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Happy International Women’s Day. Unless You’re Born Female in China.

[ 0 ] March 8, 2010 |

The Economist has a damning article about son preference and female infanticide in East Asia, and the negative impacts on societies and regional stability as well as on girls. Heartening to see an important global gender issue make the front page of such an influential weekly (though why it took them so long escapes me – Valerie Hudson and Andrea den Boer’s influential article, appeared in International Security almost ten years ago; now the Economist is writing as if it has “discovered” high sex-ratio societies just in time for International Women’s Day.)

Well, so be it. But while the Economist has global elites’ attention fleetingly focused on gender and “gendercide,” because of how it affects the state-system, let me update the framework on offer slightly:

a) In the past decade since Hudson and den Boer first called attention to Asia’s “Bare Branches” problem, they have also been working on developing a dataset of gender empowerment indicators that among other things has allowed them to test the hypothesis that gender equality, not democracy, is actually the best predictor of pacifist relations between sovereign governments. And gender equality means a whole lot more than keeping little girls alive. Let Obama think about that as he revamps Bush’s democracy promotion agenda in the service of global stability.

b) Ultimately, let’s not confuse global stability with human rights. “Securitizing” a problem like this can be useful, as I’ve often argued, but it can backfire. Natalie Hudson’s new book argues that the advocacy language that got women’s rights on the agenda at the UN Security Council has also hobbled it at the policy implementation stage. I can see the point of making policymakers care about female infanticide because the knock-on effects are bad for whole societies. But I’d like to think that we’d want it to end even if that weren’t the case: killing anyone because of the genitals they were born with is simply wrong.

c) This brings me to a final comment. As an advocacy trope it works… sort of. But as a concept “gendercide” ala Mary Warren has been usefully picked apart and expanded to include a whole range of mass killing practices in the last two decades – including those targeting men. It would be a shame to see it become synonymous now primarily with the issue of sex-selective abortion as a security problem.

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RSS Issues

[ 0 ] March 8, 2010 |

We realize that there are some issues with the RSS feed this morning; this is part of the transition. Please remain calm.

Best,

Management

"Does Conrad need to stop by Politico’s offices with a picture book and some finger puppets?"

[ 0 ] March 8, 2010 |

Shorter Mike Allen: “I’m stealing my employers’ money. OK, my hypothetical employers who care about informing the public.”

Evidence on the Tory Strategy of Targeting Marginals

[ 0 ] March 8, 2010 |

Can be found here. In short, it looks to be successful. Longer, the BPIX poll that was released yesterday is being touted as having a large enough sample size to say something about the marginals that the Tories are targeting, and claims the swing in said seats is significantly higher than the national swing.

Note, this poll shows a Tory plurality of only 2% over Labour, whereas over the past several weeks YouGov has settled into a 5% to 6% range, with that one “blip” of 2% last weekend. A uniform swing would produce a C 252 / L 309 / LD 56 distribution — in all likelihood a Labour minority government. In order to gain a plurality share of the seats, the Tories would have to take 29 additional seats off of Labour (not the Lib Dems, but Labour); to obtain an outright albeit narrow governing majority, they would need 74 seats in addition to what a uniform national swing would predict.

Unfortunately, nothing on this poll appears to be available aside from the superficial information I’ve discussed above. I’m especially keen to know how, and to what degree, the marginals were oversampled. While an N of 5655 is impressive for a poll of this nature, a purely random sampling would equate into an N of 8.7 for each of the 650 constituencies. Of course, they didn’t sample in purely random fashion as some form of stratified sampling was certainly employed, but still, how large can the N be for the 75 or so odd marginals that the Tories are targeting?

I Called It.

[ 0 ] March 8, 2010 |

Hurt Locker wins best picture. Christoph Waltz wins best supporting actor.

On the persistent metafictions of Alan Moore

[ 0 ] March 8, 2010 |

I can’t wait until the new site goes live and I can tuck bulky material below the fold. In the meantime, if you’re interested in the rhetorical chicanery of early Alan Moore (particularly in Miracleman), you can find an analysis of it here.

Oscars

[ 0 ] March 7, 2010 |

A good question: should the acting categories at the Oscars be gender-neutral? Certainly, in the abstract I think Elsesser is correct that the gender segregation is indefensible: acting is acting. I take the point in response that in our actual unjust world gender-neutral awards would lead to the underrepresentation of women. My guess, though, is that acting is the one category in which women least need further recognition — and award for women who direct would have much greater egalitarian effects, I think, particularly in terms of encouraging studios to find talent. (It’s hard to imagine that a Lynne Ramsay or Tamara Jenkins would find it so hard to get capital if they had a chance at a directing Oscar.)

Tonight’s will win/should win:

Best Picture: Dances With Expensive Smurfs/No strong preference, in that I liked all the ones I saw very much and all were flawed. Basterds, I guess, although without second viewings that’s pretty tentative.

Director: Bigelow/Fine with me, although Tarantino’s work was also exceptional.

Actor: Bridges/Can’t say, haven’t seen Crazy Heart. I’d certainly be happy to see Bridges win.

Actress: Bullock/Haven’t seen The Blind Side, although I doubt that matters. I’d vote for Mulligan, although Streep was certainly terrific.

Supporting Actor: Waltz/Well, it’s the only one I’ve seen, but…Waltz.

Supporting Actress: Mo’Nique/Can’t say, haven’t seen Precious. I will say that I thought Farmiga was terrific.

Gimme Moore

[ 0 ] March 7, 2010 |

Michael Moore has a recommendation for President Obama about a replacement for Rahm Emanuel:

“Dear President Obama,

I understand you may be looking to replace Rahm Emanuel as your chief of staff. I would like to humbly offer myself, yours truly, as his replacement.

I will come to D.C. and clean up the mess that’s been created around you. I will work for $1 a year. I will help the Dems on Capitol Hill find their spines and I will teach them how to nonviolently beat the Republicans to a pulp.

And I will help you get done what the American people sent you there to do.

It’s not a bad cover letter, though fflambeu at Firedoglake asks whether Moore could effect this change with anything short of the Presidency itself. But it sure is a great read – check it out here if you’ve not already – and don’t forget the post-script:

“P.S. Just to give you an idea of the new style I’ll be bringing with me, when a cornhole like Sen. Ben Nelson tries to hold you up next time, this is what I will tell him in order to get his vote: “You’ve got exactly 30 seconds to rescind your demand or I will personally make sure that Nebraska doesn’t get one more federal dollar for the rest of Obama’s term. And then I will let everyone in your state know that you wear Sooner panties, backwards. NOW DROP AND GIVE ME 50!”

The federal government is like Schlitz after Schlitz stopped being a good beer

[ 0 ] March 7, 2010 |

This is possibly the worst metaphor in the history of, um, . . . history.

For one thing, putative changes in the perceived legitmacy of a political regime cannot in any way be compared usefully to consumer preferences in regard to beer. For another, Schiltz always sucked. For a third — ah forget it.

OK seriously, this kind of thing is embarrassing to law professors, bloggers, non-arboreal bipeds, both late justices Harlan, and the state of Tennessee.

Amazon’s loss is your gain; also, Chris Muir is a thief

[ 0 ] March 7, 2010 |

For those of you who don’t frequent comic blogs but do read comics, you might like to know that Amazon suddenly decided to start selling Marvel’s glossy, hard-bound, phone book-sized omnibus editions for $8.24. Click here to go a conveniently pre-sorted list of severely discounted titles and buy some before Amazon stops honoring orders on $99 books currently priced at less than a tenth of that. (I realize this reads like an ad, but think of it as a PSA: you know you want 1,064 shiny pages of this at $8.24, so don’t try to pretend otherwise.)

Update: To assuage my guilty anti-consumerist conscience, let me add another item to Rich Johnson’s swipe file:

The image on the left is a promotional poster for the new Tim Burton film; the one on the right comes from Chris Muir’s latest Day by Day, in which he tries to prove that not only is he a thief, he’s an incompetent one. He could claim that such tracery legitimately qualifies as satire, and therefore isn’t actually plagiarism, but that wouldn’t change the fact that his only real “talent” is for breaking backs and showing crack.

Update 2: It was fun while it lasted. Please feel free to continue to mock Muir, though.

Netherlands Okay, But We Ain’t Surrendering to New Zealand…

[ 0 ] March 7, 2010 |

Your Sunday morning surrender ceremony:

I still look forward to the day that Osama Bin Laden, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, and Mullah Omar surrender on board the USS Ronald Reagan…

Immoral Liar of the Day

[ 0 ] March 6, 2010 |

Bart Stupak.

I actually think Digby is being a little too charitable when she says that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is “willing to deep six the rest of their social justice agenda for political reasons.” I don’t see any real evidence that the Bishops (an interest group that should, as Digby says, not be conflated with Roman Catholics per se) have a meaningful social justice agenda at all. As far as I can tell, their actual policy agenda is 1)making it as hard as possible for poor women to obtain safe abortions and 2)there is no #2.

…as a number of commenters point out, I forgot about rule #2: no pooftahs.