Monday, June 30, 2008

Abortion in the Middle East

Over the weekend, the the Los Angeles Times reported that there is an “apparent increase” in the number of abortions in the Middle East. (It appears, though, that the evidence is largely anecdotal; since abortions are still illegal in much of the region, it’s difficult to gather and verify data about their prevalence.) The trend appears to reflect an ongoing social shift:

“There’s definitely an increase compared to 10 to 15 years ago,” said Mohammed Graigaa, executive director of the Moroccan Assn. for Family Planning. “Abortion is much less of a taboo. It’s much more visible. Doctors talk about it. Women talk about it. The moral values of people have changed.”

Middle Easterners, like most other people, are tending to delay marriage, decrease the number of children per household, and place less of a premium on virginity before marriage. More significant than the actual number of abortions in the region is the increase in openness about sexuality.

But such openness still lags in access to birth control, family planning, and safe abortions. The Times article reveals some disturbing anecdotes about women suffering from botched illegal abortions.

Equally disturbing is the taboo in providing sex ed and contraception. The article notes that “Arab youths receive little in the way of birth control or sex education, say family planning experts in the Middle East, many of whom work discreetly to provide reproductive health services in conservative Muslim societies that hold women’s maternal roles as sacrosanct.”

It’s hard to say where the future of women’s right lies for the Middle East. Right now it seems that some class elements are at play. Wealthy women in the Middle East can get access to birth control and safe abortions, but poorer women must risk back-ally abortions because they have no other options.

It’s nearly impossible to stop sex. The proper course, then, is to make sure that it can be as safe as possible.

Cross posted from Pushback (we're working on a full RSS feed, I swear).

Liberal Elitism

Tofu for Obama
Ah Crafty Bastards.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

ICE Clothing Factory Raid

Immigration and Customs Enforcement raided a clothing factory in Houston, and about 70 percent of those arrested were women. There's a lot to be said about how America's immigration problem unfairly targets women. In this case, it's hardly surprising that it was mostly women that were arrested, given that it was the kind of factory were women tend to work. But more to the point, because women are the primary caretakers, when women are arrested or cross the border alone, most of the time the children also suffer. There have been some pretty horrifying accounts of how ICE treats caretakers and parents, as I reported in an In These Times piece. ICE continues to step up enforcement raids, but there's no movement on the legislative front to fix the problem.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Generation Kill

Tonight I watched the second episode in the mini-series of Generation Kill. For an hour, I felt like I was back in a room with some people I went to high school with, some of whom joined the Marines ("semper fi!"), and of those most went to Iraq. Mother Jones already gave the series a rave review, calling it "neither squeamish nor ham-fisted."

One of the broadest critiques of the film will surely be that the story is told from the perspective of an embedded journalist, the American perspective told over and over again by reported books like Fiasco, Imperial Life in the Emerald City, and Assassin's Gate. But those stories tell or are a critique on the officer's line of Iraq. As David Simon noted during the Q&A of the screening, the stories of the enlisted men, thanks to the nature of the volunteer military force, are almost as foreign to some segments of the American population as the stories of the Iraqis.

In a setting where the separation between enlisted men and your average American is merely one of class, it is important to remind ourselves -- if not limit ourselves -- of that experience. Officers among enlisted men are resented. Enlisted men come speak the kind of filth you'd never mention in the polite company of your grandmother. This is one reality of the war. It would be a shame to ignore it.

It's true that while Simon's other creation, The Wire, was praised in part for highlighting stories and actors that might never see the light of day on other networks and that might not be the case with Generation Kill. But it's also true that the series is replicated honestly and experientially. While watching it, I could think of little else than the experience of the Marines. Simon, Ed Burnes, and Evan Wright created the experience in the best way they could. The stories of the Iraqis make up other stories.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Gimps

The Gimps
Originally uploaded by kay.steiger
So I've been a little out of commission thanks to my fracture of my pinky metacarpal bone in my right hand. Luckily, I'm not alone in my pain. My friend Ethan is also laid up with shoulder surgery. At least I don't have to sleep sitting up like he does.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

DC Public Pools

Today I went to the second in my exploration of DC's public swimming pools. This one was south of Dupont Circle, called Francis (25th & N, near Trader Joe's). It's a nice pool, divided into three sections: the baby pool, the lap pool, and the diving pool. The diving pool was 12 feet 8 inches deep, probably the deepest you'll find in the city. The DC pools are free to city residents, and I had a lot of fun.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Friday Afternoon Quizes

Your results:
You are Iron Man

Iron Man
Wonder Woman
The Flash
Green Lantern
Inventor. Businessman. Genius.

Click here to take the "Which Superhero am I?" quiz...

McCain on Immigration

Dana has a good analysis of McCain on immigration. He's in a unique position because he comes from Arizona, a state where immigration must be treated carefully and moderately. But McCain is now the Republican nominee, and whatever his personal feelings about immigration, he now has a base that tends to strongly resist anything that could be construed as "amnesty." Bush had much of the same problem, where he tried to pass immigration reform and met strong Republican resistance.

GI Bill a Boon to For-Profits?

That's the subject of a recent Chronicle article (subscription required):
According to data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the for-profit giant enrolled 17,221 veterans during the past fiscal year, making [the University of Phoenix] the top recipient of federal aid for military veterans. Two other for-profit institutions, American InterContinental University and American Public University, ranked second and third, with about 3,700 veterans each.
Today Inside Higher Ed has an article about the GI Bill update today as well. Their reporting reveals that the new benefit would place a greater emphasis on part-time or online college enrollment.
“I have a feeling that University of Phoenix will always be the number one recipient of GI Bill benefits, in part because they make themselves so incredibly accessible to veterans throughout this country,” said Patrick Campbell, legislative director for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
There's no doubt that the way the current GI bill is insufficient, but we should be making a full-time option equitable to a part-time one. There are plenty of veterans out there for whom part time and online options are the only real options available, especially if they have families with small children or live in rural areas far from colleges or universities.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Inequality in Gifted Programs

A NYTimes story today about New York gifted programs is interesting. It identifies that although there has been a push to close the inequality gap, low-income students make up a tiny minority of gifted programs, even in districts where poverty rates are high:
Students in 14 districts where the poverty rate is more than 75 percent account for more than a third of enrollment but received only 14.6 percent of the offers for spots in gifted programs this year, down from 20.2 percent last year.
This is because although intelligence is often considered to be genetic, a lot of qualifying for gifted programs has to do with other factors, and "standardized tests given to young children were heavily influenced by their upbringing and preschool education, and therefore biased toward the affluent." As long as problems of poverty and inequality persist, it will be difficult to provide a quality education to those who are lagging behind.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Rachel Maddow

I have an interview over at Campus Progress with pundit-extraordinaire Rachel Maddow (Give her own show already!) Check it out:
If you could line up a roster of the hosts of cable television programs from end to end, it would be a pretty non-diverse group, but I think high-end media in this country is pretty white-male dominated just like a lot of other power receptors. But it’s not a static thing. And I think that it actually does matter that—Amen—we had this long, interesting, raving extravaganza of a Democratic primary this year with a white woman and a black man as the two major contenders. I think that it created sort of an affirmative-action impulse for pundits, which has been great.

Someone Tell McCain What His Position On Birth Control Is

I love the title on this Wonk Room post -- "McCain Hates Condoms." They have a good rundown of McCain's position on sex ed and the distribution of birth control:

- Voted to end “the Title X family planning program, credited with helping prevent over 9 million abortions.”

- Voted against funding teen‐pregnancy‐prevention programs and ensuring that “abstinence‐only” programs are medically accurate.

- Voted for the domestic gag rule, which would have prohibited federally funded family‐planning clinics from providing women with access to full information about their reproductive‐health options.

- Voted to take $75 million from the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant to establish a new “abstinence‐only” program that censors information about birth control.

- Declined to help reduce the need for abortion and improve maternal health by opposing effort to require insurance coverage for prescription birth control, improve access to emergency contraception, and provide more women with prenatal health care.

- Voted against legislation that would have prevented unintended pregnancy by investing in insurance coverage for prescription birth control, promoting family‐planning services, implementing teen‐pregnancy‐prevention programs, and developing programs to increase awareness about emergency contraception

Just in case you thought McCain was "moderate" on such issues.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Name Changes

Lisa Belkin, author of last Sunday's much discussed Times Magazine piece on equally shared parenting, wonders on one of the Times numerous blogs why so few women these days are changing their names.
Names are intimate and personal reflections of how we present ourselves to the world, and the decisions of these couples make clear, in the words of Amy Vachon, how “there is no perfect choice.”

Changing your name feels unequal, she says. Not changing it means not being seen by the world as an automatic unit. Hyphenating works, at least for a generation, but can be long and cumbersome. Using one name for work and another at home means never remembering who you are.
This is one of the things that conservatives appear to have won on, but I can never quite figure out why. I never understood why one day you would just decide to change your name. It's as if you end your existence as Single Person and become Married Person. The connotations behind this are a little ridiculous and buy into the "happily ever after" narrative too much for my taste.

Furthermore, I never really understood, if it's such an important issue for families to all have the same names (because how would you know you belong to one another otherwise?) why it has to be the woman that changes her name. Why can't the man? I've yet to hear a good response to that one. Changing names to become a "unit" is silly. What if you were asked to change your name each time you changed jobs or professions? People would say that's silly, but for me it's no more silly than changing your name each time you change partners.

I plan to not change my name if I get married for the same reasons Lisa cites. I've already begun shaping my public persona with this name. There's no reason to change it. I agree that the naming of the children can be problematic, but frankly I'm not worried about having children just yet.

You Can't Find Birth Control Here

Catherine Price does a fabulous job over at Broadsheet of analyzing the small but growing movement of "pro-life pharmacies" that the Washington Post wrote about recently. These pharmacies make a point not to carry condoms, birth control pills, or Plan B (emergency contraception).
[T]he point of being a pharmacist isn't, as these people seem to think, to play God. It's to fill prescriptions. (In an ironic twist, some of the very same pharmacies that won't dispense birth control have no moral qualms about Viagra.) A garbage collector can't refuse to pick up beer bottles for recycling because he or she believes that drinking is wrong ...
But to me there's little use to this. Why would you need to make a collection of pharmacies that are proudly announcing that they don't carry something. Can you imagine Home Depot dispensing advertising that proclaimed, "We don't carry screwdrivers! Come to our store!" On the other hand, it's good they're aggregating a list somewhere so I can be sure to avoid such pharmacies and help put them out of business.

Flickr user blmurch under a Creative Commons license

Modern-Day Thinkers

Uh-oh. Here we go again. A Freakonomics post blegs the question, who is the greatest modern-day thinker? Every nomination in comments is a man, with the exception of Ayn Rand.

The "Push-Out" Revolution

There's a story in Women's eNews that seems to be worried about the married middle class mommy. The story starts with the anecdote about Lisa Seftel, who was given an ultimatum after giving birth of working five days a week full-time or a part-time position that would have eliminated her benefits. What Seftel had originally envisioned was a full time week where she split her time between the office and home. So Seftel says she was "pushed out" and became a full-time stay-at-home mom. Author Sharon Johnson calls this the "dark side" of the workforce today.

To be clear, I think it's absolutely important that parents of young children get flexibility in their jobs. But the thing is we didn't see Seftel's husband asking for a flexible work schedule. In fact, the article doesn't interview any men at all. The choices for Seftel was apparently flexible work or stay-at-home. There are many women out there that just don't have such options. Many women just can't afford to stay at home, either because they are single mothers or because the family needs both incomes to survive. I hope one day all parents have the option to accommodate their family needs, not just middle class mommies.

Monday, June 16, 2008

OMG Cookiegate!

Really, aren't we beyond wives of presidential candidates staying home and baking their own cookies? I guess not.

Obama on Fathers

Maybe it's just me, but I found Obama's Father's Day speech a little ... odd. It's clear that the speech came from a deeply personal place, since Obama himself lacked a strong paternal figure. The topic of missing fathers is certainly relevant in the African American community, where higher rates of young men end up in prison than in college and often leaving children behind. But it seemed to me to imply that the fathers were a predictor of success rather than race, class, or education. While it is certainly easier to parent with two rather than one, there's no reason to believe that emotionally stable, successful children can't come out of a single-parent household. The greater predictor of problematic child rearing tends to be poverty rather than the number of parents. Obama points out that:
children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of schools and twenty times more likely to end up in prison. They are more likely to have behavioral problems, or run away from home, or become teenage parents themselves.
To me the cause and effect is a little backwards here and it seemed a rather heteronormative approach to child-rearing. It isn't the lack of father that causes the poverty, but more often its the other way around. It's certainly true that holding fathers more accountable for their children's lives would do wonders for any number of children, but a more effective public policy pursuits is to work on eliminating poverty, not trying to solve daddy problems.

Low-Income/First-Generation Students and Dropping Out

Inside Higher Ed does a good job of analyzing the correlation of first generation and lower income college students with the "drop out" rate. The dropping out in this case means that the majority of students that start at a public two-year or a private university never end up earning the bachelor's degree they set out to earn.

Students who are both low income and first generation are far less likely than their peers to transfer from two-year to four-year colleges; six years after starting at public two-year or for-profit colleges, only 26 percent of low-income, first generation students have transferred, compared to about 40 percent of those who are either first generation or low income and 62 percent of students who are neither.

And first-generation, low-income students are one fifth as likely — 11 percent compared to 55 percent — to have earned a bachelor’s degree after six years as are students who are neither low income nor first generation.

“For too many low-income, first-generation students, the newly opened door to American higher education has been a revolving one,” said Vincent Tinto, a Pell Institute Senior Scholar and distinguished professor of higher education at Syracuse University, who worked with Engle on the new data.
The sources to the problem are multifaceted. One of the problems is that students often aren't prepared for a college-level workload once they're recruited. This suggests problematic high school (and even further back) preparation. Furthermore, a myriad of financial aid and "unmet financial need" issues than second generation or middle class students. Let's not forget that applying for federal student aid is a long and massively confusing form for anyone, especially for someone who is the first in their family to go through the process.

ICE Raids

I have a piece in the latest In These Times on the effect ICE raids are having on the children of immigrants:

Kathryn Gibney is principal of an overwhelmingly (96 percent) Latino elementary school in San Pedro, Calif., a community that experienced a raid in March 2007. She told lawmakers that members of her community have witnessed white ICE vans stationed near school grounds in Oakland and Berkeley to ensnare parents.

Gibney said the effect on her school has been “ongoing relentless terror.”

“The impact of these raids has been devastating,” she said. “Absentee rates have soared. Test scores have dropped. Students who do make it to school remain distracted, as they worry about whether their families will be at home when they return.”

Read the whole thing.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

RIP Dolphins

Yet more evidence that our climate is fucked up: 26 dolphins apparently committed suicide in the UK. This sort of reminds me of the book So Long And Thanks For All The Fish, in which Douglas Adams explains the great dolphin disappearance.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Check Out Pushback

We're officially launching a new site, a product of Campus Progress Action, called Pushback. It's a group blog written by young progressives from around the country and from different backgrounds. Check it out. I have a long post on the Hirshman column.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Barack Obama is NOT "the best woman for the job"

I agree with Jill that this is a weirdly wrong-headed approach to the debate.

The Next Netroots

A panel on netroots at the NCMR today talks about what happens if people supported by the netroots actually get into office. They talked about how the role will shift from watchdog to accountability. There's no doubt the netroots has done a great job of shifting to the debate. As Duncan Black, "the godfather of the netroots" as Cenk Uygur from The Young Turks dubbed him noted about how far we've come, the political debate used to "Range from The New Republic on the left [laughter] to the Free Republic on the right."

The favorite subject of big-media bashing turned up. Baratunde Thurston of Jack and Jill Politics and an Obama supporter noted that the talking heads were "dangerously unqualified to talk" and that "cable news is a terrible place for an idea." Additionally, Gina Cooper of Netroots Nation acknowledged the homogeneous nature of the convention, then known as Yearly Kos. (It's a claim that Jane Hamsher at Firedoglake has spent some time disputing.) She thought that now bloggers will begin to have to address some of its own internal problems.

Cross posted.


Minneapolis is a great city. They're beginning to build a public wireless network that's available in parks downtown (although you still have to pay for it). They tend to have outdoor music festivals every weekend in the summer (because it's so cold the rest of the year). There's a great exhibit at the Walker Art Center about the great suburbia with a fake basement (complete with wood paneling, green shag carpet, and bean bags) that features the following video, a tribute to a Minnesota suburb known as West St. Paul which I find both brilliant and hilarious:

I do have one complaint, though. Minneapolis is no different than any other city in this one regard: street harassment is just as rampant. This morning as I walked down the streets of downtown Minneapolis two men stopped as I walked by to stare and then asked both "What's your name?" and "Do you want to make some money?" Gross.

Bill Moyers on the State of Media Today

Bill Moyers spoke at the National Conference on Media Reform early this morning. His message was more motivational than investigative. His message was peppered with language that sought to empower attendees. "You are not alone," he said, after a demonstration in which he asked each person to stand up and meet the person on either side. It was a new role for a man who has produced "Buying the War" and other investigative documentaries produced by public media. But there was still a strain of more typical Moyers-style criticism. "We now know," he said, "that a neo-conservative is someone who sets a house on fire and then six years later boasts that it cannot be put out."

Moyers is something of a lifelong maker of public media, there at its inception and a survivor of the many attacks on its editorial independence for being "too liberal." He highlighted the nature of web media today, where the line between editorial and advertising is becoming blurrier and less defined. Already, he noted, advertisers are buying keywords in news articles ("Do we think they'll buy keywords like 'health care reform'?") It is something Moyers said is being called "communi-tainment." Moyers is right to point out the failings of for-profit media, but it is also certain that a true democracy needs not just public media, not just non-profit media, not just commercialized media, but all of these. When they are in balance, they will call one another out on their failings.

Cross posted.

McCain on Women's Rights

Steve Bennen has a good post on how electing John McCain would be really bad for women's issues, even going beyond abortion (he also references Scott Lemieux's post on TAPPED this week). I think this is an important distinction to make, especially considering that most people tend to perceive McCain as more moderate on women's rights. But the post includes a pretty good list of votes that shows while McCain may portray himself as moderate on women's rights, his record shows he is anything but.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Reforming Election Coverage

I'm in the panel on the election at the NCMR in Minneapolis. The panelists widely acknowledge there are a lot of problems with media coverage and the election. David Sirota, author of the new book The Uprising, noted that people are panicking over the disastrous process of the Democratic primary -- even though it is in at the basic sense of the word democratic. Robert "Biko" Baker of the League of Young Voters performed a spoken word poem about disenfranchised, working-class, youth of color that are largely left out of the youth vote surge. He noted that some of his friends are among the fallen in Iraq, but more of his friends are among the fallen of hopelessness and economic insecurity.

In the end, the panel is acknowledging that the diverse pool of candidates in the presidential election has shamed many members of the media into acknowledging that isn't own pool isn't so diverse. More women and commentators of color (and those that overlap between the two categories) are filling the ranks of the talking heads -- something that was long overdue. But in the end, we want media that reflects the composition of America.

Cross posted.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Carly Fiorina

While endlessly waiting in yet another airport on my way to the National Media Reform Conference, I read the article the NYTimes has on the highest profile woman on the McCain campaign -- no, not Cindy -- Carleton Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard executive embarrassingly ousted turned RNC chair of McCain's committee. She's a shameless supporter of McCain's gas holiday and some are whispering, according to the article, of an appointment to be secretary of the treasury.

Weird that the article talks about Fiorina as being "the woman" on the campaign rather than the chair of the campaign. I suspect Fiorina's presence will do little to appeal to women who currently tend to vote Democratic. I have little to say of Fiorina herself except maybe this: high-profile female executives seems to breed more female Republicans.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Living with Vulvodynia

There's a great (anonymous) personal account on Feministing of living with a form of vulvodynia, or a chronic and unexplained pain in the vagina that makes sex pretty much impossible. The detailed account of her treatment is a wonderful look into what it's like to live with this little-talked-about condition. But she's grateful:
Most people with vulvodynia and vulvar vestibulitis don’t have it as easy as I did, with relatively good health insurance, good care, and a partner willing to invent endless jokes about “vestibules” to make me feel better. My physical therapist told me about a very conservative religious patient who’d begun to experience vulvodynia after losing her virginity to her husband on their wedding night; the husband had just left her after 7 months of sexless marriage. Another couple she knew split up after about 7 years of painful sex. Fifty years ago, we all would have been called frigid and psychoanalyzed to death; 500 years ago, we might have just avoided sex our whole lives. Even now, with more public discussion of vaginal disorders in the health care community and in the media, there’s clearly a long way to go in terms of awareness and understanding before vulvodynia will come out of the closet like male impotence did (and, of course, since there’s no drugs for vulvodynia yet, we don’t have Big Pharma on our side making normalizing ads).
I highly recommend reading the whole thing.

Learning from Hillary Clinton

Dana has a great piece up about Clinton's campaign at TAP. She notes that while all the pundits are trying to determine the impact of Clinton's run for the presidential nomination, there has already been a pretty significant impact:
Over the course of this historic, thrilling, aggressive primary election, we've seen more female pundits than ever before writing and speaking about presidential politics. We've experienced unprecedented interest from male politicos in women's participation in the electoral process. And demands for women's leadership have been given their fairest hearing to date in the United States, with Democrats nationwide expecting Obama to give close consideration to female vice-presidential prospects -- not only because there are a few wildly successful and talented women who would be great at the job, but also as a gesture of good will toward the feminist energy that animated so many Clinton supporters.

Switzerland's Black Sheep Ad Campaign

Switzerland has finally rejected a series of ads that could only be defined as xenophobic. Photos of the ads and analysis by Joël Vacheron can be found on The Root, including this summary:

The latest ad campaign features black and brown hands grabbing at Swiss passports with the catch phrase "STOP." The SVP/UDC implies that obtaining citizenship is still too easy and permissive for certain ethnic groups. During the campaign, the SVP/UDC supporters claimed that discrimination was not a problem as long as Swiss citizens have the last say about naturalization. Sadly this rhetoric becomes a simple game on the party's Web site where one can play the goat, emblem of the SVP/UDC, and kick the maximum number of black sheep out of the borders to win.

Voters, however, had other ideas. Last Sunday, they rejected this initiative with 64 percent of the vote sending the message that they want the game to be over. Hopefully, this other slap in the face will show Blocher and his disciples that their foolish propaganda has reached its limit. The Swiss voters showed that they want to bring the shameful xenophobic climate to an end.
It seems that while America is known to have a race problem, Western Europe is far from perfect (anyone remember the Muhammad cartoons in the Netherlands?) when it comes to race. It's just that the race narrative in Western Europe isn't such an obvious one. While they don't have quite the same record with civil rights and slavery as in America, they still struggle with xenophobic tendencies when it comes to immigration. I guess it's a battle that's getting fought on both sides of the pond.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Sexual Harassment in Postville, IA

Lynda Waddington has a piece up today at RH Reality Check that points to the thing no one wants to talk about when it comes to immigration: The sexual harassment and abuse of undocumented workers by managers and peers.

Juanita, who came to this country from Petapa, Guatemala said she worked at the Postville plant on the chicken production line. She was assigned to work graveyard shift and, although she had asked for a promotion or shift change, she was refused.

"My supervisor, who was also from Guatemala, tried to force himself on me in the parking lot in my car after I had asked for a job change," she said. "When I pushed him off me I began to hear that I was not working hard enough or fast enough. I am a good worker. I did my job well. It was because I would not have sex with him that I was pushed so hard. He told me that I could always change my mind and that, if I did, he would put in a good word for me."

To me this is yet another reason to make a comprehensive reform on immigration. As it is now, women who come to the States to work because they feel they cannot hope to make a living in their home countries face severe sexual harassment and abuse.

To me that was the most horrifying part of watching Fast Food Nation: the horrible work conditions that the undocumented employees are subjected to, especially the sexual harassment by those in management positions (usually men). Even when it is consensual, it's often coercive. Managers understand they can get sex in exchange for better work hours or different kinds of work. But these women are unable to seek legal recourse against the offenders because in the eyes of the law, they're criminals.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Monday Sea Turtle Blogging

Chronicle's blog has a link to the Great Sea Turtle race, a two week tracking of leatherback sea turtles as they migrate from two starting locations, the pacific southwest and California, to the final destination of the international dateline. They all have adorable illustrations and histories. I signed up to be watching Jingjing, the turtle sponsored by the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The whole thing is designed to bring attention to global warming and how it affects sea turtles (the following information is adapted from the Great Turtle Race website.
  1. As sea levels rise, nesting beaches disappear.
  2. There will be no more male sea turtles. Since sea turtle gender is determined by temperature and not genetics, sea turtles born in warm weather are females. Now, most of the sea turtles hatched at Playa Grande in Costa Rica are female, meaning eventually sea turtles will become extinct.
  3. As coral dies, sea turtles lose their means of gathering food. Food supplies diminish, and the turtles starve.

Thoughts on Sex and the City

So I watched Sex and the City this weekend. By the way, I totally agree with Scott Lemieux here: women deserve crappy overbudgeted movies too. And actually I really enjoyed it, and thought it was funny and some story lines were pretty real (especially Miranda's). Also CP has a review of the movie up today. But as usual, I have some thoughts.

First off Jennifer Hudson's character "Louise from St. Louis" was both interesting and problematic -- she fulfilled a much-needed diversity quota on the show, but she definitely came of as flat and underdeveloped as a character. I'm going to outsource my analysis on her character to The Root's piece on the BBF:

In August 2007, Greg Braxton of the Los Angeles Times first coined the term BBF -- black best friend -- in the article "Buddy system; They're wise, loyal and often sassy. Black Best Friends help white heroines, but do they limit black actresses?" One unnamed source joked that celluloid BBFs should form a support group to save "woefully helpless white girls."

Here are the specs on the BBF: "They are gorgeous, independent, loyal and successful. They live or work with their friend but are not really around all that much except for well-timed moments when the heroine needs a dining companion or is in crisis. BBFs basically have very little going on, so they are largely available for such moments. And even though they are single or lack solid consistent relationships, BBFs are experts in the ways of the world, using that knowledge to comfort, warn or scold their BFF."

Of [Jennifer] Hudson's "bossy" Louise, one article said the character had "an uncanny ability to help her boss get her life back in order."

Spoilers ahead: For me another problematic part of the movie (and there are so many) was Carrie's relationship with Mr. Big (full disclosure: I pretty much hate Mr. Big; I find him ugly, boring, and generally crappy as a character). Watching the two characters continually break up and get back together was something akin to watching an emotionally abusive relationship, fundamentally because the way the two characters are written they are emotionally incompatible.

Take the wedding: Carrie begins with a small wedding, but since she's a fashionista, the wedding quickly becomes about designers and it-list guests. Big refuses her, it seems based on the fact that he cannot suffer through an overly expensive party. There's even one point where Carrie blames Miranda for Big's decision to leave Carrie at the alter. As if Miranda had given her 10 years of emotionally distant non-commitment, not Big.

In the end Carrie goes back to him and they end up doing the wedding his way: in a courthouse. In one episode Carrie wonders if she's a masochist because of her emotional back-and-forth with Big. He has all the emotional power, and Carrie can never seem to cut ties altogether. If Carrie were a real person (and I know that this is a stretch) it would be hard to watch her go back to someone who kept her at an emotional distance when that is clearly not what she needs. It's hard to watch a character go through the same problem over and over again, then somehow be expected to be happy they end up together. This is one case where a Hollywood ending really wasn't appropriate.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...