# 15 Jul 2006, 11:48AM: Transit:
Via Feministe: tributes to those who died in the London terrorist attack a year ago. The terrorists exploded bombs during rush hour, on the subway and bus systems.
Lee Baisden, an accountant for a fire brigade: "He had just moved in with his boyfriend of three years but also spent much of his time looking after his widowed mother, who suffers from multiple sclerosis."
Of another victim: His new employer, Jessops, closed all its 280 stores for the national two-minute silence on July 14 .
Another: the victim's mother, a minister, "had been bombarded with messages of sympathy and support, and driven to memorial sites by cab drivers who had refused payment."
"I will always remember her and all the others involved in these tragic events but I will not be afraid of these evil and barbaric terrorists, ever."
Another: "His parents were killed by the Taliban when he was a teenager. He left his family in Afghanistan and arrived in Britain in January 2002..."
Another: "Shahara Islam, from Whitechapel, east London was born in Britain to a devout Muslim family of Bengali origin."
We still don't know who killed almost 200 people a few days ago in Mumbai. People were going home from work on commuter trains, as on BART or Caltrain or Metro-North. And every day we take our trains, and we're not going to stop.
# 15 Jul 2006, 12:19PM: An Other Roundup:
The Muslim comic boom! Includes a few jokes Muslims tell about themselves.
The result is a kind of black-Muslim fusion. Azeem recalls being 17 and telling his grandmother, a devout southern US Baptist, that he had become a Muslim. "I said, 'Grandma, I'm a Muslim.' She looked up and said, 'No you're not. You ain't never been to jail.'"
Hugo Schwyzer, a soccer fan, has a fresh take on the Materazzi/Zidane incident from the World Cup final. Materazzi almost certainly made a racially charged insult to provoke Zidane. Schwyzer comments,
I am a white, Christian, heterosexual male....
There isn't a single term in English that you can use that attacks me for being who I am.
Yet another part of being Other -- the epithets hurt more, and there are more of them.
Ben, once Barbara Barres, automatically gets more respect. Joan Roughgarden, once Jonathan, automatically gets less. N.C. Andreasen's papers get published; Nancy Andreasen's don't. In psychiatry, in neurobiology, in lots of academe, this happens. Trans people, like immigrants, can tell us more about the color of the water we live in.
"Female scientists who are competitive or assertive are generally ostracized by their male colleagues," [Barres] says. In any case, he argues, "an aggressive competitive spirit" matters less to scientific success than curiosity, perseverance and self-confidence.
My parents kept telling me to be confident. I understand better now.
Women doubt their abilities more than men do, say scientists who have mentored scores of each. "Almost without exception, the talented women I have known have believed they had less ability than they actually had," [genetics] Prof. [Gregory] Petsko wrote. "And almost without exception, the talented men I have known believed they had more."
"I think we want to step back and ask, why is it that almost all Nobel Prize winners are men today?" [psychologist Elizabeth Spelke] concluded. "The answer to that question may be the same reason why all the great scientists in Florence were Christian."
# 15 Jul 2006, 01:19PM: Towards Less Sucky Management And Standup Comedy:
Perhaps NYC has more opportunities for beginning standup than I'd thought. My sketch needs I fulfill with Slightly Known People every Saturday night, and once in a while The Whitest Kids You Know (although they have a scatology joke or two that really makes me nauseous) (and no women). But there's enthusiastically mediocre stand-up out there. Aziz Ansari, Laurie Kilmartin, and Ted Alexandro make for wonderful exceptions.
I started doing standup partly because Simon Stow, a fantastic political science teacher, had a background in standup. His example also helped get me into teaching and political science. But I also started because I kept seeing bad standup and thinking, "I could do better than this." You'll recognize this as the same impulse I had when watching bad management at former jobs and during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I reluctantly quote Paul Graham:
I've found that people who are great at something are not so much convinced of their own greatness as mystified at why everyone else seems so incompetent.
I seem to remember this as "the good just think they suck less" but evidently that's not in the original.
The problem of metacognition nags me. It's one of the reasons I waited so long to try booze. One classic work on the topic: "Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own
Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments" by Justin Kruger and David Dunning (PDF and plain text versions). One way to get people to realize that they lack a skill is to teach it to them. How else can we correct cognitive illlusions? As a future manager, I find this a troublesome and fascinating topic. As a comedygoer and comedymaker, I want to show them how it's done.
# 15 Jul 2006, 01:24PM: A Pop Culture Summary of 2006:
I used to make sure to watch the evening network news on New Year's Eve, because they put together classy montages of the year's news to a soundtrack of the year's pop tunes. I can't find those anymore. In their stead: Snakes on a Sudoku!