They Don’t Even Want Consensus

Posted in Editorials on March 25th, 2013
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The March 16 episode of Both Sides Now featured Ron Reagan Jr. and Torie Clarke. The two were discussing Rand Paul’s filibuster of John Brennan’s nomination. Both agreed that it was grand standing, and that the President should be more transparent about the drone program.

Mark Green the host said “Consensus Alert!” To which Clarke responded, “Don’t you hate that? You just hate that as the host of the show.”

“No, we love it!” said Green.

“We actually live for those moments,” Reagan replied.

The topic was quickly changed, but I think the exchange was telling. Clarke’s mocking question was followed up with Reagan and Green’s enthusiastic reassurance. This is an almost perfect metaphor for the gridlock in the American government right now. Republicans don’t care about governing and Democrats are begging for table scraps of common ground.

Letter Writing: Support The Shield Act!

Posted in Editorials on March 7th, 2013
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When I had first heard about patent trolls, I thought that it was some kind of sick joke. But recent coverage on The Majority Report and WTF with Marc Maron have informed me that they are real, and someone who claims to own the idea of podcasting has been suing popular podcasts. This is an outrageous abuse of the system. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has created a web page where you can contact your elected officials and ask them to support The Shield Act.

The SHIELD Act spears patent trolls’ incentives right through the heart: if a patent troll sues someone, they better believe that the defendant actually infringes a valid patent. If not, the troll could be on the hook for the winning party’s full litigation costs, which often stretch into the millions of dollars.

This “fee shifting” system would empower innovators to fight back, while discouraging trolls from threatening lawsuits to start.

Please visit the Electronic Frontier foundation website today to email your Congressional Representative and Senators about this issue. If you are feeling ambitious, print out the sample email and send it to them via snail mail as well!

Fun Fridays: Podcast Review: Opinionated

Posted in Podcast Reviews on February 24th, 2012
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If you follow me on Twitter, you will see that one of the descriptive terms I use for myself is “podcast addict.” They are an integral part of my exercise routine, daily commute and errand running. In no particular order, I’d like to review some of my favorites. To see all of my podcast reviews, click here.

I was excited to hear that two of the feminist blogosphere’s most prominent writers were going to collaborate on a podcast. Amanda Marcotte and Samhita Mukhopadhyay record “Opinionated” the latest production from Citizen Radio. Their tagline, “The Feminists You Were Warned About” fits the show perfectly, and has quickly become one of my favorite podcasts.

Amanda and Samhita discuss current events and pop culture from a feminist perspective, providing insightful analysis with a deliciously
snarky brand of humor. Frequently, discussions involve the intersectionality of feminism with other social justice movements such as a recent discussion about interracial marriage or the way access to contraception and abortion care are more difficult for poor women. Other times they will talk about how a particular issue has impacted them directly – trying to navigate sex and relationships as a feminist or how to deal with the misogyny inherent in much of popular culture. They have excellent chemistry together – I feel more like I’m listening to an interesting conversation between friends over drinks than to a podcast.

Some episodes feature guests, Sady Doyle was interviewed about an article she had written on dating advice for teenage girls. Another recurring segment involves a twitter hashtag – #femquery – which was created to solicit questions about feminism which are answered during the show.

Highly recommended for any feminist with a sense of humor.

Both Sides Now – Way Off Base On HPV

Posted in Editorials, Podcast Reviews on September 28th, 2011
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As I previously posted, I am a fan of the podcast, “Both Sides Now.” I think it’s refreshing to hear a debate between right and left that isn’t about name calling. However, I was shocked to hear such ridiculous rhetoric coming from all three participants about the HPV vaccine while listening to the September 17 episode. I’m really starting to understand Amanda’s obsession.

Mary Matalin and Arianna Huffington insisted that it’s wrong for the government to mandate vaccinations – especially this one because it’s “a personal decision.” Matalin made a point that her daughter is still a virgin and Huffington said “it doesn’t make any sense at all…They’re 12 year olds!” Both seem to miss the point that the vaccine is supposed to be administered before the onset of sexual activity, and so it would be most appropriate for a 12 or 16 year old who has not had sexual activity with a partner yet.

Mark Green, the moderator, chimed in that it’s not a personal decision because the disease is “easily spread.” Matalin retorted “Then vaccinate men!” No one brought up that the vaccine has been approved for men for the past two years! Huffington said that if you don’t have it, you can’t spread it, which is hopelessly naive considering the amount of people who have HPV – the chances of getting it from one sexual encounter (including vaginal intercourse with a condom, oral sex, manual sex or even kissing) are very high. It sounds like she’s promoting abstinence – which unlike the Gardasil – stops working the minute you have sex.

Green inexplicably states that a girl “without a mother as good as Mary or Arianna” could have sex and get HPV – and he sounds astonishingly ignorant, for someone who expresses concern about issues pertaining to women and girls all the time. Just because a person has sex doesn’t mean that they had bad parents. Each one of the people on the panel has has had sex, (evidenced by the existence of their children) and Mark Green’s daughter has had sex (as evidenced by his proud proclamation that he is a grandfather)- was something wrong with the mothers of these pundits or with Mark Green’s parenting skills? Parents who raise healthy children will not, in all likelihood stop them from having sex. Parents who get the HPV vaccine for their children can make sure that when they do have sex, their children will not get vaginal, labial, cervical, penile, anal or throat cancer.

Mark Green then suggests that people opposed to the HPV vaccine are anti science, but then immediately drops the point when Matalin scoffs at him that “it’s not measles, it’s not Contagion and it’s not the Ebola virus, you have to engage in sex irresponsibly – one would hope that you would find out from their partner if they have an STD [before you have sex with them].” Matalin ignores the possibility of one acquiring the virus during from shaking or holding hands, while kissing, during a sexual assault, or from a cheating partner one wrongly believed to be monogamous.

Green states “but science says that it works” before backing off completely. He doesn’t elaborate on the concept of heard immunity which, campaign donations aside, is the practical reason why governments mandate vaccines. I would be interested in a conversation about why Matalin and Huffington think an individual’s right to refuse a vaccine overrides the plain fact that if we are all vaccinated, we protect the health of everyone. How is a mandate for a vaccine different from a mandate for seat-belts (passengers ejected from a car during a crash can hit other cars and cause another accident) smoking bans in restaurants (which Green did bring up but no one addressed) or laws against drunk driving?

Matalin did say that the vaccine was too new and untested to mandate. However it has been on the market since June 2006, for over five years. At what point would it become acceptably safe for her?

They all do agree that it is a good thing that the vaccine exists though, which, regrettably, is something to be thankful for in the current climate. I was very disappointed with this segment, and while it wasn’t the first time I have disagreed with the hosts, it was the first time I felt like the discussion was just as silly and uninformed as most of the noise on cable news.