Thursday, September 27, 2007
Cross-posted on campusprogress.org/blog.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
There are a few of things at work here. Firstly, Couric doesn't have the reporting cred that other news anchors who have sat in that seat before her do, but then, women find it much harder to earn the cred. Although women have been prevalent in the world of reporting for at least the last 20 years, they've often been pigeonholed into covering "human interest" stuff. Couric is a widely recognized name because she was in a role that she was hired to fulfill for years, a host on a morning TV talk show. There are plenty of women who do more serious work than Couric, but they also get far less recognition.
Secondly, the whole process of hiring female TV news anchors seems to be one of the most sexist practices in journalism today. You are hired to look a certain way. When I was in journalism, those in visual journalism had to be very concerned about what to do with their hair on camera. There's an assumption, as exemplified in the Arrive article, that women inherently bring a certain softness to news. This is, of course, an extremely rigid reading of gender stereotypes.
Thirdly, TV anchors usually come from a reporting background, but the job itself doesn't require that much reporting. This is, at least, the claim that Dan Rather is making in his lawsuit against CBS/Viacom. They are primarily responsible for presenting the news, and only rarely report it.
Fourthly, women are less engaged in hard news, and there's a great deal of speculation about why this is. Perhaps it's because they choose to be, perhaps because they're too busy, or perhaps because the way news is currently presented doesn't really appeal to them.
While I was never a huge Katie Couric fan and I almost never watch CBS evening news, I feel a slight obligation to open this up to discussion. There are a number of factors at work, and I think it's worth thinking about a little bit more than rolling your eyes at the "achievements" of Katie Couric.
Philanthropy is often seen as the out to regulation for large corporations. They're investing in undesirable places or causes, so they use that as an excuse for not getting regulation imposed on them. The role of investment is certainly powerful, but I don't think we should allow it to be an excuse for not putting regulation on corporations.
UPDATE: Apparently I'm wrong. He was referring to the Burmese dissident Aung San Suu Kyi
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Better education unleashes the talent and potential of its citizens, and adds to the prosperity of all of us. Better education promotes better health and greater independence. Better education increases the strength of democracy, and weakens the appeal of violent ideologies. So the United States is joining with nations around the world to help them provide a better education for their people.
This is only odd to me because it's been pretty well documented that the most effective terrorists are the highly educated ones. Education isn't a cure-all, but Bush's speech seems to be suggesting that.
In a follow up to the Delaware State University shooting last week, an 18-year-old student was arrested in his dorm room early yesterday morning in his dorm room and charged with "attempted murder, assault and reckless endangerment, as well as a gun charge."
What we still don't know, after several incidents of teenagers and young adults turning guns on each other since Columbine in 1999 is what exactly makes young men (it has been young men in every instance) do this. There's a conflicted sense both of seeking something to blame. Many people are quick to turn to various cultural influences: music, movies, and violent video games, but it dosen't change the fact that these young men are exposed to all the same things as other young people who lead totally normal lives -- uninterrupted by such violence.
What is left is a much more complicated view of phchology and psychosis. By finding a simple source, it's easier than dealing with people on an individual level. I ceartianly don't know what the answer is, but I think it's something to think about. How do you reach those that feel violence is the only answer?
What I don't quite understand is all this hype about the $100 laptop. It seems to be that people think this is the best of when philanthropy meets capitalism. While it's kind of neat that they can make a piece of technology that's typically really expensive really cheap, it kind of misses the point. It's like that Toys for Tots program. Sure, it makes a lot of kids feel good to get some toys at Christmastime, but it doesn't signify any particular life change. What they're producing here is toys. (It even looks like a toy.) The internet is a remarkable thing, but all the things that are really great about it are either convenience or require special skills to unlock. So I don't quite understand what the all the fuss of these $100 laptops is all about.
Monday, September 24, 2007
Thursday, September 20, 2007
If you, like me, are looking for some clarity on the Jena 6 rally, Courney Martin has a great piece up at The American Prospect today that explains it:
Indeed, the Jena 6 case, like the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, is a violent reminder that our country is actually many nations. Despite all of the progress that has been made, racism is still a part of too many American kids' ideological diets. A noose, even in 2007, struck these good ol' Southern boys as an apt symbol for the fear of "the other" that had been bred in them from birth. And their elders -- the school administrators, city officials, and parents -- called their inexcusable hatred by cutesy names: pranks, child's play, boys will be boys. It is a wake-up call to us all: The work of ending racism is far from over.
I encourage you to read the whole thing.
Yale University restricted military recruitment in 2005, claiming a First Amendment right to exclude them based on the military's anti-gay recruitment policies. This week, an appeals court sided with the Department of Defense. They cited a law known as the Solomon amendment, upheld by the Supreme Court, which allows federal funds to be withheld from schools that refuse military recruitment on campus.
By refusing military recruitment on campus, it's a back-door way of protesting the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. It's a stance that Yale University, with such a large endowment, can perhaps afford to make, but publicly funded universities and colleges cannot even consider this method of protest. They are too dependant on federal and state dollars.
Curiously enough, a side effect of refusing to allow military recruitment on campus is that it may increase the economic divide among those who choose to serve in the military and those who don't. Overwhelmingly those that serve are poor. I'd be interested to know what others think about this.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Read the whole thing.
What’s peaking though the fairly transparent plot is the costs of sending soldiers to war -- encouraging them to torture and kill terrorists (or suspected terrorists) -- and returning them home unable to continue with normal lives. A side plot of the film has a woman ahead of Deerfield at the police station there to report her husband's (another recently returned Iraq vet) violent drowning of the family's Doberman Pincher in the bathtub in front of their son. Later in the film he is arrested for drowning his wife, who Theron's character had sent home without helping.
The movie clearly depicts post traumatic stress disorder. But what makes In the Valley of Elah portrayal valuable is that it depicts the strain of PTSD on families and communities as well.
Official estimates of how many Iraq war veterans might be affected by PTSD vary, mainly because it’s something that affects patients in a matter of degrees, many of which are not necessarily violent. It’s a cost of war that’s little talked about estimated to cost billions of dollars. Many psychologists, including the American Psychological Association's Education Directorate, advocate a public education campaign that would not only teach soldiers and their families what the symptoms of PTSD are (often sleeplessness, flashbacks, problems with aggression, and relationship stress) but also instruct the public that PTSD can be a normal reaction to abnormal levels of stress or violence, especially when encountered for long periods of time. Some soldiers are serving tours as long as 15 months.
Friday, September 14, 2007
National Geographic published photos and bios based on the 2007 Red List of Threatened Species list, which was released this week. So the coral may not be as adorable as the long-nosed Baiji dolphin that scientists thought was extinct but was spotted off the coast of China, but it's a good reminder that nature is pretty beautiful on it's own. The Threatened Species list includes more than 40,000 different species. Protecting wildlife requires international cooperation. I donated to the World Wildlife Fund, and they sent me a stuffed Blue-Footed Booby. Aw.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
My alma matter is rated the best of 139 colleges nationwide at promoting safe sex on campus, according to a survey conducted by the Trojan condom company. The school's health service gives out about 10,000 condoms a year and offers free STI testing on campus. I remember the human-sized condom mascot named Shady handing out condoms and lube at almost every campus event.
No wonder I was surprised to learn that some schools, like the Jesuit-founded Georgetown, not only don't give out free condoms but also attempt to restrict the purchase of condoms on campus, leaving the only option for students to go off campus to get them. It's not like the presence of condoms tempts students to have sex -- I think sex is appealing enough on its own. But having condoms readily available will prevent pregnancy and the spread of STIs. That's just good public health policy.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Dana had an excellent story yesterday at TAP that I meant to write about but didn't get time for. She covered an event where Newt Gingrich presented his own version of events:
Gingrich made his case through a "thought experiment" of an "alternate history" of the past six years in which, with unlikely efficiency and competence, the entire United States government retooled itself after Sept. 11, 2001 for a military, intelligence, and diplomatic war against Muslim terrorism.
Right, if only we would have had a conservative president and Congress in the years following 9/11 to steer us in the right direction. Oh wait. We did.
Via Matt. Media Matters reports that op-ed pages in newspapers on the whole lean to the right. Matt thinks it's because editors are looking to gain more readers through the inflammatory stuff that Charles Krauthammer writes. I think it's a general overcompensation on the part of the MSM to make sure the right is represented in the media after years of (false) cries that the media has a "liberal bias." What's more true is that the MSM has more biases toward authority figures (the WMD scandal, for example) than any kind of ideological bias. Even so, the media makes a conscious effort to "balance" any statement with something on the right, regardless of whether that statement has real significance.
What lazy reporters do is call up the Center for American Progress to see what they think about issue X and then call the Heritage Foundation and ask them what they think about the issue. That's not balance. The same is true of the op-ed pages. Editors may "feel" that liberal thoughts get more play so they overcompensate by running more conservatives.
- I chose a profession in which I have to work with people who think racism is a thing of the past, LGBT people are “gross” and “sinful,” and who when hiring decisions are made never hire these people but are more than happy to fill the adjunct ranks with them
- I chose a profession based on inequality in which women and people of color make up the ranks of the lowest paid, least tenured, and most over-worked (through demands placed on them to do extra teaching loads or not be asked back the following semester or year, by being asked to officially or unofficially mentor all the people in their identity group, and teach most if not all of the courses associated with their identity group)
Kaiser Family Foundation's Daily Women's Health Policy Report highlights a study conducted by the British Medical Journal that shows women who take oral contraceptives for less than 8 years are up to 12 percent less likely to get cancer. But taking oral contraceptives for more than 8 years can increase the risk by up to 22 percent.
There has been a lot of debate about the effect of hormonal birth control on women's overall health. Especially because when birth control was first introduced, the hormonal levels were too high and made many women sick. We've come a long way since 1960, though, and women have safely been using oral contraception for more than 40 years. In some cases, like the study above, it can actually be beneficial to women's health.Conservative groups, however, may seize on this news to say that women shouldn't be on oral contraceptives because they're bad for them. (I can just imagine the Family Research Council email now.) Even if the use of oral contraceptives for more than 8 years increases the risk of cancer slightly, there are other things--like smoking--that drastically increases the risk of cancer by a lot more.
Cross-posted at campusprogress.org/blog.
Monday, September 10, 2007
The fact that a college degree is the entrance requirement to the middle class is not exactly controversial. I was listening to Marketplace last week and they had a story about lower income students striving to get that piece of paper, and they extracted this quote for the teaser on the story and for good reason:
Once a first-generation college student gets their degree, the likelihood that everyone in their lineage gets a degree increases exponentially.
That little factoid contains a world of information. First of all, it indicates the income difference for people who get degrees that they can expect college education for their children as a matter of fact. Second of all, it’s a staunch class indicator about entitlements and expectations; if you’re born to the college-educated middle class, doing anything but going to college after high school is breaking the mold and hard to do. I found that to be an interesting feature of both Kyso’s post and the discussion at Offsprung about majors—the discussion assumed that choosing a major is extremely meaningful, which points to an unacknowledged assumption that getting a college degree at all is expected and not really up for debate. That you will end up at the end of it all as a member of the middle class in good standing goes unquestioned if you’re born into it. The only discussion after that is whether you’ll be middle class because you have a job that’s a lot of fun but doesn’t put you in the BMW-buying category or if you have a job that does but might be a rat race job. It’s a good entitlement to have, but it’s important to remember that it is in fact an entitlement, mostly because we’re in situation now where decades of Republican dominance have shrunk the middle class (and therefore reduce the number of people who feel that entitlement) and they give every indication of hoping to shrink it further.
I think this is right. Once you're in a family that's college educated it's assumed that you will go to college. Unfortunately, those not from the college-educated middle class are overwhelmingly non-white. This creates extra hurdles for a young student considering college. Parents who didn't go to college tend to not be very supportive of the institution. There tends to be an attitude of, "I didn't go to college and turned out just fine."I came from a middle-class family and was a third generation college student. It was assumed that I would go to college, so that's what I did. I'd be interested to hear more perspectives from first-generation college students.
Cross-posted at campusprogress.org/blog.
Saturday, September 8, 2007
I'm all for candidates that have charisma -- they get people excited about voting and what the government does. But the vast inconsistency in the Oprah voter suggests a complete lack of knowledge about policy. And that's what I think can be dangerous.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
That disappointing history goes back to the late 1990s, when Silicon Valley start-ups created the RocketBook and SoftBook Reader, two bulky, battery-challenged devices that suffered from lackluster sales and a limited selection of material. The best selling e-books at the time, tellingly, were “Star Trek” novels.I've always thought that I really enjoyed the portability of taking a book with me on the train or to the beach in a way that I don't enjoy towing a laptop or palm pilot (does anyone use these anymore?) around. I do, however see a great deal of value in making research texts available in virtual format. I can't even count how many times in college I read a text and then went back later to study or write about it, but couldn't remember the exact page. If I had all my textbooks in virtual format, it would make research much more efficient (and already has, with so many articles available in PDF or full text format online). Not to mention that buying the virtual textbooks would be much cheaper than purchasing the same text in paper format because the publishing would be so much more efficient.
What the future of virtual books will be I'm not quite sure yet. I have a feeling that people will want to keep paper books around for at least a while because of the romantic or sentimental connection of the literary tradition, but in the meantime, I read thousands of words a day on my computer screen, so I sense the printed word will become even more of a rarity, if not render it obsolete.
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Business Week has a back-to-school article that's a bit sobering. It reminds us how credit card companies sell their lending products to college students -- sometimes at rates as high as 16 percent:
I know I've linked to Elizabeth Warren's article in Democracy before, but it's worth linking to again. She explains how consumers have essentially abdicated all their negotiating power to big companies, who can refuse their products if customers don't agree to their ridiculous terms.
Students also live in a culture of debt. Many of them are borrowing tens of thousands of dollars to go to school, tapping low-interest loans to pay tuition. "The primary way we help students pay for college is by telling them to take on more and more student loan debt," says Tamara Draut, director of the Economic Opportunity Program at Demos. The message is clear, she says: "Debt is O.K., and you are going to have lots of it." In that context, [Central Washington University student Seth] Woodworth and other students think little of charging another $50 for dinner or groceries.
Cross-posted at campusprogress.org/blog.
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
The BBC reports that women are "choosier" when it comes to mates and look for things like financial security. But here's the thing. It was a survey of 46 people at speed-dating session. A survey of 46 people is hardly scientific, and I doubt that those at a specifically targeted dating event are representative of their genders as a whole. What's more, here's what the lead researcher said:
"While humans may pride themselves on being highly evolved, most still behave like the stereotypical Neanderthals when it comes to choosing a mate.
"Evolutionary theories in psychology suggest that men and women should trade off different traits in each other and when we look at the actual choices people make, this is what we find evidence for."
I hardly thing that this has anything to do with "evolution" or "psychology" but rather cultural norms and expectations. Somebody get these people an intro to research class.
Over the weekend, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported on some Minnesota National Guard troops who have elected to be part of a VA study monitoring the effects of deployment on a soldier. The study, funded by the Department of Defense, began
nearly two years ago, [when researcher Melissa Polusny] and three other VA psychologists went to Camp Shelby, Miss., where 2,500 Minnesota Guard troops were preparing to deploy to Iraq. Of those, 531 agreed to fill out 22-page questionnaires covering everything from their childhood and family life to how they handle setbacks.
This is exactly the kind of monitoring that could give the VA a better idea of how combat stress affects veterans after they've returned from a deployment. Some experts proposed making such testing mandatory, so as to reduce the stigma of PTSD symptoms like sleeplessness, flashbacks, and emotional isolation. Broad testing, of course, can be very expensive. The Minnesota study is of a self-selected group of soldiers, so it may not be an entirely accurate picture. But research into combat stress is so scarce that even a small study such as this could have a big impact.
The NYTimes Magazine had a profile of Rick Rubin this weekend, the man anointed by Columbia Records to save the industry. It's no secret that the record industry has been languishing in the last few years. So what's the new strategy?
"Everything I do," Rubin told me earlier, "whether it's producing, or signing an artist, always starts with the songs. When I'm listening, I'm looking for a balance that you could see in anything. Whether it's a great painting or a building or a sunset. There's just a natural human element to a great song that feels immediately satisfying. I like the song to create a mood."
So the record industry will save itself by--drumroll, please--listening to music. Brilliant. They're also not going to make Rubin punch a clock or have a desk. This is supposed to be a revolutionary tactic?What the record industry doesn't seem to get is that the future of music has already passed them by. People don't want big record executive dictating what will be popular. They want to figure it out for themselves. This is why, for better or worse, things like Pitchfork are so popular. In the age of digital sharing, it's far better for bands just to have their music heard than to get signed with a label.
It seems that the record industry wants ownership over the intellectual product of music, even if it's not in the best interest of the creator. Rubin talked of a way the industry screwed up with Neil Diamond:
"The CD debuted at No. 4," Rubin told me at Hugo's, still sounding upset. "It was the highest debut of Neil's career, off to a great start. But Columbia — it was some kind of corporate thing — had put spyware on the CD. That kept people from copying it, but it also somehow recorded information about whoever bought the record.The spyware became public knowledge, and people freaked out. There were some lawsuits filed, and the CD was recalled by Columbia. Literally pulled from stores. We came out on a Tuesday, by the following week the CD was not available. Columbia released it again in a month, but we never recovered. Neil was furious, and I vowed never to make another album with Columbia."
It doesn't seem that they're getting it right. What they don't seem to get is that the advantage to creativity is that it inspires others. By letting go a little on protections, we can create a richer culture.
The thing is, my queen sized mattress wouldn't fit up the stairs of our little row house. But typing in "how to fold a box spring in half" brought up this:
It is possible to cut the box spring and still keep its integrity intact. You will need a small handsaw, a razor knife (new blade) and some rope. FIRST thing to do is find a clean area and lay the box spring flat with the underside facing up. Measure and find the middle of the frame. AT the middle point take the razor and cut the dust clothIt actually works, despite sounding really complicated. Now I have an entire bed in my room. Ah, the miracles of the Internet.
(THE SHORT WAY) COMPLETELY from side to side. NOW you will need to cut the box spring FABRIC up the width of the side ...on both sides.Use the razor to cut a straight line. By doing this you now have clean cut from the top seam of the box spring down the width to the dust cover, across the dust cover and up the other side to the finished seam. Now for the sawing. You want to cut the wood framing braces that are closest in line with the line that you cut in the dust cloth and in line with the cuts up the sides. You will see the wood framing running along both sides. You will need to cut through this wood. Way up inside you will see a long edging steel rod that
is part of the frame.........DON'T CUT THE METAL ROD. Now you are ready to bend the box spring in half. Tip the spring up onto its side. Place the soft side against a door frame. What you want to do is place a person on each end and start to fold the box spring in half.....like a book. As you do this apply equal pressure moving your body towards the center as it folds. If there is no door frame you may have to improvise. Once folded, tie a rope around it snuggly. Now you can move it upstairs and into the bedroom. If you can find another door frame, use it to open the box spring slowly and evenly with the underside against the frame. Once it is open,
look way up inside along the edge that was bent and you will see that metal rod that i spoke of before. You'll notice that there is a kink in the rod. If you can get a small board or stick and push on the kink to straighten as much as possible, it will help it lay flat. As an option, get some straight brackets and screw them to the underside to connect the two halves. Sometimes it will lay flat without installing the brackets and
the mattress is on.
UPDATE: Nathaniel notes that he also helped us.