It’s Friday November 8th! Do you know where your podcast is? On this day in history back in 1895, German scientist Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen became the first person to observe X-rays. X-rays are electromagnetic energy waves that act like light rays, but at wavelengths almost 1,000 times shorter. Upon their discovery, X-rays allowed doctors to see inside the human body for the first time without surgery. We here at Upside Downtrodden feel a special kinship with X-rays. We, too, possess the ability to see through humans. Read more
Oftentimes I feel as though the views of the Republican Party are not properly characterized in campus discourse. Today I’d like to briefly summarize four oft-ignored perspectives on the Republican economic agenda, which isn’t as scary as it is usually portrayed in campus debate.
First and foremost, the Republican Party is not a party that only cares about rich people. Republicans want everyone to have a good-paying job that provides for his or her family. Many Republicans come from humble beginnings and humble backgrounds. Many were immigrants who came to this country with nothing but a dream. They know what it is to face hard times, and are not callous to the difficult circumstances in which many impoverished people find themselves.
In short, Republicans do not differ with Democrats at all in terms of empathy. Rather, they differ in their beliefs regarding the means by which to help the poorest among us. I think it’s safe to say Republicans have more faith in the power of free markets than the Democratic Party. Republicans would argue that free markets, unencumbered by unnecessary government regulation, allow for the greatest growth in prosperity for all. Read more
I recently had a conversation with an Australian student in which neither of us knew what the other was saying. We were both speaking English, but it was probably the most unproductive conversation you can imagine.
We were ostensibly discussing the merits of the liberal commitment to supporting the welfare state. It was one of those moments I was looking forward to while signing up for the Duke in Oxford program; here was my chance, I thought, to attain enlightenment in an oak paneled room while discussing a subject whose pretension matched that of my environment. And with a foreigner!
But it was not to be. I became increasingly confused because he said there was no commitment at all – liberals are only concerned with supporting the free market. I tried explaining that liberals generally favor expanding the welfare state and otherwise checking the unregulated market. After several minutes of fruitless efforts we decided to change the subject. Read more
The subject of Father Scott's homily on Sunday was "tunnel vision," something our local parish priest knows a lot about since it was not until he was in his twenties and well out of high school that Father Scott finally got his driver's license. "Tunnel vision," said the state trooper who flunked him. "Stop focusing on the straight lines in front of you and see everything around you."
But it wasn't to whine about being the only kid in his senior class who still rode a bike to school that Father Scott brought up the subject of "tunnel vision." Instead, it was as a prod to urge the rest of us to stop fixating on the bright lines defining our own narrow prejudices, or tribes, or self-imposed prisons so that we might see the larger world around us.
That is because, as Father Scott explained, "God colors outside the lines."
Mine is a parish, as I have mentioned before, that lies on the outskirts (and mostly under the radar screen) of the larger Boston Archdiocese. It's a town that is predominantly Jewish but which has a protestant church on three of the town square's four corners and also a mosque all our own. Read more
There has been some ongoing debate about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and some comments she made about constitution making in countries that are endeavoring to rewrite, or develop whole new constitutions. I would like to examine whether she is being unfairly attacked in these debates. Read more
My first memory of any recognition of race was the day I brought my new friend home for lunch. My grandma must have been watching us come up the steps because she met us at the door and said it wasn't convenient to have guests for lunch. She sent my new friend packing and then set me down and told me to never do that again. She said we don't mix with Blacks. That's all she would say.
Later, I asked my mom what she meant. Mom said that grandma had moved to the city from the farm and she had no experience with people of other races. She said Grandma was prejudiced. I asked what that meant. Mom said prejudice was fear of others because they are different from us. She said there were lots of ways to be prejudiced but race was the most common. I went to public school and in the 50's there wasn't much integration so I didn't have many interactions with other races. Read more
“DOMA humiliates children of same-sex parents," wrote Justice Kennedy in the landmark SCOTUS decision U.S. v. Windsor this week. Now recognized by our highest court is gay marriage being the same as straight in those states where gay marriage is lawful. Now acknowledged are children growing up with same-sex parents being equal to and the same as children growing up with straight parents. This is the beginning of the end of the stigmatized family; indeed the legalization of gay marriage in all of the United States is the last frontier of true social equality.
The wider acceptance of interracial marriage was the first step, and growing respect for the single parent home is another, in the long journey away from the myth of the superiority of the straight, homogenous nuclear family. The SCOTUS decision to overrule DOMA could be the final statement in the declaration of the inherent equality in all types of families. Read more
Americans most generally have a great sense of pride for their country, because they believe in what it stands for and the principles it was founded on.
Over our nation’s history, America has had many voices speak out, though in protest or by petition, from many segments of its population, thanks to the strong civil liberties we all inherit by being citizens of this great country. Most of those voices came from minorities, protesting their rights to equality. Some came from religious groups and anti-abortion groups, and some groups have tried imposing their will on all of us by changing our laws to reflect their own beliefs.
Much of the battles for civil rights, from the Emancipation of slavery to the fight for gay rights, women’s rights and other civil rights movements of today, have molded this nation into what it has become. We have grown enlightened but at a somewhat slower pace than many of our European allies. Then of course, some of the countries that we have fought wars in are far behind us when it comes to women’s rights, gay rights, and civil rights in general. Read more
As a gay man and one of America’s many minorities, I have seen what popular opinion has done to our nation, as far as allowing racism and bigotry in our laws and in our hearts. I also know that if it were not for the judicial system in this country, many of civil rights would not exist for many minorities.
Three justices from the Iowa Supreme Court were ousted in the Election of 2010 because they interpreted a violation to the state’s constitution, restricting marriage to just one man and one woman. It did not matter that it was a 7-0 ruling; just that it angered some conservative groups who went on a crusade to bring them down. Read more
Ko Olina Beach (author’s photograph) Read more
And now for something completely different.
Except that it isn’t really. I say that it isn’t really different because, although this post will seem to be about politics, in reality it will be about a common topic on this blog: Anti-science. And where is this anti-science? Sadly, it’s in the platform of a major party of one of the largest states in the country. It also meshes with the anti-science inherent in a lot of so-called “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) and all comes together in one place: The proposed 2012 Platform of the Republican Party of Texas. It’s all there, as you will see. Read more
When a young girl put a picture of herself, holding a book she had just gotten as a present, on the social networking site reddit, she was immediately subjected to intense verbal sexual assault by reddit readers who aptly demonstrated how awful it can be when boys and young men are left to say and do what they want without the social control of anyone knowing who they are. Read more
The founding fathers of this nation were very wise men when they inserted into our Constitution the clear separation of church and state, surely they must have realized from the history they knew of at that time, of what a society becomes when it is ruled by religion.
We Americans can also see the harm that Sharia Law can do to a Muslim nation, where women aren’t even allowed to drive or have a job outside the home. And if you’re gay; you’d better keep it to yourself because it could mean your death if the government finds out. Read more
I mentioned this in the Links Dump this morning, but Timothy Burke's post on the inherent tensions in the residential part of small college life is really excellent stuff, and deserves more than the 1000 characters I can quote in Delicious: Read more
Here is a fascinating insight into President Obama as a young law student at Harvard, in 1991.
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