Please visit the new home of Majikthise at bigthink.com/blogs/focal-point.

« July 2006 | Main | September 2006 »

141 posts from August 2006

August 31, 2006

Major Owens blasts Jack Murtha

The fight for New York's 11th Congressional District continues.

Anti-war hawk Jack Murtha decided to appear at a townhall meeting in the 11th District with Democratic primary challenger Yvette Clarke and Congressman Anthony Wiener. Ostensibly, the meeting was convened to discuss Murtha's plan for phased redeployment from Iraq. The meeting was also a chance for Clarke to be seen with two of her most prominent endorsers: Murtha and Wiener.

Congressman Major Owens was incensed that he was not notified of the event in his own district and called up a New York radio station to voice his annoyance.

Owens' son Chris is one of Clarke's opponents in the upcoming Democratic primary race.

Owens supports immediate withdrawal from Iraq. He is said to have courted Murtha's endorsement unsuccessfully.

SAT panic

Matt Yglesias makes the following observations:

1) The Washington Post Company, a "diversified media and education company" owns the Kaplan test-prep corporation.

2) The Washington Post's coverage of the decline in SAT scores in 2006 seems a little overwrought.

Personally, I suspect that the Post's coverage of the dip in SAT scores has more to do with sloppy thinking than conflict of interest. We're talking about a seven-point drop in 2006 scores compared to 2005. This decline is not surprising, considering that the College Board changed the test, making it longer and harder.

The Washington Post isn't the only media outlet covering the SAT score story, and I'm not sure whether its coverage is more alarmist than that of other papers. Do any other media conglomerates own test-prep companies? If so, are these papers also more likely to play up the SAT story compared to papers that don't have a financial interest in test prep?

Pope may ditch evolution

Kevin Drum spots a bit of bad news out of Vatican City:

Philosophers, scientists and other intellectuals close to Pope Benedict will gather at his summer palace outside Rome this week for intensive discussions that could herald a fundamental shift in the Vatican's view of evolution.

There have been growing signs the Pope is considering aligning his church more closely with the theory of "intelligent design" taught in some US states. Advocates of the theory argue that some features of the universe and nature are so complex that they must have been designed by a higher intelligence. Critics say it is a disguise for creationism.

A prominent anti-evolutionist and Roman Catholic scientist, Dominique Tassot, told the US National Catholic Reporter that this week's meeting was "to give a broader extension to the debate. Even if [the Pope] knows where he wants to go, and I believe he does, it will take time. Most Catholic intellectuals today are convinced that evolution is obviously true because most scientists say so." [Guardian]

Maybe he'll re-condemn Galileo next.

Hometown boosterism

The New York Daily News explains why New York has largely avoided the recent spate of fentanyl-related drug overdoses that has claimed the lives of more than 200 Chicago residents since April 2005:

New York may have avoided the scourge so far because the city is a major hub for illegal drugs, which means the local supply tends to be purer, an agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said.

It's nice to see that the NYDN has its priorities in order. Local boosterism trumps the war on some drugs every time.

August 30, 2006

Darcy at Union Hall


Darcy at Union Hall, originally uploaded by Lindsay Beyerstein.

Last weekend was a busy one for Darcy and Secret Society. On Sunday, the group played at Union Hall in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

In this picture, Darcy prepares to conduct the first tune of the evening.

August 29, 2006

Chairs facing out

The Convention Center in New Orleans, approximately 48 hours after the last of the evacuees had been taken to safety.

Stairway to Nowhere


Stairway to Nowhere, originally uploaded by Lindsay Beyerstein.

A flooded house in the Lower Ninth Ward after Hurricane Katrina.

Oriental Rugs and dog gumbo


Oriental Rugs, originally uploaded by Lindsay Beyerstein.

Standing the the doorway, a hardcore holdout who stayed behind to protect his store after Hurricane Katrina. In the foreground, my colleague Julie.

Hairathon


Hairathon, originally uploaded by Lindsay Beyerstein.

Evacuees from Hurricane Katrina enjoying the Hairathon, a complimentary day of beauty sponsored by the Alden School of Cosmetology in Baton Rouge.

Katrina Evacuees


Hairathon Mom, originally uploaded by Lindsay Beyerstein.

Evacuees from New Orleans enjoying a complimentary day of beauty at the Alden School of Cosmetology in Baton Rouge shortly after Hurricane Katrina.