Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Scandalous toes, revised and expanded

Earlier this month a plea for faculty to dress better (“There is something about the combination of denim and tenure that is inherently preposterous") reminded me of other fashion brouhahas, like flip-flops at the Whitehouse or Marc Andreessen's bare feet on an April 1998 cover of Time, or 60 minutes' Mike Wallace's "pterodactyl-like bare feet" on the cover of the Times.

More recently I was thinking about how folks at Fast Company's top 50 company dressed for their photo shoot -- they're pretty casual at Google.

I forgot to mention two other things the first time I posted this:
  • Calpoly SLO's troubled proposal for an engineering program in Saudi Arabia:
    Over five years, Cal Poly would receive $5.9 million from the Saudi government to create an engineering curriculum, build labs and train teachers in Jubail, a sprawling oil center on the Persian Gulf. Only men would qualify to take or teach engineering classes, although the campus has separate classes in other disciplines for women.

    "No matter how you cut it, we're supporting the oppression of women," said Jim LoCascio, a professor of mechanical engineering at Cal Poly since 1981.
  • and more from UCSB Oceanographer Halpern about human impact on oceans. Syvia Earle (saw her downtown six years ago) says:
    “We learned more about the nature of the ocean in the latter part of the 20th century than during all preceding human history,” Dr. Earle said. “But we also lost more.”

    Much as she knows about oceans, she was not a big fan of the Fresno Sanitary Landfill being designated a national historical landmark:
    It also was made public that the Park Service's advisory board had voted 10-1 to place the landfill on the landmark list. The lone dissenter, ecologist Sylvia Earle, stated, "Being designated as a historic landmark connotes a certain distinction that implies honor. It just doesn't measure up."
    Why would "a dump" be considered for historical designation? Famous garbage anthropologist William Rathje explains:
    You might read that the first sanitary landfill opened in England. Wrong. As the nomination papers document, the first working sanitary landfill was opened in the real world of Fresno by Jean Vincenz, a man with vision–a vision tempered and sustained by his travels throughout the US to learn from what others tried that worked and what they tried that didn't. It wasn't rocket science, but it was extremely creative for its day–with carefully structured draglines to position refuse, techniques to compact the refuse, and at the end of the day the same draglines to spread soil as daily cover that had been dug out to make room for the next day's refuse. This was Vincenz's "sanitary landfill" system, created at the same time that virtually all of the rest of the country and the world were feeding the fires and rats in open dumps or unleashing a black rain of cinders, soot, and ash from the chimneys of refuse-burning facilities appropriately called destructors.
    Dr. Earle must have missed that part.