Friday, March 27, 2009

Germany's social market economy

Since my days in grad school studying finance and economics, I've admired many aspects of Germany's economic framework (e.g. workplace participation, social safety nets, shared work time, employee training) and this article in today's The New York Times highlights how those very characteristics, so unique to "social market" economies like Germany's, provide a buffer against economic downturns as we're seeing now. It's small wonder that Germany is not in the state of near panic we're seeing in the United States. Of course, the ideologues here in the US will respond with shouts of "socialism" (like it's a dirty word) without ever stopping to think that perhaps the better word to describe Germany's approach to economic policies is simply "pragmatism" and nothing more. This is how grown-ups do things. Naturally, the jingoistic response will be that we have nothing to learn from this example. Our model is working out so well, isn't it?

The personal style of a cancer patient (and survivor)

Dana Jennings' column in The New York Times describing his ongoing experience with advanced prostate cancer is always a good read, offering as it does a very personal insight on one man's ongoing battle with cancer. His column on March 26th - "With a Buzz Cut, I Can Take On Anything" - in particular hit very close to home for me. It's worthwhile and highlights how we come to externalize, in terms of our appearance, the break from the past that a cancer diagnosis represents. There's the "me" now, living the "new normal" as so many of us cancer survivors call it, which often feels separate and distant from the "me" before diagnosis. In my case, I found myself growing facial hair and sheering my hair down to ever shorter lengths without giving it too much conscious thought. Reading Jennings' column, I think I understand the unconscious motivation for this. For example, he describes his impatience with pictures of himself from before ("Boy, you don’t know nothin’!"), something with which I really identify. In any event, the change in one's style after diagnosis can be an outward way of embarking on a new life and perhaps even a way of drawing strength in the face of cancer. This is an excellent column, one I urge my fellow cancer survivors (and their partners) to read.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Pope's Approach to the AIDS Crisis in Africa...

The Pope's approach to the AIDS crisis in Africa is to continue to advocate against the use of condoms. In fact, rather than just stopping at that, he even thinks condoms increase the risk of AIDS. Wow. I suppose this man fancies himself an expert in epidemiology. Unbelievable.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Obama and the religious right

Two right-wing religious fundy groups - Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America - will be meeting with Obama officials. I'm left puzzled as to what this administration hopes to gain from talking to groups dedicated to rolling back reproductive rights and pushing a homophobic agenda. These groups are single-minded in their drive to push gay people back into the closet (or worse) and to prevent women from having control over their own reproductive choices, just to name two issues. They're uncompromising in their positions, thus begging the question of just what the point is.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

You too can apologize to Rush Limbaugh. All the Republicans are doing it.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has now made it easier to generate an apology to Rush Limbaugh, using the words of regret and shame used by RNC Chairman Steele, Republican Congressman Gingrey, and Republican Governor Sanford. Yes, you too can send Rush an apology for calling him "ugly" or an "idiot" or an "opportunistic brick thrower." Go ahead. The Republicans are all doing it so why don't you? It's seem to be all the rage these days. As for me, I'll just stick to my long-held view of him, one I'm too polite to share.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Massachusetts couples bring legal challlenge to DOMA

DOMA, the absurdly-named Defense of Marriage Act, needs to go down in flames. A group of married same-sex couples of Massachusetts aim to do just that, at least with respect to DOMA's restrictions on Federal recognition of their marriages. Read all about it in GLAD's (Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders) description of the case and the issues at stake.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Driving in Central New Jersey

Why is it that some people fall asleep or go into a deep coma as soon as they get behind the wheel? We have a snow storm coming into the area today. So I need to take care of a few things. The tires on the snowblower are no good (why did I bother to deal with this only now?), I need to pick up my laptop at work in case I need to telecommute tomorrow, I'd like to pick up just a few things at the grocery store. Interstate 287 is actually relatively empty as I head out at 9:00 am. Nevertheless, some folks insist on staying in the left lane on the highway, the left lane on a four lane road near my house, the left lane everywhere. And almost without exception, those same people, the people so in love with that left lane, decide to take a nap behind the wheel. Zzzzzzzzz. Folks, my fellow citizens, my dear fellow New Jerseyans, the left lane is for passing only. It's the law. Check it out. Pass the nice little cars in the middle lane and then move over. It's not that difficult a concept. It's really easy, in fact, even if you haven't had that third cup of coffee or forgot to take your ginko biloba. It's smart, it's easy, it's common sense. Oh, and by the way, you comatose road-hogging left-lane-loving inconsiderate don't-ever-use-the-rear-view-mirror morons, it's the law!