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People who are hip to the we-gov (as opposed to e-gov) concept are beginning to see that in order to bring netizens in as partners in governance, they need to be data literate, and need to be empowered with an understanding of what data actually means. Otherwise data — data that is useless to anyone except an intellectual elite — is largely just another tool for public relations, or a way to lower costs.
Making sense of the California ballot is like reading Chinese. Literally, it actually is — although the state graciously provides English and Spanish translations.
One proposition that I find especially baffling is Proposition 14, which would introduce the open primary process for congressional, statewide, and legislative races. In an open primary, all voters can choose any candidate regardless of political party preference. The two candidates receiving the greatest number of votes appear on the general election ballot.
My four year-old has Down syndrome. Yesterday, I sent her off to school for the first time in our new suburban town. We chose this particular suburb because of its reputation for a committed and loving approach to educating and including children with special needs. In New York City, where we lived for eight years, the best strategy for families with limited financial resources looking to get their special-needs kids into decent education environments was to sue the city. Every year. Until they turn twenty-one. Usually these suits are successful, but we have no stomach for this kind of thing, and we don’t have the finances to keep a lawyer on retainer for seventeen years, so we moved. Even though we’re now in a better neighborhood, I can’t help but worry a little bit extra about my sweet Miss M, since the country seems to be falling apart on so many fronts. Five years ago, the medical team who told us our unborn baby would have Down syndrome advised us to “terminate.” Hearing a diagnosis of Down syndrome is a horrible, terrible shock. All your hopes for your unborn baby, for your family, for your own journey into old age, change in an instant. To have people not-so-subtly reminding you that your child will also be a burden on society is a crushing blow. Yet this is the message that all too frequently gets sent to people in this very unfortunate, and vulnerable, position. We know Miss M won’t be going to Harvard, just as we knew we had to get out of the city in order to find a more hospitable place to raise our family, a place where she has the freedom to pursue her interests and talents. Maybe she’ll end up living on her own, holding down a job, and, at least partially, supporting herself. Come to think of it, that’s what I’m hoping for all my kids. But under a government that seems intent on making ALL of us wards of the state, how long before some of us are deemed too much of a burden? After all, we’re living in a country where the president’s right-hand man feels free to drop the R-bomb in the White House and Mr. Obama himself jokes on late-night TV that his atrocious bowling skills might qualify him for the Special Olympics (remember? he got a few laughs). I wonder what the future holds. Not just for my little Miss M, but for all of us.
Below somewhere, Conor Friedersdorf makes this observation (I know I’m supposed to be able to link to his original post, but I haven’t yet figured out how):
And isn’t it nice, incidentally, that none of us fear the French, German or Italian overreaction that the former German foreign minister mentioned? Given even recent European history, that is an achievement to be celebrated.
At the beginning of each summer vacation, Drew, I like to buy a stack of books, set the books on top of the dining room table, and then command my children to start reading. (“Command?” That’s the way I’d like it to happen. The truer words would be “cajole” and “beg.”) May I ask your advice? My oldest, home from her first year in college, will be reading for courses she’ll be taking next fall, while my youngest, only eight, will devote her time to children’s books. That leaves the three teenaged boys in the middle.
All three of the boys have already read–devoured, actually–your first book for young adults, The Last Thing I Remember, making it more or less mandatory for me to begin my summer book purchases with your second book in the series, The Long Way Home. But where do I go from there? Ideally, I figure, I’d give the boys half a dozen or ten books, including, perhaps, a work or two of American history, a work or two of good sports writing, and maybe a brief volume of good science writing. What would you recommend?
I wanted to share my piece today in the New York Times, which argues that Elena Kagan is not the great friend of presidential power that her supporters claim. Her academic work praises Bill Clinton for taking the authority to issue regulations from the agencies (which are given that power by Congress) to enact what she calls progressive solutions to national problems. But she says it is not because of any power that the Constitution grants the President. Because of that, I argue that she would not recognize any powers of the President, under the Constitution, to wage the war beyond what Congress allows him — the common view in the academy, I must admit.
I must admit surprise that a) the New York Times would let me appear on its pages, except as a target (let me make clear, that being a moving target for the New York Times can be great fun) ; and b) that it would allow a criticism of her for not supporting presidential power. Thoughts?
President Obama made two stops in my town tonight to fundraise for Barbara Boxer’s reelection campaign. Here’s an excerpt of the President’s remarks, as shown on San Francisco’s local KTVU Ten O’Clock News:
Here you got folks driving a car in a ditch, and then we’re out there in the mud pulling the car out of the ditch. And they’re sittin’ there, comfortable, drinkin’ on a slurpee or somethin’, sayin’, “Uh…you’re not pulling the car out of the ditch fast enough!” Then we finally get the car out of the ditch, and they want the keys back! I say, “You can’t have the keys! You don’t know how to drive!”
What Mark proclaimed to the world in his 2006 book, America Alone–namely that Europe is suffering demographic collapse and civilizational exhaustion–the New York Times, I noted the other day, has finally gotten around to confirming. To which James Poulos in effect replied, aw, cheer up:
[S]urely some among Europe’s rising generations will revolt against the notion that exhaustion and failure are their only birthright….We’d better prepare ourselves now, I wager, for a few inspiring surprises in Europe.
Just finished taping an episode of Uncommon Knowledge with Sebastian Junger on his new book, War. Based on five extended trips to the American outposts in the Korengal Valley, the location that saw more combat than any other in the Afghan theater, War is beautifully written and full of acute, vivid portraiture–incomparably the best extended reporting on actual combat in Afghanistan that I’ve encountered.
Before we sat down, though, I’d developed the suspicion that Junger might simply want to discuss the experience of war, limiting himself to description and narrative while avoiding the larger questions. In the book itself, after all, he takes pains to demonstrate how irrelevant all the big think seems to the young men doing the fighting.
Greetings from Park Slope, Brooklyn:
The good news is that there’s a thriving two-party system in Park Slope. The bad news is that it’s Democrats vs. Greens (seriously, the Greens outpoll the GOP in local elections). But it’s a beautiful neighborhood, so I put up with the ACLU petition drives, the militant locavores, and the eye-rolls I get when I say “why yes, I would like a plastic bag.”
An easy city to hate, perhaps. But there’s something about L.A. that keeps me coming back. And back. At The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf rises to the defense against Bernard Henri Levy’s very old world attack on the City of Angels. A representative gripe:
[…] what must be true for a city to be legible?
Interesting, and troubling, that something seems to be up in North Korea. First they torpedo a patrol boat — now confirmed by South Korean MOD — now talk of Nork military alerts. Seoul remains under the gun of a lot of NKorean artillery. One itchy trigger… This could be POTUS’ next foreign policy headache. As usual the PRC is being less than helpful. After all, a crisis on the Korean pennisula might interfere with iPod production…
Things being as they are, and people as they are, there is no way to prevent somebody, somewhere, from concluding that “NATIONAL REVIEW favors drugs.” We don’t; we deplore their use; we urge the stiffest feasible sentences against anyone convicted of selling a drug to a minor. But that said, it is our judgment that the war on drugs has failed, that it is diverting intelligent energy away from how to deal with the problem of addiction, that it is wasting our resources, and that it is encouraging civil, judicial, and penal procedures associated with police states. We all agree on movement toward legalization, even though we may differ on just how far.
Yes: the new New Pornographers single “Crash Years.” Dreary band name, but there’s a sweet and subtle hook in the chorus, an Americana twist on the Wilco-ish alt-pop of Belgian band dEUS at its best (1999’s The Ideal Crash). Quite a step away from the jittery, yippy clip of earlier songs like “Twin Cinema,” but this soft parade ain’t no soft rock.
No: the Great New Sound of ’10, Treats by Sleigh Bells. Cute voice? Check. Advanced minimalist guitar heroics? Check. Trendiest hip hop beats, seemingly effortlessly appropriated and repackaged for ultra-indie eardrums? Check. So what’s the problem? There’s everything to like, but nothing to love. Like certain pieces of conceptual art, one glance is all it takes to ‘get it’. After that, there’s nothing to get.
OMG as they say in LA. I am being HOUNDED by a census taker! I mailed in my forms late, and so they decided someone had to come to my door and count me. Well, it wasn’t a convenient time since I was on the phone with some VITAL Terrell Owens bizniz, so I made an appt for Saturday at 1pm. They showed up at 6pm and I thought – you know what? (curse words here YOU). I mailed in my forms. I did my duty albeit late. Now they have Dog The Census Hunter on my case! He comes 3 and 4 times a day. I refuse to answer my door and answer his stupid questions. Sunday, I locked my gate and he climbed over it!!! And just now he tried to TRICK me! He rang the doorbell, the dogs barked. Oh…. it seems he left. But no! He was still there! He rang again and then KICKED MY DOOR! BOOM! Hahahaha. I am probably going to be arrested before this whole thing is over. But I have enjoyed writing here, I love you all. And I will be posting from the Gray Bar Hotel next!
Okay. Let’s discuss the devastation of an eco-system, an economy and a damn pretty place. Why is Obama hanging all his hopes on BP and not turning to every oil company who has had experience in capping and containing oil spills? There’s certainly enough of them. This could turn from catastrophe to triumph for him. Even the liberal blogs are asking these questions. He’s acting more like an “oil man” than that “oil man” who last resided in the White House. Someone illuminate me.
I’ve spent the entire morning congratulating myself on not having watched Lost. Does that make me shallow? (If not, how can I become shallow?) I stopped watching after the first six episodes when it became clear to me (as a certified professional maker-up of things) that the conclusion could only be 1) it was all a dream or 2) everyone was dead. The only thing that would have redeemed it is if the entire cast had awakened in bed with Bob Newhart.