Masculinity, Malaria Eradication, MEChA, Humanities + Homelessness

At the end of April, C.J. Pascoe, the author of Dude, You’re a Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School, gave a talk.  I missed the actual talk, but she came to a dinner at Terra (a co-op where I’ll be living next year) that I attended.  As such, I’m not 100% sure on the thesis of her book, but it seems interesting.

May 1, one of the high ups in the Gates Foundation came to talk about malaria.  It was partly a technical talk – what is Malaria?  How is it spread?  How has it changed?  How prevalent is it and in what areas?  What technologies do we have that can stop it? – but it was also about the political effort needed to stop malaria.  One of the biggest problems that he saw was that most efforts against malaria are purely reactionary.  This means that, when malaria is killing thousands of people in a given state in a short timeframe, the state will invest in anti-malaria and anti-mosquito measures, but after those succeed and reduce cases to 1% of their peak levels, all political will (and funding) disappears, and malaria returns to its peak levels in a few years.  We need global support and awareness to combat this.  On the technical side, we also need new research because different strains of malaria and mosquitoes are increasingly becoming resistant to the measure that we’re using now.

The speaker was hopeful.  Malaria has been eradicated from many countries where it was once endemic (such as the US), and there has increasingly been talk of malaria eradication when, even a few years ago, noone thought that was a realistic dream.

The next day was a MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán; Chicano Student Movement of Aztlan, the main Chicano student anniversaries organization) conference.  It was mainly organized as one of their annual alumni events, but this was also one of the of a very successful hunger strike that MEChA did years ago.  MEChA is one of the organizations that I really need to get more involved with next year.  They’re prominent on a short list of groups that is organizing students for civil rights and workers rights. 

May 21, Debra Satz, director of the Center for Ethics in Society and the person who gave the SLE lectures on Locke and Marx, gave a lecture on her work with the Hope House.  The Hope House is a center for homeless women, and Satz uses literature to give them a humanities education so that they can learn about themselves and get their lives back on track. 

I never would have thought that something like Plato would actually teach someone life lessons.  I guess I’m just one of those historically based persons rather than literarily based persons.  Blame debate?


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Friday, May 1, 2009