Thursday, January 29, 2009

Women in Red

Surrounded by women in red (from scarlet to crimson, I'm not kidding!) and men in black (ok, some wore navy too), President Obama signed his first piece of legislation today. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act purportedly aims to prevent discrimination against women. Except the Paycheck Fairness Act actually does that. The Lilly Ledbetter just changes the statute of limitations so that you can wake up after 19 years and demand back wages instead of negotiating your contract when you should have.

Doesn't 19 years of silence imply an acceptance of your salary? Isn't this a perfect example of when statute of limitations should apply? If you raped someone or burglarized their house, I don't care if its 2 years or 5 years later, you still hurt them. Nobody's going to say that you must have accepted the rape or burglary as fair. But we have a statute of limitations for those cases. Here, when we speak of a negotiated and clearly accepted salary offer, we are erasing the statute of limitations.

Btw, I'm not saying the Act is a bad idea. I'm just saying that maybe its not something to grandly brag about passing. This is the kind of thing that you might pass because you see you need it given the prevailing problems, not because you're proud of it.

The starkly uneven dress code at the signing was either meant to make it clear who the bill is supposed to help, or reveal the not-so-subtle undertones of a feminism so radical it doesn't even sound like radical feminism. Either way, equality is what it did not imply.

Michelle Obama took the opportunity to follow Oprah's lead in calling every random person under the sun "one of my favorite people". Lilly Ledbetter, for saving her salary discrimination lawsuit until she was ready to retire (presumably so she wouldn't have to fear reprisals from her employer), fighting it all the way to the Supreme Court - and losing - and still fighting till she got a new law passed, is one of Michelle Obama's favorite people.

Random Fact: The most popular time for the Internet seems to be about 4:00PM EST.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tobbacco Reduction

Consider the folowing statements:

Statement 1
The success of sustained anti-smoking efforts over the past several decades has reached a point where fewer than 25% of American males now smoke. Public education campaigns, cigarrette taxes, limits on tobbacco advertisement, and regulations against smoking in public places have been effective tools at reducing the danger of tobbacco smoke in our society.

Statement 2
Tobbacco-safety and anti-smoking efforts have failed Black Americans. More than 1 out of every 4 African-American males in the United States is a smoker. It is the fault of a society that gives the African American community unequal treatment that leaves the Black population at a higher risk for a host of preventable health problems. State and municipal governments aren't doing enough for minority health issues.

Both statements have their facts right, but the conclusions they draw are very different. Their perspectives are very different.

Ready for the numbers? 24% of white males smoke; 26% of black males. ThinkFirst.


Is this a dig aimed at Obama?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Potter a Wiggin Clone?

Reading Ender's Game for the first time I couldn't help noticing the striking similarities between Card's science fiction creation and the Harry Potter series.

Both feature a mostly normal kid who is "special" from birth and was tormented in childhood. The two boys had difficult relationships with their parents or guardians as well as a very bad relationship with an older brother. Luckily, both Harry Potter and Ender Wiggin are offered spots in special boarding schools where they can develop their unique talents. They excel in the special schools and join a special society outside of the one in which they grew up. Both Harry and Ender have a special purpose; something vaguely to do with saving the world.

In school, Ender and Harry must deal with teachers who seem at times sinister, at times helpful. Both boys do well, successfully navigate the waters of various types of peer relationships, and face a school bully. In each book we are introduced to such common elements as the mail system, the school calendar, etc