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    Monday, October 31, 2005

    Mo Better MoDo

    A few new irresistable comments on idiot Dowd.

    A Likely Story:

    First problem: not every woman attends Harvard. Second Problem: not every woman will attend Harvard. Third problem: not every woman has attended Harvard. Fourth problem: not every successful woman (and this can cut anyway you slice successful) has attended Harvard, nor will every potentially successful woman attend Harvard. Maybe the problem is Harvard, and not men.

    Capitalist Imperialist Pig:

    Maureen Dowd carries on somewhat similarly in her NYT essay What's a Modern Menopausal Woman to do?. OK, that's not really her title - her real title is something about a "Modern Girl." . . .A theme is the plight of the high-achieving woman, which seems to be the result of the apparently biological fact that women prefer higher status men, but men prefer younger subordinate women, thus dooming poor Mo to spinsterdom. Some pretty impressive women have managed to find themselves a man - a couple of Supreme Court Justices, Madame Curie, and the brilliant and very cute Tina Brown. No doubt they are exceptions.

    Cache Culture goes very non-capitalist, imperialist pig:

    Maureen Dowd's synopsis of the future of feminism was just as depressing and arrogant as Bush's pick.

    Make-up, sex and children. Lack of job opportunities and sexual objectification. Discussing the dichotomy of why Maxim allures and frightens, Dowd fails to breakdown the consequences of such absurdity. Her lack of class analysis was the most frightening of all. Quotes from overly educated, privileged single women who blame their ringless fingers on their positions of power is grotesque.

    The Wrong Box:

    What is up with using evolution to explain the result of every freaking psychological study?? "There it is, right in the DNA: women get penalized by insecure men for being too independent." Huh???? That study said nothing about DNA. NOTHING. Dowd knows that the only way to get away with making wild generalizations about men is to appeal to genetics (just as Larry Summers did when talking about women), so she pretends that there's genetic evidence for her statement when there clearly isn't.

    Robot Guy:

    MoDo's basic thesis of the essay was that men don't want her because she's just too successful:

    "... a primal fear of single successful women: that the aroma of male power is an aphrodisiac for women, but the perfume of female power is a turnoff for men. It took women a few decades to realize that everything they were doing to advance themselves in the boardroom could be sabotaging their chances in the bedroom, that evolution was lagging behind equality."

    Now, from the look of her picture (top), she's actually a fairly attractive-looking woman; comparable to Buffy The Vampire Slayer beauty Alysson Hannigan (below), which is quite something considering that she's 53. So, the reason for her single status is not her looks. And really, it isn't that she is intimidating either. A columnist for the New York Times? Big Deal. It isn't like she's a brain surgeon or an astronaut.


    "Men aren't necessary, but, you, Blunderford, are so much more than a man!"

    I used to be afraid of Maureen Dowd. I thought she was a woman I couldn't handle, with that lethal combination of biting sarcasm and prim white pearls around her neck. I knew that MoDo had no need for me or my gender, and wanted a world made up only of herself, Alfre Woodard, Helena Bonham Carter and maybe Joan Cusack for comic relief.

    But I've changed my mind. Now I know different: Maureen Dowd wants me.

    Saucy Supreme:

    The current feminist-savy female’s most pressing point of confusion is who pays the bill for dinner according to Maureen Dowd. In this week’s New York Times Magazine she foregrounds the contradictions that are the current state of affair for feminists: you have to make a choice between him paying or going Dutch, between a career and children, between being a reasonable person and a sex kitten, even.

    As she lists example after example of the different poles of feminism I couldn’t help but to divide my female friends based on their choices of how to make money, who to date, what magazines to read, etc. It was upsetting and unsettling. But then I realized that most of my friends (myself included) fit in both categories. . . .

    So if my friends aren’t these women and men that Dowd is describing then do they exist?

    Yes. Yes they do. These are the lame women and men of the world!

    Boxing Alcibiades:

    Maureen Dowd embarrasses herself in public again
    with a humiliating screed assaulting all of masculinity, and declaring feminism a failure, simply because men, particularly successful men, are smart enough to flee running when a solipsistic vituperative gold-digger like her has her beer goggles on.


    Other sources Dowd uses are just as class-based: the debunked New York Times piece on young women at Yale, a "60 Minutes" report that interviews women who went to Harvard Business School, and Sylvia Ann Hewlett’s book that focuses on women who are corporate executives.

    Really, is Dowd so egotistical to think that only certain “successful” women determine current gender relations? Perhaps if she expanded her circle of friends--or actually tried to interview the lowly secretaries, assistants, and nannies who are supposedly stealing up all of the men--Dowd would see that the future of feminism goes beyond her backyard.

    Hell yeah.

    This all brings me to one more point. It's funny how Ms (or should I say "Miss") Dowd writes this and it seems very much what feminists are accused of: "Oh she's just a feminist because she can't get a man." But here she's saying she's not feminist because she can't get a man. Weird. I guess that's why I don't really feel too upset by Drudge's caption contest or all the people making fun of how she moans about her dating woes. Because that really is what this is about, not some theory that is being discredited by sexist jerks saying, "Yeah, well, you're ugly! Ha!" but an actual 7 page essay in the New York Times Magazine inspired by the romantic woes of Maureen Dowd.

    If you're still not sure that you hate Maureen Dowd, try this. I started pulling disgusting quotes from it, but ended up so appalled, I was quoting just about the whole thing. Part of me feels that, after your diligence in reading her trash this morning, I should spare you, but misery loves company.

    P.S. If you do read the article, note the women she calls her "girlfriends". They are, with the exception of Abramson, the most incompetent writers at the time.

    Taormino Gets Her Head Out of Everyone's Ass

    Tristan Taormino
    talks bi-guys
    in her latest column. Some tasty holiday treats:

    This summer, a research team from Northwestern University and Toronto's Center for Addiction and Mental Health published a controversial article in the journal Psychological Science about male bisexuality. They showed porn to 101 men—38 gay, 30 straight, and 33 bisexual—and measured their arousal in two ways. They asked the subjects which images turned them on, then compared their answers with actual dick data, measuring just how hot and bothered the men got with a device called a penile plethysmograph. Researchers concluded that gay men were turned on by images of man-on-man sex, het men got off on women diddling women, and bisexual men . . . well, that's where things get more complicated. Bi men said they were turned on by both the gay porn and the "lesbian" porn (I use quotes because while the film may depict women having sex with women, most of the performers don't identify as lesbians, unlike in gay porn). But the sensors on those scientific instruments told a different story: 75 percent of the bi-boy penises responded to the male homo humping only and the rest to just the femme on femme. This caused the researchers to conclude, and The New York Times to report, that bisexual men don't really exist.
    Before you hurl your copy of Bi Any Other Name at me, let's go a little deeper. Head researcher J. Michael Bailey's book, The Man Who Would Be Queen, was widely criticized by queer organizations for its homophobia and unsubstantiated assumptions about female transsexuality, and several of Bailey's subjects filed complaints against him, claiming that he "studied" them without their consent. Bailey and his cohorts demonstrate some of the same assumptions in the bisexual study. For example, about a third of all the participants did not respond to any images (making the real total of those who did about 20 from each group). Instead of incorporating that into their findings and attempting to account for it, the researchers simply left the unstimulated out of the final analysis. The fact that so many guys were not into what they saw proves just how faulty the system was. What if a dude didn't like the porn they showed him at all (or he liked it, but it didn't give him a woody)? In this study, would that make him an asexual?

    The study, along with a lack of visibility and nuanced representation of bi men, reinforces the stereotypes that they're just confused, indecisive, or in denial. It also assumes that what makes men hard defines their sexual identity. What about men who masturbate to het male-female porn? How does this account for blokes who only like blowjob scenes? Or guys who jerk off to foot fetish videos? If a man likes tranny porn enough to register on Bailey's erect-o-meter, what does that make him? What about the fact that gay porn is more hot, raw, and full of chemistry than "lesbian" porn (probably because the former is performed by mostly gay men while the latter is performed by mostly non-lesbian women)? And how come no one thought to show them bisexual porn?

    That's what I said! (It's also nice to read some Tristan that's not directly about anal sex. Just to spice things up.)

    I wish people wrote more about how porn actually interacts with sexual desire instead of assuming these really explicit correlations between viewing and fantasy and fantasy and reality. If porn preference= sexuality, there'd be a lot more acceptance of a lot more sexual practices and instead of playing guitar to get chicks, straight guys would join the Plumbers Union.

    And then there's the fact that this study itself is set up on a sexual binary: Are these guys more straight or more gay? Sometimes I think it would be a big step forward if people stopped trying to "get" everyone else's sexual preference/orientation through science. Because, so far, all it has done is produce theories of genes and debates as to whether the sexual preferences/orientations that people are actually living are "real".

    Happy Halloween!

    Bloomberg and Ferrer: One on One

    Missed the debate? Something better to do, asshat?

    Politicker comes to the rescue, live-blogging it:

    9:05 -- Freddy's response is reasonable but not entirely clear: Mike's spending will "destroy the platform from which you formulate good public policy" and he mentions what Mike's ads don't, particularly around poverty.

    9:06 -- The first thing Freddy would reverse as Mayor is the Atlantic Yards project. It does feel a bit last-minute. And Mike wraps himself in Al Sharpton. Twenty blocks north, you can faintly hear Rudy yelling at his television.

    I'm all for the Atlantic Yards and totally against poverty. Seems difficult, given the jobs created by the former, to reconcile an anti- position with the latter.

    9:16 -- Land value taxation gets a plug from Freddy. Not a fav of the real estate industry, as it discourages hanging on to vacant land. The Politicker's policy adviser, present for this debate, is a fan. It's an interesting issue that Freddy could have pushed harder; Mike doesn't respond, and the plan hasn't quite made it on to anybody else's radar either.

    Freddy, baby, I love your Land Value Taxation deeply! Glad you put it out there.

    Now for the Comments:

    This is the first time I've really seen FF in action, and I've got to say that I am underwhelmed. He's not as articulate as I thought he'd be, and he seems to have a W-style smirk going on much of the time.
    anon2 | 10.30.05 - 10:03 am | #

    Wow, underwhelmed? Poor FF!

    If people shouldn't be in charge due to smirking and visuals then we would have President Kerry. Facts are Freddy knew more than Bloomberg and has better ideas.
    Anonymous | 10.30.05 - 10:56 am | #

    The Brian Lehrer Show guests seemed to think it was a win for Ferrer.

    The NY Post says "Ferrer on the Warpath," the Daily News calls its rundown "Fred's Fangs", and
    The Times calls Ferrer "fiesty"- you know things are looking bad when a man gets called "fiesty" in a reputable newspaper.

    Oh, and check out Gotham Gazette's Wonkster blog for some more decent coverage.

    Last debate, TOMORROW.

    No, No, Alito

    Okay Dems, now's the time to filibuster.

    In 1992, Alito was the lone dissenter in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a case where the court struck down a provision requiring women seeking abortions to notify their spouses.

    Moron Dowd

    Oooh, clever title, right? Kinda seems like the nickname she might come up for herself if she weren't herself, doesn't it? Let me preface this post by saying that I know everyone's going to be talking about how Maureen Dowd's a moron now, but I've been saying it for years. Years.

    Anyway, it's too late to say much, so I am going to yield the field to some of the bloggers who got to this article while it was still fresh.

    If you don't want to wade through 7 pages of Dowd's dreck, No Oil For Pacifists offers a pretty thorough summary:

    MoDo meets wimps ("He confessed that he had wanted to ask me out on a date when he was between marriages but nixed the idea because my job as a Times columnist made me too intimidating. Men, he explained, prefer women who seem malleable and awed.")

    Modo reads romance novels ("Women . . . dream of being rescued - to flirt, to shop, to stay home and be taken care of. They shop for "Stepford Fashions" - matching shoes and ladylike bags and the 50's-style satin, lace and chiffon party dresses featured in InStyle layouts - and spend their days at the gym trying for Wisteria Lane waistlines.")

    MoDo bemoans fate ("Women moving up still strive to marry up. Men moving up still tend to marry down. The two sexes' going in opposite directions has led to an epidemic of professional women missing out on husbands and kids.")

    MoDo relives history--as farce ("I was always so proud of achieving more - succeeding in a high-powered career that would have been closed to my great-aunts. How odd, then, to find out now that being a maid would have enhanced my chances with men.")

    MoDo wants O'Connor's seat ("I figured . . . that America would always be full of passionate and full-throated debate about the big stuff - social issues, sexual equality, civil rights. Little did I realize that the feminist revolution would have the unexpected consequence of intensifying the confusion between the sexes, leaving women in a tangle of dependence and independence as they entered the 21st century.")

    MoDo blames Social Darwinism ("Men think that women with important jobs are more likely to cheat on them. There it is, right in the DNA: women get penalized by insecure men for being too independent.")

    Okay. So now you don't have to read it. You're welcome.

    Roger Simon:

    Dowd is baring her soul in a sense, trying to make heads or tales of the fact that some attractive, intelligent, powerful women like her find themselves alone in their fifties. Men, as she tells it, are threatened by them and would prefer to marry the likes of the Latina maid in "Spanglish." Dowd seems to have missed the key detail that the maid's daughter was headed off to an Ivy League education, but no matter. The movie wasn't Brooks' best anyway. Meanwhile, to augment Dowd's view, she trucks out some statistics to show that feminism is dead and that we're all sliding back to the land of Ozzie & Harriet. Evidence of this is that a few more women these days are staying with their maiden names after marriage. Ms. is out and Mrs. is making a comeback.

    Well, maybe. But whatever the case, Dowd seems to have missed the most astonishing statistic to be revealed lately. Fifty-seven percent of the college population is now female. Men are going to have to get used to intelligent women or turn celibate. An incipient social revolution may be in the cards that will dwarf the bra burning of the sixties.


    Sisyphus Shrugged kills me:

    also sprach Maureen Dowd

    I knew things were changing because a succession of my single girlfriends had called, sounding sheepish, to ask if they could borrow my out-of-print copy of "How to Catch and Hold a Man."

    because nothing is more indicative of the currents of modern culture than that the girlfriends of someone who uses her real estate on the New York Times Op Ed page to whine about not having a man should want to plumb the sources of her success with men.

    Me, I would say "Don't tell a few million people when the people in your life do something tacky" would be a good start at becoming someone who someone would want to share a life with, but I don't have a Pulitzer Prize.


    Maureen Dowd asks: "So was the feminist movement some sort of cruel hoax?"

    Me, I’m asking the same thing about the New York Times’ reputation for quality journalism. Apparently feminists have been letting Dowd down her entire life. For example, Dowd says a bunch of stuff I've put in italics below, to which I respond in plain old feminist-style type:

    “I didn't fit in with the brazen new world of hard-charging feminists. I was more of a fun-loving (if chaste) type who would decades later come to life in Sarah Jessica Parker's Carrie Bradshaw. I hated the grubby, unisex jeans and no-makeup look and drugs that zoned you out, and I couldn't understand the appeal of dances that didn't involve touching your partner.”

    Those horrid "hard-charging" feminists were grubby, ugly, druggy people who danced without touching their partners, so of course Dowd didn't want to hang out with them. But she still expected to benefit from any progess they made.

    “In those faraway, long-ago days of feminism, there was talk about equal pay for equal work. Now there's talk about "girl money."”

    In the unlikely event that feminists are talking about "girl money" they probably are refering to gender equity in wages, or the concept of comparable worth. Men who vocally impute insubstantial earnings, or "girl money," to individual women without knowing their true circumstances are clods, not feminists. They are, however, evidencing accurate knowledge of a social phenomenon. If "girl money" talk is drowning out discussions about pay equity and comparable worth, maybe Dowd could look for clues about why this might be happening in the very pages of the New York Times.

    Word. It's amusing that Dowd is set on making it seem that "feminists" weren't talking about what was important. This coming from a woman whose greatest contribution to political journalism was the virtuoustic coinage of bizarre childish nicknames for members of our nation's cabinet.

    Steven Gomez rocks my world:

    Traditional marriage, the archaic perception of marriage and children as a perfunctory goal, rather than as a personal life decision, has cut off the non-traditional movement known as feminism at the knees.

    Okay, women, time to learn something new. Women historically learned to see marriage and kids as a goal in life. However, back in the day women had few options at best for life. You weren't allowed to work in high-level positions. You were expected to stay home, bat your eyes and look pretty enough for some guy to marry you so that you could do his cooking and cleaning (and with certain guys, take their beatings) for the rest of your life. Hell, until 1919 you weren't allowed to vote. Women were taught to pursue marriage because there was no other life for them.

    That's hot. Maybe . . . marrying a Harvard-educated sleaze and popping out something to fill the new Bugaboo isn't the be-all, end-all?

    Eensy Weensy:

    Privileged pedicure addicts may be tired of feminism, but middle-to-workingclass Americans and women all over the world are not. They're the ones fighting sexual harassment in the military, on the force, and at FedEx; they're dealing with the vanishing of safe abortion and accessible birth control; they're fighting for their very lives in Afghanistan, Guatemala, South Africa. "Power" feminists, like everybody, need to get their heads out of their own asses. Plenty of action exists below the fifth floor of various buildings in midtown Manhattan.

    -- As my brilliant Eric notes, any retrenchment into old-fashioned hetero-boring nuclear family values (which, by the way, is overstated -- see this single mama survey ) is more likely due to fear than to a widespread admission that women belong in the kitchen and the lingerie aisle. As civil rights and the social contract simultaneously decay, as the privileged perch higher on the edge of a glass bubble and everyone else struggles in an increasingly isolated and unsupported condition, we cling to what's closest and most familiar. It can seem easier to "bag a husband" than to imagine fixing health care or Social Security. To which I add, is it a coincidence that Dowd's retrenchment to 1950s fantasies of faux-security appears in the same Mag issue whose cover piece is all about how capitalist America is content to let its retirees rot in poverty?


    Bumblebee Sweet Potato:

    I'm frustrated that so many of these articles about the 'death of feminism' seem to focus so heavily on women of privilege, without mentioning the advantages that feminists have won for our working-class sisters. It's not all about the ideals of beauty and the what men are looking for in a wife. It's about the fact that generally, the idea that women are the property of the men in their lives is no longer widely accepted.

    So, you mean, feminism wasn't just supposed to make it easier to snare the rich executives?


    The Big Lie that Nick and Jessica tried to keep up episode after episode was that theirs was a traditional, male-dominated marriage. In a sad attempt to perpetuate this idea to themselves, they fetishized the fact that Jessica was a virgin on their wedding night, as if the fact that he had more sexual experience than her could really make up for the fact that she has more talent, fame, and most importantly, money than he has. Week after week, it was interesting watching how they would dance around the fact that he was always bossing her as if she wasn't the reason he was living in such high style. I thought it was hysterical how much self-delusion was going on.

    You could see a bunch of the typical struggles that come up between married couples, especially those who adhere to highly gendered views of themselves, but everything was filtered through this bizarre realization that Nick couldn't do what most men can and use their financial dominance as a weapon in these battles. Nick wanted to have more say in how the house was decorated so it wasn't too girly--too bad Jessica owned the house when they got married. He would yell at her for spending a lot of money on clothes and she was actually pretty admirable in her self-restraint in not telling him to piss off and that she would spend her own money how she damn well pleased. He was clearly uncomfortable with Jessica's endless stream of friends and relatives in and out of the house but he didn't have the "man is king of his castle" card to pull and kick them all out and had to instead lay around pouting and acting emasculated. Too bad for him, I thought, that she only had one virginity to give. I do believe they live in California, so the end result of this entire fiasco that's coming to a close as their divorce is being endlessly tracked in the tabloids is that Jessica is going to probably be paying him alimony. So much for the traditional marriage being something you can just will back into existence with a wish and a lot of blather about Christian values.

    I'm also amused that Britney Spears married a gold digger.

    Brutal Women is amazing; the best blogging on this piece so far, and my sentiments exactly:

    Yea, feminism sure has failed you, Maureen. I mean, look at all the quality men she missed out on dating:

    "At a party for the Broadway opening of "Sweet Smell of Success," a top New York producer gave me a lecture on the price of female success that was anything but sweet. He confessed that he had wanted to ask me out on a date when he was between marriages but nixed the idea because my job as a Times columnist made me too intimidating. Men, he explained, prefer women who seem malleable and awed. He predicted that I would never find a mate because if there's one thing men fear, it's a woman who uses her critical faculties."

    This isn't the first time that Maureen has lamented the fact that everywhere she looks in her NY City superset, men are marrying their maids, secretaries, and personal assistants.

    At no point does she question whether or not she or any other women with "critical faculties" would want to date these men anyway.

    In fact, this entire column feels like it's been written by a sixteen year old sitting at the front of the math class chewing her nails because "boys only notice the blond chicks."

    I recognize the tone because I, too, once worried and gnawed over the fact that I was invisible to all the tall beautiful blond boys in grade school. Once I did start dating in high school I tried to dress and act more fem in order to keep said man, since he, Cosmo, and my girlfriends seemed to think this was the only way to "keep" a guy, and keeping a guy was akin to finding the holy grail.

    Then I grew the fuck up.

    "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."

    Who are these women? Why can't they find honest, meaningful relationships? Maybe because they're play-acting, pretending to be somebody they're not, and turning off both men and other women. So not only are they not getting laid, they don't have any friends either.

    Grow the fuck up.

    Another thing is the constant bemoaning of the "ideal" for women's bodies. I'm not saying that there aren't problems; there are. But to act as though there is only one acceptable image of feminine beauty now, whereas, in the past, diversity proliferated is absolutely crazy. You know all those "retro" pictures of 1950s women? They're pretty recognizable, no? They all look the same. That's why we think they're fun and kitschy. Now, we may not have as much diversity as we'd like, but the very fact that the article can name-check Jessica Simpson and Eva Longoria as if they are the same means that we have a lot more diversity now. Eva Longoria is a 30-something Latina. Jessica Simpson is twenty-years-old blond, blue-eyed, what we used to call "All-American Girl". Women in their forties and fifties make it on the "Hot-Chick" lists of "lad mags" these days and Black, Latina, and Asian gals (not mention Jewish women and other "beauty outcasts" of the bygone era), while still underrepresented, find their way into the pages of everything from Vogue to Playboy. Women below A-cup breasts are on the cover of Stuff as are women with E-cups. Yes, they're all skinny. But those glamorous old movies weren't populated by fatties either.

    I wonder how Dowd would feel about dating someone who was not as successful as she is. I can't picture her dating a guy who was working as a nurse, for example, or an assistant to an executive even. Maureen Dowd, to me, is making the "nice guy" argument.

    "The Nice Guy Argument" is the whining you hear from any guy who isn't a hottie-alpha-male about how "women only want jerks" (you'll hear the gay guys making the same argument about men, they're not off the hook). Who are these women who only want jerks? The women who are not attracted to the guys making the argument. And this is about a sense of entitlement: I want her, she should want me. Dowd suffers the same. All the rich New York men she craves are getting with their younger, "dumber" (because job=brain, education=intelligence) assistants rather than Dowd. But Dowd wants them; they should want her. When you can manage to be one of the most successful columnists in the country, despite not applying any effort or intelligence to your column, when you can be rich and famous and dress like that and hang out with the rich and famous, but you can't date the guys you want to date, that last bit seems like such a serious injustice! Which goes to show that class privilege is as insidious and internalized as sexism.

    Then, the women in their twenties and thirties are really stomping out your sexual embers with their non-stop Maximing and stripping. If only we were the Birkenstock-wearers of the 70s who made it so easy for red-heeled-Dowd to catch the big fish. That would make it a lot easier for her to get men to buy her drinks at the bar, which is apparently what life's about, and she could sneer at us and trade witty Hepburn-Tracy banter with the sexy rich boys about how sad all this feminism was.

    I think all that Dowd says about dating is true, in a way. If you simply want to "catch a man", you're probably better off getting implants and giggling vacantly. Because the men who are out there looking to be "caught" in such a way are going to respond to that. If you're treating men like animals to be trapped, you can expect to be treated like a sub-human yourself. If you want to find a partner and have a relationship rather than a life of "egalitarian" wit, those implants are going to get you nowhere.

    If you actually buy Dowd's piece, the logical conclusion is : Heterosexuality is gross.

    But, friends, it can be avoided.

    Friday, October 28, 2005

    I Love Charlize

    My apologies for being late on this, but I just found it:
    Theron Not a Fan of Marriage.

    Charlize Theron says marriage is not her thing - but she isn't ruling out the possibility of becoming a mother someday.

    In an interview on "Access Hollywood" that aired Tuesday, the 30-year-old actress said she was "happy for people who want to get married."

    But, she said, "it's not my thing."

    Theron's mother, Gerda, was married this past weekend.

    "I'm extremely happy in my relationship," said Theron, who has dated Stuart Townsend for several years. "I would love to have kids."

    Gee, if either of us believed in marriage, I'd marry her just for saying that marriage "isn't her thing".

    (Just kidding, A.)

    Where The Boys Aren't (Well, Not As Much Anyway)

    Thanks to PCR Sucks. And other useful things I learned in grad school. I saw this article. Excerpts:

    When my grandmother, Martha Georgina Holman (Stewart), graduated from Queen's University in 1902 there were 11 women in arts and science. They made up a tiny portion of the students on campus.

    Wouldn't they be surprised if they walked the corridors or leafy streets of most university campuses in 2005, more than a hundred years later? According to figures released by Statistics Canada earlier this week, women accounted for 59 per cent of all undergraduate registrations in university in 2003/04, the highest proportion ever. . . .

    So what's happened to the guys? What's keeping them out and how is it affecting university life? According to Stephen Easton, who co-authored a study called "Boys, Girls and Grades - Academic Gender Balance in British Columbia's Secondary Schools in 1998," boys are becoming less eligible for university.

    Easton explains, "We evaluate performance differently than we used to." In the past, he says, more importance was given to exam marks, where boys traditionally perform better, but these days overall performance is used and females score higher.

    Louise Gordon, executive director of the Manitoba Council on Post Secondary Education, says because applicants only need a 70 per cent average for admission to the University of Manitoba and 50 per cent for Brandon University, boys aren't being screened out because of marks. She thinks the reasons are complex.

    Gordon says, "You have to look at what is going on in the labour force. Are there a lot of jobs in an industry that will attract young men so that they will take out time to work? Are there fields right now that are encouraging women to go to university? The construction boom across the country is going to attract young men for awhile."

    One thing that has pushed female numbers up is that more women are entering non-traditional disciplines like engineering, spurred on by educators. At the same time, males have not received the same encouragement to pursue non-traditional avenues like nursing or education.

    So, let's recap. Men have opportunities to go make some money when they get out of high school. Women know they're going to end up making $5.25/hr forever if they don't go to college. So they find ways to go.

    Then, we still devalue the so-called "feminine" professions so much that we don't really feel very good about telling anyone they might be a good fit for them.

    Okay. I'm there.

    Whatever the reasons are for declining male enrolment in universities, it's having an effect on everything from classroom discussions to dating.

    Heather, a first year philosophy student at Queen's, says she thinks girls feel more confident to ask questions when they're in the majority. She has also noticed, "There aren't that many guys in the history or English classes and when there are they are mostly good looking, so all the girls flock to them.

    "They run to sit next to them. Some girls wake up two hours before class, straighten their hair, put on a mini skirt, because the guys have so much to choose from. They have all these girls basically throwing themselves at them. Some people aren't focusing as much on the class as getting ready for the class."

    Meric Gertler, vice-dean of Arts and Science at the University of Toronto, says while there may be fewer men, it's not silencing them in the classroom. Gertler says, "When there is air time to fill up, the males are more assertive. There have been a couple of noteworthy exceptions where confident young women have made their presence felt in class, but on the whole they revert to form. The young men tend to sound off more quickly than women."

    Somehow I don't buy the argument that heterosexual women would be less likely to straighten their hair and wear miniskirts if there were fewer men around, but whatev!

    As far as the guys holding court, it's true. True, true, true, true, true. I think it would be better if we encouraged/forced women to talk more. Making "participation" part of a student's grade works wonders.

    There are a lot of comments that make me happy. This one intrigued me though:

    Originally, it served as a place for intellectual pursuit, however, in the more technical faculties, such as engineering, business and law, there is little difference from a trade school. The university has become effectively an artificial filter for certain areas of professional practice.

    Okay, So George Takei's Gay Too.

    Now, why was I excited about Sheryl Swoopes coming out the other day, even though I'm not into basketball, but I didn't even feel the need to post about Star Trek's George Takei when I heard about it, which is before it was even news?

    Dunno. Could I really have had enough coming-outs for the week? Is it possible? I never thought this day would come.

    But maybe it's just that that guy is, like, not really that famous anymore, and I prefer The Next Generation. If Data or Geordi or Picard (or . . . wait for it . . . Riker) came out, I'd be pretty excited. Data and Geordi would make a cute couple.

    Graham on Politbois nails it:

    George Takei announced he is gay! Ummmm, ok. For those of you not involved in the Trekkie lifestyle, this probably does not mean much to you. I for one had no idea who he is/was. Damn, the outtings this week have been incredibly boring. With all the shit going down in Washington, maybe Condi will finally say "screw it" and out herself. Now that would be fun!

    If Condi came out, coming out would be fun again.

    On the other hand, this does shake up the baby boomer conservative guys who loved Captain Kirk.

    Or does it?

    I've Found My Big Reason to Vote for Ferrer

    He looks so sad the NY Post reports after seeing this picture of Clinton cheating on him with Mikey B.

    Poor Freddy.

    Defying All Expectations

    Check it out:

    A teacher at a Manhattan Montessori school has been charged with the statutory rape and sodomy of a male student, starting when the boy was 13 and continuing for several years, prosecutors said Friday.

    At a Montessori school? Can it be?

    Guess That Commercial With the Banjo Didn't Do the Trick?

    BREAKING: Freddy's Not Going To Win.

    Fernando Ferrer has failed to galvanize fellow Democrats behind his bid to unseat Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg on Nov. 8, and is trailing among liberals, blacks, women and most other demographic groups, according to the latest New York Times Poll.

    More voters have an unfavorable impression of Mr. Ferrer than a favorable one, though 52 percent could not even offer an opinion of him, despite his decades in public life and two previous campaigns for mayor.

    That stands in stark contrast to Mr. Bloomberg, the Republican incumbent, who enjoys his strongest approval rating ever in a Times poll, 67 percent, a gigantic shift upward from the 25 percent who approved of his handling of his job as mayor about two years ago. . . .

    Leadership appears to be the crucial issue for voters - a problem for the Ferrer camp, which has believed all along that a fight over issues like housing, jobs and school dropout rates would tip the election its way. More than two-thirds of voters said a candidate's ability to govern was more important than his position on major issues. . . .

    There are bits of reassuring news for Mr. Ferrer, though no surprises in which to take heart. He appears slightly more popular with voters in the Bronx, where he was once borough president, and with two parts of the electorate he has courted, Hispanics and those who earn less than $30,000. Housing and education are the top concerns of voters looking to the future, and he speaks about these issues virtually every day. . . .

    Even more troubling for Mr. Ferrer, he has not gained decisive support from traditional Democratic groups that his advisers describe as critical to electoral success.

    The poll found that 42 percent of likely black voters are supporting Mr. Bloomberg, who won only 25 percent of their votes in 2001.

    Almost half of liberals plan to vote for the mayor. Mr. Ferrer is favored by 56 percent of likely Hispanic voters, and a third support Mr. Bloomberg; Ferrer advisers are aiming for at least 80 percent of the Hispanic vote. . . .

    While most voters saw no risk for the city in changing mayors right now, 54 percent were worried that Mr. Ferrer would make serious mistakes in office, compared with 34 percent who feared that Mr. Bloomberg would. Forty-six percent of voters said Mr. Ferrer showed strong leadership qualities, while 82 percent saw those qualities in the mayor. . . .

    The intensity of support appeared to favor the mayor, too: Fifty-seven percent of likely Bloomberg supporters said they strongly favored their candidate, compared with 34 percent of likely Ferrer voters. And Mr. Bloomberg has an edge in the expectations game: 81 percent of all likely voters expect him to win, and even 59 percent of likely Ferrer voters expect their candidate to lose.

    Yeah, I'm one of those 59% who know I'm voting for the losing candidate.

    Hmmm. Now, earlier in the week, I made an angry post about this race and it ended up getting lost. As I have nothing else to do, I am going to deal with some of the main issues, but this time intertexually.

    Okay, here I go.

    Well-regarded progressive blog MyDD deigned to cover a local election.

    The opening post looks like this:

    From the diaries, jerome
    This is for those Democrats who have forgotten this. NY Democrats supporting Bloomberg should be ashamed:


    The link shows Bloomberg at the Republican Convention. Twenty-three comments follow. Here are some highlights:

    Amen, Brother ...

    I don't live in New York and have no idea what Bloomberg has done for the city. But the mere fact that he supported Bush in 2004 is reason enough to oppose his re-election. I don't care how much of a "liberal" Republican he claims to be. You just don't do that!! . . .

    by Paul Hogarth on Mon Oct 24th, 2005 at 02:39:43 AM EDT

    That made me wonder: is the fact that Bloomberg supported Bush in 04 indeed reason enough to oppose his re-election? It's reason enough for me not to be his friend, but does his support for Bush really mean he is doing his job poorly overall? Is it his job to support the candidate that his constituents most want or to enact the municipal reforms his constituents most want? And, is there any point at which the interests of New York City and the national interests conflict?

    Let's say, for the sake of argument (and many have made this argument) that Bloomberg supported Bush in the 2004 election (and let's admit that his support was not exactly strong) for the following reasons:

    1. Thought it would get the Republican Convention here in NYC, which despite its utter vulgarity, was an economic boon to a struggling city.
    2. Thought it would assist in the future of federal Homeland Security funding making its way to NYC, where we really need it.
    3. Thought Pataki and others at the state level where Republicans have power would be more likely to pass the $ that is rightfully ours to NYC if he cooperated.

    Does this mean I'm glad he did it? Absolutely not! But, if he truly believed that his choice was in the best interest of New Yorkers, wouldn't he be making the ethical choice according to his primary duty as mayor to support New York?

    And finally, Paul, thanks so much for your uneducated input on a city that's not yours! It's interesting how everyone feels this ownership of New York City and they can fret about our mayor and our development, etc, etc, etc, without ever living here, just because they're American. Interesting, but irritating as hell.

    I like this answer:

    The convention

    New York didn't bid to host the Republican convention because of any desire by Bloomberg to support the national Republican party politically. The rationale was exclusively economic development: Bloomberg and his advisors thought the convention would make money for the city.
    In fact, the Bloomberg administration bid for both the Democratic and Republican conventions, and put an equal amount of effort into both bids. The Democrats just decided to go in a different direction

    by Hoover on Wed Oct 26th, 2005 at 04:25:58 PM EDT

    Now, to move in a slightly different direction:


    like Bloomberg because he's results oriented and, except for the convention, decidedly apolitical in his governing style. He's more a results oriented manager. It's hard to fight against this style of governance, and, if the rest of the Republicans were like this, we would have less difference with them than we do. I will still vote for Ferrer, but I won't fall apart if Blomberg wins either.

    by bruh21 on Mon Oct 24th, 2005 at 02:52:59 AM EDT

    When you pay taxes to the federal government, it is a lot more difficult to see that money in action. It is more abstract. It could be building a bridge in Idaho or shoestring levees on the Gulf Coast or paying for rations to be sent to Iraq. In one's own city, one can observe more closely where and how one's tax money is being spent. As such, we want our city run effectively, like a business. We want to be treated like stockholders, as Bloomberg once described his relationship to NYC residents. Investing in Freddy Ferrer is like investing in some new out-there company. It might follow through on its potential, but, more likely, it'll sink like a stone and you'll have simply financed someone else's childhood dream. Bloomberg is like investing in an old, solid, slowly-but-steadily-rising stock. You know you'll probably make money, but, at least, you won't lose money.

    Bloomberg much better Mayor than Rudy (none / 0)

    Personally, Bloomberg has been a much better Mayor than Rudy Guiliani. The results of his leadership is evident by the the support he is getting from a cross section of democrats.
    When you see such a diverse group of Democrats, from grassroots, activists, liberal elites, Black Ministers, even atheletes & Liberal actors-IT WOULD BE VERY DIFFICULT defeating this man.
    As a Democrat, I personally support Ferrer. But when you have support from both White & Black NY Democratic leaders like Peter Vallone ( Former Dem. Mayor Candidate) & Charles Hynes, to Rev, Calvin Butts, Former Dem Mayor Ed Koch, to even prominent Liberal Democrats like Actress Whoopi Goldberg & prominent african american NBA stars- HE IS GOING TO BE VERY HARD TO BEAT.

    What's s shame is Polls showed Ferrer had a Good Shot in the early stages of his campaign. But he made several MAJOR ERRORS such as his Stupid comment on Police Brutality in his attempt to pander to White voters which cost him dearly
    among Black Democratic voters.

    You have to remember. Mike Bloomberg was a Lifelong Pro-Choice Jewish Democrat who ONLY switched parties in order to enhance his chances of being Mayor since there was such a CROWDED FIELD of Career Democrats in NYC who all wanted to be Mayor.

    He saw how Guliani masterfully won the NYC Mayoral race as a republican in a Dem city & pretty much copied the blue print for success.

    by labanman on Mon Oct 24th, 2005 at 03:46:27 AM EDT

    Maybe it shouldn't matter that Bloomberg was a Democrat once. In fact, maybe it should show what an opportunist he is that he didn't mind changing to a party that was less in keeping with his own political ideology in order to win. On the other hand, maybe it means that he is practical enough to think strategically. And that he's not a sexist, homophobic jerk.

    Depressed NY Dem

    Thanks for the post. I won't vote for Bloomberg b/c of the Repub convention but I can't vote for Ferrer which means I am not voting for Mayor. Ferrer is a product of the Bronx machine, was handed both his council seat and Borough President's job without a fight, and has never run a tough race. It shows - he is running an awful campaign. Of all the bad nominees the Dems have put up in the past 12 years, he may actually be the worst and that says a lot. I am a pretty loyal Dem but you have to earn my support. Ferrer has not and makes me depressed.

    by mets2005 on Mon Oct 24th, 2005 at 10:54:40 AM EDT

    Let this be a lesson to the idiotic Democrats who made the mistake of voting Ferrer in the primary.

    This also raises an interesting question: Has Ferrer really earned anyone's vote? If so, how? He's been a lackluster public servant, reliant on the innovations and initiatives of others (see: Koch) and machined into every position he's held. After that, the Drum Major Institute? And then . . . this campaign? Stock transfer tax? Amadou Diallo? That doesn't even address all the intimations of corruption in connection to his various platforms and offices.

    NY Dem

    When the New York Democrats stop nominating machine politicians, I will gladly vote for him. Bloomberg isn't perfect, and since he is now a nominal "Republican," it means he has to sell out every so often and support Bush. Nonetheless, Bloomberg has been a very good mayor, and there's no way I could support a tiny man like Ferrer against a guy who's doing a good job.

    by alhill on Mon Oct 24th, 2005 at 11:17:01 AM EDT

    He is tiny, isn't he?

    Bloomberg Is Not The Problem

    I'm a very loyal democrat and I can't vote in the NYC election because I live just north of the city, but I work here everyday. As much as I hate W, I don't think the mayor's lame and fleeting support of him should be the only reason to vote or not vote for any candidate. One should vote for the best person for the job. Bloomberg is actually a good mayor and a much better candidate than Ferrer. Almost all of the people in my office are democrats and very few will be voting for Ferrer, who is viewed as a do nothing polititian and a product of the "machine." If the democratic machine were not so broken in NYC, Bloomberg would be running as a democrat, but they froze him out and he switched parties just a few months before his first election.

    by ItsHardWork on Mon Oct 24th, 2005 at 12:35:06 PM EDT

    ItsHardWork points out an issue that I feel very strongly about. Perhaps local elections are not only construable in terms of national elections. Perhaps Hilary would be a good senator, even if you don't want her to be President (I do, but that's another matter).

    Re: Bloomberg Is Not The Problem- I Agree

    I agree. The NYC Democratic Bosses have NO ONE TO BLAME but themselves!
    Bloomberg waited until the last 3 months before deciding to switch parties. Unfortunately, the "Old Dem Party Bosses" wanted to ANNOINT one of their own & felt that an "Outsider" CANNOT SIMPLY MOVE IN & try to win the Dem Nomination.

    Obviously, it has been a HARD lesson for these Democratic Political Bosses. Today, And Bloomberg is on his way to a almost sure reelection landslide.

    THIS IS A VERY SIMILAR "Old Democratic Party Boss Mentality" of trying to ANNOINT their own "boys" in the Jersey City case & it backfired.

    In my opinion, the SAME " Old Boss Mentality" is happening today in Ohio. Where the Democratic Machinery has Annointed Sherrod Brown as their candidate & want Paul Hackett to back-off.

    These Party bosses NEVER LEARN!

    by labanman on Mon Oct 24th, 2005 at 12:51:37 PM EDT

    But cronyism is okay in New York City!

    NYC voters are a sophisticated Bunch

    You have to remember that NYC voters are much more sophisticated than your average city or town.
    Even with a 5 to 1 Democratic Party registration advantage, a significant enough number of Dems would NOT just BLINDLY support a Mayoral candidate just for having a D next to his name.

    By most accounts, Bloomberg is doing an excellent job as Mayor. That explains why a significant number of NYC dem voters are crossing party lines.

    If a politician is showing results, his party ID almost becomes insignificant. I don't think you can call Democrats who are supporting a Pro-Choice, Pro-Gay Rights, Pro-Affrimative action - going to the Right?

    As for Ferrer, he is a career politician who has had a spotty track record in some of the decisions his made as the Bronx Big Boss.

    Besides, where else can you find a Republican who is pro-choice, pro-gay rights, pro-affirmative action ? As I've said, Bloomberg was a Lifelong Jewish Democrat who switched parties in order to enhance his chances of becoming Mayor in a crowded field of Democrats? It was a strategic move that obviously worked magnificently.

    This reminds me of another successful Republican Mayor who DID THE EXACT SAME thing as Bloomberg. Former Jersey City Mayor Republican Bret Schundler was a lifelong Democrat. He ran for Mayor in a city ( I believe 1991) that had a 4 to 1 Democratic registration advantage.

    While 8 Democrats slugged it out, he was the lone Republican candidate & pulled an upset victory.

    During his reelection campaign, he again won this time in a landslide as many Jersey City Democrats crossed party line to vote for him.

    Bloomberg, Schundler also can call Republican Sen. Coleman of MN as part of their Former Democrats Club. Coleman was a Lifelong Jewish Democrat who obviously switched party for personal political ambition.

    And for all 3, it just happened to be a successful political move.

    by labanman on Mon Oct 24th, 2005 at 12:43:08 PM EDT

    Though I very much wish that labanman had found more ways of using the word "sophisticated" in the above post (because we are sophisticated here in New York!), I agree very much with what he had to say. If a person is against most of the pillars of their Party's platform, is that person really well-defined as a member of that party?

    Now, no disrespect to MyDD, which does a tremendous job of covering national politics and state races too, but why are we focusing so hard on national politics as liberals?

    Let's take abortion as one example. Liberals are obsessed with the overturn of Roe by the Supreme Court. Now, I am too. But get real. The overturn of Roe would do what exactly? It would just be another step on the erosion of abortion rights, it would say that we don't respect women as equal, etc. But it wouldn't directly do much to effect the availability of abortion. Women in New York City would still be able to get abortions and women in rural Alabama still wouldn't be able to get abortions. That is an issue of local politics. This is not to say that I only care that urban blue-state women can access legal abortion, but that, as things stand now, we are already pretty close to that situation. In addition to obsessing about Bush's new nominee to the Supreme Court, we should be obsessing about how our local officials would handle it if Roe were overturned and they had the power to make these decisions. I don't want to be that practical, but Bush is President people! He is going to have to nominate a raging social conservative after Miers and we're not going to like her/him. We have to start planning now, like the Republicans have, so we don't end up scrambling.

    Now, here's something that drives me crazy. On Feministing, Ann's profile:

    She lives in Brooklyn, but is holding on to her Iowa voter ID card so she can continue to cancel out at least one family member’s Republican vote.

    She says this with pride in her complete disengagement with her community. Now, I love her posts on the blog and think she and the others on there are awesome (the same is true with MyDD), but why is someone who is so politically savvy on other fronts outright flaunting her rather low level of electoral participation as a voter? In 2004, I understood this phenomenon of NY-residing, swing-state-bred people staying registered on the shakier (for Dems) ground. But now? All it says is that you don't care about the place you live and those that live around you.

    I don't want to scapegoat those two blogs because they are far from the guiltiest on this count; I just want to point out what I think is a very dangerous mistake to avoid examining. The Republicans built a movement. One part was the Clinton-hatred that re-mobilized folks, but an equally crucial element was the local grassroots organizations, propelling people like Tom DeLay from Texas on up.

    Since this week has been so seriously bad for the Bush administration, everyone and their sister is trying to figure out what the Democrats can do to take advantage of this moment. And what we can do is make sure that sympathetic people don't simply sigh and regret November 2004 but see how they can be involved now to make their lives better.

    "Gentrifying Disaster"

    Mike Davis on "Gentrifying Disaster":

    In a recent email to Louisiana officials, FEMA curtly turned down the state’s request for funding to notify displaced residents that they could cast absentee ballots in the city’s crucial February mayoral election.

    You'd think after what happened, everyone would be falling all over themselves to prove that they do care about Black people, but the voter disenfranchisement that plagued the last two Presidential elections (and who knows how many local elections) continues. And here, the Republicans know what's up- get control of urban areas and secure local strongholds, rather than ignoring local elections completely to the favor of national politics, as Lefties do.

    In a way, Bush is lucky that we've all been consumed by Plamegate and Miers because this looks much worse, given the recent outpouring of sympathy and alarm

    In the weeks since Bush’s Jackson Square speech, FEMA has alarmingly failed to advance any plan for the return of evacuees to temporary housing within the city or to connect displaced locals with reconstruction jobs. Moreover for lack of a tax base or emergency federal funding, local governments in afflicted areas have been forced to lay off thousands of employees and are unable to restore many essential public services.

    Bush’s promise to promptly help the region’s unemployed—282,000 in Louisiana alone—has turned into slow-moving House legislation that would benefit less than one-quarter of those made jobless by Katrina. The powerful House Republican Study Group has vowed to support only relief measures that buttress the private sector and are offset by reductions in national social programs such as food stamps, student loans, and Medicaid.

    I think that the Republican Study Group is able to recommend cuts in food stamps, student loans, and Medicaid because we see these three programs as benefitting the people that the Katrina measures will, so it seems like overkill. As usual, we can only think about one thing at a time and the poor throughout the rest of the nation simply can't be considered right now.

    The Republican leadership accordingly has blocked bipartisan legislation to extend Medicaid coverage to all low-income hurricane victims and has imposed unprecedented demands for loan repayment upon local governments.

    I don't even know what to say-- this is pure evil and I can't understand it.

    In the meantime more than two-thirds of FEMA contracts (according to Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco) has gone to out-of-state firms, with a blatant bias toward Halliburton and other Texas-based investors in Bush Inc.

    Remember how right after Katrina, Bush said he wanted the reconstruction contracts to local contractors? How he wanted to focus the search on minority contractors?

    I'd like there to be limits on how much the federal government can spend with one particular contractor. I mean, the money we throw at Halliburton is ridiculous, even if they are absolutely the very best.

    Simultaneously, unscrupulous employers have saturated Latino neighborhoods in Houston and other southwestern cities with fliers advertising a cornucopia of jobs in New Orleans and Gulfport.

    With Davis-Bacon and affirmative-action requirements suspended by executive order, immigrant workers—housed in tents and working under appalling conditions—have flocked to jobs sites in the city, largely unaware that tens of thousands of blue-collar evacuees who would relish these jobs are unable to return for lack of family housing and federal support. Ethnic tensions are artificially inflamed by speculations about a “population swap” and impending ‘Latinization” of the workforce.

    First, the employers may not be "unscrupulous" so much as desperate. If you lost tons of money because of the hurricane and don't have a staff to make it back, you'll get some new employees, wherever they may be found. If the evacuees can't get back to the Gulf Coast, you'll get people from out of the area. Why blame the business owners for the fact that evacuees are meeting obstacle after obstacle returning to their homes?

    Also, with the serious cuts in food stamps and Medicaid in addition to the lack of housing available, it is going to be impossible for many of the poor evacuees to return for quite some time, while immigrants are less likely to be reliant on these services.

    Again, I say blame the government!

    Nor are downsizing and gentrification necessarily offensive to Democratic neo-liberals who have long advocated breaking up concentrated poverty and dispersing the black poor into older suburbs. The HOPE VI program, the showpiece of Clinton-era urban policy, demolished traditional public housing and ‘vouchered out’ residents in order to make way for mixed-use, market-rate developments like the St. Thomas redevelopment in New Orleans in the late 1990s that has become the prototype for elite visions of the city’s future.

    Now, this is all meant to sound scary but is based on a lot of studies which show that quality of life is vastly improved for low-income residents (by their own estimations) in mixed-income developments and communities. Yes, it breaks up racial-political blocks and that may be reason enough to curtail such programs, but it is meant to disperse community wealth (which is beneficial for things like public schools and parks) and to keep law-abiding low-income people and families from being surrounded by criminal activity. Though it sounds like engineering worthy of The Plot Against America, the interest (at least for the benevolent Democrats) is not so much about breaking up political constituencies and/or promoting assimilation (though it likely does both these things) as it is about lifting people out of many of the worst elements of poverty.

    Let me add that, in the event of a natural disaster, mixed income housing would help prevent some of the "let-them-die-out-there" mentality against poor people that was among the most frightening aspects of the Katrina disaster.

    Originally conceived as replacement housing for the poor, HOPE VI quickly morphed into a new strategy for replacing the poor themselves. Strategically-sited public-housing projects like New Orleans St. Thomas homes were demolished to make way for neo-traditionalist townhouses and stores (in the St. Thomas case, a giant Wal-Mart) in the New Urbanist spirit.

    These “mixed-use, mixed-income” developments were typically advertised as little utopias of diversity, but—as in the St. Thomas case—the real dynamic was exclusionary rather than inclusionary, with only a few project residents being rehoused on site. Nationally, HOPE VI led to a net loss of more than 50,000 units of desperately needed low-income housing.

    So is the problem the philosophy of "New Urbanism" or the conservative implementation
    which is not directly in accordance with the philosophy? It is entirely possible, within the "New Urbanist" school of urban planning and development, to actually increase the number of low-income homes.

    In conclusion, I think that the spirit of "New Urbanism" could revitalize New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast if implemented with sensitivity. The casinos that Davis so roundly decries could open up economic possibilities for a city in ruins. Moreover, if all the jobs are occupied by new immigrants, the need for jobs when residents return to their homes will be paramount. But first, people have to get home and the services they need.

    It Was Like Fitzmas and Birthday All Rolled Into One!

    Happy 58th Birthday Senator Clinton!

    Give the Guy a Break! He's Got No Porch to Sit On!

    Andrew Sullivan posts this quote of the day:

    "I want the president to look across the country and find the best man, woman, or minority that he can find." - Senator Trent Lott, yesterday.

    It's All Over

    You know that feeling you get after you've opened all your presents and you still didn't get the thing you most wanted, but Christmas is over? Yeah. So, no Rove.

    But at least we got a shiny new Scooter.

    Even though it's on obstruction and perjury.

    Well, back to the grind.

    Rocking Around the Fitzmas Tree

    Killing time before the 2pm press conference.


    When Blogs Attack!

    Forbes stirs up blogger-ire:

    But if blogging is journalism, then some of its practitioners seem to have learned the trade from Jayson Blair. Many repeat things without bothering to check on whether they are true, a penchant political operatives have been quick to exploit. "Campaigns understand that there are some stories that regular reporters won't print. So they'll give those stories to the blogs," says Christian Grantham, a Democratic consultant in Washington who also blogs. He cites the phony John Kerry/secret girlfriend story spread by bloggers in the 2004 primaries. The story was bogus, but no blogger got fired for printing the lie. "It's not like journalism, where your reputation is ruined if you get something wrong. In the blogosphere people just move on. It's scurrilous," Grantham says.

    Why is it that we have to see blogging as journalism for it to be relevant? Let's just say it: blogging is not journalism. Blogging is its own thing. Some bloggers blog in ways that have most everything in common with journalism. Some journalists have their own blogs.

    This reminds me of how feminist and ethnic scholars try to "recover" works by women and ethnic/racial minorites by redeeming them on the terms of other nobels: "See how 'modernist' this is? It's structure is similar to Ulysses. It really is worth reading." Sometimes that's true. Other times, the work is doing something completely different and should be judged on its own merits and any attempt to "justify" its place in the canon based on the usual canonical standards just makes the work look worse.

    One of the things that's cool about blogs is that they can be informal. Another thing that's cool about blogs is that they can be written anonymously. A third thing that's cool about blogs is that they can reveal new information, throw together twelve different texts, and then make no bones about ranting on all, most, or none of them. Let's not kill them by asking that bloggers get their M.A. in Journalism. Let's just let the readers know that blogs are on a continuum of "accuracy" with other medium.

    And one more thing. Let's not get concerned about hierarchicalizing in blogs. SOme blogs are good and reputable; some are not.

    What Classic Book Are You?

    Which Classic Book Are You?
    Book: William Shakespeare's Hamlet.
    Synopsis: Hamlet is an atmosperic story of internalization - of feelings (guilt, love, hatred), of people, thoughts, and actions. Marked by indecision and a strong sense of self-pity and self-consciousness, Hamlet makes the slow transition from fear to determination in his quest to avenge his father's death. Oedipal complex, supernatural powers, royal incest, revenge - these are all explored in the play. Several famous questions are posed and thoughts explored - of existence, suicide, meaning, value. Hamlet is just packed with philosophy, psychology, and humanity. A must-read in which you will find many of the most famous soliloquies in all of Shakespeare.
    Excerpt: To be, or not to be,--that is the question:--Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them?--To die,--to sleep,--no more; and by a sleep to say we end the heartache, and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to,--'tis a consummation devoutly to be wish'd.
    Amazon: Hamlet
    Which Classic Book Are You?

    Hmmm. At least I didn't get Animal Farm.

    Kansas, Intelligent Design, Evolution, Social Mobility, What's the Matter With . . .

    Moderately Appealing Writings of Prurient Interest discusses this whole Kansas-intelligent design thing:

    Kansas has never had much to say about itself outside of its association with the Wizard of Oz, and the fact that the entire state is in black and white. (Most people think that was a movie effect, but it's really like that there).

    Kansas is about to start teaching some kind of witchcraft about the origins of life in its science classes.

    Some of you may think this is bad, but it will make little difference actually. Smart people who are born in Kansas usually leave, and the rest, well they probably have little reason to understand the way things actually work anyway. So all is well.

    The real good news is now morons from all over the country have a state all to themselves. Let the migrations begin. And if Kansas isn't big enough, take Alabama too. Go on, I insist. . .

    It's one of those things I don't want to agree with, but I find sometimes that I do. Most of my family live in Kansas and Colorado. And I love them. And I don't think they're smart. And I don't think that being taught intelligent design vs. straight-up evolution would have made much of a difference in their lives. And all of the people of my generation in my family live in the Northeast now, all but one in NYC.

    And, it would be hard for my relatives to get the cash to get out of Kansas, but, if they felt there was something better out there for them, they might find a way.

    On the other hand, this article provided what was, for me, the first reasonable justification for not giving in to the intelligent design folks:

    In a joint statement yesterday, Ralph J. Cicerone, president of the National Academy, and Michael J. Padilla, president of the teachers' group, said: "Kansas students will not be well prepared for the rigors of higher education or the demands of an increasingly complex and technologically driven world if their science education is based on these standards. Instead, they will put the students of Kansas at a competitive disadvantage as they take their place in the world."

    In other words, here's one more disadvantage to growing up in the Red states. If you ever get out, you have to catch up in yet another way. There should be some kind of standardization to schools nationally, so that kids can escape their Midwestern/Southern/rural pasts.

    The religion-region equation remains a serious barrier to social mobility. The Christian upper-middle-class "educated" white kid from a Midwestern suburb still can't get into an Ivy (unless s/he has cancer or something). In this country, true "social mobility" equals "regional mobility"; you can't be anyone in the middle of America. And social mobility, "class, is as much about speaking the language of the upper-class, and that language is not, the recent political gains of the Christian Right notwithstanding, "God made us in His image", etc.

    This is why my proposal for intelligent design/Darwinist evolution curriculum works: never one without the other in any school anywhere.

    Thursday, October 27, 2005

    On Average

    Ms. Bella Sultane on Commeo writes an excellent post regarding this new book ( and posts a picture that I blatantly steal- thanks Ms. Sultane).

    Based on statistics, Kevin O'Keefe went out to find someone who reflects qualities that the majority of people in America have. Apparently, the average American is Robert Burns (see picture**).

    First of all, and I hate to be picky here, but I'm guessing that this guy is missing something that the majority of Americans have... a vagina. According to the U.S. Census, in 2000 there were 5,314,780 more women than men in America. Therefore, if one were to take the average of biological sex in America*, it would probably come out somewhere in the middle and slightly leaning towards whatever number you'd assigned to represent 'female.'

    So, how did O'Keefe decide that the 'Average American' is a man? Moreover, why didn't he have an average man and an average woman - wouldn't that have been more representative?

    The book's website offers you a chance to determine whether or not you are "the average American":

    Are you an Average American?

    How close is the nearest Wal-Mart to your home?
    20-minute drive or more
    No more than a 20-minute drive
    Do you believe you are living the “American Dream”?
    Are you tolerant of all races?
    Can you name the Three Stooges?
    Can you name the three branches of the Federal Government?
    Do you prefer smooth or chunky peanut butter?

    I got a score of 2, meaning I am not average. The questions mystify me. What does it mean for someone to "be tolerant of all races"? Moreover, what does it mean for someone to answer "yes" to that question?

    The problem with this book is that it decides what makes people average. In other words, what aspects of people actually matter. Proximity to Walmart? Crucial to who you are. Your ability to name the Three Stooges? Partly defines you. Your gender? Eh.

    I'm not one of those people that's opposed to statistics or surveys because they aren't representative enough. If you want to find out if someone was told by a doctor, nurse, or other health professional that they had heart disease and you ask as random a possible sample of people that very question, then I think you might get at an answer very close to the material reality. If, however, you want to put 30 random characteristics together and see those as the make-up of people, it is the questions themselves that decide the answers. (Now, in a way, to a degree, that's always true. Derrida, etc. But this is egregious.)

    There's this serious investment, it seems, in "reclaiming the common man" and this "common man" (oh, ladies, don't be so sensitive, we include you too) is Midwestern, white, suburban, middle-class. There is a serious political agenda here. By not recognizing the proliferation of identities in today's American culture, we can envision a greater good which is the good for this "common man", who is actually rather, in his composite of peanut-butter-preference+passing-of-Civics-class, etc, rare.

    I notice that Democrats are starting to get into this idea of "framing" (which I think is important) by imagining this man, this "average American" as the listener. There is this popular imaginative space populated by that man and that man only. And that space exists between Michigan and Nevada. And, the more we "average" them, the less likely it is that we are talking to anyone at all.

    Catholic Charities: Still Charities, Though Catholic

    You know, every once in awhile, some small thing happens that keeps me, for one moment, from being embarassed by the Catholic Church:

    . . . the social services agency of the Archdiocese of Boston has allowed 13 foster children to be adopted by same-sex couples in the past two decades, saying state regulations prohibit the agency from discriminating based on sexual orientation . .
    Peter Meade, who is chairman of the board, said he believes that the agency should welcome same-sex couples to adopt, and not just because of a contractual requirement with DSS.
    ''What we do is facilitate adoptions to loving couples," he said. ''I see no evidence that any child is being harmed."
    Catholic Charities's placement of children with gays and lesbians began in 1987, when the agency signed its state adoption contract, said Debbie Rambo, vice president of programs for Catholic Charities. She said the 13 adoptions were ''scattered" throughout the last 18 years, with the last one occurring this year. She said the 13 children placed with same-sex couples fared as well as those adopted by heterosexual couples.

    My favorite coverage is on
    Christdot (Christ. Period.):

    Boston Archdiocese Includes Gay “Couples” in Catholic Charities Adoptions

    Queers don't even get to be called "couples" without "scare-quotes"? Come on, guys.

    "Miered" or "Borked"?

    Nahal Toosi asks:

    Is "miered" the new "borked"? Robert Bork's failed nomination to the Supreme Court in 1987 spawned the verb "borked," defined loosely as getting rejected in an unseemly, even unfair, manner.

    Now there is talk online about whether Harriet Miers' withdrawal of her nomination to the high court will give rise to the term "miered." . . .

    A contributor to The Reform Club, a right-leaning blog, wrote that to get "borked" was "to be unscrupulously torpedoed by an opponent," while to get "miered" was to be "unscrupulously torpedoed by an ally."

    S.T. Karnick, co-editor of The Reform Club, elaborated.

    "If you have a president who is willing to instigate a big controversy, the prospect of being `borked' will be the major possibility," he said. "But if you have a president who is always trying to get consensus, then it's much more likely that nominees will get `miered.'"

    On The National Review Online, a conservative site, a contributor suggested that "to mier" means "to put your own allies in the most untenable position possible based upon exceptionally bad decision- making."

    To compare the laugh-tracked fashion commentary, conference-call shenanigans, the where-does-she-stand fog, and Top 10 alum-authorized-sneers of the Miers situation with the forthright, we-know-right-where-you-stand-jerk, confrontation of the Bork hearings (note that he gets "hearings" while she only gets "situation"- that plays some role here, don't you think?) is tremendously unfair. Bork got to blah-blah-blah about himself as an originalist; Miers didn't even get the chance to articulate even the kernel of her judicial philosophy (and don't say, "She didn't have one, because we will never know). Bork's video rentals used against him was pathetic (I mean, today we'd appoint someone because he'd recently seen a Marx Brothers film), but I think the thank-you note stuff was particularly low moment in journalism.

    To be "miered" is to be made an example of in the name of public reassertion of a masculine, upper-crust monopoly on power.

    Or, as Wonkette put it more succinctly:

    "Borked" versus "Miers". What the rest of the world calls "tops" and "bottoms."

    How do you know there's something different? Well, would Florence Kennedy ever say, "We're going to 'mier' her?"

    I Love Slavoj Zizek

    Don't you?

    Now, S.Z. may border on "problematic", but his stuff is addictive.

    So now, from the guy who brought you "Passion in the Era of Decaffienated Belief", comes a hot little number on Katrina coverage, "The Subject Supposed to Loot and Rape: Reality and Fantasy in New Orleans".

    I'm not going to rip some quote out so that you can pretend you read it. That would be doing my readers a great disservice. Read the thing. You'll be glad you did.

    British General Tells All

    Rumsfeld's Fall Reading?:

    Why does the West so often win wars and then go on to lose the peace?

    A former NATO commander and veteran of military operations in Northern Ireland, Iraq and the Balkans tackles that question in a challenging book that advocates a complete rethink of the way Western nations organize and use their armed forces.

    In "The Utility of Force," retired Gen. Sir Rupert Smith, one of Britain's most decorated soldiers, says Western armies are still set up to fight "industrial wars" which ceased to exist at the end of World War Two in 1945.

    "War no longer exists," he writes.

    Smith is withering about President George W. Bush's talk of a "war on terror" after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, which he calls a "statement without useful meaning" since no decisive outcome is possible.

    "The terrorist is demonstrating a better understanding of the utility of force in serving his political purpose than those who are opposed to him -- both political leaders and military establishments," he writes.

    Most modern conflicts, Smith argues, are "war amongst the people," in which military might is of limited use in attaining the strategic objective, which is to win hearts and minds, and change an opponent's behavior.

    Basically, war might have to be even more about ideology than it ever has been (if that is possible or even means anything anyway). What I mean is that, in some ways, it's a lot harder to fight an insurgency like we're fighting in Iraq, which is basically a terrorist activist group, than a country, because leadership and membership can be more fluid and changing for them than for us. In the US, it's often harder to get people to enlist in the military when we're at war, but activist groups grow when the need seems urgent. They can keep recruiting and recruiting, and the more we seem to be rolling over them, the better their recruitment. We look like our only mission is to crush them, though we believe our mission is to spread democracy or something.

    He does not prescribe in detail how armed forces should be transformed, but the implication is that the military needs fewer tanks, warships and fighter planes and more intelligence, police, civilian affairs and media specialists.

    Also, we've most often fought amongst Western-Christian countries, where cultural issues and misunderstandings happened more rarely (which is not to say they didn't happen), but the religious-antagonism makes it very hard for us to ever gain trust in Iraq. That and the fact that we invaded them even though they didn't attack us. And the whole thing about how we sort of deserted them after Desert Storm. . . .

    Withdrawn But Not Forgotten

    Yes, she's out and here's what some people have to say about it.

    Orrill Reports:

    So Harriet's been withdrawn. That's good. Unfortunately, I suspect we're in for a bumpy ride with the next nominee. Here's why:

    Conventional wisdom is that with Bush getting weaker by the day, he needs to kowtow to his base more than he ever has. That means they're more likely to pick some right-wing wacko.
    Republicans in the Senate seemed to have been gearing up to ask the kinds of probing questions of Harriet that lately have either gone unasked or unanswered. By withdrawing Harriet before she could go in front of the Senate, there's no way that we can re-establish the Senate's duty to advise and consent.
    Similarly, the White House has been able to use their lame arguments against sharing documents again, so there's no opportunity to let the Senate regain some muscle in getting information on the nominee.
    There are still indictments coming, and the White House is going to be desperate to change the subject.

    Democrats don't have much leverage at this point, so no matter how extreme the next nominee is (and I fully expect a doozy), they're going to have a tough time wringing information out of the nominee and/or White House without Republicans solidly on board with them. If the next nominee is as bad I fear, the only option for them will be a filibuster. If they resort to that, then we get the whole nuclear-option dance again, and god help us all.


    There is no way to spin this (Even though administration officials will try) as anything other than a major embarrassment. President Bush has a Senate overwhelmingly controlled by his own party. Bill Clinton never had this trouble, and he had a REPUBLICAN Senate. This was a nomination killed by the radical conservative wing of the Republican Party, and none of the GOP Senators had the guts to stand up for them.

    I agree that Harriet Miers wasn't qualified, but how great was it to watch President Bush get attacked by the very people (Religious Right, Radcons) who got him elected.

    Democrats can rejoice in this embarrassment, (and they are on TV) but now they must carefully decide what to do next. This withdrawal opens the door for a radical conservative nominee. President Bush just fought the far right wing and lost, now will he pick a fight with the Democrats to appease them???

    'Zactly. We're in far more trouble now. Dems are going to be looking back at Miers longingly for a long time to come. When we could have been out there defending her, we joined the snickering over her personal correspondence (I'm sure everyone in Washington and on the blogosphere writes publishable emails). We could have reached across the aisle to the freaks, like Dobson, who were ready to embrace her. Sigh.
    Bring the pain.