In the World
Steve Thorngate on public life and culture
The latest in can-you-believe-this-guy campaign-trail videos: Senate candidate Eric Hovde, who—like Montgomery Burns with a Wisconsin accent—reduces media coverage of low-income people facing service cuts to "sob stories."
E. J. Dionne—probably my favorite big-daily columnist—thinks liberals need to make a direct, full-throated defense of government: If progressives do not speak out plainly on behalf of government, they will be disadvantaged throughout the election-year debate. Gov. Scott Walker’s victory in the Wisconsin recall election owed to many factors, including his overwhelming financial edge. But he was also helped by the continuing power of the conservative anti-government idea in our discourse. An energetic argument on one side will be defeated only by an energetic argument on the other. Hmm. I share Dionne's frustration with the success of anti-government conservatism in recent years, as well as the positive view he goes on to present of government's singular role in stimulating the economy and creating jobs (the main policy focus of his column). But more generally, I'm not convinced that the answer is to match anti-government attacks with equally fierce pro-government rebuttals.
Lots of folks have had tons to say about Mark Regnerus's new study finding that children whose parents have had same-sex relationships fare worse than those reared in "stable, biologically-intact mom-and-pop families." Rob Tisinai sums it up concisely: The study compares the children of married biological parents with those from broken homes — and the study’s “lesbian mothers” that our opponents are vilifying generally weren’t married to each other; nor were the gay fathers. No, they were often in opposite-sex relationships that broke down.
First of all, yes, if you're a linguistic traditionalist then the show should really be called The Rev., not Rev. Second of all, it's disappointing that by the second episode, the British scripted series is relying heavily on the old binary of a small, old-fashioned, declining, liberal congregation vs. a large, hip, casual, thriving, conservative one. (The latter's hip-hop music leader goes by the name Ikon! Cute, but haven't the showrunners heard of Peter Rollins?) Okay, now I can say it: Rev.'s on Hulu! You should watch it!
This NYT Magazine list of "32 Innovations That Will Change Your Tomorrow" is fascinating. I'm especially amazed by #1 (clothing that generates electricity and charges gadgets), #6 (cars smart enough to avoid causing traffic jams) and #23 (smart teeth!). Others (#20, #31) are sort of sci-fi disturbing but only mildly so. And then there's #14.
Per usual, Ross Douthat is in this post occasionally wise but often infuriating: It’s useful to think of Obama’s stimulus bill and Walker’s budget repair bill as mirror image exercises in legislative shock and awe, and the Tea Party and the Wisconsin labor protests as mirror images of backlash. No, that really isn't useful at all.
Here are some things I read recently but didn't get around to blogging about.
Yesterday in Wisconsin, public-employee unions and their supporters failed to recall the aggressively anti-labor governor Scott Walker. Today in Chicago, public school teachers are voting on strike authorization as part of their ongoing struggle with mayor Rahm Emanuel and the school board. To be clear, the teachers aren't striking. They're voting to authorize a hypothetical future strike, as a negotiating tactic. No one wants to see classroom learning grind to a halt and working parents stuck with unexpected child-care duties. And, while I'm not one to defend the teachers unions' every single move, I'm tired of seeing public education set up to fail and then blamed for its own failure, with special blame always reserved for teachers.
This video is fairly terrifying: what if someone finally figured out how to make our consciousness functionally immortal by uploading it into an artificial body after we died? And then...set to work monetizing this innovation?