A plain blog about politics: Young Voting Update -
Takoma Park, Maryland, has gone ahead: they’ve lowered the voting age for local elections to 16. Excellent. We’re talking a suburb of 17K citizens, so it’s not exactly a ton of 16 and 17 year old voters. Not to mention that giving them the vote only for local elections isn’t exactly likely to produce stampedes at the polling places. Still, it’s something.
If only the government would apply the same level of thoroughness to their supervision of food and milk in China. — Meet the Chinese ‘censors’ who watch 700 pornographic movies every week
Army Sexual Assault Prevention Office Coordinator Accused of 'Abusive Sexual Contact' -
A soldier assigned to coordinate a sexual assault prevention program in Texas is under investigation for “abusive sexual contact” and other alleged misconduct and has been suspended from his duties, the Army announced Tuesday. Just last week an Air Force officer who headed a sexual assault prevention office was himself arrested on charges of groping a woman in a parking lot. The Army said a sergeant first class, whose name was not released, is accused of pandering, abusive sexual contact, assault and maltreatment of subordinates. He is being investigated by the Army Criminal Investigation Command. No charges have been filed. He had been assigned as an equal opportunity adviser and coordinator of a sexual harassment-assault prevention program at the Army’s 3rd Corps headquarters at Fort Hood, Texas, when the allegation arose, the Army said.
[photo: image of a Black homeless man wearing a white t shirt and holding a white Abercrombie and fitch branded t shirt in front of him.]
Why Fitch the Homeless is a Really Bad Idea
In response to some comments made by Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Michael Jeffries about not wanting large people in A&F clothes because he prefers “attractive…cool kids” in A&F clothes, there’s been a pretty big backlash, which is understandable. Most recently, I’ve learned about some “activism” aimed at giving Abercrombie and Fitch a “brand readjustment’” by giving Abercrombie and Fitch clothing to the homeless.
Because wouldn’t it be so awful for Abercrombie and Fitch clothing to be associated with homelessness and homeless people, because homeless people are so gross and disgusting, amirite? The video above says that it is striving to make Abercrombie and Fitch “the #1 brand of homeless apparel”. Maybe you’re thinking there’s no issue here because at least homeless people are getting some new duds and they were purchased from Goodwill, so what’s the big deal?
The big deal comes in when homeless people are being exploited to prove a point. Many homeless people are already widely disenfranchised and lacking a platform to be heard or to get access to the resources they need. By attempting to make a brand look bad by associating it with homelessness, the message is that homeless people are so gross, dirty, shameful (insert negative attribute here) that by associating the brand with these types of people, we are really making the brand look shitty, because these people are so shitty! get it? It’s all such a laugh! This type of “activism” is a farce. It contributes to and propagates a culture wherein homeless people can be used as props to further an agenda. This isn’t how you treat people. This is how you treat disposable objects. It isn’t funny, noble, or helpful to try and stick it to Abercrombie and Fitch by using homeless people as the medium for your message. Would the American population at large be comfortable with any other minority group being used to make a brand look “bad” by associating their clothing with that group? Sub out “homeless” for any other minority group and see how that sounds and feels. Pretty shitty, right?
Giving clothing, food, needed sundries, time, and other resources to the homeless or people who are in need is an awesome thing. But this isn’t about giving to the homeless. I don’t see any real or actual concern for homeless people in this “movement”. I see homeless people being used as the butt of a joke. The punchline? “Hahaha Abercrombie! You want cool and attractive people in your clothes and you claim to be exclusionary, so we’re going to give your clothes to homeless people because you would hate that!” The implication here is that homeless people are not cool or attractive and the brand can’t be exclusionary when worn by an already excluded group. This only “works” because homeless people are already part of an othered and excluded group, often left out of mainstream society, denied access to basic resources and the ability to have their needs met. Can’t.Stop.Laughing.
People who want to give to the homeless can do so at any time. Do it today! But giving a certain brand of clothing to the homeless in an attempt to make that brand of clothing look bad or unsavory or less-than-desirable is only possible when the population or group receiving the clothing carries the stigma you are trying to attach to that label. This doesn’t make Abercrombie and Fitch look bad. This makes Greg Karber and everybody supporting this “activism” look like an insensitive douche canoe who thinks homeless people are disposable props to be used to further an agenda, and that’s pretty sad and disappointing. Wanna help the homeless? Try not furthering the stigma surrounding homelessness by insisting that a brand being associated with homelessness would surely be less desirable or wanted. Wanna stick it to Abercrombie and Fitch? Easy Peasy! Don’t give them your money! It’s a simple solution that doesn’t involve stepping on the backs of the homeless in place of a soapbox.
(click through the link to watch the youtube video)
if i never hear about this brand again, i would be thrilled.
US Air Force Measures Potato Cannon Muzzle Velocities -
A question that will have passed through the minds of many hobbyists is: what is the best fuel for a potato cannon? Today, they get their answer thanks to the work of Michael Courtney at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado and another Courtney at BTG Research in Colorado Springs. These guys have measured the speed at which an accelerated potato leaves the muzzle of a cannon powered with five different fuels: acetylene, methanol, butane, ethanol and propane.The results point to a clear winner. Propane, ethanol, methanol and butane all produce muzzle velocities of between 28 and 48 metres per second. But acetylene is in a class of its own, producing a muzzle velocity of 138 metres per second. That’s over 300 mph.
Today in the Noble Ideals of Amateurism -
You may have heard that the highest-paid employee in each state is usually the football coach at the largest state school. This is actually a gross mischaracterization: Sometimes it is the basketball coach.
L.A. mayoral candidates support making teacher evaluations public -
Los Angeles’ two mayoral candidates said Tuesday that they support making teacher evaluations public, going well beyond a level of disclosure that is supported by top school district officials.
Poverty as a Childhood Disease - NYTimes.com -
At the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies last week, there was a new call for pediatricians to address childhood poverty as a national problem, rather than wrestling with its consequences case by case in the exam room.
Poverty damages children’s dispositions and blunts their brains. We’ve seen articles about the language deficit in poorer homes and the gaps in school achievement. These remind us that — more so than in my mother’s generation — poverty in this country is now likely to define many children’s life trajectories in the harshest terms: poor academic achievement, high dropout rates, and health problems from obesity and diabetes to heart disease, substance abuse and mental illness.
Recently, there has been a lot of focus on the idea of toxic stress, in which a young child’s body and brain may be damaged by too much exposure to so-called stress hormones, like cortisol and norepinephrine. When this level of stress is experienced at an early age, and without sufficient protection, it may actually reset the neurological and hormonal systems, permanently affecting children’s brains and even, we are learning, their genes.
Toxic stress is the heavy hand of early poverty, scripting a child’s life not in the Horatio Alger scenario of determination and drive, but in the patterns of disappointment and deprivation that shape a life of limitations.
At the meeting, my colleague Dr. Benard P. Dreyer, professor of pediatrics at New York University and a past president of the Academic Pediatric Association, called on pediatricians to take on poverty as a serious underlying threat to children’s health. He was prompted, he told me later, by the widening disparities between rich and poor, and the gathering weight of evidence about the importance of early childhood, and the ways that deprivation and stress in the early years of life can reduce the chances of educational and life success.
“After the first three, four, five years of life, if you have neglected that child’s brain development, you can’t go back,” he said. In the middle of the 20th century, our society made a decision to take care of the elderly, once the poorest demographic group in the United States. Now, with Medicareand Social Security, only 9 percent of older people live in poverty. Children are now our poorest group, with almost 25 percent of children under 5 living below the federal poverty level.
Can People Distinguish Pate from Dog Food? -
The answer to the question is sort of, in that they tend to like the pate better than canned dog food but can’t identify which (out of 5 choices) is the actual dog food better than random.
xoJane: I Have the BRCA Mutation, But Unlike Angelina Jolie, I Can't Afford a Preventative Mastectomy -
Your followup appointment, where you discuss that results, is the one where your life can change dramatically. Maybe you didn’t inherit that family gene. Maybe you did, but your risks are comparatively low; maybe you should consider getting mammograms a bit earlier, although there’s some debate over whether early mammograms are as helpful as we think they are. Maybe you should take tamoxifen as a preventative.
Maybe you should get a preventative mastectomy.
It’s the nuclear approach. Radically reduce your risk of developing breast cancer by removing most of the tissue that could serve as a little tumor incubator. It’s also utterly grueling, requiring at least one surgery (and possibly more, if you want to conserve tissue and get a reconstruction, which most people do). Even then, your ovaries are little time bombs ticking away, so you might want to consider an oophrectomy too.
n.b. Haters on Angie to the left, please. She started an important national conversation and while it’s absolutely important to acknowledge the fact that she got gold-standard care most of us can’t DREAM of, the problem here is not Angelina Jolie. The problem is a totally borked health care system, a country that would rather let people die horribly than provide basic medical services, a country that fetishises breasts at all costs, and a country with increasing class stratification. Is Angelina in a position of power and privilege? Fuck yes, and that’s how she made it into the Times with an op-ed that might have a chance of waking some people up. So let’s talk about health care disparities, and class, and how awful it is that many people don’t have access to the tools they need to make the best health-care choices for themselves.
Plan aims to determine students' socioeconomic status -
Looking for a clearer picture of how poor, middle-class and wealthy students perform in U.S. schools, the Obama administration wants to redefine how it calculates children’s socioeconomic status. In a new white paper, just released, the U.S. Department of Education proposes classifying students by more than just their parents’ income or education levels. It explains the federal government should be able to tie test scores to a host of indicators, including: whether parents own or rent their home, how many times a family has moved in the past year and whether anyone in their household gets medical assistance. The plan, drafted by the National Center on Education Statistics (NCES), also wants to use U.S. Census data on neighborhoods, looking at home size, backyards, rates of single parenthood and unemployment — in search of a fuller picture of kids’ lives.
Harsher Penalties Needed -
There’s no question that one lesson from the fertilizer explosion in West, Texas is that we need much harsher fines and criminal statutes against corporations when workers die, as well as the regulatory structure to prosecute the owners of these corporations. The latest AFL-CIO Death on the Job Report, released this week, shows that according to data complied by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2011, 4,693 workers died on the job. That’s 13 workers every day. 50,000 workers died from occupational disease. Workers suffered between 7.6 and 11.4 million job injuries and illnesses. This might just be an inconvenience for the corporations who employ these workers, but it is devastating to the workers and their families. They need real compensation for their pain and it needs to come out of corporate profits.
you guys i am obsessed with this cover. to whom is this question directed? who is asking it? is this saying, “we think by wearing a bikini in greece, kim is saying to the world, ‘you call this fat?’” or is the magazine asking me, in kind of an aggressive way, whether i would call that fat? because this magazine has, literally, called her fat, like 1 week ago, and references that one black and white outfit that “made her look like Shamu” in every article about her since she wore it.
i’ve started carrying it around, approaching strangers, and saying i have a very important question for them that demands the highest consideration. then i show it to them and yell “YOU CALL THIS FAT???”
Black Turnout -
The story has been floating around the past few days, but it’s been confirmed with the release of a reportyesterday from the US Census (specifically the Current Population Survey Voting and Registration Supplement). African Americans voted at a higher rate than the (non-Latino) white population for the first time in 2012. Turnout among the black population was 66.2%, and the non-Latino white population 64.1%. When we consider all the barriers both attempted and actually erected in the name of suppressing minority turnout fraud prevention,this is pretty remarkable.
Today In Statistical Silliness -
I’ll pick on the New York Times.
Now comes the hard part: Can movie studios, mired in a steep box-office slump, keep the momentum going?
Between the first weekend in May and Labor Day, a period that typically accounts for 40 percent of annual movie ticket sales, Hollywood rapidly parades its biggest floats — loud, visual-effects-laden behemoths like the coming “Man of Steel” and “Lone Ranger” that cost $200 million (or more) to make and $150 million to market globally.
I note that May to September is a four-month stretch, i.e. roughly 33% of the year. Getting 40% of revenue in 33% of the year hardly strikes me as hugely disproportionate. Certainly, it’s substantial, but not really worthy of the “tent-pole” treatment that summer gets in the movie industry, yet the Times reports the figure breathlessly and with grave import.