Monday, May 03, 2004

Sorry to my loyal readers, but blogging started coming up against rising work demands. I am now an occasional contributor to Amy's Robot.
posted by J. --link--

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

I forwarded this, about a Mexican woman who lives eight hours from the nearest hospital so she performed a Caesarean on herself using a kitchen knife and some liquor, to my (numerous) Latin American coworkers. The consensus seems to be that A) Mexican women are as macho as the men, and B) not enough credit is given to this fact in discussing gender equity in Latin America.

See how easy it is for economists to suck all the fun out of something as crazy as a do it yourself Caesearean?
posted by J. --link--

Oh, and in other news, I started watching three new TV shows this season, which is an unusually high number for me. What do Playing It Straight, Century City, and Wonderfalls have in common? They were all cancelled in less than three weeks.

Hey, I'm white, 18-49, live in a big city, make a decent salary and don't have any kids. Why are my whims not being catered to on television? I mean, other than on American Idol.

The Wonderfalls site is even disabled. It's all so sad. I can't help but think it's because I complained that the exteriors were obviously shot in Canada, and that no one from the American side refers to Niagara Falls as "Niagara". They might as well be wearing Mountie Uniforms and gargling with maple syrup.
posted by J. --link--

Monday, March 15, 2004

OK, so I'm coming out of exile now. Not that this is the reason, but I'm a little disgusted that The Known World won the Pulitzer for fiction. I only read it because it looked like it was going to win a million awards, but frankly I just don't see what the big deal is about. I didn't the characters or what they did were particularly interesting, and well, frankly, it's no Middlesex.
posted by J. --link--

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

This CNN article quotes Candace Gingrich pointing out that one million self-identified gay and lesbian voters voted for Bush in 2000, according to exit polls. Enshrining second-class status for gays in the Constitution is a bigger declaration of war than Republicans have ever made against blacks and Jews, for example, and 90% of those groups traditionally vote Democrat. It's not inconceivable that this announcement could drive the gay percentage that high; if so, Bush would lose 600,000 gay votes. (Going from 25% to 10%.) And let's not count the Republican parents and siblings of gays who might think this is going too far.

Karl Rove (who probably doesn't believe the exit polls, but let's pretend he does) always talks about how there were three million Evangelical voters who stayed home in 2000 that he thinks he can convince to go out and vote this time. Presumably the Evangelical voters who feel most strongly about gay marriage voted last time, so now we're trying to get the laziest dregs out to vote. If this announcement convinces only one in 5 of those Evangelicals to get off their holy asses and vote, Bush will come out ahead. I wonder if it can do that; it's pretty hard to get nonvoters excited about voting: Back in 1992 everyone in college was gaga over Clinton and the turnout among under-21s blipped up by only a tiny amount. Not enough young people remembered Clinton talking about his underpants and playing sax on Arsenio enough to create a real groundswell - will the Fundies remember it this time?

They are certainly more likely to remember if Bush harps about it all the time between now and November. It seems to me that the more people talk about gay marriage, the less they like it. I think part of this is because of incidents like what's going on in San Francisco: when gays seem like harmless relatively normal people (like harmless and TV-normal Will and Jack, pre-adoption Rosie and various santizied homosexual sidekicks in recent films) straight people don't get excited. But when we seem pushy, like the San Franciscans lining up for useless marriage licenses, they get mad. Bush probably has to keep this in the public eye in order to make it pay off, and I'm more than a little worried that gays and lesbians are going to make it very easy to do so.

Just wait until the the March reopening of the Massachusetts Legislature, upcoming arguments in front of California courts, the possibility that New Jersey's Supreme Court might follow Massachusetts, and oh wait, don't gays get really excited and flamboyant at the end of every June? Just as sure as you can see Laura Bush's face scotch taped to the face of a Carmelite habit, you can bet Bush will be pilloried from Fifth Avenue to Castro Street the last weekend in June. And then, hey, aren't the Republicans having their convention in New York City, where you can't swing your purse without smacking a gay guy in the face? And then, damn, didn't those idiot Democrats put their convention in useless, gay-loving Boston rather than fun, gay but other things going on LA or New York? It's going to be a fun year.
posted by J. --link--

As usual, the Midwest seems to be the most reasonable part of the country on gay marriage. The LA Times talks about a poll in Missouri that shows majorities against gay marriage and a slight majority for the amendment (OK, so Missouri is a little more conservative than, say, Minnesota or Hawaii) but the people they interview mostly sound very reasonable about the whole thing. They also don't think it's an important issue.

This seems likely to me to fire up a few Republicans and get some Democrats angry, and it should further divide the social conservatives in the Republican party from the old-line Republicans who don't want to be seen as Bible-thumpers. But I guess I don't think it's likely to remain a swing issue.

One thing that worries me a little: people didn't have strong opinions about going to Mars again, or about allowing illegal immigrants a few years of legal protection in the country, and no one understood the Medicare prescription drug benefit. Gay marriage is a deceptively simple issue to most people, and everyone in this article has an opinion. For that reason I think it might be easier for the Republicans to get some traction out of it, but they'll run the risk of looking like the bigots they are, rather than the decent moderate people they pretend to be if they try.
posted by J. --link--

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

So I was just checking out Marilyn Musgrave's website. She's the Congresswoman from Colorado who wrote the Marriage Amendment Bush endorsed today. Here are the websites of Colorado's representatives. Two of them (DeGette and Udall) are Democrats, the other five are Republicans. Interestingly, DeGette and Udall both have articles on their websites about gay marriage: DeGette saying she was at a rally supporting gay marriage, and Udall opposing the new amendment. None of the five Republicans have anything about gay marriage on their front pages.

What this means to me is that this stupid amendment is likely to be treated pretty much the same by Democrats across the country: regardless of whether they publicly support gay marriage or not, they don't want to amend the Constitution to ban it forever. But Republicans have to tread a finer line here: they probably are opposed to marriage, but don't want to look like bigots. That is, the Democrats can hide their pro-marriage views behind a reluctance to amend the Constitution, but Republicans hvae to go all the way: amend the Constitution or alienate the Christian right that thinks this is the most important issue out there.

So far everything Bush has done in the last few months to resurrect his popularity has backfired: sending people to Mars, providing additional protection to illegal aliens, promising a few million more jobs that will never materialize, the new Medicare drug benefit. . .I could go on. I'm inclined to think this amendment will be the same way: there aren't that many votes he'll get from people just waiting for the leadership to do this, but it does kind of look intolerant. I don't think there are 67 votes in the Senate for this, and I know there are 13 state legislatures that won't support this. Bush must know that, too, so I wonder what he's thinking.
posted by J. --link--

Today's a pretty sad day for anyone who cares about anyone gay or lesbian - the day our President supports enshrining second class status for our relationships in the Constitution. Here is the Republican party's press release on the subject. Here is the Democratic party's press release on Bush's announcement, which went up a few hours earlier. Any questions?
posted by J. --link--

Friday, February 20, 2004

Are you Yankee or Dixie? Take this test and find out. I was a "definitive Yankee". There were a few where I said the Northeastern word instead of the Great Lakes word even though, really, it just doesn't get any more Great Lakes than Buffalo. And I couldn't remember if I said "water fountain" or "drinking fountain" growing up. They both sound right to me. But they're sneakers, not tennis shoes, and cot and caught don't rhyme.
posted by J. --link--

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Chad, the country in West Africa, not the frat guy you met a few years ago, is now producing oil. This is the first time the international community has ever tried to ensure that oil money isn't wasted. No one knows how it's going to turn out. People probably have unrealistic expectations: Chad is not going to become Dubai overnight. If things go well, Chad (where the average income is a hell of a lot less than the $1000 a year this article says) might have some decent roads and better schools than it has now. If they're very lucky, they could become Botswana, which has decent universal health care and primary education, but it still not as rich as, say, Turkey, South Africa, or Peru.
posted by J. --link--

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