aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Saturday, December 31, 2005
Proper White Russians come to SC
Since 1973 South Carolina has been the only state in the nation to require minibottles be used in bars. The idea was to encourage temperance though critics said it resulted in stiffer, more expensive drinks because the 1.7-ounce minibottle packs a bigger punch than the 1.25-ounce shot typically poured in other states.
That will end come midnight:
[A] vote in 2004 and a law passed the next legislative session gives bars and restaurants the same choice every other establishment in the country has - to pour liquor out of big bottles. [...]
Liberty Tap Room in Columbia and a number of other bars also are having to train bartenders who with minibottles, simply had to twist the top and pour. Several are using a contraption that looks live several test tubes to teach bartenders how much an ounce feels like when pouring.
The biggest change from minibottles to free pour may come with mixed drinks. With minibottles, bartenders used nearly twice the alcohol, turning drinks like cosmopolitans into knee-wobblers and making it impossible to make a proper white Russian.
Why Americans attend church more than Europeans
I’ve just begun reading Is God An Accident? from the December Atlantic. From the first page:
[T]he religious divide between Americans and Europeans may be smaller than we think. The sociologists Rodney Stark, of Baylor University, and Roger Finke, of Pennsylvania State University, write that the big difference has to do with church attendance, which really is much lower in Europe. (Building on the work of the Chicago-based sociologist and priest Andrew Greeley, they argue that this is because the United States has a rigorously free religious market, in which churches actively vie for parishioners and constantly improve their product, whereas European churches are often under state control and, like many government monopolies, have become inefficient.) Most polls from European countries show that a majority of their people are believers. Consider Iceland. To judge by rates of churchgoing, Iceland is the most secular country on earth, with a pathetic two percent weekly attendance. But four out of five Icelanders say that they pray, and the same proportion believe in life after death.
More from the article later.
Trashy Wal-Mart in Athens
The Athens Banner-Herald has printed rejected letters “on the last day of the year for your entertainment.” Here’s one:
I couldn’t help noticing the other day that the trash cans outside the Wal-Mart bathroom are distinctly phallic in nature. I do not mean cylindrical or tubular, rather they are cylindrical and at the top have what appears to be a head - just like a penis.
How can this be an accident? What is next? Doors which resemble vaginas? Anus-shaped windows? I am disturbed by the sexualizing of American culture.
Please speak out against this rather than wasting your time writing about President Bush and his efforts, or lack thereof, to deal with Katrina. Frankly, virtually no one is listening to your lamentations concerning Katrina; it’s all happening 500 miles away. Take a stand on local issues.
I’m not entirely convinced this letter would have been rejected in my town.
Teach the controversy
John’s new strategy for spreading the word that “gay is ok.” Bring it to the classroom:
If the intelligent design debate is going on in your school district, then put forward a proposal that all the health classes, social studies classes, science classes, and any other class that even vaguely touches on marriage, human relationships, sex ed, or sexual reproduction in humans or animals teaches that the preponderance of scientific research says that being gay is genetic, normal and healthy, but that some people disagree.
Here are a few choice quotes from the wackos to use against them:
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ It is simply “healthy education,” he contends, to teach students about the controversy....
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ The Christian educators’ advocate insists that government has no business banning viewpoints in the classroom. He says Judge Jones “needs to heed Dover’s recommendation to be open minded” and to allow all the available science to speak for itself....
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ “If the educational community had held this position earlier in our culture, we might still be teaching students that the earth is flat or that the sun revolves around the Earth,” Laursen asserts. “But as new theories developed, the logical place to debate these things and discuss these things and study these things was and is in the educational community.”....
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ He considers the recent court decision banning the mention of intelligent design in the Dover schools to be a serious blow to academic freedom as well as a case where ”[y]et another activist judge has forced personal prejudices on the educational community.”
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Nevertheless, Laursen promises, CEAI will continue to encourage its members to ”teach all the science available in the 21st century, whether it supports evolution or not.” He says the group will also go on urging teachers to bring supplemental science data and information beyond the mandated curricula into their classrooms.
Friday, December 30, 2005
Prediction: “Little Red Book” liar will be named
On Saturday, Dec. 24, The Standard-Times reported that story—on Page One—under the headline, “Federal agents’ visit was a hoax.”
Again, we didn’t name the student, at the request of the university. We also worried about the student’s mental state and about the careers of professors Williams and Pontbriand, who were deeply embarrassed by the story and the wide play it got in the news media, on the Web and talk radio.
“I wasn’t involved in some partisan struggle to embarrass the Bush administration,” Dr. Williams said. “I just wanted the truth.”
Now I’m thinking it would be good and kind to allow the student his anonymity but because this has become too big a media event that’s not likely. Someone will dig up and publish the name.
Standard-Times editor Bob Unger writes about the “Little Red Book” hoax and reports the student who falsely claimed he was interrogated by homeland security agents after checking out Mao’s book sent this e-mail to reporter Aaron Nicodemus: “The fact is that my being panicked about this hole (sic) event led me to unfortunately prop up my story (i.e., fabricate it), for that I have to apologize to you and to my professors. I have spoken to my family about the whole issue and the fact is that they were understandibly (sic) angry. My name has been dishonored within my family and so I will spend the rest of the winter trying to restore even a little bit of it back, at least.”
Wales on journalism’s future
Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia founder and foundation head, in the UK Times Online today:
“In my vision of the future of the newspaper industry and of journalism in general, people who think that traditional media organisations are going to go away are just kidding themselves,” he says. “That doesn’t make any sense to me. On other hand, people who think that journalism can just stay the way it is are also just kidding themselves.
“What we will see is a set of hybrid models with an increasing amount of citizen participation in the gathering of news and in feedback and in reporting and analysing the news. And at the same time, we’ll have professional organisations managing the process - basically being the core framework.”
He drives a Hyundai:
The “outlaw” Jimmy Wales, it turns out, is a very reasonable revolutionary. A finance graduate, he ended a six-year spell as a futures trader in Chicago in 2000. According to one report, he earned enough money in the commodities markets to “support himself and his wife for the rest of their lives”.
Mr Wales says that is true - but only because he “lives in a normal house and drives a Hyundai”.
Mine is about to turn over 100,000 miles and has only ever needed one tune-up and a thermostat…
Ads on Wikipedia?
I’d have no problem with ads on Wikipedia, it’s the ad policy I’d be interested in:
Jimmy Wales told Times Online that despite widespread “resistance to the idea” of advertising on Wikipedia, “at some point questions are going to be raised over the amount of money we are turning down.”
Wikipedia would be in a prime position to exploit the current boom in online advertising. It expects to record around 2.5 billion page impressions this month and traffic volumes are doubling every four months. According to figures released this month by Nielsen/Netratings, it was the ninth-fastest growing site on the web in 2005.
However, “wikitopeans” - the members of the public who create Wikipedia’s articles on a voluntary, unpaid basis - are likely to oppose any suggestion of commercialisation of the site.
UPDATE from the BoingBoing update noting a Wales clarification:
I personally remain opposed to having ads in Wikipedia. It’s just that a serious NPOV discussion of the matter necessarily would involve us being really serious about what we are turning down and why. This is exactly what I’ve been saying for years. If you know why the press likes to run inflammatory headlines every few days, well, please let me know. I find it all a bit baffling to be honest.
A statement from me “I am personally opposed to having ads in Wikipedia” somehow becomes “Wikipedia chief considers taking ads”.
Krugman today AND an argument FOR TimesSelect
I’ve noted that when I quote a TimesSelect columnist, I get a little traffic spike from those searching for the column for free. I have therefore included my argument in favor of subscribing to TimesSelect in this post. If you’re here for Krugman, I hope you’ll stay and read why he’s worth $4.16 a month.
A year ago, we didn’t know for sure that almost all the politicians and pundits who thundered, during the Lewinsky affair, that even the president isn’t above the law have changed their minds. But now we know when it comes to presidents who break the law, it’s O.K. if you’re a Republican.
Kos on the Times v Wall Street Journal influencing public opinion:
The Wall Street Journal is not stupid. They’re smart. They’ve put their news content behind a pay wall and have done quite well revenue-wise for their troubles. BUT, they also want to influence public opinion. And being a key component of the Right Wing Noise Machine, the WSJ editorial board has made sure their opinion material is accessible to everyone. [...]
The New York Times, on the other hand, is the textbook definition of stupid. They take the one part of the paper that is a commodity—the opinion—and try to charge for that.
Is it really stupid to try to charge for your commodity? What else do you charge for?
As a citizen rather than as a partisan, I think hard news is more important than opinion. I want opinion based on hard news. Keeping the news pages open is more important. I applaud the Times for that.
As a left-leaning partisan, I note how the left abandons the columnists they profess to admire over a measly $4.16 a month. It seems a reasonable price point to me to help keep a valuable media asset afloat.
TimesSelect may well fail and I’d prefer an advertiser model (though I note that bloggers object to that too) but I sure don’t blame them for trying. I quote again from Business Week’s important story on the challenges facing the Times:
THE CONSTANCY OF THEIR COMMITMENT to high-cost journalism has put the Sulzbergers in an increasingly contrarian position. Many of the country’s surviving big-city dailies once were owned by similarly high-minded dynastic families that long ago surrendered control to big public corporations that prize earnings per share above all else. Editorial budgets at most newspapers, as well as TV and radio stations, have been squeezed so hard for so long that asphyxiation is a mounting risk. The proliferation of Web sites and cable-TV stations has produced an abundance of commentary and analysis, but the kind of thorough, original reporting in which the Times specializes is, if anything, increasingly scarce.
In effect, the Sulzbergers have subsidized the Times in valuing good journalism and the prestige it confers over profits and the wealth it creates.
We say we want that in our media institutions, but we flat-out want it for free. Sounds like the left has an issue with money to me.
I’m as big a fan of citizen produced media as the next guy, but I’ve got just as much praise for the MSM. It’s a wonderfully synergistic ecosphere we’ve got these days, and I’m on the side of those who’d like to see what newspapers like the Times do continued.
Thursday, December 29, 2005
Dover may be over, but the problem’s not
My reaction to the Dover decision is an increasingly firm belief that we should teach religion in the public schools.
Now I’m as happy as anyone that the George W. Bush appointed Republican Judge John Jones wrote the opinion he did, but it doesn’t solve our problem. Just a little over a month ago we were all told that half of those surveyed believe the president was right to suggest that Intelligent Design be taught alongside evolution in the public schools.
Nothing I’ve read - and I’ve read a good amount - suggests that any of those people have changed their mind. So what do we do about that? Call them names and gloat about winning? That’s not victory to me.
When I told my friends in New York of my reaction they were aghast. The first group trotted out the old war-horse argument that religion is the root of all evil, the cause of all wars and of all our current problems.
I quoted, as best I could, the philosopher Jonathan Glover from his book Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century:
[p. 405] Those of us who do not believe in a religious moral law should still be troubled by its fading. The evils of religious intolerance, religious persecution and religious wars are well known, but it is striking how many protests against and acts of resistance to atrocity have also come from principled religious commitment. (A handful of names: Bishop George Bell, Elizabeth Anscombe, Bishop von Galen, Pastor Braune, Bernard Lichtenberg, AndrÃƒÂ© and Magda TrocmÃƒÂ© and the villagers of Le Chambon, and the bishop of Denmark in 1943.) The decline of this moral commitment would be a huge loss.
Now this notion that we should teach religion in the schools was slow to dawn on me. A British expatriate who teaches high school biology here said to me at a party last year that he believes our problem is the constitution.
It was obvious to him that all of this was a side effect of the lack of religious education in school. He says religion should be taught in school. All religion. World religion. Christian, Muslim, Hindu, you name it.
More recently on a Radio Open Source discussion of Intelligent Design in Dover and Kansas, Dorothy Rabinowitz of the Wall Street Journal said:
[41:15] A lot of this passion has much to do with the effort to drive all form of religious public observation out of American life. And it has a lot to do with the kinds of resentments that smolder when you throw out every Hanukkah bush and Christmas tree and every religious observation and the ACLU is permitted, is impelled to file law suits and save us from postage stamps that have the remotest resemblance to any religious… This too is salted down into the consciousness of religious people and it creates a kind of antipathy to the culture. Which I think you see the product of right here.
[Ken Miller, author of Finding Darwin’s God: A Scientist’s Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution and professor of Biology at Brown University 42:50] I think she’s hit it dead on. And I think she’s absolutely right. And the shame of all this is the shotgun that has been fired at educational standards in Kansas hasn’t just blown away evolution it’s blown away all of science by corrupting the very definition of science. And I think the point that I would make in all of this… I think Pat Robertson is distinguished in this debate by his piercing honesty. By his willingness to see this very, very clearly and I think he’s done a great service to Dover and the national debate by saying, look this really is about religion and there’s no question that it’s a backlash, a deep unease with scientific modernism. And I think the ultimate solution is to frame science and frame scientific education in ways that are not hostile to religion, and as you know I certainly believe that can be done, and also to create a climate where religious diversity is welcomed as much as a political racial and ethnic diversity in this country and I think we can do that.
My friends’ reaction: outright rejection. More on that later.
In the UK they see a grassroots revolution:
It is hard to pinpoint when things began to go wrong between the major record labels and the music-buying public. All anyone can say with any certainty is that the fun went out of the relationship a while ago. Maybe it was the record industry’s sour-faced approach to illegal file-sharing and downloading. Or perhaps it was the deadening routine of Pop Idolatry and over-hype. Either way, it was hardly surprising when the fans began to seek excitement elsewhere.
This has been the year fans have increasingly taken music into their own hands, rejecting the over-processed diet served up by many major labels in favour of something a little more homemade. In the process they have notched up numerous high-profile successes, including Arctic Monkeys, Arcade Fire, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Spinto Band and Nizlopi.
Enabled largely by the internet, bands have been able to record and promote their own music, and fans to revel in it and pass it on - without the aid of major label backing, stylist and towering billboard advertisements. Furthermore, fans are finding it ever easier to interact directly with their favourite bands, rather than seek nourishment from the insubstantial publicist- approved quotes given in interviews. The result, of course, is that the charts in 2005 have become imbued with a rather joyous and friendly anarchy.
I only hope American bands and their fans are not far behind.
Via Monkey Bites.
Brokeback Box Office
I think it’s a straight movie for a straight audience that just happens to be wonderfully empathetic to gay people, but that doesn’t make me sure it will be a box office success. The jury is still out, even as all indicators are good:
The Ang Lee film, which follows the 20-year forbidden romance between two roughneck ranch hands, earned $13,599 per theater, compared with $9,305 for weekend winner “King Kong” and $8,225 for “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.”
The big question is whether “Brokeback” can maintain its momentum as it moves from selected cities, where audiences are receptive to the subject matter, to suburbs far and wide, where that might not be the case.
Early numbers _ and early awards buzz _ establish the picture’s staying power, industry insiders say. “Brokeback” earned a leading seven Golden Globe nominations.
“It delivered very strong growth in what is truly a highly unforgiving, competitive, cruel market at this Christmas period,” said Jack Foley, president of theatrical distribution for Focus Features. “It showed it has breadth beyond the gay community.”
Will it make it to Macon?
[B]ringing a homosexual love story to the Bible Belt presents its own set of challenges. Various Christian groups voiced opposition to the film before its release.
Ted Baehr, who reviews films for the Christian Film & Television Commission, called the film “abhorrent” and “twisted, laughable, frustrating and boring neo-Marxist homosexual propaganda” in a review on the Commission’s MovieGuide Web site.
A dinosaur dies
A runaway still in Hbg, PA in 1973, I went to a psychiatry clinic and cried, “I’m a homosexual, please fix me.” The psychiatrist answered, “Why do you think you need fixing?”
Dumb luck Good fortune had me sitting with a founder of New York City’s Identity House, an organization set up in 1971 to find therapists who knew even then that homosexuality was a normal, healthy human expression, not a “neurotic adaptation.”
A well-known psychiatrist who championed the latter view in a half-dozen books and as a frequent guest on news and talks shows died this week.
His name was Charles Socarides, and his main contribution to the psychoanalytic literature was to assert that fathers induced homosexuality in their own sons in the first months of a baby’s life. His own son, Richard, of course, turned out to be gay - not only gay, but the Clinton administration’s liaison to the gay community. His father’s views long predate his own son’s emotional development, so the irony is exquisite, if not at all unique. (The number of passionate anti-gay activists with gay offspring - from Phyllis Shlafly to Alan Keyes - is almost surreally long.) [...] All but fringe psychiatrists and psychologists disown Socarides’ theories today - but they have political salience because of the Christian right’s control of the Republican party. In fact, it’s important to note that Socarides’ work, among other psychoanalysts, is the intellectual basis of the “Christian” “ex-gay” movement - one of those rare moments when Christians have had to rely on the atheism of Freud. By all intellectual means necessary, I guess.
Socarides, author of “Homosexuality: A Freedom Too Far,” was free to marry four times (and divorce three). In my recent post, Yeah, that’ll help, James Dobson quotes an acolyte on how to keep your son from becoming a homosexual:
Meanwhile, the boy’s father has to do his part. He needs to mirror and affirm his son’s maleness. He can play rough-and-tumble games with his son, in ways that are decidedly different from the games he would play with a little girl. He can help his son learn to throw and catch a ball. He can teach him to pound a square wooden peg into a square hole in a pegboard. He can even take his son with him into the shower, where the boy cannot help but notice that Dad has a penis, just like his, only bigger.
RELATED: Psychotherapy on the road to… where?
Erroneous media reports, DeLay edition
No high court appeal:
Media reports that U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay had convinced the state’s highest court to hear his appeal were as widely circulated as they were, well, wrong.
Justices for the Texas Court Criminal Appeals agreed merely to consider hearing DeLay’s money laundering case. They never said they would accept the case, said Edward Marty, the court’s general counsel.
The erroneous media reports, which the San Antonio Express-News published in a wire story and displayed online, come from DeLay’s spokesman, Kevin Madden, in an e-mail sent to reporters Tuesday evening, after courts had closed for the night.
Ney and Abramoff, whom DeLay once described as “one of my closest and dearest friends,” crossed paths as early as 1996. That year Ney took a trip to Montenegro sponsored by a foundation that had links to Abramoff, who was a lobbyist for Montenegro.
DeLay, a Christian conservative, did not quite know what to make of Abramoff, who wore a beard and a yarmulke. They forged political ties, but the two men never became personally close, according to associates of both men.
The latter via Atrios, “What are even to make of this construction? It would be unthinkable that the good and honorable and wonderful conservative Christian DeLay could be friends with big Jewy Jew Abramoff?
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Reverse Robin Hood
Cut taxes for the rich. Cut programs for the poor. From the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:
Sometime early next year, the House of Representatives is expected to vote on the budget reconciliation legislation that the Senate passed on December 21 and the House passed in a slightly different version on December 19. That legislation would make significant cuts in a number of programs serving low- and moderate-income families and individuals, including Medicaid, child support enforcement, and student loans.
Supporters of the legislation defend the cuts as “tough choices” that need to be made because of large and growing budget deficits. These claims are undercut by the fact that, in the last six weeks, the House has passed four tax-cut bills that together cost more than twice what the budget reconciliation bill saves. The claims are further undermined by Congress’s unwillingness to rethink any previously enacted tax cuts as part of its supposed reevaluation of priorities in light of deficits.
In particular, Congress has chosen to allow two tax cuts that exclusively benefit high-income households - primarily millionaires - to begin taking effect on January 1, 2006. By 2010, these tax cuts will eliminate two current provisions of the tax code that limit the value of the personal exemptions and itemized deductions that people at high income levels can take.
It’s not too late to change course:
Congress is expected to act early in 2006 on other tax measures that expired at the end of 2005, for instance extending relief from the Alternative Minimum Tax. Just as Congress can still enact these other tax changes in January or February and make them retroactive to January 1 without creating significant tax compliance and administration problems, it could still rescind the two tax cuts after the start of the new year. If Congress acts expeditiously, the change could be made well before tax forms have been generated and before significant estimated payments have been made.
Congress could use the funds saved by this step either to eliminate the low-income cuts in the reconciliation package or to reduce the deficit. Either approach would represent a distinct policy improvement.
Via Angry Bear.
The begining of the end in CA?
California anti-Gay Marriage group bows out:
SAN FRANCISCO (AP)—One of two groups competing to put a gay marriage ban before California voters in 2006 has bowed out of the fight for now, saying the timing and political climate are not right to get such a measure passed.
Tuesday was the deadline for ProtectMarriage.com to submit the signatures needed to qualify for the June primary ballot one of two overlapping initiatives that would outlaw same-sex marriage and restrict domestic partnership rights.
Andrew Pugno, the group’s legal adviser, said the signature drive had fallen about 200,000 voters short of the requirement for 591,105 signatures. [...]
Last summer, the California Legislature became the nation’s first elected state body to pass a bill legalizing gay marriage. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the law, but conservative activists warned that without amending the Constitution it was only a matter of time before either lawmakers or the courts sanctioned same-sex unions.
A rift among conservatives, however, led the two groups to promote dueling gay marriage bans while sniping publicly over which proposal was better. At the center of the split was disagreement over how far the anti-gay marriage camp should go in attempting to repeal the significant spousal rights domestic partners are granted in California.
UPDATE: Kevin Drum pops in from vacation to find an ambiguous lesson in the LATimes article reporting the CA same sex marriage foes’ faltering. He wonders if a slightly lower profile - while counting on demographic trends - is the way for gay marriage advocates to win.
Schwarzenegger’s lesbian chief of staff
I’d like to think a lesbian chief of staff a good thing…
Ms. Kennedy’s 25-year career in Democratic Party politics includes serving as deputy chief of staff and a cabinet secretary to Mr. Schwarzenegger’s predecessor, Gray Davis, who was ousted by Mr. Schwarzenegger in a stunning recall vote in 2003.
But Ms. Kennedy said she had decided to join the Schwarzenegger administration because she believed in the governor’s agenda. She said rebuilding the state’s infrastructure, including its pocked freeways and woefully inadequate public transportation system, without raising taxes ranked at the top of their shared priority list.
Though a lesbian who was, as she frequently describes it, “married” to her partner in a 1999 commitment ceremony on Maui, she supported the governor’s veto this year of a bill that would have allowed same-sex marriage in California. She cited the voters’ support for defining marriage as between a man and a woman in a statewide ballot measure several years ago and suggested that pushing the gay rights envelope too far could prompt a backlash.
...BUT I DON’T.
Rebuilding an infrastructure without taxes is something for nothing. A “married” lesbian who supports a veto of a same-sex marriage bill is rank hypocrisy.
Porn spam in decline?
Ads mentioning real estate tycoon Donald Trump and those hawking “Penis Patch” body enhancements were among the top 10 junk e-mails in 2005, according to America Online.
Noticeably absent? Porn.
“Porn is passe when it comes to spam,” Nicholas Graham, an AOL spokesman said.
Hmm. My site’s spam looks as pornographic as ever. I’ll watch for the debunking, and hope that it’s true in the meantime.
In other spam news, the FTC says spam email is leveling off and credits the federal spam law.
Richi Jennings doesn’t think so:
1. Spam levels are dropping? False.
The number of spam messages sent continue to rise. It’s possible that spam might be leveling off as a percentage of spam, but the number of legitimate messages is also rising. In other words, the number of spammy messages is still increasing.
2. But people are getting less spam, right? Irrelevant.
Yes, less spam is being delivered to people’s inboxes. But this is nothing to do with CAN-SPAM and the activities of the FTC. It’s all to do with better spam filters protecting more inboxes.
3. CAN-SPAM has caused spammers to stop spamming? Unproven.
Certain state laws appear to have made spammers think twice about spamming, but the federal CAN-SPAM Act hasn’t (yet). It’s simply too early to say—large, high-profile prosecutions take several years to come to a conclusion. Almost all the recent well-publicized punishments imposed on spammers—large fines and confiscations of property—came from prosecutions under state laws, such as those in Virgina.
It’s been three years in Europe. Just yesterday the first win was reported under their law allowing companies to be sued for sending unwanted e-mails.
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Santorum’s a weasel II
Last week congress dramatically cut programs aimed at low-income Americans. Senator Santorum framed it this way:
“What we’ve done here today is we’ve made some changes to those programs that make those programs better, more efficient and more targeted to the people in need,” Santorum said. “That is not cutting benefits to those who are entitled to entitlements; it is making those programs work better and in the context of more fiscal responsibility.”
Here’s an example of making a program “work better:”
[Center on Budget and Policy Priorities Director Bob] Greenstein says one of the most potentially damaging provisions would require those applying for Medicaid to present proof of citizenship—either a birth certificate or passport.
Many low-income Americans don’t have access to their birth certificates—or don’t have one at all.
For example, African Americans born in the south in the 1930s and ‘40s—as many as 20 percent, according to one study—don’t have birth certificates because hospitals wouldn’t accept black women in labor.
As a result, Greenstein says, ”We’re facing the prospect of significant numbers of elderly black Americans being thrown off of Medicaid because they can’t provide a birth certificate—because they weren’t born in a hospital due to discrimination.”
At the same time the senate did find $100 million a year for five years for Santorum’s initiative to promote marriage and encourage fatherhood.
Consensus prediction: Google’s goin’ down
Thomas Hawk has a roundup of geek predictions for 2006. He’s got them arranged by topic - Apple, Acquistions, Blogs… This is his Google section:
Jason Calacanis: Google’s stock will take it’s first significant hit (> 15% drop) at some point during the year, but not because of their earnings but rather some outside factor (think advertising slow down, terrorist attack in the US, tech bubble bursting, etc). Google’s stock will end the year basically flat (+/-10%) while their earnings soar.
Dan Tynan: As part of its ongoing agreement with NASA, Google will secure exclusive advertising rights to the moon, where it plans to run text ads on the lunar surface. To increase traffic, the search company will distribute free telescopes to every human on the planet.
David Kirkpatrick, Fortune Senior Editor: Yes, I love Google, but my first prediction is that a year from now we won’t think that the search company is the invincible behemoth that we do now.
Oliver Thylmann: The Google Bubble will Burst. Google is immensely overvalued and that valuation will need to come down.
HelloCompany: Google will buy Gannett and install its Click-to-call button beside every classified on the Gannett network.
Dave Winer: Google will make a deal with the Time-Warner movie companies, and start movies.google.com for on-demand distribution over the Internet.
Jason Calacanis: Google Adsense for Podcasts and/or Video will debut in Q2/Q3 of 2006--Yahoo and Microsoft will follow shortly after that.
John Battelle: Google will stumble, some might say badly, but it will be significant.
Jason Calacanis: After obsessing over Google for years while writing The Search, John Battelle sells his Federated Media network to the them.
John Battelle: Google and Yahoo will both enter the video (nee television) advertising marketplace.
Name the student!
I’ll have to think this through, but my gut reaction is they should name the perp:
Rogers Cadenhead notes that the New Bedford (Mass.) Standard-Times has yet to apologize for running the story about a student’s bogus claim that he was interrogated by homeland security agents after checking out Mao’s “Little Red Book.” Also, the paper hasn’t named the hoaxster. “At what point does a newspaper find sufficient cause to break a confidentiality agreement?” asks Cadenhead. “The 22-year-old student knowingly lied to the newspaper and harmed its reputation across the entire planet.”
We must know so Jimbo can revoke his Wikipedia account.
Who reads these books?
For nearly 15 years, she has been denounced, at various times, as a deeply subversive rogue feminist who equated marriage with slavery; an overreaching social engineer bent on nationalizing the American health care system; and a disturbingly acquiescent wife too willing to stick with a straying husband. Now, in the latest incarnation offered up by her critics, she is the scheming, probably unstoppable front-runner for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, currently presenting herself as a moderate - via another insidious “makeover” - but hellbent on returning to her left-wing agenda once in power. Dick Morris and Eileen McGann [aka Mrs. Morris], in “Condi vs. Hillary: The Next Great Presidential Race,” can barely contain their alarm. “Do not underestimate this woman!” they warn.
In fact, the authors argue (over and over again), Hillary Clinton may be so powerful, so stealthy and so determined that only an extraordinary candidacy by Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state, can stop her. As millions of right-thinking Americans realize the dangers of a Hillary presidency, the authors suggest, a draft-Condi movement will spring up at the grass roots, producing a kind of Manichaean catfight in the general election. That, at least, is the conceit of this book, its particular niche in the crowded marketplace of Hillary lit.
Very quickly, this argument begins to feel more obsessive than provocative.
The review also looks at The Case for Hillary Clinton By Susan Estrich:
Estrich has a rather touching belief that, if elected, Clinton would profoundly change not just the government but the culture, reinvigorating the feminist movement around the world. (Reading Estrich after Dick Morris produces a kind of ideological whiplash.) But she correctly identifies a core belief among many Democrats - that Clinton may have a lock on the nomination, but cannot win the general election because (not to put too fine a point on it) too many people hate her.
Monday, December 26, 2005
The illusion of legal abortion
If Roe v Wade is the law of the land, how does this happen?
Mississippi’s only abortion clinic is waiting to hear whether it will be granted a new state certification to continue performing its full range of procedures.
The requirement to meet higher standards came after an aggressive push by anti-abortion advocates, who are trying to shut down the clinic.
“We believe that if they comply and the clinic is safer for women ... at the very least, Mississippi has made the back-alley abortion clinic - or the front-alley abortion clinic as we call them - safer for women but not for unborn children,” said Pro-Life Mississippi President Terri Herring.
The Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which treats more than 3,000 women a year statewide, said a setback would not mean defeat and may only put the issue back in front of a judge. The clinic, which is still operating, risks having to scale back the kinds of abortion it can perform.
RELATED: South Dakota has no doctors but one clinic. The doctors fly in from MN.
UPDATE: Much more here.
Social engineering today
The Carpetbagger Report looks at Sen. Rick Santorum’s (R-Pa.) “healthy marriages” proposal, which was awarded $100 million for federally-funded programs that will allegedly help families stay together, and sees a shift in Republican rhetoric:
I vaguely remember the time - I believe it was called the “1980s and ‘90s” - when Republicans railed against the idea of social engineering. In 1993, Henry Hyde wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post (which is no longer online) in which he lambasted the Clinton White House for its alleged belief that government could use its power to interfere with family structures. Hyde called the very idea “exotic social engineering.”
Republicans don’t seem to believe that anymore. The right may not want to admit it, but the GOP over the last five years has embraced social engineering as much, if not more, than anyone since the Great Society. The marriage initiative, faith-based initiative, fatherhood initiative, abstinence-only programs Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ social engineering is predicated on the idea that the power of the state can alter how people can and will behave. It used to be anathema for anyone who valued “limited” government. The Bush presidency didn’t herald the end of the government’s drive towards social engineering; it marked the end of worrying about it.
The most popular searches this year on Google:
Google.com - Top Gainers of 2005
7. Sky News
8. World of Warcraft
9. Green Day
10. Leonardo da Vinci
Google News - Top Searches in 2005
1. Janet Jackson
2. Hurricane Katrina
4. xbox 360
5. Brad Pitt
6. Michael Jackson
7. American Idol
8. Britney Spears
9. Angelina Jolie
10. Harry Potter
Janet Jackson? Really?
Sunday, December 25, 2005
Christianity Today on Brokeback Mountain
Christianity Today reviewed Brokeback Mountain, demonstrating that the film is indeed generating broad discussion. These are the Discussion Starters at the end of the review:
1. The tagline for Brokeback Mountain is, “Love is a force of nature.” Do you agree? Do we get to choose whom we fall in love with? Do we get to choose our sexual orientation? Why or why not?
2. Scripture says homosexual sex is sinful (Lev. 18:22, 20:13; Rom. 1:26-27; 1 Cor. 6:9-11). How should the church engage those who hold different beliefs about homosexuality? Should Christians expect all people to be heterosexuals? Why or why not? What does this mean for how Christians should treat gays?
3. Ennis’ parents died when he was young. Do you think the loneliness he experienced as a child played into his attraction to Jack? If yes, how so? When he got married, why didn’t Alma’s love satisfy his need for companionship?
4. Do Ennis and Jack love each other because they’re gay, or are they gay because they love each other? Explain. Had they never met, do you think one or both of them would have happily lived a heterosexual life? Why or why not? What does that say about the nature of sexual orientation?
5. Ennis and Jack determine that their bond is no one else’s business. Can love-gay or straight-stay secret and be and/or remain healthy? Why or why not?
6. How should Christians approach films that depict gay relationships? What, if anything, can we learn from such movies? About the gay culture? About ourselves?
Whether they’re actually being discussed or not, these are the kinds of questions I like to see Christians asking each other.
AND ALSO: Christianity Today’s is not the first or the only review to call the sex scenes in the film “graphic.” There is no nudity during the sex scenes in the movie; what makes them graphic is that they involve two men rather than a man and a woman.
The scenes are not graphic, they’re honest. And tame by heterosexual standards.