Archive for June 2011

Will the Real John Quincy Adams Please Stand Up

Historians these days regularly have to brace themselves for some new, hallucinatory version of the American past. The latest example is Representative Michele Bachmann’s claim that the founding fathers worked tirelessly to end slavery.
In framing the Constitution in 1787, the Federal Convention ducked the issue, writing into the Constitution clauses compromising with slavery while avoiding the word. Nonetheless, pro-slavery delegates assured their state ratifying conventions in 1788 that the Constitution gave slavery every protection they could desire. Further, Southern founding fathers worked with sympathetic or indifferent Northerners to tilt the federal government toward protecting slavery in domestic and foreign policy Read more

The Militarized Surrealism of Barack Obama

Signs of the Great American Unraveling
Cross-posted from
It’s already gone, having barely outlasted its moment — just long enough for the media to suggest that no one thought it added up to much.
Okay, it was a little more than the military wanted, something less than Joe Biden would have liked, not enough for the growing crew of anti-war congressional types, but way too much for John McCain, Lindsey Graham, & Co.
I’m talking about the 13 minutes of “remarks” on “the way forward in Afghanistan” that President Obama delivered in the East Room of the White House two Wednesday nights ago.
Tell me you weren’t holding your breath wondering whether the 33,000 surge in troops he ordered into Afghanistan as 2009 ended would be removed in a 12-month, 14-month, or 18-month span. Tell me you weren’t gripped with anxiety about whether 3,000, 5,000, 10,000, or 15,000 American soldiers would come out this year (leaving either 95,000, 93,000, 88,000, or 83,000 behind)?
You weren’t? Well, if so, you were in good company.
Billed as the beginning of the end of the Afghan War, it should have been big and it couldn’t have been smaller. The patented Obama words were meant to soar, starting with a George W Read more

Baby Its You Oldies But Not So Goodies

Baby It’s You! isn’t the show that critics wanted it to be. Unsurprisingly, reviewers compared it in their write-ups to the beloved Jersey Boys, which continues to run on Broadway, years after its debut. It’s a natural comparison to make, really. Jersey Boys details the rise of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons during approximately the same era that Baby’s Shirelles were coming up Read more

This Little Piggy Went to the Gas Market

Historically, fat finger trades — where a trader presses the wrong key or adds a zero too many on an electronic trading system — were considered exclusive to equities markets. Not anymore. They are now stretching their piggy little digits across into other asset classes.
Most recently, on June 8, an alleged fat finger wiped eight percent off of natural gas prices on NYMEX in an after-hours trade from Asia. The natural gas market recovered almost immediately, but not before some savvy traders saw what had happened and jumped in to buy and profit from the mistake, according to Reuters Read more

63 Blogging Pointers and Scorecard

I got a Google Alert this morning about a new resource for better blogging.
Always looking to improve my blogging skills, and given Darren Rowse’s credentials in the blogging ecosphere, I snapped it up.
So, here is my review of The Copywriting Scorecard for Bloggers by Darren Rowse and Glenn Murray.
In this easy-to-consume, 59-page eBook, there are 63 pointers — each with an example of applying the pointer to your blog post. Cool!
Four Sections
Darren divided the pointers into four sections:Writing recommendations (for example, a pointer on headlines).
Scannability recommendations (using lists instead of long sentences… as you can see, I used that pointer here).
SEO copy recommendations (the real meat and potatoes of the eBook, if you ask me).
Grammar pitfalls (to keep you from looking stupid… like using your instead of you’re).
SEO Scorecard (bonus)
And then at the end of the eBook (just before the index, which on it’s own spans 5 pages) you’ll find the scorecard Read more

Displaced Women Demand Justice in Port au Prince

Co-written by Jocelyn Brooks
“We women demand!…” sang out a hundred plus voices “…Justice for Marie!” Marie, a 25-year-old pregnant mother, was injured by government agents when they slammed a wooden door into her stomach during an early morning invasion of an earthquake displacement camp in Port au Prince. The government is using force to try to force thousands to leave camps without providing any place for people to go. The people are fighting back.
The people calling for justice are residents of a makeshift tent camp called Camp Django in the Delmas 17 neighborhood of Port au Prince. They are up in arms over injuries to Marie, one of their young mothers, and repeated government threats to demolish their homes Read more

President Obama Talks Jobs

President Obama gave a press conference Wednesday and elaborated a number of jobs ideas. Since I’ve been focusing on that part of the agenda for a while, here’s what I heard, with some commentary.
Things the Administration Can Do
“[Review] government regulations so that we can fix any rules in place that are an unnecessary burden on businesses.”
Businesses always complain about regulations — no question they create an expense. Barring law suits, it would be a lot cheaper for food producers and restaurants, e.g., not to worry about food safety. But burdens like that are necessary Read more

A Visit to My Kitchen Kami McBride of The Herbal Kitchen

Kami McBride is in my kitchen today talking about clean water, mushroom feasts, and book clubs. Kami is the author of The Herbal Kitchen, a book that helps bridge the gap between home remedies and our kitchens.
Why is living organic important to you?
The damage done by chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and genetically engineered seeds is reflective of the loss of integrity in our relationship with the plants. We have disrespected ourselves and the plants. We poison the plants and denature them to the point where not only have we shattered our covenant with the plant world, but we also have broken our promise of the right to health for future generations Read more

The FlyontheWall Effect Understanding How We Learn from Bad Experiences

When I was a kid and had to deal with life’s early disappointments, my parents would always call it a “learning experience.” If I failed to win a coveted academic award or athletic trophy, or if I was rejected by a former best friend, they would assure me that, as bad as I felt at the moment, the pain would help me build character over the long haul. It was a good thing.
It didn’t feel like a good thing, but I trusted that they knew what they were talking about. And they weren’t alone. Indeed, common wisdom holds that when bad things happen to us, we should try to examine our negative feelings in order to defuse them Read more

Living with Autism What Id Say If I Had Dinner with President Obama

Dear Mr. President:
I received a form letter from Vice President Joe Biden recently — one of those mass emails one gets but rarely reads. I read that if I were to make a donation of $5, my name will be thrown into a hat for a chance to have dinner with you. Alone Read more

How to Tune In to Others

What are they feeling?
The practice: tune in to others.
Imagine a world in which people interacted with each other like ants or fish. Imagine a day in work like this, or in your family, aware of the surface behavior of the people around you but oblivious to their inner lives while they remain unmoved by your own.
That’s a world without empathy. To me, it sounds like a horror film.
Without empathy, there can be no real love, compassion, kindness or friendship. Empathic breakdowns shake the foundation of a relationship Read more

HuffPost Review Terri

You have to give filmmaker Azazel Jacobs credit for what he doesn’t do in his film, Terri.
He doesn’t create a feel-good teen world in which the underdog suddenly rises to the top or undergoes a life-changing makeover.
He doesn’t give in to the urge for punchlines at regular intervals. He doesn’t even make his central character particularly lovable.
Yes, you have to give him credit for fighting the formula. On the other hand, these are also things that work against Terri, a tale of a teen outsider and his strange relationship with a sympathetic vice principal who takes him on as a project.
When first seen, Terri (Jacob Wysocki) is making breakfast for his uncle (played with surprising subtlety and restraint by Creed Bratton of “The Office”). Uncle James may be in the early stages of dementia, or a shell-shocked veteran or both Read more

Is Feminism Going Chapter 11

Last summer, I wrote an article here at HuffPost, Why the ‘Pro-Women’ Movement Should and Will Replace Feminism. Sarah Palin had just declared herself a ‘conservative feminist,’ while endorsing a slew of diverse women candidates and working to get them elected. I found her efforts to get more women into leadership, admirable. The women who apparently own the term “feminist” vehemently disagreed with me Read more

Tim Pawlentys ties to Swift Boat Bob Perry

By Delal Pektas and Kelsey Sheehy for iWatch News
Tim Pawlenty may not have great name recognition but he does have one very important thing for a presidential candidate: a hand in the pocket of Texas billionaire Bob J. Perry.Perry, a homebuilding tycoon with a $600 million fortune, is a high roller among Republican donors.On Sept. 23, 2010 Perry and his wife gave $60,000 to Freedom First, Pawlenty’s state-based political action committees in New Hampshire and Iowa.Perry has given nearly $38 million to candidates and political groups outside Texas since 2000, according to records analyzed by The Texas Tribune.In that same time frame, Perry has contributed $28 million to more than 400 candidates and political committees in his home state.Perry also has a reputation for financing negative ads. He made national headlines in 2004 with his mega contributions to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which ran a controversial ad campaign that questioned Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry’s service in Vietnam Read more

For the High School Graduate When Should You Take Advice

Earlier this year there was an article in the Globe and Mail about giving advice. I have to confess, I didn’t read the article. I know, shame on me. But I also confess, I wasn’t all that interested in reading the piece, because I’ve never been very good at taking advice — even the really good stuff Read more

Mothers and Daughters Picking Up the Phone

It is my turn to write the blog and it is hanging over my head like a sack full of bricks.
A million things spring to mind. Things I want to say, words that want to be spoken, but I am editing myself. Don’t want to rock the boat, disrupt this delicate balance that we have arrived at Read more

Insurers Bait and Switch

More and more Americans are falling victim to one of the most insidious bait-and-switch schemes in U.S. history. As they do, health insurance executives and company shareholders are getting richer and richer.
This industry-wide plot explains how health insurers have been able to reap record profits during the recent recession as the ranks of the uninsured and underinsured continue to swell.
It also explains why the insurance industry and its allies are pulling out all the stops to kill a measure in the California legislature that could protect state residents from losing their homes and being forced into bankruptcy if they get seriously sick or injured.
On June 2, the California Assembly passed AB 52, a bill that would give state regulators the authority to reject excessive health insurance rate increases. Similar legislation has been introduced in other state legislatures, but nowhere are the stakes higher than in California–not only because AB 52 would allow the insurance commissioner to turn down requests for unjustifiably high rate hikes, but also because it would enable the commissioner to reject increases in deductibles as well Read more

NeoCon 2011 Unplugged VIDEO

Last week, the nation’s leading commercial design expo — NeoCon (formerly NeoCon WTF) — came and went for it’s 42nd year in Chicago’s historic Merchandise Mart. NeoCon showcases product launches for the industry’s most renowned brands, some well-known, such as Herman Miller, Knoll, and Steelcase, and some brands you’ll likely have never heard of, including Bretford, InterfaceFLOR, and Heller.
For design professionals, NeoCon is one of the most exciting events of the year, featuring glamorous black tie galas, profound keynotes, and innovative commercial furnishings as far as the eye can see. For non-professionals, envision a chair-coma, if that’s even permitted as a phrase. Below are some highlights of this year’s expo.
Bretford was probably one of my most enjoyable showroom visits of 2011, courtesy of President Mikel Briggs Read more

5 Greatest Architects Under 50

Historically architecture as a profession has bestowed recognition on its participants mostly in a later stage of their careers and in many cases they are given their first important projects after their fifties. From Palladio all the way to Mies, their works have taken decades–if not generations–to be of influence to a wider group of practitioners, but not any more.
This is the era of the sculptural modernist, where digital tools allow even the most gymnastic structures to be digitally tested and brought to life. The master architect of this generation also understands the emergence of the connected humanity, where visual ideas can be propagated instantly to a world audience. Transformative work is no longer regional in scope, but gets rapidly adopted by a global community Read more

Other Music New York The Original Indie Record Store VIDEO meets owner of New York indie music store, Other Music’s Josh Madell, who gives an insight into what it takes for an independent music store to succeed in these tough financial times.
Established in the 1990s, Other Music was formed in conjunction with the explosion of indie music. Madell and his business partner felt that there was not a place that housed enough of the vast quantities of new music that was emerging. To this day, Other Music adheres to its original purpose: to provide access to the most diverse range of underground music possible.
Although a plethora of replica independent stores opened after Other Music, Madell explains that many have closed down, which is unsurprising when even mega-music conglomerates – Tower Records, HMV and Virgin – were unable to sustain stores in the wake of the internet download phenomenon.
read full news from

Who Smiles and Who Cries When They Divorce

Some marriages end with shared sorrow. Others end with lasting longing by one partner and hardly a backward glance by the other. It’s comforting for people to believe that divorce is sought by a couple who fully agree that the marriage has failed. But often only one person wants out Read more

How Custody Evaluators Think about Domestic Violence

One of the most challenging aspects of custody decisions is the issue of domestic violence. About 20% of divorces require judges to appoint a custody evaluator to assist in the determination of custody arrangements. There are a wide range of estimates (50% – 90%) of the extent to which these divorce cases involve aggression and violence. One of the central questions that the custody evaluator must decide is whether the domestic violence is likely to continue and how to handle custody arrangements in a way that does not put family members at-risk of further violence Read more

Washingtons Favorite Terrorists

In the 10 years that I have lived in Washington, I have never seen lobbyists for al-Qaeda parade through the halls of Congress. I have not seen any events on Capitol Hill organized by Hamas. And I have not seen any American politicians take campaign contributions from the Islamic Jihad.
But the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), an organization with the blood of Americans and Iranians alike on its hands, freely does all of these things, despite being a designated foreign terrorist organization by the U.S Read more

Only Wall Street Can Resolve the DebtCeiling Impasse By Pulling Money From Republicans

“I spend most of my time telling people to do the things they ought have the sense to be doing without my telling them” –Harry Truman.
To resolve the (inevitable) impasse on the debt-ceiling, President Obama may have to hold a news conference to exhort Congress and meet with Congressional leaders to demonstrate he is trying, but resolution of the impasse can only arise from his Chief of Staff, Bill Daley’s, discussions with Wall Street and the Chamber of Commerce.
In the Biden talks, the conferees have, so we are told, identified $1.3T in cuts over the next decade. The ball is in the Republicans’ court.
But, left to on their own, these parties are no more likely to resolve this matter by August 2, or any other date, than the Israelis and Palestinians are to define boundaries, forswear violence, and agree to peace. There are just too many Islambouli and Amir (assassins of Anwar Sadat and Yitzhak Rabin, respectively) equivalents lurking — e.g., Grover Norquist, the Koch Boys, Freedomworks — who are prepared to assassinate politically those who stray from party orthodoxy on taxes. Recently re-elected Senators such as Tom Coburn (R-OK) may have a 5-year grace period, but Members of the House are facing re-election in 2012.
Wall Street and the Chamber of Commerce (collectively, “Wall Street”) bought this Congress Read more