Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The South or the Confederacy?

Today's Eugene Register-Guard carried a story by the AP's Mark Sherman and Nicholas Riccardi on the progress of gay marriage in the United States.  In it the following sentence appears.

"The unbroken string of state and federal rulings in support of gay and lesbian unions takes in every region of the country, including states of the Confederacy, and brings to 26 states where same-sex couples can get married or a judge has rules they ought to be allowed."

I can't recall the last time I saw the term "Confederacy" used in a news article referring to a current event.  It doesn't even say "former Confederacy," but even if it did, don't we usually say South these days?  I confess that I grinned when I read this interesting choice of words, because these days the general political odor from the, er, Confederacy, has been that of desire for a separate polity. 

Granted, the same can be said of wide swathes of the sagebrush west, but these rural western "cowcasians" are few in number and their desire for separateness is much more libertarian in nature, while the Southern attitude toward government is not that it leave people alone, but that it promote a specific set of behaviors and lifestyles connected to a particular expression of localized top-down Christianity and socioeconomic neo-feudalism. That in a nutshell is the most important division within the Republican party.

But back to the Confederacy.  Should we revive this lush, historically rich word?  It has been dead a while, but hey, zombies are popular these days (Mitch McConnell still walks, after all) and the word is so very descriptive. We could start referring to Ted Cruz as "one of the Confederacy's most visible senators."

What do you think? the Confederacy or the South?

Monday, March 31, 2014

On the PhD

Mathematician Freeman Dyson, in the latest issue of QUANTA magazine:

"I’m very proud of not having a Ph.D. I think the Ph.D. system is an abomination. It was invented as a system for educating German professors in the 19th century, and it works well under those conditions. It’s good for a very small number of people who are going to spend their lives being professors. But it has become now a kind of union card that you have to have in order to have a job, whether it’s being a professor or other things, and it’s quite inappropriate for that. It forces people to waste years and years of their lives sort of pretending to do research for which they’re not at all well-suited. In the end, they have this piece of paper which says they’re qualified, but it really doesn’t mean anything. The Ph.D. takes far too long and discourages women from becoming scientists, which I consider a great tragedy. So I have opposed it all my life without any success at all."

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

And we thought Jihad was an issue....

From the Boulder (CO) Daily Camera, Jan. 16 2014.