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“Women don’t do that”

by Greg Krehbiel on 30 January 2015

I have some small experience with writing and getting feedback from readers. I’m not an expert, but I certainly have more experience along those lines than the average person.

My impression so far is that women react to books very differently than men do, in this respect at least — Women tend to read characters as universals while men seem to read characters as particulars.

For example, some women have reacted to some of my characters by saying things like, “a woman wouldn’t so that,” or, “I didn’t know men thought like that.” The implication seems to be that a female character has to represent all women and a male character has to represent all men.

In one of my stories a woman uses a shower cap. A few female readers told me “women don’t use shower caps,” so I asked my female friends on Facebook. The reaction was very instructive. I discuss it here: The great shower cap debate.

Of course I’m not saying that all women read books this way. (That would be to read my post as a woman! Ha ha.) But I am wondering if this is generally true, or if that sort of perspective is more common among women than among men.

-- 1 comment  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-01-30  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Who cares what scientists think?

by Greg Krehbiel on 30 January 2015

This is such a weird article. Big gap exists between what public thinks, scientists know: Poll findings cause for concern, science group’s leader says.

In eight of 13 science-oriented issues, there was a 20-percentage-point or higher gap separating the opinions of the public and members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science ….

So? Why does it matter what “scientists” think on issues. For example, who cares what a chemist thinks about vaccinations, or what a biologist thinks about global warming? The fact that the chemist and the biologist are scientists doesn’t confer some Generalized Power of Reasoning on them.

“On the whole, as compared to most members of the public, scientists are likely drawing from a larger scientific knowledge base — and thinking more scientifically — about each of these issues,” George Mason University communications professor Edward Maibach said in an email. “Therefore, their views appear to be more in line with a completely dispassionate reading of the risks versus the benefits.”

Perhaps, but where’s the proof of this? Scientists like to pretend this sort of thing out of a generalized arrogance, but I haven’t seen any evidence for it. And comparing scientists as a group to the general public as a group is silly for other reasons, like the average amount of education they’ve received. As a general rule I would expect that more educated people base their opinions on a different set of information than less educated people.

Also, it’s funny how different standards are used at different times. Scientists who are global warming skeptics are dismissed out of hand unless they’ve done peer-reviewed science in climatology, so I guess in that case their views aren’t “more in line with a completely dispassionate reading” of the issue.

The whole tone of the article is to push this silly “we should listen to scientists” nonsense. It’s just arrogant posturing. Scientists are no more dispassionate about their views, or likely to base their views on evidence, than anybody else (of similar education, etc.). In fact, if I were to pick the profession that is best at hard-headedly basing their views on the evidence, I might pick lawyers. Or maybe engineers. A couple decades ago I might have picked reporters, although I probably wouldn’t today.

--  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-01-30  ::  Greg Krehbiel

A taste of their own medicine

by Greg Krehbiel on 29 January 2015

The Obama administration got fed up with the fact that Congress wouldn’t do what the White House wanted, so the president decided he’d bypass Congress and do things his own way.

But now the shoe is on the other foot. Congress is unhappy with the way the White House is conducting foreign policy, particularly with respect to Iran, so they invite Netanyahu to come speak to them. The White House doesn’t like it.

Administration Official Criticizes Israeli Ambassador Over Netanyahu Visit

Karma, Mr. President.

-- 4 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-01-29  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Loretta Lynch and a Republican Senate

by Greg Krehbiel on 29 January 2015

Republicans are proving (once again) that campaign promises are just meaningless talk. All last year we heard about how Obama is violating the constitution and we need a Republican Senate to stop him. Well … if they really want to stop Obama’s executive actions, one thing they could do is fail to confirm any of his nominations. Don’t even have a hearing. Just say no.

Of course they won’t do that because they would lose the subsequent PR battle, and the reason they would lose is that they are cowards who aren’t willing to stand on principle and fight for something.

I know very little about Loretta Lynch and have no particular reason to oppose her — except that Obama nominated her, which makes it very likely she would be a disaster. But my point here isn’t really about Loretta Lynch.

My point is that this happens over and over and over again. Politicians make promises to get elected and then they don’t come through on those promises. It’s as if the whole voting thing is some sort of cynical joke. Yes, the voters have some small impact by pushing the government generally left or right, but in terms of specific policies the lesson is plain. Never believe what a politician promises.

As a completely irrelevant side note, every time I see or hear her name I think of this song by Josh Turner — Loretta Lynn’s Lincoln.

--  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-01-29  ::  Greg Krehbiel

What is a “sensitive” climate?

by Greg Krehbiel on 28 January 2015

I heard some viewer response on CSPAN radio the other day. That’s when people who sniff glue for a living call in and give their opinion. This time it was on Alaska and whether some area or other should be open to oil exploration.

The surprising thing was that people made somewhat sensible points. I was waiting for a caller to claim that Alaskan oil exploration would kill llamas and penguins, but it wasn’t all that bad.

Then somebody said we should leave that area alone because it’s “sensitive,” and I stopped to wonder what that means. You hear it all the time. We can’t mess up this “sensitive” wildlife area.

Is there anything even remotely scientific or objective to that sort of statement? Has somebody measured how the area responds to different stimuli and found it “more sensitive” than other areas?

I’m pretty sure it’s a nonsense word people use to say “I like it, leave it alone.”

-- 2 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-01-28  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Cultural relativism … until not

by Greg Krehbiel on 28 January 2015

Hurrah for Michelle Obama deciding not to pretend to be a good little Muslim while she was visiting Saudi Arabia.

My first response to the headline was, “that’s kinda rude. Their country, their rules.”

But then I quickly changed my mind. It’s too easy to push that kind of sentiment to the point of absurdity, like joining in a cannibal feast, or marrying extra wives, or whatever.

So yes, we accommodate other cultures on some things, but not on others, like when moral issues are at stake. Sometimes you have to make a point, and it’s about time that somebody started pointing out how backwards the Saudis are.

The issue represents a clash of liberal values. The feminist side of liberalism is banging heads with the cultural relativism side of liberalism, and Michelle’s unveiled head is going to bring that out into the open a little more.

-- 1 comment  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-01-28  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Long live the king

by Greg Krehbiel on 28 January 2015

Some time in the last few days I heard some political yammering about changes in the Arab world. Some were about Obama’s trip to Saudi Arabia. Others were about the troubles in Yemen. Others were simply about foreign policy in general and what the heck is going on the Middle East.

One comment caught my attention, which was the claim that ME nations with kings are doing better than ME nations with parliaments or other sorts of westernized governments.

We went into Iraq to remove a dictator and impose — or allow, or … something — a democratic government to take its place. It hasn’t worked.

President Bush liked to tell us that every human heart longs for democracy. I know we folk in the U.S. are bred to believe that, but recent events have to get you to stop and think that maybe we’re the strange exception and the natural state of man is to have a king.

--  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-01-28  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Oppression by complication

by Greg Krehbiel on 26 January 2015

Andrew Cuomo is quoted about his complaints with teacher’s unions in this article. I found this particularly interesting.

“If (the public) understood what was happening with education to their children, there would be an outrage in this city,” Cuomo said. “I’m telling you, they would take City Hall down brick by brick.

“It’s only because it’s complicated that people don’t get it.”

How many other things are that way? How many things do we just let slide because it would be too burdensome to figure it all out?

Monetary policy, Social Security, government surveillance, health care policy, police tactics, environmental regulations, ….

ISTM the government has an interest in making things complicated. They can hire teams of lawyers to “interpret” the rules, and they can make it all such a confusing, Byzantine mess that ordinary folk simply toss up their hands in despair.

-- 3 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-01-26  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Should women be evaluated by their appearance?

by Greg Krehbiel on 26 January 2015

From time to time I hear people complain that women are often described by their appearance — in news reports, and so on — but men are not. For example, a story about a female politician will describe her hair, her dress and her shoes, but a story about a male politician won’t.

Well, maybe. Indian prime minister greets Barack Obama in ‘Modi pinstripe’ jacket: India’s prime minister accused of narcissism after wearing ‘Modi pinstripe’ suit to meet President Obama

Of course this is funny because it’s odd. I’m certainly not saying this example overthrows the general claim. It’s certainly true that women are evaluated by their appearance more than men are.

Is that so bad?

There are certainly cases where it would be wrong to evaluate a woman on her appearance. For example, it would be wrong to include appearance in a performance evaluation — unless, of course, a certain appearance is a requirement for the job.

However, there’s a very prevalent attitude that whatever we say about men, or however we evaluate them, or however we treat them, we should do the same with women. And vice versa.

So … should women be evaluated by their appearance?

Yes, of course they should — in some situations and not in others, and those situations will not be the same for men and for women.

It’s a simple fact of life that women are evaluated on their looks more than men are. People can cry and complain and whine about it, but that’s the way it is, it’s unlikely to change, and even if we could change it I’m not sure it would make the world a better place.

So Hillary Clinton is going to be evaluated on her clothes and her wrinkles a lot more than a male candidate will. Is that “fair”? I don’t know. Is it “fair” that the taller candidate usually wins?

-- 11 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-01-26  ::  Greg Krehbiel

If you’re interested in publishing …

by Greg Krehbiel on 26 January 2015

I have another blog where I discuss such things. The Krehbiel Report on Publishing.

--  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-01-26  ::  Greg Krehbiel

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