Should The Cross Be Removed From The WTC Memorial?
An atheist group is suing to do just that. Brenna Cameron writes at HuffPo:
The cross, a fused steel t-joint which served to gird the towers before they fell, was unearthed from the rubble following the attacks. Unusual for its proportions resembling the Christian cross, it quickly became a symbol of hope for men and women coping with the horror of the day.
It was moved to nearby St. Peter's church in 2006, where it bore a plaque which read: "The Cross at Ground Zero - Founded September 13, 2001; Blessed October 4, 2001; Temporarily Relocated October 15, 2006. Will return to WTC Museum, a sign of comfort for all."
The cross was moved back to the World Trade Center site on July 23, but according to the American Atheists, it should have stayed at St. Peter's.
"The WTC cross has become a Christian icon," the group's president, David Silverman, said in a press release. "It has been blessed by so-called holy men and presented as a reminder that their god, who couldn't be bothered to stop the Muslim terrorists or prevent 3,000 people from being killed in his name, cared only enough to bestow upon us some rubble that resembles a cross. It's a truly ridiculous assertion."
...The group wants equal inclusion of other belief systems - including nonreligious groups - or outright removal of the cross. The 9/11 Memorial Foundation told ABC that other religious artifacts, including a Star of David and a Jewish prayer shawl, will be added the museum ahead of its scheduled opening on September 12, 2011.
I'm an atheist and believe in the separation of church and state but I also am a civil libertarian who believes that the answer to speech you dislike or deplore is more speech, not less speech.
Also, if this were just a cross, unconnected to the events of the day, it would be different. This is an item of significance from the rubble -- significant for many, though not spiritually significant for non-believers like me.
If they did not allow atheist, Jewish, or other religious or non-religious symbols, that would be one thing, but it sounds (from the article) like those will be part of the museum. They didn't mention the inclusion of atheist symbols in this article -- just other religious ones -- but perhaps atheist symbols (I'm not sure what) would or could be included as well. They don't mention anyone saying no to that, either.
Guess Who Obamacare Isn't Reaching: The Uninsured
On TheHill.com, Jonathan Easley writes:
ObamaCare isn't achieving its primary goal of extending coverage to the uninsured, according to a new study.
The survey released Thursday by the McKinsey & Co. consulting firm found that only 27 percent of people who have selected a plan on the new exchanges didn't previously have coverage.
The Obama administration says 4 million people have selected a plan since the exchanges launched on Oct. 1, but has not said how many of them already had an insurance plan.
Get your lime Link-O here.
Chicago -- Outrageously -- Bans Commercially Bred Pets
Government overreach in Chicago now extends to the origins of your pet and whether you can get a pure-bred pet from a breeder, though all you have to do to get around this ridiculous law is get a pet from outside the city or state limits -- as I did.
My tiny Chinese Crested, Aida, just below, is from New Jersey -- though I will say she lacks the accent.
Law prof Jonathan Turley explains the law:
Beginning next March, all stores in the city will have to start getting their pets from government pounds, humane societies or animal rescue groups rather than for-profit operations.
And Turley blogs about how ridiculous this is, even beyond the government overreach:
First, it effectively treats all commercial pet operations as the same as mills, which is clearly not the case. Second, rather than regulate the conditions of such operations for breeding, it limits both the right to sell and right to buy such animals. (I realize that many operations are outside of the state, but the city could require certification of the sources for such animals). Third, it clearly disfavors the purchase of pure bred animals as a general rule unless obtained from pounds etc. Finally, the law only applies to retailers defined as "any person licensed or required to be licensed under this chapter who offers for sale any dog, cat or rabbit in the City." That would still allow the purchase from breeders or stores outside of the city, even just across the city limit. Presumably, someone could also "purchase" an animal over the internet or phone and have the animal delivered to their home from an enterprising store outside of city limits.
The law seems arbitrary even under a rational basis test in my view. The preference given adoptions also intrudes on the choices of consumers as to the animal that they want to add to their families. It seems like the animal rights version of a "Big Gulp" ban on the issue of choice. There are breeders who raise animals in humane settings. They tend to be more expensive than mills and these breeders tend to resent the mills as much if not more than others.
Let's not equate people who throw a couple of dogs together with professional breeders.
The breeders I like (and would only begin to consider) are those who are suspicious of everybody who wants a puppy.
For our breeders, I had to fill out 10 pages of paperwork, sign a contract giving them liquidated damages if I broke it (with pledges to spay her and agreements about how she would be treated) and had an hour and a half phone conversation with the wife and two hour long Skype conversations with the husband and Gregg and me before they would consider giving her to me.
Also, our breeders test for genetic diseases and register their results with the organizations, and are careful to not breed a carrier for a disease with another carrier. (Our vet wanted me to get a rescue dog. Well, though there are no guarantees, even with testing, with a rescue dog, health is a total crap shoot, and it is just too heartbreaking to have a sick dog, and expensive, too.)
Our breeders also have a "call anytime" policy about ANY question with Aida. Tim, the husband said, "The only dumb question is one you don't ask."
They welcomed me into their home in New Jersey and spent a day training me to care for Aida and have emailed me many times, at length, with answers to my questions. (I try not to abuse this!)
They are amazing people who care deeply about these puppies and not just people who sold us a dog.
Countertop Sex And Other Unrealities From Hollywood
I always marvel at those scenes where they're doing it on the countertop and they just let all the dishes and blenders and things go flying.
Joyce Wadler writes in The New York Times, "There's a Place for Us, Just Not the Kitchen":
It was about a form of movie sex I think of as the Countertop Heave: The leading man, too passionate to wait or perhaps hoping to grab a snack afterward, lifts the lady he desires onto a kitchen countertop and does the deed there. I know, from years of being on the home-design beat, that Americans are crazy about their kitchens, particularly if there's been a recent renovation. But I also know that the standard floor-to-countertop height is 36 inches.
You would have to be a pro basketball player to consummate. You would also have to make room, swatting the Hurom juicer and smoothie maker and the Jura cappuccino machine to the floor and risking breakage. And believe me, the people who have this stuff would rather give up sex.
Still, the '70s were a simpler time, so I ran it past the boyfriend:
"You ever make love to a woman where you lift her up and put her on the kitchen counter?"
"Never," he said.
"What about that thing where you pick them up and they wrap their legs around you and you walk around the apartment doing it?" I asked. "That kind of lift-and-carry maneuver?"
"You're kidding, right?" he said.
Why would I be kidding? It seems to me that half the Academy Award nominees include a lift and carry, or maybe "The Wolf of Wall Street" was just very long.
O.K., I know what you're thinking: Nobody takes the kind of sex they have in the movies seriously. It's entertainment. They do that thing where the guy is carrying the woman around the apartment without fear of S.T.D.'s because it's cinematic. Everyone knows that if you tried it in real life, you would be on the phone the next day booking percutaneous disk surgery.
The other kind of unbelievable sex is the kind where the guy rips your bra off. Mine cost over $100 each (though I try to get them on sale when I'm in Paris). Tread lightly! Unhook with care! As if you are tending to a wounded baby bird.
And then get back to the more vigorous action!
Our Lowest Priority Is People Who Are Suffering Terrible Chronic Pain
Maia Szalavitz writes in the WaPo about how patients in serious pain are shut out of the debate over presciption pain meds and aren't mentioned in the hyperventilating stories about the "opioid epidemic."
There seems to be a good deal of distortion and ignoring of the facts that's used to support the war on opioids. The people it ends up hurting are those who need them to live without suffering:
A review of the literature by the highly respected Cochrane Collaboration found that less than 1 percent of patients without a prior history of addiction become addicted during long-term opioid treatment for chronic pain. The review collected data from nearly 5,000 patients.
Here, too, the media can be one-sided. For example, reporting on a 2012 study which found that over 100 million Americans are afflicted with some kind of chronic pain, ABC News stated as fact that "Powerful painkillers like vicodin or percocet relieve pain but aren't intended to treat patients long-term." Some doctors certainly take that perspective -- but if it were the consensus in medicine, there wouldn't be enough data for a Cochrane Review on the issue, let alone one that tentatively concludes that such treatment can be effective.
Opioids are clearly a highly contentious subject and there are certainly cases where they are prescribed too readily and made too accessible for recreational use. But the data suggest that most of these opioids are not being prescribed for chronic pain patients. Otherwise, doctors themselves would be directly supplying a far larger proportion of the opioids used by addicts.
Policymakers and anti-addiction advocates now want to suppress opioid use, and to impose even greater restrictions on people who live with chronic pain. This isn't going to address the addiction and overdose problem. Studies are now showing that when opioids aren't as available and prices go up, addicts just switch back to street heroin. Pain patients, however, simply suffer. Their plight shouldn't be an afterthought and shouldn't be relegated to comments sections to stories that failed to consider their perspective. They are a crucial part of this story.
He's a TV guy I never saw but whose name was rattling around in my head for some reason. Gordie Howe is also in there. No idea why on that one, either.
Learn A Foreign Language-zon
Amazon has a great "Gold Box Deal Of The Day" with 40% or more off wonderful Rosetta Stone software. (I've found this helpful for improving my sucky French, especially my sucky French pronunciation.)
Today only, while supplies last.
What's Your Bet On Whether Little Girls Want "Average" Or Barbie?
Some guy is crowd-funding a doll with "reasonably standard human body proportions -- as opposed to the exaggerated dimensions of Barbie," reports the BBC:
American artist Nickolay Lamm created a prototype of a Barbie-like doll last year based on US government measurements for an average 19-year-old American woman and the response was huge.
If average sold, women's magazines would be filled with housewives instead of top models.
I think parents will buy this doll (with the weird widely-spaced eyes and an unattractively waistless look in the red dress) but I think their little girls will beg for Barbie instead.
Washington Sleazebags Exchange More Free Lunch For Votes
Wanna live on a flood plain? No problem. If you lose your house, taxpayers will pick up the bill! Still!
(There was an attempt to reform this, but it of course failed.)
Mary Kissel writes in the WSJ:
All you need to know about the 306-91 House vote Tuesday night to gut federal flood insurance reform is that 12 committee chairmen, including Texas fiscal hawk Jeb Hensarling, voted against the measure. That's a strong signal that the bill is a loser for taxpayers.
The National Flood Insurance Program is $24 billion in debt because it charges below-market premiums and was blown sideways by Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. The 2012 Biggert-Waters bill aimed to move the NFIP toward charging actuarially sound rates over a period of years and encourage private insurance companies to shoulder more of the risk.
Cue the panic. Realtors and homebuilders, worried that higher rates would slow sales and new construction in lucrative coastal areas, lobbied hard against the law. House Republicans like Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, who is running for Senate against Democrat Mary Landrieu, wanted to flog cheap insurance to win votes. And the national media dug up scare stories to further pressure the House to do something.
But the people who do insurance for a living, such as the Reinsurance Association of America, were arrayed against the bill. National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies executive Jimi Grande noted that property owners "with subsidized rates lose any incentive to protect themselves from flood damage." The Association of State Floodplain Managers called the House's promise to refund premium payments "a huge unknown liability."
Yes, those of you who live in the middle of the Dust Bowl will be subsidizing the fancy people with beachfront property -- such as movie stars living in Malibu in multi-million-dollar houses along the ocean.
How would they ever manage to make it on their $20 million-a-picture salaries without our picking up their Malibu beach house's flood insurance costs?
Your Friends Are Assholes And/Or Have Assholes For Friends
That should have been the determination here.
But, Kathleen Miles at HuffPo Los Angeles blogged a bunch of heaving pronouncements about Hollywood sexism -- because...there were a few trashtalkers at a party?
Her piece, complete with melodramatic title: "I Witnessed Hollywood's Sexism Firsthand -- And Said Nothing":
At one party, one man said to another, "Would you rather keep the Oscar statue or get a blow job from any actress in the first three rows?"
"So I don't keep the statue -- but everyone still knows I won the award?" said the other, in an attempt to clarify.
At a second party, as Pink was singing "Over the Rainbow," a man commented, "Yeah, her titties don't look very good."
When Gabourey Sidibe, the star from the film "Precious," walked on stage, the man held up his hand to block her from his sight, giggling like a middle schooler making fun of the chubby girl in class. He was similarly vocal about his disgust for Whoopi Goldberg, the only female presenter who didn't bare skin.
When Charlize Theron, Kate Hudson or any thin, blonde had a cameo, he loudly groaned as if he was having an orgasm right there at the party, in front of mostly strangers.
For hot non-blondes, he charitably muttered, "I'd do her."
Oh, the horror, the horror.
What did the ladies do?
The worst part: no one said anything, including us. We sat quietly in terror, hands folded over our laps, staring at the screen. The misogynists were only a few men, among numerous progressive men and women, but they were the ones who were heard.
Why not give back if you're so troubled -- maybe laugh and make dirties aloud about Matthew McConaughey or whomever?
What is it with women these days that they think being equal means waiting for somebody to say or do something while they huddle like frightened kittens?
To me, those guys were just trying to make themselves look big by being assholish.
But if I had been troubled, I would have blurted something out.
I'd do that because I'm actually an equal, not an eggshell -- my recent term for these women who are too fragile to make it anywhere but a knitting group or in front of the oven in a frilly apron, but would probably never admit that, even to themselves.
And about this complaint:
Women got only 28 percent of speaking roles -- often hypersexualized roles -- in the 100 top-grossing fictional films from 2012. About 32 percent of female characters wore "sexy" clothing, compared to 7 percent of male characters, and 31 percent of these women were shown partially nude, compared to 9 percent of men.
This is the problem with people who deny that there are differences between men and women -- and in what they want to see. The marketplace tells the tale. Look at women's magazines and see how many naked men are in them -- compared to the number of naked and half-naked women in men's magazines.
This is no accident.
(It's biology, bitches!)
Are We Going To Get More Women On The Roof To Clean Out The Rain Gutters?
UNESCO has taken on, as Charlotte Allen put it, the "burning 'human rights' issue" of getting husbands to do more housework. (For the record, she and I think kind of the same things about this -- I saw her post on Facebook and wrote this one before I clicked on her link.)
Allen wrote about a blog post by Gary Barker, whose Huff Post bio says he "is founder and International Director of Promundo, an international organization with offices in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Washington, DC, and Kigali, Rwanda, that works to engage men and boys in gender equality and ending violence against women."
Again, wouldn't "gender equality" -- a ridiculous term -- require women to do all the yucky, dirty, strong-arm jobs men tend to do around the house? Sure, some women can -- and do. Personally, I can barely manage replacing a lightbulb, and I hung all my pictures when I moved in with a nail and a string.
What people who refer to "gender" instead of "sex" are pretending is that men and women are the same, which they are not. Men have higher testosterone and greater muscle mass and evolved to take risks to score chicks, which is likely why more of them die doing dumbass things -- and why more of them make physically risky achievements.
Barker posted his blog item for the silly "International Women's Day." (If there's no International Men's Day, aren't we mucking up the gender equality thing right there?)
His call on the housework front:
Men and boys must do 50% of the world's unpaid care work: that includes washing dishes and waking up for 2:00 a.m. feedings.
In my relationship, Gregg does 95 percent of the cooking. (I make a fabulous cup of coffee with foamed milk riding the top -- that's where I get my five percent.) Is this horribly something or other -- or just what works for us?
I wrote about rewarding men for doing the tire-rotating and all here.
No relation to Yertle the Turtle.
McGill University Activists: Even "Yes" Doesn't Necessarily Mean "Yes"
Feminists are competing with each other to infantilize women and deny them agency. The latest, writes Robyn Urback in Canada's National Post, is from a group at McGill:
On Wednesday evening at McGill University in Montreal, a group of students and community activists assembled to discuss when "yes" doesn't actually mean yes. The Forum on Consent, which was also open to the public, featured several panel participants who spoke to the question of what we understand as "consent." The theme was similar to a campaign launched by a Nova Scotia coalition earlier this month -- the More Than Yes campaign -- which contended that "sexual consent is more than just a yes." According to that campaign, and echoed by the forum participants at McGill on Wednesday, real consent "must be loud and clear. Sex without enthusiastic consent is not sex at all. It's sexual assault or rape."
No, there's no more pretending, coyly, "I've never done this sort of thing before."
It sounds like these ladies expect women to go on top of the dorm, get a megaphone, and scream: "Yes, I want to do you!" and yell out names, dates, and college ID numbers.
What's next, a written permission slip? (This is something I've suggested for men who are rich and famous in the past. Also, checking IDs to make sure the girl is of age.)
More from Urback:
There's no question that a "yes" uttered under in response to a threat or under some other form of duress does not constitute consent. Nor does an intoxicated "yes," since an individual loses the capacity to consent when under the influence of alcohol and drugs. But the Forum on Consent takes the consent conundrum to an entirely new level by suggesting that a meek "yes," or a nonchalant "yes," or a "yes" without emphatic body language does not constitute consent. According to the panel "It must be loud and clear."
And it seems we think alike:
The message, undoubtedly, is that men should tune into their partners' body language -- as well as their words -- before proceeding. It's not a bad idea. But in effect, telling men that "yes" doesn't mean "yes" could conceivably frighten them into bring a consent form on their next sexual rendezvous. And I don't blame them. If "yes" doesn't constitute consent, how can anyone be sure when to proceed? How much enthusiasm turns an I-don't-really-mean-it "yes" into a consent-granting "yes?" And what if partners have different views on enthusiastic expressions through body language? This suggestion also opens a Pandora's box of another kind: If a "yes" isn't always a "yes," how can we claim a "no" is always a "no?" If words have no meaning without the corresponding body language, wouldn't a "no" have to be accompanied by physical manifestations of denial?
Well, I do think this bit below (from Urback) is ridiculous:
Nor does an intoxicated "yes," since an individual loses the capacity to consent when under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
If so, I've had a fuckload of unconsenting sex. But I enjoyed the hell out of it.
And let's be clear, there's a big difference between "under the influence" -- which I see as, oh, under the influence of a couple glasses of dry white wine -- and "too wasted to be in control of what you're doing."
The answer for men, at least to me, seems clear:
Hire a hooker. It's far less costly.
via Charlotte Allen
About The Meanness To Kim Novak And Other Aging Hollywood Sex Symbols
It's easy for people to forget, but stars have feelings, same as the rest of us.
A female star, made famous for her beauty, was ripped apart for trying to hang on to the face she had.
An excerpt from a post by Self-Styled Siren:
As we age, the fat that plumps the skin and makes it glow inexorably begins to disintegrate. Because this is 2014, and we're on our way to curing women of the worst thing that can happen to them-- getting old -- doctors can solve this terrible problem with injectable fillers.
So let's say -- just as a hypothetical for-instance -- you are an 81-year-old star whose last movie was in 1991 and who hasn't been to the Oscars in many a long year. Not that you were ever nominated for one in the first place; you were, after all, a sex symbol for most of your career. As the evening approaches, the anxiety sets in. Harsh lights, you think. High-definition cameras. And a public that remembers you chiefly as the ice goddess whose beauty once drove James Stewart to the brink of madness.
And even back then, when you were 25 years old, you worried constantly that no matter how you looked, it wasn't good enough.
So a few weeks before the ceremony, you go to a doctor, and he says, "Relax honey. I have just the thing to make you fresh and dewy for the cameras."
And you go to the Oscars, so nervous you clutch your fellow presenter's hand. And the next day, you wake up to a bunch of cheap goddamn shots about your face.
Nice system we got here, isn't it.
No wonder Kim Novak, like Tippi Hedren, Doris Day and Brigitte Bardot, has long said she'd much rather spend her time with animals.
More sprinkles, please.
The New Sexual Double Standard: When Alcohol Is Involved, Men Are Rapists And Women Are Rape Victims
It sounds like a cartoon of a standard, but it's one many are taking seriously on campuses: If a man has a beer and has sex, he is a rapist. If a woman has a beer and has sex, she is a rape victim.
Margaret Wente writes in The Globe And Mail:
So here's the $10 question. Can a woman consent to sex when she's been drinking? Universities have decided that the answer is no. "We heard that students don't understand that it is illegal to have sex with someone who is drunk because they can't give consent," says the Saint Mary's task force report. Although that sentence is crafted to be gender-neutral, its warning is directed at men. It means that drunken sex is tantamount to rape.
Is there a double standard here? Indeed there is. Men are treated as potential rapists, and women as their helpless victims (or, in current parlance, "survivors"). If two young people get hammered and have drunken sex, he is responsible for his behaviour, but she's not responsible for hers. And even if she does say "yes," it's up to him to figure out whether she means it.
As Wayne MacKay, the law professor who wrote the Saint Mary's report, told Maclean's: "Clearly the focus needs to be on the fact that men need to have a better understanding and stop raping."
Let's be clear about a few things. Obviously, someone who is passed out or barely conscious cannot consent to sex. Men, who have physical size and strength on their side, have an extra duty to rein in their disinhibitions whether they are under the influence or not. And some men really are predators who deliberately target women. But the truth is that a great deal of alcoholic sex basically involves "stuff I wouldn't have done if I was sober."
Go Buy A Scissors, Guvvy! (How It Works In A Free Market)
A gay hair stylist in Santa Fe has refused to cut the anti-gay-marriage governor's hair. From MSNBC:
A Santa Fe hairdresser is waging his own boycott of sorts: He is denying service to the governor of New Mexico because she opposes gay marriage.
Antonio Darden, who has been with his partner for 15 years, said he made his views clear the last time Gov. Susana Martinez's office called to make an appointment.
"The governor's aides called not too long ago wanting another appointment to come in," Darden told KOB.com. "Because of her stances and her views on this, I told her aides, 'no.' They called the next day asking if I'd changed my mind about taking the governor in, and I said 'no' again."
Martinez has said marriage should be between a man and a woman. Darden, who said he has cut the governor's hair three times, said he won't serve her unless she changes her mind about gay marriage.
"If I'm not good enough to be married, I'm not going to cut her hair," Darden told The New Mexican on Wednesday.
Free Speech Yanked From High School Students
Jonathan Turley writes about the ruling out of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals over a ban at a California high school of students wearing tee-shirts with American flags during the Mexican heritage celebration Cinco de Mayo:
On Cinco de Mayo in 2010, students who came to Live Oak High School outside San Jose were rounded up by teachers for engaging in offensive speech. The speech? They had American flags on their T-shirts, something the school viewed as insulting to Hispanics. Administrators insisted that only the Mexican flag could be shown on campus that day.
Last week, the school's actions were unanimously upheld by the federal appellate court in California -- a ruling that would allow flags and other patriotic symbols to be banned like profanity or hate speech.
In reality, the ruling is not a sign of contempt for the flag but a sign of contempt for the rights of students. The fact that this speech concerns the flag itself (the very symbol of civil liberties) captures how far the courts have gone in abandoning core First Amendment rights for students.
Disturbingly, contrary to Tinker (the finding that students do not "shed their constitutional rights ... at the schoolhouse gate"), federal courts have been stripping students of their free speech rights at the schoolhouse gate, but not only there -- inside their bedroom doors, for speech on social media.
It's one more way rights are being eroded in this country as citizens do fuck all about it.
Turley delineates the ultimate problem:
Citizens shaped in such an environment are likely to view speech as a discretionary privilege allowed by our government rather than an individual right guaranteed in our Constitution.
Ironically, the flag is the very symbol of a nation of differing faiths, cultures and races bound by liberty. Perhaps the school was right: If you are going to deny free speech, it is the last thing you want to see.
I generally think online petitions are pretty useless, but this is one I think is worthy and can maybe even make a difference. All they're asking for is for the government to look at the dietary science (instead of promoting -- as the government has -- dietary guidelines that are the antithesis of the science).
I respect both Judy Barnes Baker and Richard Feinman, who are behind this. (Judy sent it to me.)
I have to say that I don't have great faith that government officials will be able to discern between solid and crap science and the same goes for much of the citizenry, but I think at least trying on this is important.
As long as the government is putting out dietary guidelines, which much of the population will believe, they should be science-based dietary guidelines.
I'll show you Judy's letter -- just below. And below that is the blurb about the petition.
I know you are an advocate for healthful eating and I wanted to tell you about a project Dr. Richard Feinman (from SUNY) and I have been working on.
We filed a White House Petition to change the way the Dietary Guidelines for Americans are created. The first set of guidelines was based on weak population studies from the 1950s and the same basic message has just been recycled every 5 years. They are currently written behind closed doors by the USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services. There is no oversight, no transparency, and no accountability for the outcomes. The two agencies appoint an advisory committee, but they are free to ignore its advice. They have the final say and the committee's report is never disclosed to the public.
We are seeking common ground with our petition and not promoting any particular diet. All we are asking is that the government hold open hearings so people can hear the testimony of impartial experts and judge for themselves what the science shows. We hope you will help us reach your many fans and encourage them to support this petition.
We would be grateful for anything you have time to do to help spread the message; even a Tweet including the link would be much appreciated. We only have until March 20 to reach the target of 100,000 signatures.
The petition is here. More information about the petition is here.
Thank you for your help!
Judy Barnes Baker
A few more details on the petition here:
The right to petition the government is guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution. We now have a special online tool for doing this, called We the People, where any citizen can file a White House Petition to ask the Administration to take action on an important issue. If a petition reaches 100,000 signatures within 30 days, the White House staff will review it, ensure it is sent to the appropriate policy experts, and issue an official response. We are seeking common ground with our plea and these numbers are certainly within our reach.
Our petition asks that the government select an impartial, fact-finding panel of experts who have no stake in nutrition policy to hold public hearings to evaluate all sides of the issue. This would at least serve to open up the process, invite media attention, and expose the lack of consensus behind the current guidelines. A large response to this petition would show that there is a groundswell of public opposition to the current guidelines and the way they are created.
Here's how it works:
Go to: http://wh.gov/lUu8B. Register for an account with your e-mail address, answer the security question to prove you are human, and sign the petition. It's that easy. Only your initials and city will show up on the site, not your name.
We need every one of you to help us reach the goal. Please support the petition, share it, Tweet it, Pin it, and pass it on to your contacts. We have until March 20 to reach our target.
Judy Barnes Baker
Dr. Richard David Feinman
Of course, Judy didn't ask for this, but I just remembered that she and Feinman have a cookbook out: Nourished: A Cookbook for Health, Weight Loss, and Metabolic Balance. I don't cook; I heat. But for those of you who are trying to eat healthy and make low-carb meals, I bet this'll be helpful.
Louie, Louie, Louie
Linkie, linkie, linkie...
Indeed, The "Best Amicus Brief Ever" (PJ O'Rourke Had A Hand In It)
Here, from David Lat at Above The Law, is a PJ O'Rourke gem from this First Amendment challenge to an Ohio law that makes it a crime to "disseminate a false statement concerning a candidate, either knowing the same to be false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false." An excerpt:
[W]here would we be without the knowledge that Democrats are pinko-communist flag-burners who want to tax churches and use the money to fund abortions so they can use the fetal stem cells to create pot-smoking lesbian ATF agents who will steal all the guns and invite the UN to take over America?
Voters have to decide whether we'd be better off electing Republicans, those hateful, assault-weapon-wielding maniacs who believe that George Washington and Jesus Christ incorporated the nation after a Gettysburg reenactment and that the only thing wrong with the death penalty is that it isn't administered quickly enough to secular-humanist professors of Chicano studies.
An amicus brief is a "friend of the court" brief, by somebody who is not a party to a case.
We Can -- And Would -- Oppose Bigotry Without State Intervention
Sheldon Richman writes at reason that the government has no business stopping the ugly business of those who refuse to serve particular customers due to their race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.
Let me say that I think doing this is terrible, and I would picket a business that did this, and not give them a dime if I were dying of thirst. But again, like Richman, I don't think it is the government's job to dictate this. And I can't see businesses behaving this way, except in a few places I would avoid like I avoid going to Saudi Arabia or Dubai.
An excerpt from Richman's piece, "We Can Oppose Bigotry Without Politicians." (The subhead: "Should bigots be allowed to exclude gays or blacks? They should be stopped--not by the state, but by nonviolent social action.")
While such behavior is repugnant, the refusal to serve someone because of his or her race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation is nevertheless an exercise of self-ownership and freedom of nonassociation. It is both nonviolent and nonviolative of other people's rights. If we are truly to embrace freedom of association, logically we must also embrace freedom of nonassociation. The test of one's commitment to freedom of association, like freedom of speech, is whether one sticks by it even when the content repulses.
But does this mean that private individuals may not peacefully sanction businesses that invidiously discriminate against would-be customers?
No! They may, and they should. Boycotts, publicity, ostracism, and other noncoercive measures are also constituents of freedom of association.
So why do many people assume that the only remedy for anything bad--including bads that involve no physical force--is state action, which always entails the threat of violence? Are we really so powerless to deal with repulsive but nonviolent conduct unless politicians act on our behalf?
And no, I don't think hospitals should be allowed to turn away patients, but I do think a cake-maker, photographer, or a diner should be allowed to do so -- as ugly and awful as I find this.
We should have a freedom of association and a freedom of serving who we want to serve except in life or death matters.
As Mario Rizzo of New York University, whom Richman quotes, wrote on Facebook:
The difficulty is that the law singled out an approved reason--religious--why someone could refuse his or her services to another person. The default used to be freedom of association and contract unless there was some very good countervailing reason. Now it seems that the default is you must behave according to "progressive" values or else. No one in Arizona would have been in danger of being deprived of vital services--the environment is competitive and people want to make money. It is totally unlike the old south. But, hey, no one has the interest in subtle distinctions about liberty.
Richman explains -- and he's right:
When Rizzo says that "No one in Arizona would have been in danger of being deprived of vital services--the environment is competitive and people want to make money," he's referring to the fact that, unless government intervention protects bigoted business interests (as it did in the old South), markets will punish them and reward inclusive establishments.
And he continues:
State prohibitions drive bigotry into the shadows, making private response more difficult. Would a Jewish couple want an anti-Semite photographing their wedding? Would a gay couple want a homophobe baking their cake? Moreover, legal prohibitions may cut both ways. Should a black photographer have to work the wedding of a white-supremacist couple? Shouldn't the thought of forced labor make us squirm?
A Life Well-Lived
Author Philip Roth quotes Joe Louis in an interview he gave to Daniel Sandstrom, culture editor for Svenska Dagbladet. It was reprinted in the Sunday New York Times Book Review:
When I decided to stop writing about five years ago I did, as you say, sit down to reread the 31 books I'd published between 1959 and 2010. I wanted to see whether I'd wasted my time. You never can be sure, you know.
My conclusion, after I'd finished, echoes the words spoken by an American boxing hero of mine, Joe Louis. He was world heavyweight champion from the time I was 4 until I was 16. He had been born in the Deep South, an impoverished black kid with no education to speak of, and even during the glory of the undefeated 12 years, when he defended his championship an astonishing 26 times, he stood aloof from language. So when he was asked upon his retirement about his long career, Joe sweetly summed it up in just 10 words. "I did the best I could with what I had."
"I did the best I could with what I had."
If you're not already living that way, it seems the way to start living.
My dog lives that way, seizing every moment, being excited to be alive.
It's amazing that a dog can show you how to live smarter, but this one reminds me of it all the time.
The Nanny State Drops By The Newsroom
A WSJ op-ed piece by Gordon Crovitz makes a great point:
Last week the Federal Communications Commission dropped a planned study of newsrooms, following objections that the government has no business meddling with journalism. The critics were right, but it's a shame the FCC gave up so quickly. Even the brief experience of being micromanaged by regulators reminded reporters and editors of the kind of government overreach every other industry routinely experiences.
...The spectacle of the FCC's abandoning this study is a reminder that this remains the agency posing the greatest threat to the open Internet. Lobbyists for "net neutrality" want the FCC to set rules for the Internet on everything from how content is sent across the network to pricing. Will the agency now also invoke "net neutrality" for a study on how bloggers make their news decisions? Will bureaucrats review the demographics of people posting YouTube videos? Can regulators require Facebook FB -0.70% and Twitter TWTR -1.54% to have a "fair" representation of links to news and opinion articles by their users around the world?
Many of the journalists who were aghast at the idea of government meddling in their affairs also cheered for net-neutrality regulations to define how the Internet operates, despite the unprecedented success of the unregulated, open Internet to produce rapid innovation and intense competition.
Perhaps more journalists will now feel empathy for highly regulated companies.
Don't get your hopes up.
Your automat for links.
$15 off $75 on athletic shoes for men, women, and kids at Amazon.
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Search Amy's Amazon here. Costs you nothing extra; kicks back to me.
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Advice Goddess Radio, "Best Of" Replay, Tonight, 7-8pm PT, 10-11pm ET: Harvard Business School's Michael Wheeler On How Adaptation Is The Key To Successful Negotiation
Amy Alkon's Advice Goddess Radio: "Nerd Your Way To A Better Life!" with the best brains in therapy and research.
*Oscar Sunday "Best Of" Replay. Live show again next Sunday!
There have been two major schools on negotiating -- Ury, Fisher and Patton's "win-win"/"relationships are everything" approach and Roger Cohen's "nail 'em to the wall" hardball approach.
Harvard Business School professor Michael Wheeler finds that these rigid, one-size-fits-all strategies often clash with the real-world realities of negotiating. Drawing on his and his colleagues' research, he finds that the most successful negotiating techniques are born of an ability to adapt while negotiating, and use agility, creativity, and wise preparation.
He'll advise us all on how to adapt (and do all the rest) in order to win in negotiation, the subject of his book we'll be discussing on the show, "The Art of Negotiation: How to Improvise Agreement in a Chaotic World."
Listen at this link from 7-8 pm Pacific, 10-11 pm Eastern, or download the podcast afterward:
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Don't miss last week's show with science writer and psychologist Dr. Maria Konnikova on how to think like Sherlock Holmes.
This was a fascinating show on the difference between seeing and actually observing, and many of the other habits and practices of Sherlock Holmes.
Science writer and psychologist Dr. Maria Konnikova draws on 21st century neuroscience and psychology to show how we can employ Holmes' thought processes to unlock our own capacities for ever-present mindfulness, astute observation, and logical deduction in order to see more, live more rationally, and, in turn live smarter.
Her book we discuss: Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes
Listen at this link or download the podcast:
Join me and my fascinating guests every Sunday, 7-8 p.m. Pacific Time, 10-11 p.m. Eastern Time, at blogtalkradio.com/amyalkon or subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher.
Jew-Hatred And Rise Of Islamism In Europe Compel A Belgian-Jewish Family To Leave Europe For The USA
Testimony detailing the reasons a Belgian Jewish family chose to leave Belgium for the United States: the rise of anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism, the attacks of Toulouse, Islamism, etc.
Is It The Economy Or The Quality Of The Movies -- Or The Quality, Lately, Of TV?
The Oscars are tonight and we haven't seen ANY of the films. This is even more stunning because I have a few of the first-runs piled up here on DVDs.
I'm in SAG/AFTRA, and I get them because of the SAG/AFTRA awards, though I know I am unqualified to vote, and thus don't.
Technology has made it possible for us to watch both movies and TV on demand, and Gregg has Netflix and an Apple TV thingie, and we've watched "Breaking Bad," "The Wire," "Homeland," "Ray Donovan," and we are watching "Downton Abby" and "Justified."
I love seeing these series and it's changed our movie consumption. I think the last time we went to the movies was to see a French movie at Landmark in Westwood (a cushy theatre that shows the small movies in a room with couches).
Has your movie consumption changed? And if so, why?