Sunday, February 28, 2010

NPR uncovers the failure universities to offer rape victims justice and protection

As I drove home Friday, NPR reported on the horrific inability of American universities to deal with sexual assaults on campus.
Margaux's story is fairly typical for the many women who are sexually assaulted on college campuses. And what's also common is the failure of even the best-intentioned colleges and universities to investigate a criminal matter like rape — and then punish it.

NPR's investigative team collaborated with journalists at the Center for Public Integrity to examine why colleges and universities fail to protect women from assault. The investigation found that even when a man has been found responsible for a sexual assault, he's rarely expelled. And women haven't been able to count on help from the government oversight agency, either.

Even worse, in Margaux's case there seems to be plenty of evidence (the rapist confessed in a school hearing!) but the police refuse to prosecute. This had me literally shouting at my radio. Why is there a special campus process for dealing with students raping students? Surely this is not the case for homicide or grand larceny? The punishment for a rapist shouldn't be expulsion, as this story suggests, but jail.

Femonomics reads: Gail Evans' "Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman"

I recently picked up Gail Evans' 2000 business playbook for girls, Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman: What Men Know About Success that Women Need to Learn. Unlike many business books, it is actually a quick read, so major props to Evans for that. Too many business reads are 250-page books that should have been a 10-page essay.

Evans has had a very successful career, having served as EVP at CNN, taught B-school classes at Emory, and written a New York Times bestseller. Although retired, she still offers speaking engagements, and has been booked by such multinationals as Coca-Cola, JPMorgan Chase, Microsoft, and Johnson & Johnson. She has a lot to offer any career woman (or man), and much of her advice in the book is solid.

So, the book is a good read, especially for those that have serious inter-personal issues at work, but like most such books, it should be taken with a grain of salt. The hook for this book is not Evans' qualifications, but rather the gendered nature of her advice, and it's not all good.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

NYTimes: Anti-choice movement trying to racialize aboriton debate

Yesterday's New York Times contained an article about how a Georgia anti-choice group is trying to bring more African-Americans into their fold:
For years the largely white staff of Georgia Right to Life, the state’s largest anti-abortion group, tried to tackle the disproportionately high number of black women who undergo abortions. But, staff members said, they found it difficult to make inroads with black audiences.

So in 2009, the group took money that it normally used for advertising a pregnancy hot line and hired a black woman, Catherine Davis, to be its minority outreach coordinator.
Ms. Davis traveled to black churches and colleges around the state, delivering the message that abortion is the primary tool in a decades-old conspiracy to kill off blacks. 

For some people, it will always be the 1950s: The IOC's sexist behavior

As DRDR pointed out in the comments, the Olympic Committee's actions have been raising a few eyebrows, notably for their insensitive blaming of "athlete error" for a Georgian Luge athlete's death.  As the sane world quickly pointed out, athletes frequently make errors, and almost never pay with their lives.  Usually death occurs when athletes' natural human fallibility combines with unsafe conditions.

On top of that, DRDR mentions some blatantly sexist behavior on the part of the committee.  They have refused to allow women's ski jumping to become an Olympic sport, despite a woman holding the world record (among either men or women) at the Whistler jump.  From Time magazine:
In 2005, Gian Franco Kasper, FIS president and a member of the IOC, said that he didn't think women should ski jump because the sport "seems not to be appropriate for ladies from a medical point of view."

Red carpet wrap-up: Stars look glam at NAACP Image Awards

The Image awards were held last night, and I must say the stars really outdid themselves.  There were numerous simple and lovely dresses in saturated jewel tones, with blessedly few overdone feathered and bedazzled frocks favored by so many red carpet regulars.

CNN and Jezebel have pics of the purdy frocks, and BVonstyle has a nice red-carpet rundown..  (Where is the coverage from other sites you ask?  I ask, too, but will give them till Monday before I start accusing.)

Update: TLo picked up the slack.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Whacky 2010 Olympic Winter Games? Blame Canada!

I have never really been too enthusiastic about the Olympic winter games. I like the ice skating, but never really understood why someone would want to race down a snowy mountain at the speed of light or hurl themselves off a ramp to tumble through the air at dangerous heights. It has always seemed more like daredevil stuff more than sport to me, but these 2010 games have had my attention like no other. The only explanation I can come up with for the controversy, drama and excitement is Canada, so I blame them. Here are some of my personal favorite highlights, some whacky, some awesome.

Recipe Fridays: Easy four-ingredient stuffed mushrooms

These are an easy and fast hors d'oeuvre that always go over well.

2 8oz boxes largish button mushrooms or baby portabellas, if you want to get fancy
1 4 oz package goat cheese
Balsamic vinegar
Fresh or dried rosemary
    (You need salt and pepper, too, but I didn't count it as an ingredient)

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees
    Clean mushrooms by either brushing with mushroom brush or wiping with dry paper towel.  Remove mushroom stems by breaking--they should "pop" out.  Scoop out remaining stem pieces.  Discard stems.  Arrange mushroom caps on cookie sheet with edge--these leak.  Crumble dried rosemary or tear or chop fresh.  Sprinkle a couple bits of rosemary in the bottom of each mushroom cap.  Pour a little balsamic vinegar (about 1/2 teaspoon, but vary by size of mushroom) into each mushroom cap.  Open goat cheese package, and, using butter knife or spoon, divide goat cheese between mushrooms, "stuffing" it in to fill each cap.  Sprinkle with pepper and a tiny bit of salt.  Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes, until caps have softened and top of cheese is lightly browned in places (you may want to broil for a few minutes).  Allow to cool and serve.

    Recipe Fridays: Beef Bourguignon

    Cold outside? Mounds and mounds of snow on the ground with still more falling? Need to warm up? I thought so. Now is the perfect time to make a warm, satisfying, hearty meal to chase the chills away. Since being featured so heavily this summer in the movie Julie & Julia (the stars of that movie? Meryl and the food!), this meat dish has made a comeback. But as much as everyone loves Julia Child, several of my coworkers have slaved through--and raved about--Ina Garten's Beef Bourguingnon recipe this winter. It's on my to-cook list--and I have a feeling it will be one of my go-to recipes. Enjoy!

    Femonomics reads the internet so you don't have to: Chemicals and autism, David Patterson, wrongly accused, and more

    Nicholas Kristof has an interesting piece today on the possible chemical roots of autism. It's interesting to see the broad environmental factors theory go mainstream at the same time as the vaccine hypothesis has been discredited, and time magazine is implying Jenny McCarthy is a little nuts. Also in the NYTimes, the internet may help boost TV ratings (as opposed to pirating music, which still doesn't increase record sales), and naps are nice.

    And in other New York news, the dirt on David Paterson really is that bad this time. Apparently his administration tried to intimidate a woman pressing domestic violence charges against a staffer? Including a personal call from the governor. Gawker thinks the end is near.

    Speaking of domestic violence, does anyone else wish Chris Brown would shut the eff up? No, Chris, beating someone to a bloody pulp is not a "hiccup," and we don't all know you're a "good person" underneath. Also, we don't want to talk about your music. We want to talk about why you're not in jail.

    EW's Owen Gleiberman has a blurb on Johnny Depp taking up the case of three (possibly wrongly) convicted killers. I hate miscarriages of justice in any form, but, much like John Grisham's Innocent Man, I'm troubled that the only time we can get riled up around shoddy legal work are in the (very few) instances where the accused are white. That's not to say this case needs any less attention, but believe me, there are plenty of cases of black men imprisoned or on death row for crimes they did not commit. Do we not find them as photogenic?

    In other totally random news, two really cool tools that let you see changing demographics in interesting ways. This generational look from Pew, and a real-time update from worldometers (are they trying to go political with the abortion stats, though?). And I know it's only the wee hours of recipe Friday, but I was browsing the food blogs today, and came across these two neat-o things: 1) vegetarian Greek recipes for Greek Orthodox fasting and 2) a yummy looking pull-apart bread shaped like grapes.

    [hat tips BB and ebert]

    Thursday, February 25, 2010

    Should teachers be more like doctors?

    The New York Times recently featured an article about New York City's struggles to get rid of bad teachers. Despite a two-year effort by the city, only three teachers have been fired, while teachers whose cases are being decided sit in empty rooms and receive full-pay because of their union contracts. This article has spurred an interesting online discussion by education policy experts, teachers, and analysts. The difficulty in all of this lies in the fact that while we might all agree that we should have "effective" teachers, it is both hard to define what effectiveness means and hard to measure it objectively. Further, since teachers have low salaries (relative to most other professions that require a college degree), it is understandable that they might want strong union protection to at least have job security as a benefit. This got me thinking... should we maybe treat our teachers like we treat our doctors?

    Life skills: How to take reasonably good care of your skin

    One of the women who writes for this blog used to wash her face with deodorant soap.  When I saw her a few months ago, she told me I'd be so proud of her--she'd switched to body wash and a loofa!  I stared at her open mouthed and said, "On your face?!"  She was a case of under-maintenance.  The much more common issue I run into is over-maintenance--the ladies with 42 products lined up in their medicine cabinet, containing everything from salicylic acid to royal bee jelly.  The truth is, most people have no idea what to do with their skin.  We have no idea, because commercials are constantly telling us that we need this product to make it brighter, this product to make it softer, this to keep it from wrinkling, this to dry it out, this to make it moist, this to keep it from breaking out, and this to cover it up when it does break out.  Not surprisingly, in response to all this abuse, our skin freaks out.  And we, sighting those ugly pimples and flaking and shine, freak out with it.  It's time to stop the madness.  Below are some tips to take care of your skin like an old friend, not a misbehaving puppy.

    Wednesday, February 24, 2010

    Trail of Dreams: Undocumented students march from Miami to DC for immigration reform

    I am really impressed by the four students who started the Trail of Dreams march, headed from Miami to Washington to promote legislation offering undocumented high school students who wish to pursue college or military service a path to citizenship. The group is blogging, tweeting, and attracting all kinds of press along the way. They'll be in Atlanta this weekend, and I hope to be able to meet them.

    Along the way, they've met the KKK. Seriously, I didn't realize the KKK still exists, but Nahunta has more than 200 active members! Way to fail Georgia.

    Femangry! Utah considers bill that could charge woman with homicide if she miscarries

    Jezebel is reporting that the Utah legislature has passed a bill allowing women to be charged with homicide if they engage in an "intentional, knowing, or reckless act" leading to a the illegal termination of a pregnancy.  As the Salt Lake Tribune reports, the bill was intended to allow prosecution of mothers who seek out an illegal abortion, for example by having someone beat them to produce a miscarriage, as one woman allegedly did.  But it opens up a whole host of potentially troubling legal implications for women who, for example, fail to hold the hand rail while walking down the stairs and slip, decide to ride a motorcycle while pregnant, go jogging, don't wear a seatbelt, take contraindicated medications--the list goes on.  The point is that a woman's body needs to remain her own, to use as she wishes, whether pregnant or not.  If it isn't, women are vessels, not citizens.  And equality will never be possible.

    Tuesday, February 23, 2010

    Obama Takes Reigns on Health Care (Sigh of Relief)

    Here he comes to save the day....In preparation for the showdown with the GOP Thursday, President Obama finally did what I know I’ve been waiting on for so long now—he showed us his hand and defined “Obamacare” for the people. I can’t believe it had to come to this. We are down to the wire. I mean, I was panicking. It seemed to me like health care reform was dead. All signs pointed to failure: President Obama barely mentioned it in the State of the Union, the Dems lost the supermajority to Scott Brown, other Dems dropped out like flies..I just didn’t know if it could be done. But The President’s Proposal sends a big signal that we are not giving up on change, reform, and maybe even a bipartisan effort. Read on for a breakdown of the what I found to be the highlights of the President's Proposal and how they compare to the House and Senate bills. President Obama and company seem to have built a bridge between the House and Senate efforts and even added some stronger provisions to ensure accountability of insurance companies and protect consumers from some of their most ridiculous policies.

    Apple bans "sexy," reveals self to be old fuddy-duddy after all

    Apple has recently started cracking down on sexxy aps in its app store, removing the apps without notice and banning new ones from being added.  These are apps that do such nefarious things as allow you to do a jigsaw puzzle with a picture of a woman in lingerie or make a woman's body parts "wobble" in a photograph.  Lordy, how shall we protect our children?  Oh, that's right, the iPhone also lets you do something else--access the internet.  Apple's spokesperson responded to the NYTimes saying:
    “It came to the point where we were getting customer complaints from women who found the content getting too degrading and objectionable, as well as parents who were upset with what their kids were able to see."
    I just don't see how the solution to that is to ban neat-o things that consenting adults can do with their phone.  What next, can I not even  turn it into a vibrator?  I'm sure there was some intermediate solution, such as creating a filter for people who wanted to see non-sexxy apps only, or a child safe mode (which, by the way, already exists, and could have been strengthened).  Apparently this has something to do with Apple trying to position the iPad (snicker) for use in the classroom, but let me once again point to the elephant in the room: the internet.  In order for these devices to be used in the classroom, teacher monitoring is going to be needed.  Banning wobble just won't get the job done.

    Moreover, I think this just speaks to the capriciousness and hypocrisy with which Apple has guarded content available on the app store.  If there's too much "clutter," as Apple has claimed, then come up with a great filtering system that allows users to see the best content available.  Don't arbitrarily play bouncer and only let your friends in.  Tech Crunch has a nice takedown.
    [Hat tip BB]

    Monday, February 22, 2010

    Feministing writer takes to the WaPo op-eds to declare equality an illusion--what do you think?

    The founder of feministing, Jessica Valenti, writes in the Washington Post that women are deluding ourselves into thinking we have more equality than we do.  She writes:
    We're suffering under the mass delusion that women in America have achieved equality. ...We're basking in a "girl power" moment that doesn't exist -- it's a mirage of equality that we've been duped into believing is the real thing.
    Because despite the indisputable gains over the years, women are still being raped, trafficked, violated and discriminated against -- not just in the rest of the world, but here in the United States. And though feminists continue to fight gender injustices, most people seem to think that outside of a few lingering battles, the work of the women's movement is done.

    Sunday, February 21, 2010

    Femonomics reads the internet so you don't have to: Roger Ebert is my hero, lady-business problems suck, MeMe Roth is crazy, and more!

    Roger Ebert, after cancer surgery took away his ability to speak, has been leading an increasingly interesting online life--running a blog, twittering like mad, and genuinely engaging with his commenters and followers.  You can read his incredible story--both heartbreaking and inspiring--here.  And, some mad praise for the author that wrote it.
    Anna over at Jezebel wrote a nice little rant about how difficult it is to get treatment for a basic yeast infection or UTI.  In it, she makes an incredibly important point about the paternalistic approach to women's health care:
    Ultimately, I think the way American medicine handles common gynecological ailments says a lot about its view of women: that we can't be trusted to take care of ourselves, and that we need someone to watch out for us.
    That's why we have to get a Pap smear before we can get birth control pills, even though they're basically unrelated. Because we won't get the proper medical tests unless they dangle a carrot in front of us — the carrot of not getting pregnant.
    I, too, have been infuriated by the ludicrousness of "packaged" women's health care, especially when I know the only thing my doctor needs to know before prescribing birth control is my blood pressure and my family's stroke history.  Imagine if men were required to get a testicle exam before being prescribed blood pressure medication!

    Feel good story of the day: Whale population rebounding in the Pacific Northwest

    Here's a story that will get your week off to good start: the orca population off the coast of Washington appears to be rebounding. Did you know that female killer whales can live into their eighties or nineties? Here's a BBC video on Shamu, arguably the most famous orca.

    Saturday, February 20, 2010

    Women can't be men: Social expectations and salary negotiations

    Earlier at Femonomics, we discussed the pressure for women to behave like men to be successful, and why this won't work. The Harvard Business Review brings us more evidence for why this is an unsuccessful strategy, especially when negotiating salary. It turns out women are in a classic catch-22 when it comes to negotiating compensation.
    Although it may well be true that women often hurt themselves by not trying to negotiate, this study found that both men and women were more likely to subtly penalize women who did ask for more, the perception being that women who asked were "less nice."
    Women cannot succeed simply by changing their behavior if the true criteria for success is others' perception of that behavior. The original study can be found here.

    Friday, February 19, 2010

    Recipe Fridays: Cream of red pepper soup, garlic green beans, and smashed red potatoes

    These are three great vegan recipes that can make a tapas-style meal when served together, or can be used separately to accompany a different main course.

    Tiger Woods Is Sorry Y’all. Elin Woods Says Prove It. I’m Incredulous.

    Tiger Woods read an 11 minute heartfelt and at times angry and chastising apology to the world this morning. I’m a little over this whole mess. I can’t imagine what this man was thinking as he was cheating with more than a dozen women. Don’t we all know by now that TMZ, The National Enquirer, or real news is relentless until they expose you for the lying, cheating jackass you are?!!! In my opinion, the statement was worthless. He admitted to feeling a sense of entitlement because of his success and riches. He claims that his straying away from the Buddhist teachings his mother instilled in him since he was a child led to his engorged sense of ego, selfishness, and eventual fall. He apologized to the fans and the kids that considered him a role model. All of which would have seemed more sincere if he hadn’t had to pause and look down at his script so often, but I guess with such a long list to make amends for, it really couldn’t and shouldn’t have been an off the cuff statement.

    Thursday, February 18, 2010

    The Buried Life: Doing Good Everyday

    It’s that time of year when facebook statuses and twitter feeds and conversations are populated with what people are giving up for Lent. Although I am not a religious person, I think the idea to focus on being a better person is invaluable (why it only happens once a year and not year round is another matter). And, lately, I have been inspired to give back and help others not because of whatever religious season it is, but because of a reality TV show (go figure!): The Buried Life.

    It’s not a sweeping guilty pleasure phenomenon like fellow MTV show The Jersey Shore; it’s not the highest watched show on television like American Idol; it’s not even Tuesday morning water cooler fodder like The Bachelor. It’s an underappreciated show about not only crossing things off your own bucket list, but also helping others do the same on theirs. In a culture where people push themselves to be the best at everything and focus their efforts, time, and money on themselves, this show is a throwback to the basic teachings everyone is ingrained with in kindergarten: share and help one another.

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010

    Women and politics: Still the old boys club

    This week being Presidents' Day, I have been reflecting on women in high places (in the US). Let's run the numbers:

    Current - 0/1 Historical - 0/43
    Current - o/1 Historical - 0/46
    Supreme court justices:
    Current - 2/9 Historical - 3/111
    Current - 17/100 Historical - 38/>2000
    Current - 75/435 Historical - 229/(who knows?)
    Current - 6/50 Historical - 32/(?)

    You've come a long way baby? There's still quite a ways to go.

    Source for numbers: Wikipedia, Google, Observational data

    Designer on the Cheap

    As fashion week forges ahead, you may dream of a day you can afford those designer digs you see on the runways. Fear not, there is a plethora of discount websites you can get last seasons must haves at a fraction of the price. Below are a few of my favs, which cover every price point. They are all members only, and some require either joining a waiting list for membership, or getting an invite from a friend. When you're in though, pass on to your entire address book, because when a friend joins and places an order, you get a credit, depending on the site, anywhere from $10 to $30. 
    There are hundreds of these sites out there, post ones you know and love in comments. I've listed just a sampling of the ones I browse on a regular basis.
    Happy Shopping! (Gilt, giltfuse, giltman and jetsetter)
    $$$-$$$$High end luxury brands. womenswear, menswear, accessories, cosmetics, vacations/ hotels, wine etc
    $$ mid tier designer womenswear, menswear, childrenswear, accessories, cosmetics, hotel deals, wine etc
    $$ mid tier designer apparel, accessories, home-goods etc
    $$-$$$ mid tier to high end designer apparel, accessories, home-goods etc
    $ department store name brand womenswear, menswear, childrenswear, accessories, home-goods, luggage etc
    $ department store name brand womenswear, menswear, childrenswear, accessories, home-goods, luggage etc

    Femonomics reads the internet so you don't have to: Kevin Smith vs. Southwest, Sarah Palin vs. Family Guy, and Fashion Week vs. the Recession

    Two epic feuds and one made up one.  Read on.

    Kevin Smith vs. Southwest
    As you've probably heard by now, Kevin Smith was ejected from a Southwest flight when the captain decided he was too fat to fly safely.  Southwest has a longstanding "customers of size" policy, which dictates that passengers that cannot sit within the armrests of a seat must purchase an additional seat prior to travel.  The cost of the seat is refunded if there are extra seats on the flight.  The policy doesn't seem all that crazy, and is something many other airlines have recently adapted.  What's ludicrous is the capriciousness and insensitivity with which it is enforced.  Smith was ejected after he was seated on the flight, his carry-on was stowed, a desk agent had approved him flying with only one seat, and he had demonstrated he could sit completely within his seat, with both armrests down.  Smith's plight brought light to the issue, but reading the comments on Southwest's blog post revealed other customers with similar experiences, who had been ejected from flights in front of their peers or otherwise treated with insensitivity.

    National Children's Study: An Investigation of What Makes Our Children Sick

    The National Children's Study is attempting to determine how genetics and environmental toxins play a role in the health of our children.

    Tuesday, February 16, 2010

    Has airport security gone too far? And is it making us safer?

    Gawker today reported that a TSA agent forced a disabled boy to remove his leg braces and walk through the metal detector without them, on his way to Disney Land for his fourth birthday.  The TSA has since apologized, saying the agents behavior was against protocol, and the boy should have been given special screening.  But this just makes me ask, is airport security really making us any safer?  Or just more angry?  I want effective airport security measures, and lots of them.  But I just wonder if these are the right ones, especially since they're becoming increasingly burdensome on travellers.  I hate having to pack all my cosmetics in a little plastic bag, hate having to think about what gifts I can accept or bring while visiting someplace (my Grandpa once bought me a bottle of vodka that ended up costing me $25 to check), hate having to strip down to go through the metal detector.

    The restrictions on carry-on items are especially burdensome now that most airlines are charging for any checked bags, thus forcing customers to choose between their shampoo and their wallet.  I don't have any leg braces that set off metal detectors, but I have had the humiliating experience of TSA agents asking me to take off a sweatshirt or sweater that, while it may have a zipper or buttons on it, is in fact an integral part of my clothing. 

    Why I heart Bust magazine

    Bust magazine is not your average women's magazine.  It's a feminist magazine, unapologetically.  It features discussions of current events, reviews of feminist or women-centered books and movies, and interviews with prominent female figures, frequently celebrities.  But it also has a crunchy, DIY element that I love, even though I rarely take part in its suggestions to make a handbag out of an old cassette, or cross-stich a scarf for my loved one.  The recipes, on the other hand, I frequently employ.  In addition to these features, Bust includes all the standard elements of a women's fashion magazine, with feminist tweaks.

    Fashion: Instead of page after page of editorials with rail thin models, and ads for clothes we can't afford, Bust hand-picks quirky, lovely, affordable clothing to be modeled by real-looking women.  That's right, the biggest progression from other pseudo girl-power mags like Glamour and Jane is that Bust actually walks the talk and features real-sized models in their editorials.  All the women are beautiful, but all of them look like a pretty woman you would see on the subway, not an unreal ideal.

    Monday, February 15, 2010

    Decorum: Stay Classy This Snowpocalypse

    Last week’s snowpocalypse produced snow in Alabama, Dallas, record snowfall in Washington, and practically paralyzed the airline industry. As a child growing up in the South, the fluffy white stuff used to provoke images of magic and cheer (even the threat of snow can trigger premature calls of snow days), but has now become a menace and a hassle. Olympic curling may make slipping and sliding on the ice look fun, but arriving at your destination with cold, wet feet pretty much sucks. My snow woes list could go as high as the 4 foot piles along DC streets, but despite all this misery let’s be patient and classy while we thaw. As we are expecting more snow, here are some tips on how to mind your p’s and q’s and get through snowpocalypse with grace and poise:

    Sunday, February 14, 2010

    Madonna's Malawi Girls' School: Is this how we help?

    The BBC reported Friday that the 200+ villagers in Malawi set to be displaced by Madonna's new school have ended their protest and agreed to move.  Madonna's planned Raising Malawi Academy for Girls can now move forward.

    Look, I'm all for empowering women in developing countries through education, but something about this whole thing strikes me as icky.  Madonna thinks what they really need on that land is a school; the people that live there think that what they need is to, well, live there.  Madonna has the money, so she gets to make the call.  But if she's doing this in the name in the name of philanthropy, shouldn't the preferences of the local people come first?  Couldn't she have negotiated with village leaders to find the most appropriate site for the school, that would displace the fewest people?  To me, this feels like vanity aid, which is the last thing developing countries need.

    Madonna's money might have been better spent on a preexisting educational charity with local connections, but then she might have gotten less of a reputation boost, I suppose.

    [Hat tip to the Msungu Malawian]

    Saturday, February 13, 2010

    A Different Kind of Safe Sex

    Valentine’s Day is approaching, so I thought I’d take the time to provide some serious information of ways you can practice safe sex both with the one you love or flying solo.

    Click through for information on safe choices in sex toys.

    Friday, February 12, 2010

    Femonomics reads the internet so you don't have to: Woman's last stand, fashion week, sorority rules, olympics, and wacky science

    Remember that obnoxious Dodge Charger ad from the superbowl about man's last stand?   Well, the women are fighting back in a hilarious new video, pointing out that when it comes to relationship obligations, men don't really seem to be sooooo beleaguered.  Sample man pledge: "I will separate the recycling."  Woman's pledge: "I will make 75 cents for every dollar you make."

    Iiiiit's fashion week!  Check out the collections at NYMag or  I'm a huge Project Runway fan, and the finalists showed today.  Only there are still a crapload of contestants left on the show, so to avoid giving away the ending (or having designer-less collections like last season), the whole bunch of them showed.  Personally, I was in love with Anthony's collection.  He's not all personality after all.  And everyone's favorite pint-size Project Runway alum, Christian Siriano, showed another strong collection.  Runway's track record for launching real careers has ANTM beat 1:0.

    A Cornell sorority's dress code has leaked, and ladies, it's not good.  Sample quote: "Blush is not optional."  But what's even more hilarious (horrifying?) is how the Cornell press office is responding to the kerfuffle: “If you read them carefully, they are suggestions on how to dress. It’s suggestion and direction. Obviously, if somebody tells me I have to wear a black tie to an event I don’t necessarily have to.” What if they tell you not to have a muffin top?  Or a watch that tells time?

    The winter olympics are starting, and I personally can't wait until the figure skating!  The games started on a sad note, though, with the death of a luge athlete from Georgia on a training run.  Gawker has highlights from the opening ceremony.

    Wacky research going on all the time (as discussed in my earlier post on economists outside their depths), I tell you.  This study found that women were more racist during the most fertile times in their menstrual cycles (may be adaptive to protect against sexual coercion from outside groups).  Elsewhere, Chris Blattman discusses a study finding that higher rates of polygamy is connected to lower HIV infections, even after controlling for circumcision.

    [Hat tips ding, Woodstock]

    Recipe Fridays: Black bean chili with arugula "Waldorf" salad

    These are two vegetarian recipes from my mom.  I haven't tried them yet, but she promises they're both delicious, and hard to mess up!  The chili has a lot of steps, but no fancy techniques--you just keep adding things to a big pot.  The cooking time is about 1 1/2 hours, so start it 2 hours before company arrives!

    Black bean veggie chili
    (to feed a small army, or freeze for another time.  You may want to halve this)

    Heat 3 T olive oil in large pot

    1 large onion chopped
    3 garlic cloves minced
    and saute until soft

    Recipe Fridays: Spaghetti and Meatballs

    With Valentine's Day just around the corner (and, no, I don't think it is a real holiday) I always think of the spaghetti scene from Lady and the Tramp. I think after seeing that we've all wanted a little spaghetti romance. So why not whip up an Italian feast this weekend? Whether you're cooking for one (you'll have lots of leftovers to share or take to work) or cooking for more than one (whoever eats this will love you), Tyler Florence's version of spaghetti and meatballs is perfecto! Not only is it easy to make, but it is totally scrumptious. Mmm, thank goodness for the Food Network.

    Thursday, February 11, 2010

    "Long Live McQueen"

    Today news broke on the death of Alexander McQueen. He was an innovative and brilliant designer and creator of some of the most beautiful wearable art. Not a season goes by that I am not coveting his newest creation. He is my own personal idol and I will be mourning this loss.

    While I could gush about the brilliance of his work and discuss the supposed circumstances around his death, I think I will just leave it to the journalists. See links below for a sampling of already published articles and tributes:


    Economist? Statistician? Epidemiologist? Why modern Economics' branching out is starting to make me nervous

    Economists may think we have the biggest shovels, but does that mean we can build the best castles?

    When I first read Freakonomics, I was captivated.  I was an undergraduate economics major who already delighted in describing things to my family in terms of "opportunity cost," "marginal utility," and "widgets."  I was enthralled with the idea of applying economic concepts and techniques to puzzles that had nothing to do with firms, finance, or fiscal policy.  This, I realized, was what I wanted to do with my life: a) apply the study of incentives and game theory from economics to households, businesses, and individuals in the real world; b) use econometric techniques to understand questions in development and policy.  It was only later, after furthering my study of economics, and reading and critiquing countless articles doing similar things, that I realized the difference between statements a and b.  Economics is fundamentally about understanding scarcity, incentives, decisions, and tradeoffs.  Econometrics has become a useful technique for studying how these forces have played out in the real world.  Econometrics is a tool.  Economics is a science.  Yes, the tools of econometrics can be applied in many different settings.  The question is, do economists have a competitive advantage in doing so?

    Wednesday, February 10, 2010

    Forget settling, Lori Gottlieb's fat shaming is horrendous, sickening

    If you read the comments in duchess's Lori Gottlieb counterpoint, you're no doubt aware that the author of the newest self help fad is no stranger to penning controversial work, including an essay titled "Fat Like Him," which purports to be about the experience of dating someone that fails the "checklist," but is really about Gottlieb's fat phobia, narcissism, bigotry, and neurosis.

    Yes, the writing is witty, and she taps into some real features of human relationships, but hearing her describe a real person the way she describes her ex "Tim" just makes me sick to my stomach (and not because he's fat, which is the source of her nausea).  Moreover, her treatment of him is patently abusive (refusing to introduce him to her friends, not wanting to be seen touching him in public, constantly criticizing his weight and what he eats).  You can hear Tim's own take on the situation, and Gottlieb's mental state, over at Jezebel.

    Gottlieb is a former anorexic, and it seems clear in her essay that she still exhibits the psychological symptoms of the disorder, if not the physical ones.  She is disgusted by fat, by fat people, by what type of person someone must be to get fat.  The essay is one big exercise in fat shaming and bigotry, playing up every stereotype and misconception about obesity, from fat people smell bad to they snore to they can't be good writers.  On top of this, Gottlieb takes every chance she can to describe herself as "tiny," "100 pounds," or 1/3 of Tim's weight, in case we didn't understand how skinny she is, and how therefore morally superior.

    If you are considering taking anything Gottlieb has to say about relationships seriously, I encourage you to go skim her essay.  Don't put yourself through the same punishment I did and read the whole thing, but just read enough to get a taste of the ugliness.  Then, look at yourself in the mirror and say "I am a beautiful, amazing woman who is perfectly capable of making my own decisions about relationships and does not need the advice of someone as hateful, glib, and distinctly unqualified as Lori Gottlieb."

    After reading the essay, I had the same reaction Tim (eventually) had to her insanity--I went to the kitchen and found something to eat.  Something to prove my ability to put my physical appearance in appropriate balance with other things I enjoy, to celebrate food as a life source and pleasure rather than a fidelity test, to show Gottlieb that putting butter (of all things!) on your bread does not make you a deviant.  Something delicious.

    Tuesday, February 9, 2010

    Counterpoint: All the Single Ladies--Why Settle At All?

    [This blog entry is counterpoint to the well-stated opinions of Ms. Pearls N The Hood, found here.]

    I’ll admit it—if Ms. Lori Gottlieb is one of Pearls’ heroes, on first reading of her article (found in The Atlantic, March 2008), had me casting her as one of my villains. I thought the notion of “settling” for a man was awful—an anti-feminist, misogynistic, backwards view of womanhood, marriage, and family. For someone who shares this viewpoint and wrote about it eloquently (if in strong words and phrases), see Jessica’s take at Feministing.

    But when I took a step back and saw past the red haze clouding my vision, I took a deep breath and thought for a minute. Did I agree with Lori Gottlieb? No, absolutely not. But I don’t have a lot of rage anymore either. After all, we all know that the world is often a tough place and, for someone who desperately longs for a traditional home and family and doesn’t have one by the time they’re 40, settling might seem like a valid, even wonderful, option. As she says in a defense of her argument published in the Huffington Post, at least 1,000 women emailed her in response to her article and were “solidly in my little world,” where settling is a valid option. Obviously, Ms. Gottlieb isn’t alone in thinking like she does.

    Why School Choice May Not Be A Choice For All

    While health care and unemployment are the important issues on everyone's mind these days, education is something that also deserves some attention. School choice is a hotly debated topic in the education policy arena. Proponents argue that allowing for more school choice will increase schools' productivity through more competition, and will make people better off as they will be matched to the schools they like the most (rather than be constrained by arbitrary district borders). Opponents fear that school choice will result in sorting of people based on characteristics such as income.

    Caroline Hoxby, a respected expert in economics of education, wrote a widely cited paper in 2000, showing that more school choice among public schools in metropolitan areas increases student test scores and decreases per-pupil spending, implying that school productivity does indeed go up. Her study is innovative and rigorous in its methods, and this finding is quite remarkable. It seems like it should encourage people to cast a vote in support of school choice. Yet, I wouldn't be so quick to do that. In particular, I would first need to see exactly who benefits from school choice -- and not just based on looking at people above and below arbitrary income cut-offs (she considers 70% of the mean income as her cut-off for low-income).

    Monday, February 8, 2010

    Femonomics reads the internet so you don't have to: Precious, Taylor Swift, and Love under Fatwa

    Precious is under fire again, this time from Ishamel Reed in the NYTimes Op-Ed pages (in a fit of rather odd timing), for portraying a negative image of black communities meant more for condescending white audiences than black consumption.  As I noted earlier, I disagree with this critique, and find the idea that somehow telling emotionally wrenching black stories is a betrayal of the black community strange. 

    The Antithesis of Consent: Mackenzie Phillips' Sexual Relationship with her Father

    Mackenzie Phillips released her memoir High on Arrival in September 2009 and prompted confusion across the blogosphere when she described her sexual relationship with her father as ‘consensual’.

    Jezebel was quick to ask the important question: ‘Is that even possible?”

    Isn't Pam Tebow's story a tale of choice as much as it is of life?

    Disclaimer: I am pro-choice.  This is my opinion and mine only.

    If you're interested in a rebuttal to the Pam and Tim Tebow Superbowl ad, both Planned Parenthood and Jimmy Kimmel have one for you.  I like both messages, "trust women" and "They don't all turn out like Tebow" (although the latter is obviously tongue-in-cheek and not meant to be taken seriously), because they point out that the reason we have these heartwarming stories of women who chose life, and realized it was the right choice for them, and went on to raise wonderful children is precisely because that choice was available to them, and so today the women we observe who chose not to have an abortion are the women who wanted to carry out their pregnancies, and the women we don't observe are those who decided not to.  Imagine how different it would look if all women were forced to carry out their pregnancies instead.  The value of choice is actually what's responsible for both Pam Tebow and Sarah Palin's heartwarming stories, contrary to what they may peddle.  They both talk about what a good choice they made for themselves, after considering the implications of dangerous and unexpected pregnancies, and then go on to recommend denying other women the same option.  Pam Tebow almost didn't have that choice, as abortion was illegal in the Philippines at the time she became pregnant, and must have only been offered to her as an option due to the special circumstances.  Her story, her decision, and the Heisman trophy winner that came after, are a celebration of choice as much as they are of life.

    Superbowl wrap up--Go Saints!

    Now that was a Superbowl.  Four lead changes, an underdog comeback (from the biggest deficit ever to be surmounted in Superbowl history), an onside kick, two-point conversion and controversial call, and finally an interception against the thought-to-be infallible arm of Peyton Manning. has the goods on all the Superbowl records broken last night.  What a game!  ESPN has an interesting piece about the calculated risks the Saints' coach Sean Payton took last night.  To me, this is the right story to be going after this morning.  As touching as Drew Brees's injury recovery and adoption of New Orleans (and vice versa) is, from where I was sitting, it looked like coaching, and not any star players, won this game.  Payton made the right call, every time, even when he went for it on the fourth down (instead of taking an easy three points) and they couldn't deliver.  They still had a good enough chance that it made sense to try.  Brees was dead accurate short, but seemed to me to make some strange calls, and the defense was hot and cold--amazing one minute, letting the Colts walk down the field the next.  This was Payton's win.

    But enough about that.  Gawker's got the rundown on everything not football related, EW's Michael Slezak breaks down the best and worst commercials, and elsewhere on EW they have the inside scoop on how that crazy David Letterman/Oprah/Jay Leno ad came to be.  Ken Tucker also looks at the Pam/Tim Tebow ads, which turned out to be not so much controversial as they were misleading (more on this to come).  Elsewhere, Jezebel offers their take on the night's decidedly unprogressive, male ego stroking ads.

    My favorites were the google love story and the green police.  You?

    Sunday, February 7, 2010

    The Daily Show lampoons those who argue men are falling behind

    Love it.

    If you take a personality-based approach to sports, this is your guide to the superbowl

    This Recording has an awesome piece where they break down the different personalities on either side of the Superbowl. They talk about Scott Fujita, who we already told you about, but also Reggie Bush, Haitian players Jonathan Vilma (Saints) and Pierre Garcon (Colts), Austin Collie, Gary Brackett, and Peyton Manning.

    Among their insights:
    • Austin Collie took two years off before his (undoubtedly high paid) pro football career for a Morman mission in Argentina.  There's a man who loves God.
    • Jonathan Vilma started a financial planning program for school kids, which he plans to extend to the NFL, because apparently 78% of players are broke within 2 years of retirement.
    • Reggie Bush will be looking for some serious redemption, after winning the Heisman trophy, getting drafted 2nd overall, and then going on absolutely nothing in the NFL.  Except date Kim Kardashian.
    • Gary Bracket walked on to his college team, came to the Colts as a free agent, and still managed to become captain of the team's defense over two other drafted, much higher paid linebackers.  And he lost both his parents and older brother in one tragedy-filled 13 month period.  Just try not to tear up when you read his story.  Says This Recording, "During the Super Bowl, when Gary tackles Reggie Bush, bear in mind that Reggie is being tackled by a man who, unlike Reggie, had nothing handed to him, who’s fought through all kinds of personal tragedy, and has made a fraction of the money."
    Go read the whole thing, and then come back and tell me--who are you rooting for now?  (Assuming you had no ingoing loyalties, if the Bears were in the Superbowl, I wouldn't care what kind of personal tragedy and heroism was on the other side, at least not in a football sense)

    [Hat tip ding]

    Saturday, February 6, 2010

    Comments are now fully open!

    We've made it through a week of open commenting with review with no disastrous consequences, but also without very many comments! I hope you believe me when I say we want to hear from you! We try to respond to comments whenever possible, and love to hear your feedback. Comments you post will now appear immediately on all recent posts (they'll still be reviewed posts older than 7 days, so nothing slips through the cracks). Please, comment away!

    Friday, February 5, 2010

    Recipe Fridays: Goldfish Gumbo and Wacky Wild Rice

    This is the perfect dish if you're rooting for the Saints this weekend, or just want a hearty family meal.  We made this dish for company last week to rave reviews.  The name is a little bit of a joke to help make this dish kid friendly.  We sprinkled (whole wheat) goldfish crackers on top of the finished gumbo, and they added a surprisingly delicious crunch!

    For the goldfish gumbo, I adapted a recipe from the NYTime's Mark Bittman (he's a favorite of mine).  Here's his recipe:
    1/4 cup olive oil
    2 tablespoons butter
    1/3 cup flour
    1 onion, chopped

    Femonomics reads the internet so you don't have to

    It turns out, the government could be storing your baby's DNA.  Without asking you.  Apparently most hospitals are required to do routine genetic testing (for certain treatable conditions) on all babies, and then they keep the samples.  Kinda makes the case for home birth, doesn't it?

    I am not big on the whole "let's make fun of Republicans" thing, because I don't think it solves anything.  The Daily Kos has no such inhibitions.  They present a poll (done by them) of what self-identified Republicans think on a variety of things.  There are some scary things in there, like the 34% who say they believe birth control is abortion (which they think is murder, and they believe in the death penalty...), but you have to wonder how much of this is simple misinformation.  I'd like to see a breakdown by socioeconomic status and education.  538 breaks down the poll by age, gender, race, and region and finds very few differences, but he doesn't look at socioeconomic status or education.

    The NYTimes has a neat Q&A about the coming of 3D TV.  Apparently, your existing set could show 3D, but that wouldn't get you to spend any money, so the companies have a $5000 solution for you instead.  For now, I'll stick with my $18 movie ticket twice a year.

    Apparently being a man driving a hot car makes you hotter, but being a woman driving a hot car doesn't matter.  I'm wondering if the problem here is that they tested this with people of average attractiveness?  I know a lot of guys who get bowled over by an already hot woman in a killer ride.

    And finally, in DADT (don't ask, don't tell) news, Colin Powell has come out in favor of repealing the policy he helped enact, saying that the culture has changed in the 17 years since the DADT compromise.  Elsewhere, McCain is railing against it, which must be awwwwk-ward for him and Megan, a vocal marriage equality supporter (though I don't know if she's commented specifically on DADT) and Cindy, who recently posed for NoH8.

    [Hat tips to Steph and Woodstock]

    Recipe Fridays: Taco Dip

    With the Super Bowl just around the corner, appetizers and hand foods are on everyone's minds. Instead of the usual Super Bowl hot wings, french fries, and other greasy hand foods, I've got a more chips and dip approach this year. This Taco Dip was a staple at practically every function my sorority held. And it was gone within minutes. I know there are several variations of this recipe, but here's mine:
    1 package cream cheese
    1 8 oz container sour cream
    1 packet of Taco seasoning
    Lettuce, shredded
    Tomatoes, chopped or diced
    Grated cheddar cheese
    Optional: avacado, salsa, black olives
    Mix cream cheese and sour cream together in a bowl (I usually add half the sour cream and taste test before adding the whole container). Then add the taco seasoning. Mix well. Spread mixture onto a cookie sheet (or round plate). Top with lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese (as well as any other toppings you might like to add). Serve with tortilla chips.

    Thursday, February 4, 2010

    One good reason to root for the Saints

    Ms Pearlz N the Hood gave us plenty of reasons why we shouldn't feel obligated to root for the Saints.  But I'll give you one reason to do it anyway: Their adorable, outspoken linebacker Scott Fujita.  Among the acts to his credit [via Jezebel]:
    • Fujita, who is adopted, gently, but clearly, opposed the message of the Pam and Tim Tebow superbowl ad, saying of his biological mother, "I'm just so thankful she had the courage and the support system to be able to carry out the pregnancy.  I wouldn't expect that of everybody."
    • He is a vocal supporter of gay rights, and likes getting in debates with his teammates about it
    • He was adopted by a Japanese father and Caucasian mother, and considers himself culturally Japanese, eating with chopsticks and celebrating traditional festivals.  (Okay, that's not really so much "to his credit," but for some reason I find it adorable).  He also says he draws inspiration from the experience of his Japanese-American family's internment during World War II.
    A cutie with a conscience?  Gooooo Saints!

    More Toyota bad news: Prius isn't working either, and federal regulators have known about the monster pedals since 2007!!

    I'm sorry guys, I can't stop posting about this--It's so insane.

    New reports this morning that Prius owners are reporting problems with their brakes.  So Toyota can't make brakes or accelerator pedals?  That's bad.  The problem appears to be electrical.  It's another blow to Toyota, who had the blockbuster hybrid as one of their few remaining untarnished products.

    In other news, the Washington Post is reporting that federal regulators have known since 2007 that some Toyotas could accelerate suddenly.  From the WaPo:
    During a little-noticed 2007 inquiry, investigators found that at least three of every 100 Lexus ES 350 owners in Ohio reported experiencing unintended acceleration, an unacceptably high percentage given the potentially fatal consequences, industry experts said.
    "Anything over 1 percent would raise a red flag, particularly for the manufacturer," said James C. Fell, who worked at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for 30 years, and was chief of research for traffic safety programs.
    Okay, forget that I would be in favor of raising a red flag at anything over 0%, but three out of every 100?  That's crazy.  Apparently the investigators concluded it only affected a small number of cars, and couldn't figure out how to fix it, so decided to let it ride (so to speak).  Listen, I understand we can't do a recall for every minor safety issue, but could there at least be some kind of federal website that lists these reports so that car buyers can be informed?  I thought about buying a Toyota a few years back, and to me, three out of every 100 is a big enough deal that I would have been looking elsewhere.

    Wednesday, February 3, 2010

    Point: All the Single Ladies (of a certain age)—Time to Settle Up!

    [We'll be doing this point-counterpoint style, so check back for another perspective soon!]

    I’m gonna say it—Lori Gottlieb is a new member of my personal heroes club. You may have heard of her “controversial” book, Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough. Now, I have not read the book…yet, but I recently enjoyed this excerpt printed in the Atlantic in March ’08. And I have to say that I agree 100% with her observations and personal recommendations to single women, especially those over age 30, to forgo the fireworks and “settle” for the good family man that you get along with so as not to have to go it alone.

    Just a brief on Lori Gottlieb—she is an award-winning, best-selling author and single 40-something who is raising her son alone because once she hit that certain age, she decided she no longer wanted to wait for The One to come along to start a family the traditional way (tick, tock, biological clock), but would dive in and do it alone (with the help of donor sperm) and plug Mr. Right into the equation further down the road.

    On women and math...What do you think?

    I read this interesting article about the debate over women and math, which, like most debates over women and things that they may or may not be good at, focuses on whether gender differences are inherent or learned, in this case, mathematical ability.  The article references a study that shows, among other things, that gender performance in mathematics is highly sensitive to changes in other socio-cultural factors, particularly gender parity.  From Daniel Hawes:
    Janet Hyde and Janet Mertz manage to show a significant correlation between the percentage of girls on a country's International Mathematical Olympiad Team, and that country's World Development Indicator Gender Gap Index. The emerging pattern is quite clear: The greater the gender parity in a country, the more girls go to the Math Olympiad; thus indicating a significant role - who could have doubted it - of social equality in girl's performance on this (and other) indicators of mathematical achievement.
    This fits into the broader discussion of genotype versus phenotype that plays out elsewhere in economics.  A person's phenotype is what we observe, but too often we attribute this observable characteristic to the underlying genotype, or inherited characteristics.  In reality, not only can social forces during one's lifetime change one's achievement, but also tiny changes in utero can impact gene expression.  For example, this article on iodine deficiency in Tanzania shows that correcting maternal iodine deficiency in the first trimester of pregnancy led to large cognitive gains for daughters of affected mothers.

    While it's certainly possible that there are differences in the way male and female brains process numerical information, or develop with regard to this ability (some people say girls simply learn math later), I would say attributing the bulk of observed differences to genotype when we know so many social differences exist is just lazy.

    [Hat tip Larry]

    Update: Transportation Secretary says you should stop driving recalled Toyotas. Would be nice if Toyota agreed

    Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said today that he thinks people should stop driving recalled Toyota vehicles, and take them to a dealership to be fixed.  From the NYTimes:
    Mr. LaHood said his advice to owners of recalled Toyotas was to “stop driving it, take it to a Toyota dealer because they believe they have a fix for it.”

    “We need to fix the problem so people don’t have to worry about disengaging the engine or slamming the brakes on or put it in neutral," Mr. LaHood said in response to questions.
    While I'm glad LaHood realizes that Toyota's proposed solution is ludicrous, his urging is pretty useless if Toyota doesn't put in place mechanisms so that consumers can follow this advice.  Most consumers can't just stop driving their cars until Toyota is ready to fix them, and Toyota has specifically said consumers need to wait until their dealership is ready to fix their car, which given the volume could take quite a while.  Toyota needs to be offering rental cars of a different make to every consumer driving a recalled vehicle until their dealerships are able to fix them.  And to expedite that process, they need to be hiring additional staff and adding resources immediately.  All of this will cost an arm and a leg, but in the long term, a lot less than another accident happening after the recall was supposedly put in place.  Let's hope Toyota's message to consumers catches up with LaHood's.

    Tuesday, February 2, 2010

    Toyota car safety issues are scary. Toyota's response is scarier still.

    This Toyota thing is getting bad.  Not only has Toyota halted production and recalled over 9 million vehicles, but they still have no good answer for the millions of consumers at risk from their runaway cars.  Consumers have to keep driving, and wait until Toyota contacts them to get their accelerator pedal fixed!  This from the company that for months blamed the runaway car problem on improperly installed floormats, even though multiple drivers reporting issues had no floormats on the driver side.  Finally, they've admitted the problem may be with the design of the accelerator pedal itself (this man thinks it may be an electrical problem, in which case Toyota's pain is just beginning), but only after months of downplaying the issue.  That's right, Toyotas are speeding out of control and killing their drivers due to faulty accelerator pedals. 

    The Oscar Nominations are here!!!!

    Excuse my quadruple exclamation mark, but as a bona finde award season fiend, I'm a little excited.  This morning Anne Hathaway and Academy president Tom Sherak announced the nominees for the 82nd annual Academy Awards.  Look for my notes below the list.  The so-called "Oscar pundits" haven't weighed in yet (it's 6am in LA), but I'll be sure to update you when they do.

    Here are the biggies (click on over to Dave Karger for a more complete list, or the Oscar website itself):

    Monday, February 1, 2010

    Super Bowl Super Guilt

    Super Bowl XLIV is imminent. And the stress has already made my blood pressure soar. What stress? The stress of openly admitting pulling for Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts this Sunday and being chastised for it. Does rooting against the New Orleans Saints make me a bad person? Well, several people have emphatically told me, “YES”. Why? Because New Orleans needs a victory. The people of the hurricane ravaged city need a lift. Sure, but specifically in the form of a Saints Super Bowl victory? And in the interest of full disclosure, I’m greatly disappointed that I’m not getting my Minnesota Vikings vs. Colts Super Bowl. I know there are folks out there who feel the same way, but no one has had my back like the fictional 30 Rock character, Nancy Donovan, over this “BS Saints bandwagon”. Go Colts!