Kosher computers and happy Purim!

Here is another of the many hi-tech inventions to come out of Israel recently:

So you wanted a kosher computer?

I don’t know if you know this but they are now selling Kosher computers (Made in Israel) called DELLSHALOM. It is selling at such a good price that I bought one. Mine arrived yesterday.

If you or a friend are considering a kosher computer, you should know that there are some important upgrades and changes from the typical computer you are used to, such as:

The cursor moves from right to left.

It comes with two hard drives–one for fleyshedik [meat] business software and one for milchedik [dairy] games.

Instead of getting a “General Protection Fault” error, my PC now gets “Ferklempt.”

The Chanukah screen savers include “Flying Dreidels”

The PC also shuts down automatically at sundown on Friday evenings [and Jewish holidays, presumably].

After my computer dies, I have to dispose of it within 24 hours.

The “Start” button has been replaced with “Let’s go!! I’m not getting any younger!” button.

When disconnecting external devices from the back of my PC, I am instructed to “Remove the cable from the PC’s tuchus”.

The multimedia player has been renamed to “Nu, so play my music already!”.

Internet Explorer has a spinning “Star of David” in the upper right corner.

I hear “Hava Nagila” during startup. Microsoft Office now includes “A little byte of this, and a little byte of that.”

When running “scandisk”, it prompts with a “You want I should fix this?” message.

When my PC is working too hard, I occasionally hear a loud “Oy Gevalt”

There is a “monitor cleaning solution” from Manischewitz that Advertises that it gets rid of the “schmutz und drek” on your monitor.

After 20 minutes of no activity, my PC goes “Schloffen.”

Computer viruses can now be cured with some matzo ball chicken soup.

The Y2K problem has been replaced by “Year 5761-5762” issues.

If you decide not to shut down the computer in the prescribed manner, the following message appears: “You should be ashamed of yourself.”

When Spellcheck finds an error it prompts “Is this the best you can do?

Happy Purim!

Amalek: the first terrorist

Tonight at nightfall Jews will celebrate the Jewish holiday of Purim, observed by reading of the Book of Esther, general merrymaking (celebrating the thwarting of the plans of the evildoer Haman [y”sh] to exterminate the Jews of ancient Persia), and mishloach manot (giving of sweet gifts). (Also, in Israel and in Jewish news media, there is something of a tradition of “Purim jokes” that take the place of “April Fools jokes”.)

The Sabbath before Purim is known in Hebrew as Shabbat Zachor (the Sabbath of “Remember!”), when the following verses of the Torah are read (Deut. 25:17-19, my somewhat modernized translation):

Remember what Amalek  did to you, on the way as you came out of Egypt; how he lay in ambush for you, and struck the ones marching in back of you, all the weak ones [i.e., women, children, and the elderly] in your rear, when you were faint and weary; and he did not fear G-d. Therefore it shall be, when the L-RD your G-d will have given you relief from all your enemies around you — in the land that the L-RD your G-d is giving you as an inheritance to possess — that you will blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven: do not forget!

Amalek was, arguably, the world’s first terrorist. The sages teach that he arises in every generation in a different guise: be it [may their names be erased] Haman, Hitler, Arafish, Sodamn Insane, Mahmutt Ahmadinnerjacket,… Unlike ordinary tyrants, who merely seek to oppress and exploit, Amalek’s agenda is nothing less than the destruction of the Jewish people. No compromise of any kind is possible with Amalek.

Remember: and Happy Purim!

Who bears the cost of moral vanity?

This question is asked by Eric S. Raymond. Go read the whole thing.

A high-ranking Taliban commander is captured in Pakistan, and the (now entirely predictable) dance begins. Says the Guardian:

Mullah Barader has been in Pakistani custody for several days, with US and Pakistani intelligence officials both taking part in interrogations, according to the officials. Though Barack Obama has banned US agencies from using forms of torture such as waterboarding, Pakistani questioning techniques are frequently brutal.

That’s right. Because the American chattering classes have their panties in a bunch about acts of “torture” that don’t do any permanent damage to the victim, Barader is in the hands of Pakistanis who are likely to [fornicate] his [excretions] up the old-school way, with knives and cattle-prods and blowtorches. And yet, this is supposed to count as a moral victory.

All the manufactured indignation about Guantanamo Bay has similarly perverse effects. When you tell U.S. troops that every enemy combatant they accept a surrender from is going to be made into an international cause celebre that will be used to damage their war effort, the effect will be — count on it — that they stop accepting surrenders. This means that all the soi-disant “innocents” swept up in these operations will become innocent corpses. Instead of being stuck in a facility that’s a resort hotel compared to any prison in the Mideast, they’ll be dead — victims of someone else’s moral vanity.

I was born and educated into the class that produces “gentry liberals”, but I’ve come to loathe them. This is why. It’s always someone else who pays the cost of their posturing. Very often, it’s the people they claim to be helping[…]

They’re so very, very convinced of their moral superiority, they are. The pious anti-torture crusaders, the “economic-justice” cod-Marxists, the no-growth environmentalists, the gun banners, and all their kin in the tribe of wealthy white left-liberals. Armored by their certitudes and their sheepskins and their class privileges, they sail serenely above the deadly consequences of their meddling. Not for them any need to worry about second-order effects or process costs or who actually pays the cost for their delusions, oh, no. They are the anointed, and lofty intentions are their sovereign excuse however much damage they do.

Truly, I hate them all. Perhaps I hate them more intensely because I so narrowly escaped being one of them. But it’s really the invincible stupidity and myopia that gets me, and the way their “compassion” stinks of narcissism. Some days I think if I could have just one wish, it would be this: let their folly come back on their own heads.

I understand. All too well.

UPDATE: Make sure to read this related post: On being against torture.

And relatedly, in “Marginal devolution”, ESR discusses how unintended consequences of morally vain employment policies cause structural unemployment.

MSM’s biased reporting on Sarah Palin?

You have to agree that the following report printed in NewsWeak [sic] is par for the course for them, right?

IDAHO FALLS, ID—Speaking unto an audience of anti-immigration advocates, global-warming deniers, and members of the Tea Party Nation, former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin gave forth utterances Monday that reportedly opened the sixth seal of the Book of the Apocalypse.

“Wow, it’s good to be here, just shootin’ the breeze with a bunch of real, hardworking Americans who love their freedom,” said Palin, her words echoing across the Idaho Falls Civic Auditorium as mighty tremors caused great unrest beneath the land and the sea. “So are the little guys like you and me gonna fight these Washington insiders with their big government agenda? You betcha we are!”

And lo, there was then a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair; and the moon became as blood; and “gosh” was spoken repeatedly; and the stars of heaven fell upon the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken by a mighty wind. These disturbances reportedly went unnoticed by the audience, however, as their thunderous applause drowned out the sound of the foretold cataclysm.

Are you outraged, irritated, exasperated, or all of the above? Well, read on:

Continue reading

Amy Bishop update: some observations on tenure

Following the U. of Alabama “tenure denial massacre” by Amy Bishop [see here, herehere , and especially here, here, and here for our earlier coverage], the Chronicle of Higher Education has gathered a series of responses to the question: “Is tenure a matter of life and death?

The answers of course generally reflect New Class sensibilities, but are generally well worth reading. The single most horrifying thing I read was quoted by KC Johnson (who had to suffer through quite a  via dolorosa of his own to get tenure): “[…] as in American Association of University Professors President Cary Nelson’s recent claim that it was acceptable to consider a candidate’s personal or political views in the hiring process[…]”

Let me offer my own two cents on academic tenure. As I see it, it exists primarily for three reasons:

  • Originally, it came about to protect scholars from being dismissed for stating views or findings that were impopular, ‘heretic’, ‘subversive’, or more than one of the above. (For example, ss incredible as this may sound to us today, the act of dissecting a corpse to see human anatomy with one’s own eyes rather than relying  on the ancient writings of Galen, was once considered a subversive act.)
  • In some technical and professional fields (e.g., law, some specialties of medicine, some fields of engineering,…) a practicing professional could earn many times over the salary of a professor. Tenure is perceived as one form of compensation for ceasing to practice in one’s specialty or working reduced hours in it.
  • Finally, in many fields in the hard sciences, tenure is seen as giving scholars the chance to engage in high-risk, highly innovative, research that might pay off big time — or turn out to be a years-long wild goose chase with nothing to show for it. As the latter is obviously the ‘kiss of death’ in the absence of tenure, assistant professors on the tenure track tend to ‘play it safe’ by restricting their research to projects that have a reasonable chance of publishable outcomes.

In the American system, one typically becomes an assistant professor after a Ph.D. and at least one postdoctoral stint. One thus becomes an independent researcher and head of one’s own group (“captain of one’s own ship”) at a pretty young age, but without certainty of employment, and with the ‘Remember Tomorrow’ of a tenure decision ahead. There is no denying that it is a pretty stressful experience, not just for the academic but also for his/her partner: I’ve seen more than one marriage break up over this. But, of course, the payoff of success is a level of job security virtually unmatched in the USA outside government service.

However, many Euro countries have a different academic structure where there is a fairly large “NCO corps” in between the graduate students (and, in the last 20-30 years, postdocs) on the one hand, and the titular professors on the other hand. Anybody eyeing a spot in the “officer corps” needs to do their time in the NCO corps first, but tenure is reached after some years there, after which one finds oneself being groomed/in a ‘holding pattern’ for years  (depending on one’s perspective) until a titular professor retires. Needless to say, this system is much less dynamic than the US one, and the reduced stress is outweighed by the frustration of possibly being stuck in an ‘NCO slot’ for decades, or even until retirement.

Israel has a US-style tenure system: it does have an ‘NCO corps’ of ‘staff scientists’ who however represent an alternate career path rather than an entrance hall to the faculty track. Also, further promotion (from associate professor to full professor) generally takes longer and is subject to closer scrutiny than in the US.

Germany and many Eastern European countries do their ‘faculty filtering’ in a different way than the USA: by demanding an additional credential for faculty in the guise of a Higher Doctorate (known as a Habilitation in Germany). This typically consists of a much heftier thesis than the original Ph.D., and is supposed to be a body of independent research (perhaps with some mentoring) rather than work carried out under the guidance of an advisor. France has a similar post-Ph.D. credential called “Habilitation à diriger des recherches” (accreditation to supervise research), which entitles the holder to act as the Ph.D. advisor to graduate students.

Each system has pluses and minuses. The Euro system is much less ‘sink or swim’ in that one is more gradually groomed for ‘captaincy’, and that job security is reached much more easily. On the other hand, many of Europe’s best and most dynamic researchers seek out academic positions in the USA precisely because of the greater independence and flexibility it affords. Yet on the third hand, dependence on grant money encourages faddishness in research, while somebody who does high-quality research in a ‘no longer fashionable’ subject may have a much easier time of it in France, Germany, Switzerland, or even Israel than in the USA. But on the fourth hand, this same set of circumstances may lead a researcher to remain ‘stuck in a rut’ rather than try to reinvent themselves.

Thomas Sowell’s famous aphorism, “There are no solutions, only trade-offs”, applies here as well.

ClimateGate: there’s no business like snow business

Watts Up With That: “There’s no business like snow business” starts out with Moscow (Russia, not Idaho) having the thickest snow cover since 1966. It goes on to repeat the claims of the AGW crowd that ‘snowfall will become a rare event’, and contrasting them with claims today that global warming will cause increased snowfall (no kidding). “The great thing about global warming is that you can blame anything on it, and then deny it later.” If so, statements aren’t falsifiable, and the only thing that’s “settled” about the science is that it isn’t science.

Meanwhile, Sen. James Inhofe is calling for an investigation of Johannes Tetzel Al Gore, soon to be an indulgences “carbon credits” billionaire.

Two depressing reads

Two recent “read the whole thing” essays give a lot of pause to the reader.

1. The Atlantic Online has an article on how prolonged joblessness will transform America. It is a long and depressing, but very worthwhile read, chock full of relevant information.

2. Related, Victor Davis Hanson some days ago wrote “Why did Rome fall — and why does it matter now?”, in which he sketches disheartening parallels between present-day American society (but it could be any Western European country) and the waning days of the Roman Empire.

Poverty, as I saw it as a boy in Selma in 1960, might be defined by occasional homes with outhouses in the back yard, gravel rural roads, no TVs and rampant illiteracy among those over 30.

Today, the “poor” as I see them daily at Wal-Mart and Food-4-Less in Selma (a poor town in a poor county in poor central California) buy blue-ray DVD players, have to buy food-stamp subsidized sirloin rather than rib-eye (as I can attest watching 5 carts ahead of me in line tonight), and drive used 2000 Tahoes and 2001 Yukons rather 2010 Honda Accords. Government subsidies for housing, food, transportation, etc., coupled with cheap Chinese and Indian imported consumer goods, have for a time been substituted for the old manufacturing jobs or resource-based work (e.g., we don’t make steel, we increasingly curtail farming, we don’t drill, etc.). In other words, we are enjoying a lifestyle undreamed of by our grandparents who had values quite different from our own — a result of globalization, advances in technology, and massive borrowing and debt.[…]

But as in the case of Rome, there is a price for all these sudden riches. Just as the Iberians, and Libyans, and Thracians were hungrier and more enterprising than Italians back in the bay of Naples, so too we, the beneficiaries of this wealth, lost the values that were at its heart, in a way that the Indians, Chinese, and others have not — yet. Our youth in schools are not so excited by the notion of creating 100 new nuclear power plants, creating new mountain reservoirs, building new railroads and highways, or eager to rebuild the steel industry, or dreaming of increasing food production or eager to mine more ores. Instead, the emphasis in our schools is more on race/class/gender engineering, regulation, redistribution, etc, all of which in classical terms is not necessarily wealth creation.

We are now borrowing nearly $2 trillion a year […] — nearly half of it from the Chinese where 400 million have never been to a Westernized doctor. We spend $45,000 to incarcerate the felon in California, to meet utopian court-ordered mandates. As imperial Romans, we are felt to be owed a standard of living, even as our own daily habits would no longer necessarily translate into such largess, even as those on the periphery have learned what made America so wealthy from 1950 to 1990.

Where does it all end? I have no idea, but offer only competing scenarios: 1) as our debt becomes unsustainable, we react and increase the retirement age, cut spending and entitlements radically, and renew our work ethic (impossible by choice, made possible by necessity), and enjoy a renaissance; 2) we become a UK-like museum, with witty cynical observers, as the new giants in Asia produce the next Microsoft, Exxon, and Ford, and we fade; 3) India and China discover that they too have a rendezvous with suburban blues, environmentalism, consumer regulation, and a pampered citizenry, and there is some sort of shared global postmodernism.

We inherited a wonderful infrastructure from our parents. A superb system of politics and economics was likewise given to us at birth. Many of us try to copy our grandparents and parents whose values and work ethic we increasingly eulogize. But against all that is that Roman notion of luxus, untold wealth and leisure that we see juxtaposed with shrill cries and accusations that we are too poor, exploited, and in need of someone else’s income. The wealthier we become, the louder and angrier we become that we are not even more wealthy.

In short, what ruined Rome in the West? [He means the West Roman Empire, as distinct from the Byzantine Empire — NCT] Lots of things. But clearly the pernicious effects of affluence and laxity warped Roman sensibility and created a culture of entitlement that was not justified by revenues or the creation of actual commensurate wealth — and the resulting debits, inflation, debased currency, and gradual state impoverishment gave the far more vulnerable Western Empire far less margin of error when barbarians arrived, or rival generals marched on Rome. For a while the Romanization of the wider Mediterranean subsidized this ennui, but eventually the old western and southern provinces neither could protect what they had created nor could continue to be as productive as in the past nor believed that being Roman was any better than the alternative.

A State of Mind

The strange thing is that these wild swings in civilization are at their bases psychological: decline is one of choice rather than necessity. Plague or lead poisoning or famine did not destroy Rome. We could balance our budget tomorrow without a great deal of sacrifice; we could eliminate 10% worth of government spending that is not essential; we could create our own energy with massive nuclear power investment, and more extraction of gas, oil, and coal. We could instill a tragic rather than therapeutic world view that would mean more responsibilities rather than endlessly more rights. We could do this all right — but too many feel such medicine is worse than the malady, and so we probably won’t and can’t. An enjoyable slow decline is apparently preferable to a short, but painful rethinking and rebirth.

Fostering dependency

This tale from the Weekly Standard deserves highlighting:

In a story from the New York Times headlined, “Once Stigmatized, Food Stamps Find Acceptance,” we learn that the government has been using your tax dollars to market the giving away of your tax dollars in the form of food stamps to more and more people of higher and higher incomes.

As with any social program, there are many people on it who are indeed needy, but the article makes clear that the revival of food stamp popularity has more to do with state and local officials who are glad to curry favor with local constituents using federal dollars.

Since they’re not paying for it, local officials and a network of aid organizations happily aid the federal government in recruiting more food-stamp recipients, regardless of how much they actually need the assistance. Meet Juan Diego Castro, who demonstrates how the system works:

Juan Diego Castro, 24, is a college graduate and Americorps volunteer whose immigrant parents warned him “not to be a burden on this country.” He has a monthly stipend of about $2,500 and initially thought food stamps should go to needier people, like the tenants he organizes. “My concern was if I’m taking food stamps and I have a job, is it morally correct?” he said.

But federal law eases eligibility for Americorps members, and a food bank worker urged him and fellow volunteers to apply, arguing that there was enough aid to go around and that use would demonstrate continuing need. “That meeting definitely turned us around,” Mr. Castro said.

Read the rest. And weep. But it’s just Pournelle’s Iron Law in action.

The son of Frankenstein, er, Obamacare

C2 discusses the “son of Frankenstein0bamacare” plan. (Sigh of cosmic weariness.)

Some related articles:

Instapundit on religion and spirituality

Glenn Reynolds:

YOUNG VOTERS WANT SPIRITUALITY, BUT NOT NECESSARILY RELIGION. Well, that’s because religion often tells you to do things you don’t want to do, or to refrain from doing things you want to do, while spirituality is usually more . . . flexible.

Obviously, from the context, he means noncommittal, “cafeteria style” spirituality.

Allow me to use a perhaps risqué metaphor: “Young voters want casual ‘hookups’ but not commitment”. Embracing a religion — or deciding to become serious about the one you already belong to — is a lot like committing yourself to one partner and one only. You may be friendly with others — very friendly even — but n the most intimate level you belong to one (or One) only.

Obama: The Atonal President

[Still busy as heck, but couldn’t resist blogging this:] James Taranto has a hilarious musical metaphor for the 0bama administration: The atonal president.

“Audiences Hate Modern Classical Music Because Their Brains Cannot Cope”: an arresting headline from London’s Sunday Telegraph. This is the argument of a new book, “The Music Instinct” by Philip Ball:

Mr Ball believes that many traditional composers such as Mozart, Bach and Beethoven subconsciously followed strict musical formula to produce music that was easy on the ear by ensuring it contained patterns that could be picked out by the brain.
In the early twentieth century, however, composers led by [Arnold] Schoenberg began to rally against the traditional conventions of music to produce compositions which lack tonal centres, known as atonal music.
Under their vision, which has been adopted by many subsequent classical musicians, music no longer needed to be confined to a home note or chord.
But such atonal music has been badly received by audiences and critics who have found it difficult to follow.

These modern compositions “confuse listeners’ brains,” Ball argues, and thus put them off. The idea may have broader implications:

Dr Aniruddh Patel, a researcher at the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego, California, said that tonal music such as traditional classical music uses some of the same mechanisms needed for processing language.
“This may be one reason such music is congenial to the human mind,” he said. “It may be a reason why atonal music is more difficult when first encountered.”

Hmm, does this remind you of anything? Here’s a hint:

Still, this is a complex issue, and the longer it was debated, the more skeptical people became. I take my share of the blame for not explaining it more clearly to the American people.

That, of course, is President Obama, in his State of the Union Address, on the failure of ObamaCare. His excuse so closely parallels Ball’s explanation of modern music that you could have written essentially the same headline: “Voters Hate ObamaCare Because Their Brains Cannot Cope.”

But what’s striking about the Telegraph piece is that Ball and others who study this stuff go out of their way to avoid making any qualitative judgments. After explaining that Schoenberg’s music is “fragmented,” making it “harder for the brain to find structure,” Ball adds this disclaimer: “That isn’t to say, of course, that it is impossible to listen to, it is just harder work. It would be wrong to dismiss such music as a racket.”

Yet David Huron of Ohio State University describes such music this way: “The result is an overwhelming feeling of confusion, and the constant failures to anticipate what will happen next means that there is no pleasure from accurate prediction.”

So the modern compositions sound disorderly and give the listener no pleasure. Is this not the definition of a racket? Ball seems to be suggesting that while these pieces are aesthetically displeasing because they are defective in form, some sort of underlying substance makes them worthy. But this is bunk. The value of music consists only in its appeal to the human mind.

On this point, the analogy to politics and policy breaks down. It is possible for a good policy to be inartfully presented (or, for that matter, for a skilled politician to make a bad policy attractive). The claim that ObamaCare is a good idea but Obama presented it badly is not inherently absurd, as is the claim that a piece of music is good even though it sounds bad.

Or is it? Obama is asking voters to believe that ObamaCare is a good idea and that the reason they think it is a bad idea is that he isn’t good at persuasion. But if he can convince them of that, he can convince them of anything–which means that the claim that he is bad at persuasion is wildly false.

The result is an overwhelming feeling of confusion. It would be wrong not to dismiss ObamaCare as a racket.

In both senses of the word 😉

WSJ profile of Temple Grandin

Via Ann Althouse, here is an excellent profile of professor Temple Grandin (who suffers from high-functioning autism). The profile is marred by one repeated embarrassing typo: spelling “Asperger” as “Aspberger”. Ann Althouse wonders if that was Cleopatra’s last meal.

A few choice quotes:

‘Who do you think made the first stone spear?” asks Temple Grandin. “That wasn’t the yakkity yaks sitting around the campfire. It was some Aspberger sitting in the back of a cave figuring out how to chip rocks into spearheads. Without some autistic traits you wouldn’t even have a recording device to record this conversation on.”


As many as one in 110 American children are affected by autism spectrum disorders, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed than girls.


People on the “[autism] spectrum” tend to be just as obsessed with things and the way things work as they are uninterested in social relationships. And, as Ms. Grandin observed, people interested in things make important advancements—particularly in engineering, science and technology.

Which is not to say she romanticizes this disorder. […] What sets Ms. Grandin apart is that she knows what autism feels like, and, unlike so many others with the disorder, she can articulate it.

Last week, the American Psychiatric Association unveiled its proposed revisions to the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), the bible of the field. Up for revision are Aspergers and autism. The association recommends scrapping both and replacing them with the umbrella label of “autism spectrum disorders.”

“From a scientific standpoint, Aspergers and autism are one syndrome,” Ms. Grandin says, reflecting the scholarly consensus. “Aspergers is part of the autism spectrum, not a separate disorder.” But “the problem is you have a whole lot of people that have labels and identify with the label.”

There is, she says, a “strong genetic basis” for autism, and she has a “very typical family history” that includes anxiety and depression on both sides of the family, intellectual giftedness, lots of food allergies and engineers (“my grandfather was an engineer who invented the automatic pilot for airplanes”). This is why, she says, “there tends to be a lot of autism around the tech centers . . . when you concentrate the geeks, you’re concentrating the autism genetics.”

Many talk of an autism epidemic—has there been a spike in autism lately? “You know the geeks have always been here. They used to call them geeks, nerds and dorks. Now they’re getting labeled [Asperger]s—there’s just a point where it’s just normal personality variation.”

Of course, pretty much every psychological or (in this case) cognitive disorder is just a more extreme version of personality traits that can be found in “normal” people.

[H]er advice [about raising children with Asperger’s or high-functioning autism] is simple: It’s about hard work. Young children need 20 or 30 hours a week of one-on-one time with a committed teacher or mentor. Money, Ms. Grandin says, should not be an obstacle. If you can’t afford a professional teacher, find volunteers through your church or synagogue, she says. Parents need to teach 1950s-style social rules “like please and thank you, basic table manners, how to shop.”

There have to be high expectations. She’s worried about the “handicapped mentality” that she thinks is increasing. “When I see these kids with 150 IQ and their parents want to put them on Social Security [disability], it drives me nuts.” These kids “will come up to the book table and start talking about ‘my Aspergers.’ Why don’t you talk about becoming a chemist, or a computer programmer, or a botanist?”

She continues: “It’s important to get these autistic kids out and exposed to stuff. You’ve got to fill up the database.” Silicon Valley and the tech companies are like “heaven on earth for the geeks and the nerds. And I want to see more and more of these smart kids going into the tech industry and inventing things—that’s what makes America great.”

Ms. Grandin lives in a simple apartment in Fort Collins, Colo., and has used the profits from her books to put students through school. “Four PhDs I’ve already done, I’m working on my fifth right now. I have graduate students at Colorado State—some of them I let in the back door, like me: older, nontraditional students. And I’ve gotten them good jobs.”

Now here is somebody I take my hat off for — or cover my head for, in Jewish culture 🙂 Read the whole thing, as they say.

Big Mike, a commenter at Althouse’s, offers a first-person perspective:

Asperger’s syndrome is not a disability. It merely means that one has trouble putting oneself in other people’s shoes, and viewing things from other people’s perspective. The ability of individuals with Asperger’s syndrome to read body language is impaired, and they tend to be socially inept.

(It has not escaped my notice that this perhaps sounds like a few of the regular commentators on this blog.)

But that’s nothing that can’t be learned, provided one understands what the problem is and is willing to study the human beings around you the way psych students in college study lab rats. High school is Hell, but by college an Asperger’s person should be able to get by and even thrive.

One can have Asperger’s and still be a champion athlete. One can have Asperger’s and still learn to work well in teams, though an Asperger’s person will always do better in situations that focus on individual performance. One can still woo and win a beautiful woman. We do have (oops!) brains that are better-wired for mathematics and the hard sciences, and we tend to be well above the norm as problem-solvers. Because we have had to study human beings more thoroughly than regular people, Asperger’s people can do quite well as a trial lawyer or actor (not that there’s that much difference one from the other).

But high school is really Hell.

Amy Bishop update: still more details emerge

Having an unexpected bit of idle time, we continue our coverage of the Amy Bishop./U. of Alabama “tenure killer” case. [See here, herehere , and especially here and here for our earlier coverage.]

Today the New York Times has a long in-depth story on the incident — if you can’t deal with the NYT’s registration wall, there is an apparently identical version online here, for instance. (In addition, a slightly different version at the Seattle Times incorporates some additional details — notably that Amy Bishop is a second cousin of writer — and whackjob — John Irving.)

While both versions are of course silent about Bishop’s far-left politics and obsession with 0bama, they are overall a pretty good recap of what we already know, plus add some new information:

  • she had aspirations as a writer, and collaborated with somebody named Lenny Cavallero on an unpublished novel named “Amazon Fever”, “in which a herpes-like virus spreads throughout the world, causing pregnant women to miscarry”. Her co-author: “When I worked with her, I found she was always within striking distance of the edge”
  • “Over the years, Dr. Bishop had shown evidence that the smallest of slights could set off a disproportionate and occasionally violent reaction, according to numerous interviews with colleagues and others who know her. Her life seemed to veer wildly between moments of cold fury and scientific brilliance, between rage at perceived slights and empathy for her students.”
  • Somebody who collaborated with her on a paper in 1996 remembers her flying into a white-hot rage when she wasn’t given the coveted first author slot. “She broke down. She was extremely angry with all of us. She exploded into something emotional that we never saw before in our careers.”
  • “She rejected criticism and fudged her résumé. Her scientific work was not as impressive as she made it seem, according to independent neurobiologists, some of whom said she would have been unlikely to even get the opportunity to try for tenure at major universities. [See also here — NCT.] She was known to have cyclical “flip-outs,” as one former student described them, that pushed one graduate student after another out of her laboratory.”
  • Following the shooting of her brother, “as Officer Solimini and a partner drove Amy Bishop to the police station, she made a remark that surprised him, according to the report. “She stated that she had an argument with her father earlier,” Officer Solimini wrote. “(Prior to the shooting, she stated!)””
  • “Dr. Bishop also arrived in Huntsville with a padded résumé, giving the impression that she had worked at Harvard two years longer than the university’s records indicate.” [This AP story also mentions that she claimed an IQ of 180 — which would be in the 99.99997th percentile!]
  • “Graduate students did not last long in her laboratory, and those familiar with the department said that most transferred to a different one before completing their degree. In May 2006, she dismissed a graduate student from her lab. The student promised to return some notebooks and a set of keys the next day, a person familiar with the incident said, but Dr. Bishop called the campus police that night, according to a campus police report. The student filed a grievance against her.”
  • when denied tenure, “Her attitude was not, ‘I’m going to have to go find another job,’ ” said Eric Seemann, an assistant professor of psychology. “It was more like, ‘When are these idiots going to clear this up?’ ”
  • contrary to what has been claimed on some antisemitic conspiracy sites [which I refuse to link to], her father was not a Jewish business mogul but a professor of film at Northeastern University [this web page refers to Sam Bishop as Northeastern’s “one man film program” in the 1970s — there even appears to be a school award named after him at Northeastern], while her mother was involved in local politics in Braintree, MA, a middle-class suburb of Boston.
  • the fatal shooting of her brother happened following an argument with her father, who was out on an Xmas shopping trip while it happened

If I’d have to venture an amateur psychological diagnosis, it would be an extreme form of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD — note all the incidents of “narcissistic rage”), possibly with borderline personality disorder (BPD) thrown in. (Both are “Cluster B personality disorders“.)

Iron Maiden, “Remember tomorrow”

This classic early Iron Maiden song has rather more cryptic lyrics than what we became used to later. The interpretation that makes the most sense to me is that it’s about a member of an RAF bomber crew during WW II contemplating an upcoming mission. (Some of the imagery then clearly is about flak and searchlights.)

Tomorrow, and the coming days, SSC will be a little slow as we deal with something in realspace. Stay tuned for return to our regular scheduled programming.