Yesterday was a long day. I'm now working not one but two part-time church-music jobs; I'm with the Lutherans by morning and the Methodists by night. Both congregations observe Palm/Passion Sunday, complete with numerous changes to the order of service, additional musical ensembles to plan and rehearse, etc.
If you want to filter your/your child's movie viewing through some fairly granular rules about sex, nudity and profanity, the Motion Picture Assocation of America's rating system is your friend. If, like me, you have a weak stomach for depictions of violence--glorified or not, realistic or not--you kind of have to do your own research.
So, who's playing politics with reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act? Sen. Schumer and the Democrats, or Sen. Grassley and the Republicans?
probably both. Yes, Democracts would love to bolster the narrative that
Republicans don't care about women, even though Grassley et al. object
to new provisions added to the VAWA, not the existing law. And yes, by
threatening the whole bill based on objections to small parts of it,
some Senate Republicans (not all of them) reveal that while they may in
general favor services for domestic violence victims, it's not exactly a
top priority to them.
Of course both Senators Chuck are playing politics. That's their game, especially in leap years.
Bob Dylan released his first album 50 years ago this week. That
self-titled debut is not the Dylan record anyone listens to most--it
includes only two original tunes--and as Andy Greene details, it was not a smashing success. But it opened the door for Dylan to come back just months later and record The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, which propelled Dylan's staggering career.
As I've said before, the objectivity-fetishizing conventions of straight
news reporting make me crazy. It's not just the odd philosophical
throwback of implying that reporters can somehow avoid writing as
particular people situated in particular contexts. It's also the
convoluted copy, in which even plain facts can't be stated plainly if
they happen to be unpopular.
So I was glad when NPR released its new ethics handbook,
in which among other things the network states that it favors "truth"
over "the appearance of balance" and adds that "if the balance of
evidence in a matter of controversy weighs heavily on one side, we
acknowledge it in our reports."
I certainly don't hear from as many PR people as David Roberts does, but
when I do hear from them it tends to annoy me for most of the same
reasons it annoys him: no hyperlinks, buried ledes, missing background
info, generally little evidence that the sender knows what I do or cares
if I consider his or her pitch. I particularly enjoyed item #6 on his
list of tips.
Two similar pieces are getting a lot of play this week: James Whittaker’s blog post about why he left Google and Greg Smith’s op-ed about why he left Goldman Sachs. Both
talk of their high level of company loyalty and enthusiasm in the past.
Both bemoan the changes in their respective corporate cultures that led
them to leave. Neither seems all that hopeful about his company’s
What neither of them does, however, is demonstrate that
the problem is that Google/Goldman Sachs used to care about more than
just making money but doesn’t anymore.
I've heard the Century referred to as moderate, center-left, progressive, left-wing--all from some who meant these labels as compliments and others who very much did not. Here's one I have not heard before: the Century is a conservative magazine.
My wife and I have been joking with our neighbors lately about TV ads that a
Super PAC supporting their cat, Kobie, might run against our cat, Owl.
Now Scott Simon's reporting on an ad someone actually made.
Christopher Shea highlights a new study that analyzes the effect of U.S. grain and soy subsidies on the American diet. The study's abstract leads with its contrarian, we're-taking-on-Michael-Pollan angle:
Many commentators have speculated that agricultural policies have
contributed to increased obesity rates in the United States, yet such
claims are often made without any analysis of the complex links between
real-world farm commodity support programs, prices and consumption of
foods, and caloric intake.
So, the Blunt amendment got killed in the Senate. And good riddance: you wouldn't know it from the L.A. Times's writeup, but the measure was a good bit broader than a reversal of the Obama administration's contraception mandate (which itself would have been nothing to celebrate). From the amendment text (pdf):
A health plan shall not be considered to have failed to provide the
essential health benefits package...on the basis that it declines to
provide coverage of specific items or services because...providing
coverage (or, in the case of a sponsor of a group health plan, paying
for coverage) of such specific items or services is contrary to the
religious beliefs or moral convictions of the sponsor, issuer, or other
entity offering the plan.
In other words, essentially a line-item veto of whatever the boss is morally opposed to, based on church teaching or otherwise.
So Bloomberg talked to some rich Wall Street types
about dealing with the impact of reduced bonuses. All populist
eye-rolling aside, I think this quote from Michael Sonnenfeldt--founder
of Tiger 21, a "peer-to-peer learning group for high-net-worth investors"--actually makes some sense:
Sonnenfeldt said [Tiger 21] members, most with a net worth of at
least $10 million, have been forced to “re-examine lots of
assumptions about how grand their life would be.”
While they aren’t asking for sympathy, “at their level, in
a different way but in the same way, the rug got pulled out,”
said Sonnenfeldt, 56. “For many people of wealth, they’ve had a
crushing setback as well.”
Sure--you don't have to be destitute to experience the disappointment of unmet financial expectations.
Attention mainline Protestants: a conservative Christian candidate for president would like to point out that your institutions are in decline, and that he doesn't mind because you're not Christian enough, anyway. Take that!