Why Are People Choosing To Couple Up Without Getting Married?
Your thoughts and experiences?
And if you decided to marry the person you're with, why marry instead of just continuing as a couple without the state license and all?
And for those who married, did being married change your relationship?
For the record, per Science Daily about research from Bowling Green State University, the marriage rate in the U.S. is the lowest it's been in a century:
Since 1970, the marriage rate has declined by almost 60 percent. "Marriage is no longer compulsory," said Dr. Susan Brown, co-director of the NCFMR. "It's just one of an array of options. Increasingly, many couples choose to cohabit and still others prefer to remain single."
Furthermore, a woman's average age at first marriage is the highest it's been in over a century, at nearly 27 years old. "The age at first marriage for women and men is at a historic highpoint and has been increasing at a steady pace," states Dr. Wendy Manning, co-director of the Center.
There has also been a dramatic increase in the proportion of women who are separated or divorced. In 1920, less than 1 percent of women held that distinction. Today, that number is 15 percent. "The divorce rate remains high in the U.S., and individuals today are less likely to remarry than they were in the past," reports Brown.
The marriage rate has declined for all racial and ethnic groups, but the greatest decline is among African Americans. Similarly, the education divide in marriage has grown. In the last 50 years there have been only modest changes in the percentage of women married among the college educated and the greatest declines among women without a high school diploma.
Something Oprah said about the "wife" role, from NecoleBitchie, quoting an Access Hollywood interview Oprah did with Shaun Robinson:
I'm gonna leave this earth as a never married woman, and that's really okay with me. Stedman would tell you Shaun, if you ever interviewed him, he would tell you [that] had we married, we would not be together.
Really? Why is that?
Because he's a traditional man and this is a very untraditional relationship. I think it's acceptable as a relationship, but if I had the title 'wife,' hmmmm. I think there would be some other expectations of what a wife is and what a wife does. First of all you gotta come home sometimes.*laughs hysterically* I think it's time for this interview to end.
Is there something to this -- the "wife" role (or the "husband" role) -- changing the relationship?
TSA Expanding Its Civil Rights Violations -- Sans Accountability
Via PressTV, former intelligence analyst Scott Rickard said (annoying autoplay video at link):
The TSA is "unfortunately expanding its horrific violations on American civil rights as well as American constitutional rights," Scott Rickard told Press TV on Saturday.
"You have an organization that was born post-9/11 that has really become one the many Stasi-type organizations that operates outside of the Americans' civil liberties," Rickard said. "The freedom in the United States has been under attack for decades, but certainly for the last 20 years it's escalated."
Rickard was referring to the Stasi agency, the Ministry for State Security in East Germany, which has been described as one of the most repressive intelligence and secret police agencies to ever have existed.
"There is no accountability and there certainly is no one regulating the TSA. They operate pretty much on their own as another security service much like the FBI... and it's just an expansion of the police state that we've seen occurring in the United States over the last half-century," he added.
Related from Techdirt's Tim Cushing, "The TSA Vs. The Fourth Amendment: You're Free To Board A Plane, But You're Not Free To Leave The Screening Area."
Extenuating circumstances, dating back to the 1970s, have turned an airplane ticket into a waiver of Fourth Amendment rights. While I appreciate the fact that restoring these rights would make it much easier for would-be attackers to probe for security holes, the same rationale makes anyone attempting (or asking) to leave the screening area instantly suspicious -- and subject to additional searches and screenings.
This aligns very much with the general law enforcement view on "reasonable suspicion" in terms of checkpoints and roadblocks. Any driver who turns down a side road or performs a U-turn in order to avoid a police checkpoint is presumed to be guilty of... something and therefore should be pursued and stopped. At no point is this driver ever in "custody," and yet, he or she isn't free to leave the area, even when the driver is several cars back in the line. This would seem to violate the Fourth Amendment as well, but courts in many states have determined that simply avoiding a checkpoint is, in itself, enough reasonable suspicion to allow officers to pull over the vehicle.
Other courts have argued that a legal maneuver to avoid a checkpoint is not enough to indicate reasonable suspicion, but the reality here (as lawyers caution) is that drivers avoiding a DUI checkpoint or other police roadblock should expect to be pulled over and questioned. In the end, the only practical difference between these two rulings is the admissibility of evidence in court. At the point where the Fourth Amendment should matter, it doesn't. It's only after the fact.
Although they aren't told explicitly, simply entering the screening area is giving consent to the TSA to search you and your belongings. Should you wish to revoke this consent, you would need to make that decision before reaching the screening area. Practically speaking, this means finding another way to reach your destination. There's no way to assert your rights and still board a plane, even if you haven't broken any laws and aren't planning to.
Caselaw (and some common sense) supports the TSA's claim that travelers are not free to leave the screening area. But the TSA should be honest about it, rather than simply expect all travelers to be perfectly fine with waiving their rights for the "privilege" of boarding a plane. And the courts should be wary of issuing more caselaw supporting the expansion of "constitution-free zones" to anywhere the TSA (or other government agencies) might be operating.
Time Warner Screws Up My Phone Service And Has A Great Solution: I Do The Work To Fix It
My landline, which I need to do radio shows about my column and book, was really expensive, even after I'd brought down the cost.
After some consultation with people about Ooma, I ordered Time-Warner phone service -- on April 5. They told me the modem would be sent within five days.
Five days pass. No modem. And more no modem.
Tuesday, April 15, I get an email saying it was being sent out -- that day.
Meanwhile, on April 15, they also shut off my incoming calls. Gregg found this out -- there was not even a dial tone or a recording -- and called me on my cell four times before I noticed the message. (I have my cell set never to ring.)
Furious, I stopped my work on my next book and called Time-Warner. The rep, sitting in Colorado, said there's an easy solution: *I* can drive to Time-Warner Wednesday morning and go pick up a modem.
Yes, I can stop my work, leave my house, and drive somewhere. Take a couple hours out of my writing day and enjoy me some LA traffic.
Because they screwed up.
I asked for a supervisor.
Then, instead of doing my work, I waited on the phone for 20-plus minutes before a supervisor came on.
I told him the solution: They can get a technician out to my house with a modem at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, and have him set it up free of charge.
There's a problem with that, he said -- their dispatch center closed 30 minutes before.
This supervisor said he'd see IF he could make this happen for tomorrow. IF.
Because all the technicians are booked.
I have no phone service. This morning, when I woke up, there wasn't even an outgoing dial tone.
And they don't have anybody for trouble-shooting in cases like this?
Thanks, Time-Warner! Glad to see you're getting a headstart on the Comcast merger.
UPDATE ON GETTING THIS FIXED (excerpted from my full comment below, 12:09 pm, April 16):
I had the name and phone number of Time-Warner's field supervisor, this lady, Andrea Jefferson, who was really good. Customers are not supposed to have this number but I did. She's gone but the number still works and I got through to the new field supervisor. A technician will be here between 3pm and 4pm.
Because I had the magic number customers don't have.
Is it really supposed to work that way?
Time-Warner: "We really appreciate your business. Just not enough to unfuck you after we've fucked you (in any timely manner)."
"Your Bra Is Not Killing You"
I wish there were a scientific Snopes site where people could look up BS scares. Dr. Jen Gunter, thankfully, has blogged this particular one -- the myth that wearing a bra causes cancer:
A couple of anthropologists wrote a whole book about their incorrect theory back in 1995, Dressed to kill: The link between breast cancer and bras.
...[They] opine that bras restrict the flow of lymphatic fluid keeping "toxins" in the breast where they can cause mayhem (*note, the use of toxins in a quasi-medical sense is snake oil alert). They compare this phenomenon to swelling in the feet and ankles on long flights. Huh? The complete medical gibberish of this aside if your breasts are swollen when you remove your bra at the end of the day just like your feet on a transatlantic flight then you are wearing a bra about 4 sizes too small. It might hurt, but it's still not going to give you cancer. This statement also leads me to believe that the woman of this duo must never have actually worn a bra or at least one that fit. I have never, ever heard a woman say, "This bra has made my breasts swell to a disproportionate size." In fact, if there were a bra that could defy the laws of physics and biology and once removed leave the breast tissue larger for a period of time it might be popular.
...Apparently, the authors of the lethal bra book quote a 1991 Harvard study that says bras cause cancer! That sounds legit. The study was published in the European Journal of Cancer in 1991 by Hsieh, Breast size, handedness, and breast cancer risk. The only problem? The study does not say that bras cause cancer, but that larger breasts are a risk factor:
"Premenopausal women who do not wear bras had half the risk of breast cancer compared with bra users (P about 0.09), possibly because they are thinner and likely to have smaller breasts. Among bra users, larger cup size was associated with an increased risk of breast cancer (P about 0.026), although the association was found only among postmenopausal women and was accounted for, in part, by obesity. These data suggest that bra cup size (and conceivably mammary gland size) may be a risk factor for breast cancer."
Larger breasts have a higher risk of cancer not because larger breasted women are more likely to wear bras or underwires, but because more breast tissue means more cells to potentially go haywire and because obesity is a risk factor for breast cancer (heavier women tender to have larger breasts).
There are no studies or giving credence to the biological implausible theory that wearing a bra causes breast cancer. If tight clothing were carcinogenic then breast cancer would be decreasing because in days gone by women were trussed up and strapped down to the Dickens in corsets. And why would this phenomenon be linked with bras alone? What about the dangers of shoes and skinny jeans?
Une linkie en rose.
News You Can Use
The largest list of penis euphemisms.
Why Does Everything Need To Be Denuded Of "Gender"?
I clicked on a tweet about a Passover story, leading me to a piece at Slate by Miriam Krule on how the "wicked son" in the Passover Seder is "actually the best of the four children in the Haggadah" (the booklet read at Passover).
Well, it drew me in until I got to this passage below where, all of a sudden, the son the author has been talking about is transformed into a "her" -- for no reason that makes any sense in the piece. (See my italics below):
I prefer to refer to the wicked son as the challenging child, a more alliterative, gender-neutral, and helpful way of looking at this character. As for her question, it sounds less evil to me than sensible. The idea of searching for meaning in practices, and understanding their motivations, is a natural one. Challenging the reasons behind tradition, and the logic underlying the holiday's restrictions, can only lead to greater understanding and more honest practice. Whereas the smart son merely asks for, and receives, the law, the wicked son asks for the reasoning underlying those laws.
Many people in history were men. Changing the way they are described is merely confusing and silly, same as it is to try to put female artists and writers on the same level as men just to fill out the chick side of the equation.
Truly feeling equal means that you can be honest about who the greats were without feeling a need to elevate those with vaginas to feel better about yourself and being a woman.
Stop And Flirt?
Or, perhaps, stop and butthurt.
A woman on a morning walk in Whitehouse, Texas got thrown down and arrested for not being willing to answer the questions of a motorcycle cop. Nina Harrelson writes on CBS19.TV:
She says the cop was acting suspicious and she felt threatened, but police officials say she handled it the wrong way.
Melissa Bonnette says she was on her usual morning walk around 9:45 a.m. Friday when a man in uniform on a motorcycle pulled up next to her, asking if she lived in the area and if he could speak to her.
"I thought that maybe he was flirting," she said. "I just thought it was odd, I thought it was odd. I wasn't really sure but I felt uncomfortable because there wasn't anyone around."
She says she was worried he might not even a real cop, so she refused to stop and began jogging away from him.
"He just crept along beside me on his motorcycle and he started saying, 'Hey ma'am! I want to talk to you. Hey stop, ma'am! I want to talk to you.' Then my anxiety rose even higher," she said.
"The motorcycle has a patch on both sides of the gas tank. It's black and white and says 'Whitehouse Police,' and has red and blue lights on it," Whitehouse Police Chief Craig Shelton said. "So you have to take it for what it is. Do you think he's a Whitehouse police officer? Why would you think he's someone impersonating a police officer?"
That's when Bonnette says he got off his bike, chased her down, tackled her and threw her in handcuffs.
"I just was crying and I was saying 'Please sir, please sir. Why are you doing this?' It was like I was in a nightmare. I hadn't done anything wrong," she said.
"Normally if a police officer pulls up, in my opinion, it's awful odd for somebody just to take off and not want to speak to the police officer," Shelton said. "And he had a lawful reason to be there and to stop her."
That reason, Shelton says, is that Bonnette was walking on the wrong side of the road.
"By law, you have to be to the far left facing oncoming traffic," he said.
Okay, why not tell her that instead of asking her a bunch of questions? And why not tell her she was guilty of this maaaajor crime instead?
A commenter at the site, TSmith1953 writes:
Well I just watched the video too. Looked to me like the cop wanted to flirt and got his feelings hurt when she wasn't impressed / intimidated by him. It's a very small alleyway with no traffic other than the motorcycle. The wrong side of the road bit was just an excuse. In fact, the cop was riding his motorcycle on the wrong side of the road too, so you tell me which is worse?!
The IRS Is Letting Itself Be Robbed, Ho-Hum
A high-placed cop friend has told me that crime is trending electronic -- and will continue to go in that direction.
Dismayingly (but not surprisingly) the IRS is being scammed right and left via "stolen identity refund fraud," and Justin Gelfand, a former federal prosecutor, writes in the WSJ:
If the problem continues unabated, Treasury estimates the IRS will lose $21 billion in fraudulent tax refunds over the next five years. That's more than twice the Environmental Protection Agency's annual budget.
...Citizens must ask the IRS why it is so easy to steal money in this way, and why the IRS is losing so much money to this crime alone.
In some ways, the IRS is like a bank that is robbed after leaving the doors unlocked for the night with a large sign that says, "Money Inside!"--a victim, yes, but the victim of a crime that can easily be avoided.
While the IRS claims otherwise, the solution isn't particularly complex: stop wire-transferring multiple tax refunds onto the same prepaid debit card; stop mailing hundreds of tax-refund checks to the same mailbox; stop accepting thousands of tax returns from the same IP address without looking into it; and stop paying tax refunds without actually verifying the accuracy of the information with existing IRS records.
Ultimately, the law should be enforced. But this isn't a problem the government can prosecute its way out of. Instead of just demanding more prosecutions, the public should demand that the IRS increase its efforts to detect fraud before paying billions of dollars in fraudulent tax refunds. That way, victims won't have to wait months for the IRS to pay their legitimate tax refunds, Treasury won't lose billions of dollars to criminals, and the government can tackle this problem without the risk of sending innocent people to prison.
And people really believe the repurposed mall food court workers in TSA suits at the airport are really stopping terrorism?
Plenty Of Democrats Drink Koch, Too
Daniel Doherty blogs at TownHall.com that plenty of prominent Democrats have taken money from Koch Industries.
The list is from Jeff Dunetz at TruthRevolt, who blogs:
During the past five congressional campaigns (2006-14) Koch money went to President Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Dianne Feinstein, Mark Pryor, Chuck Schumer and other members of Congress.
The chart below represents direct donations to Democratic Party candidates from Koch Industries employees since 2006 according to OpenSecrets.org (2014 donations are based on FEC numbers through March 10) Retired Democratic Party members of Congress received another $291,000 but were not included in the chart.
Many of Harry Reid's senior senators are on the chart below:
The full list is here, at OpenSecrets.
The Difference Between Real Life And The Movies
WEST LA: Gent is in his cups, Santa Monica Bl. near Sepulveda. "Dancing in the street." LAPD enrte.
@LAScanner In the movies, this calls for a camera move, not an arrest.
Raising A Moral Child
Wharton School's Dr. Adam M. Grant writes in The New York Times that character -- and praising character -- counts:
Many parents believe it's important to compliment the behavior, not the child -- that way, the child learns to repeat the behavior. Indeed, I know one couple who are careful to say, "That was such a helpful thing to do," instead of, "You're a helpful person."
But is that the right approach? In a clever experiment, the researchers Joan E. Grusec and Erica Redler set out to investigate what happens when we commend generous behavior versus generous character. After 7- and 8-year-olds won marbles and donated some to poor children, the experimenter remarked, "Gee, you shared quite a bit."
The researchers randomly assigned the children to receive different types of praise. For some of the children, they praised the action: "It was good that you gave some of your marbles to those poor children. Yes, that was a nice and helpful thing to do." For others, they praised the character behind the action: "I guess you're the kind of person who likes to help others whenever you can. Yes, you are a very nice and helpful person."
A couple of weeks later, when faced with more opportunities to give and share, the children were much more generous after their character had been praised than after their actions had been. Praising their character helped them internalize it as part of their identities. The children learned who they were from observing their own actions: I am a helpful person. This dovetails with new research led by the psychologist Christopher J. Bryan, who finds that for moral behaviors, nouns work better than verbs. To get 3- to 6-year-olds to help with a task, rather than inviting them "to help," it was 22 to 29 percent more effective to encourage them to "be a helper." Cheating was cut in half when instead of, "Please don't cheat," participants were told, "Please don't be a cheater." When our actions become a reflection of our character, we lean more heavily toward the moral and generous choices. Over time it can become part of us.
Tying generosity to character appears to matter most around age 8, when children may be starting to crystallize notions of identity.
Adults setting norms of generosity (and not preaching them) seems particularly important in getting children to follow their lead. The children who were most generous in another experiment were those who watched a teacher be giving but without the teacher talking about it.
Listen to Grant on my radio show here, and buy his inspiring and science-based book, just out in paperback: Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success.
Expect A Lot Of Kids And Maybe They'll Live Up To It
(Warning: instaplay video at the link -- but one that's good to watch.)
A 13-year-old girl, Sicily Kolbeck, built her own little house, reports Keith Whitney at 11Alive/Atlanta:
The little house in Marietta, all 128 square feet of it, is called La Petite Maison. It started out as a homework assignment from her teacher, who's also her mom.
"We say 'no' a lot in education to kids, and we tell them what to do and how to be and put them in a box," Suzannah Kolbeck said. "It's funny that this is a box; it's kind of ironic. But I never thought to say 'no.' She asked if she could do it and I said yes."
...The quality of the tiny [home] is exceptional. Sicily's mother said even though nobody builds a home alone, she and Sicily did about 80-percent of it. They got help with advice and materials from friends and businesses like their local Home Depot and Dr. Roof.
Suzannah Kolbeck runs a very small private school called HoneyFern. She admits the project was ambitious, but said it was also what they needed in the wake of the tragedy.
"Kids are amazingly capable and can do anything they want to do with guidance and help," she said. "That was one part of it. The other part was it was really a reason to get up in the morning. It's kind of silly and cliché, but it's true. You know, put my feet on the floor and say well 'Siding's got to be done today." There was always something to do. Having such a life changing event at such a young age and having the whole map of your life be erased, it's sort of starting over. So that helped a lot."
Charlie Rangel's War
It's a war against being treated like all the rest of us, like by being expected to pay his rent.
Rangel stiffed New York taxpayers out of at least $87K, reports the New York Post, when he stopped paying the rent for his Harlem district office.
Michael Gartland reports that Rangel blamed the sequester (after his staffers claimed something about not being able to find the signed lease):
Rangel paid $7,253 in monthly rent on the 125th Street office he has rented since 2000, expense reports from 2012 show. But the payments stopped for all of 2013.
Incredibly, instead of demanding payment of the back rent and late fees from its deadbeat legislative tenant, the state cut him a huge rent break.
The state says it allowed Rangel in March 2013 to enter into a new sweetheart deal in which he could postpone paying six months of rent. That "abatement" money has still not been paid, nor has the other six months of missed rent from 2013, a OGS official said.
The state comptroller approved a $101,000 lease between Rangel and OGS on Dec. 26, 2013, retroactively covering the period back to April 2013 and future months through December 2014, records show. The 21-month deal resulted in a deeply reduced rent of $4,809 a month.
Advice Goddess Radio, Tonite, 7-8pm PT, 10-11pm ET: "Dilbert" Cartoonist Scott Adams On How To Fail Your Way To Success
Amy Alkon's Advice Goddess Radio: "Nerd Your Way To A Better Life!" with the best brains in therapy and research.
*Tonight's show is a "Best Of" replay, because I'll be off interviewing Austin Kleon at the LA Times Festival of Books.
"Dilbert" cartoonist Scott Adams, obviously, is not a scientist. But he thinks and views his experiences like a scientist and his wisdom is well-supported and worth hearing.
For example, Adams found that it isn't goals that are the key to success, but what he calls "systems."
And Adams advises, based on his own steady stream of failures in business, that "Everything you want in life is in that bubbling vat of failure. The trick is to get the good stuff out."
As a cartoonist, he thinks of himself as a "professional simplifier." That's what he does in his just-published book, How To Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, and simplifying for all of us what it takes to succeed in business and be happy in life is what he'll be doing on tonight's not-to-be-missed show.
Listen at this link from 7-8 pm Pacific, 10-11 pm Eastern, or download the podcast afterward:
Don't miss last week's show with psychologist and researcher Dr. Adam Alter.
We aren't the independent thinkers we like to believe ourselves to be.
Alter shows in his fascinating book, Drunk Tank Pink: And Other Unexpected Forces That Shape How We Think, Feel, and Behave, that a host of forces -- internal, social, and environmental -- drive our thinking and beliefs, and in turn, our actions.
On this show, he lays out the ways we are influenced, sometimes causing substantial changes in our behavior that make the difference between success and failure in our endeavors. Knowing these influences is the best way to avoid being swept away by them, so don't miss this show.
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.
My show's sponsor is now Audible.com. Get a free audiobook download and support this show financially at no cost to you by signing up for a free 30-day trial at audibletrial.com/amya (It's $14.95 after 30 days, but you can cancel before then and have it cost you nothing.)
My Child Has Four Legs And A Tail
Here she is helping me with my book proofs.
Cheryl K. Chumley writes in The Washington Times that the CDC finds women shunning babies for little lapdogs:
Young women just aren't that crazy about babies any more, shunning the diaper changes and midnight feedings for dubbed-in family members that don't demand as much care: dogs. And not just any type dog -- specifically, those that weigh less than 25 pounds.
"I'd rather have a dog over a kid," said Sara Foster, 30, the proud owner of a French bulldog named Maddie, the New York Post reported. "It's just less work and, honestly, I have more time to go out. You ... don't have to get a baby sitter."
Her view is being repeated across the nation by women in the 15-to-29-years-old group, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found. New statistics show that big drops in the numbers of babies born to women in this age group coincide with big increases in the numbers of dogs owned by females around the same age range, the business site Quartz reported.
The truth is, some women just have a hunger to have babies. I'm not one of those women. It's allowed to spend all of my time writing. I'm just beginning my next book, which terrifies and excites the hell out of me.
I see this as clickbaiting -- a made-up epidemic that is probably mainly about a few urban women, some of whom may feel differently in time. It's also probably about women -- probably wisely -- waiting to have children until they have something they can do for a living under their belt. Marriages don't always last. To be the secretary or retail clerk who suddenly needs to support children isn't a good situation.
And finally, having a dog makes me a better person -- more compassionate and patient. Having a smaller dog means the poops are the size of Tootsie Rolls, not rollaboards. Having a hairless dog means no fleas and not much to bathe or brush. Having Aida, specifically, is having joy on four little furnished paws. (Her "furnishings" are what the furry bits on a Chinese Crested are called.)
Gun-Toting Woman Goes Out To Rescue A Man Beaten By A Mob
Steve Utah, a white man, accidentally clipped a kid with his truck when the boy, 10, ran out into the street. A mob of black people set upon him and beat him. A gun-toting retired nurse, Deborah Hughes, who is black, grabbed her gun and ran out to protect the man.
Deborah Hastings reports in the New York Daily News:
She got her gun, she ran into the street, and she threw herself on top of a white man being beaten by a mob of black men.
"He was a man. He wasn't white. He was a man. And I was ready to shoot anybody who hit that man again," retired nurse Deborah Hughes told FOX2 News in Detroit.
Nine days after he was beaten by the mob, Utash awoke from a coma, but is not back to normal. The boy whom he hit suffered a minor leg injury.
Charlie LeDuff reports for Fox Detroit:
Fox 2 News Headlines
In double standards news: Note that Al Sharpton is nowhere to be seen and nobody's calling this a "hate crime."
The Emperor's New Blazer
You've got to love golf (and I don't mean as a sport). One of its high honors is a hideous green blazer fit for a 1970s Sears appliance department manager.
Love this -- an LA organization, foodforward.org, will come pick the fruit off your trees to feed the hungry. Fruit donation line (to ask them to come pick your tree or trees): 818.530.4125
Related: Wharton School's Dr. Adam Grant's wonderful book, Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success, now out in paperback for about $12.
Also related, my book, "Good Manners For Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck," which you can pre-order at Amazon, and which includes ways we can improve our own lives by making the world a better, kinder place.
What Price Should We Put On Human Life?
Because, in a lot of cases, at some point, it comes down to dollars and cents. How much should we all pay to keep a person alive? Is there a difference price list if you're 90? If you're a Nobel laureate?
Princeton econ prof Uwe E. Reinhardt was taken to task by members of congress for a post on his New York Times blog. He had called the idea that human life is priceless "both romantic and silly."
He blogs that he was asked about that view by Rep. Phil Gingrey, M.D., a Georgia Republican. In Gingrey's words:
Dr. Reinhardt, do you believe that we, as individuals, in America should have the ability to value our own lives, or is this something we should ask the government to do for us, i.e., ration that care when you get to be 90 years old and you need a hip replacement, do you just let them fall and break the hip and die of pneumonia? Or do they get the opportunity, if they value that, to get that hip replaced?
In their public appearances, on the campaign trail or at hearings, members of Congress may find it useful to pretend that they deem human life priceless. It can explain, for example, why Congress refuses to allow considerations of costs - what is called "cost-effectiveness analysis" -- to be pursued by the federally funded Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute that was authorized by Congress in 2010.
But as a legislative body, Congress routinely, albeit implicitly, puts finite prices on human lives in the trade-offs members make during budget votes. They may forbid cost-effectiveness analysis for coverage decisions under Medicare, but they implicitly price out human life as finite at the margins of their budget allocations - for example, in budget cuts on health programs for the poor.
Congress also implicitly puts prices on human life when it foists upon the Pentagon expensive weapons systems of dubious effectiveness that please cash-carrying lobbyists, retired generals now fronting for military contractors and constituents in districts where the weapons systems are manufactured.
In giving in to those entreaties, however, Congress may leave the Pentagon to send America's forces into battle without adequate body armor or properly armored vehicles and even without sufficient troops to guard ammunition dumps left behind by the defeated enemy - literally as free weapons supermarkets for insurgents. All of this happened in Iraq.
What Ayaan Hirsi Ali Would Have Said At Brandeis
A civil liberties- and free-speech celebrating excerpt from the talk she was not allowed to give, posted in the WSJ:
Two decades ago, not even the bleakest pessimist would have anticipated all that has gone wrong in the part of world where I grew up. After so many victories for feminism in the West, no one would have predicted that women's basic human rights would actually be reduced in so many countries as the 20th century gave way to the 21st.
Today, however, I am going to predict a better future, because I believe that the pendulum has swung almost as far as it possibly can in the wrong direction.
When I see millions of women in Afghanistan defying threats from the Taliban and lining up to vote; when I see women in Saudi Arabia defying an absurd ban on female driving; and when I see Tunisian women celebrating the conviction of a group of policemen for a heinous gang rape, I feel more optimistic than I did a few years ago. The misnamed Arab Spring has been a revolution full of disappointments. But I believe it has created an opportunity for traditional forms of authority--including patriarchal authority--to be challenged, and even for the religious justifications for the oppression of women to be questioned.
Yet for that opportunity to be fulfilled, we in the West must provide the right kind of encouragement. Just as the city of Boston was once the cradle of a new ideal of liberty, we need to return to our roots by becoming once again a beacon of free thought and civility for the 21st century. When there is injustice, we need to speak out, not simply with condemnation, but with concrete actions.
One of the best places to do that is in our institutions of higher learning. We need to make our universities temples not of dogmatic orthodoxy, but of truly critical thinking, where all ideas are welcome and where civil debate is encouraged. I'm used to being shouted down on campuses, so I am grateful for the opportunity to address you today. I do not expect all of you to agree with me, but I very much appreciate your willingness to listen.
I stand before you as someone who is fighting for women's and girls' basic rights globally. And I stand before you as someone who is not afraid to ask difficult questions about the role of religion in that fight.
The connection between violence, particularly violence against women, and Islam is too clear to be ignored. We do no favors to students, faculty, nonbelievers and people of faith when we shut our eyes to this link, when we excuse rather than reflect.
So I ask: Is the concept of holy war compatible with our ideal of religious toleration? Is it blasphemy--punishable by death--to question the applicability of certain seventh-century doctrines to our own era? Both Christianity and Judaism have had their eras of reform. I would argue that the time has come for a Muslim Reformation.
Is such an argument inadmissible? It surely should not be at a university that was founded in the wake of the Holocaust, at a time when many American universities still imposed quotas on Jews.
The motto of Brandeis University is "Truth even unto its innermost parts." That is my motto too. For it is only through truth, unsparing truth, that your generation can hope to do better than mine in the struggle for peace, freedom and equality of the sexes.
Linkers To A Young Poet.
Horrible Miscarriage Of Justice: Man Jailed For 20 Years On False Sexual Abuse Charges
Clyde Ray Spencer spent 20 years of his life in jail for a crime he did not commit -- the sexual abuse of his children that his ex-wife claimed was going on. He was just awarded $9 million by a jury in federal court in Tacoma, Washington, for the disgusting denial of his civil rights by police officers and prosecutors there.
Via Lenona, Robert Franklin, Esq., posts at NationalParentsOrganization:
In 1985, Spencer was an honorable man and father serving Tacoma as a police officer. He had two children, Matt, 9 and Katie, 5, and a stepson who was four. His wife was having an extramarital affair with a police sergeant, Michael Davidson, and decided to divorce Spencer. Not long after their divorce was final, she went to Davidson claiming Spencer was sexually abusing the children.
Davidson, eager to please his paramour, went right to work. He put Detective Sharon Krause on the case and soon she had the children on videotape claiming their dad was a brutal serial pedophile. Faced with that evidence, Spencer entered an "Alford" plea meaning that he maintained his innocence but admitted that a jury could find him guilty. He was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences plus 14 years and began serving his time.
But all was not right with the case against him. Eventually he found a lawyer who was willing to do the hard work of overturning a plea entered into by a man considered the worst sort of monster. What that investigation turned up was the entire fabrication of a case by police and prosecutors. Here are a few of the findings of the civil jury in federal court this past February.
•Spencer's wife, who called policed about the abuse claims, was secretly having an affair with Sgt. Davidson, who led the investigation of Spencer. This was not revealed until after Spencer was in prison.
•Spencer's natural children Matt Spencer and Katie Tetz testified that they were never abused.
•The stepson maintained that we was abused. However, he has a long criminal record for crimes including burglary and forgery. The authorities reduced his sentence in exchange for his testimony against Spencer.
•The detectives concealed medical exams showing that Spencer's son and daughter were not abused.
•Attorney Zellner charged that Det. Krause was motivated by advancing her career, and that after she started working in the field the conviction rate in child abuse cases rose by 800%. She had been a hotel clerk and met police officers who came to the hotel bar. She joined the Clark County Sheriff's Department and became a detective investigating child sex abuse, even though she had no training in the subject area.
Even more of these points at the link.
And then there's this:
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there's the issue that's been almost entirely overlooked. The simple fact is that a mother - Spencer's ex - wanted a father - Spencer - out of his children's life, and with essentially no effort on her part, the legal system accommodated her wishes. She complained to Davidson and then sat back and watched the wheels of the criminal justice system crush an innocent man.
Beyond the imprisonment -- which is, of course, a huge thing -- this man and his children were denied a relationship for most of their childhood. And imagine what this can do to a kid -- being used for adult machinations in this way, to the point that they ended up sending their own father to jail.
Something I haven't seen in stories I've looked up: What happens to the ex-wife who accused him?
I've suggested that those who make false accusations -- those that are provably false beyond a reasonable doubt (same as the standard for the accused) -- serve the same prison time the accused would have.
Who Really Pays For Medicare? Your Barista And The Rest Of The Young
Catherine Rampell writes at the WaPo that the average worker who turned 65 in 2010 will pretty much break even on Social Security, while earlier generations really made out. ("Members of an average one-earner couple who turned 65 in 1990 receive twice as much in Social Security benefits as they paid in taxes.")
Medicare, on the other hand, is pretty much a steal no matter when you turned 65.
For Americans who turned 65 in 2010, Medicare benefits will typically amount to two to six times what beneficiaries had paid into the system, depending on their marital and work histories. For example, an average-wage, two-income couple who turned 65 in 2010 paid today's equivalent of $123,000 into the Medicare system during their working years. They will receive about $385,000 in Medicare benefits over their decades of dotage, even after subtracting out the cost of premiums. For a similar couple that retired 20 years earlier, the comparable numbers were $43,000 paid in vs. $227,000 received. A decent return, no?
It boils down to this: Despite all the "we already paid for it" rhetoric popular among seniors, seniors did not pre-pay for their entitlements. If anything, they paid for their parents' entitlements, which were more modest than the benefits today's retirees receive.
So who's making up the difference between what seniors paid yesterday and what they receive today? "Spoiled millennial [expletives]" like me, as well as Gen-Xers and both groups' children. And absent a major influx of working-age immigrants, the burden per worker stands to grow enormously in the coming years. That's because the bloated baby-boomer cohort is aging into retirement, Americans are living longer and health-care costs per person are rising.
Now, the fact that seniors didn't pay in full for their entitlements doesn't necessarily mean anyone should take those entitlements away. There are lots of social safety-net programs that are, by design, subsidized by the entire U.S. tax base, not just by direct beneficiaries. That's the whole point of transfer programs. I am glad that my taxes pay for food stamps, disability insurance, low-income housing and Head Start -- and I will count myself lucky if I'm never on the receiving end of that safety-net spending.
But as a society, we must decide exactly how much we're willing to subsidize the growing ranks of the elderly. Republicans argue that we should control entitlement spending because (I'm paraphrasing here) deficits are evil. They should be joined by Democrats, but for a different reason: Money for other worthy, traditionally liberal causes -- education, infrastructure, children, the deeply poor -- is being gobbled up by increasingly expensive and unfunded promises to the old.
The Eighth Dwarf. The one who collected links and wild mushrooms.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali On Brandeis University's Withdrawal Of Their Offer To Give Her An Honorary Degree
The WSJ had this in their Notable & Quotable section:
From a statement issued Wednesday by writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali the day after Brandeis University withdrew its offer of an honorary degree:
"Yesterday Brandeis University decided to withdraw an honorary degree they were to confer upon me next month during their Commencement exercises. I wish to dissociate myself from the university's statement, which implies that I was in any way consulted about this decision. On the contrary, I was completely shocked when President Frederick Lawrence called me--just a few hours before issuing a public statement--to say that such a decision had been made.
When Brandeis approached me with the offer of an honorary degree, I accepted partly because of the institution's distinguished history; it was founded in 1948, in the wake of World War II and the Holocaust, as a co-educational, nonsectarian university at a time when many American universities still imposed rigid admission quotas on Jewish students. I assumed that Brandeis intended to honor me for my work as a defender of the rights of women against abuses that are often religious in origin. For over a decade, I have spoken out against such practices as female genital mutilation, so-called 'honor killings,' and applications of Sharia Law that justify such forms of domestic abuse as wife beating or child beating. Part of my work has been to question the role of Islam in legitimizing such abhorrent practices. So I was not surprised when my usual critics, notably the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), protested against my being honored in this way.
What did surprise me was the behavior of Brandeis. Having spent many months planning for me to speak to its students at Commencement, the university yesterday announced that it could not "overlook certain of my past statements," which it had not previously been aware of. Yet my critics have long specialized in selective quotation--lines from interviews taken out of context--designed to misrepresent me and my work. It is scarcely credible that Brandeis did not know this when they initially offered me the degree.
What was initially intended as an honor has now devolved into a moment of shaming. Yet the slur on my reputation is not the worst aspect of this episode. More deplorable is that an institution set up on the basis of religious freedom should today so deeply betray its own founding principles. The "spirit of free expression" referred to in the Brandeis statement has been stifled here, as my critics have achieved their objective of preventing me from addressing the graduating Class of 2014. Neither Brandeis nor my critics knew or even inquired as to what I might say. They simply wanted me to be silenced. I regret that very much.
Not content with a public disavowal, Brandeis has invited me "to join us on campus in the future to engage in a dialogue about these important issues." Sadly, in words and deeds, the university has already spoken its piece. I have no wish to "engage" in such one-sided dialogue. I can only wish the Class of 2014 the best of luck--and hope that they will go forth to be better advocates for free expression and free thought than their alma mater.
I take this opportunity to thank all those who have supported me and my work on behalf of oppressed women and girls everywhere."
Robert Spencer offers more detail at FrontPageMag, and adds this:
The cancellation of Hirsi Ali at Brandeis demonstrates yet again that there is no one who opposes jihad terror who is acceptable to CAIR and its allies. A report on Islamophobia in the U.S. that CAIR produced in conjunction with the Center for Race & Gender at the University of California, Berkeley in 2011 stated:"It is not appropriate to label all, or even the majority of those, who question Islam and Muslims as Islamophobes. Equally, it is not Islamophobic to denounce crimes committed by individual Muslims or those claiming Islam as a motivation for their actions. 'A critical study of Islam or Muslims is not Islamophobic,' former CAIR Research Director Mohamed Nimer wrote in 2007. 'Likewise, a disapproving analysis of American history and government is not anti-American... One can disagree with Islam or with what some Muslims do without having to be hateful.'"
These were empty words. The report offered no examples of what it would consider to be acceptable and legitimate criticism of Islam and jihad, and neither CAIR nor the University of California Center for Race & Gender have ever done so anywhere else.
Here, from thereligionofpeace.com -- "A woman's place" under Islam -- are some of the things Hirsi Ali opposes:
To this day, it is absolutely forbidden for a Muslim woman to marry a non-Muslim man, even though men are not under the same restriction as to their choice of marriage partners. This is is a consequence of the low status of a wife against that of her husband. A Muslim is not allowed to be subordinate to a non-Muslim, and a wife must be subordinate to her husband.
In her lifetime, a Muslim woman is never to be without the guardianship of a man, from her father to her husband to the male members of her family (in the event that she is widowed or divorced).
Many contemporary Muslims realize that traditional Islamic practice is painfully out of step with modern tastes. Thus have ensued very imaginative efforts to reinterpret the long held traditions of their religion, exaggerating both the negative treatment of Arab women prior to Muhammad and the reforms that he is said to have brought about.
Muhammad's blunt words on marriage are what they are. On top of this, he forbade women from traveling alone. Nor are they allowed to be alone with a non-relative male. Women must cover themselves, and, when there is sexual sin, they nearly always bear the responsibility of guilt, as it is assumed that they are under a higher standard of conduct.
Stonings, honor killings, floggings and even the mutilation of female genitalia are sporadically employed in the Muslim world to keep women in their place.
According to a recent fatwa on the Muslim Matters website, "a Muslim woman should keep her home as the focus of her attention and activities, and make it the base of her affairs." Women are allowed to leave the house under certain conditions, such as medical emergency and religious observance. Islam also permits them to get a job "if there is no mahrum man providing for them", but it should be limited to certain occupations that only involve other women, such as catering, teaching, fashion, beautician or a variety of domestic positions.
Yes, anyone opposed to such things must be quite the hater.
In other news, Iraq is poised to legalize marriage for girls as young as 9. (Boy, did we ever "liberate" 'em in Iraq.)
You Don't Get To Stop The Music Because You've Been Told To Be Offended
It's become easier than ever to stop that nasty free speech. Or to shut down music that other people want to hear.
"Trigger warning" is now being used as a form of power -- a way to tell other people they must bend to your will and shut up. Or shut off the music that other people want to hear.
Much of popular music has lyrics like "I know you want it." Are we really going to call all of it off-limits or start boycotts of any venue that plays it?
Jenny Surane writes at the Daily Tarheel:
What started with a spat between a UNC student and a disc jockey at a bar Saturday night ended with a boycott and a formal apology from the pub.
When a DJ at Fitzgerald's Irish Pub played "Blurred Lines," Liz Hawryluk stepped into the DJ box to ask him to stop.
Critics say the song promotes rape culture with lyrics like "I know you want it."
Hawryluk said she was then asked to leave the bar completely.
But Lauren Shoaf, a spokeswoman for Fitzgerald's, said it was a misunderstanding, and the UNC senior was only asked to leave the DJ's area, not the bar.
"Fundamentally, all I was aiming to do is to create a safe space in the Carolina community," Hawryluk said. "In a lot of ways, violent or graphic images that allude to sexual violence are triggers."
She took her mini-war to Facebook, and fellow free-speech condemners went after the pub.
A couple of comments from the Daily Tarheel page:
I feel that these students, while well intentioned, really misguided their frustrations. I understand the objection that people have with Blurred Lines, but that shouldn't give students the license to demonize the establishment and post disparaging things on their websites in an attempt to hurt their business. They were playing a hugely popular song to entertain their patrons, just like every other bar on Franklin; they were trying to run a successful business, not promote or propagate sexual assault. Perhaps it would have been a bit more prudent to work with Fitzgerald's to make changes, rather than attack their livelihood. The level of activism on our campus is amazing and something that we, as Tarheels, should all take pride in- but lets direct our anger at those who deserve it, not Fitzgerald's.
This is such an aggressive conception of "safe space." You declare someone else's business a safe space, and then act like you have the right to make them play by your rules. For people that also rail against imperialism all the time, they seem pretty happy to be imperialists when it suits them.
Turns out the DJ is now out of a job, too. And Fitzgerald's has apologized to Hawryluk and her posse and pledged that the song will never be played there again.
The lyrics to Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" are here and, by the way, involve a woman grabbing at a man. Thicke sings:
The way you grab me Must wanna get nasty Go ahead, get at me...
Let's get real. Until the term "trigger warnings" came up, has anyone ever heard of or experienced victims of sexual assault being deeply disturbed by the lyrics of popular music? (I can understand that a victim would be deeply upset if they heard a song that played while they were being raped.)
Also, there's a whole lot of music that's going to have to be shelved. I Googled "I know you want it" (with "-Thicke" to try to get rid of all the Robin Thicke mentions) and came up with 81,300,000 results, including Christina Aguilera's "Your Body."
What will become acceptable to play at music venues, the collected works of Enya?