Old folk at lunch

Saturday, February 27, 2010

A nasty memory of bigoted Leftism among American academics

My career as a social science researcher was not a difficult one. As a conservative, I had to write at a much higher standard than if I had been a common or garden variety Leftist but I could do that so 200+ of my articles got published in the academic journals.

One episode from the '90s, however, I still remember with displeasure. In the early '90s the editor of Sociology & Social Research was David Heer -- a sociologist who was basically interested in the facts of the matter rather than pushing an ideological wheelbarrow. He was located then and still seems to be at USC.

And I did at one stage submit a paper to him for publication in S. & S.R. which he accepted for publication. He seems however to have been too mild for the frantic Leftists in USC sociology and got pushed out of the journal editorship shortly thereafter.

And his successor at the journal -- Marcus Felson -- did something almost unheard of in academe: He "unaccepted" my paper. It was apparently too conservative for him, though he gave some other quite specious reason for rejecting it. He seemed to be a young man in a hurry so I appealed the matter to his Department Head at the time: Paul Bohannan. Bohannan was unmoved. So I appealed to the university President. But he was unmoved too.

The paper eventually appeared in another journal so Heer was vindicated and Felson was shown up as the nasty piece of work that he is. Without blowing the dust off some very old files (which makes me sneeze) I cannot remember for certain which paper it was but I am pretty sure that it is this one. I submitted the paper to S. & S.R. because it dealt with a matter originally raised in that journal.

I did write a scornful letter to Bohannan when the paper finally appeared in print. Felson I regarded as beneath contempt.

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Tunisian dinner

I took Anne, Jill and Lewis to the "Kasbah" restaurant last Saturday night -- to celebrate Jill's birthday. Since the waiter seemed to understand no English, there was a certain amount of chaos. Fortunately the manager understood fairly well so we did eventually get most of what we ordered -- as well as some things we did not order. I have always been rather of the old British Raj view that "Everyone can understand English if it's shouted loud enough" but that didn't work on this occasion.

But it was all brilliant food so one can forgive a lot on that account. It is actually par for the course that one gets bad service at expensive restaurants but at some of them one gets unsatisfactory food as well. At least the "Kasbah" did not disappoint in that way.
When I paid the bill, I just looked at the bottom line. I wasn't game to look at what we had been charged for or not charged for. We each ended up having a dip, an entree, a main course and a dessert so the bottom line was in fact pretty reasonable. To calm our shattered nerves (mine anyway) we retired to my place for a cup of tea on the verandah afterwards.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Mixed race can be a good thing

On rare occasions, I do put up some rather personal posts on my main blog -- DISSECTING LEFTISM -- and I did so a couple of days ago. I thought however that it might have enough relevance to be reproduced here as well. See below:

I gather that all references to mixed race are these days regarded as taboo. So when Obama referred to himself as a "mutt", you could almost hear the gasps. But blacks themselves take it very seriously. Among blacks, a lighter-skinned black tends to be more prestigious and more complacent about his skin color. So a brown black cruises, if that makes any sense.

Whites, on the other hand, are less sensitive to such differences. For political correctness purposes, all noticeably pigmented people are "black" and, as such, a privileged class who may not be criticized. Why the least competent segment of society is treated as a a privileged class is a question that I had better not address here.

But I want to say that being of mixed race is in fact a matter of some significance. I myself am of mixed race: Mostly English but with plenty of Irish and a bit of Scots. And that stands me in good stead. The English in me means that when I am in England I am quite reserved and hence qualify as "a nice quiet chap" -- which is a term of praise in England.

But when I am in Scotland the Celt comes out in me and the emotional, sentimental attitudes of the Scots are ones that I am entirely comfortable with. And even when I am back home in Australia, I do sometimes play sentimental Scottish music (is there any other kind?), which I greatly enjoy.

And I also have blood kin who are even more mixed than I am. My vivacious cousin twice removed -- Michelle -- is half Han Chinese and half Anglo and I am mightily impressed by her good qualities. She is still as yet in High School but she will go far. Her blue-eyed father is a very knowledgeable academic and a former Assembly of God minister so that helps.

So mixed race can be a good thing. American blacks are right. White racists will hate me for saying that but you can't win 'em all.

The Celtic sentimentalist in me, however, gives me a liking for the blue eyes that characterize all my close blood kin. But the fact that my tall blue-eyed son has a firm relationship with a lady who is half Han Chinese and half English will most probably mean that I will not have blue-eyed grandchildren. My son did however meet his lady when she was studying rocket science (I kid you not) so she is pretty smart. He is a mathematician and the Chinese are pre-eminent in mathematics so I am very pleased by the intellectual potential of any grandchildren that I might have. As an academic myself, I hold intellectual achievement in high regard. Iris pigmentation is a trivial matter if other things are good.

Mind you, genetics can sometimes spring surprises. Someone I see often and admire greatly is an Italian man with the usual Italian black hair and dark eyes. Yet he has recently fathered a gorgeous daughter who has blue eyes and RED hair -- two colorations that are recessive genetically. But he does have a blue-eyed, red-haired Anglo wife so that helps.

To forestall cynical comments, I might mention that Vincenzo does have a blue-eyed sister and that his mother is a Northerner. And there is a lot of Germanic blood among Northern Italians. Germans have been invading Italy for over 2,000 years -- since the days of the Roman republic, in fact. No wonder that Italians find Germans very alarming to this day.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Dinner with Paul and Susan, St. Valentine's day and an old story

Last Friday, I took Paul, Susan and Anne to an excellent Indian restaurant near where Anne lives at Tingalpa. Their chicken Lahori must be just about the best curry that I have tasted: Almost enough to make me want to visit Lahore! We talked about Paul's recent trip to the USA and about American politics mainly.

The V-day went well. I bought Anne a rose and carnation bouquet and Anne cooked us some excellent cevapi. She even had kaimak to go with it and some excellent Tasmanian oysters to start. We had Seaview champagne with it in my recently returfed back yard, among the lush grasses produced by the recent rains.

When I was a kid -- in grade 2, I think -- I remember the teacher reading out a story about a "Little blue boy". It was a sad story and I cried. I was the only one who did, probably because I was the only one who understood. The teacher was upset that I was upset and that story was never referred to again.

I recollect only the title of the story and none of its content so I wondered if I could find it on the net. Unfortunately that name seems to go with lots of different stories but I think I may have found the one I was looking for. It is apparently an old English Lullaby!

The little toy dog is covered with dust,
But sturdy and staunch he stands;
The little tin soldier is red with rust,
And the musket moulds in his hands.
Time was when the little toy dog was new,
And the soldier was passing fair;
And that was the time when our little Boy Blue
Kissed them and put them there.

“‘Now, don’t you go till I come,’ he said,
‘And don’t you make any noise.’
So toddling off to his trundle-bed
He dreamt of his pretty toys;
And as he was dreaming, an angel song
Awakened our little Boy Blue–
Oh! the years are many, the years are long,
But the little toy friends are true.

“Aye, faithful to little Boy Blue they stand,
Each in the same old place–
Awaiting the touch of a little hand,
The smile of a little face;
And they wonder as waiting the long years through
In the dust of that little chair,
What has become of our little Boy Blue,
Since he kissed them and put them there.”