Week 30 Links: Auden, PhDs, birth control, political rhetoric, and more

* “[. . .] I think the first prerequisite to civilization is an ability to make polite conversation.” — W.H. Auden.

The PhD problem: are we giving out too many degrees?

* Long After Microsoft, Allen and Gates Cast Shadows Over City.

* Hilarious: Obama’s Birth Certificate Through The Eyes Of A Birther.

I also heard George Lakoff give a talk on metaphors, politics, and the failure of what he calls “Enlightenment reasoning” for Democrats. His basic argument is that Republicans are better are framing issues than Democrats and have built a large, alternate media ecosystem where facts don’t matter and mantras get repeated until they bleed into the regular system. As you can probably guess, he’s a liberal and his analysis favors liberals, but I liked the talk anyway; I suspect his books The Political Mind: A Cognitive Scientist’s Guide to Your Brain and Its Politics and Don’t Think of an Elephant!: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate–The Essential Guide for Progressives tie into it.

* A few months ago, I began working on a novel that has a lot of common elements with the story “In college, she stripped. In graduate school, she sold sex on Craigslist. Then Melissa Petro became a popular grade-school teacher, known for inspiring her students. Her secret past could have stayed that way — until she blogged about it.” It’s somewhat disconcerting to find that life is busy pillaging my work for material.

* Today Now! Interviews The 5-Year-Old Screenwriter Of “Fast Five.”

* Who owns a Mac? I fulfill a depressingly large number of Mac stereotypes. From the comments: “In other words ‘HIpsters’….”

* This is supposed to be a positive description of a book?: “a body count that makes a Jason Bourne book look like a Disney film.

* Why Don’t We Have Better Birth Control? Some depressing answers.

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