The subtext behind affirmative action debates.

There’s a fundamental absurdity lurking behind all affirmative action debates in the United States: The official justification for affirmative action is “diversity”, but the more reasonable moral justification is giving a leg up to disadvantaged groups. These two goals kind of mean the same thing for blacks and Hispanics, but not necessarily for any other groups.

Hence the Harvard admissions case.

The “text” of the case is that a court is trying to figure out whether Harvard discriminates against Asian Americans. Harvard says it doesn’t; the plaintiff says it does. The subtext is that everyone knows Harvard discriminates like hell against Asian Americans, but political coalitions make it inconvenient to address the issue.
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Martha Nussbaum’s “Objectification”, preceded by a digression on analytical feminism.

There are limits to how interesting I can be if I simply review the same Steven Pinker books that every similar blog reviews, so I’m making an effort to cover different ground.  I recently read Martha Nussbaum’s essay Objectification, from a 1995 issue of Philosophy and Public Affairs.  I chose this piece for the very simple reason that it’s the main source cited in the the Wikipedia article on objectification.

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A non-essentialist take on gender essentialism.

Several weeks ago, Ozy of Things of Things posted about three different ways of thinking about psychological gender differences:

  1. There may be no psychological differences between men and women.
  2. There may be population-level differences between men and women, but overlapping ranges.
  3. The may be differences between men and women that are so large that the ranges do not overlap.

The problem I see is that two of these three ways are trivially wrong and I think hardly anyone believes them.  There are quite a few measurable psychological differences between men and women, but most of them are small, and the ranges overlap even for the large ones.  I suspect that few conservative Christians or radical feminists would dispute that, and that their disagreements lie elsewhere.

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Soya wadi manchurian and collard greens stir-fried with curry.

Indo-Chinese cuisine courtesy of the Hakka Chinese community in Kolkata.  Which may be the only cuisine in the world that combines soy sauce with cheese.  Anyway, I discovered this dish not by researching the Indo-Chinese, but by looking at the shelves of Indian grocery stores, noticing “soya wadi”, and wondering “What on earth are those?”

They’re basically large chunks of textured vegetable protein.  And honestly, they’re a minor revelation – if you’re into substituting tofu for meat in things like flavorful curries, stews, and stir-fries, I’d say it’s time to stop that and use these guys instead.  Enjoy tofu for its own specific texture if you like, but if you’re looking for something that soaks of sauce and has something like the mouthfeel and protein content of meat, this is a far more convincing substitute, and much cheaper than branded meat replacements.  The texture might be a bit distracting in more lightly flavored dishes, though.

The stir-fried collard greens with curry powder may or may not be an authentic Indo-Chinese dish – it was basically a guess based on the Wikipedia article.  It was good though!

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