aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Monday, October 16, 2006
Slate’s Explainer tells how they’re calculating who will be the 300,000,000th American, ”It’s a guess.”
Last time they guessed was on the 200,000,000th:
When [Robert Ken Woo Jr.] was born Nov. 20, 1967, at 11:03 a.m. EST in Atlanta’s Crawford Long Hospital, Life magazine proclaimed him the 200 millionth American. In the years since, he has worn his footnote in history lightly and well, his flicker of fame fanned anew by the approaching milestone.
“I never took it that seriously,” Woo says of his place in the annals of American trivia. “To me, it seemed very random.”
Talk about random: Doug, my life-partner, was born 70 miles away and 24 hours before, in Athens, GA on November 19, 1967 at 11:16 a.m. I guess that makes him a candidate for 199,999,999th?
He’ll always be #1 to me.
Beauty & artifice
I bought a bar of Dove yesterday, unaware of their good work. From the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty:
danah says, “This video is important. Please watch.”
Cory sez, “transhuman tricks used on models...a very effective short film.”
Dove says, “Dove would like to thank the photographer for not retouching any of the photographs; the make-up artist for not covering up anything; and the women who took part for being proud of their own, unique beauty.”
SEE ALSO: The Dove Self-Esteem Fund.
Hillary & feminists
Rebecca Traister finds Hillary has to earn the women’s vote:
Clinton puts liberal women, especially those who comfortably call themselves feminists, in a very awkward position. At last a woman is favored to run for president of the United States. And not the kind of woman one might have guessed would grace a major-party ticket. Clinton is not a Republican whose politics make Margaret Thatcher look like Barbara Jordan. She is a politician who once appeared to be feminism’s fantasy made flesh—smart, direct and driven to defend bold social causes like children’s welfare and women’s equality.
But pick apart the pretty tapestry that features Hillary as Eleanor Roosevelt reborn, Shirley Chisholm recalled, and Pat Schroeder redeemed, and you’ll find a knottier weave: recognition threaded with betrayal, idolatry with disappointment, approval with anger. You’ll certainly find ardent feminists who are true Hillary believers. But you’ll also find plenty whose moods blacken at the mention of the New York senator’s name.
And here’s the nub:
Ann Douglas, a Columbia University social historian who profiled Clinton for Vogue in 1999, told me that women see in Clinton what they want to see in themselves and in the body politic. She referred to an old Tony Curtis anecdote about a fan who approached him and asked, “Are you who I think I am?” It’s the same with Clinton, Douglas said. “We say, ‘I want her to be who I think I am.’ I want her to hold up my own ideals of myself.” With expectations so high, can Clinton do anything but let women down?
Ephron, Michelman, Wattleton, Sarandon and others are quoted. I excerpt two:
[Rebecca Walker, author and founder of the Third Wave Foundation, an organization of young feminists] broke a big-time taboo by coming out and saying one of those things that is impolite to mention. “I have to be totally honest and say that I would vote for Hillary because of her husband,” she said. “Real partnership, with its mammoth requirements of negotiating power and taking turns, is the next feminist frontier,” and “President Hillary and first gentleman Bill would give the world one hell of a demo.”
To others, Clinton is all the feminist they need right now. “I am wild about her as a person, and I am definitely a liberal feminist,” said comedian Janeane Garofalo, a host on liberal radio station Air America. “I like her very much for who she is—when she doesn’t pander to right-wing constituencies.” As for troubling Clinton stands like the flag-burning conflagration, Garofalo said, “There’s no way she could fully believe in that. Having said that, this woman has been so browbeaten, so picked-on, so ridiculously maligned that I don’t blame her for having these spurts of post-traumatic stress disorder.”
TV & autism
Last month, I speculated in Slate that the mounting incidence of childhood autism may be related to increased television viewing among the very young. The autism rise began around 1980, about the same time cable television and VCRs became common, allowing children to watch television aimed at them any time. Since the brain is organizing during the first years of life and since human beings evolved responding to three-dimensional stimuli, I wondered if exposing toddlers to lots of colorful two-dimensional stimulation could be harmful to brain development. This was sheer speculation, since I knew of no researchers pursuing the question.
Today, Cornell University researchers are reporting what appears to be a statistically significant relationship between autism rates and television watching by children under the age of 3. The researchers studied autism incidence in California, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington state. They found that as cable television became common in California and Pennsylvania beginning around 1980, childhood autism rose more in the counties that had cable than in the counties that did not. They further found that in all the Western states, the more time toddlers spent in front of the television, the more likely they were to exhibit symptoms of autism disorders.