Even newer new body news

In March we were happy to report new body news. It was revealed that body shape does not affect heart health. All the apple-shaped people could celebrate.

Unfortunately, there’s now newer new body news which says that shape does matter, in just the way apple folks fear. Sorry!

On the other hand, cutting salt may increase your risk of heart disease, but the facts are too complicated for a quick summary. It is pretty clear, though, that if you are young, healthy, slender and live in Belgium, you don’t have to worry about salt. So order some more pommes frites!

What year is this?

1951 perhaps? You would be forgiven for thinking we’d done some time-travelling if you picked up this piece, Royal Wedding Lesson #1: Run Your Life Like Kate Middleton.

“So focus on marriage and kids first, because you’re a ticking time bomb. Then focus on a career. Also, there’s a bonus to this plan: many women will find they are like Kate in that there is a natural career path based on the type of guy you marry.”


Thanks AZ!

Conference: Celebrating Jennifer Hornsby

Celebrating Jen Hornsby’s Philosophy: Action, Mind, Language, and Gender

Friday May 27th, 9.30-5.00, Rm 421 Birkbeck Main Bldg, Malet Street, London WC1E

Jennifer Hornsby has been a major force in British philosophy since the 1970s. This conference aims to reflect on and celebrate her contribution to philosophy over the years, and provide the first systematic overview of Professor Hornsby’s corpus.

Prof Hornsby will respond informally to the speakers:

Prof John McDowell (Pittsburgh)
Dr Helen Steward (Leeds)
Dr Adrian Haddock (Stirling)
Prof Julian Dodd (Manchester)
Prof Rae Langton (MIT)

No advance registration – first come first seated.

Prof Olav Gjelsvik (CSMN, Oslo)
Dr Helen Steward (Leeds)
Dr Hong Yu Wong (Tubingen)
Dr Miranda Fricker (Birkbeck)

Co-funded by the Centre for the Study of Mind in Nature, Oslo, and the
Department of Philosophy, Birkbeck, University of London

Wanted: Dead or Alive

Or, in the case of Osama ben Laden, almost certainly better dead, one suspects. 

What has puzzled me is the lack of critical discussion about this topic in the West, even on philosophy blogs, as far as I have been able to tell. Is it because the killing was so clearly right? Or is it that on balance it is a winner even for those inclined to criticize? Many have remarked that the death will not mean the end of terrorism, and perhaps for now that’s criticism enough. Or perhaps it’s the fear of vilification that people who criticized the government around 911 received. Susan Sontag’s comments are still thought by some to be a blot on her records. Still, her closing words now have a very sad irony:

Politics, the politics of a democracy–which entails disagreement, which promotes candor–has been replaced by psychotherapy. Let’s by all means grieve together. But let’s not be stupid together. A few shreds of historical awareness might help us to understand what has just happened, and what may continue to happen. “Our country is strong”, we are told again and again. I for one don’t find this entirely consoling. Who doubts that America is strong? But that’s not all America has to be.

Bill Maher got his ABC show cancelled because of remarks similar to Sontag’s. The government response to him, at least as Salon reported here, is itself quite scary:

Even the Bush White House (a frequent Maher target) stoked the outrage, with spokesman Ari Fleischer [said that the controversy around Maher was] a reminder “to all Americans that they need to watch what they say, watch what they do. This is not a time for remarks like that; there never is.”

There have been some fiercely critical voices in fact. Kai Wright, editor of Colorlines, says:

Osama Bin Laden, evil incarnate, has justified so, so much American violence in the 21st century. We have launched two wars and executed God knows how many covert military operations in the ethereal, never-ending fight he personifies. We have made racial profiling of Muslim Americans normative, turned an already broken immigration system into an arm of national defense, and reversed decades worth of hard-won civil liberties while pursuing him, dead or alive. We have abandoned even the conceit of respect for human rights in places stretching from Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo Bay in the course of hunting him down. Now, finally, the devil is dead.

Upon the news of this victory, crowds gathered in front of the White House and at Ground Zero to chant “U.S.A.! U.S.A!” It was as if we’d just won an Olympic hockey game, rather than capped a decade worth of war and recession with a singular act of violence.

Among the few other unenthusiastic voices has been that of Tara Parker-Pope, self-described as “New York Times Well blogger, author, busy mom, lapsed runner and pack leader of four ill-behaved small dogs.” She tweets @taraparkerpope

Troubled by the response to the Bin Laden news. Shouldn’t this be a time of reflection, rather than celebration?

I agree with her. What do you think?

What a Feminist Looks Like

Sally Haslanger writes:

MIT Women’s and Gender Studies has undertaken a campaign to make feminism more visible. Many people accept the basic principles of feminism (anti-sexism!?) but resist the f-word. Our thought is that by showing that feminism is a broad-based movement that includes people of all kinds, we can defuse some of the anxiety about the word and build connections and coalitions more easily.

We began by using International Women’s Day as an occasion to wear a sticker saying “This is what a feminist looks like” and then moved on to photograph members of the MIT community wearing their stickers. You can find it on Facebook.

Our most recent effort was at the MIT Open House celebrating MIT’s 150th anniversary (4/30). We set up a photo booth and offered a tote bag printed with “This is what a feminist looks like at MIT” to anyone who would have their photo taken with a sign saying the same thing. We were busy all day and over 175 people participated. It is an AMAZING display and includes the president of MIT, Susan Hockfield, the Dean of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, Deborah Fitzgerald, the former mayor of Cambridge, Denise Simmons, and many many more from around the area and around the world. Find it here.

It’s an absolutely wonderful set of photos– can’t stop looking at them! Go, and enjoy.

It is an important reminder that feminism is a broad-based and much loved movement. Show your feminist pride!