aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Thursday, March 27, 2008
A Metairie Masterpiece
Our host, a New Orleans native, is a builder and a collector of old doors, mantels, banisters, railings and balustrades. The vanity plate on his pick-up reads “BUILDIT.” His house is an authentic local attraction.
More after the jump
Oklahoma Rep. Sally Kern meets with PFLAG
Hosting a group of parents from Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays in her office at the state capitol today, Oklahoma House Rep. Sally Kern has taken a stand opposing discrimination against gays in the workplace. The embattled lawmaker is also considering another meeting with more PFLAG parents at their local chapter, sources tell PageOneQ.
More from Gay.com. I’ve got my fingers crossed.
UPDATE: More of the same. At this point, I’m part of the problem. It has to quiet down and become less political, more personal.
Is America shrinking?
Paul Kennedy, the J. Richardson Dilworth Professor of History at Yale University, was made famous—“a superstar”—by the 1987 publication of his book, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict From 1500 to 2000, in which he had the temerity to predict the inevitable decline of the United States of America.
In February he spoke at the London School of Economics. His 90 minute talk is available via podcast. In it he says many interesting things. This, I think, the most interesting:
[@49:24] The power balances as between national units in this decade have been moving faster than at any other time since the 1890s, when at the beginning of that decade the U.S. economy overtook that of late Victorian Britain and by the middle to the end of that decade Imperial Germany overtook it, and Great Britain went from being the largest industrial economy in the world to being the third largest—and there was nothing really that the British could do about it.
So what I’m saying is that some things are recoverable, [but] long-term growth rates...are things that a four year president can do very little about. You might actually kick-start the U.S. economy again to have growth rates for four year at three to three and a half percent but if India’s growing at eight to nine percent and China at nine to ten percent then you just compound it out and the shrinkage is very fast.
Doomed to Disappoint Justice O’Connor
Comfortably ensconced in a cozy manse off the lake in Metairie, I’ve made my way through the introduction to Richard Thompson Ford’s THE RACE CARD: How Bluffing About Bias Makes Race Relations Worse.
Five years ago, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor saved affirmative action in public college admissions when she crafted the majority decision affirming the consideration of race in admissions by the University of Michigan’s law school. While O’Connor found justifications for the (limited) consideration of race and ethnicity, she also spoke of the need for such consideration to stop at some point. “We expect that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest approved today,” she wrote.
The American Educational Research Association assembled a group of leading scholars Tuesday to consider the state of affirmative action. Officially they were looking at the state of the Bakke decision that first authorized affirmative action. But they kept returning to O’Connor’s deadline and her prediction that in 25 years (20 years from today), diversity would be possible without affirmative action.
The unanimous opinion: no chance in hell.
Scholars examined a range of demographic and educational data showing how little progress has been made in narrowing key gaps in the educational opportunities available to black and Latino students. Given how slowly American education changes, they said, the idea that the need for affirmative action will disappear in 20 years is almost impossible to imagine. A subtext for their discussion was the reality that some states have shown less patience for affirmative action than did Justice O’Connor and have gone ahead and banned affirmative action — and more states are expected to follow suit this year.
While much of the panel discussion focused on inequality in American society, another group of institutions was also criticized for decisions that — without affirmative action — hinder the enrollment of minority students. Top colleges, the researchers said, are putting more emphasis on extremely high SAT scores, even though this means that the resulting pool is increasingly white and Asian.
In a paper called “Is 1500 the new 1280?” Catherine L. Horn, of the University of Houston, and John T. Yun, of the University of California at Santa Barbara, looked at the verbal SAT score averages of students at the 30 top colleges and universities (as determined by U.S. News & World Report). At all but four of these institutions, at least 30 percent of the freshman class had scored 700 or greater on the verbal SAT, and at half of these colleges, more than 50 percent of freshmen have such scores. In 1989, only one of the 30 colleges reported that more than 30 percent of the freshman class had a score of at least 700 on the verbal SAT.
The shift is “extreme,” Horn said, “suggesting a real shift in admissions toward very high-scoring individuals.”
I don’t need to finish Ford’s book to know that I agree with at least one of his theses: we moved from “integration” to “diversity” to satisfy court orders. That hasn’t served us well. Segregation was the problem. Integration was the point. Integration was the need. It was then. It still is now.
Joyner, by the way, thinks that:
Admission to one of the top 30 schools is, by definition, very limited. To the extent that it’s increasingly being granted on the basis of objective merit, that’s a good thing.
What planet is that man living on? I suppose that is one way of looking at things.
But when we have an entire education system that is so disproportionately funded as to preserve the status quo, along with a society that blithely accepts that disproportionality, Joyner’s notion of “objective merit” is so undermined as to become little more than a convenient fig leaf to hide behind.