Arts/Literature

Nota Bene #18 Part 2 of 2

With the downturn in the economy, the welfare reform Bill Clinton enacted during his presidency might not seem as politically prescient as it once did. In his New York Times article, “From Welfare Shift in ’96, a Reminder for Clinton,” Peter S. Goodman reports on Peter Edelman, who quit his post as assistant secretary of social services at the Department of Health and Human Services in protest after Mr. Clinton signed the measure. Not only Bill, but Hillary, doesn’t “‘acknowledge the number of people who were hurt,’ Mr. Edelman said. ‘It’s just not in their lens.'”

Once Hillary was in the Senate, Goodman reports, “When the overhaul bill came up for reauthorization, Sandra Chapin, a former welfare recipient affiliated with a coalition called Welfare Made a Difference, lobbied Congress to allow more women to attend college while they received aid. Mrs. Clinton ‘wouldn’t have anything to do with it,’ Ms. Chapin said.”

In a Chicago Tribune article, “Study: Earners high, low think they belong to middle class,” John Keilman and Deborah Horan write: “A new report by the Pew Research Center finds that [most] people, no matter where they fall on the economic spectrum, believe they’re in some way part of the middle class.” [Emphasis added]

At USA Gold Michael Kosares reports on the “Golden Gut Check“: “. . . fundamental trends suggest that the gold market may be moving from a period of general scarcity to outright shortages. . . . A shortage raises the possibility that investors who have yet to purchase gold (or plan to purchase more) might be crowded out of the market by major financial institutions and mining firms intent on squaring their physical short positions.” Calling all alchemists!

Internet pioneer David Farber told the New York Times, “If you are looking at broadband, we have a lot of problems. We are slow as molasses in deploying the next generation.” According to a report sponsored by the World Economic Forum, though, the US actually ranks fourth in Internet service behind Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland. It seems broadband is only one of 68 criteria the report uses.

Making a good living has always been one of the reasons young people decide to become doctors. Is that true of our best medical minds as well? Natasha Singer reports for the New York Times: “Seniors accepted in 2007 as residents in dermatology and two other appearance-related fields — plastic surgery and otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat doctors, some of whom perform facial cosmetic surgery) — had the highest median medical-board scores and the highest percentage of members in the medical honor society among 18 specialties.” Okay, our best doctors are nipping and tucking. So what if you die prematurely? Isn’t leaving a good-looking corpse at least as important as a long life?

In her Time magazine piece, “Help for Sex Starved Wives,” at Andrea Sachs reports: “We discovered in the survey, and it bears itself out in my practice, that the person with the lower sex drive controls the sexual relationship, not out of a need to manipulate or control, but because they have veto power. . . . There’s an unspoken agreement: the person with the lower desire expects his or her spouse to accept it, not complain about it, and also to be monogamous. . . . an unfair and unworkable arrangement.”

At AlterNet’s blog section, the Peek, Katie Halper writes: “I had always thought that lesbian porn was the most universal porn, the porn most likely to achieve world peace [!] by bringing together various populations, by uniting (at least some) lesbians, straight men, straight women, and trans who enjoyed lesbian porn.” Until, that is, some of her female friends admitted to a taste for gay male porn. At least it’s neatly symmetrical to men liking girl-on-girl porn. [Emphasis added.]

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The memoirs of one of the twentieth century’s most important novelists has been published in England. In his London Review of Books piece, “Whisky and Soda Man,” Thomas Jones writes: “It seems likely that Miracles of Life will be Ballard’s last book. In the brief concluding chapter, little more than a page long, he says that in June 2006 he was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer that had spread to his bones.” For those to whom the name JG Ballard doesn’t ring a bell, think “Empire of the Sun” and “Crash.”

Appendix:
Top legal blog Balkinization ran a post on the report that “dozens of top-secret talks and meetings in the White House, the most senior Bush administration officials discussed and approved specific details of how high-value al Qaeda suspects would be interrogated by the Central Intelligence Agency.” It received the following comment.

“Appalling. Again. Supposing they imagined themselves to be Saving Civilization, what can their idea of civilization be?”
felix culpa : 11:26 PM