Friday, January 12, 2007

Gender Imbalances

So far, 13 of the 15 students who have registered for my graduate seminar on the politics of the policymaking process are female. This continues an emerging trend toward gender imbalance in the classes I teach. Whereas a decade ago it was common for males to dominate in terms of raw numbers, it is exactly the reverse that seems to hold more and more as each year passes by. And it is not just in my classroom. All across higher education, women are outperforming men like never before.

In the short run, it doesn't matter in the least who sits in the chairs in front of me. But in the long run, there are very real dangers any time serious gender imbalances emerge in an important area of society. A couple of examples...

Here in DC, the fact that so many young black males are behind bars or are not professionally engaged has led to a dating scene that is, by all accounts, pretty weird. Well-schooled, well-employed black men in their 20s and 30s have the luxury of dating numerous women at once, given the lack of numerical competition. It has gotten so skewed that some black women are heading to Africa in search of a husband.

Meanwhile, China is flirting with a real catastrophe. Before too long, there will be more than 30 million more men of marrying age than women. The reason for this unprecedented (in the history of the world) imbalance is China's decades-old one-child policy. This policy has indeed curbed population growth, its intended effect, but has also led to widespread gender selection and discrimination practices, from rural villages all the way to Shanghai and other mega-cities. The bottom line is that with so many men unable to find a wife, social instability is bound to follow.

There is no such instability in my classroom, of course. But I'm using this semester's female-laden roster as a nod to a seemingly innocuous trend that could be a harbinger of difficulties to come, both for women and their less-and-less well educated male counterparts.

~Steve

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Orangina

I've just come to the realization that Orangina is one of the world's most perfect drinks...No, really...Hear me out...

Mind you, I have not drank much Orangina over the course of my life. In fact, until just now, it had probably been years since my last bottle. It just suddenly struck me, while standing in the kitchen, that Orangina is really a nice little treat for all five of your senses.

There's the visual. I mean, look at how cute the bottle is. It calls out, "drink me..."

Then there's the feel. The bottle has this cool texture to it. And with that round shape, it fits right into the palm of your hand. Perfect!

Of course, you have to shake Orangina before you drink it. Kinda makes this pleasing "clug" noise, especially once you have drank a little bit of it and are coming back for more. (And you will come back for more...)

The smell. Once you crack the bottle open, you get that tasty citrus aroma...yum!

And, finally, the taste itself. Sweet, yet not too sugary. Fruity, but not too orangy. Aah! (Say it..."Aah!")

~Steve

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Blue at 9 Months

Here is a great picture of Blue...taken moments before I let her inside and she put her front paws up on the kitchen counter in a bid to snatch the salad I had just made for lunch. (Hey, it had three kinds of mushrooms in it, courtesy of Trader Joe's, so I wasn't sharing!) These two images pretty much sum up where Blue is as she hits nine months old. Beautiful...and bad!

The beautiful part is readily apparent, so here are a couple of stories about the "other side."

The Christmas tree capers. For some reason, Desi decided that this would be the year that we get a second Christmas tree, a BIG one for the back patio. Now, I can tell you that Blue enjoyed the tree very much! By the time we took it down this past weekend, it had been...shall we say...aggressively pruned...Not to mention the lights and UL-tested cables (unplugged, of course!).

Digging holes to China. One of our main tasks this spring will be to fill in all of the holes that Blue has been working on, in various gardens, flower beds, and play areas. The real horror of these holes, it turns out, is that they fill up with water whenever it rains. (Basically every other day, lately...) Now, imagine Blue at the back door, wanting to come in...looking at you with a nose that is half brown from the mud hole she just stuck her head in!

OK...I know, I know...this is all pretty standard puppy stuff. Cameron, in his day, consumed a couch and a dining room table. But it is amazing how quickly you forget about that stuff. Yes, Blue is bad...and beautiful!

~Steve