aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Friday, May 02, 2008
Jobs is up to something, something big.
So says Robert X. Cringely. He says Apple was quietly shopping around their pro-apps (Aperture, Final Cut Pro, Logic, and Shake) at NAB in Las Vegas and suggests he has figured out what Jobs is up to:
To my knowledge we haven’t yet seen Apple include that H.264 video encoder/decoder chip that I have written Apple is committed to using across its entire Mac/iPod/iPhone line. Could they be inside the new iMacs that were just quietly launched? That would be interesting.
It seems obvious to me, however, that there is only one real reason why Apple would sell off its professional applications and that’s to avoid antitrust problems when/if Apple buys Adobe Systems as I predicted at the beginning of the year. Final Cut Pro competes directly with Adobe Premiere. While in my opinion the Apple video software is clearly better, Jobs couldn’t be at NAB trying to sell Premiere—software he doesn’t yet own. Maybe there’s a planned bait-and-switch, seeing who is interested in Final Cut then trying to shift them to Premiere.
The major point here is that Adobe is in play, or at least Apple thinks so. The company has plenty of cash and stock to do the deal and plenty of incentive, too. Apple’s goal in acquiring Adobe would be to control first Flash and second Adobe’s emerging Air application platform. Adobe announced this week a broad industry initiative to extend Flash to mobile devices, but Apple wasn’t a participant. Why bother if you intend to shortly own Flash outright?
Owning Flash and merging it with QuickTime would give Apple near-total dominance of Internet video, furthering the advantages of iTunes and shoring up in the process the iPod franchise. They’d be giving up a sports car in Final Cut Pro, but end up effectively owning the road instead.
Thursday, May 01, 2008
4 Minutes live @ Roseland
More from last night…
First Gay Senate Candidate in Czech Republic
On April 19, gay rights activist Jiří Hromada was nominated by the Czech Republic’s Green Party as their candidate for the Senate, a nomination which has already sparked plenty of controversy, according to the Prague Post:
“Following reports of his nomination, news servers such as Novinky and Aktuálně.cz had to shut down online discussions because they were full of homophobic and vulgar comments. The right-wing extremist National Party immediately issued a press statement branding Hromada a ‘homosexual deviant.’ Despite years of hard work by many gay and lesbian activists, it seemed from such reactions that homophobic feelings are still a part of the national culture, and Hromada’s candidacy in the upcoming election could serve as a test of the public’s tolerance and open-mindedness.”
Hromada ended his “career” as a gay rights activist, according to the paper, in 2006, when the nation’s Gay Initiative rights group felt that it had completed all its goals (imagine that!).
As it happens, I was in the Czech Republic two years ago at this time with a study abroad program and the Czechs were indeed very proud of their accomplishment: registered partnerships for same sex couples after a 17 year struggle.
I was there to make a film with the students about their experiences in the country. They also kept a video blog. This was their first post:
Conservatives launch web campaign to retain gay military ban
An advocacy group in the United States has launched a Congressional petition against calls for the country’s military to allow openly gay people to serve. [...]
An online advocacy website, www.americansforthemilitary.com, was launched by the conservative Centre for Military Readiness and urges voters to sign a Congressional petition to continue the gay ban.
“It is outrageous that some in our country would answer the service and sacrifice of their fellow citizens by calling for them to be fired simply because of who they are,” said Jody M. Huckaby, executive director of Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) .
“PFLAG supports all of America’s military and their families, including LGBT service members. No amount of shrill fear-mongering will ever change the fact that our country is better because of their service.”
Madonna opens Candy Shop at Roseland in NYC
Alas, I wasn’t there. Towleroad was:
Last night Madonna delivered a six-song, 32-minute high-intensity performance at the Roseland Ballroom in midtown Manhattan, in front of an estimated crowd of 2,200. Many of those attending camped out before sunrise for a chance at the free tickets handed out that day. (The rest of the lucky attendees won entrance through Z100, Verizon, or Madonna’s online fan club.)
A few minutes after ten o’clock Madonna appeared onstage on a throne, blonde hair lightly curly and clad in black pants and top, to deafening screams from the audience. Those standing on main floor crushed forward to get closer to her Madgesty, and thus my already good spot turned into a position about twenty-feet from the Material Girl herself. [READ ON]
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Bush a liability to McCain
No news there. But look at the context:
According to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, Sen. Barack Obama’s ties to his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, could end up hurting his chances of winning the White House.
So could his earlier comment that small-town Americans are “bitter” and cling to guns and religion.
Question have also been raised over Sen. Hillary Clinton’s honesty and trustworthiness, as well as her husband’s possible return to the White House.
But a bigger problem appears to be John McCain’s ties to President Bush.
The NYTimes on Mr. Obama & Mr. Wright
It is an injustice, a legacy of the racist threads of this nation’s history, but prominent African-Americans are regularly called upon to explain or repudiate what other black Americans have to say, while white public figures are rarely, if ever, handed that burden.
Senator John McCain has continued to embrace a prominent white supporter, Pastor John Hagee, whose bigotry matches that of Mr. Wright. Mr. McCain has not tried hard enough to stop a race-baiting commercial — complete with video of Mr. Wright — that is being run against Mr. Obama in North Carolina.
If Mr. Obama is the Democratic presidential nominee, we fear that there will be many more such commercials. And Mr. Obama will have to repudiate Mr. Wright’s outbursts many more times.
This country needs a healthy and open discussion of race. Mr. Obama’s repudiation of Mr. Wright is part of that. His opponents also have a responsibility — to repudiate the race-baiting and make sure it stops.
It’s abundantly clear that if Barack Obama becomes president of these United States of America, he will have earned it.
Michael Moore on Larry King tonight
For the full hour. I’m going to be very interested to see what Moore will have to say about Jeremiah Wright. I’ve got lots to say… I’ve yet to say it… It’s along the lines of this…
We’ve moved from fighting for freedom and justice and liberty for all to some esoteric notion of “tolerance.” With tolerance comes the right to be intolerant of those who do not meet our standard of tolerance. Wright’s “anger” puts him into that category so we can all tut-tut at him all we want.
The Right can have at him no matter what. No one on the left can defend him—he’s thrown Obama under the bus after all—and he’s ruined Obama tactically. None of has to engage the issues he raises. He’s been declared “beyond the pale.”
I don’t think so. He doesn’t reflect my views. I don’t support them. But I believe in freedom and justice for all. He’s not outside the range of rational discourse any more than Falwell or Dobson or any of those he mirrors on the Right. And he is only Obama’s former pastor!!! I think Moore will say something I’ll be quoting tonight…
Colbert on Florida’s Christian license plates
Says Stephen, “They’ll look great with your Shroud of Turin mud flaps.”
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Australia to Remove Almost 100 Anti-Gay Laws
Australia will remove almost 100 discriminatory laws preventing gay couples from sharing financial and social entitlements enjoyed by married and defacto couples, such as superannuation and pension death benefits.
But the legislative overhaul, to occur when the Labor government sits for its first budget session in May, will not change marriage laws to include gay marriages.
“The government believes that marriage is between a man and a woman so it won’t amend the marriage act,” Attorney-General Robert McClelland said on Wednesday in announcing the changes.
“But in all other areas that we’ve identified, the issue of discrimination against same-sex couples will be removed,” McClelland told reporters.
Madonna’s 11th released today
You know, I waited tables with her sister back in the day. And once she asked me to put something of hers on the sound system. I put on the 12” of Burning Up, my own copy. She mouthed the words and danced in the booth.
Ahh, those were the days.
“Hard Candy” sculpts and buffs the renovated nymphet of “Confessions” to a brilliant sheen. It’s like one of those Yoko Ono sculptures made of a bronzed version of one of her old sculptures. If the songs seem straightforward and simple, with titles like “Dance 2 Nite,” “Beat Goes On” and “Give It 2 Me,” it’s because they are. Only a few bother with a metaphor, like “Candy Shop,” or tell a story, like “She’s Not Me.” Thematically, they are in exactly the mode of manufactured disco performers of the late ‘70s like (you might not recognize so many of these names [uh, I do]) France Joli, Rosebud, Taka Boom or Musique. In other words, she’s mining her original source material—the same songs that informed and shaped the Madonna of “Burning Up” and “Physical Attraction.” Could be blah, but Williams, Timberlake and especially Timbaland seize on these disco clichés and make them sound remarkably fresh.
For “Heartbeat,” Williams swipes the beat from Timbaland and Nelly Furtado’s “Promiscuous,” and adds retro-sounding Donna Summer/Giorgio Moroder synthesizers, and the occasional cowbell. Over a surprisingly poignant melody, Madonna defends her ongoing, almost visceral commitment to club life: “It may feel old to you/ But it feels new to me,” she tells us. “When I dance I feel free/ Which makes me feel like the only one/ That the light shines on.” Sounds as honest as she’ll ever get. The production’s delightfully plastic, as some of her surgery might be also, but Madonna doesn’t stretch credibility by trying to sound younger. Aside from using the term “pimp your style,” she doesn’t jam any rap slang or teen-speak into these songs, nor does she try to fill them with media-ready catchphrases like two of her collaborators did on the way overquoted “Sexyback.”
The honesty is important: Madonna has managed to throw parenthood into the mix without losing too much of her edge, or seeming like a bad mother. If the idea of a 50-year-old woman inviting you to try her “raw, sticky and sweet” confections, as she does on “Candy Shop,” sounds off-putting, first check your ageism and sexism, then recognize that the song can work in terms of parenting too—especially, I’d imagine, the adoptive kind. If you came from poverty in Malawi, and Madonna made you her kid, you’d certainly find her candy-shop lifestyle irresistible. This tightrope M walks between sex, nurturing and aging on “Hard Candy” is more than most rock-star parents, let alone middle-aged ones, could manage gracefully. (Hey, Britney!)
Short on philosophy and long on groove, “Hard Candy” might be the friendliest Madonna record since her debut, not including “The Immaculate Collection.” The songs about sex and dancing simply invite you to dance and have sex, no dysfunction necessary—more important, they make you feel like you might actually want to do one or the other, maybe both. The love songs find Madonna in a position of resolute sorrow—jilted on “She’s Not Me,” the victim of multitasking on “Miles Away”—that’s all the more convincing because of its ironic understatement. “Uncomfortable silence can be so loud,” she observes. You may even learn a few phrases in a foreign language from the moderately goofy “Spanish Lesson.”
A Catered Affair gaily splits Broadway
Friends don’t want to go. The reviews have been tepid. And Harvey’s musical has stirred a debate about the history of gay people in America:
The critics (the same ones who loved Mr Fierstein’s Fiddler) pounced on A Catered Affair for numerous reasons, especially complaining about verisimilitude. The Village Voice claimed that Mr. Fierstein “makes the uncle openly gay to a degree that Chayefsky certainly wouldn’t have contemplated”. Focusing on a scene in which Mr. Fierstein’s character drunkenly insults a society lady (played with splendid Margaret Dumont-like aplomb by Lori Wilner), Newsday called him a “jarring ... anachronism”, adding that the “character feels too flip for the era”. The New Yorker described the character as “surprisingly uninhibited for the Bronx in 1953”. New York gossip columnist Michael Musto, who delights in outing closeted celebrities, expressed doubt about whether “such a gay [would] exist in the Bronx in the ‘50s”.
That such questions are even discussed may be part of the canny Mr Fierstein’s self-appointed role as agent provocateur in the guise of entertainer, which has included incarnating Mrs Santa Claus in the starchy, all-American Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Of course, there were out gay men in 1950s America, like Harry Hay, born in Worthing, Sussex, who founded the Mattachine Society and the Radical Faeries movement. To prod so many spectators of his new play into merely discussing the topic may be Mr Fierstein’s ultimate goal and achievement.
Monday, April 28, 2008
I have a post up at The Moderate Voice titled The Church of Atheism on the inclination of some atheists to ape religion. Check it out.
On a related note, one of my student workers (a biology major) pointed me to this fun video, Richard Dawkins - Beware the Believers:
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Wright last night
There’s been plenty of commentary on the Reverend Jeremiah Wright but if there’s been as much reporting on the man, his church, and his work, I’ve missed it.
Bill Moyers was a good choice for Wright’s first broadcast interview with a journalist since the eruption over his incendiary statements and his relationship with Barack Obama. Moyers wears the liberal label proudly but he can also fairly claim that he brings on his program opposing viewpoints. He’s a journalist who truly believes his arguments are strengthened, not weakened, by a full airing of all sides of an issue.
Moyers is himself a man of deep faith. In 2006 Moyers presented the public television series Faith and Reason, a series of conversations with renowned writers exploring the question, “In a world in which religion is poison to some and salvation to others, how do we live together?” And his church in New York belongs to the same fellowship of the United Church of Christ as does Wright’s church in Chicago.
In the very same way that I was truly moved and lifted by Barak Obama’s speech on race in the aftermath of the uproar over his relationship with Wright, I was moved by Moyers’ interview with Wright. Even as I tell you that the first time I watched, after a long week at work, I fell asleep. Moyers does not have a particularly large audience. This interview will not get the audience it deserves. It will be excerpted and characterized and commented on and that will not do it justice. Just as I do not do it justice when I do that to it now. But neither can I let it pass into the ether.
So here is the Rev. Wright explaining embracing Christianity without giving up Africanity. His is not a race-based theology:
BILL MOYERS: So, when Trinity Church says it is unashamedly black and unapologetically Christian, is it embracing a race-based theology?
REVEREND WRIGHT: No, it is not. It is embracing Christianity without giving up Africanity. A lotta the missionaries were going to other countries assuming that our culture is superior, that you have no culture. And to be a Christian, you must be like us. Right now, you can go to Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, and see Christians in 140-degree weather. They have to have on a tie. Because that’s what it means to be a Christian. Well, it’s that kind of assuming that our culture, “We have the only sacred music. You must sing our music. You must use a pipe organ. You cannot use your instrument.” It’s that kind of assumption that in the field of missions, people say, “You know what? We’re doing this wrong. We need to take Christ and leave culture at home. We need to learn the culture of people into which we’re moving, and preach the methods of Jesus Christ using the culture that we are a part of.” Well, the same thing happened with Christians in this country when they said, “You know what? Because those same missionaries who went south, they didn’t let us sing gospel music.” That was not sacred--
BILL MOYERS: They were singin’ the great Anglican hymns.
REVEREND WRIGHT: Correct, correct. And make sure you use correct diction. Well, the-- Africans in the late-- African-Americans in the late ‘60s started saying, “You know, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.” Even-- I was in Virginia Union, I was soloist at Virginia Union in the college, in the concert choir. We were not allowed to sing anything but anthems and spirituals. The same thing with the Howard University concert choir. The same thing with all the historical black choirs until ‘68. When King got killed, black kids started saying wait a minute. We’re not givin’ up who we are as black people to become-- to show somebody else that we—in fact, the music majors at Howard when I was-- teaching assistant at La Vern they said to the choir director there, “We’re tired of singin’ German Lieder and Italian aria to prove to you that we-- you know, we can sing foreign songs. But we have our own music tradition.” Prior to ‘68, there was no gospel music at Howard University. Prior to ‘68, there was no jazz major. The white universities are giving Count Basie and Duke Ellington degrees. We don’t even the jazz course. We don’t have blues. We don’t have any of our music on this black college campus. Because the missionaries had not allowed us to teach our own music.
Friday, April 25, 2008
It is time for us to take back our profession!
The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study a couple weeks ago claiming that doctors often put their name on studies published in medical journals when those studies were actually written by pharmaceutical companies. JAMA’s editor-in-chief Dr. Catherine DeAngelis published what steps medical journals should take to prevent this practice.
She was interviewed for On The Media last week. A key point:
BOB GARFIELD: What do you suppose the chances are that your recommendations will be embraced?
DR. CATHERINE D. DEANGELIS: I don’t know. All I know is that if we don’t do something, patients are going to continue to get harmed. We are all going to continue to be manipulated. It is time for us to take back our profession.
We gave it away, or we allowed it to be taken from us. Now let’s take it back. None of this stuff could happen if we didn’t cooperate. It’s as simple as that.
I’m struck by how true that statement is. And it’s true not just about the pharmaceutical industry, but media, and food, and law, and politics, and government. It’s our world. Let’s take it back and make it our own.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Paul Broun: No boobs on base
That headline is shamelessly lifted from the brilliant Radley Balko:
What’s maddening about it is the legal reasoning.
Broun said he wants to bring the Defense Department into compliance with the intent of the 1997 law “so that taxpayers will not be footing the costs of distributing pornography.” [...]
Exchange officials noted that tax dollars are not used to procure magazines in the system’s largely self-funded operations. [...]
But Broun’s spokesman John Kennedy contended that taxpayer dollars are involved - “used to pay military salaries, so taxpayer money is, in effect, being used to buy these materials,” he said.
Balko notes that line of argument would open up all sorts of other possibilities. It is absolutely amazing that conservatives can find legal rationale for nanny state intrusiveness whenever they’re in the mood.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
No truth in “Day of Truth”
The religious right legal group Alliance Defense Fund started an anti-gay “Day of Truth” in response to the pro-gay “Day of Silence.” The “Day of Truth” is little more than an excuse to push ex-gay misinformation on queer youth in public schools which prompted me to make a video examining and mocking ideas promoted by the “Day of Truth.”
Via Pam’s House Blend.
Clinton wins, asks for $$$… why not put up her own?
Clinton won PA, as expected, so her bionic quest continues.
The headline over Patrick Healy in the NYTimes reads, With Clear Victory, She Has Rationale To Fight On.
This text suggests she needs more than a rationale:
Mrs. Clinton faces major challenges: her campaign is essentially out of money, with unpaid bills piling up, and she faces growing frustration among some Democratic officials who would prefer her to end her campaign in recognition of Mr. Obama’s lead in the overall popular vote of the primaries and caucuses so far, as well as his continuing edge toward amassing the 2,025 delegates needed to secure the nomination. And Tuesday’s night’s results likely did little to cut into his edge on that front.
Mrs. Clinton’s campaign spent Tuesday planning a fresh fundraising drive to trying to capitalize on her performance in Pennsylvania, while other aides mapped out political strategy and staff movement to Indiana and North Carolina. [...]
The Pennsylvania Democrats who cast their ballots in Tuesday’s primary did so with the economy weighing heavily on their minds, according to surveys of voters leaving polling places. Those surveys showed that more than half the voters questioned believe that the worsening state of the American economy is the most important issue confronting the country, with about 90 percent saying the United States has already slipped into a recession.
So with 90% of voters saying we’re in a recession, the millionaire candidate is pleading with them to give her money to stay in a race in which it is a virtual mathematical certainty she cannot win.
If Hillary Clinton is so convinced she can win, but she desperately needs money, can’t she and her husband just write her campaign a check for, say, $20 million? $109 million - $20 million still leaves $89 million, no? ... Then she’d be on solid ground asking others to sacrifice for her candidacy as well.
BTW… we got robo calls yesterday from both Barack and Michelle Obama here in rural Georgia yesterday asking us to get out friends in PA to vote. I’ve not lived in PA for 35 years! We’re guessing maybe my nephew, who moved down in August, but he never gave out our land-line phone number. We’re baffled.
RELATED: The NYTimes in an editorial today, The Low Road, “It is past time for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to acknowledge that the negativity, for which she is mostly responsible, does nothing but harm to her, her opponent, her party and the 2008 election.”
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Toobin on Thomas on Hill
In his book, My Grandfather’s Son, Clarence Thomas weighs in on his former accuser, Anita Hill, saying “my worst fears had come to pass not in Georgia, but in Washington, D.C., where I was being pursued not by bigots in white robes but by left-wing zealots draped in flowing sanctimony.”
Throughout much of the book, especially the first half, Thomas paints an unsparing portrait of the way he conducted his personal life. Well into adulthood, he was incapable of managing his financial affairs. In one excruciating scene, which takes place when he was the director of the E.E.O.C., he stands at a rent-a-car counter at Logan Airport, in Boston, while the clerk, after running a check on Thomas’s credit card, is directed to cut it into pieces on the spot. Nor does Thomas make many claims for himself as a husband to his first wife, whom he met at Holy Cross and had separated from before he started at the Department of Education. Most notably, Thomas portrays himself as something close to an alcoholic. From the Ripple wine he drank in his youth to the Scotch and Drambuie he abused as an adult, Thomas frankly admits to using alcohol to deaden the pain and anger that dominated his life. (He writes that he stopped drinking cold turkey during his tenure at the E.E.O.C.) In a brief aside, he admits to discussing pornography while he was a law student.
This candor is in striking contrast to his discussion of Anita Hill. Thomas’s portrait of the woman he calls his “most traitorous adversary” is venomous and implausible. When she became a public figure, Hill was widely portrayed as demure, God-fearing, and politically moderate. According to Thomas, she was none of those things. In his initial interview of her, at the Department of Education, in 1981, he claims, Hill said that she “detested” Ronald Reagan, but Thomas hired her anyway, as a favor to a friend. She followed Thomas to the E.E.O.C., and left in 1983. It was during this period, she later alleged, that Thomas made his unwelcome remarks to her. ("Who has put pubic hair on my Coke?” and the like.) Thomas denies these claims, and dismisses the extensive corroborating evidence for them-including the fact that three friends of Hill’s recalled her complaints about him at the time, and that another subordinate of Thomas’s at the E.E.O.C. described similar behavior. But it’s worth noting that many of the incidents took place at a time when Thomas was, by his own admission, drinking heavily, single and dating, and generally in despair about his personal life. By the time Thomas met his second wife, Virginia, in 1986, with whom he has clearly been very happy, Hill had left the agency to teach law at Oral Roberts University (an unlikely destination for someone who was, as Thomas has it, a godless, partisan Democrat). Even on the evidence presented in his own book, Thomas engages in characteristic overstatement when he writes of Hill’s accusations, “I was one of the least likely candidates imaginable for such a charge.”
Thomas’ choice as UGA grad speaker riles faculty
The Georgia native will be the graduation speaker up the road at UGA. Some faculty are not pleased:
Some faculty members said they were outraged that the university would ask Thomas to speak when UGA has been facing criticism that administrators have been slow to address sexual harassment complaints filed against faculty members.
“What a slap in the face this is to everyone who has been working to bring to light the realities of sexual harassment, and to establish appropriate methods and offices for addressing this significant problem on our campus,” Chris Cuomo, director of UGA’s Institute for Women’s Studies, told The Red & Black student newspaper.
UGA spokesman Tom Jackson said Thomas has a close relationship with the UGA School of Law and has visited campus several times to give lectures.
“We’re honored to have an associate justice of the Supreme Court bringing our commencement address,” Jackson said.
Via Think Progress.
A whole lot of love for the Fag Bug!
Anyone remember Erin Davies? She’s the Albany woman whose Volkswagen Beetle was defaced with “fag” and “u r gay,” and instead of fixing her car - she decided to take action. She kept the slurs on the car as a way to start conversations and to raise awareness about queer issues and homophobia.
Davies says, “Fag Bug has become much more than when it started. And to be able to transform it into something positive, rather than have people look at my car and be upset and hurt, I’d rather they look and see how bright the colors are, see something fun and playful instead of something hurtful.” Davies is also has a book and movie in the works. Awesome!
What to think of the guy? I always liked him though I didn’t really tune in. For example, I didn’t even know the details of the Pound Cake speech.
I do after reading Ta-Nehisi Coates’ terrific profile in the May Atlantic:
Cosby’s rhetoric played well in black barbershops, churches, and backyard barbecues, where a unique brand of conservatism still runs strong. Outsiders may have heard haranguing in Cosby’s language and tone. But much of black America heard instead the possibility of changing their communities without having to wait on the consciences and attention spans of policy makers who might not have their interests at heart. Shortly after Cosby took his Pound Cake message on the road, I wrote an article denouncing him as an elitist. When my father, a former Black Panther, read it, he upbraided me for attacking what he saw as a message of black empowerment. Cosby’s argument has resonated with the black mainstream for just that reason.
The piece goes on to parse the Black conservative political and intellectual tradition in America.
Cosby’s an important figure; I find him far more complex and interesting than he’s often been portrayed by those of us on the left.
I’ll be interested to watch discussion of the article.
RELATED: Romenesko points to Philly Mag Daily Examiner’s Stephanie Twining quoting Coates that his Atlantic piece only briefly mentions sexual assault allegations:
“Yes, I’m sorry about that. I really am,” he says. “I think that is an extremely valid and fair criticism to make. I would certainly cop to that, because I think that’s a significant issue that has not received much media play. And if you want to say, ‘Well, Ta-Nehisi, you just had 7,000 words and you gave it about 40?’ Yeah, that’s probably problematic.”
How to improve black college grad rates? Try harder!
The Chronicle on a report by Education Sector, a Washington-based research group, that finds colleges already know how to close gaps in the graduation rates of black and white students. The problem is too few have been willing to take the steps needed to do it:
“While more research in this area is certainly needed, the biggest challenge in better serving minority college students is not creating new knowledge about how to help them; it is creating new incentives for institutional leaders to act on the knowledge that already exists,” says the report, written by Kevin Carey, Education Sector’s research and policy manager.
“If there is a single factor that seems to distinguish colleges and universities that have truly made a difference on behalf of minority students, it is attention,” the report says. “Successful colleges pay attention to graduation rates. They monitor year-to-year change, study the impact of different interventions on student outcomes, break down the numbers among different student populations, and continuously ask themselves how they could improve.”
Two of the models it cites are in the south. Florida State University and the University of Alabama, both of which now actually graduate a slightly larger share of their black students than their white students within six years:
In the case of Florida State, the report credits much of the university’s success to its decision to have a single office, called the Center for Academic Retention and Enhancement, coordinate both its state and federally financed programs aimed at improving retention. In addition to being overseen by Florida State’s vice president for student affairs, the center also reports to the university’s vice president for undergraduate educationâ€”a recognition, the report says, of the reality that improving student retention is fundamentally an academic undertaking. And, whereas many colleges focus their retention efforts on freshmen, Florida State’s center monitors students’ progress all the way to graduation.
The report says the University of Alabama has been able to greatly improve its retention of black students by setting up an early-alert program that closely monitors the progress of freshmen during their first six weeks and seeks to ensure that those who are academically struggling get help quickly. The university’s placement of freshmen in “learning communities,” where groups of about 25 students take courses together, helps students by giving them access to individualized instruction and encouraging them to give each other academic support, the report said.
Other strategies cited by the report as effective are “intrusive” counseling-an approach that calls for counselors to actively watch over students and not simply wait for them to ask for help-and providing state-financed scholarships to academically promising low-income students to prevent money worries from complicating their educational pursuits.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Michael Moore on Hillary Clinton then and now
Michael Moore on Hillary Clinton on the Today Show on January 6, 2005:
COURIC: What about Hillary Clinton, do you think she has a chance?
Mr.MOORE: What--she’s a star. Absolutely she has--absolutely she has a chance.
COURIC: Many people think she could not--even if she won the nomination could not win the election because she’s so polarizing.
Mr. MOORE: I don’t--well, talk about polarizing, how about George W. Bush? They don’t worry about--they never ask themselves that question. `Geez, I don’t know, should we run Bush again? He’s kind of polarizing. A lot of people don’t like him,’ you know? It’s like, you know, we--our side has got to knock that off. Hillary Clinton is beloved by millions of Americans. I’m not saying, you know, she should necessarily be the one. But, you know…
I guess the debate last week was the final straw. I’ve watched Senator Clinton and her husband play this game of appealing to the worst side of white people, but last Wednesday, when she hurled the name “Farrakhan” out of nowhere, well that’s when the silly season came to an early end for me. She said the “F” word to scare white people, pure and simple. Of course, Obama has no connection to Farrakhan. But, according to Senator Clinton, Obama’s pastor does—AND the “church bulletin” once included a Los Angeles Times op-ed from some guy with Hamas! No, not the church bulletin!
This sleazy attempt to smear Obama was brilliantly explained the following night by Stephen Colbert. He pointed out that if Obama is supported by Ted Kennedy, who is Catholic, and the Catholic Church is led by a Pope who was in the Hitler Youth, that can mean only one thing: OBAMA LOVES HITLER!
Yes, Senator Clinton, that’s how you sounded. Like you were nuts. Like you were a bigot stoking the fires of stupidity. How sad that I would ever have to write those words about you. You have devoted your life to good causes and good deeds. And now to throw it all away for an office you can’t win unless you smear the black man so much that the superdelegates cry “Uncle (Tom)” and give it all to you.
But that can’t happen. You cast your die when you voted to start this bloody war. When you did that you were like Moses who lost it for a moment and, because of that, was prohibited from entering the Promised Land.
How sad for a country that wanted to see the first woman elected to the White House. That day will come—but it won’t be you.
I quoted Moore in 2005 and held out for Hillary for a long time. I’d say it a little gentler but at this point I have to agree with Michael’s sadness.
Credit Card University
A number of families, for example, are dipping into their retirement savings to finance their children’s education. This story focuses on how expensive private schools are and cites empirical research that the prestige of an undergraduate degree does not impact a student’s future earnings. State universities look like bargains in this story, offering the same education for way less money. But we’re increasingly privatizing the costs of “public” universities. State universities, receiving ever less state funding, are increasingly turning their students over to financial-services companies, who are, of course, happy to oblige.
He goes on to tell of a Higher Education Watch report finding that aggregate funding for public colleges and universities fell by 7.8% and that a number of states have decreased their contributions by as much as 25%.
He critically catalogues the ways colleges and universities have gone about finding money to make up the shortfall and finds them “at least partially to blame.”
Yes, well, of course, they are. But someone’s got to pay now don’t they? And what we’ve got is no one willing!
So I was particularly gratified by Phil’s final sentence, which I will put in bold to give it the emphasis it deserves:
Nevertheless, colleges are put in an impossible situation--they need to keep their schools solvent and affordable, and the state is giving them ever less money. The real culprit, I think, are states residents who refuse to fund public education.