Saturday, October 10, 2009

This and That (by Phila)

Cervantes on healthcare reform:

We have a bias toward action, toward doing something; we're all about being bold and decisive and heroic. And we have a lot of faith in technology and anything that wears the guise of science. But the shocking truth is, much of medical intervention is not based in science at all, is not driven by evidence, but by physician's intuitions and customary ways of doing things. And, let's bite the bullet and make this painful admission: doctors are paid to do stuff, and the more radical their actions, the more they are paid....

Social justice begins long before we even think about universal health care. Sure, if we had it our society would be more just than it is now but we would still have huge inequalities in health and life expectancy because of all the other inequalities that would remain, for which medicine does not have the answer.

Lilian Nattel on positive psychology:

About ten years old, positive psychology studies how individuals and communities can thrive. A reaction against psychology as the study of mental illness, it aims to redress the imbalance in understanding human nature and what makes us happy and healthy and peaceful individually and socially.

This reminds me of a book I read years ago: The Psychology of the Female Body by Jane Ussher. What she noticed while looking at studes on pms was that subjects were asked only about negative symptoms around their periods. She repeated the study with a change: she asked as many questions about positive symptoms as negative ones. To my surprise, she found that as many women were energized as more tired before their periods, as many were happier as angrier, as many felt more enthusiastic as felt depressed.

The questions we ask open doors to possibilities.

Alison Bashford on quarantine:
Historically, quarantine laws were the main way in which people’s movement over national borders was regulated. Almost all of the immigration acts that proliferated around the globe in the nineteenth century (which we still live with, every time we hand over our passport) were about quarantine regulations. Every immigration restriction act across the world, even now, always has a “loathsome disease” clause in it.
Dave Neiwart on the gun-show loophole:
Over the past year, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been sending out private investigators to gun shows around the country, focusing on locales where NYPD and other local law enforcement are seeing guns arriving from. And what they showed was incredibly revealing.

It shows the dirty little secret that everyone who attends gun shows with any kind of discerning eye can tell you: There are a lot of illegitimate transactions taking place at them -- and particularly a lot of sales of guns to people who could never pass a background check.
NTodd on Obama's Nobel prize:
[L]et's not lose sight of something in all the arguments about the Nobel: it's up to us to create the space for Obama to earn this.

We can do it by creating justice at home in the form of meaningful healthcare reform, marriage equality, and reduced consumerism. We can do it by supporting HR2404, calling for an exit strategy in Afghanistan, and HR3699, denying funds for an escalation. We can do it by accepting our personal responsibility as citizens and being engaged with our government.

The 2008 election wasn't just about Obama, about putting a man in office who would single-handedly repair things after 8 disastrous years. The Nobel Peace Prize is no different. So hear the calls to action and get to work.

Weekly Poetry Slam Tread

( Amc )

In memory of Mercedes Sosa, who made poetry so much more than words in a song or on a page.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Friday critter blogging (by Suzie)

Here is Cohen in a Hawaiian shirt, playing with Noah, a puggle, and his housemate Alli, of indeterminate ancestry. That's Clifford's tail in the righthand corner.

Cohen is a mix of Siberian husky and German shepherd. He lives with his brother Kota (short for Dakota). I do not know why Cohen was wearing a shirt or whether he keeps kosher.

Obama wins the Nobel Peace Prize (by Suzie)

I'm glad the Norwegian Nobel Committee uses this award to foster peace. After all, anyone who wins it should feel a great need to live up to it. An AP story reports:
The stunning choice made Obama the third sitting U.S. president to win the Nobel Peace Prize and shocked Nobel observers because Obama took office less than two weeks before the Feb. 1 nomination deadline. Obama's name had been mentioned in speculation before the award but many Nobel watchers believed it was too early to award the president.
A list of previous winners includes people who have spent their lives working for peace and justice, as well as various political leaders. Since 1901, five women have shared the prize, and six have won it solo, including Shirin Ebadi, who was listed as a man. (Does the media have any copy editors anymore?) I guess so few women win because we start so many wars, we implement so many unjust policies, and we rarely volunteer to help others.

The AP story quotes the Nobel committee on Obama:
His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world's population.
This does not bode well for women because men now make up the majority. Yes, men outnumber women, due to global discrimination against girls and women. Let's hope we get some leaders willing to challenge sexist attitudes, such as Hillary Clinton in Beijing. Although Obama appointed her Secretary of State, some people give him all the credit for international relations, while she gets a pat on the back for "having no trouble adapting to being a team player subordinate to Obama," as Wikipedia notes. Although Obama had been in the White House less than two weeks when he was nominated for the Nobel, Clinton's eight years in the White House doesn't count because she was only a wife who served tea.

For the Nobel, Obama beat out two women considered front-runners: Colombian Sen. Piedad Cordoba and Afghan physician and human rights activist Sima Samar. Please read their stories if you aren't familiar with them.

I wonder if the choice of Obama was related to what Echidne wrote earlier. A few more women have won Nobel prizes this year than in the past. Maybe committee members thought giving the peace prize to a woman would just be too much.

Hunting my rapist, Part 2 (by Suzie)

“What are you going to do after you track him down?” asked a friend in journalism who helped with the hunt. I emailed back: “I'm not sure. I joke that I'm like a dog chasing a garbage truck.”

I talked about the rape in last Friday’s post. Today, I want to give a snapshot of the search. I don’t recommend such a search for everyone. Not only can it depress you further, but it also may be dangerous if a rapist knows you’re tracking him.

Most people I contacted were helpful, and their caring helped erase much of my self-blame. One of his former colleagues emailed me:
This is a terrible event and I would love to find and
 the guy.
I learned from a rape crisis line that the statute of limitations had run out. I felt foolish calling after so many years, but a counselor assured me that I wasn’t the only woman who had tried for years not to think about her rape.

Although I had quoted X in a newspaper article, I later put his name in some locked compartment of my mind. When I found the old article and read his name, I had to fight feelings of panic. But I didn't stop.

Online white pages yielded his age, a wife’s name, his address and his telephone number. I called a couple of times, and left the most neutral of messages. He didn’t call back. What would he have said: He didn’t remember me? He thought I was either nutty or slutty? It wasn’t like he was going to beg my forgiveness.

An Intelius report gave his past addresses and his date of birth. Knowing where he had lived – on a major street I knew well – explained why I had been able to drive home drunk and/or drugged.

The details of his current house came from his county’s appraisal district. Because his wife’s name wasn’t on the deed, I searched civil court records and found she had died. From another county, I got the divorce records for a previous marriage. These records told me that he had no children.

I put in a public-records request at his old job, searched the archives of the local newspaper and the university where he had gotten his degrees, and finally got a photo of him from the state licensing board. The photo was taken at age 47, the same age I was when I decided to investigate him. He no longer appeared handsome – or professional. He held no power over me.

An investigator at the licensing board told me it was too late to file a complaint. By law, however, I was entitled to X's education information and his current place of employment, which was also a public agency. No complaints had ever been filed against him, according to the agency and the board.

His employer gave me his job title, contact information, resume and salary, which was surprisingly low. His degrees on his resume didn’t match the ones reported to the licensing board. I filed a complaint with the licensing board, and after many months, he was required to explain the discrepancy. The board didn’t discipline him, but they did tell him to give the correct credentials in the future.

Some readers may have hoped for a grand finale, in which I got justice. Sorry. Some may ask, as many of my friends did: “Why did you waste so much time and energy on this guy?” In my career, I often checked people’s backgrounds, and I enjoyed solving mysteries. In this case, as I pored over the mundane facts of his life, he became demystified.

I stuffed all my notes and documents in a folder marked “rapist,” and I filed it away.
On a rape-related topic: The House passed the bill that would add gender, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity to federal hate-crime legislation. The NYT coverage is typical in that it focuses on hate crimes against gays, with no discussion of gender. Apparently, male hatred of women never leads to crime. An AP story mentions statistics on hate crimes, without pointing out that these statistics don't include crimes motivated by gender. I've written about this before.

Question for the weekend (by Suzie)

If we're going to hell in a handbag, what kind of handbag is it? I'm thinking a fake Louis Vuitton.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Good News Thursday

The 2009 Nobel Prize in Literature went to Herta Müller:

An ethnic German born in Romania, writer Herta Müller has won the 2009 Nobel Prize in Literature. The 56-year-old, who emigrated to Germany in 1987, has made the trials of living under Nicolae Ceaus,escu's dictatorship a focus of her work.

In its citation, the Nobel committee wrote that Müller, "with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed."

Müller, a novelist and short-story writer, was considered by some to be among the top authors in the running for the award, although Amos Oz of Israel was the odds-on favorite of British wagering firm Ladbroke's.

She is the fourteenth woman to have won the literature prize. Her award means that this year's prizes have much less of a male dominance than has usually been the case, though they are most unlikely to reflect the actual population percentages of men and women.

I had an odd reaction to this piece of news and it's not one I'm proud about: My happiness in more women being recognized for their talent and work was somewhat marred by this niggling fear I felt. Or perhaps not fear but discomfort.

When I dug into it a little I realized that I was worried how anti-feminists would interpret such a "large" number of women suddenly winning Nobel prizes. A few you can sneak in without them coming out with lots of articles about how horrible feminists are and how undeserved any awards going to women really are, but this many in one year?

I'm not making this confession just because I hate having to read misogynistic screeds in general (and yet feel that I should read it in order to respond to it), but because it tells me something deeper about the struggle we are in and about my fears of the frequent backlashes against any progress women make. But we can't smuggle equality in during the dark hours of the night, after all.

A New Sex Offender Site

Oklahoma has a new law which requires all abortions to be listed on a public website:

The law (which you can look at here — it's HR 1595) mandates that a 34-item questionnaire be filled out by abortion providers for each procedure. The questionnaire doesn't include the woman's name or "any information specifically identifying the patient," but it does ask for age, race, level of education, marital status, number of previous pregnancies, and the county in which the abortion was performed, information which opponents of the bill argue would be enough to identify a woman in a small town. The questionnaire also asks about the mother's reason for the abortion, her method of payment, and even what type of insurance she has, as well as whether the fetus received anaesthetic and whether there was "an infant born alive as a result of the abortion."

The required information astonishingly contains nothing about the man who caused the pregnancy, but is probably sufficient for finding the identity of any woman in a smallish town. And that is its real purpose. That, and the idea of making abortions more and more cumbersome for the physicians to perform.

As Lynn Harris writes on Broadsheet:

It isn't unique for a state to post health data on its Web site. However, Oklahoma's requirements are by far the most extensive as such. The law's supporters claim they want this information to be made public so it can be used for "academic research," but according to the Center for Reproductive Rights, its collection method makes it useless for that purpose. (If a woman sees more than one doctor concerning her abortion -- primary care and abortion provider, say -- the data, collected each visit, will appear to represent more than one patient.)

The website really is about shaming the sluts. But it could also be used for making threats at women, including those with mistaken identities. Let's hope that the legal challenge to HR 1595 succeeds.

The United States Of Health

Comparing various measures of health across the American states can be informative. It can also be tricky, because such comparisons don't tell us why people in Vermont are so much healthier than those in Mississippi, say; just that they are.

Still, here are the most recent rankings from one study which has applied various health measures to the states. The healthiest states in 2007 were these:

1. Vermont
2. Hawaii
3. Iowa
4. Minnesota
5. Maine
New Hampshire (tie)

And the least healthy states in 2007 were these:

47. Nevada
48. Arkansas
49. Louisiana
50. Oklahoma
51. Mississippi

The article I link to notes that the least healthy states in general have many more uninsured individuals than the healthiest states, and that is true. They probably also have less access to health care facilities in the more concrete sense. But attributing all the health differences to differences in health care utilization is probably a big mistake, because the determinants of good health are complex and depend not only on health care use but also on general life-styles, incomes, education, pollution levels, crime and so on.

Take incomes, for example. Higher incomes allow people to have better nutrition, safer homes and health care. Higher incomes are also usually earned in ways which are less risky for the bodies in terms of accidents and occupational illnesses. It probably doesn't surprise you then that a ranking of states by medium income in the early 2000s looks almost exactly like that health ranking.

None of this means that the low-ranking states wouldn't be greatly helped by access to better health insurance. That's why it's so very odd that those are the very states which send the most backward politicians to Washington D.C..

Such Fun With Religion

PZ Myers writes about a new project of the infamous Conservapedia (the place where you can get your ultra-conservative worldview reinforced every day, instead of going to Wikipedia where you are turned into a little Maoist). This new project is -- wait for this -- rewriting the Bible to better match with today's wingnuttery! Here's the plan:

As of 2009, there is no fully conservative translation of the Bible which satisfies the following ten guidelines:[2]

1. Framework against Liberal Bias: providing a strong framework that enables a thought-for-thought translation without corruption by liberal bias
2. Not Emasculated: avoiding unisex, "gender inclusive" language, and other modern emasculation of Christianity
3. Not Dumbed Down: not dumbing down the reading level, or diluting the intellectual force and logic of Christianity; the NIV is written at only the 7th grade level[3]
4. Utilize Powerful Conservative Terms: using powerful new conservative terms as they develop;[4] defective translations use the word "comrade" three times as often as "volunteer"; similarly, updating words which have a change in meaning, such as "word", "peace", and "miracle".
5. Combat Harmful Addiction: combating addiction by using modern terms for it, such as "gamble" rather than "cast lots";[5] using modern political terms, such as "register" rather than "enroll" for the census
6. Accept the Logic of Hell: applying logic with its full force and effect, as in not denying or downplaying the very real existence of Hell or the Devil.
7. Express Free Market Parables; explaining the numerous economic parables with their full free-market meaning
8. Exclude Later-Inserted Liberal Passages: excluding the later-inserted liberal passages that are not authentic, such as the adulteress story
9. Credit Open-Mindedness of Disciples: crediting open-mindedness, often found in youngsters like the eyewitnesses Mark and John, the authors of two of the Gospels
10. Prefer Conciseness over Liberal Wordiness: preferring conciseness to the liberal style of high word-to-substance ratio; avoid compound negatives and unnecessary ambiguities; prefer concise, consistent use of the word "Lord" rather than "Jehovah" or "Yahweh" or "Lord God."

I bolded the funniest bit. I can imagine a rewriting where Jesus throws back a few beers, carves another Ayn Rand picture on his biceps and goes out to kill lots of liberals while the all-male Christian followers cheer and fart and thump each other on the backs.

Not that any of that is needed for canceling emasculation, naturally. All that requires is to put women in their proper place.

I think the Conservapedia people should know that the Bible has already been rewritten for the needs of a particular political group: cats. An example from Genesis 1: the Bible in lolcat:

Boreded Ceiling Cat makinkgz Urf n stuffs

1 Oh hai. In teh beginnin Ceiling Cat maded teh skiez An da Urfs, but he did not eated dem.

2 Da Urfs no had shapez An haded dark face, An Ceiling Cat rode invisible bike over teh waterz.

3 At start, no has lyte. An Ceiling Cat sayz, i can haz lite? An lite wuz.4 An Ceiling Cat sawed teh lite, to seez stuffs, An splitted teh lite from dark but taht wuz ok cuz kittehs can see in teh dark An not tripz over nethin.5 An Ceiling Cat sayed light Day An dark no Day. It were FURST!!!1

6 An Ceiling Cat sayed, im in ur waterz makin a ceiling. But he no yet make a ur. An he maded a hole in teh Ceiling.7 An Ceiling Cat doed teh skiez with waterz down An waterz up. It happen.8 An Ceiling Cat sayed, i can has teh firmmint wich iz funny bibel naim 4 ceiling, so wuz teh twoth day.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

For Jamie Leigh Jones

I have written of her case in the past, but here's a short summary with the reason for this post:

Today, the amendment offered by U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) to stop funding defense contractors who deny assault victims their day in court passed the United States Senate by a vote of 68 - 30

Last Thursday, Sen. Franken introduced an amendment (S.2588) to the FY2010 Defense Appropriations Bill that would restrict funding to defense contractors who commit employees to mandatory binding arbitration in the case of sexual assault. The legislation, endorsed by 61 women's, labor and public interest groups, was inspired by the story of Jamie Leigh Jones, who watched the vote from the Senate gallery today.

Jones was a 19-yr-old employee of defense contractor KBR (formerly a Halliburton subsidiary) stationed in Iraq who was gang raped by her co-workers and imprisoned in a shipping container when she tried to report the crime. Her father and U.S. Rep. Ted Poe (R-Tex.), worked together to secure her safe return to the United States, but once she was home, she learned a fine-print clause in her KBR contract banned her from taking her case to court, instead forcing her into an "arbitration" process that would be run by KBR itself. Just today, Halliburton filed a petition for a rehearing en banc in the 5th Circuit Court, which means that Jamie's fight is far from over.

Good for Senator Franken! And good for us. No military contractor should be outside of the laws of all countries.

The vote distribution in the Senate is fascinating. The NAYS appear to consist of only Republican men. Those are the people who think that Jamie Leigh Jones SHOULDN'T be allowed to have her day in court but that the people who put her into a packing crate to stop her from reporting the crime are the ones who should decide on the credibility of her case. Funny how that goes, eh?

This offers one great example why having more Democrats in the Congress does matter for women's rights. Though Republican women might do, too.
Links to the current story from Eschaton. For more of my posts on this topic, check here, here and here.

Wednesday Good News

Ada Yonath of Israel is one of the three winners of this year's Nobel Prize for Chemistry. She's the fourth woman to have won the prize. The last one was in 1964.

For why this is good news for women, check out my post below on the winners of this year's Medicine Prize.

Gender Politics! Grumble, grumble.

I watched a video interview of Leonard Cohen's opinions the other night. I searched it out on purpose, because there are hints in his lyrics that not all is OK with Leonard and Women. Women must be spelled with a capital W, because we are a mythical beast for Leonard, one he can adore or despise, put up on a pedestal and turn into something that only exists in the context of his love. (I still like many of his songs and want to stress that he's most likely a lot less objectifying than many famous male singers of the 1970s era.)

In the middle of the long interview Cohen talks about the difficulty of writing lyrics in a time which is all about gender politics and other kinds of politics and some extreme form of political correctness. He skates glibly around whatever he actually intends to say, as any good marketer would, but I suspect that he does not care for feminism.

All this set me thinking why other times would not have been about gender politics. Is it gender politics ONLY when women fight back, so to say? Read the Bible and you find gender politics, read the Koran and you find the same. Read old law books and you find them again. They have always been practiced, of course, and part of the rules of those politics traditionally has been NOT TO NOTICE THEM.

That's pretty important, I think. It's still true that the usual way to move across gender-based rules in a society is not to really question them, not to really notice them. That may be why the noticer and the questioner get bashed. Then it's those people who are seen as practicing gender politics.
My apologies for not noting down when the relevant bit comes on the video. I want to stress again that I like Cohen's art and I'm not singling him out in any particular way, just using the interview to point out how we frame matters in the culture.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Tonight, on David Letterman...

Suzie has already written about the case, but the basic message bears repeating: Bosses harvesting their subordinates for sex is almost always a bad idea.

What happens if the boss proposes sex and the underling refuses? Will the underling be later punished for that refusal in the form of fewer raises or promotions or even a speedier firing? And what will an underling thinking about all this do when such a question is popped to her (or even to him)?

It's that dratted power-over stuff again. I understand that not all cases are like that. I also understand that people can fall in love or in lust all across those rungs in power ladders. But there it is, the basic reason why Letterman should have taken the trouble to go out to singles bars or something (when he was still single, that is). And no, this is not all about sexual morals in some old-fashioned sense of the term.

Trivial Question Of The Day

How many have found this site blocked as pron? (Must write vewy cawefully...) I've now been told about my new-found status by two people. (For this honor, I'd like to thank Ares who is an asshat,...)

The Scorched Earth Party?

That would be the U.S. Republican Party, according to two articles I recently read. Paul Krugman, from whom I stole the title of this post, writes about the transmogrified Republican Party in his recent column:

How did one of our great political parties become so ruthless, so willing to embrace scorched-earth tactics even if so doing undermines the ability of any future administration to govern?

The key point is that ever since the Reagan years, the Republican Party has been dominated by radicals — ideologues and/or apparatchiks who, at a fundamental level, do not accept anyone else's right to govern.

Anyone surprised by the venomous, over-the-top opposition to Mr. Obama must have forgotten the Clinton years. Remember when Rush Limbaugh suggested that Hillary Clinton was a party to murder? When Newt Gingrich shut down the federal government in an attempt to bully Bill Clinton into accepting those Medicare cuts? And let's not even talk about the impeachment saga.

The only difference now is that the G.O.P. is in a weaker position, having lost control not just of Congress but, to a large extent, of the terms of debate. The public no longer buys conservative ideology the way it used to; the old attacks on Big Government and paeans to the magic of the marketplace have lost their resonance. Yet conservatives retain their belief that they, and only they, should govern.

Earlier, Neal Gabler wrote something similar when discussing right-wing political beliefs as a religion:

The tea-baggers who hate President Obama with a fervor that is beyond politics; the fear-mongers who warn that Obama is another Hitler or Stalin; the wannabe storm troopers who brandish their guns and warn darkly of the president's demise; the cable and talk-radio blowhards who make a living out of demonizing Obama and tarring liberals as America-haters -- these people are not just exercising their rights within the political system. They honestly believe that the political system -- a system that elected Obama -- is broken and only can be fixed by substituting their certainty for the uncertainties of American politics.

As we are sadly discovering, this minority cannot be headed off, which is most likely why conservatism transmogrified from politics to a religion in the first place. Conservatives who sincerely believed that theirs is the only true and right path have come to realize that political tolerance is no match for religious vehemence.

My mind linked the two theses together, to come up with this:

The Republican base prefers their own rule to a destroyed country which they in turn prefer to the rule of the Democrats.

There are certainly Democrats who have corresponding (reverse) preferences, but those are never the Democrats in power. That group is sorta jello-like and wobbly, so as not to come across as bipartisan. (Imagine a fight of sharks against blobs of jello...)

This may not make much sense, but I'm trying to see how Krugman's and Gabler's arguments go with the oft-heard argument that "the left" should not start behaving like the right, should not become intolerant just to fight back. But what IS the tolerance of intolerance? Karl Popper, to the pink courtesy phone, please.

I do believe that the articles I have quoted above are right when they state that the Republican Party has not just drifted to the right but leapt there with all their might (while throwing the money bags over, first, of course). That's the way they stopped being a permanent minority: By enlisting populist policies of the lowest common denomination (fear and hate the Others!) and by energizing the fundamentalists. Those are the tigers they now ride. Seems like they are stuck up there, for the time being, because the tigers are hung-g-ry.

These developments are not completely inexplicable. Neither is the Democratic Party free of blame in all this. But I still think that the muddy middle is not large enough, interested enough or informed enough to make a real difference in these politics of division.

Monday, October 05, 2009

How I'd Like To Live

Like this, except with less stuff.

It's not going to happen. Like all junctions in life, once you took the turn marked "Sally Army Furniture: Excellent Quality Available Only in Depression Brown" you are kinda stuck and will not be able to throw everything out and start again. Also, where would my spiders live if I let all that light in?

But it's always fun to dream about a different life.

Good News Monday

The three winners of the Nobel Prize in Medicine include two women:

Three Americans won the Nobel prize in medicine on Monday for discovering how chromosomes protect themselves as cells divide, work that has inspired experimental cancer therapies and may offer insights into aging.

The research by Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Carol W. Greider and Jack W. Szostak revealed the workings of chromosome features called telomeres, which play an important role in the aging of cells.

It's the first time two women have shared in a single Nobel science prize. Over the years, a total of 10 women have won the prize in medicine.

My congratulations to all three winners. And a big cheer for the two women among them, because it does matter for all women. Prejudices and perceptions about women as a group are made less harmful by news such as these. It's important to understand that, and I have failed to explain it adequately in my posts. I'm not writing about uppity women and such just because I happen to be a goddess. The toolbox of anti-feminists consists of the same old rusted swords, and one of these is all about the presumed intellectual inferiority of women. It's presumed, by the way, however many times one refutes the argument, but actual examples do help to quiet the murmurs a little.

It's very sad that Joan Robinson died before having a chance to receive the Nobel Economics Prize, by the way. But then of course she couldn't get a full professorship until she was well in her forties. So the world HAS changed.

And What Did She Think Would Happen?

That's what I wanted to know after reading this excerpt from an interview with Sandra Day O'Connor:

Retired Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O'Connor says she regrets that some of her decisions "are being dismantled" by the current Supreme Court.

O'Connor, who generally has avoided questions on the substance of the court under Chief Justice John Roberts, made the observation during a wide-ranging and unusually candid panel discussion over the weekend.

Asked how she felt about the fact that the current court had undone some of her rulings, the nation's first woman justice responded, "What would you feel? I'd be a little bit disappointed. If you think you've been helpful, and then it's dismantled, you think, 'Oh, dear.' But life goes on. It's not always positive."

O'Connor, appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1981, was a moderate conservative who often brokered compromises among justices and across ideological lines.

Since she retired in 2006, the court has become more conservative and retreated from some rulings in which she crafted consensus, including on abortion rights, campaign finance and government race-based policies.

After all, Justice O'Connor IS part of the reason why we have an Attila-The-Hun Supreme Court right now. With proper apologies to Attila, of course, who might not have been as conservative as Scalia and his clones are.

Today's Proverb Worth Translating

Like rowing a water-logged boat against the current.

That's a description of having to deal with someone who is all glum and grumpy and down in the dumps. Such as me on my bad-fangs days.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Lecherous Letterman (by Suzie)

This column talks about CBS talk-show host David Letterman, the alleged victim of an extortion attempt. (I stuck in "alleged victim" because that's the descriptor often used for women in sex crimes.)
This scandal threatens to make painful personal incidents public in a major way for a celebrity who has tried hard to keep his private life private.
But a famous boss having sex with subordinates isn't a private, none-of-our-business affair. It raises questions about whether women felt pressure to have sex with him to keep, or advance in, their career. The NYT reports:
Several longtime associates of Mr. Letterman said he has a long history of pursuing relationships with employees, dating to his first days on television on NBC in the early 1980s. At that time he was known to frequently date interns and other young women connected to his show, one associate said.

Weekly Poetry Slam Thread posted by Anthony McCarthy

Post your fresh poems on topical or other subjects, your encouragement or disagreement with what gets posted on the comments.

Feel free to start us off, I’ll post my first one later today.