What folks at Harvard are reading

A recent selection from the Harvard Book Store

For the kids…

Lying to children:

(I don’t know how many people over age 50 would agree with “It feels good to be yourself” and certainly many of us would need a week to recover from sitting on the ground in those positions.)

The books popular with shoppers in Cambridge do not suggest a high degree of self-doubt, but just in case:

What about the #1 example of wrongness in our society?

On the unfortunate fact that not every American voter follows the lead of the coastal elite and the required “nonviolent rebellion” that is necessary to erase the illegitimate votes:

A 1973 book on now-discredited second-wave feminism (also known as “equality feminism”):

(In the 50-year interval since this was published, the term “Woman” now needs a definition!)

Without women (assuming the term “women” can be defined), we would not have Mickey Mouse (perhaps the Nine Old Men actually identified as women?):

More gender binarism on parade:

For those who don’t know where to start…

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What are Asians at Harvard doing while whites and blacks sing Kumbaya?

Back in September, from the VP for Alumni Affairs and Development at Harvard:

As the academic year begins at Harvard, I wanted to share with you this welcome message that President Bacow sent to the campus community earlier today.

Underneath, a message from El Presidente Larry Bacow:

Some of my reading this summer took me deeper into Harvard’s history by way of personal anecdotes and recollections, and I wanted to share with you an observation about the role of the University made in 1957 by my predecessor Nathan Pusey… “it is possible to think of Harvard as a kind of island of light in a very widespread darkness…”

The guy with a free house in Harvard Square and a job that requires a Ph.D. then bravely advocates for open borders:

Since May, the obstacles facing individuals ensnared in the nation’s visa and immigration process have only grown. Various international students and scholars eager to establish lives here on our campus find themselves the subject of scrutiny and suspicion in the name of national security, … Although our nation to this day still struggles to make good on its founding ideals, countless people from different parts of the world have long looked to its shores with hope—for the chance to learn, for the chance to contribute, for the chance to live better and safer lives. My father and my mother were two of them, and they taught me that this country is great because it opens its doors wide to the world.

Not just as a university president, but as the son of refugees and as a citizen who deeply believes in the American dream, I am disheartened by aspects of the proposed new criteria for people seeking to enter our country. They privilege those who are already educated, who already speak English, and who already have demonstrable skills.

While sitting in his university-owned rent-free mansion and earning over $1 million per year running the non-profit organization, he’s not afraid to compete with Hondurans who lack education, the ability to speak English, and any demonstrable skills!

Now that we’re a little deeper into the semester, Dr. Bacow has pivoted. To alumni on November 21:

Today, I am pleased to announce the formation of a new university-wide initiative on Harvard and the Legacy of Slavery, which will build on the important work undertaken thus far, provide greater structure and cohesion to a wide array of university efforts, and give additional dimension to our understanding of the impact of slavery. This work will allow us to continue to understand and address the enduring legacy of slavery within our university community.

Second, the initiative will concentrate on connections, impact, and contributions that are specific to our Harvard community. Harvard has a unique role in the history of our country, and we have a distinct obligation to understand how our traditions and our culture here are shaped by our past and by our surroundings—from the ways the university benefitted from the Atlantic slave trade to the debates and advocacy for abolition on campus.

Can a single university live up to both the September and November letters simultaneously? Why does an immigrant from Asia, for example, care about what whites and blacks were doing in the U.S. back in the 1700s? (and what happened to concern for the Native Americans? Dr. Bacow’s mansion is sitting on land stolen from the Wampanoag. Didn’t the university benefit more by stealing from Native Americans than from enslaving Africans?)

Are the messages consistent? In “Yes, Immigration Hurts American Workers,” Harvard professor George Borjas concluded that the benefits of low-skill immigration to high-skill wealthy Americans such as Dr. Bacow come primarily at the expense of low-skill American workers, including “many blacks” who may be descended from slaves: “Somebody’s lower wage is always somebody else’s higher profit. In this case, immigration redistributes wealth from those who compete with immigrants to those who use immigrants—from the employee to the employer. … The total wealth redistribution from the native losers to the native winners is enormous, roughly a half-trillion dollars a year.” If Harvard is in the vanguard of institutions advocating for lower wages for African-Americans (by allowing employers to replace them with immigrants; the September email), how can it also be in the vanguard of institutions trying to “address the enduring legacy of slavery” as Dr. Bacow proposes in the November email?

More concretely, if white and black students at Harvard get together to sing “Kumbaya,” what do the Asians and Asian-Americans (who all look same) do?


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Asians all look same to Harvard and the Federal judge

In yesterday’s post on Judge Allison Burroughs ruling that it is legal for Harvard to engage in race discrimination, I wrote

why is it okay for the judge to imply that a group of Asians is lacking in diversity? “In her decision, Judge Burroughs defended the benefits of diversity … ‘The rich diversity at Harvard and other colleges and universities and the benefits that flow from that diversity,’ she added, ‘will foster the tolerance, acceptance and understanding that will ultimately make race conscious admissions obsolete.’” Isn’t the implication that if we assemble white and black Americans we have “rich diversity,” but if we assemble a group of Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Cambodian, Burmese, and Indian students we have a boring monoculture?

A reader pointed out that there is already a web site for the Ivy League admissions officers and their Obama-appointed friends on the Federal bench: alllooksame.com.

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Computational Health Informatics Program, 25th anniversary

It is sobering to think that I sat down and began writing a web interface to an electronic medical record system (the Oracle database at Boston Children’s Hospital) more than 25 years ago (see “Building national electronic medical record systems via the World Wide Web,” a paper from 1996).

Today is a celebration (agenda) of the 25th anniversary of the Boston Children’s Hospital Computational Health Informatics Program (CHIP). I’ll try to take some notes and write a blog post later about what I learned.

For at least 25 years we’ve had all of the tech building blocks that we’ve needed to implement almost any kind of IT support for health care. Yet in the US we have ended up with a unified database of every ad that we’ve ever clicked on and are discussing the possibility of a unified medical record.

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International Women’s Day at Harvard and Google

On the breakfast table this morning in a Harvard cafeteria:

Typing “oppression of” into Google results in “oppression of women” as the first option:

Clicking on Google’s “Women’s Day” graphic brings up pages celebrating Yoko Ono and Frida Kahlo:

What’s the message here, though? Weren’t these artists famous primarily due to their sexual relationships with successful male artists? (both of which male artists happened to be married at the time that the sexual relationships commenced) Was it a good day for Cynthia Lennon when Yoko Ono began having sex with her husband John Lennon? If Google is going to pick female role models, why not pick women who made it as artists without the assistance of a male sex partner? Mary Cassatt, for example, Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, or Louise Nevelson in visual art. Aretha Franklin or Mitsuko Uchida in the world of music.

Or maybe that actually is Google’s intentional message? The way for women to advance is with an already-successful male sex partner and the selection of the partner should not be limited to those men who are unmarried?

Readers: How did you celebrate International Women’s Day?

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