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« Alberto Cavalcanti | Main | Time Passes »

May 17, 2006


Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

* Francis Coppola has directed another movie -- his first since 1997's "The Rainmaker."

* So Bush is talking tough on immigration. Is he serious? Steve Sailer does the arithmatic and concludes that Bush's plan will deploy one American soldier every 4.5 miles along the border. That'll hold 'em back! The Heritage Foundation looks at the Senate's plan for immigration and calculates that it's likely to result in 103 million new legal immigrants over the next 20 years. Your commute is likely to become a very long one. Steve also supplies a link-a-thon to other commentaries about the immigration follies.

* A geek's idea of love? (NSFW)

* Meet the guy who makes a fortune arguing that white men are guilty until proven innocent.

* Here's another landmark that need never have been passed.

* I have the honor of having provoked one of GNXP's most profound and urgent postings-and-commentsfests. As ever, I conclude that further studies are needed.

* Ronald Neame, the director of the original "Poseidon Adventure," is 95 and going strong. He recently attended the new "Poseidon Adventure" and ... Well, his comment about contempo films generally bears cutting-and-pasting:

"Everything at the moment has become too frenetic, partly because the stories are not good enough ... So they try to make up for their lack of good characterisation and storytelling by quick cutting and frenetic use of the camera. And I think that's a pity."

* I wrote here about the brilliance of the British visual-book publisher Peter Kindersley. Fun to notice that the company he founded, DK Publishing, is a repeat winner of kids' science-book prizes. I see that, since Kindersley sold the company, he has become an organic farmer.

* Sergei Eisenstein, erotic draftsman.

* Here's a downloadable recording of a 1963 panel discussion between John Simon, Dwight MacDonald, and Pauline Kael.

* Agnostic visits NYC and has some perceptive things to say about its weird eco (or is that ego?) system.



posted by Michael at May 17, 2006


Here's a subject for you, Michael, though no genetics involved. What objects associated with either sex really strike you? We know about shoe fetishes. I guess maybe female glove fetishes are kind of hard to pursue since so few women wear gloves, but I love men's leather work gloves. Cowboy gear is always sexy, expecially if it's been well-used and cared for. My ex- loved my predecessor's black silk scarves, the kind that are a yard on each side. She bought them to wear on her blonde head, but he liked them because that's what old-time cowboys -- when he was a kid -- wore folded and wrapped several times around their necks in side their collars. Red bandannas are for farmers and the elegant prints that some cowboy ("Quigley down Under" ) stars wear with the knot to the back and a kind of sling in the front are pretty but ridiculous.

WWII vintage cigarette lighters used to be sexy and laden with nostalgia -- sometimes inscribed. Mont blanc pens? Etc.

For women: compacts. Now, little brushes. Beautiful lipstick cases. I had a geranium red one once that someone stole at a feminist conference.

Prairie Mary

Posted by: Mary Scriver on May 17, 2006 6:27 PM

103 million new immigrants in the next 20 years! Golly, IS there another country on earth planning on increasing its population more than 33% over the next generation? And so much for the idea in the linked Washington Post article that higher levels of Latino fertility will have a greater impact on population than immigration.

Amusing the way this Senate Bill is considered more 'mainstream' and less 'radical' than the House version.

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on May 18, 2006 5:40 AM

Should this landmark never have been passed? If not, why not?

Posted by: Questioner on May 18, 2006 7:05 AM

About the Sociologist that argues all White Men are evil:

I have often heard people say that Economists or Psychologists were useless. Yet, for whatever controversy they may have caused in the past, they are hired, routinely, by individuals and organizations on a regular basis. And for top dollar.

This is because they produce results. Well, the good ones do.

But I always wondered if Sociologists were ever hired outside of Academia. I guess this article answers my question.

Well, my next question would be: Are Sociologists ever hired for non-parasitic purposes? That is, are they ever hired to help produce something or help make something. Or, are they only hired to help take and indoctrinate?

This is a real question, I am being sincere. I really want to know.

Posted by: Ian Lewis on May 18, 2006 9:03 AM

Ian, I can't help you much on the Sociology question, but will toss a few thoughts.

(I, um, have a Ph.D. in Soc from one o' them fancy universities. However, I dropped my membership in the Association around 1980 out of disgust. That means I'm not exactly in touch with current conditions.)

Sociologists, to the best of my knowledge, have never "done sociology" in the private sector under the sociology banner other than (perhaps) isolated instances. What they would do is what management consultants already do, so it's possible that there are trained sociologists in consulting firms. These would be sociologists whose interest is organizational structure; but they would have to learn about business to be effective in this role.

From time to time the American Sociological Association makes noises about non-academic sociologists. I suspect this is to encourage placement of new Ph.D.s who can't get teaching jobs due to supply-demand problems. Anyway, the Association did once collect some cases of private-sector sociologists.

Generally speaking, Sociology is a left-wing discipline and most Ph.D.s and grad students are not business-friendly. This means that when academic jobs are scarce, they will go into social work or other government jobs. Others will simply abandon Sociology and get whatever jobs they can find; these can be in the private sector, but the work likely will have little to do with Sociology.

If there is a reader with more recent knowledge about these matters, feel free to add a comment.

Posted by: Donald Pittenger on May 18, 2006 10:30 AM

P. Mary -- Someone stole a geranium from you at a feminist conference? That's too good. Time to focus some of those impressive writerly energies and talents on your own memoirs! As for things that somehow associate themselves with sex ... What a good topic for a posting. Offhand, I don't think of myself as much prone to fetishism. But I'm no doubt kidding myself. The straps and filmy things women use to disguise/dress/present themselves certainly shimmer in my mind. Those little knots on the sides of string bikinis are also something I can dwell on pleasurably for hours. And the whole '60s James Bond checklist (Aston Martin, nice suit, Scotch, silencer, etc) say a loud and emphatic (and completely unironic) "masculine" to my imagination. Hmm, what a fun question to dwell on ...

FvB -- And that's 103 million new *legal* immigrants! We're letting in somewhere up to a million illegals each year too, so in 20 years that could be a grand total of 123 million. I could be wrong, but I'm guessing that they aren't likely to settle in the wide-open expanses of North Dakota either. Houston, Atlanta, New York, L.A. ... Well, they won't be growing more compact, let's put it that way. Which is why I'm forever raising the question: How populous do you (as in "does one") want the U.S. to be? There's a "if we can take 'em in then we have to take 'em in" ethic around that I completely fail to understand. We're a successful country. We get to pick (to some extent anyway) what kind of life we conduct, no? Do current Americans really want a lot of population growth? Not "can we do it" but "*do* we want it"? I suspect many don't.

Questioner -- Sorry, I feel like I'm missing your point.

Ian -- It does seem like the batting average in Sociology is especially bad, doesn't it? I wonder if it's better or worse than the arts. The funny thing is that I've gotten a lot out of some reading I've done in sociology. Christopher Lasch, Stanley Rothman, Herbert Gans ... They all said a lot of things that struck me as insightful, helpful, and valid, and not too ideology-driven. But would the academic sociology crowd consider Lasch, Rothman and Gans to be real sociologists? (Not that it matters to me.) I generally like the idea of sociology: bright, curious people using everything they've got (perceptiveness, instinct, training) to investigate and think out loud about How We Live. But maybe I'm not a technician or an academic. And maybe I'm just not well-informed. Tom Wolfe, for instance, even in his fiction strikes me as a great sociologist. But now I'm using the term loosely ... Anyway, have you run across sociology writing that you've gotten anything out of?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on May 18, 2006 10:34 AM

Lou Dobbs made some comments about the immigration nightmare this morning. He said that he believes you can't possibly reform immigration if you can't control immigration. Makes sense to me. But he's been reporting out of Washington the last few days, and he said you cannot find people of good logical thinking anywhere in that town (either party). I agree---I think the numbers associated with the Senate bill are staggering and horrifying. Bush's administration may genuinely turn out to be the biggest disaster of our lifetimes. But Dobbs also said that he thinks there is a huge landslide coming in the midterm elections, because this immigration debate really isn't fooling most of his viewers---they've had a bellyful of Washington BS. that the other party will do it so much better...but maybe it will just stop anything from getting done! But most Americans really support the House protection-of-our-borders-first measure before this other rigmarole.

Posted by: annette on May 18, 2006 11:43 AM

Donald, Michael - Thanks for the reply.

have you run across sociology writing that you've gotten anything out of? I would have to say: absolutely. Especially if people like the Blowhards, Steve Sailer and others would be defined as (part-time) Sociologists.

Also, I would imagine that Economics would be under the umbrella of Sociology. I understand that is debatable, but I believe their interests are the same, even if their approach is different.

So lets say their are valuable Sociologists (i.e. the Blowhards, Steve Sailer, Charles Murray, Jane Jacobs, Roger Scruton, Tom Wolfe, etc.). I would think that would be MOST valued when they are able to produce results. That is, not just offer insight into how the world works, but on how it could work better.

And many of the people mentioned have done just that; offered prescriptions on improving America and the World.

Jeez, guys, I don't even know where I am going with this.

I will need to gather my thoughts and make a coherent point later on. Good luck with the spam.

Posted by: Ian Lewis on May 18, 2006 11:54 AM

(2nd At Bat)

I guess my next question would be: How do we value a Sociologist? How do we measure the results?

Economists need to make accurate predictions for organizations (amongst other duties).

Psychologists help people live better lives, reduce anxiety/depression, etc. These things are measurable, quantifiable.

How do we do this for Sociologists? Do we ask them to make predictions based on their sociological insights? Is the Sociological primarily Political? If so, then, almost all of their insights will have some sort of policy implications?

As a quasi-libertarian, I place a lot of value on Value. And I guess that I get frustrated with a Department that seems to offer little value outside of Academia.

Posted by: Ian Lewis on May 18, 2006 12:13 PM

Dear Mr. Lewis:

I have very little idea what academic sociology is like, having been exposed to almost none of it. However, some of the more interesting things I've read in the last year fall under the general rubric of sociology--I find Max Weber to be quite interesting, to cite only one example. Also, I'm reading "Trust and Rule" a book by Charles Tilly, who is a professor of social science at Columbia Univ., which would seem to make him a sociologist. The Amazon book description may give a hint as to why this book is of interest:

Rightly fearing that unscrupulous rulers would break them up, seize their resources, or submit them to damaging forms of intervention, strong networks of trust such as kinship groups, clandestine religious sects, and trade diasporas have historically insulated themselves from political control by a variety of strategies. Drawing on a vast range of comparisons over time and space, Charles Tilly asks and answers how, and with what consequences, members of trust networks have evaded, compromised with, or even sought connections with political regimes.

Maybe this isn't your cup of tea, but it's blowing my mind as I read it--I can only go 5 pages or so and I have to put the book down and cool off my brain!

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on May 18, 2006 1:36 PM

Friedrich - Thanks for the book tip, I will look it up.

I should state that I am not anti-Sociology, just anti-My-Own-Personal-Ignorance. And it seems that one way to value Sociologists is to see what books and papers continue to hold value as time passes. Meaning that their ideas are not dated (We still read Adam Smith, Jane Jacobs and listen to Bach).

I guess that I will need to leave it at that and assume that Sociologists have no easy way of displaying their Value.

Thanks for the help.

Posted by: Ian Lewis on May 18, 2006 3:12 PM

This statement in the Wash Post article raised my hackles:

'"William H. Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution, predicted that the United States will have "a multicultural population that will probably be more tolerant, accommodating to other races and more able to succeed in a global economy."'

I just finished reading William Easterley's "The Elusive Quest for Growth" and the most mind-blowing chapter from the book involves empirical evidence that countries deeply divided among ethnic, cultural and income lines have LOWER per capita growth than countries that are unified socially. (Many reasons for this, the most significant being the tendency of governments of stratified nations to be captured by one of the groups, which then use them for that group's benefit and to the detriment of the other, rival groups.) So my take is that William Frey was talking out his a**, although I have an open mind.

FvB: Thanks for Tilly recommendation. I've noted it.

Posted by: jult52 on May 18, 2006 3:54 PM

Michael Blowhard wrote:

Questioner -- Sorry, I feel like I'm missing your point.

It's a question. It doesn't have a point.

Posted by: Questioner on May 18, 2006 4:24 PM

JT -- Frey sounds like a self-congratulating idiot, doesn't he?

Questioner -- Fair enough. I don't mean to be dense, and I'm happy to discuss almost anything. But can you give me a slightly more explicit hint about what you're asking?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on May 18, 2006 7:13 PM

I cannot possibly make the question any more explicit than it already is. If you don't want to answer it, that's fine.

Posted by: Questioner on May 19, 2006 4:58 PM

I cannot possibly make the question any more explicit than it already is. If you don't want to answer it, that's fine.

Posted by: Questioner on May 19, 2006 5:00 PM

Ah, well, then some other time.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on May 19, 2006 7:01 PM

All righty then. Should you ever feel inclined to take a crack at answering it, the question boiled down to whether you felt it was regrettable that the landmark was passed.

And sorry for the double posting. I didn't know about the moderation delay.

Posted by: Questioner on May 21, 2006 9:00 PM

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