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August 07, 2008

This is the plot of Stephenie Meyer's pro-abstinence, anti-abortion vampire novel "Breaking Dawn"

Breaking Dawn : What To Expect When You're Expecting... A Vampire

Everyone I know HATES these books, and yet they sell like heroin hotcakes. They are vampire books written by a women who has admittedly never read a vampire novel before. They are so chock full of abstinence that I'm surprised the characters even acknowledge having emotions. And "characters" is perhaps a strong word for the cardboard cutouts on parade here.

Jezebel.com has read the book so we don't have to. They break it down below.

First there's heroine Bella's willingness to marry her vampire lover Edward, even though it means becoming a vampire, leaving behind her family, and sacrificing any hope of a normal life. Then there's her pregnancy. She conceives during the honeymoon, and although she's never wanted a child before, she immediately falls totally in love with the green-eyed baby boy she's sure she's carrying. "I wanted him like I wanted air to breathe," Meyer writes, "Not a choice — a necessity."

This creepy antiabortion allegory quickly gets literal, as the half-vampire fetus (actually an interesting metaphor for any pregnancy) starts killing Bella from the inside out. Even as it breaks her ribs and sucked the life from her, she proclaims, "I won't kill him." But does she have to face the consequences of this choice? No, because vampire magic suddenly allows mother and father to hear the fetus's thoughts, and to discover that it already loves them!

Edward telepathically tells it not to hurt its mommy, and while he does end up having to bite it out of Bella's body with his teeth, everything is again fine because he uses more vampire magic to heal her wounds. Because she is now a vampire, Bella is even hotter than she was before pregnancy, and after a short recovery period she's able to have all-night sex sessions with her husband while the extended family takes care of the perfectly behaved, telepathic baby. In the Breaking Dawn universe, teen motherhood just makes your life rad.

All this radness is made possible in part by the idealized relationships all the vampires and werewolves have. Gone for the most part is the sexy rapacity of Dracula; gone is the fine long tradition of gay vampires. These vampires mate for life, and they mate straight. Werewolf love, meanwhile, involves imprinting, which can happen at any age. The werewolf Jacob imprints on Bella's baby — who turns out to be a girl — giving her a "promise ring" when she's only a few months old. Basically these mythical creatures live in a very safe, heteronormative world — and a boring one.

August 06, 2008

Intellectuals are number stupid, killing America

tl;dr: My 1337 math skilz rool, lrn2math luzr lol. Inside Higher Education | The Innumeracy of Intellectuals
Intellectuals and academics are just assumed to have some background knowledge of the arts, and not knowing those things can count against you. Ignorance of math and science is no obstacle, though. I have seen tenured professors of the humanities say — in public faculty discussions, no less — “I’m just no good at math,” without a trace of shame. There is absolutely no expectation that Intellectuals know even basic math. Ignorance of math can even be a source of a perverse sort of pride— the bit of the blog post that reminded me of this is a call-back to an earlier post in which he relates his troubles with math, and how he exploited a loophole in his college rules to graduate without passing algebra. To me that anecdote reads as more proud than shameful— less “I’m not good at math” and more “I’m clever enough to circumvent the rules.”... I’m not exaggerating when I say that I think the lack of respect for math and science is one of the largest unacknowledged problems in today’s society. And it starts in the academy — somehow, we have moved to a place where people can consider themselves educated while remaining ignorant of remarkably basic facts of math and science. If I admit an ignorance of art or music, I get sideways looks, but if I argue for taking a stronger line on math and science requirements, I’m being unreasonable. The arts are essential, but Math Is Hard, and I just need to accept that not everybody can handle it. This has real consequences for society, and not just in the usual “without math, we won’t be able to maintain our technical edge, and the Chinese will crush us in a few years” sense. You don’t need to look past the front section of the paper. Our economy is teetering because people can’t hack the math needed to understand how big a loan they can afford. We’re not talking about vector calculus or analytical geometry here — we’re mired in an economic crisis because millions of our citizens can’t do arithmetic. And that state of affairs has come about in no small part because the people running the academy these days have no personal appreciation of math, and thus no qualms about coddling innumeracy.