aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Thursday, April 03, 2008
Another KBR rape in Iraq
The other day we learned from Jane Harmon in this LATimes OpEd that “Women serving in the U.S. military are more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire in Iraq.”
Today we read in The Nation of another KBR contractor who alleges she was gang-raped in Iraq. The story is graphic and disturbing. Perhaps most disturbing:
Most of these complaints never see the light of day, thanks to the fine print in employee contracts that compels employees into binding arbitration instead of allowing their complaints to be tried in a public courtroom. Criminal prosecutions are practically nonexistent, as the US Justice Department has turned a blind eye to these cases.
Via Crooks and Liars.
On Bob Barr’s libertarian credentials
Gays in Georgia remember Barr with some disdain. Chris Crain:
When Bob Barr was a Republican congressman from Georgia, he authored and was the chief sponsor of the Defense of Marriage Act, which blocks any federal recognition of gay couples married by the states, as well as allowing each state to refuse to recognizes marriage licenses issued to gay couples by other states.
Barr has always been a walking contradiction, defending the institution of marriage from gays even as he divorced his first two wives and is now on his third; he is also an ardent foe of abortion rights even though he supported a decision by his wife at the time to terminate a pregnancy. There are individual rights Barr does care about—he’s a longtime board member of the National Rifle Association.
Apple passes Wal-Mart
Over the past few years, we have watched Apple climb the music sales chart courtesy of the iTunes. Last month we learned that Apple passed Best Buy to become the number two retailer in the the US. Now, Apple has ascended to the top of the charts, surpassing Wal-Mart for the first time ever, according to the NPD MusicWatch Survey. [...]
For the music industry, there is a dark side to Apple's ascension to the top of the charts. Buying patterns for digital downloads are different, as customers are far more likely to cherry pick a favorite track or two from an album than purchase the whole thing. In contrast, brick-and-mortar sales are predominantly high-margin CDs. For 2007, that translated into a 10 percent decline in overall music spending according to the NPD Group, and it's a trend that's expected to continue for the foreseeable future.
Overall, paid downloads accounted for almost 30 percent of all music sold in January, a number that would have been unthinkable just a few short years ago. With the Big Four labels throwing off the DRM shackles and experimenting with new delivery models like Last.fm's free streaming service, the future looks bright for digital music distribution.
RELATED: Columbia Journalism School announces the 2008 Peabody Award Winners.
SEE ALSO: Robert Thompson, a professor of Television and Popular Culture at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and the director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University, on how Stephen Colbert is like (and not like) Edward R. Murrow.
On the difference between feeling secure and being secure
If we make security trade-offs based on the feeling of security rather than the reality, we choose security that makes us feel more secure over security that actually makes us more secure. And that’s what governments, companies, family members and everyone else provide. Of course, there are two ways to make people feel more secure. The first is to make people actually more secure and hope they notice. The second is to make people feel more secure without making them actually more secure, and hope they don’t notice.
The key here is whether we notice. The feeling and reality of security tend to converge when we take notice, and diverge when we don’t. People notice when 1) there are enough positive and negative examples to draw a conclusion, and 2) there isn’t too much emotion clouding the issue.
Both elements are important. If someone tries to convince us to spend money on a new type of home burglar alarm, we as society will know pretty quickly if he’s got a clever security device or if he’s a charlatan; we can monitor crime rates. But if that same person advocates a new national antiterrorism system, and there weren’t any terrorist attacks before it was implemented, and there weren’t any after it was implemented, how do we know if his system was effective?