Thursday, 31 March 2005

Stallone and Selleck: Prophets before their time

Jeff Licquia finds that thieves are discovering something anyone who saw Demolition Man twelve years ago already knew: biometrics don’t do a good job checking whether or not the owner is still attached to the thing being scanned. For that matter, the Tom Selleck sci-fi flick Runaway showed biometric scamming in action 21 years ago. Do the people who come up with these things just not watch sci-fi films?

Pope receives Last Rites

Pope John Paul II has received his Last Rites and appears to be near death. The death doesn’t appear imminent, but the ceremony of Last Rites is not a good sign. I’m not particularly religious these days, but I grew up a Catholic and he’s the only Pope I’ve ever known. In any case, Godspeed, good man:

Pope John Paul II was given the last rites of the Roman Catholic Church late Thursday night as his health deteriorated, a Vatican source has told CNN.

The sacrament does not necessarily mean that the pope is dying. Last rites—also known as the sacrament of anointing the sick—are commonly given to people who are seriously ill as well. The pope received the sacrament after he was shot by a would-be assassin in 1981.

The pope is suffering from a high fever caused by a urinary tract infection, the Vatican confirmed earlier Thursday—one day after revealing he had been put on a nasal feeding tube for nutrition.

Intellectual diversity

Todd Zywicki has a lengthy post at The Volokh Conspiracy on the merits of intellectual diversity on campus, most of which I am in full agreement with. However, Zywicki seems to have picked a rather poor example of indoctrination:

My “History of the American South” class was a one semester narrative by a Marxist professor on how rich southern whites had conspired to manipulate racist sentiments among lower-class whites to keep them from banding together in the “natural” economic alliance of poor whites and blacks to plunder the property of rich whites. He was the only one who taught it, so if I wanted to take it (I was from South Carolina, so I was interested in it), I had to take it from him.

I hate to break it to Zywicki, but that’s basically what rich whites did during the post-Civil War era in the South, a phenomenon that continues (in diminished form) to this day. You don’t have to be a Marxist to buy that argument, although I suppose it helps.

Granted, there are other important aspects of Southern history and politics (although most of them are connected, at least somewhat, to the twin issues of elite dominance and race as well), so if the entire semester was just a rant on that particular topic I’d say Zywicki had a rather poor instructor. But “divide the have-nots through racist appeals” was a cornerstone of planter-elite strategy to maintain political and economic power, particularly in the Deep South, well into the 1960s.

Chronicle freebies

A couple of somewhat weird articles have appeared on the Chronicle of Higher Education website in the last few days. First off, a graduate student decides to reinforce some stereotypes of academics:

After years of reading The Chronicle, I’ve heard just about every complaint that teachers can make—about a lack of appreciation for what we do, trouble getting students to talk, the vagaries of grading—but there’s one basic complaint that has gone unexplored so far: What if you’re so hot and bothered that you have trouble teaching the class?

Um, I’d advise sucking it up and dealing with it, or getting a girlfriend to solve that whole being “hot and bothered” thing. For what it’s worth, it’s 80 degrees out today and everyone’s pretty much half-naked here.

Second, Gene Fant of Union University (in lovely Jackson, Tennessee) explains why I can’t get a job in the geographic area that I want to work in. Now someone tells me.