As you know if you follow me here or on other social media, I’ve lately been in the great state of California. What was I doing there? Well, in no particular order, going to and being a photographer for my niece’s wedding, seeing family and friends, having business meetings and going to my 30th(!) high school reunion. Not all at once, mind you. Mostly one after the other.
It was both an enjoyable and productive trip, but now I’m home and glad to be here and seeing my pets and sleeping in my own bed. I’ve also got about two weeks of mail to sift through. One thing I did open up immediately, however: The box from Tor that contained my author copies of the Old Man’s War mini-hardcover. Folks, it looks great, inside and out. I’m super pleased with this edition and would recommend it highly even if I wasn’t the author. If you’ve been looking for a print edition, this is the one to get.
In any event: I’m back in Ohio! And it’s nice to be home.
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 23, 2017 is:
burke \BERK\ verb
1 : to suppress quietly or indirectly
The mob boss dropped a few well-timed bribes to prosecutors in an effort to burke any investigation into possible wrongdoing.
"There is, however, a respectable and reasonable ethical argument against clinical trials of correctional treatment methods which must not be burked in our enthusiasm for the acquisition of knowledge." — Norval Morris, "Should Research Design and Scientific Merits Be Evaluated?," in Experimentation with Human Beings, 1972
Did you know?
When an elderly pensioner died at the Edinburgh boarding house of William Hare in 1827, the proprietor and his friend William Burke decided to sell the body to a local anatomy school. The sale was so lucrative that they decided to make sure they could repeat it. They began luring nameless wanderers (who were not likely to be missed) into the house, getting them drunk, then smothering or strangling them and selling the bodies. The two disposed of at least 15 victims before murdering a local woman whose disappearance led to their arrest. At Burke's execution (by hanging), irate crowds shouted "Burke him!" As a result of the case, the word burke became a byword first for death by suffocation or strangulation and eventually for any cover-up.
Blogroll member Minna Kotkin (Brooklyn) has a fantastic op-ed in today’s WaPo, with the headline “How the Legal World Built a Wall of Silence Around Workplace Sexual Harassment.” Here is an excerpt:
Less than 3 percent of employment discrimination cases go to trial, with a public verdict. Legal scholars and researchers estimate that close to 80 percent of the cases result in settlements, with the remainder dismissed before trial. Cases that settle are protected by confidentiality agreements, so we don’t know what the terms look like.
Another factor that contributes to secret settlements relates to how attorneys are paid for representing employees and the pressure they may place on their clients. Most employment lawyers work on a contingency-fee basis, receiving a percentage — usually one-third — of the settlement. When an employer offers a sum to make a case go away, it comes attached to a confidentiality clause; if the plaintiff refuses the clause, she gets nothing at all — and neither does her lawyer. Ethical standards enforced by state bar associations and courts require that settlement decisions be made by clients, but attorneys who want to collect their fees have every incentive to steer their clients toward accepting the confidentiality clause. And retainer agreements often say an attorney may withdraw if a client “unreasonably” fails to accept a settlement offer. Some lawyers have been known to switch to an hourly fee if a client refuses a settlement, an ethically questionable tactic that can make it financially impossible for the employee to continue with her claim.
Confidentiality agreements help protect serial harassers. But with public attention now focused on harassment, victims and their lawyers can shift the balance of power in settlement negotiations. They can agree with their lawyers at the outset that they will not accept a settlement that includes confidentiality — just as defendants now claim that they will never settle without it. Plaintiffs must be equally assertive, especially once a court action is filed and the underlying facts are in the public record. If employers balk, they can always go to trial and take their chances in front of a jury.
You can read the full op-ed here.
I’ve been a feminist for a long time, perhaps because I was often the only girl engaged in various activities like sports or math and physics competitions. I don’t know. But for a long time it wasn’t exactly clear how my feminist commitments were expressed in my work, apart from the choice of the subject matter itself, and it is only recently that I have started to articulate more clearly how my feminist commitments are re ected in my methodological commitments. Even as recently as January, I gave a talk where I characterized my book on social categories, Categories We Live By, as feminist, because it was motivated by feminist social justice concerns. How that was reflected in my methodology, as opposed to the subject matter, was unclear.
Then came the Hypatia affair.
Years and years ago our readers were asked about whether pole dancing should be in exercise classes in higher ed. Now, according to the BBC, “pole” seems on its way to becoming a sport.
That’s because pole dancing – or pole, as the International Pole Sports Federation (IPSF) prefers – has been recognised by an international sporting body for the first time.
It has been given “observer status” by the Global Association of International Sports Federation (GAISF) – meaning it is provisionally recognised as a sport.
That is largely the result of a campaign by Katie Coates, a 41-year-old from Hertfordshire, who founded the IPSF and told the Daily Telegraph: “I feel like we have achieved the impossible, everyone told us that we would not be able to get pole dancing recognised as a sport.”
The IPSF emphasises that pole dancing is about “athleticism and technical merit”, in line with “other Olympic standard sports such as gymnastics, diving and ice skating”.
So even though it may be closely associated with strip clubs, a performance does not have to contain an erotic element.
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 22, 2017 is:
nuncupative \NUN-kyoo-pay-tiv\ adjective
: spoken rather than written : oral
"He left me a small Legacy in a nuncupative Will, as a Token of his Kindness for me, and he left me once more to the wide World." — Benjamin Franklin, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, 1791
"He did leave a will in which he bequeathed everything to Rebecca; but it turns out that John's will was not a written will. It was a nuncupative will, which means on his deathbed, John verbally told persons how he wanted his estate divided or dispensed." — Sharon Tate Moody, The Tampa (Florida) Tribune, 27 Dec. 2015
Did you know?
Nuncupative (from Latin nuncupare, meaning "to name") has been part of the English language since at least the 15th century, most typically appearing in legal contexts as a modifier of the noun will. The nuncupative will originated in Roman law, where it consisted of an oral declaration made in the presence of seven witnesses and later presented before a magistrate. Currently, nuncupative wills are allowed in some U.S. states in extreme circumstances, such as imminent peril of death from a terminal illness or from military or maritime service. Such wills are dictated orally but are usually required to be set down in writing within a statutorily specified time period, such as 30 days. Witnesses are required, though the number seven is no longer specified.
A Hollywood screenwriter has written a powerful post, describing the way that everyone knew Weinstein was up to something bad, even if they didn’t know the details– and the reasons they went along with it. And apologising. He also notes the shock so many in Hollywood are expressing and calls bullshit on that.
Unsurprisingly, this has me thinking about the world of philosophy. I’m a pretty well-informed person when it comes to harassment in philosophy, and yet I am still sometimes shocked when a big story breaks. So it’s not the case that *everyone* knows. However– without fail– within days I discover that in a particular department, or a particular sub-discipline, it really was true that everyone knew– or at least strongly suspected. And this is morally important, as these people are letting it continue, and not blowing the whistle. (Well, some of them are trying to stop it, but not enough, or not the powerful enough people.) And you know what else? I often discover that people expressing shock and horror on fb are actually within the circle of the “everyone” who knew that things were happening which shouldn’t have been– they were at the parties in professional settings at which sex workers were hired; they were at the department events held in strip clubs; they saw the moves being made by the professionally powerful older man on the professionally powerless younger woman. And they just let it go on, expressing shock and horror only when it hit the headlines. And that’s wrong. People need to stop saving their outrage until it all goes public. They need to take action when they see things happening that they know are wrong.
I’m getting frustrated. And increasingly feeling like there’s something to this adapted quote:
“if [disgraced philosopher]’s behavior is the most reprehensible thing one can imagine, a not-so-distant second is the current flood of sanctimonious denial and condemnation that now crashes upon these shores of rectitude in gloppy tides of bullshit righteousness.”
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 21, 2017 is:
adversity \ad-VER-suh-tee\ noun
: a state or instance of serious or continued difficulty or misfortune
The movie is about a group of determined mountain climbers who triumph in the face of adversity.
"In this way, [the movie] 'It' was meant to reflect how our childhood experiences and fears influence the people we become, and how our adult selves use that to deal with adversity." — Maria Sciullo, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 17 Sept. 2017
Did you know?
Adversity, mishap, misfortune, and mischance all suggest difficulty of one sort or another. Adversity particularly applies to a state of grave or persistent misfortune (as in "a childhood marked by great adversity"). Mishap suggests an often trivial instance of bad luck (as in "the usual mishaps of a family vacation"). Misfortune is the most common and the most general of the terms, often functioning as a simple synonym of "bad luck" (as in "having the misfortune to get a flat tire on the way to their wedding"). Mischance applies especially to a situation involving no more than slight inconvenience or minor annoyance (as in "a small mischance that befell us").
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 20, 2017 is:
knee-jerk \NEE-jerk\ adjective
: readily predictable : automatic; also : reacting in a readily predictable way
The letter to the editor asserted that the proposed institution of a curfew was a knee-jerk reaction to the problem of an uptick of nighttime crime in the city.
"The habitual or knee-jerk apologist runs a great risk of losing herself through all her apologies. She sees so many of the things she does as offenses or wrongs and takes responsibility for things that are not properly hers." — Peg O'Connor, Psychology Today, 23 June 2017
Did you know?
Around 1876, the sudden involuntary extension of the leg in response to a light blow just below the knee, which is also known as the patellar reflex, was given the refreshingly simple designation knee jerk. In the 1950s, knee-jerk became an adjective with a figurative sense that doesn't require any actual twitching. "As a salesman, I'm getting a bit weary of the knee-jerk association of a con artist with my professional calling," a correspondent once wrote to The New York Times Magazine. Knee-jerk often has a negative connotation. It usually denotes a too-hasty, impulsive, perhaps even irrational response that is often based on preconceived notions.
The headline says it all: The Dispatcher is an Amazon Deal of the Day, so you can get it for under a buck on the Kindle. What a deal! But it’s only for the day (October 19, 2017), and it’s for the US and Canada. I’m not sure if the price applies on other retailers today, so you’d have to check it out for yourself. Regardless, if you’ve not picked up this novella yet, today is a good day to do so. Enjoy!
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 19, 2017 is:
hew \HYOO\ verb
1 : to cut or fell with blows (as of an ax)
2 : to give form or shape to with or as if with an ax
"He is best known stateside for the … productions of 'Twelfth Night' and 'Richard III' that he brought to Broadway in 2013, which hewed as closely as possible to the staging choices made at the turn of the 17th century." — Eric Grode, The New York Times, 5 Sept. 2017
"Although the novel hews to the broad outlines of the Drumgold investigation, Lehr takes major liberties with the story, inventing plot twists, scenes, and characters…." — Malcolm Gay, The Boston Globe, 7 Sept. 2017
Did you know?
Hew is a strong, simple word of Anglo-Saxon descent. It can suggest actual ax-wielding, or it can be figurative: "If … our ambition hews and shapes [our] new relations, their virtue escapes, as strawberries lose their flavor in garden-beds" (Ralph Waldo Emerson). It's easy to see how the figurative "shape" sense of hew developed from the literal "hacking" sense, but what does chopping have to do with adhering and conforming? That sense first appeared in the late 1800s in the phrase "hew to the line." The "hew line" is a line marked along the length of a log indicating where to chop in order to shape a beam. "Hewing to the line," literally, is cutting along the mark—adhering to it—until the side of the log is squared.