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Lean In

I’m coming out of retirement for a short review of Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In.

As a newly working mom (a couple years now), I was looking forward to reading this book. I had read an article about Sandberg in the New Yorker, and I liked the fact that she championed finding your career first before having children.

The career advice in this book is beneficial to both men and woman. Make sure your voice is heard. Don’t be afraid to speak up. Make sure you have a seat at the table. Be an advocate for yourself. Don’t be your worst critic. According to Sandberg these things are essential for a woman to advance their career. The short answer is of course this is sound advice.

On the other hand, there are huge things to consider before embarking on this approach. I myself have struggled from making $12 an hour to a good job as a Senior Software Engineer. I can’t stress enough that this was not an easy trajectory. And here is what I think needs to be emphasized. You can do everything that Sandberg recommends, and you can be an extremely talented person, but if you are in the wrong place it will fail spectacularly.

I have worked at least two places where being frank, bold, talented, smart, and outspoken worked against me rather than for me. At least one of these places was like this due to sexism. There are some work places that will resent you more for your talent. It seems bizarre. You would think most work places would want talented good employees, but some dysfunctional places would prefer a subservient employee who knows their place than a bold super performer.  Odd, but true. So here’s my advice. When you discover yourself to be in one of these places, get out. Don’t try to change them. Find a new place and hope to find one that is more amenable to your success. There are a lot of bad places out there. Don’t burn bridges but keep moving until you find a place that appreciates your talents. That is the best place to grow.

It’s been written already, but Sandberg focuses a bit too much on what women are doing wrong rather than the deficiencies of the system. I have known timid men who don’t get ahead. It’s not about characteristics of women that prevent them from getting ahead. I have known both men and women who have failed to get ahead due to being too afraid to lean in. So failure to “lean in” can’t be the only problem. I think Sandberg gives men an easy way to say, see we don’t need to change. It’s women who need to be bolder. That fails to take into account women who are bold but still experience the glass ceiling.

Not everyone can be a leader. Note to readers I am not a leader. This book is no secret formula. Some people just don’t have it in them to push ahead (lean in). They expect their talents to be noticed but don’t go out of their way to get themselves noticed. I think this usually happens due to some people being raised to be humble. Humility does little in the workplace.

I always use the Keanu Reeves example. I read somewhere that he dissed Kenneth Branaugh’s Hamlet to Branaugh’s face. Think about the character of Reeves. He’s one of the worst actors ever but he sincerely doesn’t know it. Think of all the people along the way that have noticed his extreme lack of talent. High school counselors, agents, directors, fellow actors, parents, friends. Many helpful people probably told him that he should pursue another interest. He didn’t listen. He became a successful actor. With no talent. Humility will prevent a good actor from getting ahead. Lack of humility can create a Keanu Reeves.

Sandberg’s chapters on men sharing more of the household work are spot on. Many of the couples I know now including myself are pretty equitable, so the good news is that this is a realizable goal for women.

A lot has been written about Sheryl Sandberg’s privileged and why this book fails to acknowledge that her experience is hardly transferable. True. She doesn’t exactly help herself by telling us Larry Summers approached her about being her adviser at Harvard. Then there was the treasury job with Summers. Then there was the job at Google and then an offer from LinkedIn. It’s a little tone-deaf because how many of us are going to even get in for an interview at Google or LinkedIn the startups with no experience. She had no experience.

And yet that is not the most tone-deaf part of the book. It comes when she talks about how important it was for her and her husband to stay in the same city so that they could raise their children and how her husband was struggling with flying from L.A. to the Bay Area on the weekends to be with the kids. Well readers when such a thing happens, don’t despair. All you need do is find a job at a new company and move that company’s headquarters to the Bay Area. Hear that? Work for Boeing and live in Bakersfield? Have Boeing move their company headquarters. Problem solved.

But wait there’s more. Sandberg’s husband’s company was SurveyMonkey in Portland. They are now based in Northern California. I live in Seattle. I like the Pacific Northwest. I don’t want to live in California. Maybe some SurveyMonkey employees felt the same way. So moving to NoCal might have helped Sandberg’s family, but possibly at the cost of some pretty decent Portland families. Yeah, life sucks sometimes.

Finally, Sandberg says you can continue the discussion by finding the Facebook Lean In page. Well guys, guess what? I’m not on Facebook and I’m not going on Facebook. So there you go. My review stays here.

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Awesome

This cartoon is found many places, but I found it on Huffingtonpost.

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An anti-abortion rights organization is withdrawing an award it planned to present Rep. Bart Stupak, after the Michigan Democrat announced Sunday he would support health care reform legislation.

The Susan B. Anthony List had chosen Stupak to receive the “Defender of Life” award at the “Campaign for Life Gala” Wednesday here in the nation’s capital.

Because we all know Susan B. Anthony was pro-life.

From Yglesias. Emphasis mine.

We should also, however, spare a thought for the unsung hero of comprehensive reform, McConnell and his GOP colleagues, who pushed their “no compromise” strategy to the breaking point and beyond. The theory was that non-cooperation would stress the Democratic coalition and cause the public to begin to question the enterprise. And it largely worked. But at crucial times when wavering Democrats were eager for a lifeline, the Republicans absolutely refused to throw one. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and other key players at various points wanted to scale aspirations down to a few regulatory tweaks and some expansion of health care for children. This idea had a lot of appeal to many in the party. But it always suffered from a fatal flaw—the Republicans’ attitude made it seem that a smaller bill was no more feasible than a big bill. Consequently, even though Scott Brown’s victory blew the Democrats off track, the basic logic of the situation pushed them back on course to universal health care.

Today, conservative anger at the Democrats is running higher than ever, and for the first time in years the GOP leadership’s blanket opposition has won them the esteem of their fanatics. But in more sober moments in the weeks and months to come, my guess is that the brighter minds on the right will recognize that their determination to turn health reform into Obama’s Waterloo sowed the seeds of their own destruction. Universal health care has been attempted many times in the past and always failed. The prospects for success were never all that bright. Many of us, myself included, at one point or another wanted to try something more moderate. But the right wing, by invariably indicating that it would settle for nothing less than total victory, inspired progressive forces to march on and win their greatest legislative victory in decades.

Paul Krugman

Instead, I want you to consider the contrast: on one side, the closing argument was an appeal to our better angels, urging politicians to do what is right, even if it hurts their careers; on the other side, callous cynicism. Think about what it means to condemn health reform by comparing it to the Civil Rights Act. Who in modern America would say that L.B.J. did the wrong thing by pushing for racial equality? (Actually, we know who: the people at the Tea Party protest who hurled racial epithets at Democratic members of Congress on the eve of the vote.)

And a word of my own on “death panels.” Now that healthcare reform has passed (barring something catastrophic in the Senate), I predict the same people who whipped their followers into a froth over the government using death panels to put granny down, I predict that these same people will start to talk about the burden of keeping the poor and illegal immigrants alive. They are costing us money in insurance. Why should they get a life-saving transplant, they will say. I’ve done everything right all my life so why should I be punished.

Predators. I predict they’ll say child predators can get health insurance and it will cost insurance money to keep them alive. Those costs will be  passed on to us. In short, that they very people who fear mongered are now going to be the ones who want to go back to the old system where they can choose who is worthy of life-saving treatment.

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Sorry for not posting in a while. Work has been busy. Extremely so.

Just got back from the Olympics on Sunday. I’ll try posting some pictures later on.

This image I got from the Slog. My friend witnessed similar behavior in Vancouver. She told me she saw a Canadian heckling Joe Biden about health care. This seems odd. No doubt a fan getting a little too enthusiastic about the US/Canada hockey game, which by the way was fabulous, we won.

But again this sign is in very poor taste. Would I point a cardboard sign at a television camera for a station in Saudi Arabia that says “At least I can drive.” Very poor sportsmanship displayed here, but I suppose tempers can get flared in these sorts of situations. Especially when you LOSE. Not that I care about WINNING. No, not at all.

Update: Okay, here’s some funny links I found via Ron Judd’s Olympic blog in the Seattle Times.

Piss off America. Oh and you lost the war of 1812.

Canada should just cheat.

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The answer is sadly: not much. I think having a cat makes me more of a homebody. Danton seems to be so excited when we come home and so upset when we leave that we seem to be staying in a lot more. On the other hand, it’s really nice to get a proper weekend break from work. Work has been very exciting and very busy. I’m really enjoying programming full time.

Some random thoughts on recent news pieces.

10 Americans Arrested in Haiti for Child Abduction

This story fascinates me probably because I used to be a member of the Southern Baptist church and my dad still is. If you’ve been following the story, a group of Christians with no experience in child adoption, and most remarkably with no agency or legal mechanism to handle adoption — a process that is known to be fraught with difficulty, well, this group went to Haiti and tried to take 33 children out of the country with no papers.

I guess what fascinates me is how stupid this was. Did they really think that they could get away with it? I guess it shows what experience they had with the world at large.

If your religion encourages you to trust in God and not to worry about worldly complications like passports and adoption papers, then all of this seems to make sense.

It makes me think back to a great This American Life episode about a Baptist Minister who raised a baby who was switched at birth. Even though his wife alerted him to the switch, he said nothing until 20 years later. When he was talking to the biological mother of the girl he raised, he told her that this was a test that God gave them and to not question it. The woman who happened to be Methodist told him no. It may have been a test that God put you in that position to make the choice to do right or wrong, but it was not part of God’s plan that you said nothing.

Well anyway if you’re going to be religious for heaven’s sake have a little common sense. I suppose if you believe that thought then there isn’t really any point in having faith.

The “Retard” Debate

When I took a cross-cultural communications class years ago, we were advised to not say things that were known to be offensive people. Whether or not your intentions are good, you shouldn’t be saying something that another person will find hurtful. Basically, even if Quentin Tarantino doesn’t mean the n-word in a bad way, and even if he is surrounded by black people who don’t seem to mind, he should still know that to a lot of people the n-word means terrible things and he therefore shouldn’t say it.

So about the word retarded. Upon reflection, whenever I use that word I’m never actually referring to people who have a disability. Does that mean I should be able to continue to say it since I’m really referring to people I think are dumb and not to people who have a problem? According to my class, no.

Furries

Saw the below picture on Fail Blog.

epic fail pictures
see more Epic Fails

I thought it was funny without even knowing what a furry was, but some co-workers tipped me off. Read about the fascinating cultural phenomenom that is furries. I noticed a Superbowl advert with furries by the way.

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Matt Taibbi gets it. How many times in the last few weeks have you heard the word populism used by the mainstream media to describe the desire to reform our financial system? It takes a completely valid argument and uses that word to make it trite.

I also like how Taibbi calls bullshit — and actually uses the word bullshit. Favorite quote:

That’s basically Brooks’s entire argument here. Yes, the rich and powerful do rig the game in their own favor, and yes, they are guilty of “excesses” — but fucking deal with it, if you want to eat.

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The Party of Assholes

I am loath to blog about the worst of the worst wingnuts like Pat Robertson, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Lynn Cheney and Glenn Beck. I mean what’s the point? Their assholeishness is hardly something so subtle that it needs a blogger (let alone thousands of them) to point out.

Nonetheless what is truly disgusting lately is the glee with which these assholes seem to treat human tragedy. Can there be any doubt after the attempted bombing of an airliner on Christmas Day how much these jerks want a terrorist attack to happen? They treated the attempt as a Christmas Day present to themselves and their ideology. They jumped right away with how Obama couldn’t keep us safe and launched a coordinated effort of historical revision regarding attacks during the Bush presidency. One wonders how much more excited they would be if this guy succeeded?

And now we have a human tragedy of catestrophic proportions. A poor country that has suffered for so many years gets kicked while it is already down with a natural disaster. And how do these guys react? What compassion do these “saviors of family values” give us? You have to know that Pat Robertson woke up to the news excited that God had finally put the nail in the coffin of this heretic country. And how about Limbaugh? Don’t give any money in aid to Haiti because we already do that through income tax. It’s not enough that you are an asshole Limbaugh, you have to try to influence others to behave like you.

What is there to say to all this? I apologize for this rant but these guys are truly evil. How else to explain their utter joy at so much tragedy around us.

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Every day it’s these teabaggers complaining about fiscal responsibility and the money that our children and their children will be paying for our actions. I just have one question: where were they when Bill Clinton was paying off the national debt?

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Quote for the day

From New York Magazine’s expose on John Edwards’ 2008 campaign and marital affair disaster.

“John will settle for attorney general,” Hindery e-mailed Daschle.

Daschle shook his head. How desperate is this guy?

“Leo, this isn’t good for John,” Daschle replied. “This is ridiculous. It’s going to be ambassador to Zimbabwe next.”

Read this in context here.

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Award winning war correspondent Michael Yon was detained and handcuffed at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Yesterday by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) personnel.

Yon was returning to the United States from Hong Kong to visit family when TSA officials stopped him during a routine security checkpoint.  “Officials asked me what was in my bag—nothing wrong with this question,” Yon said in an interview with BigGovernment.com.  “I told them it was normal stuff, clothes and toothbrushes.”

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Not a fan of his personality, but I always find Hitchens a great read:

In my boyhood, there were signs on English buses that declared, in bold letters, “No Spitting.” At a tender age, I was able to work out that most people don’t need to be told this, while those who do feel a desire to expectorate on public transport will require more discouragement than a mere sign. But I’d be wasting my time pointing this out to our majestic and sleepless protectors, who now boldly propose to prevent airline passengers from getting out of their seats for the last hour of any flight. Abdulmutallab made his bid in the last hour of his flight, after all. Yes, that ought to do it. It’s also incredibly, nay, almost diabolically clever of our guardians to let it be known what the precise time limit will be. Oh, and by the way, any passenger courageous or resourceful enough to stand up and fight back will also have broken the brave new law.

Why do we fail to detect or defeat the guilty, and why do we do so well at collective punishment of the innocent? The answer to the first question is: Because we can’t—or won’t. The answer to the second question is: Because we can.

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Heard on the radio

Wow. Last night listened to crotchety old man Harold Bloom on npr about the decline of the humanities. Translation: people study books and poetry that he doesn’t like. However, if like me you like literary criticism and you have the stomach for listening to him (he is quite amusing actually) then here is the link.

On to this morning where on npr they featured a story about moving the Guantanamo Bay prisoners to an Illinois prison. How do they begin this interesting feature? By interviewing a woman whose son fought in the Iraq war. After she tells us about the sacrifices her family has made, she says that bringing terrorists to America is like a direct slap in the face to soldiers like her son.

Excuse me? Did someone at npr think that interviewing an intellectually challenged woman about completely unrelated topics would have anything to add to the discussion? In what real world is harboring prisoners a direct slap in the face to soldiers. How is it that this would a slap in the face merely because it’s in America? I just don’t get npr anymore. None of it makes any sense.

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Two short observations

Pat Robertson on NPR speaking about Oral Roberts’ 1987 plea to his supporters that they donate money to his church or God would kill him:

It was unseemly. We all have a mole or a wart somewhere in our lives.

What do you mean it was unseemly? He said God told him that he was going to kill him if he didn’t raise the money. Are you insinuating that Oral Roberts was lying? Is it so common for televangelists to lie that you can use that word unseemly instead?

Second observation of the day.

A new provision being rolled into the unified House health care bill would allow young adults to stay on their parents’ health care plans until they turn 27, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters Tuesday.

I think it says a lot about the state of this country’s health insurance problems that reform involves infantilizing adults in order to get them covered. And how classist is this anyway? This is a big benefit for upper middle class families who sent their kids off to college when their kids have not yet found work that includes benefits. Baristas anyone? What about poor 27 year olds? Chances are their parents don’t have insurance either. What a bunch of crap. Full disclosure: I was on my parents’ insurance until I was 23 years old.

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Here’s a great column from Glenn Greenwald:

Events like this provide an important reminder about how crucial and well-crafted the Constitution is.  Though rarely invoked, the ban on “bills of attainder” is no technical or legalistic right; it’s vital.  Allowing Congress — rather than courts — to pass judgment on parties’ guilt and then punish them for it is to circumvent all of the due process rights guaranteed in a judicial proceeding.  It virtually ensures that, as happened here, guilt will be imposed due to political passions and a lynch mob mentality rather than a careful and fair examination of evidence.  It also leaves weak and unpopular parties far more vulnerable to punishment.  The fact that groups far more powerful than ACORN have actually been found guilty of serious wrongdoing yet have never been de-funded by Congress –particularly defense contractors — illustrates that danger.

The reasons the Founders barred such bills of attainder are perfectly highlighted by the ACORN case.  During the reign of abusive Kings, it was a favorite instrument for enabling unpopular parties to be convicted, punished and deprived without benefit of a trial.  Under the Constitution, parties aren’t supposed to be found guilty of wrongdoing as a result of a Fox-News-led witch hunt joined by cowardly members of Congress.  The recent finding of the Massachusetts Attorney General that ACORN had not committed crimes in connection with the notorious prostitution videos underscores the danger of the state’s assuming someone’s guilt outside of the judicial process.  Congress is especially ill-suited to pass judgment on whether a particular party has violated the law, as they are far more likely to protect the powerful and popular and punish the weak and unpopular (which is one reason, incidentally, why it was wrong for Congress to retroactively immunize rich and powerful telecoms based on the consummately judicial finding that they acted in “good faith” when violating eavesdropping laws).

I highly recommend reading the whole thing.

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It would be a crime to swipe the images, so I’ll just link to RumpRoast here.

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I was reading a blog the other day that used the above title as a sarcastic jab at the Salvation Army in Houston who reportedly was requesting social security numbers to prevent non-citizens from getting toys.

Working in Information Technology, you learn that collecting social security numbers is by far the stupidest thing you could ever do as an organization. The liability of having those numbers is just not worth the minuscule value they may provide, but that’s aside the point.

You may recall the title of this post is a line from Dickens A Christmas Carol. I’m posting an excerpt with this fabulous exchange in the hopes that you may consider the meaning of charity this Christmas season.

The clerk, in letting Scrooge’s nephew out, had let two other people in. They were portly gentlemen, pleasant to behold, and now stood, with their hats off, in Scrooge’s office. They had books and papers in their hands, and bowed to him.    ‘Scrooge and Marley’s, I believe,’ said one of the gentlemen, referring to his list. ‘Have I the pleasure of addressing Mr Scrooge, or Mr Marley?’

‘Mr Marley has been dead these seven years,’ Scrooge replied. ‘He died seven years ago, this very night.’

‘We have no doubt his liberality is well represented by his surviving partner,’ said the gentleman, presenting his credentials.

It certainly was, for they had been two kindred spirits. At the ominous word liberality, Scrooge frowned, and shook his head, and handed the credentials back.

‘At this festive season of the year, Mr Scrooge,’ said the gentleman, taking up a pen, ‘it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.’

‘Are there no prisons?’ asked Scrooge.

‘Plenty of prisons,’ said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.

‘And the Union workhouses.’ demanded Scrooge. ‘Are they still in operation?’

‘They are. Still,’ returned the gentleman,’ I wish I could say they were not.’

‘The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?’ said Scrooge.

‘Both very busy, sir.’

‘Oh. I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,’ said Scrooge. ‘I’m very glad to hear it.’

‘Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude,’ returned the gentleman, ‘a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?’

‘Nothing!’ Scrooge replied.

‘You wish to be anonymous?’

‘I wish to be left alone,’ said Scrooge. ‘Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned-they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there.’

‘Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.’

‘If they would rather die,’ said Scrooge, ‘they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population. Besides-excuse me-I don’t know that.’

‘But you might know it,’ observed the gentleman.

‘It’s not my business,’ Scrooge returned. ‘It’s enough for a man to understand his own business, and not to interfere with other people’s. Mine occupies me constantly. Good afternoon, gentlemen!’

Seeing clearly that it would be useless to pursue their point, the gentlemen withdrew. Scrooge resumed his labours with an improved opinion of himself, and in a more facetious temper than was usual with him.

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Federally backed insurance

You may recall the lovely Dauphin Island from new stories after hurricane Katrina:

Dauphin Island is a barrier island located three miles south of the mouth of Mobile Bay in the Gulf of Mexico. According to the (Town of Dauphin Island) there are approximately 1300 permanent residents. The island is approximately 14 miles long and 1 ¾ miles wide at the widest point. The eastern six miles are inhabited while the western 8 miles are undeveloped and privately owned.

Dauphin frequently suffers damage from hurricanes and “[o]ver 5 million dollars of state and federal aid have been used to build berms on Dauphin Island.”

But what interests me about Dauphin Island these days is this:

Nearly 20,000 communities across the United States and its territories participate in the NFIP by adopting and enforcing floodplain management ordinances to reduce future flood damage. In exchange, the NFIP makes Federally backed flood insurance available to homeowners, renters, and business owners in these communities. Community participation in the NFIP is voluntary. Moreover, flood insurance may designed to provide an alternative to disaster assitance to help reduce costs of repairing damage to buildings.

My emphasis. I didn’t do a lot of research for this post, so it could be that I’m missing something vitally important here, but I think it’s crazy that I live in a country where you can build a house on a 14-mile-wide island in the gulf of Mexico that is right down hurricane alley and the federal government will guarantee your flood insurance so that you can continue to live there without risk, yet the federal government will not help you obtain health insurance if you have no other option.  Your health or rather your ability to live or die is less important than your vacation home. It’s really quite crazy.

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The Implied Observer Returns

A couple of developments in the Implied Observer’s life. Sorry I was AWOL there for a while. I had a rather important job interview at my work. This would be a transfer to another position at my same place of work. For this reason, I have been uber-focused on work and haven’t had a chance to read as much. Yesterday I found out that for all intents and purposes I have gotten the position, although an offer is not yet on the table.

I did have one amusing insight that I wanted to share on the blog. Jake was helping me with interview questions, and he said at his work one of their favorite interview questions to ask prospective employees is for the person to describe their biggest failure. The philosophy at Jake’s work is that if you are good at your job, you will be able to describe a failure because you will be able to recognize what went wrong in a certain instance and what you learned from it. The idea is that all of us make mistakes, but not all of us learn from them. In addition, if you are totally lying about your experience then describing a failure will be nearly impossible. You just won’t have the details to accurately describe a situation like that.

As soon as Jake gave me this wisdom, I immediatly thought of person who would have failed a job interview at Jake’s work.

At a GOP Presidential debate in 2000:

When a local TV reporter asked the candidates what their biggest personal mistake as an adult was, the crowd shouted her down in a tangible display of the hostility many feel toward the media.

Bush, who many assumed the question was aimed at, had a joke ready: noting that when he was managing partner of the “mighty Texas Rangers, I signed off on that wonderful transaction: Sammy Sosa for Harold Baines.”

I think you get it.

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Todd Willingham

Ever since reading the heartbreaking New Yorker article about Todd Willingham’s execution, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about him. I haven’t talked about it, because what can you say? What can say about something so evil as the execution of an innocent man? It challenges our beliefs in a way that isn’t comfortable to think or talk about.

Since I read that article, Governor Rick Perry of Texas has done everything in his power to sabotage an investigation of his conviction and execution. While I can’t transfer my own feelings into words, I feel that John Cole and DougJ at Balloon Juice are really on target.

Pointing out a comment on a Megan McCardle post, DougJ cites the following user comment:

Well Megan, I really don’t see any smoking gun in this case. We know you’re anti death-penalty but this is grasping at straws.

And then says this:

There is no smoking gun that the guy is innocent, so the state was right to execute him.

I totally agree with his sentiment. We’ve come to a point in this country where “innocent until proven guilty” is meaningless. We have guilty until proven innocent. We see that in the indefinite detention of Americans in America, and we see it here in Willingham’s case.

How about this from John Cole:

No, we will not have a serious discussion about the death penalty. In fact, if you want to be exceptionally horrified, check out this Kay Bailey Hutchison statement referencing Rick Perry’s actions:

Cole then quotes Hutchinson:

“As hard as Rick Perry’s office and his campaign may try to divert from the issue, this is not about one man or one case. The issue is Rick Perry’s heavy-handed politicization of a process and Commission established by the legislature to provide critical oversight. First, Rick Perry delayed the formation of the Texas Forensic Science Commission, then he tried to ensure it didn’t have funding and when all else failed, he fired everyone he could. The only thing Rick Perry’s actions have accomplished is giving liberals an argument to discredit the death penalty. Kay Bailey Hutchison is a steadfast supporter of the death penalty, voted to reinstate it when she served in the Texas House and believes we should never do anything to create a cloud of controversy over it with actions that look like a cover-up.

And provides this commentary:

She’s not concerned that an innocent man might have been killed by the state. She’s concerned that evil liberals might get in the way of killing more people.

This is truly a low point for America.

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How do Swedish pop stars live?

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about "Socialism Please Pt 2: Robyn’s Crib", posted with vodpod

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Socialism Please

The wingnuts are crazy about not increasing taxes lest we become socialist, but have they ever wondered how stuff gets done. I happened upon this great site from Seattle Public Utilities. Public indeed:

Help Prevent Flooding and Improve Water Quality

Join over 150 volunteers who are maintaining storm drains, a critical part of our utility infrastructure. During the fall months, a combination of changing weather and falling leaves creates a perfect opportunity for flooding. Unfortunately, our full time drainage crews cannot keep up with the thousands of storm drains that need extra maintenance this time of year. That’s where you come in! Removing dirt, silt and debris from the top of the drain helps prevent flooding and diverts pollutants from streams, creeks and other natural waterways.

Watch a video to learn more about adopting a drain.

God forbid you should actually pay anyone for performing this service. Especially in this economy with all sorts of people being out of work. That would be socialism. America, number one in the GDP, can’t even afford to make sure that the streets don’t flood during winter storms without enlisting the help of volunteers. And if you don’t think this is serious business, tell that to the woman who’s partner was drowned in her basement when a storm drain got clogged.

Meanwhile a dam in Washington is at risk and the Army Corps of Engineers urges homeowners to get flood insurance. I can’t imagine how that conversation will go with the insurance companies. “Hello, yes, I’m told my home is at immenent risk from a flood. Can I have flood insurance.” Click.

Infrastructure is really important. And once again, please monitor that volcano 54 miles from Seattle.

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The Host

Looking for a scary monster movie? I saw The Host several years ago when it came out. It’s tough to make a monster movie without having some funny moments. This movie certainly has them. What I really liked about it was first it’s not-too-subtle knocks at America. The movie uses as its catalyst a real event. From Cineaste:

While the film tells the story of a fictional disaster (thus making his critique less explicit), Bong intended to make references to real-life events. Bong was inspired by an incident that took place in 2000, when a U.S. military employee ordered 480 bottles of formaldehyde to be dumped into the Han River (the man was arrested, given a suspended sentence, and is now back at his original job). Moreover, the media and government mania stirred by the virus in The Host, which proves to be nonexistent, is meant to reference the Iraq WMD fiasco. And the U.S. military’s indiscriminate use of a mysterious toxic chemical called Agent Yellow alludes to the use of Agent Orange in Vietnam.

You might want to click on the above link if you’ve seen the movie. It’s a good interview.

I also liked how the heroes of this movie are members of not-too-savy family. So often we see films with ordinary people becoming extraordinary when called to duty. But what if it was my family being chased by a monster from the Han river? How would we cope? Much in the same way as the characters do in this film.


The Host TrailerThe most amazing home videos are here

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Well, it was easy: What does Glenn Greenwald think? I’ve really appreciated the fact that Greenwald since January has continued to criticize both Obama’s policies and continuation of policies which contradict Obama’s promises during the election. While I agree with Greenwald that there is still time to right the wrongs of the Bush Administration, I too am troubled by how slow we are going about doing so. The column is a must read.

Update: An LOL quote from Jake Tapper:

apparently the standards are more exacting for an ASU honorary degree these days

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Founder Visas

Here’s another interesting article on Slate talking about a proposal to create an immigration classification for entrepreneurs.

He wants the government to create a new immigration class for founders of new firms. Every year, Graham’s “Founder Visa” program would let in 10,000 immigrants who’ve shown a plan for starting a new company. These people would be barred from working at existing companies—in other words, they wouldn’t be “taking American jobs.” Instead, Graham argues, they’d be creating jobs: “If we assume four people per startup, which is probably an overestimate, that’s 2,500 new companies. Each year,” Graham writes. “They wouldn’t all grow as big as Google, but out of 2,500 some would come close.”

I have to admit that the above proposal sounds good. One of the reasons I’m reluctant to embrace immigration reform in general is that usually the reform is focused on increasing the immigration numbers for desirable high-paying jobs. A lot of people assume talks of reform are focused on the undesirable jobs that Americans don’t want; that isn’t the case. It’s about keeping wages artificially lower than they would be in the tech industry and it’s about an assumption that Americans are not as capable of performing high-tech jobs as foreigners.

I have known many a Computer Science graduate in America who have not been able to find work. Is that a problem with our education system in America? I believe it almost certainly is. Again from the article:

Why do American tech firms need so many immigrant employees? Because there aren’t enough native workers to fill the jobs tech companies need. According to the National Science Foundation, about 60 percent of doctorate degrees in engineering at American universities are awarded to foreign students who are in the country on temporary visas (PDF). And foreign workers are responsible for some of the tech world’s signature innovations.

I think it’s an important question to ask why our American schools can only send students that make up only 40% of the doctorate degrees in engineering at American universities. I’m making the assumption that 60% of the foreigners are more qualified than their American counterparts, and I’m asking why that is. Can we acknowledge that our education system may have flaws.

It justs strikes me that if we give up on Americans ever fulfilling the American dream then we do our country a disservice.

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Here’s an article on Slate to completely depress you. I’m so glad we have our freedoms.

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