Archive for May 24th, 2008
On April 28, the Supreme Court upheld Indiana’s voter ID law, which guards against supposed fraud by requiring voters to show identification. The decision came despite the fact that “the record contains no evidence of any such fraud actually occurring in Indiana at any time in its history” — and despite the fact the law tends to suppress voter turnout by minorities and poor people.
Commenting on the decision on last night’s “Bill Moyers Journal,” legal scholar Jeffery Toobin explained that the “real agenda” behind voter ID laws is “to help Republicans”:
I thought it was a bad decision, but a predictable one because it was a very clear attempt by Republicans to stop Democrats from voting. I don’t think there’s any doubt about what the motivation was of that law. … The real agenda was to help Republicans.
Though the Court’s majority claimed the impact was nothing more than a “minor inconvenience” to voters, in fact there are as many as 21 million voting-age Americans without driver’s licenses. Thirteen percent of registered Indiana voters lack the documents needed to obtain state identification.
During the recent Indiana primary, a group of 12 nuns were turned away from the polls because they lacked a valid photo ID. One nun in Missouri said, “This is going to keep a lot of our loved ones from being able to vote.”
Moreover, the new law disenfranchised many out-of-state students attending private Indiana colleges, such as Notre Dame and DePauw, because “ID cards issued by private colleges don’t qualify under the state law.”
The way the wind is blowing. Michael Doyle reports for McClatchy Washington Bureau:
A co-chair of Hillary Clinton’s National Hispanic Leadership Council has defected and pledged his support to Barack Obama, Clinton’s rival for the Democratic presidential nomination. He was joined by another California superdelegate.
The defections came as a new poll showed that Obama would handily defeat John McCain in California in November — and do so by a larger margin than Clinton would.
U.S. Rep. Dennis Cardoza, whom Clinton named to his Hispanic leadership postl in December, shortly after Cardoza announced he would support her for the nomination, announced he was switching sides on Friday. “I believe that Senator Obama will inevitably be our party’s nominee for president,” Cardoza, a Democrat from Merced, in the San Joaquin Valley, said.
He was joined by another California superdelegate, U.S. Rep. Jim Costa, a Democrat from Fresno.
Cardoza’s endorsement of Clinton occurred when she appeared to be the odds-on favorite to win the nomination, with more than twice as many superdelegate supporters as Obama. That was before Obama won the Iowa caucuses and began his drive toward front-runner status.
More at the link.
Interesting article, although early on there’s a terrible dangling participle:
Having suffered, been imprisoned, and then raised again on behalf of America, who are ordinary mortals such as Senator Obama, to question McCain’s judgments?
It’s McCain the introductory phrase refers to, not ordinary mortals such as Senator Obama, though the way it’s written states the opposite. Still, it’s a fascinating article. Take a look.
It’s interesting to see which states have the most active populations. Take a look—and look also at the correlation between educational level and exercise. Very interesting.
United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs David Miliband visit Google’s Mountain View, CA, headquarters for a conversation with Google Senior VP David Drummond. This event took place on May 22, 2008, as part of the @Google series.
Instead of filling out a lengthy check-box questionnaire, on-line matchmakers could have you go on a virtual date. Like this:
Online daters have become disillusioned with standard profile-based sites that are now the internet dating norm. Trolling through endless profiles and reading near-identical bios often seems more like work than pleasure.
Research published in the Journal Of Interactive Marketing suggests this is because online dating interfaces tend to treat people like commodities – daters search profiles for matches using check-box categories, just as if they were shopping for a TV. Consequently the big online dating sites have seen a reduction in their growth.
A new experiment, though, suggests that online dating could be improved with virtual dates in which people can experience each other in something closer to a real encounter. Welcome to Internet Dating 2.0.
The research, conducted by Jeana H. Frost and colleagues, first wanted to establish exactly how people use currently well-established online dating systems (Frost, Chance, Norton & Ariely, 2008).
Very interesting notion, which explains something I’ve often wondered about: why people who have plenty of money will go to extreme lengths to get more money. The post begins:
It’s no surprise that people want money – we’ve all got bills to pay. It’s also no surprise that money is useful – it would be irritating to pay the electricity bill in corn, goats or some other non-monetary quid pro quo. Originally economists argued that the fact that money is so useful explains why we’re interested in it. But when you think about it, the fact that money is so useful doesn’t fully explain people’s behaviour.
Think about how obsessed people can become with money, beyond its instrumental use, beyond rationality, beyond any easy explanation. Why does a person who is already rolling in money want more? Indeed, why do people whose lives are already comfortable make sacrifices in other areas of their lives – family, friendships and their own sanity – just to get more cash? Especially when, objectively, they appear to be dollars that they don’t need.
Professors Stephen Lea and Paul Webley from the University of Exeter argue that people’s actual behaviour towards money can’t be explained solely by the fact that it is useful – what they refer to as ‘tool theory’ (Lea & Webley, 2006). There seems to be something more going on. Money provokes people into all sorts of bizarre behaviour that can’t easily be explained in terms of its function purely as a tool. Here are five examples Lea and Webley provide: …
More important than where your food is grown is what the food is. Rachel Ehrenberg explains in Science News:
Buying local certainly reduces the miles food goes before we eat. But consumers aiming to shrink their ecological footprint will get more bang for their environmental buck by eating less red meat and dairy, reports a new study. The analysis finds that transporting food to the consumer accounts for only 4 percent of food-associated greenhouse gas emissions, while production contributes a hefty 83 percent.
“There are many good reasons for going local,” comments Rich Pirog, associate director of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University in Ames. “But this study is important. Food miles alone are not a reliable indicator of environmental impact.”
For the average U.S. consumer, getting the equivalent of one-seventh of a week’s calories from chicken, fish or vegetables instead of red meat or dairy will do more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions than buying all local, all the time, the researchers say. Crunching the numbers revealed that delivery to the consumer accounts for only 1 percent of red meat–associated emissions. But the production path to red meat and dairy products is clouded with nitrous oxide and methane emissions, mainly from fertilizer use, manure management and animal digestion.
Fruits and vegetables contain essential vitamins, minerals and fiber that are key to good health. Now, a newly released study by Agricultural Research Service (ARS)-funded scientists suggests plant foods also may help preserve muscle mass in older men and women.
The study was led by physician and nutrition specialist Bess Dawson-Hughes at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston, Mass.
The typical American diet is rich in protein, cereal grains and other acid-producing foods. In general, such diets generate tiny amounts of acid each day. With aging, a mild but slowly increasing metabolic “acidosis” develops, according to the researchers.
Acidosis appears to trigger a muscle-wasting response. So the researchers looked at links between measures of lean body mass and diets relatively high in potassium-rich, alkaline-residue producing fruits and vegetables. Such diets could help neutralize acidosis. Foods can be considered alkaline or acidic based on the residues they produce in the body, rather than whether they are alkaline or acidic themselves. For example, acidic grapefruits are metabolized to alkaline residues.
Glenn Greenwald has an excellent column on the current situation regarding the telecoms trying to buy off Congress so their lawbreaking will go uninvestigated and unpunished. From the column:
Just in the first three months of 2008, recent lobbyist disclosure statements reveal that AT&T spent $5.2 million in lobbyist fees (putting it well ahead of its 2007 pace, when it spent just over $17 million). In the first quarter of 2008, Verizon spent $4.8 million on lobbyist fees, while Comcast spent $2.6 million. So in the first three months of this year, those three telecoms — which would be among the biggest beneficiaries of telecom amnesty (right after the White House) — spent a combined total of almost $13 million on lobbyists. They’re on pace to spend more than $50 million on lobbying this year — just those three companies.
So the question is whether Congress really is for sale. I fear I know the answer. Congress tends to believe whatever they are paid to believe, regardless of what the voters want.
Read the entire column. It does have some surprises in it. One more bit:
Although it remains to be seen if congressional Democrats will accept the telecom companies’ proposal, the communication between the two sides signifies that progress is being made.
The “two sides” referenced there means the House Democratic leadership and the telecoms. Congressional leaders are “negotiating” with the telecoms — the defendants in pending lawsuits — regarding the best way for immunizing them from liability for their lawbreaking, no doubt with the help of the former Democratic members and staffers now being paid by the telecoms to speak to their former bosses and colleagues about what they should do. To describe the process is to illustrate its oozing, banana-republic-like corruption, but that’s generally how our laws are written.
Yesterday I sautéed some sliced okra for lunch—dipped in beaten egg, dredged in corn meal with a little flour mixed in, and sautéed in olive oil in the Griswold #10 skillet. Delicious. The okra was good, and I had made a salad (sweet onion, avocado, English cucumber with a vinaigrette) and was wondering what I could have for a protein, when I realized that the two eggs I used to coat the okra, though not visible as such, were still two eggs and that was plenty of protein.
And this morning I realized I had no cereal. So I cut a couple of slices from the ready-made cylinder of polenta and started sautéing those in butter in the skillet, while I chopped up half an onion, half a green pepper, and one serrano pepper. I slid the polenta slices to the side and added the veggies. They cooked for a while, then I removed the polenta to the plate, added two eggs, and stirred carefully to cook the whites before I broke the yolks. Terrific breakfast.
And the skillet is totally non-stick. A fine cooking tool.
The Truefitt & Hill shaving soap—a classic—and the Omega brush again because I enjoyed it so much yesterday. A terrific lather—one of those that rolls up on the razor like spring snow—and the Futur with the Treet Blue Special was a pleasure to wield. All Natural Shaving Oil for the oil pass, and New York for the aftershave. And what a smooth face I have!