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138 posts from October 2005

October 31, 2005

Hugo Chavez discourages Halloween

A silly gesture by Chavez, but not as silly as the headline that that got slapped on the story: "Chavez calls for ban on Halloween."

Chavez calls for ban on Halloween
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has urged families not to mark Halloween, calling it a US custom alien to the South American nation.

"Families go and begin to disguise their children as witches. This is contrary to our way," Mr Chavez said during his weekly radio and TV show.

He also said Halloween was a "game of terror", the AP news agency reported. [...] [BBC]

Nothing in the article suggests that Chavez is trying to ban anything.

Look! Over there...A Battle of Epic Proportions!

As you've no doubt heard, President Bush nominated the arch-conservative Samuel Alito to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court.

The AP report is blunt about Bush's motives:

With the rebuke of Ms. Miers, the rising death toll in Iraq, his slow-footed response to hurricane Katrina and last Friday's indictment of top vice-presidential aide I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, Mr. Bush's approval ratings are at the lowest ebb of his presidency.

Polls show Democrats and most independents do not approve of his job performance, leaving the conservative wing of his party the only thing keeping Mr. Bush afloat politically. [AP]
While Judge Alito is expected to win praise from Bush's allies on the right, Democrats have served notice they will fight it. Mr. Reid had warned Sunday that it would “create a lot of problems.” [AP]

Digby is even blunter:

[...] Alito is for Bush as Oxycontin is for Limbaugh. Alito is intended to ease the pain of Fitzgerald's indictments and continuing investigation by changing the subject. Bush, Cheney and Rove expect us to play along on their timetable, which requires that the country get distracted quickly from the brief glimpse Fitzgerald provided everyone, even Kristof, of the enormously fetid swamp of crimes and traitorous behavior behind the sealed gates of the Bush White House. No one, except Bush's base, can be anything but disgusted at what was revealed on Friday.

Of course Alito should be opposed vigorously, but let's not forget the oldest trick in the political book: When you're unpopular at home, start a war! Since Treasongate isn't going away, the Republicans have effectively opened a two-front war--a move that stinks of desperation.

Alito Resources

Scott Lemieux is aggregating Alito resources at Lawyers, Guns and Money.

Think Progress has a comprehensive summary of Alito's radical right wing paper trail. TP also notes that in 2002, Alito dismissed a case in favor of a company in which he'd invested half-a-million dollars.*

[Correction: Alito had investments that were managed by the firm in question, but he wasn't an investor in the company itself.]

October 30, 2005

Why Richard Thompson is a better philosopher than Leon Kass


Inexplicably, the views of bioethicist Leon Kass have recieved a lot more attention than those of singer songerwriter Richard Thompson, particularly on issues of sex, gender, and confectionary.

I will attempt to redress this unfortunate imbalance by contrasting their respective normative accounts of ice cream consumption.

Leon Kass:

Worst of all from this point of view are those more uncivilized forms of eating, like licking an ice cream cone --a catlike activity that has been made acceptable in informal America but that still offends those who know eating in public is offensive. [...]


Richard Thompson:

Hokey Pokey (revised version 2004) (aka "The Ice Cream Song")

Little boy running and the little girl too
Got the money tucked up in their hands
Over the wall and down into the street
Give your money to the hollering man

Everybody runs for Hokey Pokey
Hear the ringing on the ice cream bell
He’s got the stuff that’ll cool you right down
It’s the best that they ever did sell


Dead to the world? Says Frankie to Annie
Girl you haven’t moved an inch all night
But she wriggled her hips when he kissed her on the lips
Hokey Pokey made her fell all right

Lick it on the bottom, lick it on the top
Suck it just hard enough
Open up wide when it drips down the side
You want to catch all that good stuff

Dating advice from Maureen Dowd

Remind me why anyone should take dating advice from Maureen Dowd. This is the woman who regularly uses her New York Times column for content that belongs in an F4M classified ad. Asking Maureen Dowd for perspective on intimate relationships is like asking Judy Miller for advice on journalistic ethics.

Nevertheless, an excerpt from Dowd's forthcoming book, "Are Men Necessary: When Sexes Collide," appears in today's New York Times.

Be warned, as Amanda says, Dowd's essay is embarassing.

Dowd's ovarching thesis is that feminism cheated women and broke the sexual marketplace. Feminism tricked women into thinking we could "get away" with being smart, confident, and financially independent without decreasing our marriagability. Dowd recalls that there was a lot of heady talk in the late sixties. One thing lead to another, and pretty soon women felt entitled to be loved for who they were.

Dowd thinks she's finally gotten the last laugh on those ugly, slutty, Birkenstock-wearing feminists from college. She and her mom knew all along that the feminists were kidding themselves. It's just a Fact of Nature that men hate self-actualized women. Always have. Always will. (Details are sketchy, but apparently Science has established that it has something to do with dopamine and ev psych.)

Dowd writes:

Decades after the feminist movement promised equality with men, it was becoming increasingly apparent that many women would have to brush up on the venerable tricks of the trade: an absurdly charming little laugh, a pert toss of the head, an air of saucy triumph, dewy eyes and a full knowledge of music, drawing, elegant note writing and geography. It would once more be considered captivating to lie on a chaise longue, pass a lacy handkerchief across the eyelids and complain of a case of springtime giddiness.

Apart from a few sketchy studies mentioned in passing, Dowd doesn't substantiate her gloomy impressions with evidence. She prefers to fill out the essay with hand picked quotes.

Here are some gems:

"Now dating etiquette has reverted. Young women no longer care about using the check to assert their equality. They care about using it to assess their sexuality.

Going Dutch is an archaic feminist relic. Young women talk about it with disbelief and disdain. "It's a scuzzy 70's thing, like platform shoes on men," one told me."
"One of my girlfriends, a TV producer in New York, told me much the same thing: "If you offer [to pay], and they accept, then it's over.""
"Kate White, the editor of Cosmopolitan, told me that she sees a distinct shift in what her readers want these days. "Women now don't want to be in the grind," she said. "The baby boomers made the grind seem unappealing.""

Dowd's bitter takehome message is that women have to play by The Rules, whether feminism endorses them or not--because otherwise, they'll end up as barren old maids in corner offices. Feminism has confused women, Dowd thinks: Those women's libbers convinced us that, at least in the abstract, women ought to be able to enjoy sex, power, and money without alienating men. They gave us the (probably correct) idea that it's degrading to hide your personality in order to manipulate some poor sucker into marriage. Therefore, Dowd concludes, it must be feminists' fault for creating so many uppity women who can't get and keep a man.

Howard Dean on the Sutter Strikers' picket line

Howard Dean addressed health care workers on their pickett line at California Pacific Medical Center on Friday evening. The workers, who call themselves the Sutter Strikers for Patient Care, are demanding better employee training and higher patient care standards.

"I am honored to have been invited to attend a rally with the courageous striking employees of the Sutter California Pacific Medical Center," stated Governor Dean. He added, "It's my pleasure to work hard with SEIU. I am proud of your union. SEIU helps people who need help. We need to rebuild the Democratic Party and our fate depends on the fate of labor."

The Sutter Strikers have off the job for eight weeks now. They've been blogging their strike (see url, below).

Show your solidarity with the Sutter Strikers:

(1) Email Sutter Health CEO Pat Frye and the Sutter CPMC Board of Directors, urging them to "Just Say Yes" to the federal mediator's compromise proposal & end the strike:

(2) To see posts from strikers on the picket line, please stop by the Sutter Strikers blog:

(3) To read up on more of the issues behind the strike, check out the Sutter Strikers for Patient Care website:

October 29, 2005

Recommended reading

I think we've got something for everyone tonight:

Moon Over Pittsburgh wonders if Fitzgerald has big plans for Rove

Squid art that's unsafe for work, from PZ Myers acting on a tip from Chris Clarke

Some level-headed, reality-based posts by Mediagirl on blogs and advertising

Mark Kleiman on why corporate psychopathy is wrong

Amp on whether we should legally recognize polyamorous marriages

SciGuy tells us everything we ever wanted to know about the National Weather Service

Cervantes on our so-called culture of life

John Amato of Crooks and Liars interviews Paul Hackett

Julia on fire trucks!!!!

October 28, 2005

What is globalization?

Next month, one of my philosophical homies is heading off to Venezuela for a series of lectures on globalization.

He's got a simple request of the collective hivemind:

I have a question for you, dear readers, and would appreciate responses in the comments. The question is what is globalization?

Don't go to your Stiglitz, Held, Giddens, Rosenau, etc. or Wikipedia for the response. I know all that stuff. I'm really interested in what your own immediate working definition is.

If you have any thoughts on the subject, please comment at Phronesisaical.

Nurse Lebo meets the South

My beloved cousin ceases to be FOS.

Blogger ethics

Andrew C White has the most sophisticated discussion of ethics for political bloggers I've read so far.

I'm still trying to decide whether I agree with Andrew, but I already know that he's written a valuable piece of applied ethics.

High court may review Texas redistricting

The Supreme Court will decide today whether to revisit challenges to Tom DeLay's Texas gerrymandering spree.

Will the Court take up the case? I'm not holding my breath, but Rick Hansen of Election Law expresses heavily guarded optimism in today's Legal Times:

Loyola Law School professor Rick Hasen, an election law expert, says the Court's failure to agree on a judicial test for gerrymandering and the question of redistricting mid-decade may be reason enough for the Court to hear the Texas case. The swing vote on the Pennsylvania case was Justice Anthony Kennedy, who agreed gerrymandering violates the Constitution but was not prepared to author a test.

"Kennedy said he wanted to keep the issue open for another day," says Hasen. But he also warns that the Court's liberal camp may be wary of using the Texas case to write a test to distinguish redistricting from gerrymandering. "In terms of the unfair partisan gerrymandering, the facts are not as extreme as they were in Pennsylvania."

I shudder to think how bad things must have been in Pennsylvania.