Monday, May 14, 2012

Alphas and Betas

Bill Whittle observes in this short but punchy video that conservatism is an alpha male political philosophy whereas beta males tend to populate the more liberal ideological precincts. See what you think:
Another example Whittle might have used is the difference between the stranger (Clint Eastwood) in High Plains Drifter and the timorous beta males who hire him to protect their families and property from a gang of thugs.

I also think Whittle makes an interesting point about Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin not talking about the problems of their moon landing because alpha males just don't talk about their heroics nor their brushes with death. Alphas tend to be stoics, in other words. It reminded me of the unflattering contrast between the navy SEALS who took out Osama bin Laden and the President and his surrogates who couldn't shut up about how much courage it took to authorize it.

Messy Quest

I recently finished reading a book written by a friend and former student of mine named Stephen Martin. Steve's work, titled The Messy Quest for Meaning: Five Catholic Practices for Finding Your Vocation, is a wonderful, gentle guide to finding meaning and purpose in the life we've been given. He draws deeply on his own life experience, his Catholic faith, and numerous vignettes from the lives of people as diverse as U-2's Bono, former Duke basketball star Bobby Hurley (and Hurley's father), Newark mayor Cory Booker, Catholic author and monk Thomas Merton, actor Martin Sheen, social activist Dorothy Day, Mother Teresa, the French artist Matisse, and numerous others, to illuminate a path for those who may feel their own lives are empty, shallow, and listless.

Steve's a deft story teller and a gifted writer whose narratives about the lives of some famous, and some not-so-famous, people are filled with humor, wisdom, and insight. I should also add that he says some nice things about me which have in no way, I assure you, influenced my enthusiasm for his book.

I invite you to check out his blog to read more about Messy Quest which can be ordered from my favorite bookstore Hearts and Minds.

Off with Her Head!

Last Friday we mentioned the firing of Naomi Schaefer Riley from The Chronicle of Higher Education because she dared to question the academic value of Black Studies programs. Riley subsequently wrote a piece for the Wall Street Journal revealing more details on the episode, and what she tells us does nothing to make her treatment at the hands of the Chronicle look any less craven.
Here's an excerpt: So last week, on the Chronicle's "Brainstorm" blog (where I was paid to be a regular contributor), I suggested that the dissertation topics of the graduate students mentioned were obscure at best and "a collection of left-wing victimization claptrap," at worst.

The reaction to my blog post ranged from puerile to vitriolic. The graduate students I mentioned and the senior faculty who advise them at Northwestern University accused me (in guest blogs posted by the Chronicle editors) of bigotry and cowardice. The former wrote that "in a bid to not be 'out-niggered' [their word] by her right-wing cohort, Riley found some black women graduate students to beat up on." (I confess I don't actually know what that means.) One fellow blogger (and hundreds of commenters) called my post "racist."

Gina Barreca, a teacher of English and feminist theory at the University of Connecticut, composed a poem mocking me. (It begins "A certain white chick—Schaefer Riley/ decided to do something wily.") MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry spewed a four-minute rant about my post, invoking the memory of Trayvon Martin and accusing me of "small-mindedness."

Scores of critics on the site complained that I had not read the dissertations in full before daring to write about them—an absurd standard for a 500-word blog post. A number of the dissertations aren't even available. Which didn't seem to stop the Chronicle reporter, though. And 6,500 academics signed a petition online demanding that I be fired.
There's much more at the link and almost all of it makes her critics sound petty, intolerant, juvenile, and stupid. I.e. they sound pretty much like one might expect a bunch of liberal academics to sound. Read it and weep for the kids who are being taught by these closed-minded chuckleheads whose concept of the ideal university, evidently, is something resembling a North Korean reeducation camp.