Odds and ends (pt. 2)Note: Continued from previous entry
KNOWLEDGE IS... DUMBERER: A good book review in The New York Times explains how American society is not merely apathetic to logic and knowledge in the political process but downright hostile. This op-ed in The Washington Post also bemoans the dumbing down of society.
FREE TUITION FOR NNYers?: A local legislator from New York's northwestern St. Lawrence County is pushing an intriguing proposal to provide significant tuition assistance for all students in the county provided they attend one of the county's several four-year colleges. He hope to get funding via the state lottery which is now a slush fund for the general coffers but originally conceived as a way of better funding education. Good luck with that!
THE POLITICS OF FEAR: Spencer Ackerman has a great column urging Democrats to take a stand against the politics of fear. The Republicans have set the fear-mongering agenda and Democrats will only succeed if they change the paradigm. He points out that Obama has been fairly vocal in this regard, although he's been not nearly bold enough in opposing either militarism in general or Iraq in particular where it most counts: funding and timetables. To no one's surprise, Hillary "I'm not sure if I'm a hawk or a dove today... let me check the polls first" Clinton has been worthless in this regard.
MUSCULAR MEDIA: It's not much of a secret that advertising and the media contributes to poor body image among many girls. Now research suggests that it does the same for many boys too.
SIMPSONS BAD FOR KIDS, BAYWATCH GOOD: You might not think busybody conservative Christian groups in the US would found any common cause with the Bolivarian revolutionary Hugo Chavez regime in Venezuela... but you'd be wrong.
HOW SOCCER EXPLAINS OUR ELECTIONS: You may have heard about the very excellent book How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization. Well it turns out that they also may explain US elections. It's not an entirely new theory that in the US, "soccer" types tend to be more diplomatic, internationalist and likely to vote Democratic or left-wing while "gridiron" types (sometimes referred to by the more accurate term throwball) tend to be more forceful, parochial and like to vote Republican or right-wing. Definitely not surprising considering the nature of each sport, but interesting nonetheless.
THE RISKS OF LOWERING CRIME: North Country Public Radio has a long piece on something I want to explore in more detail myself at some point: how decreasing crime is harming communities in northern New York. The dependency of many North Country communities on the prison-industrial complex was always going to be risky. When you pin your future on something the rest of society wants to eliminate... although this shows the economic desperation many Adirondacks' communities face.
JOHNNY FOREIGNER: One potential way to spur economic development in this region might be more foreigners. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York offers this analysis of the foreign-born population in upstate New York. It concludes that foreigners contribute to the region’s human capital in important ways. This population boasts a greater concentration of college graduates than either the region’s native-born population or immigrants downstate... the more highly educated appear to be entering skilled occupations—in medicine, science, and research particularly—that complement those of native-born residents. Of course, a lot depends on how upstate New York is defined. But one thing is clear. Whether it's Bosnians in Utica or Eastern Europeans in Lake George's tourist industry or Mexicans and Central Americans on the dairy farms of northern New York or in the horse stables of Saratoga, upstate is certainly seeing an increase in cultural diversity.
ON MY CHRISTMAS LIST: Guess whose gonig to bye one of these shirts' off there back's!