Former Associate editor Margret Aldrich on the hunt for happiness, community, and how humans thrive
Friday, March 09, 2012 4:29 PM
There’s something new on tap, though it’s been around for two thousand years. Kombucha, a fizzy, fermented tea drink purported to have healing properties, is steadily rising in mainstream popularity, finding success with commercial kombucha brewers, home brewers, and bartenders alike.
Made by fermenting tea and sugar with a culture of bacteria and yeast, kombucha is effervescent and potent, its deep, almost musty flavor lightened by a rush of friendly little bubbles. First-time drinkers soon become kombucha groupies.
Once associated with only the dippiest of hippies, kombucha and other fermented foods have earned the respect of the health-conscious community. Kombucha is thought to detoxify the body, improving digestive and immune systems, and Psychology Todayreported that fermented foods may even be the next Prozac, easing stress and depression.
Although such positive claims lack solid scientific proof, kombucha devotees stand behind it as a miracle cure. Jeff Weaber, founder of Vermont kombucha brewery Aqua Vitea with his wife, Katina Martin (a naturopathic physician), shared this anecdote in an email: “During an in-store demo, a person returned after 15 minuets of trying our ginger kombucha for the first time to report that a stomachache she had been dealing with for three days was now gone.”
Aqua Vitea is spreading the kombucha love. The brewery bottles single-serving containers, “but more of it travels in the kegs to stores, where it’s sold fresh on tap—a niche Aqua Vitea pioneered,” writes Sylvia Fagin in Vermont’s Local Banquet. “Empty bottles and growlers are sold near the taps for customers to fill and refill, saving money and resources.”
Other kombucha microbreweries around the country are thriving, as well. In addition to its tasty finished product, craft brewer Kombucha Brooklyn sells 100-200 kombucha homebrew kits a month and curates an online Brewers Forum where devotees can swap stories and recipes. “One of our main goals for having the forum was to connect ’buch brewers and to have them share their successes and failures,” says founder Eric Childs.
Now kombucha is hitting the bar scene. Sumathi Reddy, reporting for the Wall Street Journal, sees alcoholic kombucha drinks gaining trend status in the New York metro area. Get a jasmine margarita made with kombucha at Taproom No. 307 in Manhattan, a “beer bucha” (50 percent kombucha, 50 percent light beer) at Urban Rustic in Brooklyn, or try a new high-alcohol version of kombucha called “Mava Roka” at Queens Kickshaw in Astoria.
Beware of too much of a good thing, though (even if it’s nonalcoholic), or you'll risk stomach pain, headaches, or other symptoms as your body adjusts to the detoxification process. Weaber warns, “After making kombucha for eight years, I started getting the sense that it’s powerful stuff, and you should probably be drinking only about four ounces of kombucha a day. But, being gluttonous Americans, everybody’s drinking 16–32 ounces of kombucha a day.” In other words, get out the shot glass, not the pint.
Sources: Psychology Today, Vermont’s Local Banquet, Wall Street Journal
Image by Eric Bryan, licensed under Creative Commons.
Margret Aldrich is an associate editor at Utne Reader. Follow her on Twitter at @mmaldrich.
Thursday, February 16, 2012 3:28 PM
It’s hard to enter a store these days without being visually assaulted by labels, logos, and signs that appeal to our environmental consciousness. It turns out that there’s an even more powerful way for marketers to signal an environmental product to shoppers: Make it brown.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Dunkin’ Donuts and Target’s in-store cafes have switched from white to brown napkins, while Seventh Generation even adds brown pigments to its eco-friendly diapers “to drive home the environmental message.”
And Cascades Tissue is about to enter a new frontier with its U.S. rollout of a beige toilet paper called Moka. It might be a hard sell for fussy Americans, though. Writes WSJ:
Consumers in regions outside of North America are more accepting of recycled toilet paper and more readily embrace colored or fragranced rolls. Kimberly-Clark’s local brands sell apricot-colored paper in the U.K., green in Poland, “sunny orange” in Switzerland and “natural pebble” in Germany, the company says.
It’s a different story in the U.S. When Cascades pitched its Moka toilet paper to distributors at a recent trade show, “faces showed disgust” at first, says [Cascades marketing director Isabell] Faivre. “Then they would feel the product and it was, ‘Oh, wow, that would be perfect,’” for customers who want softness, but also want green credentials, she says.
Let’s not kid ourselves, however: Most Americans prefer bleached-white, super-cushy toilet paper, and the vast majority of the stuff we buy is highly unsustainable. As of 2009, 98 percent of the toilet paper sold in the United States came from virgin wood, according to Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist for the Natural Resources Defense Council, as reported in The Guardian in a story that explores “the tenderness of the delicate American buttock.”
As Hershkowitz put it:
“Future generations are going to look at the way we make toilet paper as one of the greatest excesses of our age. Making toilet paper from virgin wood is a lot worse than driving Hummers in terms of global warming pollution.”
Christophers Mims at Grist has a solution: Stop using the stuff. I’m going to let him make the case:
The solution is straightforward: Do away with T.P. Think that sounds unsanitary? Not as unsanitary as our current approach. This is how a friend put it: What if I pooped on your arm and you wiped it off with a paper towel. Is it clean now?
There’s nothing even weird about the idea — lots of cultures don’t share our freakish obsession with sticking paper up our bums. The French invented the bidet in 1710.
Wall Street Journal
, licensed under
Monday, April 04, 2011 1:24 PM
What’s the best evidence that America is run by a gaggle of spineless, paternalistic, hypocritical, chowder-headed liberals? Bike lanes, obviously.
Or, at least, that’s thrust of a recent screed by Wall Street Journal columnist P.J. O’Rourke. O’Rourke presents every conceivable non-argument against government-financed bike lanes, nearly all of them colossally out of touch with urban reality. If you didn’t know O’Rourke was a satirist, you’d assume from his tone that his mother never let him ride a bike and all the neighborhood kids teased him for it. Here’s a taste:
The bicycle is a parody of a wheeled vehicle—a donkey cart without the cart, where you do the work of the donkey. Although the technology necessary to build a bicycle has been around since ancient Egypt, bikes didn’t appear until the 19th century. The reason it took mankind 5,000 years to get the idea for the bicycle is that it was a bad idea. The bicycle is the only method of conveyance worse than feet. You can walk up three flights of stairs carrying one end of a sofa. Try that on a bicycle.
Ugh. Really, P.J.? Despite being loaded with 90 percent obtuse (and admittedly pretty humorous) hyperbole, O’Rourke concludes with a seemingly reasonable argument. “Bike lanes can become an acceptable part of the urban landscape,” writes O’Rourke, “if bicycle riders are willing to pay their way.” From one angle, this would make sense. In most cases, a fuel tax pays for road construction, shifting the tax burden to those who use transportation infrastructure. A bicycle sales tax could be similar source of funding for bike lanes.
But might the whole argument be just a reflection of the bigger budget crisis faced across the country? There’s massive pressure to cut services and non-essential projects—and what’s a bike lane worth if HIV/AIDS patients and victims of domestic violence are losing services. (And when the budget becomes unsteady again, how long do you think those programs will last?) If anything, O’Rourke’s too-commonsensical argument works to give back planning power and tax-muscle to the status quo—the affluent suburbanite content in their SUV and insurance plan—when those who live a life less ordinary need support more than ever.
Who could put that better than O’Rourke himself: “And if [bicyclists] pay enough, maybe we’ll even give them a lift during the next snow storm.”
(Thanks, The Avenue.)
Source: Wall Street Journal
Image by Jason Anfinsen, licensed under Creative Commons.
Friday, June 11, 2010 11:53 AM
Wild cats, in case you hadn’t heard, are quite elusive. But researchers studying jaguars and other big cats in the wild have a found a scent that the animals find nearly irresistible: Calvin Klein’s Obsession for Men.
The Wall Street Journal reports that animal specialists ranging from zookeepers at the Bronx zoo to a jaguar researcher in Guatemala have deployed Obsession to attract and distract big cats. The researcher, Roan Balas McNab, initially worried about revealing the secret because poachers might steal the technique, “but he decided that spreading the word to other scientists outweighed the potential risk, particularly since poachers already use their own effective bait—dead animals—a tactic researchers’ ethics forbid.”
My favorite part of the Journal article is when they bring in the scent maker to describe Obsession’s appeal in language that would do any wine taster proud:
Ann Gottlieb, the “nose” who helped create Obsession for Men, thinks there could be a number of factors in the fragrance that wild animals might find irresistible.
“It’s a combination of this lickable vanilla heart married to this fresh green top note—it creates tension,” she says. The cologne also has synthetic “animal” notes like civet, a musky substance secreted by the cat of the same name, giving it particular sex appeal, she adds. “It sparks curiosity with humans and, apparently, animals.”
I’ve blogged about “nature” photographers who cross ethical lines when they photograph captive animals at game farms—but this puts a new nose-wrinkle in the debate. Would it be unethical for photographers to lure wild cats with a cologne developed to drive people to make sexy time, as Borat might say? I suppose it’s better than imprisoning the cats for life just so they can be furry supermodels.
(See the Journal’s video about Obsession-obsessed big cats here.)
Wall Street Journal
Wednesday, June 02, 2010 3:49 PM
Large, invasive Asian carp are overwhelming the Mississippi River and heading for the Great Lakes—and one way to help stop their spread is to eat them, a host of observers are suggesting. But the American palate is not attuned to carp as a delicacy, and the fish’s PR problems begin with its inelegant, harsh-sounding name. So why not rename it? It worked for orange roughy, which once was known as the slimehead, and “rock salmon,” a.k.a. the spiny dogfish.
Big River magazine, which covers the Upper Mississippi, has had a field day with its carp coverage, which recently included a Name That Carp contest that is now down to its finalists. The common carp is the more established but less aggressive invader, while the silver carp is the gigantic, leaping variety that really has river watchers worried. Here are the suggested names:
winged silver roughy
Entries are closed, but Big River is asking the public to vote on these finalists and will announce the winning names in the July-August issue.
It’s not the only publication with carp on its mind. The Chicago Reader did an entire carp issue that included a ten-chef carp challenge. One chef, Phillip Foss of Lockwood restaurant, took the competition to heart and began putting carp dishes on his menu that attracted favorable attention from the Chicago Tribune and the Wall Street Journal.
But Foss isn’t going along with this renaming business. The Reader notes that “he was excited about selling Asian carp,” but that he wasn’t going to start calling it silverfin, as some boosters already have suggested. “He wasn’t going to sugarcoat it.”
Foss tells the Reader, “This fish has a lot of strikes against it. But this is not a bad-tasting fish. … You want to get it out of the water—why not fish it? Eat it for dinner tonight.”
Sources: Big River, Chicago Reader, Chicago Tribune, Wall Street Journal
Top image by Michael Boyd, www.mboydphoto.com
. Carp dish image courtesy of Phillip Foss from his blog The Pickled Tongue.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009 1:48 PM
The media storm in response to North Korea’s short-range missile tests on Monday runs the gamut between calls for continued diplomacy to questions about a renewed Cold War. Here’s a short list of key articles:
Daniel Politi summarizes the mainstream press coverage for Slate, including: how this incident spells an early test for Obama’s foreign policy from the New York Times; questions about North Korean leader Kim Jong Il’s motivations from the Los Angeles Times; and, speculations in the Washington Post on how big a bomb the communist regime can actually produce.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Mr. Kim may be preparing a transitional leader on the heels of his alleged stroke in August of last year. A top candidate may be his brother-in-law, Jang Seong Taek, whom he recently appointed to North Korea’s National Defense Commission. U.S. officials suspect that Mr. Kim’s third son, Kim Jong Un, is also in the running.
Korea Times wonders if their peninsula may be regressing to Cold War-era tensions after a decade of uneasy yet promising relations with their northern neighbor, as defined by the “Sunshine Policy” doctrine. Articulated in 1998 by then-South Korean President Kim Dae Jung, the Sunshine Policy established a peaceful stance towards North Korea that anticipated eventual reunification. However, since his 2008 election, current President Lee Myung Bak has taken an increasingly hard line approach toward Pyongyang.
Lee Chi-dong reports for Yonhap News that South Korea’s Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan has vowed to try to “bring North Korea back to the bargaining table” of peaceful negotiation.
And, New Scientist sees a silver lining in Monday’s missile tests: “The network of blast detectors intended for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which has not yet come into force, seems to have perfectly identified the explosion as a nuclear test, despite its small size.” In other words, at least our nuclear-monitoring technology is working.
Sources: Slate, Wall Street Journal, Korea Times, Yonhap News, New Scientist
Image by Borut Peterlin, licensed under Creative Commons
Wednesday, April 22, 2009 10:22 AM
“In America today, there are almost as many people making their living as bloggers as there are lawyers,” begins Mark Penn’s dubious article for the Wall Street Journal, which suggests that nearly 2 million bloggers make money from their work, and for nearly half a million, it is their primary source of income.
Over at Virginia Quarterly Review, Waldo Jaquith takes issue with Penn’s sources as well as his math: “The mind reels at how an apparently-bright guy could write such a fundamentally inaccurate article and get it published in a major U.S. daily.”
Jaquith reports that Penn gleaned his “almost 2 million” paid bloggers from the website blogwordexpo.com, which promotes a blogger conference and thus has a vested interest in building the blogging hype. Yet, even their claim is muted compared to Penn’s.
“1.7 million American adults list making money as one of the reasons they blog,” the website states.
“That’s not to say that they make money,” Jaquith points out, “just that they want to make money. Many people write novels because they want to be rich, but that doesn’t mean that all aspiring novelists are wealthy. So we can see that claim—one of the pillars of Penn’s article—is totally invented.”
Source: Virginia Quarterly Review, Wall Street Journal
Image by Brett L, licensed under Creative Commons
Tuesday, March 10, 2009 1:26 PM
Am I the only one who’s been amused by the Wall Street Journal’s hyperbolic headlines in the Obama era? Every few days it seems there’s a “most read” opinion-page article topped by a headline that should have been published during the Bush administration—but never was. Here are my recent laugh-out-loud favorites:
“The President Politicizes Stem-Cell Research” (today). Bush of course was the guy who turned this issue into a red-meat feed for the conservative base. To suggest that Obama is suddenly politicizing it by reversing Bush’s science-challenged research ban is not just blind to the obvious but comically absurd.
Is the Administration Winging It?
” (February 18). Whooee, what a gem. The title of this opinion piece could have applied to the entire Dubya reign, whose hallmark was recklessness, ignorance, and incompetence, from an unnecessary and abysmally planned war to the hapless “heck of a job, Brownie” Hurricane Katrina response. What’s even better is the byline on this one: Karl Rove. Stop it, my sides hurt.
” (March 5). The premise here, also a Rove construction, is that Americans voted for a leader who, as soon as he was in office, changed his tune—and that this occurred in the 2008 election, not 2000 or 2004. Remember the phrase “I’m a uniter, not a divider”? How about “I would be very careful about using our troops as nation builders”? Bush was a serial bait-and-switcher, whereas Obama so far is basically carrying out the sort of change he promised, as one Journal reader pointed out in response.
Monday, January 26, 2009 3:45 PM
Quotation marks aren’t just for quotes. They can also be used to denote “irony,” according to the AP style guide. A prime example comes on the opinion page of today’s Wall Street Journal. When deriding efforts by Congressional Democrats to pass the current stimulus bill, the editors explain, “the ‘stimulus’ claim is based on something called the Keynesian ‘multiplier,’ which is that each $1 of spending the government ‘injects’ into the economy yields 1.5 times that in greater output.”
The quotes around “stimulus,” “multiplier,” and “injects” are meant to cast doubt on the efficacy of the Democratic economic plan. They also give the feeling of superiority over whatever idea the editors are currently deriding. It’s a tactic used often in the pages of the Wall Street Journal, as Jonathan Chait points out in the New Republic. He writes, “The Journal’s fixation with the scare quote is one of the great journalistic marriages between medium and grammatical device.”
The effect of the scare quotes is similar to when cable news channels put a question mark after statements flashed on screen. As Jon Stewart pointed out on the Daily Show (video below), a question mark allows Fox News to say whatever it wants while retaining a thin veil of objectivity. When they broadcast a statement like, “Is the liberal media helping to fuel terror?” They make it seem as though they’re exploring the idea, instead of simply stating it. That’s why Stewart asked, “The question mark: A prophalactic protecting fox news from anything it might contract during its extensive GOP c**ksucking?” He wasn’t making that statement, he was just asking.
Thursday, December 18, 2008 10:18 AM
In the wake of the worldwide financial crisis, is art still an investment worth holding onto? Or is the payout from selling a valuable work too tempting to refuse? As the economy teeters and budgets constrict, museums and institutions around the country are considering the dilemma of selling art to pay the bills—setting off heated debates about the moral and social pitfalls of viewing art as an untapped financial resource instead of a priceless public good.
Such was the case this summer, when, just weeks after flooding destroyed much of the University of Iowa’s campus, Iowa Board of Regents member Michael Gartner asked for an appraisal of Mural, Jackson Pollock’s 8’x20’ painting and the crown jewel of the school’s museum. (The piece was donated by Peggy Guggenheim herself.) Media outlets from the Des Moines Register (article not available online) all the way to Time magazine and the Wall Street Journal caught wind of the affair and sounded the alarm. Could a sale be on its way? How dare university officials sniff around this magnificent piece as if it were a piggy bank waiting to be smashed open! Were they seriously considering selling part of the public’s property when insurance and FEMA funds were already on their way?
After almost two months of silence, the Board of Regents finally stated once and for all that the painting would not be sold; no further explanation was given. It could have been that the administration was merely curious about the painting’s value, and looked into it at the most inopportune time possible—or that the condemnation was so vehement that the regents retreated, tail tucked between their legs.
The idea of selling, trading, or auctioning parts of a collection—a practice known as deaccessioning—is more common than we think. Museums often look to clear out lower-quality works in order to purchase new ones or to simply free up space for the rest of their collections. As art buyer Lisa Hunter said on her blog, “If you could trade four mediocre Renoirs for one great Matisse, wouldn’t you do it, too?”
The Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD), which establishes moral and ethical standards for its 190 member museums, has set down guidelines for museums wishing to trim or adjust their collections. Art should be sold or auctioned only for the benefit of the rest of the collection, and proceeds from that sale should be used only for the augmentation of the current collection. These practices ensure that mutual benefit is extended to the museum and the public, for whom the art and the museums exist.
The association is adamant that deaccessioning not occur “in reaction to the exigencies of a particular moment”—a moment like, say, flood damage to the museum’s governing institution.
But the idea of selling Mural did actually find some support. Felix Salmon, financial and art writer for Portfolio.com, reasoned that “some paintings belong not to ‘the people of Iowa’ so much as to the people of the world, and belong in a world-class collection. Which, frankly, the University of Iowa Museum of Art isn’t.” Does such an important work really belong in a small community? On the other hand, isn’t it unfair that a handful of art elitists should decide who has access to great art?
Somewhat less snobby was the reasoning of Gilbert E Schill Jr. and Jacob H. Rooksby, writing for the Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription or online pass required). “If colleges were not allowed to sell what they own ... institutional progress and the fulfillment of the colleges’ missions would be impeded ... The [public property] argument necessarily fails because it knows no end.” Schill and Rooksby consider a school’s mission to be that of education and overall well-being, not of holding onto art collections as untouchable holy relics.
A case in point is the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York. Last year the gallery's administrators decided to auction off several of its priceless antiquities, saying that they fell outside the gallery’s “core mission” of modern and contemporary art. The gallery made a killing; its prize piece, the early Roman sculpture Artemis and the Stag, was projected to sell for around $6 million. The final bid was for more than $28 million. In total, almost every Albright-Knox piece sold made at least three times its pre-auction estimate, netting the gallery more than $90 million.
A short time later, the museum announced a campaign to expand its facilities that included designs from a “world-renowned architect.” According to the AAMD guidelines, it isn't allowed to use its auction earnings for the new building, though the timing is suspicious to some observers. But the most disturbing facet of the sale wasn’t the possibility of padding out the building fund. It was that Artemis and the Stag, a rare masterpiece, was purchased by a European private collector, meaning that it would perhaps never again be in the public eye.
It’s reasonable to assume that the same thing could have happened to Mural had it been put on the auction block. But due to the surrounding circumstances, the backlash against the Iowa Regents was so virulent that, in the words of Press-Citizen columnist Bob Elliott (article not available online), regent Michael Gartner was “verbally tarred and feathered as if he’d come out against baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet.”
Paradoxically, Elliott goes on to name Gartner as the most important figure in the Iowa City art scene precisely due to the emotional rhetoric in support of the Pollock’s place in the community. Even Gartner conceded in the Chronicle (subscription or online pass required) that very few people were even aware of the painting’s existence before this controversy cropped up: The publicity for the museum and for the painting itself was priceless.
But all this analysis may be moot in the face of the world’s current financial crisis. Many of the museums that opted for deaccession were lured by the art market’s out-of-control prices paid for even minor works. For the past 10 years, the art market has been driven onward and upward, with many buyers coming from the financial field. (Lehman Bros. was a particularly enthusiastic collector.) Now that so many companies are tightening their budgets and the United States is in the throes of an official recession, the breakneck buying has dropped off. The art world’s previous feeding-frenzy atmosphere, which threatened to suck works off the wall like a vacuum with its promise of easy money (and lots of it), has lost some of its power. Some remaining art dealers and even gallery owners find the slowdown beneficial overall. For so long, the dominant dialogue had been about art as an investment: Now the talk can return to the art itself.
Image courtesy of the
University of Iowa Museum of Art
Wednesday, November 19, 2008 10:37 AM
The Democrats decided Sen. Joe Lieberman’s fate Tuesday, granting him what was widely viewed as a political pardon, or “punishment via feather duster,” as the Wall Street Journal put it, for his vigorous support of John McCain’s presidential bid. But Politico’s Glenn Thrush points out an important curiosity about Lieberman's slap on the wrist:
Some Democrats have sniped at Joe Lieberman for not grilling the Bush administration hard enough as head of the homeland security committee.
He gets to keep this job.
Democrats have (mostly) offered praise for his position on the Environment and Public Works Committee, where he has criticized the Bush administration’s global warming policies.
He loses that job.
The Guardian opines that “Lieberman’s loss of the environmental panel spot effectively removes him from the front lines of the climate change debate,” even though he pushed congressional action to combat global warming before it was politically profitable. Lieberman introduced the Senate’s first climate bill in 2003 with McCain, which proposed a cap and trade system and was voted down. Most recently, he co-sponsored the Climate Security Act with Virginia Sen. John Warner, which was also defeated.
Friday, September 05, 2008 2:11 AM
In the wake of John McCain's surprising VP pick, the media's rush to answer the question “Who is Sarah Palin?” was quick and intense.
But when news broke that her 17-year old unwed daughter was pregnant, the scrutiny became both personal and political, sparking intense debate about what’s fair and foul in campaign coverage.
Palin has dominated the headlines of nearly every major news outlet and many minor ones for the last week. You might think the McCain campaign would welcome the spotlight shining on someone other than Barack Obama, but instead, they're outraged. They claim the media's treatment of Palin—which has included stories about her pregnant daughter, questions about her qualifications for the job and the McCain campaign’s vetting process, inquiries into ethics scandals under investigation in Alaska, and examinations of her record—is sexist, liberally biased, and out of line. The campaign is even now refusing to answer further questions about Palin's vetting.
Surely the McCain campaign can't be surprised that voters and reporters want to know more about a woman whose name few outside of Alaska even recognized two weeks ago. But would the questions being asked of Sarah Palin be asked of a male candidate? And has the media gone too far?
Here's a round-up of opinions on the key fronts in the Palin media wars. What's your take?
Palin and John McCain and the Republicans deserve every column inch, every broadcast second of scrutiny they're getting. I believe—unlike Barack Obama—that members of a candidate's family are fair game once a candidate thrusts them onto the public stage—as did Palin when McCain presented her as his pick for vice president in Dayton, Ohio, last Friday. The eagerness with which politicians deploy their children as campaign props stands as an open invitation to the press to write about them. —Jack Shafer at Slate
The spin du jour is that her choice reflects poorly on Candidate McCain because she wasn't properly vetted. Yet this seems to be false. . . . On Monday, Time magazine's Nathan Thornburgh wrote from Wasilla, Alaska, that Bristol Palin's pregnancy had been known by virtually everyone there, with little made of it. But what do these private family matters have to do with Mrs. Palin's credentials to be Vice President in any case? —Wall Street Journal, Review & Outlook
They have said this was Bristol’s decision and we should honor that. . . . The reason why I think it’s fair game is Sarah Palin is on record saying she would veto abortions for women even in the event of being raped. So what she is in essence saying: Respect my family’s ability to make this decision and elect me so that I can keep your family from having the same opportunities. —Jon Stewart, September 3, on the Daily Show
What we’re dealing with now, there’s nothing subtle about it. We’re dealing with the assumption that child-rearing is the job of women and not men. Is it sexist? Yes. —Georgetown professor Deborah Tannen, quoted by Politico, responding to questions about whether Palin's maternal responsibilities are compatible with the VP job.
Palin is simply not known. McCain's staff says the press is punishing her because pundits so desperately want to be in the know. But leaking has its benefits, one of which is that her flaws might have been scrutinized and even dismissed ahead of time by the press. —David Folkenflik at Media Circus, NPR
We have asked pathetic questions like: Who is Sarah Palin? What is her record? Where does she stand on the issues? And is she is qualified to be a heartbeat away from the presidency? We have asked mean questions like: How well did John McCain know her before he selected her? How well did his campaign vet her? And was she his first choice? Bad questions. Bad media. Bad. —A sarcastic Roger Simon at Politico
Image by buddhakiwi, licensed under Creative Commons.
Friday, July 25, 2008 4:30 PM
With its complex moral dilemmas and dystopian vision, The Dark Knight is an unlikely summer blockbuster and unquestionably dour as a superhero movie—but it’s still performing ridiculously well at the box office and with critics.
Some of the commentary is inevitably political, framing the film as an overt 9/11 allegory. Andrew Klavan takes things a step further in the Wall Street Journal, making a favorable comparison between the latest iteration of Batman and the Bush administration’s absolutist approaches to geopolitics, applauding the Caped Crusader for demonstrating the same decisive, nuance-free heroism that Bush supposedly does.
What Klavan seems to be missing is that The Dark Knight portrays Batman as a deeply conflicted and flawed antihero; the film excels at illustrating the moral ambiguities inherent in fighting crime or governing a populace.
On his blog, Andrew Sullivan provides an articulate rebuttal to Klavan, ultimately focusing on the failures of Bush’s cowboy swagger, use of torture, and with-us-or-against-us version of diplomacy. Sullivan concludes that those who can’t or won’t do nuance are missing the point—perhaps deliberately.
Image adapted from a photo by Yosi:), licensed by Creative Commons.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007 12:00 AM
Actually, Bjorn Lomborg never really went away. Armed with his labyrinthine economic models, the Danish statistician is a frequent go-to commentator for media outlets seeking some “balance” in their global warming coverage. He gladly obliges them by trash-talking the Kyoto Protocol, pointing out that polar bears will be just fine when the ice caps melt, and serving up other mathematically derived opinions that cut against conventional environmental wisdom. Lomborg has written a new book, Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming, that’s landed him choice coverage in sympathetic outlets like the Wall Street Journal and Fox News. Lest anyone else be too inclined to take him seriously, it’s worth remembering that Lomborg’s sketchy science has been pretty soundly thrashed by Scientific American, Grist, and famed biologist E.O. Wilson, who called his first book “a sordid mess.” —Keith Goetzman.
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