June 28, 2012, 1:05 pm
Today the Supreme Court has ruled that I can lie about military honors and that I must have health care. A seemingly contradictory set of rulings, perhaps, since one seems to venerate individual freedom and speech protections to the point of absurdity and the other is an attempt to actually impose the common good on individual desires.
The Supreme Court
overturned a federal law that made it a crime to lie about having earned a military decoration, saying that the law was an unconstitutional infringement on free speech.
The ruling was in response to the 2006 Stolen Valor Act, passed after someone stood up at a public meeting and claimed to have been a wounded marine who had been awarded the Medal of Honor. This is good news for those of us who like to win any argument by saying “but I served in Iraq.” I know that’s what I usually do when departmental meetings are not going my way….
February 7, 2012, 11:56 am
I can’t help but be fascinated by the bizarre nature of bad words and naughty gestures. Some words we can’t say because they’re just plain offensive, like the “n” word or now the “r” word. In my house, the “r” word is a point of contention between my daughters since one says it cannot be uttered while the other says it just to annoy her older sister and poke holes in her holier than thou attitude. As you can see, the whole situation is a slippery slope that makes us skate around painful histories and structures that imbue these insults with such power.
What words can be said and what can’t remains a thorny legal and cultural issue and Super Bowl Sunday clearly brought this to the surface. By now, everyone knows that MIA shot up her middle finger while dancing to Madonna’s “Give Me All Your Luvin’.” According to a BBC article,
The middle finger is documented to have expressed insult…
February 6, 2012, 11:31 am
This semester I am teaching a new (for me) course: “White People.” The course considers the historical formation of whiteness as well as its current cultural and economic manifestations. For me, teaching “white people” is an obvious way to work through some of the key issues of critical race studies: How did our current racial categories form and under what conditions? How are these racial categories intertwined with one another? How does race depend on class, gender, sexuality and often geographic location to make sense?
Of course, when you teach a course called “White People,” you are bound to take some teasing. Someone suggested that it’s a course to “paint white people as bad.” Another friend said I’m just trying to “relieve my liberal white guilt.” But I reject both the claim that all white people are the same and the claim that to critically examine one’s racial position is…
January 8, 2012, 4:43 pm
ABC NEWS hosted a halting debate last night at St. Anselm College. It was followed by a far better Meet The Press event this morning at 10:30. Neither gathering, however, provided much to roil the normally tranquil weekend news cycle.
Still there were a few noteworthy developments and one likely scenario is coming into focus for those who follow religious politicking:
Romney, Hard to Floor: In this campaign the former governor of Massachusetts has shown himself to be a superb defensive debater, a virtuoso of the rope-a-dope technique.
Consider the counterattack he executed this morning. In the late rounds, he found himself isolated, one-on-one, with the former Speaker of the House. This encounter with Newt Gingrich was frightening and this is because Newt Gingrich is frightening. And he is furious.
The former Speaker had just been asked to reflect on Romney’s negative…
January 5, 2012, 10:19 pm
Courtesy of Mrs. Berlinerblau, I was afflicted on Tuesday night–the night of the GOP Iowa Caucus–by the most debilitating, vomit-positive, 36-hour stomach virus known to medical science.
The illness rendered me not merely nauseous, but delusional. One of my delusions was of a boxer speedbag-punching my stomach as his trainer (named “Mack” in my reverie) exhorted him with the words: “F&^& him up, Jake. F%^% him up good.”
Assaulted as such, I was not able to post about the spectacular goings-on in Iowa. I console myself with the hope that my hyper-contagious virus has made its way to the Hawkeye state by now (and, in defiance of basic principles of immunology, right back to Mrs. Berlinerblau as well). The niceness of Iowans notwithstanding, I am quite frankly tired of hearing about them: their county fairs, their beef jerky prowess, their godforsaken food-on-a-stick culinary hoe do…
September 13, 2011, 10:30 am
Fox News ran a story that even watching just a few minutes of SpongeBob SquarePants can lower a child’s ability to concentrate, delay gratification, and might even cause learning problems.
The problems were seen in a study of 60 children randomly assigned to either watch SpongeBob, or the slower-paced PBS cartoon Caillou or assigned to draw pictures
Immediately after these nine-minute assignments, the kids took mental function tests; those who had watched SpongeBob did measurably worse than the others.
Then the researchers gave the kids the old marshmallow test. You know the one? Where they put some marshmallows in front of kids and say you can eat these now, but if you wait you get a lot more. This is supposed to measure future success and health. Needless to say, the kids who watched SpongeBob didn’t wait for very long before just shoving the marshmallows in their mouths. The…
June 13, 2011, 11:43 pm
Tonight’s Republican debate on the campus of St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. yielded little in the way of surprises (though Mike Huckabee rising from the electoral dead in a commercial and urging citizens who want to repeal “Obamacare” to sign petitions twice was a bit out of the ordinary).
In these early encounters candidates tend to refrain from enfilading one another, preferring to establish market share by pulverizing the incumbent. Therefore, we saw little in the way of sharp disagreement and internecine strife. Only Ron Paul was distinct, but distinct in precisely the isolationist, libertarian way that he is always distinct.
Tim Pawlenty who had recently mocked “Obamney care” did not seize a gift-wrapped opportunity from the moderator, John King, to pound frontrunner Mitt Romney. The resemblances between Romney’s health plan as governor of Massachusetts and that of…