Cutting Edge 3/2/14

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Move to Uganda?

Harold Meyerson at The Washington Post on Arizona’s anti-gay bill: “Recently in Kansas, Republican legislators in the lower house passed a kindred bill only to have it die in the state Senate when GOP legislative leaders realized that it went too far. But the fact that two absurd proposals swept through two states’ legislative bodies with nearly unanimous Republican support signals a kind of panic within the GOP base at the recent advances in gay and lesbian equality, in particular the right to marry. …

“On the other hand, the president of Uganda signed into law Monday a statute that would sentence to life in prison people convicted of ‘aggravated homosexuality’ (that is, people convicted more than once for having had gay sex). If Arizona’s Republicans and Catholic bishops don’t like it here, why don’t they move to Uganda?”

Sign me up for stupidity

Via Atlantic Wire — Rob Stephenson in the Los Angeles Times on bizarrely named graduate courses:

“From January to March, the academic calendar is dominated by the admissions process. You can find me this time of year poring over hundreds of grad school applications. In my 10 years of reading such applications, I have borne witness to an alarming trend: the increasingly bizarre course names listed on transcripts.

What, exactly, does someone learn in a course called Finding Myself (and should I worry that the student got an F?),” Mr. Stephenson writes. “Try to decipher what students who took courses in Stupidity (Occidental College), Daylighting (MIT) or Self-Esteem (Cal State Fresno) might have studied. …

“Some titles are often very clever and intriguing. See, for example, Sex, Rugs, Salt and Coal (Cornell), Those Sexy Victorians (Ole Miss), and the Amazing World of Bubbles (Caltech). While I would gladly sign up for any of these courses, they don’t exactly offer a reviewer much insight into what the student might have learned.”

Gays spend money!

From the satiric Borowitz Report on the prospect of a gay boycott of Arizona:

“PHOENIX — The state of Arizona found itself in the middle of a conundrum today as it awoke to the awkward realization that gay people have money and buy stuff. Just days after the Arizona legislature passed a law that would enable businesses to discriminate against gays, it emerged that gays spend billions of dollars in Arizona each year — an unexpected development that seemed to take many legislators by surprise.

“Carol Foyler, a Tea Party Republican who supported the anti-gay law, said that the startling bombshell that gays play a role in the state’s economy put her and her fellow lawmakers ‘in a tight spot. Quite frankly, we were blindsided by this,’ she said. ‘We had no idea that gays had money and bought things just like regular people do.’ ”

Cleaning up frats

Caitlin Flanagan in The Atlantic offers a lengthy piece on the state of college fraternities. She notes that many help young men build leadership skills and do considerable charitable work. But among the problems she examines are the rates of assault, sexual assault and injuries. Asked in an interview on NPR how fraternities should reform, she said:

“Everyone knows exactly what they need to do because there have been very careful studies on this. If you take alcohol out of the fraternity house, if you make it an alcohol-free residence, the number of [legal] claims drops by 85 percent and the severity of those claims, the dollar amount of those claims, drops by 95 percent. You show me any other industry that would have a chance to drop the number of claims by 85 percent and the severity by 95 percent by making a single change.

“If the fraternities are serious about cleaning up their act, that’s the change they need to make and it’s a very painful one. It will probably devastate them, in terms of the numbers of kids who want to join, because pumping the keg is part of being in a fraternity in American culture. But that’s the change that would clean the system up.”

Compiled by Greg Victor (

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