Friday, March 7, 2008

Here and there

In politics:

Team Clinton to stop at nothing by Gerard Baker
By this stage, I've stopped believing the predictions of most pundits, the polls and various political commentators. This is the closest race for the Democratic presidential nomination I've ever seen and right now, I honestly think it could still go either way, Clinton's Ohio victory notwithstanding. As this article suggests, it could all come down to the candidate who wants it more. It's a pity that the showdown between the two is getting so ugly though. I personally would like to see either an African American president (despite his iffy protectionist economic policies) and a female president (even if most of her much vaunted foreign policy experience is little more than mere puffery) and I find it sad that it has to be either one or the other.


The Truth about Autism: Scientists reconsider what they think they know by David Wolman
Came across this via Mr Brown and it's an interesting paradigm shift from the way autism is usually viewed. Autism has always been regarded in the same light as other mental disabilities and this author makes a case for autism as a form of misunderstood neuro-diversity. It almost seems to suggest that autistics can be thought of as an alien race with different perspectives and abilities rather than as disabled. But the author is also carefull to outline the pitfalls of thinking of autistics as merely people with different abilities ("critics of the difference model reject the whole idea that autism is merely another example of neuro-diversity. After all, being able to plan your meals for the week or ask for directions bespeak important forms of intelligence")

Numbers Guy by Jim Holt
My favourite article of the week is about math and I'm as shocked as you are. This study confirms the area of the brain that deals with math and names the condition of mathematical disability ( 'dyscalculia'). It also confirms what most Chinese have been saying all along, that the nature of the Chinese language words for numbers aids the brain in holding and using them. So apparently, the Chinese are better at Math because they speak Chinese and quite possibly, if this guy is to be believed, the French really shouldn't be able to count at all because of its " vestigial base-twenty monstrosities, like quatre-vingt-dix-neuf (“four twenty ten nine”) for 99."


How to Shop by Jessa Crispin
Disclaimer: This isn't actually an article on how to buy clothes or dress. Rather it's an amusing indictment of the books that purport to aid women in personal shopping. While she admits the need for these books, ("These books exist, and are in some ways needed, because there is a huge disconnect between the fantasy world of Vogue — where women spend their days romping in fields wearing $1,500 sequined leggings — and reality.") she also dismisses their methodology of dressing with the aim of hiding one's flaws (" It’s hard to walk out the door feeling hot and feisty when your entire dressing process has been focused on your main source of anxiety").

Crispin does recommend one particular book (The Meaning of Sunglasses: A Guide to almost all things Fashionable by Hadley Freeman) which she says "will not make you feel worse about the state of your thighs, nor your brain" and if the rest of the book is anything like the sharp little quotes she's pulled out from it, I wouldn't mind buying it just for fun.

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