by Brian on September 3, 2003

The Age is running a story today headed Asteroid Heads for Earth. Which sounds fairly scary I guess. The article then says that the best estimate is that it has a 1 in 909,000 chance of hitting the earth. I guess Asteroid might be heading for earth, like you might win the lottery this week was too long to fit above the story.

My Rousseau book

by Chris Bertram on September 3, 2003

Speaking of Rousseau, I hope that my fellow-Timberites will forgive a little self-publicity. I now have copies of my new book Rousseau and The Social Contract in my hands, and a very nice feeling it is too. If you’d like to buy a copy (for only £9.99) you can click on the image below (which takes you to Amazon’s UK website). The publication date is tomorrow for the UK, but not until November for the US (I’ll post a link to the main Amazon site when it becomes available there).


Clint Eastwood as Rousseau’s lawgiver

by Chris Bertram on September 3, 2003

Over at the Virtual Stoa, Chris Brooke has an highly entertaining post on the uses of the classic western in explaining Rousseau’s political philosophy:

bq. One of the many valuable things I learned from Bonnie Honig when I was a graduate student was that the reasons why Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s lawgiver must leave the city he helps to found in Book Two Chapter Seven of the Social Contract are the same as the reasons why the cowboy rides off into the sunset at the end of a Western….

Minding the Kids

by Kieran Healy on September 3, 2003

Jane Galt is worried about the economics of childcare and she gives a good account of the hard choices women often feel they must face about bearing and rearing children:

bq. Should we stay home, or shouldn’t we? It’s a difficult question for professional women. … We want to be successful as much as our husbands do. Taking five or eight or ten years off to get the kids started off right before they go to school is going to mean irreperably harming our prospects for advancement. We want very badly to convince ourselves that day care is really just as good, better even — or at the very least, that it is sufficiently not-worse that it’s justified. … And if I am a professional woman, my child is going to be spending ten or more hours a day with [a child-care provider] — more hours than they are with me. … And that’s assuming some hypothetical ideal of day care. Then there’s the actual day care we get, which pays people between $12-20K a year to babysit a large number of children.

Jane’s initial question — “Should we stay home, or shouldn’t we? It’s a difficult question for professional women” — effectively concedes the case as lost from the get-go. It frames the problem as wholly belonging to the prospective mother. Dad has no responsibility towards his potential offspring, is not required to make any work/family tradeoffs, and indeed has so much autonomy that a woman who chooses kids over career is “taking a huge financial bet on her husband’s fidelity.”

Jane’s dilemma is real, but its reality isn’t a necessary fact about the world. Rather, it’s a product of how the institutions of work and family are organized. As she herself says in passing, “society is not set up to allow women to take a break. Jobs aren’t made to accommodate it. And neither is marriage.” She’s right. But instead of framing the question in the terms society hands to you (this is entirely a problem for individual women which necessitates a tradeoff whose costs are borne solely by individual women), we can ask how these institutions might be reconstructed.

[click to continue…]

A little more on MEChA

by Ted on September 3, 2003

I don’t think that I have too much more to say about MEChA; there are a lot of people who I’m not going to convince. But I wanted to share this comment on Kevin Drum’s site from “J” :

Why won’t Bustamante make a statement against separatism or fascism or racism? First of all, it hasn’t been exactly established that this is a MEChA stance. I read the Juan Non-Volokh piece, and in his fisking of Barlow, he also made one mistake that I noticed immediately. He linked to the Berkeley MEChA website, which links to that Aztlan plan that everyone is quoting. However, and there probably is no way Non-Volokh could have known this, Berkeley MEChA is actually not the official MEChA of Berkeley — they split off from the regular MEChA. The regular MEChA branch, however, doesn’t have a website. The Berkeley MEChA is decidedly more radical. You can check out the Office of Student Life listing of student groups and see that there are two MEChA’s listed (this website is for last semester, neither MEChA has registered for the Fall yet). What this says to me is that each MEChA branch is likely to have its own statement of purpose, so someone needs to investigate the branch that Bustamante actually belonged to before they demand that he renounce anything.

I certainly didn’t know that. Hat tip to Henry, who tipped me off.