Friday, August 31, 2007
Michael Corcoran has a review of Steven Hayes' new Cheney biography up on the site today:
The book is a wet kiss that portrays Cheney as a shrewd, measured, and respectful deal-maker. Filled with glowing praise from cover to cover, Hayes writes of a Cheney who “enjoys an unusually high reputation for competence,” is a pragmatist “rather than an ideologue,” and whose expertise is unmatched. “The staff members understood that Cheney would often know more about a particular issue than they did even if it was an issue they had been working on for years,” writes Hayes about Cheney’s tenure as chief of staff to President Gerald Ford.
And just for fun, here's the video of they Hayes interview on "The Daily Show":
Cross-posted at campusprogress.org/blog.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Today, talk is about the seemingly invincible ticket that might be created with Hillary for President and Obama for Vice President. Both of them feel the sacred duty of demanding “a democratic government in Cuba”. They are not making politics: they are playing a game of cards on a Sunday afternoon.Castro's musings on the presidential election yearned for the days of yore when Jimmy Carter was willing to take a stand against assassinating foreign leaders. The full text translation is here.
Recent articles in Time and National Geographic (among others) have shown some of the bureaucratic barriers the city faces as it tackles the ongoing reconstruction effort. The storm highlighted how disproportionately the black and poor were affected. Those earning less than 200 percent of the poverty line (about $40,000 for a family of four) made up more than 40 percent of those affected. Of the entire affected population, about 73 percent were African American, according to a congressional research report (PDF). But Morning Dove and her fellow Panelist Tram Nguyen of Boat People SOS, an Alexandria, VA-based group that works with Vietnamese immigrants, represented two groups of people often left out of Katrina stories: the Houma Nation and Vietnamese immigrants.Read the whole thing.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
The Chronicle blog links to a report (sub.) that says the average SAT score dropped by seven points last year. The College Board attributes the change to more minority and low-income students taking the test than the previous year. I guess it makes sense. The less selective the group is that takes the SAT, the lower the scores will be.
On the other hand, the testmakers definitely outline a very specific viewpoint -- one that may not be so appealing to low-income students who are starting to realize that to succeed in life, they need a college degree. So it makes me think: Is the way we test and teach too white?
Monday, August 27, 2007
Abortion is illegal in Uganda. It is also widely practiced, as [Nulu] Lwanga well knew. A woman in her neighborhood had recently bled to death at the hands of a traditional healer who had unsuccessfully tried to end her pregnancy with poisonous herbs.
Asked if she told her husband about her predicament, Lwanga just laughed. "These African men, they just want to have babies, babies," she explained through a translator. "They don't want to be responsible for them."
For members of Congress, visiting Iraq is a badge of honor, a license to stand on the House or Senate floor and begin a speech by saying, “When I was in Iraq ... .” Some keep going back; Representative Christopher Shays, the Connecticut Republican, just ended his 18th visit.It's bizarre that lawmakers are fetishizing the war zone, especially when we know that when they visit, they're surrounded by Marines and armored vehicles. It's the ultimate example that some people are worth more.
Insofar as luxury has gone corporate, relentlessly focused on the bottom line, quality has disappeared. In order to keep margins high (in 2005, LVMH [Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton] recorded more than $17 billion in sales and a net profit of almost $1.8 billion), Arnault and his competitors have cut costs wherever and whenever possible. The most obvious strategies involve using cheaper materials, replacing skilled artisans with computers and machines and outsourcing labor to less expensive markets like China. Sneakier tactics include “cutting sleeves a half an inch shorter” (“when you get to 1,000, you see the savings,” one employee told the author), replacing finished seams with raw edges and eliminating linings on the grounds that “women don’t really need” them.Yes, ladies and gentleman, those fancy schmancy things you paid a month's salary for are poor quality. I used to make my own clothes, and I understand that that really top-notch clothing is supposed to look good -- inside and out. Now, since I generally steer clear of designer stores because I'm making a pittance as a writer, I'm not exactly sure what these really expensive clothes look like. But, check the seams. Are they straight? Are the stripes lined up in the seams? Are the seams finished? Is there lining? Increasingly, Thomas says, probably not.
On the other hand, Weber notes, the high days of luxury goods come with uncomfortable baggage -- a division of class:
Without quite coming right out and saying it, Thomas seems nostalgic for the good old days when “a middle-market suburban housewife,” say, couldn’t be confused with her betters. The author is shocked to overhear a woman “in a designer pantsuit, good jewelry and Chanel sunglasses” expressing interest in a fake Rolex. Spotting a couple loading shopping bags into a $380,000 car, she is surprised to learn that their loot came from an outlet store. In a discussion of the booming, underground market for counterfeit luxury goods, she compares “folks with a craving for the goods but not enough dough for the genuine thing” to petty teenage drug users — eager “to buy a couple of joints with their allowance or baby-sitting money.”
Friday, August 24, 2007
Our friends over at ThinkProgress brought this up earlier in the week, but it turns out that we're smarter than conservatives -- or at least we read more. A full 34 percent of conservatives haven't picked up a book in the last year, while that number for liberals was only about 22 percent. The average number of books per year was kind of a wash, eight for conservatives versus nine for liberals (although I wonder what the distribution of Dan Brown books is).
This reminds me of what I learned in my wonderful voting behavior class in college. The people at either end of the reading scale tend to not change their minds very much about which party or candidate they support. This is because if you read a lot, you tend to either read things you agree with or immediately discount the things you don't agree with. Those that don't read a lot or are generally uninformed about public affairs tend to have a sort of blind loyalty to one party. The people that change their mind lie somewhere in the middle.
Kevin Drumm put up some numbers from the Brookings Institution comparing this year and last year to see if the surge is working. Unsurprisingly, in almost every objective, measurable way, things are worse now than they were in the summer of 2006.
Still, when Petraeus (who the washingtonpost.com calls "overrated") delivers his report on September 11, it seems likely that it will be tailored to say that we're making progress that isn't necessarily political or security-based. What's infuriating is that conservatives will just try to convince the moderates that we just need more time to allow the surge to "work."
If this is the rate that the surge is going at, things could be even worse next year.Cross-posted at campusprogress.org/blog.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
*I accidentally originally credited this post to Sara Mead.
As the Barnard [College] example shows, proactive counseling can go a long way in preventing students from making bad decisions that will haunt them well after they leave college. But are similiar efforts feasible at larger universities with enrollments that exceed Barnard's 2,400 students?
The answer is "yes"—at least at Colorado State University, which enrolls more than 20,000 undergraduates and about 4,000 additional graduate students. For more than a decade, financial aid administrators at the university, which participates in the federal Direct Loan program, have been concerned about students unnecessarily taking out non-federally guaranteed, private loans. And they have been doing something about it.
Cross-posted at campusprogress.org/blog.
Social scientists are realizing that while talking may strengthen female friendships and leave pals feeling temporarily better, it can also lead to increased anxiety and depression if perspective and problem-solving aren't included rather quickly. And what about the husband who listens every night to his wife complain about her job, then one morning at breakfast offers her steps to get out of her funk? Perhaps he deserves credit rather than having a cup of coffee thrown at him.Ugh. She's decided to cite a survey of boys and girls aged 8 to 15 in which they noticed that girls talked a lot more, but had increased anxiety about their friendships as they deepened while boys had no such problem. This means boys win, right? They're better at relationships, right? That's the conclusion that Sessions Stepp draws. She even backs up her analysis with some quotes from Louann Brizendine, author of the widely debunked book The Female Brain.
I haven't looked at the original study, but I'd venture a guess that this isn't a cause and effect situation. Girls aged 8 to 15 are anxious about a lot of things: grades, boys, clothes, their bodies, their families, and their friendships. Friendships are just one of many things that girls are worried about. This is mainly because there's a lot of pressure on (white) young girls to be perfect. I certainly felt it when I was a kid; I had to be at the top of my class.
What's more, Sessions Stepp applies this logic about children and teenagers to adult relationships:
As they mature, they will begin to see that at certain moments in life, all of us, women and men, are reluctant to share problems with anyone. But there's no doubt that women grow up more curious about their inner life, Doherty says, and enjoy talking about it. Men, on the other hand, view emotions as a cue to solving problems. "They want to move from feeling to action, or make a decision that there is nothing they can do and get over the feeling."To her credit, she acknowledges that "In some couples, of course, the roles are reversed." Gee, you think? My main problem with her whole piece is with the normative values here. She assumes that men are "solving problems" and that women are "just talking" about problems, not solving them. Sometimes, men and women just need to talk about how they feel. This doesn't indicate that there is a "problem" per se, but it just acknowledges feelings in general. For some, this "talking" is helpful, for others, it isn't. But it's wrong to generalize about what the desired outcome is or that one gender holds the answer.
I also tend to be really tired of pieces that suggest that women could learn a lot from the way men approach things. This assumes that the standard is the male standard, and women should work toward it. Furthermore, Sessions Stepp is identifying a "problem" that doesn't actually exist. I doubt the researchers studying the 8 to 15 year olds thought that it was a problem that girls were talking more, it's just something they noticed. Sure, anxiety for young girls is bad, but I doubt it's entirely attributable to the way young girls approach their friendships.
Awesome. Thanks, Laura Sessions Stepp. I was wondering how I was going to get through the day without thinking about what men did better.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
She talks about how veterans come back to find the promised benefit only pays for about 75 percent of the cost of tuition at a public 4-year university, not including books and housing. What's more, these veterans are asked to pay $1,200 out of pocket and up front. She says that "the fact fewer than 10 percent use all their education benefits suggests it’s low." Her analysis concludes:
But there’s a deeper issue here as well—the widening class divide in higher education access. Rising college costs, stagnant aid, and the elimination of high-wage/low-skill jobs have priced many from low-income and working class families out of the public four-year college market (forget about private colleges and universities!), leaving community college, trade school, or the military as their only options for higher education. Meanwhile, affluent parents go to ever greater lengths to get their children into expensive slots at the most elite colleges and universities.
This is an underreported issue, and most don't realize how little the GI Bill is actually providing. When Senators Clinton, Murphy and Webb introduced legislation to make the bill more comprehensive, the administration said it would cost too much. It's typical that we're willing to spend money on defense but not education for those that do the dirty work of war.
Bush tested that thesis by navigating his motorcade across a snowy city to the YMCA Anthony Bowen Center. Protesters outside held up signs with messages such as "Bush Lied" and "Peace Surge."
He observed four activity stations where youngsters were being guided by adult mentors, including one station where they disemboweled a computer. As Bush chatted with some children, other youngsters were overheard by a pool reporter.
"He's my favorite president," one said.
"My favorite president is President Obama," another replied.
"He's the first black president."
that depicts how dismal the ratio of female cover writers to male cover writers is. A similar analysis of my former employer, The American Prospect, is actually much worse than this. I was actually impressed that Time came in with about 44 percent of cover stories written by women. In the world of reporting and opining, that's pretty good.
Via Feministing. While the main focus of the choice discussion is centered on abortions and abortion accesses (which, by the way, is abysmal), Cristina Page, author of How the Pro-Choice Movement Saved America: Freedom, Politics and the War on Sex, has a great piece this week in the Balitmore Sun about the National Right To Life conference. Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney tried to convince pro-lifers that he was their candidate, but meanwhile she noticed some subtle language that indicated that he was willing to continue Bush's work against access to contraception.
No matter that emergency contraception has the same mode of action as the birth control pill and every other hormonal method of birth control. To the anti-abortion movement, contraception is the ultimate corruptor. And so this year, the unspoken rule for candidates seeking the support of anti-abortion groups is that they must offer proof they're anti-contraception too.
Annika blogged earlier today about how even though Plan B is "available" over the counter now, it is in practicality unavailable to many women and girls under the age of 18. This is just one of the many subtle battles that choice faces under rule of conservatives.Cross-posted at campusprogress.org/blog.
The New York Times features an art exhibit with photographs of wounded Iraqi soldiers on display at the Jen Beckman Gallery. The photos sampled by the Times are yet another reminder of the human cost of war, costs which will extend far beyond whatever day we are no longer in Iraq. The photographs are worth looking at.
Via the Chronicle. It appears that in the latest development on student loans that students are more likely to sign on with devastatingly higher loan rates with private firms rather than fill out the (roughly) 20-page long federal aid form which offers lower rates. This is unsurprising to me. I remember filling out that form. It was painful, to say the least, and when private firms are offering forms where more or less all you have to provide is your social security number and your parents' address.
What this boils down to is what Elizabeth Warren pointed out in the last issue of Democracy. When it comes to financial products, the corporations are the ones with all the control. There's no one advocating for consumers when it comes to loans except the individual consumer -- and he or she has very little bargaining power. How come we have an agency to protect us from bad things we put in our mouths but nothing to protect our bank accounts?
The student loan industry is one industry that capitalizes on the inexperience of their customers. Very few 18-year-olds understand how to manage money, let alone know how to shop for loans. One could argue that this is the role of parents, but I know more than one person who wasn't on such good terms with the parental units and basically funded their own educations though loans, borrowing against their future incomes.
If the federal student aid application were integrated more with the application and registration process at colleges, giving it the advantage many private companies negotiated on their own, then students would get the information on how much they can get in federal aid in addition to all their class registration information.
I know that it's only recently that I even took an interest in managing my own money, and I can't be alone. Managing money for me, a journalism major, seemed so scary and boring to me that I shut down every time I had to read a "terms of agreement." I was lucky because my mom was a business owner for years, so I valued her advice about financial matters. Recently, my credit cards both raised their fees on me. Luckily it's not much of an issue because I never carry a balance from month-to-month. But what could I do? If I refuse to abide by the new terms, they cancel my account and with it I would lose all rewards I'd earned thus far. That doesn't sound like much negotiating power.Cross-posted at campusprogress.org/blog.
It's interesting to read about your friends in such a style-section way. Very strange indeed. I guess it must be a slow news month.
Cross-posted on campusprogress.org/blog.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
The real question is what to do about it. Well, nothing. Since there are so many other problems in Iraq right now, real human rights work is falling at the wayside. The only valid reason left for interfering in Iraq's internal politics, human rights, is a complete myth. So many people are suffering and fearing for their lives that in this state, women have trouble escaping to places where they can live freely.
MSNBC reports in a poll that "from their relationships to their jobs to their money" young white Americans are happier than young people of color. The response?
“It doesn’t surprise me,” said Martin Carpenter, 21, a black New Jersey resident.
These young people on the whole are less at risk for financial trouble and drug use, less likely to be targeted by police, more likely to go to college, and not the target of racism then of course this poll would produce such results.
Maybe next we can get MSNBC to take a poll that finds business majors are more likely to have higher incomes than English majors.
Samhita of Feministing asks, "Is smoking weed a feminist act?" She cites an article from Seattle's The Stranger about male-dominated mainstream pot culture in which, "Men are allowed to be lazy" but women are held to a more ambitious standard.
I have to agree, I never thought of pot as a male activity, probably because many of the women I knew in college were just as likely -- if not more likely -- to toke up as our male classmates. On the other hand, when pot is depicted in popular culture (Road Trip, Half Baked) it's depicted as a male activity. You almost never see women toking up on screen unless it's some kind of cheesy after-school special.
I think this may be one of many instances where popular culture inaccurately reflects real life. Thoughts?
Monday, August 20, 2007
The BBC reports that Amnesty International, which had maintained a neutral stance on abortion, now says they want "to ensure women have access to health care when complications arise from abortion and to defend women's access to abortion, within reasonable gestational limits, when their health or human rights are in danger."This is a pretty conservative endorsement, if you ask me, but given the fact that AI does a lot of work in countries with a heavy Catholic populations. I'm not sure how they determine what a "reasonable gestational limit" is, but it seems like they're recognizing that by being neutral they were actually serving an injustice.
Cross-posted at campusprogress.org/blog.
The literature of bad sex is rather extensive, (as is bad writing about sex, though these aren't necessarily the same thing) ...She spent a majority of the review talking about Andrea Dworkin's radical work, Intercourse, which she describes as hateful of both men and sex. But I have to agree with Kipnis, given a choice of the three works, at least Dworkin's is founded in a genuine actualization of male domination, even if it's extremely unlikely that the female population will just give up sex as a whole altogether. Laura Sessions Stepp and Wendy Shalit in the their works, Unhooked and Girls Gone Mild, respectively, find the grand prize for rejecting "raunch culture" as Ariel Levy dubbed it in her book, Female Chauvinist Pigs, marriage. I find this argument hard to swallow. Although Linda Hirshman's work can sometimes be viewed as an extreme, I think she has a lot of good points about the kinds of sacrifices that women are expected to make within the context of marriage. Even if women are being encouraged to "be good" I have high doubts that they will find fulfillment through the institution of marriage alone.
Not hooking up these days sounds like trying to unionize in a right-to-work state -- if everyone else is selling it cheaper, how's a higher-priced girl going to stay in the market? ...
But if feminism is the problem, obviously some other solution is required, and the solution is -- drumroll, please -- men: finding a man to love and marry you. This is presented as a new idea.
What Kipnis doesn't address is the double standard that these books advocate. I often tire of books that shame women for buying into the culture of FHM and Girls Gone Wild but fail to shame men for the same behavior. It's as if they think that men are beyond the capability of holding themselves to anything other than such lust-driven cultural products. Women, apparently, are only buying into it for men and really just want to be cuddled. I'm uncomfortable with making such proclamations, as I think most other feminists are.
The New York Times reported over the weekend that sexual reassignment surgery is now publicly funded in Brazil. A court ruled that such surgeries must be part of a constitutionally guaranteed right to medical care.
Often people wait and save money for years until they can afford these painful and expensive surgeries, but as we saw in Transamerica, the relief felt outweighs the cost. America has a hard enough time convincing the public that health care is deserved, could you imagine the battle for publicly funded reassignment surgery?
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Friday, August 17, 2007
Via the Chronicle. Computerworld reports that one Boston College professor has abandoned traditional textbooks in favor of Wikipedia, contrary to many professors who actively work against student citations of the site. According to the article, "[Gerald] Kane noted that because the wiki is collaborative and dynamic -- he and his students can update it as quickly as world events change -- it is a much better classroom tool than a texbook."
I can see the appeal. When teaching such topics like information systems where technology and current events can overtake the arduous process of book publishing, it makes sense. Many a time I longed to be able to do a word search to find a section of a book that I had read but forgot to mark. Thoughts?
Scott Lemieux had a great review of Helena Silverstein's new book, Girls on the Stand: How Courts Fail Pregnant Minors. It's a great book that examines the real implications of such Supreme Court decisions as Planned Parenthood v. Casey:
Silverstein's book is an especially welcome addition because, rather than focusing on normative debates about abortion that almost anyone interested in the question is already familiar with, she focuses on how parental notification laws actually work on the ground. The book is judicious and moderate in tone; indeed, I can imagine some who agree with her conclusions wishing she had been more forceful in her criticisms of the policies she studies. But the book would not be as powerful as it is if it were not also a first-rate work of social science.
Read the whole thing.
Jason Zengerle says the "quote of the day" is John McCain saying that as president he would "never torture another person in American custody." Before liberals start swooning over McCain, let's remember he voted to authorize the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which was billed as a fix to put our detention policies in line with the Geneva Conventions, but really ended up granting unchecked power to the executive branch, and contains a lot of loopholes. McCain is good at saying that he opposes torture, but he's bad at actually voting to stop the policies that enable it.
Via C&L. The AP reports that in the last year there were 99 suicides, half of which were by soldiers under the age of 25. A Pentagon psychological consultant put the blame on "failed intimate relationships," but it's hard to believe that relationships suddenly got more stressful in the last year. The consultant, Col. Elspeth Ritchie, grudgingly admitted that extended deployments can add to relationship stress. This is true, but relationship stress I'm sure isn't the only cause of suicide. I think soldiers being in a place where they could be blown up at any given moment by a car bomb (known in military language as an IED) has something to do with it.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
This is an idealized role for women? Instead of serving the oh-so-coveted childbirthing role, the robot woman instead "delivers" a mini keg of beer. And she doesn't even talk. She just smiles and dances. Wonderful.
Some inner city high school kids are getting prompted by administrators to pick a major. This sounds scary. Since the average American college kid changes his or her mind about a major at least three times How can we expect high school kids to do this when they're still figuring out what kind of cool they want to be?
Many European countries like Germany, though, do this to a lesser extent. They don't expect high school students to pick majors, but they do separate the university bound from the non-university bound pretty quickly after grade school. They view it as a more efficient system, teaching less high achieving students more practical skills while the university bound learn skills like foreign languages and calculus. Transfers among the three levels of study isn't impossible, but it is pretty unusual.Is this a better system? I'm not sure. But it seems that assuming everyone will need the same skills in life is something of a strange assumption. Thoughts?
Cross-posted on Campus Progress.
Cross-posted on Campus Progress.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Broadsheet links to a story in the Sidney Morning Harold about a push in Australia to outlaw underage models. If anyone's opened up a magazine or catalog lately, I think they'd be smart enough to figure out that the average age of these girls is about 14 or 15. That's mainly because the fashion industry likes to photograph the shit out of these girls before pesky puberty -- and therefore weight gain -- kicks in.
I think the conclusion we should draw from this news article is that not only do images of these sexualized teens and pre-teens make young women and girls feel bad about themselves, these kinds of photographs are bad for the actual models.Cross-posted at Campus Progress.
This story in yesterday's WaPo about Elizabeth Edwards assailing her husband's rivals was one of many I've seen lately that features her taking an extremely active campaign role, more so than either of the other frontrunner spouses Michelle Obama or Bill Clinton. In fact, though I'm a little young to remember this, Elizabeth Edwards reminds me of the kind of active campaigner that Hillary Clinton was in the early '90s -- taking strong stances on the issues, launching attacks on other candidates, and even representing her husband at events targeted at women voters. Obviously, Elizabeth Edwards isn't running for president. John is. But I seem to recall that this model of campaign team worked very well for the Clintons in the '90s.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Via the Chronicle. The University of Washington sent out a press release on a study it conducted where it found that Baby Einstein products didn't work. In fact, the study found that overuse of such products can slow babies' development. You'll recall that Bush gave a shoutout to BE's creator, Julie Aigner-Clark, during his last State of the Union. Now Disney is in an uproar over the study. But this is science. The products don't work. Sorry, Disney.
Deborah Siegel, the author of Sisterhood Interrupted: From Radical Women to Grrls Gone Wild, has an excellent review of Wendy Shalit's new book, Girls Gone Mild: Young Women Reclaim Self-Respect and Find It's Not Bad to Be Good up at The American Prospect today. She touches on some very good points that moralizing can be a difficult topic to broach:
To me, ethics and morality apply to the way we craft our arguments. More moral dichotomizing is hardly what women, what girls, what any of us need now.
I agree. It's hard enough to be a young woman these days, with all kinds of social pressure about what grades we're supposed to get (good ones), how many sexual partners we're supposed to have (not many), the way we're supposed to look (sexy), and how much we're supposed to weigh (the less, the better). Piled on top of that, Siegel says that Schalit adopts a lot of the language the Christian right has been using for the last 15 years to push young women to adopt the virgin model.
What women need is to realize that they can break outside of stereotypes and forge their own thoughts, styles, and moralities. Young women need a more supportive environment rather than another pile of lectures.
Cross-posted at Campus Progress.
"We feel like we moved the Democrats in Congress--not fast, not far enough," said Medea Benjamin, one of the group's founders. "But we moved Hillary Clinton, we moved Nancy Pelosi." Hourican said, "If it weren't for Code Pink, people wouldn't be moving [to an antiwar position]."I think the antiwar movement is much different than it was for the Vietnam War. It's a quieter opposition, mainly expressed through opinion polls. Although activists play a role, there's really not a question that antiwar sentiment is increasing when it's widely reported that polling indicates the war is increasingly unpopular.
Monday, August 13, 2007
While the heat and voting irregularities from years past helped to deflate the numbers, the absence of some big GOP names also contributed to the lower turnout. Some of the AWOL candidates (and non-candidates), including Senator John McCain (Ariz.), Rudy Giuliani, and former Senator Fred Thompson, skipped the event.As we all know, Fred Thompson has not officially declared his candidacy, and so he therefore shouldn't be included in the straw poll.
Cross-posted at Campus Progress.
What's more, the Bourne movies make good use of public transportation. Each movie features at least once high-tension chase scene on a mass-transit train, something that typical action movies reserve for street-based chase scenes with lots of explosions. Although car chase scenes are by no means absent from Bourne movies, the fact that Jason Bourne turns to public transportation as a more efficient way of moving through these cities (often European cities, where they invest a lot in good public transportation) than driving a car. In these movies, public transportation is a real alternative to driving.
Finally, the movie, without giving away too much, ends with a series of Congressional oversight hearings. Indicating that the filmmakers find this kind of unchecked power unacceptable, and that the Congressional oversight committees serve an important and unnecessary function of keeping check on too much executive power.
One of Chronicle's blogs today discusses how journalism schools are slow to adapt to the changing nature of media. At a conference of J-School educators this weekend, "citizen journalism has moved from heresy — a topic to be considered, if at all, only in side conferences and hallways — to something that, while still not widely accepted, is at least of interest."
As a J-School graduate myself, I felt like I started a bit behind the starting gate. It took me a while to acclimate to blogs because in J-School I was taught that they aren't real journalism and we should reject them. This is mainly because journalism classes are taught by more or less retired journalists. The really cutting-edge journalists all have, well, jobs in journalism. Now that blogs have been (rather slowly) adapted to MSM. (Rick Hertzberg is even blogging now, albeit rather badly).
What I was most disappointed about in my J-School education was the way all of my classes basically ignored the fact that the Internet existed. They told us it was better to pick up the phone (it is, although the Internet is a great way to do a lot of background research for a story), go to the library (for what?), and never ever believe anything printed by a blog (!). I didn't learn HTML except by my own initiative. I never learned to write a blog post until I got a job at a magazine.
This makes me wary of the future of journalism, since we seem to have two streams of people entering the field: a group trained in ethics and reporting who think the future is in newspapers (it's not), and a group of people with no ethics or reporting training whatsoever who understand how to write blogs and get them read.
Friday, August 10, 2007
Congrats to our own GFR and Addie Stan who got a shout out in Ellen Goodman's column today on how the political blogosphere is overwhelmingly male and white. This is something that's been talked about a lot, especially in the wake of YKos, after which the WaPo published a similar take. I was intrigued that this year, feminist bloggers had their own conference, BlogHer, the weekend before Kos. To me, it would be of advantage to both groups to merge these two.
Goodman writes about one theory of why the demographics shake out this way, "[Gina] Cooper thinks one reason for the demographics is that educated, economically comfortable men were the early adapters to the technology and took the lead." The problem is, now that the technology is more accessible, it is also more mainstream, and therefore dominated by a lot of the (male) personalities that dominate the MSM.
The Family Research Council (Action division) made sure to send out an email that said, "Joining a debate that caters to only 4 [percent] of the voting population--and highlights a behavior that a majority of Americans still consider "morally wrong"--carries obvious risks. So why the primetime pandering?" The FRC backed this up with polling numbers where anywhere from 28 to34 percent of the population says they'd be less likely to vote for a candidate who supports gay rights. The number of self-identified evangelical or born-again Christians totaled 23 percent in 2004. Meanwhile, those that support "full" marriage rights for gays are polling around 40 percent.
So it seems that progressive candidates are "pandering" to a larger minority of the population than the conservative candidates do.
Cross-posted at Campus Progress.
Thursday, August 9, 2007
Cross-posted at Campus Progress.
The New York Times style section is telling women to "be themselves" -- as long as it involves choking down a hunk of beef -- and you well get the ultimate prize: a man.
I don't really have problems with women ordering meat, or salads, or whatever it is she wants to eat. The problem is this story just makes women even more self-conscious about her eating habits on a date. Besides, if a woman is on a date with a man who judges her based on what she orders, does she really want to be with him anyway? Of course not.
Maybe the New York Times style section should just put a period after the end of that "be themselves" comment and leave it at that.
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
All CSI viewers think they can solve homicide cases, now they have their chance! Texas's most decorated homicide detective Tommy Le Noir hosts this groundbreaking reality crime scene investigation show. Each episode of MURDER will feature one real crime, complete with a gruesome recreated crime scene and real crime footage, ripped from the closed case files of Homicide Departments across the United States. Two teams of real people, comprised of three members each, will compete to be the first to solve the case, correctly, in 48 hours.One contestant said something to the effect of, "I used to read Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys when I was little and I always thought this is what I should've gone into." Is this horrifying only to me? It's one thing to read detective novels and watch CSI, but maybe we should leave solving crimes to professionals. The time limit causes the contestants to be sloppy. What's more, these people don't know anything about solving crimes; all they did was watch Law & Order and get a "crash course" in crime scene investigation.
Oh yeah, and the racial element was hard to miss. The victim and the suspects were all black. And the wannabe detectives? Yep, all white. There were huge racial stereotypes at work. Over the course of the show, one contestant started making up wild stories about motivations, including a fictional lover and a fictional bag of cocaine. C'mon people.
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Related to Ezra's dispatch from the YKos military panel, last week a Pentagon investigation concluded that several generals and a former military chaplain wrongly appeared in uniform in a fundraising video for Christian Embassy, a group affiliated with Campus Crusade for Christ. These soldiers are not permitted to endorse a "non-federal" entities.
When high-level generals endorse a politically charged religious group, it sets an example not only for lower officers, but leads the public to believe that the military and such groups go hand in hand. I'm okay with military officers expressing an opinion, but there's a fine line between an opinion and a flat-out endorsement, and the generals' appearance in the Christian Embassy video clearly exemplifies the latter. Especially when officers appear in uniform expressing an opinion, it tends to be seen as having the approval of the military branch.
Monday, August 6, 2007
Like other career-minded young women, she hoped the law would open doors. But her promising career at a department-store corporate office ended 15 years ago when she had a baby.But this is the story of a Japanese woman named Yukako Kurose. Apparently, Japanese women have just as much trouble balancing the their families with a long work week as American women do. The Japanese passed an equal opportunity employment law in 1985, but they're finding that it is the work culture itself -- not the law -- that is preventing women from truly achieving equality. Hm... this sounds familiar.
She was passed over for promotions after she started leaving work before 6:30 each evening to pick up her daughter from day care. Then, she was pushed into a dead-end clerical job. Finally, she quit.
Cross-posted at TAPPED.
Friday, August 3, 2007
The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of two U.S. servicemen, missing in action from the Vietnam War, have been identified and will be returned to their families for burial with full military honors.
They are Lt. Col. James H. Ayres, of Pampa, Texas, and Lt. Col. Charles W. Stratton, of Dallas, Texas, both U.S.Air Force. Ayres will be buried Aug. 10 in Pampa, and Stratton's burial date is being set by his family.
On Jan. 3, 1971, these men crewed an F-4E Phantom II aircraft departing Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base on a nighttime strike mission of enemy targets in Savannakhet Province, Laos. Shortly after Ayres initiated a target run, the crew of other aircraft in the flight observed a large explosion. No one witnessed an ejection or heard beeper signals, and communication was lost with the aircraft. Hostile activity in the area prevented search and rescue attempts.
The efficiency of the nation's transportation infrastructure is threatened by increasing demand for transportation services, and revenue from traditional funding mechanisms may be unable to keep pace at current tax rates. Revenues to support the Highway Trust Fund--the major source of federal highway and transit funding--are eroding, with recent estimates forecasting a negative balance of more than $14 billion by the end of fiscal year 2012. ... The nation's infrastructure is under great strain; congestion across modes is significant and expected to worsen.
Minneapolis, though I will defend it as a great city, is one that has poor public transportation. It relies on an antiquated busing system. The public was reluctant to invest in effective mass transit, so instead poured money into maintaining highways and freeways that reached across the ever-expanding metropolitan area. It is not unusual for people to drive more than an hour one way in traffic every day to and from work. It's been widely reported that the Minneapolis bridge, built in the '60s, was never intended to stand up to the volume of cars that drove over it every day.
In recent years, Minnesota struggled to pay for basic transportation maintenance needs under Gov. Tim Pawlenty's "no new taxes" policy. Last summer, traffic at a highway interchange (35W and 62) had massively outgrown the current set up and was delayed because no construction company was willing to take on the project for the budget allotted. Two years ago, Minnesota, a state that has traditionally refused the idea of toll roads, added tolls for single-driver cars to ride in HOV lanes as a method of raising more revenue.
Originally it was the Department of Transportation that handled all of this. Now it is primarily Homeland Security that is responsible for the infrastructure of the nation's bridges, highways, roads, and freeways. Before the bridge collapse in Minnesota, they were more worried about terrorist plots than about maintenance. When Hurricane Katrina made everyone rethink government roles, they began to examine evacuation scenarios. But according to the March GAO report, these government agencies are still trying to figure things out:
Yet the department's responsibilities in providing evacuation assistance have not been entirely clear. In addition, despite recent progress by the federal government in providing evacuation assistance, gaps remain. For example, the Department of Homeland Security has not yet clarified, in the federal government's plan for disaster response, the leading, coordinating, and supporting federal agencies to provide evacuation assistance when state and local governments are overwhelmed, and what their responsibilities are. One White House report recommended that the developing the federal government's capability to carry out mass evacuations when state and local governments are overwhelmed.
The bridge collapse in Minnesota, like Hurricane Katrina, challenges us to take a hard look at how our government agencies are organized and how to prioritize spending. Even though it took people dying to highlight it, hopefully it will eliminate the reluctance to put money into the necessary spending on infrastructure.
UPDATE: I should disclose that I was born and raised in Minnesota.
Cross-posted at TAPPED.
Cross-posted at campusprogress.org/page/community/blog/ksteiger.
Shocker. The BBC reports today that a meta study (a kind of study of studies) published in the British Medical Journal showed that overall abstinence only education has no impact on the sexual lives of young people aged 10-21. The article said:
They found abstinence programmes had no negative or positive impact on the rates of sex infections or unprotected sex, the British Medical Journal said.Abstinence programmes are popular in the US and have supporters in the UK.
The funny thing about this is the reporting. It's sort of reported with a "silly Americans and their attachment to abstinence education" attitude. It's true, though. For years Congress has been pouring money into such programs for years, and last month Congress even approved an increase in abstinence funding in exchange for more comprehensive sex education funding.
Among the scientific community, it's obvious that these programs just don't work. Additionally, I've always felt it reeked of moralizing to young people whose families may not share such conservative views on sex.
Thursday, August 2, 2007
Especially in the age of globalization, adopting a baby from China is much like buying any consumer product made there: You often have no idea of what happed before it (or in this case, little he or she) got to you. What's more, getting babies from cut-rate places in Asia doesn't exactly encourage people in the country to take care them. It may actually be viewed as exporting a problem or a profitable industry. Profitable industries do better when they cut costs. Cutting costs can even include encouraging births to single mothers to create more babies to export.
Okay, this may be (a bit of) an exaggeration, but the point is that rather than encouraging human rights in countries, we are actually sort of encouraging the opposite. The struggle for universal human rights is a long one, but this is a good counter-intuitive way of thinking about your typical do-gooder attitude: I will do good, therefore, the people who are in charge of making sure that everyone is doing okay doesn't have to take care of the problem.
Via Jess at Feministing. This week, a Republican legislator in Ohio has introduced a bill that would require women to get permission from the father of the fetus prior to getting an abortion. Yeah, that's right. You need to get permission from someone else to have a medical procedure done on your body. Even if you don't know who the father is or can't get a hold of him for some reason means that you can't get the permission, and therefore can't get the abortion. Even if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, the woman must present a police report to the doctor to get permission. And you thought parential notification was bad.Katharine Mieszkowski at Broadsheet has a good analysis:
How such a law could ever be enforced is really hard to fathom. First, what to do in cases where the woman doesn't know who the father is, or says she doesn't know? No problem! The bill stipulates that she can simply submit a list of possible fathers to a physician who will then perform a paternity test on the fetus. Yet, that's easier said than done.
To perform a paternity test, first you'd need to extract some genetic material from the fetus, which would require chorionic villus sampling (CVS) or an amniocentesis. An amnio is not typically done until 16 to 20 weeks gestation, but CVS can be done around 11 weeks, near the end of the first trimester. See how time to have that abortion is ticking away? Both amnio and CVS also carry a small risk of miscarriage, which I hope Rep. Adams is aware of considering his professed concern for the unborn.
By most accounts, it seems that this bill is unlikely to pass. Even if it did, the recently elected Gov. Ted Strickland was endorsed by NARAL pro-choice and would promptly veto. Thank goodness for checks and balances.
Cross-posted at CampusProgress.org/page/community/blog/ksteiger.
In the latest investigation report released this week, that there's some evidence suggesting that Tillman's death in Afghanistan may not have even been accidental. Army medical examiners said the three bullet holes in his forehead appear to have been fired from an M-16 about 10 feet away. At that distance, it would be nearly impossible to mistake Tillman for anything other than a fellow officer. His fellow soldier, Spc. Bryan O'Neal, is reported to have testified that he heard Tillman say, "Cease fire, friendlies, I am Pat fucking Tillman, damn it!" many times during the conflict.
O'Neal recently filed his report of what happened on the ground, but said in a later interview that he didn't recognize several passages upon re-reading it. Someone changed it after he filed the report, he said. Who made the changes, though, has yet to be determined.
And an even bigger question looms: if Pat Tillman's death wasn't in fact accidental, why would anyone want him dead? A San Francisco Chronicle investigation found that "Interviews ... show a side of Pat Tillman not widely known -- a fiercely independent thinker who enlisted, fought, and died in service to his country, yet was critical of President Bush and opposed the war in Iraq, where he served a tour of duty." Josh Swiller, in an article for the Huffington Post, wrote that "Tillman was, contrary to the Republican portrayal of him as a reflexive patriot, deeply troubled by the war." Swiller and others suspect that Tillman's not-quite pro-war stance is what lead to his death.
Read the whole thing.
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
Photo credit: Jim Mone/Associated Press
This bridge is right next to my alma matter, the University of Minnesota, and carries a highway I've driven over numerous times. Literally hits close to home. Undoubtedly, this means a long investigation to find out why this happend, but there's no evidence of intentional harm or terrorism.
Cross-posted at TAPPED.