Please just shoot the "runaway bride"

Posted in Media Watch on May 8, 2005 by Blog Admin

Are there really so few things to report, that the majority of mainstream news outlets, NPR excluded, have spent an inordinate amount of time on <a href="http://www.newsday.com/news/nationworld/nation/all-jennifer0504,0,4085414.column?coll=ny-top-headlines">Jennifer Wilbanks' runaway bride story?</a>  Is it coincidental that this story is about a pretty, middle-class woman?  I was doing my morning workout about a week ago, watching CNN for a bit of distraction, when I first encountered the story of the runaway bride.  Since then I have been sickened by the amount of coverage dedicated to this fluff!  Do we not have anything better to talk about?!  How about some clarifications on the George W's assault on the Social Security System?  This excessive coverage is particularly disheartening in the face of the zero (again other than NPR) of the <a href="http://www.freenewmexican.com/news/11159.html">recent gay-bashing in SantaFe New Mexico</a>.  What kind of &quot;free press&quot; do we have.  Is our press doing its job informing the US citizenry of important social issues?  Does this help explain why after four years of blunder after blunder George W. still got re-elected?

The "no fault" President

Posted in Media Watch on May 1, 2005 by Blog Admin

<p>Back in the day of &quot;The Gipper&quot; we had the Teflon President.  Nothing could stick to ol' Ronnie, mining the harbors of Nicaragua, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran-Contra_Affair">Iran-Contra Affair</a>, sticking it to the little people, nothing.  Now Boy-George goes one better.  He doesn't have to worry about anything sticking to him, when he's never wrong.  Despite so few high-ranking women in the US military, somehow <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A13114-2004May9.html">Brigadier-General Janis Karpinski</a> is found to be culpable for the entire <a href="http://www.antiwar.com/news/?articleid=2444">Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal</a>, with no male superior implicated.  </p><p>The latest incident that W's administration claims no culpability for is the wounding of the Italian journalist,  <font size="2">Giuliana Sgrena, and murder of her body guard, Nicola Calipari.  The &quot;investigation&quot; found no culpability, claiming that Sgrena's car failed to slow down for a checkpoint.  <a href="http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=15&ItemID=7544">According to an interview with Sgrena in Z Magazine</a>, at the time of her shooting she was not at a checkpoint at all, and in fact was on a VIP road, reserved for embassy and US officials.  We need a real investigation into this matter, the abuse in Abu Ghraib, the entire rationale for making a preemptive strike on Iraq, and so many other issues.  Let's hear some straight talk from this administration for once!  Let's see what kind of mensch you are Georgie.  Can you take a hit?</font> </p>

The undiplomatic diplomat, John R. Bolton

Posted in Media Watch on April 24, 2005 by Blog Admin

<font size="2">President Bush's choice to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_R._Bolton">John R. Bolton</a>, should withdraw from consideration.  Given the cowboy diplomacy that George W. has engaged in thus far, we need someone who is more respectful of the institution as our ambassador.  If we had only listened to international wisdom, we would not be in this horrific quagmire in Iraq.  So, rather than learning from our mistakes, we select someone who goes beyond cowboy to bully diplomacy.  Someone who has publicly uttered sentiments of disrespect toward the UN.  Even Republicans realize the damage that this man may perpetrate with his bullying, as illustrated by Ohio's George V. <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_V._Voinovich">Voinovich</a>.  <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/03/29/bolton.ap/">Many former diplomats have expressed their opposition to his nomination due to his unwillingness to consider US arms control  in international security discussions.</a>  Thus, the true Bush agenda is revealed, perpetuating war and enriching his cronies through the defense industry.</font>

Bush's Schiavo Hypocrisy

Posted in Media Watch on April 15, 2005 by Blog Admin

<p><font style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000" color="#ffffff">George W. had proposed </font><a href="http://archive.stateline.org/html/2005/03/20/214_128.html"><font style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000" color="#3399ff">$14 Billion in medicaid cuts</font></a><font style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000" color="#ffffff">, which were fortunately rejected by Congress.  The hypocrisy here is that Terry Schiavo's artifically sustained body was funded by Medicaid.   Can you imagine the cost incurred by tax-payers, if one were to extend the outcome fought for by Terry's parents (and George W.) to all people in persistent vegetative states?   Just as this case has prompted many people to clarify their end-of-life wishes to reject such futile measures, I fear the far-righters are clarifying their wishes to request life sustaining treatment when recovery is impossible.  As we have seen with Terry, we're talking potentially decades of treatment.  Talk about health care crisis!  What an image! Hospitals slowly filling up with vegetative far-righters who are using tax money that they so begrudgingly gave during their more productive years.</font></p><p><font style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000" color="#ffffff">Another hypocrisy is that George W, in his capacity as Texas Governor, signed the <font color="#3399ff">&quot;</font></font><a href="http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/statutes/docs/HS/content/htm/hs.002.00.000166.00.htm"><font style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000" color="#3399ff">Texas Futile Care Law&quot;,</font></a><font style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000" color="#ffffff"> which removes health care in hopeless circumstances independent of family wishes (good move George!).  Sadly enough, this law was applied to an infant recently. </font><a href="http://www.democracyfornewmexico.com/democracy_for_new_mexico/2005/03/repub_hypocrisy.html"><font style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000" color="#3399ff"> Sun Hudson's breathing tube was removed and he died shortly thereafter</font></a><font style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000" color="#ffffff"><font color="#3399ff">.</font>  Why did we not hear the same uproar in this case?  Why did the press not have a field day with this hypocrisy?  It turns out that the infant was African-American, and the perpetrator of the hypocrisy is a Republican.  If Clinton had engaged in anything this hypocritical can you imagine the consequences? </font></p>

Evelyn Fox Keller on Nature vs Nurture

Posted in Women's Voices on April 8, 2005 by Blog Admin

<font size="2"><p><a href="http://web.mit.edu/sts/faculty/info/Keller_Evelyn-css.html">Evelyn Fox Keller</a> delivered a fabulous talk yesterday on the very timely (<a href="http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2005/01/19/summerss_tortured_logic/">thanks in part to Lawrence Summers</a>) question of &quot;Do innate gender differences between men and women influence their respective cognitive abilities?&quot;. &quot;Thank you&quot; to the <a href="http://www.radcliffe.edu/">Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study</a>.</p><p>Evelyn's primary point is that certain traits like cognitive processes are highly complex and most certainly influenced through environment (nurture), like, but not limited to, education. Establishing a definitive connection between innate (genetic) characteristics and complex traits like cognition, where one cannot (yet) clearly characterize the additive nature of environmental forces, is simply not effective science. We do not know enough yet to create an experiment where we can parse out what elements are environmental and which are innate. </p><p>Evelyn gave a number of wonderful clarifying examples and metaphors. I will adapt one of Evelyn's examples here. Let us pick a trait that is far less complicated by environmental forces, like height. My Father grew up during WWII, so due to the malnutrition that he experienced during this time, claims that he did not achieve his height potential. So, even here who can quantify how much of my Father's height is due to his genetic composition and how much is due to environmental (nutrition) factors? </p><p>Finally, the question is why do we feel compelled, given the lack of sufficient scientific criteria, to claim innate differences between men's and women's cognitive potential. Well, this claim has periodically cropped up and been refuted, and the motivation has historically been to create a low-wage labor pool. It is profitable to create a pool of people who feel unworthy of compensation levels that the superior gender, race, nationality, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation receives. Evelyn points out that people attribute political motives to those who critique the &quot;studies&quot; finding innate cognitive differences. Who is really politically motivated here?</p></font>

Evelyn Fox Keller to Speak at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study

Posted in Women's Voices on April 6, 2005 by Blog Admin

<p>One of my hero's of feminism, <a href="http://web.mit.edu/sts/faculty/info/Keller_Evelyn-css.html">Evelyn Fox Keller</a> is giving a talk entitled, &quot;Innate Confusions: Nature, Nurture, and All of That&quot; at the <a href="http://www.radcliffe.edu/">Radcliffe Institute</a> tomorrow at 4:30.   I plan to be there, and will report back on the talk.  I anticipate that Evelyn will provide a solid rebuttal for <a href="http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2005/01/19/summerss_tortured_logic/">Lawrence Summers' recent remarks</a> concerning women's innate difficulty with science and math.  </p><p>Evelyn has written extensively about gender and science and the history and philosophy of biology.  I am currently reading her latest work, &quot;Making Sense of Life, Explaining Biological Development with Models, Metaphors, and Machines&quot;.  My favorite work of Evelyn's is the biography of Barbara McClintock, <a href="http://www.adonispress.org/a_feeling.html">&quot;A Feeling for the Organism&quot;.</a></p>

David Horowitz Backs Off

Posted in Cry-Baby Conservatives on April 1, 2005 by Blog Admin

<p><font style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #333333" color="#ffffff">Checking the </font><a href="http://www.studentsforacademicfreedom.org/"><font style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #333333" color="#0099ff">Students for Academic Freedom</font></a><font style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #333333" color="#ffffff"> website (run by non-student David Horowitz) I notice that it has been changed, so that </font><a href="http://turing.plymouth.edu/~estiller/blog/archives/20050330.html"><font style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #333333" color="#0099ff">my allegations</font></a><font style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #333333" color="#ffffff"> (using political party affiliation of faculty members to indicate classroom bias) are no longer true.  I suppose the overt charges of fascism by me and others rang a little too true.  I suppose David wishes to appear less nutty.  Who wouldn't?  Even the title has been changed from &quot;how to research faculty bias&quot; to </font><a href="http://www.studentsforacademicfreedom.org/essays/research_protocol.html"><font style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #333333" color="#0099ff">&quot;how to research faculty party affiliations</font></a><font style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #333333" color="#ffffff">&quot;, and I can no longer find the link on the main web site.   Less nutty, but why should students wish to research faculty party affiliations?  I fear the goal is the same.  I personally liked the nuttier David better.</font></p><p><font style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #333333" color="#ffffff">This experience emphasizes the impermanence of all electronic media, especially web sites.  When offensiveness is spotted, rather than defending such actions, individuals like David simply change things, and (as my nephew would say about Santa's delivery of Christmas presents) &quot;poof&quot; the culpable words are gone.  I suppose our public critiques are helping edit such pages.</font></p>

Affirmative Action for Conservatives?

Posted in Cry-Baby Conservatives on March 30, 2005 by Blog Admin

<p>(Please note David Horowitz changed his web site shortly after this posting was made)</p><p>Is it me, or is there something particularly hypocritical when those who most vocally oppose affirmative action to help reverse historical (and current) discrimination against racial minorities and women call for affirmative action in political party representation on campuses?  According to David Horowitz''s web site, <a href="http://www.studentsforacademicfreedom.org/">Students for Academic Freedom</a>, one of the primary concerns is that there are too few conservatives on campus.  To further support my contention that the web site overly emphasizes faculty political party affiliation as proof of bias, students are invited to participate in &quot;research&quot; of faculty bias at the link entitled, <a href="http://www.studentsforacademicfreedom.org/essays/research_protocol.html">&quot;How to Research Faculty Bias&quot;.</a>  This link directs students to create a spread sheet of faculty members and their political party from voter registration lists, and to submit these spreadsheets to <a href="mailto:info@sfaf.org">info@sfaf.org</a>.  So, the rabid attack-dog conservatism has progressed to such a level that academics should feel that voting in the democratic party is something that we must defend.   Citizens of the U.S. are proud of their freedom of expression, yet this feels fascist to me!</p><p>One more thing:  The name of the David Horowitz's web site (Students for Academic Freedom) suggests that it is driven by students, when in fact it is not.  The result of this makes David's extensive quoting of himself appear a little less biased (emphasis on little).   </p>

Cry-baby Conservatives on attack in Academia

Posted in Cry-Baby Conservatives on March 26, 2005 by Blog Admin

<p>In the April 4th issue of the Nation Russell Jacoby's article, <em><a href="http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20050404&s=jacoby">The New PC, Crybaby Conservatives</a></em>, discusses the latest assault on free speech by conservative groups.  Conservatives are alleging that campuses are not giving equitable representation to conservative ideas and that conservative students are claiming to be harassed by academics because of their conservative perspectives.   People like David Horowitz are transforming the notion of academic freedom to stifle left and liberal points of view through his organization, <a href="http://www.studentsforacademicfreedom.org/">Students for Academic Freedom</a>.  </p><p>The damage that such movements cause is to encourage students to refuse to participate in various elements of courses such as reading requirements or viewing films.  Based on the experience of my colleagues, students have claimed that certain books or films may offend their religious views, and therefore they should be exempt from such material.  Of course, this will serve to water-down the content of classes if we need to exempt students based on their potentially being offended.  The role of academia is not to be comfortable, but to expand students' horizons.  The process of expanding one's thinking can be uncomfortable, so protecting students in this manner is a severe disservice.</p>

Shame on you Governor and President Bush!

Posted in Media Watch on March 24, 2005 by Blog Admin

I promised myself that I would not contribute to the already excessive discussion of <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terri_Schiavo">Terri Schiavo</a>, but here goes.  Politicizing the despair of the Schiavo family for political purposes is horrible.  That Jeb Bush found a politically motivated neurosurgeon to influence the legal process is a low, Rovian move.  The law is clear in terms of who makes this decision, and Terri's husband did everything possible while there was hope for her recovery.  Keeping Terri alive against her wishes is unlawful, and should stop.  The <a href="http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2005/03/24/supreme_court_rejects_schiavo_parents_appeal/">Supreme Court has rejected the parents' appeal for the second time</a>, so please let her die with dignity.