Wolraich: Obama at the Gates of... Gates
Dr. C: In Praise of Writing Binges
Maiello: Gatsby Doesn't Grate
The cosmos put on quite a show yesterday, sending two massive asteroids (one a total surprise) Earth's way within hours of each other.
A good thing, all in all. Nobody died, but the astronomic coincidence -- and especially the stunning dash-cam images out of Chelyabinsk -- focused a lot of minds on a real threat our civilization faces. [Read more]
So, the State of the Union is strong, is it? Well, maybe it is for the people the President chose to speak about last night. But what about the ones he only mentioned in passing, or the ones that he omitted to mention at all? What about the state of the union for those Americans in, or on the edge of, poverty? What about the state of the union for those in the process, or on the edge, of losing their homes; or for those young working families trying to combine low-paid work, full-time child-care and inadequate child support? Is the state of the union fine for them? No, it is not. [Read more]
This Valentine's Day blog post is dedicated to ending the abuse of women and girls. You'll need to go to my blog to get the full effect. It's the least I could do:
Did you notice when you got here that my walls are now pink? You should know that normally I'm not a "Pink" person, but in this case I will wallow in pink if it means this message is getting out: Unbelievable numbers of women and girls are being viciously abused minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, and we must be the catalyst that brings these horrors to an end. No one else will do it. It's up to us.
This morning, David Brooks gives us what's been a truism about American life since I was born -- that we are a bunch of selfish short-termers, unwilling to make sacrifices for future generations in the manner of the nobler Americans who came before us. This criticism has been lobbed at every generation since the Baby Boomers came of age.
The evidence is the usual litany -- public company executives and stock investors looking for quarterly rather than long term results; pension funds (private and public) draining resources from future investment; debt driven consumption; a lack of infrastructure spending.
Brooks argues: [Read more]
You have to hand it to those Republican legislators in Michigan, my beautiful, besieged state. I swear, they must stay awake nights trying to think up ways to protect our wicked womanly bodies from the fools who happen to own them. (That would be us, ladies.) In late December, Gov. [Read more]
Premise 1: Killer Knows Best
What makes one gun more lethal than another? Ever since Sandy Hook, the media has bombarded us with gun jargon. We've learned about flash suppressors and high-capacity magazines, threaded barrels and pistol grips. We've heard that these features are bad features, dangerous to children and other living things. The expired federal assault weapons law used to ban any gun with two or more of them. The new New York law bans them all.
But we've also heard that gunmakers find ways to skirt these constraints. For instance, some manufacturers evaded California's quick-reload restriction with a "bullet button" that allows shooters to release a magazine with a bullet tip instead of a fingertip. It's hard for plodding legislatures to keep up with eager manufacturers, who have every incentive to invent the most lethal legal weapon possible.
So if not the legislators, who should determine which guns are too deadly? Who in America most appreciates a gun's killing potential? [Read more]
SOTU addresses at the start of a second presidential term are relatively rare phenomena, and in recent times they have also been also relatively ephemeral ones. George W. Bush used his SOTU Address in 2005 to make a prolonged pitch for the partial privatization of Social Security. That pitch went nowhere. Bill Clinton used his to launch a national crusade for education – his “A Call to Action for American Education”; but listening to him, among others, was Monica Lewinsky. Ronald Reagan spoke of “lightening government’s claims on our total economy” by reducing the federal deficit; but his legacy didn’t quite work out that way. So the precedents for an important and lasting speech next Tuesday are not good. [Read more]
I whole-heartedly agree with Atrios. The left needs to change the Social Security discussion by pointing out the obvious, loudly and often: Social Security, as currently constituted, is not adequate for the needs of most of America's citizens and that benefits should be increased. Atrios suggests an across the board 20% hike. If done for present recipients who get an average $1,100 a month, that's only a $220 a month increase. But that would certainly help a lot of people who lost retirement savings, particularly through home values but also in the stock market or to zero interest rate policies. [Read more]
Rosa Parks was born February 4, 1913. Today would have been her one hundredth birthday. Mrs. Parks passed away on October 24, 2005. She is often remembered solely for being the woman who was the symbol for the Montgomery Bus Boycott by refusing to give up her seat to a White person in December 1955. She and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. are remembered as icons of non-violence. This emphasis on passivity ignores the steadfast resistance Mrs. Parks had against injustice. In a past moment of verbal clarity, Prof. Cornel West described the media as participating in the Santa Clausification of King. Mrs. Parks has become akin to Mrs. Claus in this media fiction of the passive participant in the Civil rights movement. The truth is that both Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. were much more combative than the current media portrayal would lead one to believe. [Read more]
The Harvard cheating scandal has ground to something like its conclusion, with somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 students being
suspended asked to withdraw. There's been a lot of discussion, from different perspectives, about student ethics, educational standards, and what the world is coming to. [Read more]
How many outfits will Lady Bey wear?
How many numbers will Destiny's Child perform?
Will Jay-Z make a cameo?
Let's discuss America's most important cultural moment of 2013.
Josh Marshall flagged this Walter Kirn article already, so my guess is that some of you have read it. I'm a big Kirn fan, and have been ever since he published the interesting and underappreciated novel, The Unbinding, in Slate.
Kirn is a gunowner, of the type that I think many of you will relate to. He has actually pointed guns at two people in self defense, though he seems to have no illusions of the risks he's taking by having such weapons available. He's a hunter. He's willing to give up the AR-15 in exchange for a revolver and legitimate hunting rifles. [Read more]
Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords appeared at the Senate judiciary hearing on gun violence yesterday to try and convince lawmakers that we have a major problem with guns in this country and gun control must be addressed. This is what she said, in its entirety: [Read more]
I've started a new non-political blog at WordPress and this is one of my posts there. Come on over and check it out!
Oh, no. Sybil [Read more]
When I worry about the future of my chosen profession, which I do too often these days, I take bleak consolation from the fact that every other profession I considered during my early years is also in crisis. Was it a mistake to become a university professor just as the job market for professors collapsed? Maybe. But if the original question was, "Should I become a professor, a lawyer, or a newspaper journalist?" then maybe not. Lawyers are having a hard time finding jobs; newspapers are laying off. And I can't say I would have been better off staying a high school teacher, as wave after wave of "reforms" make that job harder and worse.
When Justin Sisely announced that he planned to film a “Virgin Sells Virginity” porn, the media went wild, endlessly repeating a story based on nothing.
Now, that’s not a big surprise. What is a surprise is that after the announcement – heck, even before it – random dudes with lots of walking-around money started hurling incredible bids at Sisely, asking to be the male lead in said porno. [Read more]
A couple months ago, in the midst of personal chaos, I went for a job interview. I was a nervous wreck and the interviewer could tell. She told me to "not be nervous." I painted a picture of myself and my situation that was much rosier than the reality - I didn't tell her I'd experienced a nervous breakdown, that I was without a home, any of that.
It was a painful wreck during much of it but a connection was built. Towards the end of it, I was in her car and we started discussing the world. "It's a very strange place. The world we live in."
"I sometimes wonder if it's real," I replied.
"Oh, it's real all right but it doesn't feel like it sometimes." [Read more]
Workers are repairing the facade of the building where we rent our winter apartment. They started on the 17th floor on January 2 and today they've finally made it to the fourth floor, and right now they're drilling and chiseling and scraping away the old finish right outside the window next to my desk.