aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Write shorter sentences
So says Stephen Berlin Johnson after an analysis of his Amazon text stats:
Gladwell’s sentences are fully 25% shorter than mine. I’m not sure if the average reader would notice...but a 25% drop in sentence length has to alter the reading experience dramatically. Clearly, the only things separating me from selling ten million copies of my books are those extra 6.5 words per sentence.
Sex Ed II
While on the topic, let’s remember Courtney Martin who wrote last January that the way to change the toxic sexual culture is to start looking at the sex education our high-schoolers receive:
[M]any of us understand far too late that sexuality doesn’t operate by switch—on or off—but rather is a wide-ranging spectrum. That alcohol doesn’t just limit inhibitions, it also hampers communication. That articulating one’s desires and needs is essential for safe, consensual and, well, good sex. And, of course, that listening to your partner—whether they’re a partner for just a night or for a lifetime—is a matter of basic dignity and respect.
These are conversations that are conspicuously absent from all but the most progressive high schools in this country. As a result, a flood of hormonal, insecure, and unequipped 18-year-olds show up at colleges across the nation each fall with little more than a sensationalistic idea of rape, shaped by shows like Law and Order: SVU rather than by conversation with knowledgeable adults. Add almost-ubiquitous binge drinking into the mix, and you’ve got a chemistry equation that equals combustion. One study found that 75 percent of the males and 50 percent of the females involved in college campus acquaintance rapes had been drinking when the incident occurred. [...]
By giving teenagers opportunities to dialogue about sexuality and practice communicating about their desires and needs, we could prepare them for a college scene fraught with experimentation, alcohol, and difficult social negotiations. The field of emotional intelligence provides us with sound evidence that behaviors must be practiced habitually if we want them to emerge in stressful situations. In a sex ed context, this means that we could be having essential conversations in schools—about having fun while still setting limits—to prepare students for the college culture of limitless drinking. Teens could be reflecting on their own authentic boundaries, sexual and otherwise, before they are in a situation where those boundaries are in danger of being crossed. Sure, hokey role-playing activities are the last thing a bunch of too-cool-for-school teenagers want to do, but teachers could still provide them with the language that might make recognizing those boundaries easier. If that teacher is a relatable and savvy adult, all the better.
Instead, we have spent over a billion dollars on abstinence-only messages for teens, at least half of whom have already had sex before they even leave high school, and three-fourths of whom don’t believe in waiting until marriage, according a recent study in the Review of General Psychology. Most of these inadequate curricula are taught by perhaps well-intentioned but certainly not the most approachable adults in the school system. Teenagers deserve sex education from teachers who are comfortable and experienced talking about sex, not just a randomly assigned wrestling coach (the standard-bearer of sex-ed excellence at Jen and my suburban public high school in Colorado Springs).
Again, instead of arresting them, let’s educate them!
Instead of arresting our kids, let’s educate them!
From Midwest Teen Sex Show:
Here’s Homosexuality-Part I.
Not every teen is having sex and not every teen is abstaining. We hope the Midwest Teen Sex Show will create a space for frank discussion of all things related to teen sexuality. [...]
We’ll leave the formal education to classrooms and textbooks. The Midwest Teen Sex Show is here to provide sex information in a clear and entertaining way. We won’t pretend to be experts, but hopefully a few of our own embarrassing experiences and insights will keep you out of trouble.
Who are the activists on the Supreme Court?
Cass Sunstein previews his oped in tomorrow’s Los Angeles Times with a brainteaser:
Who are the activists on the Supreme Court? Which justices show the most partisan voting patterns? Such questions are usually answered anecdotally. Thomas Miles and I have tried to approach them more systematically, with some simple statistical methods. We have compiled and analyzed a large number of the justices’ votes over an extensive period, and we now have some answers, in the form of awards for Judicial Neutrality and Judicial Restraint—and less desirable awards for Partisan Voting and Judicial Activism.
Those answers are scheduled to appear in an oped in the Los Angeles Times this Monday. (Guesses are welcome.) A small preview: One member of the current Court has the honor of finishing second for both Judicial Neutrality and Judicial Restraint. That is, one member of the Court upholds conservative decisions (from federal agencies) and liberal decisions (ditto) at about the same rate, and thus fails to show a partisan tilt—while also showing a high level of restraint, defined for purposes of analysis as a high level of willingness to uphold the decisions of a coordinate branch of government (the executive branch, where we have a lot of data).
The member of the Court who finishes second for both neutrality and restraint is: Justice David Souter.
Stop looking for excuses NOT to see the injustice
Elle, phd calls on the progressive blogosphere to get your purportedly progressive foundation in order:
Do you know these people? Aside from the fact that they were unbelievably brave and principled?
Do you ever wonder why Rosa Parks instead of Claudette Colvin (who’d refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, AL, bus nine months before Mrs. Parks?) was the face of the Montgomery bus boycott?
Do you ever wonder why this picture of Elizabeth Eckford remaining composed in the face of Hazel Massery’s vitriol was such an important image to promote?
Do you ever wonder why sit-in participants had to be so well-dressed, so calm, so “respectable?”
Well, of course you know. The people who would be the face of the Civil Rights Movement had to be virtually blameless. They couldn’t give white bigots fodder to dismiss them or the movement. They had to tread a line between being the human face of the movement while upholding super-human reputations and faithfully remaining non-violent.
It was a lot to expect, this demand for perfection, this unspoken implication that African Americans had to be more than human, had to prove themselves worthy of fair treatment, of justice.
But I believe it was necessary then, to stave off attacks from enemies of the movement. Because a flaw, a sign of poor judgment, an episode of human error could be used to question the validity of not only the people involved, but the movement itself.
Well, skip ahead half-a-century, and AAPP makes an observation that struck a chord within me, that “white liberals and white bigots seem to agree.”
See, when faced with the question of how the hell can you be so silent in the face of injustice, of unequal treatment, of blatant racism, rather than admit you dropped the ball* or more importantly, that you just didn’t get it, you reached back and borrowed those old techniques for impugning the movement.
You can’t support the Jena Six (or issues this highlights) because there is no hero?
For people who didn’t know much about the Jena Six, suddenly you were awfully concerned about offenses for which Mychal Bell had been convicted.
We protest because Jena is not a rural Southern town, it is a state of mind - not from the 1950s, but of the here and now in every American town, suburb and city from South to North and sea to shining sea.
SEE ALSO: my The Post-Civil Rights Fallacy.
Mac Collins, no doesn’t mean no
Don’t count Mac out of the lineup to challenge Jim Marshall:
Mac Collins, who lost a tight race to Marshall last year, has said he’s likely to make another run for the Republican nomination. But in late August, he sent the FEC a letter - called a disavowal response - specifically stating that he’s not a candidate for Congress. That letter was in response to an FEC letter to him triggered when Collins hit a certain fundraising threshold.
Don’t read too much into that little formality, the former congressman said Friday.
“They thought I was a candidate and it simply says ‘I’m not a candidate today,’ “ Collins said. “That doesn’t mean in April, when qualifying comes around, I won’t be in it.”
As for campaign funding, Collins has more than $134,000 in the bank. That’s according to an amended FEC filing that Collins filed Thursday to show a $130,000 loan to the campaign and some other cash he had on hand before the latest reporting period ended Sept. 30.