Saturday, February 13, 2010

Ali vs. Patterson (by res ipsa loquitur)

I am catching up on my New Yorkers, which have been piling up since early January. Yesterday, I finally got to the Ken Auletta piece about Obama and the media from the January 25th issue. Ninety percent of it was stuff everyone's heard ten thousand times before, but one passage in the other ten percent struck me:

Axelrod, who was Obama's media consultant and consigliere in [the 2004 Illinois Senate] race, as he was in 2008, wrote a memo on November 28, 2006, while Obama was deciding whether to run for President or stay in the Senate. In the memo, which was revealed by Dan Balz and Haynes Johnson in their book, "The Battle for America 2008," Axelrod warned of the disturbing questions that journalists would ask: "This is more than unpleasant inconvenience. It goes to your unwillingness and ability to put up with something you have never experienced on a sustained basis: criticism. At the risk of triggering the very reaction that concerns me, I don't know if you are Muhammad Ali or Floyd Patterson when it comes to taking a punch. You care far too much what is written and said about you."

Axelrod sounds like a valuable advisor (at least in a campaign context). I wonder if he's thought about changing the date on the memo and resubmitting it to his boss since.

(also posted at Rising Hegemon)

False Stereotyping, I Thought It was our OPPONENTS Who Did That by Anthony McCarthy

A number of weeks ago, during a blog discussion of some issue, I don’t remember which one, I made a rash statement that liberal Christians needed to take back the discussion or they would be blamed for the identification of Christianity with fundamentalism. Which was an illustration that some things that are kinda true are, nonetheless, rather stupid statements. And I did know better. Putting the blame on liberal Christians for the identification of Christianity with fundamentalists is just wrong and stupid.

As the fine blogger RMJ pointed out, in answer to my foolish statement, liberal Christians have tried. over and over again, to take back the discussion but they are ignored. Liberal Christians (and Jews, Moslems, Buddhists, etc.) have issued a myriad of statements supporting justice, reason, civil rights of all variety, economic justice, the separation of church and state, contraceptive education, ... pretty much the liberal agenda. They have also issued statements condemning sexism, racism, gay hatred, trans gender discrimination, environmental destruction, economic injustice. They have issued statements, press releases, position papers, sermons, etc. and they have been just about as completely shut out of the media as secular groups issuing the same kinds of statements have been. No, that’s not true either. Mainline Christian churches, speaking on behalf of justice, are more completely excluded from mainstream media than secular groups. You should read RMJ’s posts* on the subject, they are some of the best anywhere. Since he pointed this out to me, again, I have tried to correct myself and make amends for past sins of that kind.

We talk about “Christianity” and about “religion” as if there was really something that “was” either one or both. But there isn’t. There are thousands of groups and billions of different people who identify themselves as “Christians” today. But as anyone who has read the Pauline epistles will know, there hasn’t been any one “Christianity” since a few decades after the death of Jesus. In fact, there were already people presenting themselves as speaking authoritatively on his behalf during his lifetime. Jesus is on record as having warned about that, himself.

During another blog fight yesterday about the charge that “Xians” all shared in some kind of blood guilt over the Ugandan pogrom against gay people, the ususal suspects, including me, pointed out that Episcopalians, United Church of Christ** and a slew of other mainline churches and Christians have issued official statements condemning the hateful bills going through the Ugandan government. The first things I ever saw about it were warnings and condemnations coming from liberal Christian sources, well before I heard about it on NPR or the commercial media, well before I noticed blog atheists on the subject. One of the “Xian” bashers, after having it suggested to them that they google the topic and see the many, many condemnations made by Christians against the Ugandan Government-The Family oppression of gay people, said this:

So it's up to me to google every denomination on the planet to see for myself where each and every flavor of each and every superstition stands on Ugandan xians who want to slaughter people for being gay? Come on. The onus is on them to inform me!

This sums up the problem. People exempting themselves from the most basic requirements of both reason and justice by virtue of their atheism, or Buddhism, or paganism or Christianity or adherence to science or Islam or any other presumed virtue of self-identification.

Of course the answer is, YES, it is up to you to know that you're telling the truth. If you don't, you shouldn't make the statement. I’m kind of amazed that the self-proclaimed “rationalists” don’t seem to realize that if you’re going to talk about something that the onus is on you to get it right. I’m stunned that in a blog discussion on a leftist blog that people can claim there is a right to lie about large groups of people, by people who exempt themselves from the requirement to know the hell what they’re talking about. Call me old fashioned, but I thought that’s what we were fighting against.

There was a time I thought that people preening over their own rationality would have realized one of the ground level requirements of reason was that you had to deal with things as they are, not as you distort it for convenience and self-service.

I will get around to talking about how stupid it would be for the left to reject organizations representing many millions of voters who are, in some instances, more progressive than many secular groups, because they are Christian. Apart from the essential issue of justice, that’s a lot of votes and a lot of motivated workers to reject. You’d think any reasoning person would realize that. But that's a lesser question of practicality. If you don't feel an obligation to tell the truth, it doesn't matter.

* I think this passage from RMJ is as perfect as statement of the matter as possible.

The UCC issues press releases constantly out of Cleveland (where it is headquartered). Ever hear of them? Not on Keith or Rachel, not even on Democracy Now! (where I often get news no one else is reporting). Not on BBC World Service (another excellent news source). Nowhere. I never see them reported, except by the UCC newsletter, and who outside the UCC (or inside, it, for that matter) reads that?. The same is true for the Lutherans, the Methodists, the Episcopalians: if they bother to issue press releases, who republishes them? As Arianna Huffington pointed out on Countdown last night, Dick Cheney only issues a press release condemning Obama's efforts in the "war on terror," and Politico published it and over a week later, Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow were still talking about it. But a press release from a mainline denomination?


So it goes, actually. That's the nature of the world. Or at least of a Jeffersonian culture where we have always valued the separation of church and state (even the "liberal" Guardian of London regularly publishes columns, opinion, and information, about religion, and especially about the Church of England). But it's one of the qualities of "news" that what is published, broadcast, bandied about, even discussed on the internet, is only "news" if someone somewhere says it is. And for all the interest in "religion" I see even on the internets, there's precious little real interest in the subject or in the nature of the mainline churches. Everyone prefers either the self-promotional caricatures of Joel Osteen or Rick Warren or James Dobson or Pat Robertson (all of whom have something, or sometimes many things, to sell) or their own desultory (and uninformed) opinions over the actions and statements of Geoffrey Black or Katherine Jefferts Schori.

You can read RMJ’s blog Adventus by clicking on the link at the head of Echidne’s blog roll. ---->

** I mentioned in passing that I and another man could talk to the closest UCC church and arrange to be married in it. Yes, married, it’s in New Hampshire. And the only question would be if the church was available that day. The UCC has been especially good on the issue of non-discrimination against LGBT people, as have been the Episcopalians of New Hampshire and elsewhere. I’m not ignoring that because it makes some bigots uncomfortable.

The UCC, Episcopalians, and many other Christians, individually and as groups have stood by GLBT people and I'm bound by both morality and honor to stand by them.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Count The Women

Who Was Invited To President Obama's Health Care Summit?

On The Condescension Of Liberals

I missed writing on Gerard Alexander's Washington Post piece, all about the condescending liberals, because I was too busy being condescending elsewhere. But it's a fun piece to read and to think about it, even now.

Alexander's thesis is simple: Liberals have always been arrogant a**holes and simply assumed that they are right and the conservatives wrong. This doesn't work in reverse, however, because conservatives are never condescending.

Here is Dick Armey, a conservative politician:

"I have been on record since I was an undergraduate as recognizing that liberals are generally not very bright and conservatives are deep thinkers. Liberals are, in my estimation, just not bright people. They don't think deeply, they don't comprehend, they don't understand a partial derivative, they have a narrow educational base as opposed to the hard scientists.. If you were a Southern, Anglo, Baptist liberal, I promise you I would say you were not well-educated and probably not a very deep thinker. Because that's what liberals are." Dick Armey

You can read Alexander on the four ways that liberals condescend. There is much I could have said about his arguments but it seems a little late to join that particular debate.

Still, this bit is worth addressing:

Perhaps the most important conservative insight being depreciated is the durable warning from free-marketeers that government programs often fail to yield what their architects intend. Democrats have been busy expanding, enacting or proposing major state interventions in financial markets, energy and health care. Supporters of such efforts want to ensure that key decisions will be made in the public interest and be informed, for example, by sound science, the best new medical research or prudent standards of private-sector competition. But public-choice economists have long warned that when decisions are made in large, centralized government programs, political priorities almost always trump other goals.

I might argue that the most important liberal/progressive insight being depreciated is the durable warning that free markets sometimes implode and pull down the whole world. The architects of such unregulated markets might not have intended those side effects that we see today: a major recession.

"The Beauty of the Rain' (by Suzie)

Today, it has rained nonstop. I'm glad to be home from the hospital, sleeping under afghans, next to my Chihuahua.

Friday flower blogging (by Suzie)

Don't give up hope -- spring is coming. (by Julie Savell-McCandless)

A Guest Post By Neographite

Neographite is kindly subbing for Suzie. This is the post:

Here's what I remember about sex in college (not specifically, now, but metaphorically): It could change things. This wasn't the first stage of free love, or of gays and lesbians coming out of the closet, but the stakes still seemed to be getting bigger. Back then, "queer" was contesting "gay and lesbian". Women's activism was as much about porn as reproductive rights. Silence equaled death. Sex was political.

Maybe you don't remember those days, but Foucault was in the air and activism had turned personal. Many people, myself included, thought that sex was a kind of battlefield, not between the two (or more) people engaged in it, but at a cultural/symbolic/political level. Certain kinds of love could change the world.

So I am wondering whether that energy went. Whatever happened to sex's politics? (Not, let me be clear, the sex/gender political implications, which any recent Supreme Court decision reminds us is still around, but the political implications of sexual desire and sexual action?) Part of it is probably personal – I'm older now, in a stable relationship, looking back through rose-colored glasses, etc. But it seems to go beyond that into the social realm. Not that there's anything wrong with gay marriage as a goal, but is that the limit of sex's imagination? Is normativizing enough?

The current issue of Trivia: Voices of Feminism brings these thoughts to mind with a series of essays asking "Are lesbians going extinct?" Extinct meaning here: losing meaning, losing power, losing importance. The contributors start off from Nicole Brossard's claim "A lesbian who does not reinvent the world is a lesbian going extinct." And what they are asking is much what I've been thinking about.

Posted by Neographite

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thursday Fluffy Post

Well, not so fluffy, as this is about my most recent experiment with crust. I made a pear galette (two, in fact), and followed all advice about the necessary arctic environment, cold liquid, frozen implements and so on. I most likely have chill-blains now.

But the crust came out cardboard again. The pears taste very nice, though. It may be that some things just are not meant to be. I can't sing, either.

Use the threads for advice and so on, and also regard it as an open thread while I finish something for a deadline.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I Completely Forgot

That the piece I summarized below is by the same Charlotte Allen who wrote about us thick-as-a-broad broads in 2008. Do read that one to see what Charlotte thinks of us wimminfolk.

She's like the wingnuts' one-gal misogyny team! I wonder if she hates herself, too?
Added later: And this was the response to that women-are-stupid article by another conservative woman:

At the Corner of the National Review, the response to the Charlotte Allen column on the dimness of women was given by Kathryn Jean Lopez (yes, a woman):

Charlotte Allen

eviscerates women. I love it.

I really don't understand conservative women. Are they all masochists?

Good News

I got an e-mail today from Donna in which she tells that our Suzie is home from the hospital and doing well. She will have a long recovery ahead of her but all the good wishes and energy we send cannot hurt.

Photoshopaholics (by res ipsa loquitur)

What, do you think, is the point of this exercise?

The Mancession

That is how the MRA sites describe this recession, because the unemployment has hit construction and manufacturing, traditionally male fields, hardest of all. Now Don Peck has written the mainstream equivalent of the mancession argument in the Atlantic Monthly.

He writes with great empathy and with great emotional force of the horrible consequences of blue-collar male unemployment. These are, perhaps surprisingly, hardly at all about the lost income. Instead, working-class men will be psychologically crushed, perhaps never to recover, marriages will be dissolved (because both men and women agree that a man's worth is in the money he brings home), domestic violence will rise and previously vibrant and strong white working-class communities will begin to look like black inner-city ghettos (yes, he does say that). Children will suffer when marriages fail. Working-class men will become valueless serial daters. And so on. Here's what Mr. Peck bemoans:

The weight of this recession has fallen most heavily upon men, who've suffered roughly three-quarters of the 8 million job losses since the beginning of 2008. Male-dominated industries (construction, finance, manufacturing) have been particularly hard-hit, while sectors that disproportionately employ women (education, health care) have held up relatively well. In November, 19.4 percent of all men in their prime working years, 25 to 54, did not have jobs, the highest figure since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking the statistic in 1948. At the time of this writing, it looks possible that within the next few months, for the first time in U.S. history, women will hold a majority of the country's jobs.

In this respect, the recession has merely intensified a long-standing trend. Broadly speaking, the service sector, which employs relatively more women, is growing, while manufacturing, which employs relatively more men, is shrinking. The net result is that men have been contributing a smaller and smaller share of family income.

"Traditional" marriages, in which men engage in paid work and women in homemaking, have long been in eclipse. Particularly in blue-collar families, where many husbands and wives work staggered shifts, men routinely handle a lot of the child care today. Still, the ease with which gender bends in modern marriages should not be overestimated. When men stop doing paid work—and even when they work less than their wives—marital conflict usually follows.

Last March, the National Domestic Violence Hotline received almost half again as many calls as it had one year earlier; as was the case in the Depression, unemployed men are vastly more likely to beat their wives or children. More common than violence, though, is a sort of passive-aggressiveness. In Identity Economics, the economists George Akerloff and Rachel Kranton find that among married couples, men who aren't working at all, despite their free time, do only 37 percent of the housework, on average. And some men, apparently in an effort to guard their masculinity, actually do less housework after becoming unemployed.

Many working women struggle with the idea of partners who aren't breadwinners. "We've got this image of Archie Bunker sitting at home, grumbling and acting out," says Kathryn Edin, a professor of public policy at Harvard, and an expert on family life. "And that does happen. But you also have women in whole communities thinking, 'This guy's nothing.'" Edin's research in low-income communities shows, for instance, that most working women whose partner stayed home to watch the kids—while very happy with the quality of child care their children's father provided—were dissatisfied with their relationship overall. "These relationships were often filled with conflict," Edin told me. Even today, she says, men's identities are far more defined by their work than women's, and both men and women become extremely uncomfortable when men's work goes away.

It's hard not to touched by all the suffering and grief in Mr. Peck's story. But it's also not hard to think that had this recession been a womancession, Mr. Peck wouldn't have written anything at all. After all, he states:

In her classic sociology of the Depression, The Unemployed Man and His Family, Mirra Komarovsky vividly describes how joblessness strained—and in many cases fundamentally altered—family relationships in the 1930s. During 1935 and 1936, Komarovsky and her research team interviewed the members of 59 white middle-class families in which the husband and father had been out of work for at least a year. Her research revealed deep psychological wounds. "It is awful to be old and discarded at 40," said one father. "A man is not a man without work." Another said plainly, "During the depression I lost something. Maybe you call it self-respect, but in losing it I also lost the respect of my children, and I am afraid I am losing my wife." Noted one woman of her husband, "I still love him, but he doesn't seem as 'big' a man."

Taken together, the stories paint a picture of diminished men, bereft of familial authority. Household power—over children, spending, and daily decisions of all types—generally shifted to wives over time (and some women were happier overall as a result). Amid general anxiety, fears of pregnancy, and men's loss of self-worth and loss of respect from their wives, sex lives withered. Socializing all but ceased as well, a casualty of poverty and embarrassment. Although some men embraced family life and drew their wife and children closer, most became distant. Children described their father as "mean," "nasty," or "bossy," and didn't want to bring friends around, for fear of what he might say. "There was less physical violence towards the wife than towards the child," Komarovsky wrote.

In the 70 years that have passed since the publication of The Unemployed Man and His Family, American society has become vastly more wealthy, and a more comprehensive social safety net—however frayed it may seem—now stretches beneath it. Two-earner households have become the norm, cushioning the economic blow of many layoffs. And of course, relationships between men and women have evolved. Yet when read today, large parts of Komarovsky's book still seem disconcertingly up-to-date. All available evidence suggests that long bouts of unemployment—particularly male unemployment—still enfeeble the jobless and warp their families to a similar degree, and in many of the same ways.

There you have it. I wish the story didn't touch me quite so much, because I hate to go on to talk about numbers but that I must. Note that reference earlier in the long quote:

In November, 19.4 percent of all men in their prime working years, 25 to 54, did not have jobs, the highest figure since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking the statistic in 1948.

Such a number may well have been posted somewhere. But my most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics tables tell me that the unemployment rate of men 25-54 in November 2009 equaled 10.2%, not 19.4%. January 2010 had that number at 9.4%. Not good, but about half of the number in Mr. Peck's article.

The same source tells me that the overall unemployment rate for married men in November 2010 (presumably when he was writing his piece) was 7.5%, and that for married women 5.8%. The corresponding January 2010 numbers were 6.6.% and 5.8%.

Now, it's quite possible that some sub-groups of married men have much higher unemployment statistics. But in general the groups with the highest rates are the unmarried men and women. To then focus so much of the article on married men seems odd.

What is also odd is the long anecdote about a financial analyst at a hospital who lost his job:

Over lunch I spoke with one attendee, Gus Poulos, a Vietnam-era veteran who had begun his career as a refrigeration mechanic before going to night school and becoming an accountant. He is trim and powerfully built, and looks much younger than his 59 years. For seven years, until he was laid off in December 2008, he was a senior financial analyst for a local hospital.

Poulos said that his frustration had built and built over the past year. "You apply for so many jobs and just never hear anything," he told me. "You're one of my few interviews. I'm just glad to have an interview with anybody, even a magazine." Poulos said he was an optimist by nature, and had always believed that with preparation and hard work, he could overcome whatever life threw at him. But sometime in the past year, he'd lost that sense, and at times he felt aimless and adrift. "That's never been who I am," he said. "But now, it's who I am."

Recently he'd gotten a part-time job as a cashier at Walmart, for $8.50 an hour. "They say, 'Do you want it?' And in my head, I thought, 'No.' And I raised my hand and said, 'Yes.'" Poulos and his wife met when they were both working as supermarket cashiers, four decades earlier—it had been one of his first jobs. "Now, here I am again."

Financial analysts are not blue-collar workers. The unemployment rate for the category of management, business and financial operations in January 2010 equaled 5.0%. Why didn't Mr. Peck find someone for this anecdote who had worked in construction and extraction, with a January 2010 unemployment rate of 24.6%? Why was this anecdote used at all when it does not pertain to Mr. Peck's apparent thesis?

Probably because it does pertain to his real thesis which is about the emasculation of men on various levels?
Thanks to Martha Bridegam for the link to the article and for the point that Peck worries about white male unemployment, not about male unemployment.

On Autism And Parental Age

Did you know the old received wisdom about autism and parental age? Apparently it was that older fathers tended to sire more autistic children.

I did not know this, even though I follow gender-related popularizations like a hawk. This suggests to me that the popularizers didn't think such a finding was of any wider interest, though it could also be that I just missed the intensive popularizations which followed such a finding (Older Fathers Sire Autistic Children! Alarm!).

Now I do know about this received wisdom, because it has been replaced by one having to do with the mother's age:

Older mothers are far more likely to have autistic children than those who give birth younger, say researchers who have examined data on every birth in California in the 1990s.

The team found that mothers over 40 were 51% more likely to have an autistic child than mothers between 25 and 29 (see table for absolute risks).

"This study challenges a current theory in autism epidemiology that identifies the father's age as a key factor in increasing the risk of having a child with autism," says study author Janie Shelton, of the University of California, Davis (press release).

Well, it seems still to be true that older fathers have some effect on the probability of siring an autistic child:

Older mothers are more likely than younger ones to have a child with autism, and older fathers significantly contribute to the risk of the disorder when their partners are under 30, researchers are reporting.


The new findings appeared to question the conclusions of earlier research suggesting that the risk of autism spectrum disorders increased with advancing paternal age, but not with advancing maternal age.

One such study analyzed a large Israeli military database and found that children of fathers 40 or older were more than five times as likely to have an autism disorder as those whose fathers were under 30.

An author of that study, Dr. Dolores Malaspina, a psychiatrist at New York University Langone Medical Center, said Monday that mothers and fathers were usually so close in age that small statistical differences could appear to shift the effect of advanced age from one parent to another.

"It's important we not turn around and blame mothers," Dr. Malaspina said. "The evidence is very, very strong that there is a paternal age effect."

But blaming mothers is fun! That's one thing I have learned while blogging on feminism.

More seriously the parental ages are among those variables which are likely to exhibit multicollinearity. This makes it rather difficult to disentangle the effect of the mother's age from the father's age in general, though this new study may have succeeded in that. I doubt that the data set had very many parents where the mother was in her forties and the father in his twenties, though.

Everything Is The Fault Of Feminists. Or The New Dating Game.

I bet the Weekly Standard pays by word, given the length of Charlotte Allen's piece called "The New Dating Game". They certainly don't pay by logic if this article is anything to go by.

To see what I mean by the lack of logic, let me summarize the piece. You can then compare my summary to the actual piece.

Allen begins by telling us the story of Courtney A., a woman who decided to have a one-night stand with the misogynistic comedian, Tucker Max, and then to write about it. Even though feminists criticized Tucker Max, it is really feminists who promote promiscuity and therefore it is really feminists who should be blamed for the sexual revolution, the increased divorce rates, the older age at first marriage and possibly also nuclear wars and such.

The level of promiscuity in the society can be measured by using data from New York City.

Allen somehow knows that the only men who get laid under this scenario are what she calls alpha males. They might once have been WWII aviators but now they are guys who wear black eyeliner and black nail polish or the Tucker Max-types. These alpha males are the ones all the sluts go after, while the poor beta males don't get any nookie or wives, either.

So what we really have in this scenario is a return to the paleolithic times, which Allen calls the New Paleolithic. She quotes various evo-psychos who have all time-traveled to the real paleolithic and therefore know how people hooked up in those days or didn't, and all these experts and Allen agree that only the alpha males got laid then because that was imperative for good genes to be passed on. Men are polygamous and women are monogamous (well, mostly). How this goes with Allen's argument about women being sluts is terribly unclear to me.

Nevertheless, Allen knows that these things can be true at the same time! Women are sluts now, though they were not sluts then. What women really want, though, is to marry an alpha male and then to be dominated by him.

This isn't happening anymore, and that's the fault of feminism, because feminism doesn't let women get those dominating men, except in the hookup culture. As examples of such desirable men Allen mentions convicted killers.

Even the most beautiful woman is only desirable during her early twenties. If she refuses marriage then in order to have more time to play the field she probably won't be able to marry at all. By the time she turns thirty she starts drooping and men of her age will want to marry someone in their early twenties. Who is a virgin! Because paleolithic men only married virgins? Married?

Allen goes on writing about cougars, about women always on the prowl, with their breasts falling out of their tops, never accepting a beta man, never procreating, I guess. And all this is the fault of feminism.

So feminism has really hurt women, partly by bringing back that evo-psycho world which the conservatives usually argue has always been with us.

But the other victims of the feminist sexual revolution (!) are the beta men. Those men wouldn't have gotten laid during the paleolithic era so I'm not sure why there are still some around. But never mind. They don't get laid now, either. That's why they have become misogynistic and gathered together into groups which try to cheat women into fucking them. Though Allen is still friendly with them.

These fucking clubs are also the fault of feminism, because no man ever tried to cheat a woman into bed before the feminist revolution. Feminism can also be blamed for the anger of divorced men, because feminists are sitting on all the divorce courts in this country.

Yet on the other hand, whom the sexual revolution really helped was women who can now follow their paleolithic instincts to mate only with the alpha men. Except that only virgins get married.

I probably missed something because my eyes are spinning in my head, but you can see why writing a short critique of the piece is impossible.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

What Is Indicial Health Insurance Coverage?

i've been trying to make sense of this bit, discussing Obama's speech today:

Obama used the example of how Anthem Blue Cross, the largest insurer in California, is planning to raise premiums for many individual policy holders by as much as 39 percent.

"If we don't act, this is just a preview of coming attractions," the president said. "Premiums will continue to rise for folks with insurance. Millions more will lose their coverage altogether. Our deficits will continue to grow larger."

One of the reasons Anthem Blue Cross says that it's raising its premiums is because so many people are dropping out of indicial coverage because the economy's so bad, much of which has to do with businesses being uncertain about legislation in Washington.

I Googled the term and found nothing that seems to make sense. The only interpretation that would make economic sense is that "indicial" refers to group plans provided by employers. If the number of people having those has dropped then one would expect an increase in the demand for individual policies and such a demand could, indeed, raise prices. If "indicial" means something else then I'm stumped. It can't be a mis-spelling of "individual" because a drop in the demand for such policies would lower the price rather than raise it.

Though I suspect that the raising of rates by Anthem has more to do with the idea that they won't be able to raise rates after the health care proposal goes through (should it ever pass) with as much ease.

On That Obesity Campaign

Which Michelle Obama will lead. My modest additional proposal:

1. Bring physical education back into schools as an important aspect of overall education. Don't cut it the minute you need to save money, and don't make it all about the few children good enough to be in school teams. It's everyone we need to get moving.

2. Get rid of corn syrup in everything that is cheap food or drink. There's enough evidence to suggest that it's bad for the human bodies when taken in such large amounts.

3. If you want to scare people with scandalous stories of what might happen to an unattended child playing outside, also provide actual statistical odds of that happening and the statistical consequences of keeping all children locked up inside their homes until they turn thirty or break their way out.

Today's Deep Thoughts

1. I'm a gateway drug to feminism. Discuss.

2. No, even goddesses cannot work through weekends and go without sleep.

Couldn't Remember Where I Heard It...... Just a quick note

but last week, after hearing a male English professor waxing wistfully about how much Catcher in the Rye meant to his development, another professor, a woman, said that her first reading of Holden Caulfield was like being on a date with a boy who couldn't stop talking about himself.

Which might be the most insightful single thing ever said about the book.


Monday, February 08, 2010

The Misogyny Bowl

That was a fun Super Bowl. The patriarchal Focus on the Family ad was nothing, though of course one is invited to partake of their wise website.

But some of the other ads! Every man is pussy-whupped and really hates his wife/girlfriend.

The worst of the lot is the Dodge ad: Man's Last Stand. Watch it first and then come back. A comment on the ad:

Four men look at the camera as we hear their thoughts, including "I will say 'yes' when you want me to say 'yes.' I will be quiet when you don't want me to say 'no.'" and "I will listen to your opinions of my friends. I will listen to your friends opinions of my friends." and "I will watch your vampire TV shows."

Sure, honey, you want a Dodge? Go right ahead.

Oh, wait, there's a small the problem though: "Dexter's" Michael C. Hall does the voiceovers for Dodge. And seeing as how his narrations plays such a prominent role in the Showtime series about a serial killer, it's kind of disconcerting. Looking at these men, you expect one of them is going to think, "I'll kill you for your crimes and save a drop of blood for a souvenir."

Yeah. I felt that the story was getting closer and closer to a violent explosion, myself, and it does look like it might have been intended. Note to all people of girly persuasion and those who love them: NEVER EVER BUY A F****NG DODGE AGAIN!!!.

The other ghastly ad was Flot tv's Spineless (as in a spineless guy whose girlfriend forces him to walk around with a bra hanging off his shoulder). NEVER BUY WHATEVER S**T FLOT SELLS, EITHER.

These two ads together are an ode to misogyny, my dears. Women are ball-breaking bitches or they have horrible, horrible cooties, and you must act decisively! By buying some crappy product! To show that you are not pussy-whupped, nosir.

A couple of others are borderline nasty. For example, this one and then the Dockers ad, though to get the misogyny in that one you need to have read my earlier post on the "Wear The Pants" campaign.

But the ads were not just misogynist. I spotted one misandrist ad, too, this one. It portrays men as idiots barely capable of opening a beer bottle and suggests that reading is something only chicks do, not real men. So there's a drop of misogyny in that one, too.

What does it mean to have these ads showing at a Super Bowl in a year when male unemployment rate is up? It's a little bit worrisome, methinks.
Edited later to reduce the level of naughty language.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

The New York Times Hates Women. Part III.

This could also have been subtitled: Poor Women. Too Clever For Their Own Good.

I'm a little bit fed up with these kinds of articles, and they have been many:

After midnight on a rainy night last week in Chapel Hill, N.C., a large group of sorority women at the University of North Carolina squeezed into the corner booth of a gritty basement bar. Bathed in a neon glow, they splashed beer from pitchers, traded jokes and belted out lyrics to a Taylor Swift heartache anthem thundering overhead. As a night out, it had everything — except guys.

"This is so typical, like all nights, 10 out of 10," said Kate Andrew, a senior from Albemarle, N.C. The experience has grown tiresome: they slip on tight-fitting tops, hair sculpted, makeup just so, all for the benefit of one another, Ms. Andrew said, "because there are no guys."

North Carolina, with a student body that is nearly 60 percent female, is just one of many large universities that at times feel eerily like women's colleges. Women have represented about 57 percent of enrollments at American colleges since at least 2000, according to a recent report by the American Council on Education. Researchers there cite several reasons: women tend to have higher grades; men tend to drop out in disproportionate numbers; and female enrollment skews higher among older students, low-income students, and black and Hispanic students.

In terms of academic advancement, this is hardly the worst news for women — hoist a mug for female achievement. And certainly, women are primarily in college not because they are looking for men, but because they want to earn a degree.

But surrounded by so many other successful women, they often find it harder than expected to find a date on a Friday night.

I have bolded the bit that is extremely insulting. Note that that bit is the closest the article ever comes to congratulating these female students for their hard work and success. This could only happen to women, not to a minority group, say. And not to men.

Can you imagine reversing this? Take something like the military which is predominantly male. Do you see articles written about how the poor men must suffer, not having any women to date? How they can't get married, due to the predominantly male environment? How they therefore should allow more women in and possibly relinquish their own jobs in consequence?

You don't see those articles, and neither were reversal articles of this type written when colleges were filled with nothing much but men. Nobody worried that those poor men couldn't be able to find a wife or a date for the weekend, nobody. And this has never been a concern with all-male colleges even today. It is only a concern when women have become the majority of college students.

What were the concerns about female students in those days when Harvard was all male and dinosaurs roamed on the streets of Cambridge? If I might make one guess, the concern was probably that women were in college only to get their Mrs. degrees and that they took away places from the more deserving men.

In an odd way, this new generation of articles isn't that much different. But now it's the Mrs. degree women are told they can't earn at college. What the solution might be is not made clear, but obviously it is for a certain number of these women to drop out so that more men can enter in their place. That way everyone will be much happier (except the women who are made to drop out as their incomes will be lower and they still can't earn that Mrs. degree).

I'm not quite sure what drives these stories, though I suspect it is our subconscious training in patriarchal thought patterns. If the man is supposed to be the breadwinner and the boss of the household, and if the woman is supposed to be a helpmate and household manager, won't the world fall apart when colleges have -- gasp! -- 57% women?

You may remember that this pattern in colleges is a pretty global one. Women tend to be more than half of college students everywhere they are allowed to, including in Iran, where women are 60% of college students. Thus, the reason for this is not some horrible feminazi plot (as American conservatives argue).

The real reasons are many, but one that holds true all over the world is that men have traditionally had access to many well-paying blue-collar jobs without a college degree, whereas the jobs available for women with just a high school degree or its equivalent usually haven't paid anywhere near as well.

Why doesn't the New York Times write about that,eh? Or of the problems of minority boys and men, the group in which most of the gender difference is created?

Sigh. Those are rhetorical questions.

Lilac Wine