Archives For: Mar 31 2010 @ 12:00am

The Daily Wrap

Mar 31 2010 @ 11:59pm

Today on the Dish we watched Obama adopt "Drill Baby, Drill!" Follow-up here. In Vatican coverage, Andrew dug up previous praise for Ratzinger but took him to task for his failings. Hitch was a bit harsher. A Kentucky lawsuit took aim at the Church, June Thomas brought up the abused girls, an Italian bishop spewed some bigotry, and Bill Donohue followed suit.

Palin backed Bibi, tried to hide Willow, peeved her "guests," and got some competition in the reality-show arena.

In other coverage, Suzy Khimm noted some strides in ending DADT, Friedersdorf sounded off on gender pay, readers pounced on the "misogynist asshole," and PZ Myers challenged Andrew on Christianity. More Romney commentary here and here. Animal-suicide blogging turned into parasite blogging. Marcotte got a Moore Award. And a real-life Cartman crashed Chatroulette.

– C.B.

Face Of The Day

Mar 31 2010 @ 7:56pm


Ettie Wooldridge studies a butterfly at the Natural History Museum's 'Butterfly Explorers' exhibition in west London, on March 31, 2010. The exhibition features examples of butterflies from all over the world and offers visitors the chance to learn how they live in different climates. By Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images.

Jonah Lehrer argues that home buyers usually underestimate the value of a short commute:

Why is traffic so unpleasant? One reason is that it's a painful ritual we never get used to – the flow of traffic is inherently unpredictable. As a result, we don't habituate to the suffering of rush hour. (Ironically, if traffic was always bad, and not just usually bad, it would be easier to deal with. So the commutes that really kill us are those rare days when the highways are clear.) As the Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert notes, "Driving in traffic is a different kind of hell every day."

I am so lucky to have my ridiculous little bike.

Fined For What?

Mar 31 2010 @ 7:00pm

It's utterly disgusting that an evangelical preacher is fined $1600 for preaching what he believes is the truth about homosexuals on the streets of Glasgow:

Shawn Holes, a US Baptist street preacher from New York State, was fined £1,000 (over $US1,500) for telling passers-by in Glasgow city centre: "Homosexuals are deserving of the wrath of God – and so are all other sinners – and they are going to a place called hell." Mr Holes, aged 47, was on a tour of the UK when he was arrested while preaching in Glasgow's main street.  In court in Glasgow, he admitted breaching the peace on 18 March by "uttering homophobic remarks" that were "aggravated by religious prejudice".

It's enough to make you give Maggie Gallagher a hug. The preacher doesn't even single out homosexuals; every other sinner is going to hell as well. But please note that the leading campaigner of gay rights in Britain, Peter Tatchell, is as appalled by this as I am. I think more gay men and women need to start speaking out more vociferously in defense of religious freedom – especially when it offends and demonizes gays. This is not about them; it's about us: our respect for freedom of speech and conscience.

Quote For The Day IV

Mar 31 2010 @ 6:54pm

"Yes, I know, I've previously defined "philo-Semitism" as anti-Semitism for people who like Jews, but that was a joke, mostly," – Jeffrey Goldberg, mostly.

On Bullying

Mar 31 2010 @ 6:48pm

Emily Bazelon reports on Phoebe Prince, a 15-year-old who hanged herself after months of bullying. Nine classmates have been charged in connection with the suicide. Matt Steinglass reflects on bullying more generally:

I have to confess that I've often taken a skeptical attitude towards the new prominence of anti-bullying campaigns. Kids have always bullied each other, and with little data to suggest the problem is any worse now than it has been in the past, other issues seemed more pressing. But I'm pretty sure my instinctive hesitancy on this point is wrong, for three reasons. The first is simply that research suggests anti-bullying programs in schools work fairly well.

His second and third reasons can be read here.

Pivoting off Lindsey O'Rourke's op-ed, Hanna Rosin wonders:

O’Rourke proposes an interesting theory that many female suicide bombers are in fact operating out of very traditional instincts. They want to restore gender norms that they have somehow violated. They are, she writes, "women who realize they have deviated, intentionally or unintentionally, from the gender behavior norms of their society and may feel pressure to reaffirm a connection to it." They have lost their rightful place by being raped, or divorced, or infertile, or failing to get married, and bombing restores them to a place of honor in their community. Female suicide bombers, for example, tend to be a few years older than their male counterparts, and past marrying age. One failed Palestinian bomber O’Rourke profiles, for example, is 35 and tomboy-ish, maybe even transgendered. When asked what motivated her, she said, "Who would want to marry someone like me?"

Drilling The Coasts, Ctd

Mar 31 2010 @ 5:38pm


Brad Plumer wonders if the move is simply political:

According to the EIA, gas prices are expected to go up quite a bit this summer (probably shooting north of $3/gallon), and the administration may want to step out ahead of the inevitable teeth-gnashing and garment-rending over the issue. So this could be more about the midterms than rounding up votes in the Senate. Though, granted, this drilling announcement won't affect summer gas prices in the slightest.

I don't recall Obama ever railing against this in the campaign, although I might be wrong. I see it not as a mid-term tactic but, once again, as a strategic move to show he is open to ideas from his opponents, while his opponents are rigidly and ideologically opposed to anything he might suggest. It slowly seeps in – among Independents and even among many traditional Republicans – that he is the reasonable guy in the room.

Goodbye to all that, remember? And you do it gradually, undramatically, constantly. Meep, meep.

Punishing Renters, Ctd

Mar 31 2010 @ 5:34pm

A reader writes:

Punishing renters?  I've lost $150,000 in down payment, principal repayment, and improvements on this old house bought six years ago and I'm probably $100,000 underwater. After losing half our income, we spent 10 months calling BofA, faxing BofA, talking to different BofA people and departments weekly, starting repayment plans, stopping repayment plans. Trust me, homeowners have been punished.

The house needs new paint ($7000), new shingles ($10,000), and I think I used Chinese drywall in the bathroom remodel ($??!).  I pay $6,000 in property taxes for a 1,000 sq ft house – five to ten times what my neighbors pay. My credit is ruined, my partnership is stressed, my hair is turning gray, I'm sometimes sleepless, and it feels like there's a boot on my neck. I might lose the first house I ever owned, and my grandmother helped me buy it (probably the reason I fight on). Trust me, homeowners have been punished.

Another writes:

To understand the rationale behind helping home owners avoid foreclosure you have to expand the analogy beyond the two brothers. If one brother loses his house, it doesn't just hurt him — foreclosures drive down real estate prices throughout the area, decrease property tax and other use/excise tax receipts that help fund the renters' schools, roads, and fire/police departments, and drive up the price of credit as banks shift the cost of foreclosures and REOs to their credit card and auto loan customers. While there are certainly good arguments about how much to bail out people who are upside-down on real estate, it's not as simple as renters subsidizing owners.

News From A Parallel Universe, Ctd

Mar 31 2010 @ 5:26pm

A reader writes:

Surely you understand the difference between “balanced” or “middle-of-the-road” news programming and dull and banal news programming, of which CNN is the supreme leader. Leaving aside the other two cable news networks, CNN has terrible problems understanding 21st-century ways of being and knowing, offering the insipid (John King), the blank (Wolf Blitzer), and the vapid (Don Lemon) as, apparently, beacons of “objectivity.” But objectivity is meaningless without directed, forceful, and constant engagement with ideas and their consequences.

These news personalities (sic), alas, come up short. And the attempts to connect with an audience via twitter, instant polls, and viewer-submitted “iReports” are just embarrassing.

As always, The Daily Show gets this right, mocking MSNBC and Fox for their absurd partisan caterwauling and CNN for its inability to find the story or push through the banalities of providing “balance.” Stewart and company (especially Colbert) exposed the empty style of furrowed-brow, “concerned” journalism (think Anderson Cooper) more than a decade ago.
CNN is the network that hides Fareed Zakaria and, for “edge,” gives us Rick Sanchez and Campbell Brown. Oy!