Friday, June 6, 2008

Who are th 12 greatest women alive today in the United States?

A Chilean writer asked this of the National League of Women Voters, and the League is now asking us. They want to see "a range of occupation, residence and temperament," and these must be "women who have made their own way, without the assistance of father or husband." Ha ha. That last condition excludes a lot of women who probably think they are pretty great.

The NYT contends that the 12 greatest women "are women that have never been heard of outside of their own homes, and seldom appreciated there; who have put aside their own ambitions ... to build careers for which their husbands got credit." But the League is looking for famous women, so the Times names 12 famous women: Geraldine Farrar, Edith Wharton, Carrie Chapman Catt, Molla Mallory, Alice Paul, Ida Tarbell, Jane Addams, Amy Lowell, Minnie Maddern Fiske, M. Carey Thomas, Mary Pickford, and Agnes Repplier. Ah, but "six of the twelve have never married," and the married ones are all childless. "Let those who think it is easy to manage a first-rate career and a first-rate home simultaneously find an explanation for that."

Well, my first attempt at an explanation would be to guess that the NYT composed its list of twelve with an eye toward who was childless. But, yet, it's certainly true that it's not easy to balance career and family. Why can't we factor that in as we select the greatest women? First, you say the really greatest women are the ones who put aside all career ambitions for the sake of the family, and then you present us with a list of great women who are all childless. It's obvious what you want to say. You want to warn women away from careers. Unless we are willing to abandon the hope for a good family, we should forget about having a career. This is a terrible message. Try harder to find good examples of women who have balanced family and work and show us how they have done it — or modern women should toss this reactionary newspaper aside. We deserve better.


Thursday, June 5, 2008

Tough anti-Communists reject "moral equivalence."

Walter Goodman reports in the NYT:

The use of the term ''moral equivalence'' is generally attributed to Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, the former United States Delegate to the United Nations, in her sharp criticism of that point of view.... She traced the willingnss [sic] of some in the West to believe there is ''not a dime's worth of difference betwen the two regimes'' in part to ''semantic manipulation'' by the Russions [sic] designed to ''delegitimize Western democracies and to detach the allegiance of its citizens.''
Various prominent neoconservatives were there: Irving Kristol, Norman Podhoretz, William J. Bennett, Michael Novak. There are so many typos in this article! Kristol's name is spelled "Kirstol." I think the neocons are making the NYT nervous. Attention is called to the fact that the meeting was sponsored by the State Department — AKA the "State Depratment"— which prohibited the use of the funds for ''publicity or propaganda." Does that mean conservatives must be balanced by liberals? That's a stretch. In any case, it seems that liberals — e.g. Noam Chomsky — turned them down.

But what really interests me here is Tom Wolfe, who gave the dinner talk, titled, as the Times writes it: ''The Intellegent coed's Guide to Socialism.'' (They're dum.) I'd love to get the text of this speech. Here's the summary — devoid of quotes that might convey Wolfe's hilarious, lively style:
[H]e suggested that intellectuals are attracted to socialism because it seems in ''good taste.'' In addition, he drew attention to what he called the ''secret promise'' of socialism, that intellectuals will wind up with power.
Sounds apt! This idea that people support the political theory that will bring them power... isn't it a political theory? Isn't it Marxism? But of course, Tom Wolfe must be a big right-winger or he wouldn't be speaking at that outrageous, State Depratment-funded, publicity-seeking propaganda fest.


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

"Natural laws? There are none. We make them and then attribute them to nature."

The NYT tries to explain the physics of "Young Professor Heisenberg." Is there any truth? Apparently it's all mere probabilities:

Why, then, do engineers and chemists undertake to build bridges or make rayon, confident that their plans will be realized? Because lumps of matter are merely statistical effects. In their vast conglomerations of atoms and electrons conflicts and agreements combine to form a colossal average that seems to obey the "laws of nature."
Meanwhile, in Berlin, Lady Grace Drummond-Hay reports to the NYT that she has spoken with General Hermann Wilhelm Goering and he has assured her that Germany is producing "one fully equipped military plane every three days" and that it's absurd to think — as newspapers have reported — that Germany is adding several hundred military planes every week. Lady Grace surmises that the reason Germany "is evading disclosure of the size of her air fleet is not because it is larger than the world thinks but because it is smaller."

It's hard to know what's going on in this world.


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

"At first only a few went overboard, but as the decks got hot the men saw their only chance was in the water..."

"Standing near the stern were two small boys, huddled up in a corner and too frightened to move. The flames were almost upon them, but they did not seem to realize their danger."

A thrilling account of the fire on The Bremen.

"Every man turned into a devil. We ran fighting and clawing and scratching and swearing for the ladder leading up to the deck. We found the hatches battened down. Great God, how the men did curse!... They pounded against the iron hatch. They pounded until the blood ran. Through the iron grating we saw flames...

"It was like hell down there. The men tore their clothes off... The men down at the bottom did not fight any more. One by one they just fell down and lay still. A big man near me said we ought to pray. Near me a fellow who had done a lot of fighting and cursing began to cry. Then he prayed."

Monday, June 2, 2008

"I... would very much enjoy seeing in the White House a lady President..."

"and, should she happen to be married, what one might call a prince consort, were we not so terribly democratic."

A letter to the editor, complaining that the Women's Party hasn't put up a female presidential candidate.


Sunday, June 1, 2008

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Lady Doyle go to Coney Island.

This is, apparently, huge news. Look at the size of the article, replete with quotes that show him scrambling for something nice to say when pressed about what he thought of the place:

"Coney Island doesn't give one time to think. I'm trying to get myself together. I must do that before I can think. But I certainly had a good time."
Later, he said he liked the dancing, and he seemed surprised to find refined dancing there.
He refused to discuss Coney's lights, noises, and exciting attractions. They didn't need discussion, he said. They spoke for themselves.
I think it's easy enough to read between the lines there. He didn't like it! He "shot the chutes," rode "the seemingly perilous Whip ride," and toured "the ridiculous Crazy Village."

But check out this article, published yesterday, that shows him expressing a lot of opinions — about suffragists, plumage laws, and New York skyscrapers. ("It seems as though some one had gone over the city with a watering pot and stupendous buildings had grown up overnight as a result.")


"Is this woodsy metaphor a foretaste of the amenities in which political women will deal?"

That's the daintily phrased question by Mrs. A.N. George of the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage. She's offended by the reference to "the tactics of the pole-cat when badly frightened" that appeared in a resolution by the New England Woman Suffrage Association.

Cat fight!

The suffragists were denouncing the anti-suffragists for saying that the woman suffrage will lead to loose morals. It's slander! So send out another slander. Pole-cat!

And these are all women. You know, I believe in woman suffrage, but I had thought that women would bring a kinder, gentler tone to politics. George is cleverly demonstrating the kind, gentle tone on the anti side trying to make her point that the woman suffragists really are coarse and low. They said pole-cat. They put it in a resolution. It's bad enough to say it, but what an embarrassing demonstration of lack of understanding of politics to put pole-cat in a resolution.

I'm on the side of the suffragists, you know, so it troubles me deeply to see them look so bad next to the highly refined Mrs. George. But Mrs. George is a woman too, and I have to say that she has some excellent political skill. Women will win suffrage soon enough, I think. And the Mrs. Georges of the country will step up and vote. They can vote for legislators who will pass laws regulating morality if they're worried about morality. Come on, Mrs. George! Wouldn't that be better?


Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Lincoln Memorial was dedicated today.

President Harding spoke of Lincoln as a "natural human being with the frailties mixed with the virtues of humanity." And Chief Justice Taft spoke of Lincoln's "Christ-like character."

"21-INCH WAIST PASSES.; Boston Corset Maker Says Women Have Grown Stouter."

Oh, no! With the "no-corset fad," we've become fat! It's embarrassing to admit it, but now the average waist measurement for women is 28 inches! And men have been suffering the same fate as they've changed from belts to suspenders. Is it not enought to eat sensibly and exercise? Do we really need bondage to keep us from ballooning?