The Tim Hunt affair refuses to die down. A letter in the Times today (£) from Hyunsook Lee, Professor of Biological Sciences at Seoul National University:
Sir, I am a Korean female scientist, and as this unhappy event happened in Seoul I feel I should say something. I must admit that I was totally shocked when I read the report in your newspaper. It did not sound like Tim at all. I have known him for more than 15 years, ever since he examined my thesis for my PhD. During all those years, he couldn’t have been more supportive.
The thing I like about Tim is that he never treated me as a “female scientist” but as a “scientist”. In the scientific community, and in the world in which we live, you sometimes feel that you are being treated as a “female”. I never had this uneasy feeling from Tim.
I learnt a great deal from him and from his attitude to science. He will continue to be my mentor.
The only way I can make sense of this wholebusiness is to assume that Hunt gave two speeches in Seoul. At the first he started out with some light-hearted banter about female scientists, before getting down to the main part of the speech. No one particularly minded, though doubtless few if any of the attendees were shaking with laughter. The second time, he ill-advisedly decided to set out his reasons for believing that male and female scientists should work separately - and that female scientists were all a bit silly - before a few visiting feminists.
Well, either that, or we're seeing the same old business that we've seen in other contexts recently, where certain people are all primed up to take offence.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is furious that the Kurds in Syria are advancing against ISIS.
Turkey is a member of NATO. On paper, at least, it’s one of America’s greatest allies. ISIS, meanwhile, is the world’s most deranged army of psychopaths. Even Al Qaeda disowns it. The Kurds, though, are America’s most reliable allies in the Middle East alongside the Israelis.
So our nominal ally thinks it’s a problem when one of our real allies makes gains against the most vicious terrorist army on the planet....
Turkey has a world-class army—the second-largest in NATO—and could obliterate ISIS from the face of the earth if it wanted. If Syria’s Kurds can make headway into ISIS-held territory with just a ragtag militia, Turkey could liberate the Syrian population from Bashar al-Assad, Hezbollah, and ISIS simultaneously....
Turkey is not Iraq. It is 1,000 years ahead of Iraq. It a serious and capable nation, the opposite of incompetent. It’s not an accident or a coincidence that ISIS can replenish its ranks over the Turkish border while the Kurds can’t. If Erdogan can stop Kurds from the crossing that border, he can stop ISIS from crossing that border. Refusing to do so is a choice.
He is not a state sponsor of terrorism. He is not championing ISIS, nor is he on side with them ideologically. He is not their patron or armorer. But he is letting one of our worst enemies grow stronger while stomping on one of our greatest allies.
Duane Hanson's sculptures are currently on show at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery. I wasn't aware of that when I cycled past and decided to pop in - or, rather, I'd forgotten. So it was the best way to experience it...walking in and being confronted by a woman at a flea market:
A momentary confusion - or, as we say now, a brief wtf? - and then it clicked. I do enjoy moments like that. Put a smile on my face as I wandered round. Though, to be honest, it wasn't a long wander round. You'd be hard pushed to take more than 15 minutes. It's not a big exhibition.
The pieces (sculptures? people?) date from the mid-1970s to the mid-1990s (Hanson died in 1996), so they capture something of that particular time. Douglas Coupland (from the exhibition catalogue) has some interesting things to say about that, about the critics' disdain for what they saw as Hanson's easy populism, and about the difference between archetypes - what he believes Hanson dealt with - and stereotypes - what the critics believed he dealt with. The link with Edward Hopper is also, I think, worth making. Coupland no doubt overdoes Hanson's significance, but that's the nature of this kind of essay.
One point he overlooks, though, is that weird feeling of dissonance that you get, especially with the kind of hyper-realism that Hanson goes for. These sculptures are amazingly life-like. A major part of their appeal, surely, is that frisson we always get when confronted with human figures which aren't human - with, that is, the uncanny. But perhaps he's deliberately ignoring that side of it, because it smacks more of the circus or the sideshow - the populism sneered at by the critics - rather than the high art status that he wants for Hanson's work.
Igor Plotinsky, a senior rebel leader in Eastern Ukraine, is not, of course, an anti-Semite. He has nothing against the Jews as people. Nevertheless, the fact that Jews are in control of Ukraine is inescapable:
Ukraine's Jews are responsible for the Euromaidan revolution that ousted their country’s pro-Russian president last year, a senior rebel leader told an audience at a Russian university last week.
This is not the first time a rebel leader has said such a thing, with Alexander Zakharchenko, president of the breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic, stating in a press conference in February that the government in Kiev is run by “miserable Jews.”
During a lecture last week titled “Contemporary Ukraine as Fascist State of a New Type” at the Nekrasov State University of Kostroma in Russia, Igor Plotnitsky, who heads the Luhansk People’s Republic – a Kremlin- backed separatist enclave in eastern Ukraine – asserted that while he is not an anti-Semite, the fact that Jews are in control of Ukraine is inescapable.
“I’d like to ask the historians...or maybe the philologists, can’t choose, really...why was it called the ‘Euromaidan’? Where did the name come from? From the area [Euromaidan Square in Kiev]? Or perhaps from the people? Those same people who now make up the majority of leaders of what was once our Ukraine?” he asked, intimating that there is a connection between Jews and the revolution because the Russian word for Jew, “Evrei,” sounds like “Euro.”
Well yes - that's certainly persuasive. Perhaps the Jews are behind the current Euro debacle too.
“I have nothing against... Valtzman, Groysman, and many others.
I have nothing against the Jews as a people, as the ‘Chosen People,’ we can talk about this separately if we have the time.
But the crux of the matter is that when we call what has happened a ‘Euromaidan,’ we infer that the leaders now are representatives of the people who have been harmed the most by Nazism,” the rebel chief asserted.
Jewish Volodymyr Groysman serves as the speaker of the Ukrainian parliament, while Plotnitsky’s reference to Valtzman is a nod to a common belief among those on the far Right that current Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is secretly Jewish, as Valtzman is Poroshenko’s “real Jewish name” according to right-wing Russian conspiracy theories.