The Book!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Republican Debate




Losers: top loser should be Donald Trump, although until now he has been invulnerable to errors which should sink any candidate. Refusing to appear and debate over a feud with one of the (conservative) moderators makes him look self-important and immature. On the other hand , as front-runner, there is something to be said for avoiding the opportunity for all of the other candidates to pile on. But that seems cynical.

Ted Cruz should have lost ground by fighting with a moderator, Chris Wallace, seemingly confirming the misgivings about his personality and ability to get along with colleagues. This seemed to me a huge, historic gaffe. His jokes at Trump's expense fell flat, and seemed to at least this observer to be mean-spirited and cowardly, since Trump was not there to respond. Rubio and Fox (the moderators) also drew blood by making him look like a flip-flopper on immigration.

Rubio is the obvious beneficiary of a loss by both Trump and Cruz, but he too had his worst debate. He lost an exchange with Bush and also looked like a hypocrite on immigration. Squirmed and double-talked like a skilled politician. This is exactly what the people are fed up with.

Christie had the best moment,  in my mind,  when he called both Cruz and Rubio on double-talk. Underlining both his better credentials and outsider status. And a very good moment when he called for defunding Planned Parenthood. Also good was his reference to the Clintons living in "public housing."

Bush had a very strong performance and won an exchange with Rubio on immigration. Too bad for him it is too late. His name, his previous hackneyed performances, and his vicious attack ads killed his candidacy some time ago. His numbers have already jumpied in N.H. polling.

Rand Paul had his best debate. If positive references on Twitter are an accurate measure, he was winner of the debate. A lso too late. Same for Kasick. Kasick is a good candidate, but doomed. He will never be acceptable to the Party's right wing.

Ben Carson only showed up.

It is too late for Christie to be a factor in Iowa, but his debate performance may allow him to leapfrog the other candidates in New Hampshire.


Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Scandal of All-Male Schools



It is not often that the government or media in Ontario give a crap what is going on in Saudi Arabia. Recently, we have seen an exception. Both Alqonquin College in Ottawa and Niagara College of Welland run all-male campuses here. This has been cause for scandal. Ontario Premier Wynne has declared this "unacceptable," despite the fact that the provincial Liberal government itself approved the new campuses years ago, when they were set up.

In this, Wynne and the media just reveal themselves as chauvinists and bigots. It is not as if Saudi Arabis does not also have it's all-female schools. It is not as if education is not available to women. As in Canada, more Saudi women than Saudi men go to university--60 percent of university students are women. This is the fact that ought to concern us, if we truly believed in sexual equality.

All that this is about is the Saudi religious scruple that the sexes ought to be kept separated, a scruple we shared up to a few years ago. I attended sex-segregated schools in Quebec growing up, as did my siblings. Yet the Saudis must suddenly snap to attention and conform to the latest fad in Canada?

Worse, from a pedagogical perspective, the Saudis are right and we are wrong. Few things are really known in the "social sciences" generally, but one of the strongest empirical claims in the field--a claim that is no more than simple common sense-- is that both males and females learn faster when separate.

We must ask, what does Wynne think schools are for?


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

On the Eve of the Iowa Caucuses


The Democratic race for presidential nominee is now a lead - pipe cinch. The Republican race is still wide open.

Odd, then, if it is true that Republican operatives are now reputedly stampeding to Trump. But who really is? Bob Dole? I like Bob Dole, but the big surprise was that he was still alive.

Here's why. Not why the publicans are stampeding; why they should not.

Iowa is a caucus, not a primary. Polls tell us little; it is usually a surprise. A premium is placed on enthusiasm. Neither Hillary ' s nor even Trump's supporters are the most enthusiastic. Both are likely to underperform the polls. Even though, Sanders' supporters being younger, getting them to caucus may be harder.

The media is about news. Their lead story will not be who won, but who outdid or fell short of expectations.

Both Iowa and New Hampshire are all about buzz. Few delegates are at stake.

Now, what makes a good story? Trump or Clinton wins is just dog bites man. Even if Clinton wins. Either way, Sanders wins Iowa--he is likely to win outright--and then New Hampshire, where he is next door to a native son. By this time, Clinton is badly wounded. Good chance the momentum carries Sanders to the nomination. If O'Malley surges, he takes votes away from Clinton, not Sanders. The inevitability is that Clinton will not be the nominee. I predicted a long time ago, when both were claimed as foreordained, that Clinton would not be the Dem nominee, and Chfhsgk

On the Republican side, Cruz beats Trump is a good story. Failing that, the media will probably focus on the third-place finisher, or surprise place or show, who thereby gets a big boost in New Hampshire. You can be sure that the N.H. polls will change quite a bit between now and polling day. Because N.H. allows crossover voting, it is bad territory for Cruz. It favours more moderate voices. Accordingly, unless Trump can still take it despite inevitable media reports of "failure" in Iowa, there is a real opportunity for "establishment" support to coalesce around a third candidate. And we don't yet know who.





Saturday, January 23, 2016

Six Word Novels



The six-word novel is becoming a thing. Most famous, and probably the inspiration for it all, is Hemingway's famous: “For sale. Baby shoes. Never used.”

The current challenge is issued by the IO9 website, for specifically science-fiction titles. I can do this. At least, it doesn't take much time to write a novel in six words. A few ideas:


Virus killed everyone but us two.

Alien contact. Friendly? Maybe. Not. Fight.

Worldeater comes. Feed it Pluto boobytrapped.

Marooned. Planet of women. Casus belli.

Brain in a vat. Power shortage.

Clones Attack. Same antibodies. Infect all.

World ends. Space ark finds wormhole.

Canada conquers world, then melts.

Pumpkin spice latte is people!

Past light speed. End before beginning.

Overpopulation. Shrink people. Dinosaurs return. Asteroid.

Vacant world. Paradise. Wait--something underground.

Virus killed everyone but us two.

Alien contact. Friendly? Maybe. Not. Fight.

Worldeater comes. Feed it Pluto boobytrapped.

Marooned. Planet of women. Casus belli.

Brain in a vat. Power shortage.

Clones Attack. Same antibodies. Infect all.

World ends. Space ark finds wormhole.

Canada conquers world, then melts.

pumpkin spice latte is people!

Past light speed. End before beginning.

Overpopulation. Shrink people. Dinosaurs return. Asteroid.

Vacant world. Paradise. Wait--something underground.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Postmodernism




The Parthenon has fallen in the rain
Frogs assemble at the Areopagus to elect a new god.
Everyone votes for themselves,


--Stephen K. Roney