Face Of The Day

Jul 22 2014 @ 7:11pm

Naturalization Ceremony At Metropolitan Museum Of Art

Giselle Fernandez sits with her mother Katy, who is participating in a special naturalization ceremony at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on July 22, 2014. Over fifty people representing countries from Albania to Burundi took part in the morning ceremony at the American Wing of the museum. The Oath of Allegiance was administered by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Deputy Director Lori L. Scialabba. By Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Dating With Mental Illness

Jul 22 2014 @ 6:40pm

Molly Pohlig opens up about seeking a partner while suffering from a “tangle of depression, anxiety, OCD, and borderline personality disorder”:

I am not ashamed of my condition. Or not exactly. I think there is still a lot more stigma than we admit, and every joke someone cracks about being “so OCD” makes it harder to explain that while you all think you’re totally cool with me being obsessive-compulsive, it’s a lot more than lining up pencils and touching the light switch. Men have broken up with me after getting only a glimpse of my worst looming on the horizon, and others have stayed with me through abhorrent behavior because they were afraid of what I might do if they left.

I have no qualms about someone seeing my cellulite, but I am afraid of him seeing my self-inflicted scars; I’m not sure I would trust a person who had caused herself such violence, so why should he trust me? I am getting ready to switch medications, which can be ugly. Can I—should I—invite someone along for the ride? I’ve seen how my illness affects my loved ones, and as much as I long for marriage and children, I often think everyone might be better off if I moved to a secluded fjord in Iceland and just sent postcards.

No Quiet On The ISIS Front

Jul 22 2014 @ 6:13pm

Hanna Kozlowska provides an update on Syria, where as many as 700 people were killed last Thursday and Friday in fighting between ISIS and regime forces – the highest death toll in 48 hours since the start of the war in 2011:

The Shaar gas field in central Syria saw some of the heaviest fighting. It is a crucial gas supply facility for the country’s central region and among the largest in Syria. Islamic State fighters attacked the field Wednesday night — just hours after Bashar al-Assad was sworn in for a third, seven-year term as president — and seized it Thursday, killing 270 government soldiers, guards, and staff. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based NGO, at least 40 militants from the group formerly known as ISIS were killed. Over the weekend the body count grew by 100. More than 170,000 people have died since began in March 2011. And the war created an unprecedented refugee crisis displacing 2.8 million people, including many women and children.

On Monday, Islamic State fighters clashed in Damascus with other anti-Assad rebels who initially embraced the group but now are trying to expel it from the city. They’ve successfully ousted the organization from sections of the capital and its outskirts but the Islamic State’s influence has recently expanded, encompassing an oil-rich area in the eastern Deir Az Zor province. The organization controls much of Syria’s east.

The conflict also continues to have a severe impact on its neighbors. Alice Su takes stock of the ever-heavier burden the Syrian refugee crisis is imposing on Jordan, which is also host to thousands of refugees from Iraq and other war-torn countries:

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Dodd-Frank Turns Four

Jul 22 2014 @ 5:42pm

Suzy Khimm checks in on the impact of Wall Street reform upon Dodd-Frank’s four-year anniversary yesterday:

We’ve eliminated some of the causes of the last crisis, but that doesn’t mean we’ve prevented the next one. The toxic mortgage products that led to the last financial collapse have been all but eliminated from the marketplace. If anything, policy experts and advocates are concerned that federal officials have gone too far in tamping down mortgage risk. But the next crisis isn’t likely to resemble the last one. Faced with increased regulation and scrutiny in one sector, financial institutions will simply turn to other kinds of financial products. A post-recession boom in subprime auto lending and junk-rated corporate debt, for instance, have recently raised concerns that few had anticipated four years ago. Such risky loans will continue unless regulations are implemented and enforced more effectively, said [finance professor Anat] Admati.

Patrick Caldwell blames regulators and Republicans for failures in implementation:

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Warren’s speech last week at Netroots Nation gave it new life. Her fans even created this cringe-inducing hathetic theme song:

But there are few signs that Warren is preparing for a run:

[S]he is not doing behind-the-scenes spadework expected for a White House run. When she headlined the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party’s Humphrey-Mondale Dinner in March, Warren did not take down names and numbers of the people she met. She traveled with only one aide, hitching a ride from the airport from a local party official, said Corey Day, the party’s executive director.

“There was no advance guy making sure the room was exactly right and her water was cold,” Day said. “You didn’t sense an urgency for her to build a political operation. It was just her and her message, all very low-key.”

Weigel understands the game activists are playing:

The Dean campaign lost every major primary. The lesson activists took away: Try something. The media, at least, is going to cover a primary threat more than it covers a sui generis student loan bill. Thus the Warren “presidential campaign,” a masterful branding and messaging exercise.

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Criminally Bad Parenting, Ctd

Jul 22 2014 @ 4:44pm

Douthat takes a deeper look at “the obligations of conservatives, who tend to support measures that encourage single parents to take jobs, to fiercely oppose policies and practices that then punish such parents when they leave their kids unsupervised.” He suggests building on “direct, paycheck-based success rather than trying to build out the existing K-through-12 system,” and warns against looking to Europe for answers:

[T]he more regimented and mandate-thick a society’s child care system, the more likely it is to have unexpected and perverse consequences for parents and families whose lives don’t quite fit the system’s implicit norms — which could mean anyone from high-achieving professional women (who often fare better in the laissez-faire U.S. than under family-friendly socialism) to would-be stay-at-home parents (who get nothing from a government-run child care system, and who can be effectively prodded into the workforce by the taxes required to pay for it).

Which is why it’s a little unfortunate that American liberalism is pressing so hard right now on ideas (universal daycare, mandated family leave) that could just import some of the European system’s problems to our shores.

Ross returns to the practical childcare issues for struggling families within the US:

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Mental Health Break

Jul 22 2014 @ 4:20pm

Breaking the fourth wall:

Looking at you – Movie Montage from Brutzelpretzel on Vimeo.

Lonely Planet

Jul 22 2014 @ 4:00pm

Ethan Chiel recounts the strange story behind the decade-old Internet phenomenon I am lonely will anyone speak to me:

[Ten years ago] an unregistered guest poster using the name “lonely” started a thread on the forums at moviecodec.com, a site usually dedicated to discussing digital video files. The thread was titled “i am lonely will anyone speak to me,” and the first post read:

please will anyone speak to about anything to me …

Ten days after the thread was created, another guest, wetfeet2000, made the first of what of what would be many similar posts:

dude, i typed in “I am lonely” in google, and your post was the very first reposnse. does that make you the most popular lonliest person on the planet ?

Noting that the thread is now nearly 2,200 pages long, Chiel considers its significance:

I’ve never posted in the thread, but I think about some of the posts in it often. Having spent time as the top search result for lonely people seeking help through Google means that it doubles as a public archive of mostly anonymous human loneliness. … There are definitely bad elements in “i am lonely will anyone speak to me,” but I think of it fondly anyway because for a long time it’s struck me as an enduring example of something the Internet is well suited for: an impromptu place where people can say something out loud, and where doing so might help them a little.

Which makes us all a little less lonely.

Some Clarity On Russia And Ukraine

Jul 22 2014 @ 3:37pm

Anne Applebaum has a really sober and accurate description of what has been going on:

A reader adds:

For too long, news reports have spoken of the “Ukrainian rebels” as if the warfare underway in the Donetsk to Luhansk corridor were some sort of bona fide local uprising. It is true that the populace in this zone have pro-Russian sympathies. But the suggestion that they rose up against Kiev is nonsense. Everyone who has looked closely at these operations–starting with a study of the personnel who sprouted up out of nowhere as local “mayors” or “leaders” has come to the same conclusion–this is a very sophisticated covert operation of Russian intelligence, using Russian personnel with clear links to the Russian intelligence services (but covert nevertheless) in all the starring roles, drawing on support from regular Russian military as well as the elite Spetsnaz units, with money, weapons, munitions and logistical support all supplied with a go-ahead from the Kremlin. In other words, Putin really is calling all the shots–including telling the “Ukrainian rebels” to make a show of being independent.

Now, that being established, let us not lose sight of the fact that the United States decided back in the Bush years to rely principally on covert operations for its counterterrorism operations, and Obama fully embraced this.

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Treating Prostitutes Like Children

Jul 22 2014 @ 3:19pm

Elizabeth Nolan Brown sees the Swedes doing so:

Many areas have adopted or are considering what’s known as the “Swedish” or “Nordic Model,” which criminalizes the buying, rather than the selling, of sexual services (because, as the logic goes, purchasing sex is a form of male violence against women, thus only customers should be held accountable). In this nouveau-Victorian view, “sexual slavery” has become “sex trafficking,” and it’s common to see media referring to brothel owners, pimps, and madams as “sex traffickers” even when those working for them do so willingly.

The Swedish model (also adopted by Iceland and Norway and under consideration in France, Canada and the UK) may seem like a step in the right direction—a progressive step, a feminist step. But it’s not.

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