Sunday, April 27, 2008

Contrasting US and Turkish campus freedoms

As people might be aware, the Turkish prime minister is calling for allowing students to wear headscarfs at Turkish universities, similar to what he calls American campus freedoms. A Turkish journalist at Turkish Daily News explains what American campus freedoms really is, and contrasts them to Turkish laws.

Yes, let's talk about American campus freedoms!

Mr. Prime Minister, you want American campus freedoms, including the turban? Go ahead, and this columnist will be one of your millions of supporters

Many people really underestimates how repressive the Turkish society is.

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Divorce equals firing

This is one of the most screwed up things I've read in a long time. Well, perhaps not, given how many screwed up things that I come across all the time, but it is twisted.

Divorce: Grounds for Dismissal

Kent Gramm, a full professor of English at Wheaton College, in Illinois, is amidst two painful separations.

He and his wife are divorcing. And, because he’s choosing not to discuss the terms of that first separation with his employers — to determine whether the divorce falls within what the college considers to be appropriate Scriptural parameters — he’s resigning from Wheaton in what he calls “a mutually agreed-upon separation. And the alternative of it would be to be fired.”

“This is sort of an additional and very significant separation. I’ve been there for 20 years. I’m very attached to the students,” Gramm says.

“There’s a considerable amount of grief, but I was aware that this would be the consequence, and I’ve been aware of this for a long time. So, in another sense, I’ve prepared myself ahead of time for this.

It's quite bad that when someone goes through a hard period of their life, they have to worry about the work as well.

Wheaton does allow their employees to get divorced, but only under certain circumstances

If an employee or applicant’s divorce falls outside the acceptable parameters for divorce listed in the policy – desertion or adultery on the part of the partner – a divorce is grounds for firing, Jones confirms (or, not hiring). When asked what would happen if an employee were in an abusive relationship, Jones answered that while it’s tricky to speak of hypothetical scenarios, the college would not want to force such a relationship’s continuation. “Desertion can take different forms, as also can adultery. We try to extend all reasonable compassion to the plight that all individuals face.”

So, in other words, there is no explicit allowance for getting out of abusive relationships, but instead you're dependent on the goodwill of the people making the call. And we all know how supportive many people are of victims of abuse - think of all those nice churches that shun wives who ask for a divorce of such grounds.

I can simply not understand how it can be legal to bring in peoples' private lives as a parameter for employment. There are certain types of jobs where some aspect might be relevant (the obvious one that is always mentioned is pedophiles in jobs involving children), but under no circumstances can a divorce be relevant.

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Lazy linking

I'm still busy with work things these days, so I neither blog much nor read much of other blogs at the moment. However, I have come across a few things that I thought I'd share with my readers.

Via Ed, I read Todd A. Heywood's piece about stepping out of the HIV closet. I think this is an important piece, that everyone should read.

There has been a dust-up in the feminist blogsphere, which I largely missed, but which I've caught up on now. I am not going to link to any of the posts related to that, except to a very moving post by Jill about blogging from a position of privilege.
I am currently thinking about the issue, and will post something on it as well - living in a homogeneous and rich country like I do, poses some really hard challenges when it comes to facing your own privileges and assumptions.

Cleaning out some old bookmarks, I came across a link I saved back in 2004, but which I though I should share.
The Unfeeling President by E.L. Doctorow
I fault this president for not knowing what death is. He does not suffer the death of our 21-year-olds who wanted to be what they could be. On the eve of D-Day in 1944 General Eisenhower prayed to God for the lives of the young soldiers he knew were going to die. He knew what death was. Even in a justifiable war, a war not of choice but of necessity, a war of survival, the cost was almost more than Eisenhower could bear.

But this president does not know what death is. He hasn't the mind for it. You see him joking with the press, peering under the table for the weapons of mass destruction he can't seem to find, you see him at rallies strutting up to the stage in shirt sleeves to the roar of the carefully screened crowd, smiling and waving, triumphal, a he-man.

I still think that it describes President George W. Bush rather well.

Another item from the old links - a science fiction short story by Marta Randall: The View from Endless Scarp

I forget where I came across this link, but I found this Slate article quite good.
The Paranoid Style in American Science by Daniel Engber.

RealClimate has a good obit of Ed Lorenz. If you don't know who he is, and why he is important, then go to that obit.

Update – Neurodiversity Subpoena Quashed! at Skeptico


Book meme

Just to prove that I'm still around, and because I can't pass on book memes, I'm going to fill out the 106 books of pretension meme (via Wilkins and Lynch).

The books listed below are "the top 106 books most often marked as "unread" by LibraryThing’s users." What I’ve read is in italics, what I never finished is struck through:

* Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
* Anna Karenina
* Crime and Punishment
* Catch-22
* One Hundred Years of Solitude
* Wuthering Heights
* The Silmarillion
* Life of Pi : a novel
* The Name of the Rose [haven't given up on it though]
* Don Quixote
* Moby Dick
* Ulysses
* Madame Bovary
* The Odyssey
* Pride and Prejudice
* Jane Eyre
* The Tale of Two Cities [planning on giving it another go, though]
* The Brothers Karamazov
* Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies
* War and Peace
* Vanity Fair
* The Time Traveler’s Wife
* The Iliad
* Emma
* The Blind Assassin [again, want to try it again]
* The Kite Runner
* Mrs. Dalloway
* Great Expectations
* American Gods
* A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
* Atlas Shrugged
* Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books
* Memoirs of a Geisha
* Middlesex
* Quicksilver
* Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
* The Canterbury tales
* The Historian : a novel
* A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
* Love in the Time of Cholera
* Brave New world
* The Fountainhead
* Foucault’s Pendulum
* Middlemarch
* Frankenstein
* The Count of Monte Cristo
* Dracula
* A Clockwork Orange
* Anansi Boys
* The Once and Future King
* The Grapes of Wrath
* The Poisonwood Bible : a novel
* 1984
* Angels & Demons
* The Inferno
* The Satanic Verses
* Sense and Sensibility
* The Picture of Dorian Gray
* Mansfield Park
* One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
* To the Lighthouse
* Tess of the D’Urbervilles
* Oliver Twist
* Gulliver’s Travels
* Les Misérables
* The Corrections
* The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
* The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
* Dune
* The Prince
* The Sound and the Fury
* Angela’s Ashes : a memoir
* The God of Small Things
* A People’s History of the United States : 1492-present
* Cryptonomicon
* Neverwhere
* A Confederacy of Dunces
* A Short History o f Nearly Everything [currently reading this]
* Dubliners
* The Unbearable Lightness of Being
* Beloved
* Slaughterhouse-five
* The Scarlet Letter
* Eats, Shoots & Leaves [currently reading this]
* The Mists of Avalon
* Oryx and Crake : a novel
* Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
* Cloud Atlas
* The Confusion
* Lolita
* Persuasion
* Northanger Abbey
* The Catcher in the Rye [hated this, but it was a school assignment]
* On the Road
* The Hunchback of Notre Dame
* Freakonomics : a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything
* Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : an inquiry into values
* The Aeneid
* Watership Down
* Gravity’s Rainbow
* The Hobbit
* In Cold Blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences
* White Teeth
* Treasure Island
* David Copperfield
* The Three Musketeers

There are quite a few of the other books on the list that I either own or probably will buy in the future, as I want to read them.

Except for the Rand books, I think the only really pretentious book on the list is A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, which is also pretty much the worst book on the list (except for the Rand books).

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Light blogging ahead

As my few regular readers might have noticed, blogging has been light lately - this is due to the simple fact that I am currently working on a project with 2 deadlines this month. That means that blogging will be light the next couple of weeks as well.

Still, I have a few loose ends that I thought I should address. First of all, welcome to all of Skippy's readers.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about a new mathematical object. Since math isn't exactly my strongest area, I hoped that someone like Fox might step up and provide more details, which he did. However, a, to me, new blog thought that we didn't actually explain the most fundamental part of the new discovery, and took upon itself to explain it better - thanks Science and Reason.

Readerville is a book-related forum that I've been frequented since it opened up 8 years ago. Unfortunately it is coming to an end in its current form, and will cease to exist some time in the coming week. The Readerville site will continue, with the online version of the Readerville Journal, but the forum won't be there. Karen, who runs Readerville, is working on some kind of solution, and has enabled comments on the articles in the Readerville Journal.
It's always a bit sad when something that has been part of your life for a long time disappears - and in internet time, Readerville has been around forever, but some times change is also good - let's hope that's the case here.

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