Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Judy Blume's Blubber, plus free fiction and class links

Update: I expanded my review on Goodreads, so I'm expanding it here, too:

I saw a reviewer say she didn't like Blubber because the ending did not make it clear that bad things are bad. That's because Blume knows to trust her readers. As many children's book writers have noted, children usually can figure out things their parents don't understand.

When Judy Blume wrote Blubber, I wasn't interested in kids' books. But when Robert N. Lee wrote, "I've said for years and years that everybody should be issued this book before they get online," I decided I needed to read it.

Blume is at least as good as her fans say she is, and she may be better. I know a lot of writers, myself included, who could learn from her style, her sense of structure, her pacing, her attention to scenes, her humor, her acceptance of human shortcomings, and her ability to tell a moral tale without a hint of preaching.

Will-Bob gives it four and a half stars. (I gave it five on goodreads. I might've given it four if I hadn't seen the comment by someone who gave it two. I think the ending is a little rushed, but that's a minor quibble.)

* * *

I posted "Little Red and the Big Bad" here.

Got a couple of class links here. I especially recommend clicking on the interactive "The Geography of the Recession" map.

Monday, November 23, 2009

I am the Class Guy

Accepting my obsession, I've created a new blog, The Class Guy. I've moved my old political posts there. When I post something new, I'll announce it here, so no one needs to subscribe to it.

I should get a Don Quixote icon.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Love Wanga

It is really easy to make fun of the way the meanings of words have changed. And sometimes that easy fun is irresistable:


via Golden Age Comic Book Stories

Friday, November 6, 2009

Ricky Gervais Extras: The Racist Test

The Racist Test:

if you want gay marriage

History suggests you have to repeal "don't ask, don't tell" first. Truman issued an Executive Order ending segregation in the military in 1948. Loving v. Virginia didn't legalize interracial marriage until 1967.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

people may even be less racist than Project Implicit implies

from In Bias Test, Shades of Gray:
In a series of scathing critiques, some psychologists have argued that this computerized tool, the Implicit Association Test, or I.A.T., has methodological problems and uses arbitrary classifications of bias. If Barack Obama’s victory seemed surprising, these critics say, it’s partly because social scientists helped create the false impression that three-quarters of whites are unconsciously biased against blacks.
As Shaking the foundations of the hidden bias test notes,
This has been one part of an ongoing debate that has suggested that the IAT is not all it's cracked up to be, while the originators of the test have fired back with the heavyweight review [pdf] of over 100 studies, defending their position and the IAT's credentials.

The debate is important because the IAT has become one of psychology's central tools for separating conscious and unconscious associations and has been applied to pretty much everything from racism to diagnosing psychopaths.
So Project Implicit may be right, or their critics may be right, but either way, the Critical Race Theorists and Whiteness Students are, to be kind, mistaken in their belief that everyone's racist.

(Thanks, serialbabbler, for pointing me to the Mind Hacks link!)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

testing for racism at Project Implicit

Years ago, I did the race test at Project Implicit. I don't remember the result, which is probably significant. So I did it again today. (And was amused to find Project Implicit has its own implicit assumptions. Under politics, you can be "strongly liberal," but you can't be a socialist. Ah, well.)

The result:

Your data suggest a slight automatic preference for African American compared to European American.


To the best of my knowledge, I took the test fairly. But I noticed one thing: when it required me to post bad things and African Americans in the same category, it hurt.

I will have to work on my prejudice against white people.

Then I took their religion test, and left this comment at my Live Journal:
Oh my god! I'm prejudiced against Christianity! I'm prejudiced against white people and Christians!

Actually, this delights me too much, but it really wasn't the result I was expecting.

I got Islam on top, Judaism and Hinduism as equals, and Christianity below that. They were all grouped toward the middle, so I'm not extremely prejudiced against Christianity, but still, this is hard for someone who considers himself a Christian Unitarian Universalist metatheist.
To choose a test there, click Go to the Demonstration Tests.

I've been thinking about Project Implicit's conclusion that I'm a little prejudiced in favor of African Americans and a little against Christians. I expected the reverse, because I had bought into the theory that we're all at least a tiny bit racist in favor of our cultural group. But when another "white" friend was also indicated as favoring African Americans (though she favored Christians), I realized that my assumption was nonsense. Our biases come from our understanding of our culture, not from our culture itself.
Project Implicit also rejects the theory that everyone is racist in favor of their race: "75-80% of self-identified Whites and Asians show an implicit preference for racial White relative to Black."

Saying everyone is racist is nonsense. Saying three-fourths of the population is racist might be accurate.

ETA: Just noticed that I used "nonsense" twice here. I think that was because I hesitated to use "bullshit." Project Implicit's studies strengthen my conviction that ideological anti-racists who insist we're all racist are just trying to rationalize their recognition of their own racism.

ETA 2: I recommend Project Implicit's FAQ, especially questions 8 and 9:

Is the common preference for White over Black in the Black-White attitude IAT a simple 'ingroup' preference?

Do Black participants show a preference for Black over White on the race attitude IAT?

ETA 3: About the participants for Project Implicit:
The participants at Project Implicit form a sample that is generally more diverse than those found in traditional laboratory studies. Below are approximate percentages broken down by gender and ethnicity:

Female: 62%; Male: 38%
American Indian: 1%
Asian: 6.3%
Black/African-American: 6.8%
Hispanic: 5.1%
White/Caucasian: 72%
Multiracial: 4.8%
Other: 3.7%

more about Project Implicit, plus families hitting the road

I've been thinking about Project Implicit's conclusion that I'm a little prejudiced in favor of African Americans and a little against Christians. I expected the reverse, because I had bought into the theory that we're all at least a tiny bit racist in favor of our cultural group. But when another "white" friend was also indicated as favoring African Americans (though she favored Christians), I realized that my assumption was nonsense. Our biases come from our understanding of our culture, not from our culture itself.

Project Implicit also rejects the theory that everyone is racist in favor of their race: "75-80% of self-identified Whites and Asians show an implicit preference for racial White relative to Black."

Saying everyone is racist is nonsense. Saying three-fourths of the population is racist might be accurate.

Also: In a tough economy, many are trading their houses for RVs and the highway: Play the video. I was wondering if the kids were sincere, until I saw the son speak.

ETA: Just noticed that I used "nonsense" twice here. I think that was because I hesitated to use "bullshit." Project Implicit's studies strengthen my conviction that ideological anti-racists who insist we're all racist are just trying to rationalize their recognition of their own racism.

ETA 2: I recommend Project Implicit's FAQ, especially questions 8 and 9:

Is the common preference for White over Black in the Black-White attitude IAT a simple 'ingroup' preference?

Do Black participants show a preference for Black over White on the race attitude IAT?

ETA 3: About the participants for Project Implicit:
The participants at Project Implicit form a sample that is generally more diverse than those found in traditional laboratory studies. Below are approximate percentages broken down by gender and ethnicity:

Female: 62%; Male: 38%
American Indian: 1%
Asian: 6.3%
Black/African-American: 6.8%
Hispanic: 5.1%
White/Caucasian: 72%
Multiracial: 4.8%
Other: 3.7%