The Grandmistresses are winning

Vishal’s passed on this bit of chess news:

Chess legends Viktor Korchnoi, Jan Timman, Robert Hübner and Vlastimil Hort are competing with young “grandmistresses” [sic] Koneru Humpy, Anna Muzychuk, Katerina Lahno and Jana Jackova in a double-round Scheveningen match “Lasses and Old Timer” [sic] – Czech Coal Chess Match 2009, which is taking place in Marianske Lazne at the Cristal Palace Hotel from 28th November to 5th December 2009.

And, so far, the women are winning. The photos are fun to look through, and excellent for breaking down some stereotypes.

(Some of the commentary and terminology might annoy a little, but I really don’t know how much is due to translation issues. And I kind of like ‘grandmistress’. Though perhaps I shouldn’t.)

The Sunday Cats release some steam after the holidays

These videos had a brief and accidental appearance on this blog about 10 days ago.  We hope you will still enjoy them.

We do feel compelled to relate that Tarragon, beloved jj-family cat, released steam today.  We are staying in an apartment/flat/condo on the Gulf Coast, on the 20th floor.  Tarry disappeared.  Great, horrible consternation.  Hours of searching, including going through the garbage at the bottom of the trash chute.

Finally, people from the 19th floor arrived to report they have a strange cat in their bathroom, which they think might be ours.  And it was Tarry!  There’s only one plausible story of how he got to their place, and it starts with his being on our balcony.

We are trying hard to avoid thinking about the trajectory of his trip.  We had carefully covered the railing around the balcony with mesh, and thought only a suicidal cat would project itself through the few small gaps.

Is the political this personal?

Do you grimace when Sarah Palin’s name comes up in discussions?  Do you think that might  have to do with her evident disregard for facts?  With her encouraging a right-wing flight into fantasy? 

Or could it be this personal, as Lisa Belkin in the NY Times maintains:

If life is like high school, then today’s educated, ambitious women, on both sides of the aisle, are the student-council presidents and the members of the debate team — taught that if they work hard and sacrifice something along the way, their smarts will be rewarded.This makes Sarah Palin the head cheerleader. (Though, in reality, she was the captain of the basketball team.) Pretty and popular, with no apparent interest in studying, she’s the one who industrious girls were tacitly promised would not succeed in the real world. Whether we voted for Hillary or not, we weren’t about to let Palin breeze in, with her sexy librarian hair and her peekaboo-toed shoes, conforming to every winking, air-brained stereotype, and sashay to the front of the line.

This observation, I’m inclined to say, is utter bull.  It is wrong about our take on success in the world, and it is wrong on why we dislike her.  But can I speak for “we”?  What do you think about the explanation?

Let’s have a poll!  In fact let’s have two.  The explanation the NY Times article looks like it comes from a particular view about psychological explanations.  That view says that the most basic explanations of your beliefs, desires and actions will turn out to be very narrowly self-regarding and even pretty petty, if not fundamentally very erotic.  E.g., you may think that you oppose Palin because she further taints politics with vicious lies, but really you feel she just shows you aren’t pretty and sexy enough.

So let’s start with this poll:

And then go to this one:

Science, mothers and fathers

This article is a rarity in journalistic writing on women’s under-representation. Although it points to maternal caregiving responsiblities as a key factor– which is not at all a rarity– it takes that extra step of remembering that it’s possible for men to have caregiving responsibilities as well.

Instead of obsessing over mother-scientists, universities should strive to create an atmosphere that encourages their male scientists to be active fathers. Only then will both genders be equally compelled to confront the family-work balance issue that right now rests too squarely on the shoulders of women.

Some suggestions: Pay female scientists as much as their male counterparts, so that when scientist couples plan for a family, the woman isn’t automatically compelled to ditch her career simply because she earns less and he earns more. Have paternity leave on par with maternity leave; if you’re going to stop the tenure clock for child rearing, extend that offer to new fathers as well as new mothers.

(Thanks, Jender-Parents!)

New York Review of Books: A shocking shame?

So the New York Review of Books sent its e-subscribers a cheery note:

Below you will find links to the first forty-nine posts published on the NYRblog since its inception last month. If you haven’t been following the blog, we invite you to visit, participate in the comments, and send us your thoughts. You can also follow the Review online via Facebook and Twitter , or through our RSS feed.

Sounds jolly, until you scroll down and notice that among those 49 bloggers are two, and only two, women writers.  The percentage isn’t immediately obvious because two articles are co-authored, but I make the percentage of women authors 4%.

That is remarkable.  That’s what the percentage of full professors in physics used to look like before NSF and others got going on correcting the situation.  Now women show up in all sorts of fields.  For goodness sakes, what is going on with the NYRB? 

Is there a kind of male intellectual approach that shows up across many disciplines and that the NYR particularly values?  It would be interesting to figure out if that is so and why.  For example, why would they ask John Searle to write on Boghossian’s Fear of Knowledge, rather than some feminist philosopher who might have been more balanced?  Did they think of the topic as sort of a guys’  thing?  Or perhaps they don’t know any women working in the field, much like our colleagues?

There’s a lot of regret that there aren’t more public intellectuals that gets expressed when we profess woe at the state of public discourse.  Perhaps if women have more venues, the dearth would seem less.

In all fairness:  I haven’t counted up the occurrences of women authors in the published journal.  In addition, the NYRB responded to an earlier complaint of ours, so I assume such issues matter to them at least a bit.

CFP: Kant’s Anthropology

The Kant Yearbook

is now accepting submissions for its third issue in 2011. The Kant Yearbook is an international journal that publishes articles on the philosophy of Immanuel Kant. It is the Kant Yearbook’s goal to intensify innovative research on Kant on the international scale. For that reason the Kant Yearbook prefers to publish articles in English, however articles in German will also be considered. Each issue will be dedicated to a specific topic. The third issue’s topic is


All papers, historical or systematic, related to Kant’s anthropology and its theoretical or practical aspects are welcome. We also encourage papers on the contemporary significance of Kantian anthropology.

The Kant Yearbook practices double-blind review, i.e. the reviewers are not aware of the identity of a manuscript’s author, and the author is not aware of the reviewer’s identity. Submitted manuscripts must be anonymous; that is the authors’ names and references to their work capable of identifying them are not to appear in the manuscript. Detailed instructions and author guidelines are available at ( For further information contact the editor or the publisher Walter de Gruyter, Berlin/New York ( Paper submissions should go to

Deadline for submission is

June 15, 2010

Just imagine if…

A glossy folder for jj-spouse just came through my mailbox with the following note on it:

Because of your active membership with the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a Subaru marketing affiliate, you may be eligible to participate in the VIP Partners Program.

And get a Subaru for less. 

Being an active researcher myself, I googled for some information about this surprising role for the AAAS, having first ascertained from jj-spouse that it was indeed surprising.  I found that Subaru is now the Premier Automotive Sponsor of the AAAS.  And, in addition to giving members of AAAS up to 3k off of new cars, Subaru now sponsors all sorts of prizes for students, school teachers, books and films.  All for K-12, but still a really good thing.

So just imagine if the American Philosophical Association got some corporate sponsor.  Who would it be and what could we get?  I don’t know that my imagination is up to it, but I can try to start it off:

Fox News is now the Premier News  Network of the American Philosophical Association.  It will sponsor research on favorite philosophical topics such as the merits of upholding traditional values over attempts to introduce diversity.  Special funds will be available for conferences featuring all white male keynote speakers.  Free advertisement for all male departments will be carried on the network.

Let us know what you think!