Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Al Gore, Friend of the Animals

Al Gore is out to save the environment again. From Mary Katharine Ham's blog:

After Live Earth produced the carbon emissions of a small country in order to discourage carbon emissions, Gore has moved onto eating endangered species to encourage their preservation, I guess. Don't ask questions. He's a visionary:
Gore and his guests at the weekend ceremony dined on Chilean sea bass - arguably one of the world's most threatened fish species.
Also known as Patagonian toothfish, the species is under pressure from illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing activities in the Southern Ocean, jeopardising the sustainability of remaining stocks.
The species is currently managed by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Living Marine Resources, the body which introduced a catch and trade documentation scheme as an attempt to tackle illegal poaching of this species.
The story comes from the Humane Society.

Apparently, endangered fish taste better than abundant ones. I guess that makes sense, if no one liked them, no one would catch them . . . and they wouldn't be endangered, right?

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Real Media Divide

This article puts into words several amorphous thought that have been floating around in my head for a while.

Everyone talks about the huge divide in our society, how everything is polarized, left and right, liberal and conservative, etc. But I think this article makes an excellent point. The left-right divide isn't the real issue, it is simply magnified by the News/Entertainment divide.

Most people are not news junkies. They are smart, and they pay attention to what is important, but they don't follow every nuance of every breaking story 24/7. Others (like me) DO follow everything.

The article points out that the huge increase in information availability in recent years -- with expanded adoption of cable, satellite and the internet has allowed nearly everyone to find sites or stations that they enjoy. Naturally the news junkies gravitate to Fox News and CNN, Rush and NPR, and those who aren't obsessed with news follow their interests elsewhere. The news junkies, being the loudest, magnify any difference to the level of a fundamental disagreement -- when in reality the two sides agree on goals, and just differ on methods. (that's a theme for another post).

In effect this has created a new "specialization" -- you could call them "news junkies." They (I should say we), use their own jargon, and spend a lot of time discussing highly involved issues online, by radio call-in, and in our own specialized journals (National Review, the New Republic, etc). Meanwhile the world outside goes on, and most people just can't spare the time and effort to become experts in our field.

We (news junkies) are a little like physicists -- one may vehemently insist that the "the Large Hadron Collider WILL be able to produce the Higgs boson!", while the other retorts, "it will NOT, dang it! the energies in question just aren't sufficient - IDIOT!" Pretty soon, there's fisticuffs in the lab, and it's all downhill from there.

Meanwhile, normal people watching this are either asleep, or calling for the nice young men in the clean white coats to come and take the physicists away to a happy home with nice soft walls. (yes, Dr. Jones, there'll be Higgs bosons there, nice ones, happy ones! . . . of course you can talk to them. . . Just come on . . . get in the van . . . that's it . . . )

I'm sure there are people dialing right now to get us news junkies some help before it's too late. (as long as the padded room gets National Review, I'm good).


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Feminism losing ground?

The National Organization of Women is probably gathered in an emergency session today to deal with this new survey of mothers.
The Pew Research Center survey, being released today, found that only 21 percent of working mothers with children younger than 18 viewed full-time work as the best arrangement, down from 32 percent in 1997. Sixty percent of the working mothers said a part-time job would be best, up from 48 percent 10 years ago. And 19 percent said not working at all would be ideal — roughly the same as in 1997.
The survey also found a shift in preferences among stay-at-home mothers. Only 16 percent of them said their ideal situation would be to work full time outside the home, down from 24 percent in 1997. Conversely, 48 percent now say that not working at all outside the home is the best arrangement, up from 39 percent who felt that way in 1997. . . Cary Funk, a Pew researcher on the survey, said the trend reflected women's latest thoughts on the ideal arrangement for their children.
Apparently, not all modern women want to be workaholics. Oddly enough, many women believe that it would be better for their children if mom were at home either full or part time. . . huh . . . go figure. The really interesting part is the huge change in responses since 1997. Today, 33% fewer working mothers think full-time work is ideal than thought so 10 years ago. 25% more think part-time work would be best. That's a huge shift in a very short time. These aren't all new women entering the workforce with new ideas either. Many of the same women surveyed now were working in 1997. Many of these mothers are probably working in order to make ends meet rather than because they want to, given the cost of living "the good life" today.

Mothers who actually raise their children seem to be happier too. Today 33% fewer full-time moms want to be full-time workers outside the home than 10 years ago. Now 20% more full-time moms think they are doing what's best for their children than thought so in 1997. Almost half think that their being at home is best. (makes one wonder why the other half are at home, doesn't it?)

I can only guess at why opinions have changed so much. Maybe it's all the violence in schools, all the stupid internet videos of kids fighting, beating people, taking drugs, etc. maybe 9/11 changed the way we view families. Whatever the cause, opinions are changing. The economy doesn't help mothers realize their desires, however. As the article points out, the mothers' views don't reflect the reality.

According to the latest federal figures, 70.5 percent of American women with children younger than 18 work outside the home — including 60 percent of mothers with children younger than 3. And the newly emerging preference for part-time work doesn't mesh with current reality: Three-quarters of the working mothers have full-time jobs.

But, at least there seems to be a growing sense that children cannot raise themselves, and when others raise your kids, you may not like the way they turn out. And maybe, just maybe, there is a new generation of baby boomers' kids who missed having mom at home growing up, and don't want to cause their own children the same regret. And maybe people are starting to accept that men and women don't have to want the same things to lead worthwhile, productive lives.