Mike Kueber's Blog

July 23, 2015

Larry Summers vindicated?

Filed under: Culture,Education,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 11:13 pm
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In 2005, at a conference on diversifying the science and engineering workforce, Harvard president Larry Summers proffered three potential explanations for why women were underrepresented as professors in the highest science and engineering positions:

  1. High-powered job hypothesis (i.e., women were distracted by family obligations)
  2. Different availability of aptitude at the high end (test results showed that men tended to have both the highest and the lowest scores)
  3. Different socialization and patterns of discrimination in the search and placement

In his conclusion, Summers explicitly attempted to provoke further discussion by suggesting that different aptitude was the dominant cause, saying he would like nothing better than to be proved wrong.

But, instead of proving Summers wrong, the politically-correct police charged him with sexism and careless scholarship.  After a year-long trial in the media, Summers was forced to resign as president of Harvard.  And when his name was floated as a potential Secretary of the Treasury under President Obama, this brouhaha was used to sink his prospects.

I thought of Larry Summers today when I read an article in fivethirtyeight.com about six American boys winning the International Math Olympiad.  The article pointed out that boys have dominated not only the American team but also teams from other countries ever since we joined the competition in 1974.  Eighty-eight percent of the six-person American teams have been entirely boys, and the teams from other countries average 0.5 girls per six-person team.

Joe Klein once defined politically incorrect as a statement that is true, but not proper to be uttered in public.  The lynching of Larry Summers seems to be an excellent example of the politically-correct police on steroids.  Or, as Summers said, I would love to be proved wrong.

July 16, 2015

Cutting to the chase of political correctness

Filed under: Culture,Facebook — Mike Kueber @ 12:31 am

When I was running for the SA City Council, my biggest issue was the outrageous employment benefits given to the police/fire.  One of my friends suggested on multiple occasions that I soften this criticism at candidate forums by first describing the appreciation I felt for the people who staff these first-responder positions.  But in the heat of a stump speech, I invariably failed to soften my spiel and instead cut right to the chase – i.e., the police/fire unions were taking advantage of the city.

My tendency to cut to the chase manifested itself again today on Facebook when I criticized a poster from a state senator calling for more respectful language.  Senator Zaffirini proposed:

  • WISH MORE PERSONS USED RESPECTFUL LANGUAGE. This includes not describing a person by a condition, illness, or disability and not joking about them. Examples follow:
    • Say, “the person who is blind,” NOT “the blind person.”
    • Say, “the patient with diabetes,” NOT “the diabetic patient.”
    • Say, “the student with an intellectual disability,” and do NOT use the “R” word.
    • Say, “the person under guardianship,” NOT “the ward.”
    • Do NOT say, “I’m having a senior moment” or “My Alzheimer’s must be kicking-in.” Such conditions are serious and certainly not humorous for those who have them (or their loved ones).
    • Do NOT say, “She drank until she was cross-eyed” or “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.” Such statements demean persons who have strabismus or one eye.

If I had learned a lesson from my friend, I might have first said something nice to the senator about being respectful and even noted that I had recently learned that autistic kids (sic) sometimes take “mainstream classes,” not “normal classes.”  But instead I cut right to the chase:

  • “I think most of these examples are unnecessary tweaks that produce stilted speech. What’s wrong with “ward”? I agree with the so-called “R” word, but didn’t realize that the term had been become so bad that it can’t be spelled out in polite society.”

Senator Zaffirini responded – “Mike: Indeed, the “R” word is anathema among all of us who champion the needs and interests of persons with intellectual disabilities. Using “ward” is like calling a person “chattel.””

Following this exchange, I did a bit more research and learned that the senator’s suggestion were based on a new strategy in the disability community to encourage the use of “people-first language.”  According to Syracuse University Disability Center:

  • People-first” or “person-first” language is a way of describing disability that involves putting the word “person” or “people” before the word “disability” or the name of a disability, rather than placing the disability first and using it as an adjective.  Some examples of people-first language might include saying “person with a disability,” “woman with cerebral palsy,” and “man with an intellectual disability.”  The purpose of people-first language is to promote the idea that someone’s disability label is just a disability label—not the defining characteristic of the entire individual.

Bottom line – I recognize that I have a sensitivity deficit and am willing to consider reasonable modifications to my speech pattern (adjectives placed before nouns) on a case-by-case basis in order to avoid offending reasonable people.

July 7, 2015

Sexism (and racism) – part 2

Filed under: Biography,Culture,Philosophy — Mike Kueber @ 5:59 pm
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Yesterday, I posted about the definition of sexism and how most people could easily stumble into so-called sexist statements.  No sooner had I blogged about that sentiment than I commented as follows on Facebook about people ridiculing a dead young man who had jumped into a lake even though he knew an alligator was in the area:

  • “Young men often do stupid, dangerous, risky stunts. No need to disparage him with a racial epithet (cracker) or hyperbolize about him being eaten.”

Upon further reflection, however, I elaborated as follows on the racism and sexism:

  • Of course, it’s OK to use racial epithets if you are one of its victims. So perhaps Ted Wood [the person who made the cracker comment] is a cracker, which makes his comment politically correct. Also, I perhaps said something sexist when I said young men often do stupid, dangerous, risky things, but that has been my life experience. Young women don’t do those things nearly as often.

Because I believe the charge of sexism and racism is too casually bandied about, and because I believe people are too easily offended, I accept the mission of pointing out how unreasonable these standards are when applied to situations that are not politically correct.

p.s., on reflecting on this issue, I believe I acted badly in shunning the Dixie Chicks after their lead singer Natalie Maines said those mean things about George W.

July 6, 2015


Filed under: Culture,Sports — Mike Kueber @ 10:19 pm
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In the wake of the American women’s success in World Cup soccer, the Washington Post took the opportunity to charge Great Britain with sexism.  The charge was prompted by the Brits’ national organization congratulating the women’s team for making it to the semifinals with the following tweet:

  • “Our Lionesses go back to being mothers, partners and daughters today, but they have taken on another title – heroes.”

According to the Post, the tweet is sexist because it was not something that would ever be said about a men’s team.

I agree that something like that probably was not uttered to men on the Golden State Warriors as they returned home from winning the NBA title in Cleveland, but does that make it sexist?

According to Merriam-Webster, sexism means “behavior, conditions, or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex.”  Based on that definition, any belief that family generally plays a larger role in the life of a woman than it does in the life of a man is sexist.

I suspect, however, that makes much of America sexist.  Although feminists are free to pressure women to discard the traditional outsize role of women in raising a family, the vast majority of American women continue to reject the feminist call.

Perhaps the term sexist should be limited to attitudes that reflect negative stereotypes because surely the political-correct policemen don’t expect us to cease making general comments on the other sex.

p.s., the Post article commented that the British women soccer players were much more “accomplished” than their male counterparts.  “Accomplished” means highly trained or skilled.  The women may be relatively accomplished, but I don’t suggest they compete on a level field against the Brit men.

June 29, 2015

A very important person

Filed under: Culture,Philosophy — Mike Kueber @ 2:16 am
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A liberal Facebook friend, Cary Clack (former E-N columnist), recently posted some thought-provoking comments about the prevalence and pretentiousness of the term VIP.  Inexplicably, the term has become ubiquitous and acceptable in a nation of supposed democratic egalitarians.  Indeed, while watching Downton Abbey, the early 1900’s period piece on the British aristocracy, I am continually jarred when I see the train cars labeled first class and third class, but Clack’s comments jolted me into realizing that our progressive society has not progressed as much as I assumed.

Kids growing up in the 60s and 70s thoroughly rejected that sort of classism and elitism, but they seem to be making a surreptitious revival.

May 28, 2015

Ann Coulter strikes again

Filed under: Culture,Media,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 12:52 pm
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Cassandra Lazenby, a local TV personality and Facebook friend, recently posted her outrage over a two-minute clip of Ann Coulter’s comments during an interview on Fusion TV with Jorge Ramos. Coulter is flacking her new book, Adios America.  Cassandra said:

  • Complete & utter ignorance. We need to stop giving bigots like this platforms to spew hatred & ignite racism. I cannot stand this woman and I’d guarantee most “American Anglo Women” don’t want her speaking on their behalf. (Myself included — I’m half Anglo & half Hispanic… What does that make me… Ann?) God bless Jorge Ramos for staying professional in that interview.

You might guess what Cassandra’s friends thought of Coulter.  The following are their unedited comments:

  • Rolando Medina fuck you stupid bitch. wow she is really stupid.
  • Roger Flores Wow.
  • Janie Hernandez Martinez Wow what a b#&@$!
  • Luis Munoz I’d be upset if I actually took her seriously. She’s just just a waste of good oxygen.
  • Tommy Gregory never heard of her, and already forgotten her.
  • Ron Davis wow,,,,,,,,,,! pendeja !, and she probably vacations in Cabo, has a latina housekeeper, gardener, and nanny,,,,,,,,I hope they pee in her coffee……….VIVA MEXICO !
  • Scottie C. Jackson The same “Anglo” culture that brought slaves to an inhabited land, killed the inhabitants and were in search of “freedom”?  When ignorance points a finger its own ugly is exposed.
  • Andrea Heisler Melcher When will this woman just go away?
  • Robert Rivard Amen.
  • Janie Hernandez Martinez This is what I would have told her when she said there is nothing I can tell you. Well your are going to piss of enough Mexicans that you are going to feel like YOU are in Syria lol just saying…
  • David Gonzales I take her as serious as I take a child when they tell their parents they hate them. She’s just a delusional crazy white lady who can’t stand the fact that America is as diverse as it is. I’d rather give Flavor Flav another show. That brotha doesn’t discriminate against anything lol
  • Selena Mejia You’ve got my blood boiling this am…we can never move forward with stereotypical assumptions around us. Let’s prove her wrong!  #FuelToTheFire
  • Ben N Hilda Salazar I bet any Sponsors that support her will drop her now or feel the rath of the Latin public…Please list the company’s that support her..so we can Ban these companies…
  • Jim Luna stupid bitch!!
  • Adam Morales Where does this stupid Bitch live…
  • Olica Garcia Wow.
  • Joe Enriquez Wow Ann… the last time I checked… America is 100% made up of immigrants from other counties. No different than the white Anglo settlers that came to North American from Great Britain, Ireland, Scottland, Germany, and many other predominantly Anglo…See More
  • Dina Majd She’s wearing a cross too. What an idiot. Middle Easterners are some of the kindest people. There are radicals in every country including USA. I’m curious why she’s such a hater. We aren’t better than everyone else bc we live in USA. We are just lucky we have the privilege to have freedom.
  • Joe Enriquez This woman is using her left wing prejudicy and hatred towards non-white people to make a name for herself. She has no business on TV or tabloids. She is a hipocrit and represents nothing but white supremacy, prejudicy and hatred coming out of her mouth. I don’t believe she represents today’s Anglo American majority. She is in her own little plastic bubble that just needs to be popped.
  • Blanca Hammond What an idiot and just as stupid are those that buy her book. Crazy woman has no clue that her ancestors were immigrant she is just ignorant !
  • Natalie Morales Jackson Can’t stand her!!
  • Irma Brunn She sounds stupid!
  • Martha Vergara Zurita What a dummey.
  • Rosanne Valdez Wow !!! I have never liked this woman. I hate talking negative about any woman trying to do her thing. But I am ashamed that she is called a woman a furthermore an American. She makes me sick
  • Melissa Uribe The ignorance of some people. And hello Ann the American culture? Is a mix of all the people who migrated to America! We are all immigrants unless she is full blooded Native American good luck with the argument.
  • Tanya Garza I am also Anglo and Hispanic…I would NEVER co-sign her ignorance and allow her to speak on my behalf!!
  • Amber Tamayo Such ignorance from this lady!! She should have been smacked on air!
  • Nate Aguilar Never seen this fired up side of yours cassandra… I must say I like it! As for this lady, she must not eat out cause who does she think is cooking her food!
  • John Palmer She is the the most ignorant person on earth.
  • Laura Soto Native Americans where here first, who crossed the ocean… Same people who’s ancestors killed and stole the land. Everyone is an emigrant, so unless your really pure suck it up leave your life and shut the hell up…
  • Joseph Acevedo Pendeja
  • Jackie Tristan Sotelo She is trying to sound smart & nothing,but crap is coming out of the hole on her ignorant face.
  • Richard Chacon Ann Coulter is right. You are more likely to be killed by Mexicans because barbacoa tacos taste too delicious. Damn you arteries!!!
  • Richard Chacon All i know is that lady needs an Enchilada plate with extra tortillas. Did you see the her toothpick legs?
  • VeroErniee Garcia I think the tanning bed got to her brain!
  • Buddy Howell she’s right….facts will always supersede opinions
  • Edgar Hector Villarreal Enough said!
  • David Garcia Wow is all I have to say
  • Pete Perez She’s an idiot. THIS IS WHERE ITS AT! https://youtu.be/h0EnAmUUzl
  • Buddy Miles Express – We’ve Got To Live Together
  • Manda Cass As an anglo woman, I definitely don’t want her speaking for me. She absolutely disgusts me.
  • Miguel Briones Ignorance at its finest
  • Mark Tilford What a freak.
  • Rick Kristin Navarro THE HELL WITH HER!!!!!!!
  • Braziel Jr C Breathe in breathe out
  • Will Dayoda True dat
  • ShaNito Reyes That’s a true nig right there, nuff said
  • Louie-Azalia Fernandez There will be a special place for her when she is gone !
  • Dallas Moore wow. I can’t believe she just tried to compare Mexican immigrants to the world’s worst terrorist organization. Obviously she doesn’t even know what the word “culture” means. Immigrants are simply seeking a better jobs and lifestyle. They’re not trying to wipe western civilization off the face of the earth. What an idiot.
  • Jim Lee Is this a Democrat coffee clutch tongue emoticon
  • Sylvia Ortiz What an ignorant bitch! People like her are keeping the hatred alive. She’s always talking out of her ass!
  • Paula Lovette McKoy  yep that’s all I got…
  • Laurie Butler Bouton She needs to rethink how she says things. Illegal immigrants are a huge threat to the welfare of this country and I believe they should all be deported, but comparing them to ISIS is ridiculous.
  • Joshua Holt wow
  • Enrique Serrano Louie-Azalia Fernandez take care of her please

So many comments; so little to say.  When I read comments to NY Times columns, I am regularly amazed at how deep many of the readers think and how good they are at articulating their thinking.  Suffice to say, Cassandra Lazenby’s Facebook friends don’t seem to enjoy as much exercising their critical thinking skills.  I attempted to create a little balance by posting the following comment:

  • Coulter is obviously a provocateur par excellence. Witness how many commenters called her ignorant or a bitch without saying anything substantive. As Toby Keith sang, “I know what I was feeling, but what was I thinking?” Coulter’s point is that America is being overrun by too many immigrants, especially illegal immigrants, who have values antithetical to American values or have no experience in how a working democracy functions. Most commenters don’t bother making a point. Laura Butler Boltin makes a good point, IMO, that comparing illegal Hispanic immigrants to ISIS is ridiculous.

I half expected commenters to turn on me, but no such thing happened.  The comments continued to be scathing, but nothing to refute anything Coulter said.

After posting my comment, I viewed the entire one-hour interview. Ramos and Coulter talked over each other a lot, but maintained their civility.  Ramos is Mexican-born, American-naturalized, so he was not in a strong position to counter Coulter’s full-throated attack on Mexico’s culture.

Ramos’s essential points were that (a) most immigrants are wonderful people and (b) America will benefit from increasing diversity until 2045, when minorities will become the majority.  Coulter’s main points were that (a) America is not becoming more diverse, but rather is becoming more Mexican (30% of legal immigrants and 60% of illegal immigrants), and (b) “the browning of America” is not a good thing because most of the illegal immigrants since 1970 are coming from “peasant cultures” (more Nigerians than English) and they are a drag on the American economy and way of life.

Coulter made several questionable assertions, including one that Teddy Kennedy assured Americans that his Immigration Bill of 1965 would not change the ethnic composition of America.  With some additional research, though, I found an article in the Christian Science Monitor that seems to confirm her Kennedy assertion:

  • The bill will not flood our cities with immigrants. It will not upset the ethnic mix of our society. It will not relax the standards of admission. It will not cause American workers to lose their jobs,” he said during the Senate debate. In retrospect, the mix of immigrants, legal and illegal, shifted dramatically in favor of Latin America and Asia – a fact that Kennedy, in later years, would attribute to illegal immigration.

Yes, Ann Coulter is provocative.  Guess I will add Adios America to my reading queue.

April 8, 2015

John Saunders is rooting for the home team

Filed under: Culture,Media,Sports — Mike Kueber @ 9:41 pm
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This week on The Sports Reporters, John Saunders’s “Parting Shot” consisted of his lament that there were no black coaches in the Final Four and only one in the Sweet Sixteen. According to Saunders, this development is not a mere aberration. Rather, it is a reflection of a disturbing trend in college basketball – i.e., the return of racial discrimination. How else would you explain that during the last decade, the percentage of black coaches decreased from 25% to 22%? (Maybe the fact that blacks comprise on 13% of America has something to do with that.) How else would you explain that twelve black coaches had been fired this year alone? (Maybe they didn’t win enough games.)

I don’t begrudge a black man for rooting for black coaches. I was rooting for Wisconsin because it started four white guys while the other three teams had none, and I wanted the Wisconsin players to show that white men could play winning basketball. I considered the Wisconsin players to be underdogs, and I suppose Saunders continues to think of black coaches as underdogs, too, even though they have had and continue to have plenty of opportunity to prove their merit.

If I were famous, however, I suspect that my rooting for the white team would be challenged by many as racist, whereas Saunders’s statement sailed by without any concern.

Of course, Saunders has a history of this. A few months ago, he was euphoric over a Chicago little-league team, Jackie Robinson West, winning a national championship because it was all-black. Again, this is rooting for the underdog. Unfortunately, the team was stripped of the title a few months later because of illegal recruiting.

No one will accuse Saunders of being politically correct, but, of course, he is.

April 6, 2015

Real men don’t get offended

Filed under: Culture,Law/justice — Mike Kueber @ 2:36 am
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Unfortunately, the big news following Wisconsin’s upset of Kentucky last night hasn’t been the game, but rather the post-game conduct of the Kentucky players and fans. Although post-game riots are usually the province of the winning team’s fan, in this case it was the sore-loser fans in Lexington.

But the Kentucky players were even worse sore losers. Three of the players walked off the floor without the traditional handshake and one of them during a press conference responded to a question about Wisconsin star Frank Kaminsky by uttering under his breath, “Fuck that niga.”

Not surprisingly, the utterance did not result in a media firestorm. Instead the media quickly moved past the incident and pivoted first to Andrew Harrison’s apology and next to Kaminsky easy acceptance of the apology.

Kudos to Kaminsky. As argued in a column that my brother Kelly recently posted on Facebook, real men don’t get offended.

As for any consequences to Harrison, Kentucky coach Calipari was asked if that were being considered and he responded with, “Nah.”

And when a Yahoo columnist Dan Wetzel pondered the incident, he quickly concluded that this was a racist incident:

  • “Harrison’s comment, while a racial slur, likely wasn’t rooted in racial anger anyway. This was immaturity and embarrassment. He wasn’t creative enough to put Kaminsky down any other way, so he fell to the lowest rung on the ladder, a rather absurd one too since, as noted, Kaminsky is white.  Still, apologies should count, so let that one. If Kaminsky said he’s good with it – not that the victim here usually has much choice – then so be it. Turning Harrison into a piñata for varying forces on acceptable racial language doesn’t seem reasonable either. This really wasn’t about race.”

It seems that a black person won’t be accused of racism unless there is compelling, direct evidence, but a white person, like the Ferguson cop, will be exonerated of racism only after a comprehensive investigation of his life history fails to discover any utterance or action of a racist nature.

I understand the double standard regarding the use of the word “niga,” but I don’t think there needs to be a double standard for judging someone a racist.


April 4, 2015

Diversity in the Final Four

Filed under: Culture,Issues,Law/justice,Media,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 9:00 pm
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A couple of days ago, USA Today published an article captioned, “Wisconsin doesn’t hide from ‘white guys’ reputation.”  In the article, the writer attempted to explain why the Wisconsin basketball team has four white starters while the other three Final Four teams have none. The suggested explanations:

  1. The system
  2. The demographics of Wisconsin
  3. The university

Of these, only the first makes any sense. There are a plethora of examples that reveal that the composition of a nationally competitive sports team has minimal connection with the demographics of a state or the university.  But the system at Wisconsin is considered to be a slow-down game with a heavy emphasis on fundamentals, and white basketball players seems to be more successful is that system as opposed to up-tempo playground basketball.

Regardless of the reason Wisconsin has four white starters, I think it is just as interesting that the other three Final Four are non-diverse in the other direction – i.e., all black starters – and I made the following comment on my Facebook account:

  • According to USA Today, the starters on the basketball teams in tonight’s Final Four are among the least diverse in all of major-college basketball. Good thing for these teams that they were selected on the basis of merit instead of political correctness. Contrary to current propaganda, I suspect that diversity creates challenges that these teams have decided to avoid.

As part of the progressive propaganda, Americans are continually bombarded with messages explaining that diversity makes businesses and organizations more effective because of the varying viewpoints and perspectives. While there is something to be said for that position, I’ve always suspected that it was driven by political correctness instead of hard analysis of the countervailing friction that is caused by diversity.

Increasing diversity is inevitable and, therefore, something that we all need to learn to manage, but let’s not lie about it.


March 25, 2015

Nature vs. nurture

Filed under: Culture,Fitness,Philosophy — Mike Kueber @ 5:07 am
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Today, while taking my daily bike ride on the Leon Creek Trail, I came upon a middle-aged, slow-moving couple riding single file in front of me, with the woman up front and the man a few yards back. As I was preparing to pass on their left, the man slowly veered to the left until his tires went off the edge of the trail and when he overcorrected his bike came back onto the trail and then went down. Fortunately, I was able to squeeze by on the left side of the trail, and as I went by him, three thoughts went through my mind:

  • First – “Whew, I missed him! That was close.”
  • Second – “What was that guy thinking? Idiot!”
  • Third – “I’d better stop and see if the guy is hurt.”

After stopping and turning around, the guy quickly called out that he was OK and I resume my ride. But as I proceeded down the trail, I wondered why my immediate reaction had been so self-centered. Yes, human instinct has a dominant concern for self-preservation, but the accident scene wasn’t very dangerous because I wasn’t traveling that fast, and even after I evaded the downed bike, my next reaction was to be peeved at the fallen rider instead of being concerned about him.

Ever since studying psychology in college, I’ve been familiar with the nature vs. nurture argument (coined by Francis Galton). I’m guessing my first reaction was mostly caused by nature, but my second reflects a disposition that my best friend describes as Ayn Randian.

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