Theme Layout

Boxed or Wide or Framed

Theme Translation

Display Featured Slider

Featured Slider Styles

Display Grid Slider

Grid Slider Styles

Display Trending Posts

Display Author Bio

Display Instagram Footer

Dark or Light Style

Powered by Blogger.

Comments system

top navigation




Pages - Menu

Popular Posts

Blog Archive

Sympathy for the she-devil: On Women Bosses

It's nice to see some evolving going in Hollywood vis a vis portrayals of women in power.

There's a scene near the beginning of "The Devil Wears Prada," the movie version of Lauren Weisberger's novel about the degradations she suffered as assistant to Vogue editor (and reputed Boss From Hell) Anna Wintour, that signals this movie is fashioned from a finer grade of fabric than its literary source. Weisberger's stand-in character, the I'm-too-brainy-for-this-job Andy Sachs, sniggers derisively while the Wintour character, Miranda Priestley, imperiously decides between two seemingly identical belts for a fashion shoot.

Miranda, played by a silver-coiffed Meryl Streep, levels her gaze at her frowzy lackey (Anne Hathaway) and delivers a calm, magnificent monologue about the fashion industry. In a matter of seasons, she explains, a particular shade of blue trickles from her office to magazine pages to couture collections, moving down the fashion food chain until the hue is all the rage in plain-Jane department stores and outlying retail outlets, finally winding up in "some tragic Casual Corner bargain bin," the very bin out of which a holier-than-thou shopper like Andy has fished the blue sweater she's wearing. Andy may find her boss's attention to accessories beneath her but she should understand that on her back she sports a garment that would not have existed save for the decisions made in this very office, by the very person she's sneering at.

There are several remarkable things about this speech, including the almost unseemly pleasure Streep takes in delivering it, and the fact that no such scene takes place in Weisberger's book. But the most enchanting thing about it, at least at the screening I recently attended, was the murmur of a cheer that passed through the audience. It certainly rumbled in me, as I realized that instead of watching a cheap cardboard cutout of a standard-issue virago boss, I was watching an aggressive (and admittedly unpleasant) female superior who was also worth cheering for.

Even my companion, a 22-year-old colleague who spent most of the movie curled in fetal agony over the film's injustices toward the recently graduated, turned to me with wide eyes and a big smile on her face. "Wow," she whispered, as Streep finished explaining her profession to her assistant, "that was awesome." Asked later how she felt about the whole movie, my colleague said, "I identified with the girl, but I was still on Meryl's side." She has some high-profile company. On Wednesday, New York Times' devil in a red dress Maureen Dowd wrote that she was surprised to find herself feeling sympathy for a character described as "a notorious sadist, and not in a good way." Life | Sympathy for the she-devil
Share This Post :

Iraq: A Shocking Waste of Money

1.26 Trillion, yes TRILLION and counting . . .
On September 11, 2001, the United States was hit by devastating terrorist attacks perpetrated by a transnational terrorist network. Less than a year later, it was apparent that the Bush administration wanted to invade Iraq, allegedly as part of the response. Famously, selling this agenda involved a highly deceptive effort to link the two issues. Iraq was said to have an advanced nuclear weapons program and to be likely to provide the fruits of its research to al-Qaeda.

All this we know. Less well remembered nowadays, though -- in fact, almost never discussed in the major media -- was another implicit prong of the argument: that invading Iraq would be cheap and easy, leaving plenty of resources for other purposes. When White House economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey stumbled off message in September 2002 with his prediction that war could cost $100 billion to $200 billion, the administration flew into crisis mode. Budget Director Mitch Daniels was trotted out to label the estimate "very, very high." Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz opined -- in testimony to Congress, no less -- that reconstruction would cost virtually nothing in light of Iraq's promising oil revenues. Daniels proffered an estimate in the $50 billion to $60 billion range, substantially less than the $80 billion inflation-adjusted cost of the Persian Gulf War. Lindsey, famously, was soon after fired -- for his troublesome cost estimates and, reportedly, the President's annoyance at his poor personal fitness habits.

By April 2006, a Congressional Research Service (CRS) inquiry concluded that Lindsey's estimate was, indeed, way off -- but in the other direction. Around $261 billion had already been spent. Given the human stakes, it may seem crass to worry overly much about the dollar cost of a military conflict. But the fact that a CRS report is needed at all, as opposed to the straightforward accounting that either the White House or the Pentagon could surely provide were they so inclined, points to the basic reality that the war's proponents are continuing the prewar pattern of covering up the costs. And with good reason: They're enormous. Scandalously enormous.

More at:AlterNet: Iraq: A Shocking Waste of Money
Share This Post :

Even the Rich Think They Are Getting Too Many Tax Cuts

I guess this is what we've all known. But it is funny reading it from the perspective of Britain. Maybe, if more Americans read the foreign press they'd have a better idea about how they really rate compared to other developed countries.
Over the past 25 years the median US family income has gone up 18 percent. For the top one percent, however, it has gone up 200 percent. A quarter of a century ago the top fifth of Americans had an average income 6.7 times that of the bottom fifth. Now it is 9.8 times.

Inequalities have grown worse in different regions. In California, home to both Beverly Hills and the gang-ridden slums of Compton, incomes for lower class families have fallen by four percent since 1969. For upper class families they have risen 41 percent.

This has led to an economy hugely warped in favour of a small slice of very rich Americans. The wealthiest one percent of households now control a third of the national wealth. The wealthiest 10 percent control two-thirds of it. This is a society that is splitting down the middle and it has taken place against a backdrop of economic growth.

Between 1980 and 2004 America's GDP went up by almost two-thirds. But instead of making everyone better off, it has made only a part of the country wealthier, as another part slips ever more into the black hole of the working poor. There are now 37 million Americans living in poverty, and at 12.7 percent of the population, it is the highest percentage in the developed world.

Yet the tax burden on America's rich is falling, not growing. The top 0.01 percent of households has seen their tax bite fall by a full 25 percentage points since 1980. That was when 'trickle down' economics began, arguing that the rich spending more would benefit everyone as a whole. But America's poor have simply been getting poorer: clearly that theory has not worked in reality.

And still the American government is set on tax breaks for the rich. Bush's first-term tax cuts notoriously benefited the upper strata of American taxpayers. So much so that even Warren Buffet, the second richest man in the world who benefited to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, has said the tax cuts 'scream of injustice'. As head of a hugely successful investment firm, it is hard to paint Buffet as a lefty liberal who hates Wall Street (though, bizarrely, some conservatives do try).

Still the tax cuts go on. This week one of the main political debates in Washington has been about scrapping the 'estate tax' whereby those who inherit large amounts from their relatives will be taxed on it. This overwhelmingly affects the wealthy. The estate tax is already set so high ($4m) that only one in 200 estates pay any tax at all when they are inherited. Unlike the UK's inheritance tax, which affects more and more Britons as house prices increase, this is not a problem faced by Joe and Jennifer Public.

Yet the White House and many politicians, overwhelmingly Republican, want to get rid of it. The lobbying campaign against it has been financed mostly by 18 business dynasties, including the family that owns WalMart. At the same time the Bush administration has sanctioned millions of dollars of cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and the education budget as part of a measure aimed at reducing the spiraling deficit. This is, frankly, obscene.

The Observer | Comment | Wake up: the American Dream is over
Share This Post :

Strict Parenting Linked to Overweight Kids

"Clean your plate or else!" and other authoritarian approaches to parenting can lead to overweight children, a new study finds.

Strict mothers were nearly five times more likely to raise tubby first-graders than mothers who treated their children with flexibility and respect while also setting clear rules.

But while the children of flexible rule-setting moms avoided obesity, the children of neglectful mothers and permissive mothers were twice as likely to get fat.

"The difference between the different parenting groups is pretty striking," said the study co-author, Dr. Kay Rhee of Boston University School of Medicine. The study of 872 families appears in the June issue of Pediatrics, released Monday.

Rhee speculated that parents who show respect and warmth within a framework of rules may help their children learn to make good decisions about food and exercise. Or it could be that strict parents create a stressful household where overeating becomes a comfort and escape, she said.

Other studies have shown the flexible parenting style, also called authoritative, has other good results for children such as higher achievement in school and lower incidence of depression, said John Lavigne, chief psychologist at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

href="">Strict Parenting Linked to Overweight Kids
Share This Post :