Ramblings & ephemera

Shelby Foote on how the Civil War changed the gender of the teaching profession

From Carter Coleman, Donald Faulkner, & William Kennedy’s interview of Shelby Foote in “The Art of Fiction No. 158” (The Paris Review: Summer 1999, No. 151): About the time that war started I think roughly eighty-five or ninety percent of the teachers in this country were men. After the war was over something like eighty-five […]

Girls & boys & brain chemicals

photo credit: Oude School From John Cloud’s “Why Girls Have BFFs and Boys Hang Out in Packs” (TIME: 17 July 2009): For the better part of the past half-century, feminists, their opponents and armies of academics have debated the differences between men and women. Only in the past few years have scientists been able to […]

Extreme male brains

From Joe Clark’s “The extreme Google brain” (Fawny: 26 April 2009): … Susan Pinker’s The Sexual Paradox, which explains, using scientific findings, why large majorities of girls and women behave almost identically at different stages of their lives – while large minorities of boys and men show vast variability compared to each other and to […]

Protected: Why we cuss

There is no excerpt because this is a protected post.

Gottman on relationships

From THE MATHEMATICS OF LOVE: A Talk with John Gottman (Edge: 14 April 2004): So far, his surmise is that “respect and affection are essential to all relationships working and contempt destroys them. It may differ from culture to culture how to communicate respect, and how to communicate affection, and how not to do it, […]

Social networking and “friendship”

From danah boyd’s “Friends, Friendsters, and MySpace Top 8: Writing Community Into Being on Social Network Sites” (First Monday: December 2006) John’s reference to “gateway Friends” concerns a specific technological affordance unique to Friendster. Because the company felt it would make the site more intimate, Friendster limits users from surfing to Profiles beyond four degrees […]

Blue for girls and pink for boys

From Allen Abel and Madeleine Czigler’s “Boys, despair and aristocrats” (National Post: 24 June 2008): Blue clothing for girls and pink for boys — and not the reverse — was the custom in North America for much of the 20th century. “The reason,” according to the Ladies Home Journal in 1918, “is that pink being […]

Anonymity and Netflix

From Bruce Schneier’s “Anonymity and the Netflix Dataset” (Crypto-Gram: 15 January 2008): The point of the research was to demonstrate how little information is required to de-anonymize information in the Netflix dataset. … What the University of Texas researchers demonstrate is that this process isn’t hard, and doesn’t require a lot of data. It turns […]

Why structureless is not only impossible, but counterproductive

From Jo Freeman’s “The Tyranny of Structurelessness” (1970): During the years in which the women’s liberation movement has been taking shape, a great emphasis has been placed on what are called leaderless, structureless groups as the main form of the movement. … The idea of ‘structurelessness’, however, has moved from a healthy counter to these […]

India’s transgendered folks

From Henry Chu’s “Bullied by the Eunuchs” (Los Angeles Times: 7 June 2006): I was being hit up for a handout by one of this country’s many hijras. They are eunuchs or otherwise transgendered people by birth, accident or choice. Something between male and female, they are shunned by Indian society as unclean. Many make […]

Gender, murder, & knots

From Caleb Crain’s “In Search Of Lost Crime” (Legal Affairs: July/August 2002): … the 1833 trial of Rev. Ephraim K. Avery … discovered Sarah Maria Cornell’s body hanging from a stake among his haystacks … Consider, as a final example of the pleasures to be had in trial pamphlets, the knot in the rope around […]