rourke's narrative voice is a hell of a lot less annoying than Carrie's.

February 9, 2007

Groundhog Day

Instead of writing a letter to the D more fully explaining some things I said at the DCLU discussion, I expanded my ideas for this week's DFP editorial. Enjoy.