February 23rd, 2005


Human beings are not convincible... or ARE they?

Unless you've been living under a rock or in an ivory tower, or been under a rock in an ivory tower, you've probably heard something about the brouhaha surrounding this speech, given last month by Larry Summers, the president of Harvard University. In it, he makes some controversial speculations about why women have not been as successful in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), particularly in graduate programs. I'll comment more on the crux of the controversy later, but if you have only heard paraphrasings of the speech, please do glance over it and this letter, posted by Summers on his website six days ago, for yourself. Wordy as it is, there's nothing like the source material, as I averred to dragnflye in a later discussion.

On a tangentially related note: Topics such as the above are difficult in the extreme to convince any other human being about, unless they already agree with you somewhat, but I was very gratified today to have masaga come up after I presented Kevin Knight's survey "What's New in Statistical Machine Translation" and tell me that he's interested in pursuing MT as an M.S. thesis topic! Most exciting.

Kevin's was an invited talk delivered in August, 2003 at UAI-2003 in Acapulco. (Apropos de rien: Kevin knows about Corbin of Ember's cameo in my last of three chapters in The Lord of the... Whatever, a parody of The Lord of the Rings. I told him about my homage right after he gave this talk, in fact.)

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