Monday, September 22, 2008

Poverty - One Economist's Perspective

Originally posted on Facebook on August 29, 2007 at 12:29 pm

On Poverty, Maybe We're All Wrong - Steven Pearlstein,

"Most years, what passes for the national debate about poverty is confined to the 24 hours after the government releases its annual report on household incomes, as it did yesterday."

This post is pretty insightful - and it's by a business dude, which makes it more "credible," some might say...I definitely agree with his final statment:

"Maybe it's time for liberals to regain the upper hand in the [poverty] debate by arguing that the vicious cycle that needs to be broken isn't one of dependence but one of declining expectations."

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Dick Cheney '94: Invading Baghdad Would Create Quagmire

Originally posted on Facebook on August 15, 2007 at 3:07pm

"In this interview from April 15th, 1994, Dick Cheney reveals the reasons why invading Baghdad and toppling Saddam Hussein wouldn't be a great idea. He also stipulates that "not very many" American soldiers' lives were worth losing to take out Saddam during the Gulf War. ..."

Hard Proof that Cheney was invaded by an evil Body Snatcher sometime after 1994.
Originally posted on Facebook on August 10, 2007 at 10:58 pm

Freakonomics Quorum: The Economics of Street Charity

This post was at the NYT Freakonomics blog - it has to do with the freakonomics of giving money to street beggars - rather interesting.

Taxi to the Dark Side - Trailer

Originally posted on Facebook on May 11, 2007 at 11:59pm

I couldn't resist. With all the negative press these guys (admin honchos) have been getting lately, we still don't know the half of it. Not even close.


After a long absence, I've decided to start up again - my first project will be transferring "blog posts" on Facebook over the past year to I Like To Watch. (I'll include original post dates.)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Hillary's Christianity: more than right-wing pandering?

I just read quite an interesting article by K. Joyce and J. Sharlet in the Sept/Oct issue of Mother Jones about Hillary Clinton's faith. For some reason, even the (Christian) faith of the Democratic Presidential candidates has already garnered lots of attention this time around, Obama's and Clinton's in particular. Perhaps this is a result of their openness on the matter, which is at a level somewhat unusual for "liberals."

After all, the trend among liberals has been towards something like public agnosticism, a fierce adherence to the "separation of church and state" principal (Constitutional mandate, technically) from the campaign podium. This, of course, has also served nicely as another stark contrast with the increasingly fundamentalist bent of the Christian Right. Liberals certainly have worked hard to equate conservative Christianity with uncompromising self-righteousness that stands firm in the face of scientific and social realities.

Which makes this report about Hillary's involvement in a "secret" prayer cell -- "cellmates" include embarrassingly unabashed Creationist Sam Brownback (who is also one of the hangers-on among the Republican Presidential candidates) -- all the more intriguing. It turns out that Clinton has been a moral conservative all her life, even putting the "revised social gospel" of individual salvation before Christian social activism during the turbulent 1960s. She is publically a champion of women's and gay rights, but apparently these stances are two of only a handful on which she and her Republican prayer-group fellows truly differ. To be sure, the faith-based initiatives put forth by her husband and herself during the 90s Clinton tenure opened the door for Bush's more vigorous faith campaigns.

And "morality" and "values" have been the driving force behind certain of her political moves; the MJ article cites her support of the Defense of Marriage act, a Constitutional amendment banning flag-burning, and her Bush-esque "strings attached" support of an anti-human-trafficking law that did not give funding to anti-trafficking groups if they didn't define prostitution "in the proper terms." (The Bush Administration has notoriously denied funding to certain programs that don't fall in line with the Christian Right's idea of a virtuous Utopia, despite their potential to have dramatic positive effects in the real world; these include cutting off support for condom distribution in urban Brazilian red-light districts -- hey, if it ain't abstinence-only education, it ain't gettin' no American money.)

Another morality-fueled move has been Clinton's support of the Workplace Religious Freedom Act, even after concerns were raised about, for example, high-minded pharmacists becoming consientious objectors to filling birth control prescriptions. (I know pharmacists who would do this if they could, which kills me -- these same people never stop complaining about the overabundance of public-aid recipients; just what do these guys think would happen if no one could get birth control??)

Anyway, check out the article, if you can pick up a print copy. Unfortunately the Sept-Oct issue isn't online yet, but I'll keep an eye out and provide a link here once they put it up. I'll also go back and insert appropriate links in short order...

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Quick! Decide!

Okay. It's getting down to the wire -- my thesis adviser informally gave me til mid-August to wind up my research and start narrowing my focus. Yeah, it's past mid-August. But I still don't feel anywhere near ready to begin a proposal.

By now I have read quite a few articles, have been "introduced" to the world of blogs several times over. I've run across idea after idea that could feasibly lead me down a particular path, but at the moment everything is pretty jumbled. One article by Barbara Ganley, a professor in the writing program at Middlebury College, was fairly intriguing; she proposes that blogging could be a "dynamic, transformative medium" in the liberal arts classroom, one that allows "students [to] become the course." I've also grown more interested in the use of blogs for research and project management, thanks to certain other studies. While these "knowledge management" studies tend to focus on applications in the corporate world, my experience this summer as an intern at a local nonprofit agency has revealed the similarities between for-profit and grants-funded companies. So I can appreciate that knowledge management is a key component of nonprofit operations as well, and therefore blog communities and "k-logs" (knowledge blogs) could contribute just as much to nonprofits.

I need to meet with my adviser ASAP to find out just how narrow my proposal should be, though I can't imagine narrowing it very much and still expecting to fill 60 pages. I suppose it would help if I dug up the thesis guidelines that the graduate coordinator handed out at our orientation last fall.

For my future reference, here are some possible thesis issues I jotted down a couple of days ago:
- learning communities
- learning dynamics, potential (see Ganley)
- increasing global awareness
- apprenticeship and expertise
- record of learning/ knowledge management
- linking, parallel analysis
- reading and writing
- development of voice

I doubt things are really quite as urgent as I'm making them out to be right now, but if I slip back into my procrastinatory ways, I could be shooting myself in both feet! Best to hit the ground running instead...