Assorted Links

  1. Why the GOP Should Fear a Romney Presidency– A story on the Atlantic that speculates about the next four years should Romney win. The argument is based on the work of Stephen Skowronek, particularly in regard to political legitimacy and cycles in presidential legitimacy. The author speculates that should Romney be elected, he would, through no fault of his own, be the next Jimmy Carter by causing the dissolution of the Reagan coalition. By and large, I agree with his argument, though he does not really speculate on the deep partisan divides between Democrats and Republicans. Perhaps it is time for a third party.
  2. The Liberal Arts, Economic Value, and Leisure: Don’t make an economic case for liberal arts– An article on Inside Higher Ed that tries to make a case that the value of liberal arts is to produce good citizens and tries to refute the notion that the liberal arts should, or could, be designed to create entrepreneurs. He notes “if our only god is money, we live in a sad society,” and tries to prove that a narrow focus on marginal economic products is not the purpose of a collegiate education. While I agree with the sentiment presented, Timothy Burke does is also quite right that the article is self serving and, in the current economic climate comits”rhetorical self-immolation.” I think the arts are important and cannot be done away with, but in large part because I question the value of skill specific education for the current workforce. It is better to learn transferable skills–critical thinking, writing, argumentation, etc. There is also a misnomer here that somehow the liberal arts is something that exists in college, rather than something that college can encourage, but that really exists in wider society.
  3. -Mali: no rhythm or reason as militants declare war on music– In Mali there is a crackdown on traditional tribal music by the Islamic militants there.
  4. New York strip club loses bid to have lap dances legally defined as art– The New York court of appeals decided a case over back taxes owed by a strip club in Albany. The club tried to claim tax exemption based on the dances being art. The court disagreed, saying that not everything that could be called as a dance should be defined as art.
  5. The Narrowing of the American Mind– An article on the Chronicle that suggests that job preparation programs are inherently limiting, since the job candidates claim to make all decisions based on money and serve as well-trained parrots, rather than rounded and adaptable thinkers. This is a somewhat better reason to make it possible for students to study things that interest them–and preferably study as widely as possible–while in college than the defense of liberal arts given in Inside Higher Ed above.
  6. As always, comments encouraged. What else is out there?

Assorted Links

  1. Mitt Romney would restore “Angle-Saxon relations between Britain and America-Speaking about the relationship between Britain and the United states, an adviser of Mitt Romney said: “We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special…the White house didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have.” The immediate response is the charge of racism and, I can’t help but agree. But beyond that, I want to know who authorized this person to speak who uses the phrase “the special relationship is special”
  2. The Ruins of Empire: Asia’s Emergence from Western Imperialism– A story in the Guardian that traces some of the recent history of imperialism and the attempts to escape it. The author has a particular stance (that, ultimately, Western Imperialism impeded and destroyed cultures and societies by attempting to impose its own values) and is, for the most part, correct. He is not as directly critical as Said, but does call for a paradigm shift away from “narcissistic history,” that is history obsessed with western ideals, which causes a one-sided history that helps define the world as between “masters and slaves.” That said, the author does play down the impact of most Asian imperialism (yes for Japan, no for China), religious conflict, and the breakup of the Soviet Union. Rather than address these tricky issues, the author just wants to persuade you of the problems of viewing the world from a western perspective.
  3. Too much to bare– A reporter at the Guardian got permission to get a behind the scenes look at one of the older strip clubs in England. The story feels half-formed since she got expelled from the club for talking to the girls without first getting authorization. The club owner and the company line is that the work is well paying, respectful, and rather benign, while there were actually some darker sides. Besides the usual problems, the women actually need to pay for the permission to work–whether or not they actually get hired for the night. Unfortunately, the author makes a point of sticking to the quotes and to the narrative of what happened rather than providing analysis.
  4. But is it a Book?– A report in the Chronicle about one book historian who argues that an electronic “book” is not actually a book, which is the artifact of recorded text. The suggestion is that for all the benefits of the digital book, we are losing something by losing the artifact.
  5. James Bond with a Mask-An article that suggests that Batman on film is reduced to a supporting character in his own franchise, and basically begs Hollywood to keep rebooting the series until they actually capture the Batman of the comics–the qualification for “getting it right.” The author brings up some good points, but I am not sure it is possible. For one thing, comics and cartoons are not limited by the human body and technology for filming. For another, perhaps the larger concern, the author seems to be under a delusion about what the directors (some, at least) are trying to accomplish and why the studios continually reboot these franchises. I would expect that the rumored reboot of Batman (already) has little to do with Christopher Nolan’s infidelity toward the comic.
  6. Is Mythology Like Facebook-Well, no. But scientists are using statistical analysis of social networks to look into the whether or not, or at least plausibility that, myths reflect actual worlds or social networks.
  7. As always, comments encouraged. What else is out there?