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A chink in Kristof’s armor

January 25th, 2015 by Froma Harrop in Froma Harrop

211I do try to like Nicholas Kristof, especially since my knee generally jerks in the same direction as his.  But there’s often something so fishy in his explanations of unfairness in the world.

In his column about a high school friend who just died at 54, Kristof chalks the cause of death to inequality. He bristles at the notion that outsiders would consider the friend — obese, living on disability and never married to the mother of his children — a moocher.

No thinking observer  would describe the friend’s life as easy, but Kristof’s dismissal of all his self-defeating behavior is knee-jerky beyond the pale.

Here’s the line that jarred me:

He fell in love and had twin boys that he doted on. But because he and his girlfriend struggled financially, they never married.

Americans married during the Great Depression while stone broke.  Impoverished Latinos risk their lives to reunite with their spouses.

Money had zero to do with Kristof’s friend not marrying the mother of his children.  And the whole family would have been more economically secure had he and a wife acted as a team.

How about a little intellectual honesty?

 

 

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(White) privilege and rape

December 22nd, 2014 by Froma Harrop in Froma Harrop

A NYT op-ed questioning the obsession with rape on college campuses is long overdue.

Callie Marie Rennison writes:

Lately, people have been bombarded with the notion that universities and colleges are hotbeds of sexual violence.

 

She goes on:

But the truth is, young women who don’t go to college are more likely to be raped.

 

I touched on this subject in a recent column:

KIDS WHO DON’T GO TO COLLEGE ALSO MATTER

 

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Pottersville Goes Online

December 19th, 2014 by Froma Harrop in Froma Harrop
The dark vision of Pottersville has gone online.

George and Clarence could be texting instead

What makes “It’s a Wonderful Life” feel so ancient are the strong “middle-ring” relationships. These are the relationships that are not very intimate (close family) and not very distant (long-lost high school friends). They are people from town, like Burt the cop and Ernie the cabdriver.

The migration of social life and commerce to the Internet has further weakened these ties. And the world online is looking an awful lot like the hellish “Pottersville.”

 

POTTERSVILLE GOES ONLINE

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Craziness of age-segregated college

December 12th, 2014 by Froma Harrop in Froma Harrop

campus

Finally, a brilliant argument against the insanity of pushing children through four expensive years of college, having them graduate at the ripe old age of 22.

Mitchell L . Stevens of Stanford writes:

Four-year residential colleges with selective admissions are a privileged elite in the academic world, but their undergraduate programs effectively discriminate on the basis of age. Admissions officers typically prefer that the best and brightest be children.

He goes on:

Administrators plan dormitory architecture, academic calendars and marketing campaigns to appeal to high school juniors and seniors. Again the cruel paradox: In the ever-growing number of administrators and service people catering to those who pay tuition, there are grown-ups all over campus, but they are largely peripheral to undergraduate culture.

Let’s blow up the age-obsessed system of higher ed. Start over.

 

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Cocktail party icebreaker: Do you vote what you drink?

December 11th, 2014 by Froma Harrop in Froma Harrop

Can’t vouch for the science behind this report linking voters with their alcoholic beverages of choice.

According to National Media Research, Planning and Placement — a Republican consulting firm — Democrats prefer clear liquor (Absolute, Seagrams Gin) whereas Republicans go for darker ones (Jim Beam, Wild Turkey).  The highest-turnout voters in both parties, however, favor wine.

Should you feel at a loss for conversation at one of the holiday parties, this report may help.

Do take a look at his amusing graphic:

 

 

DrinkBubble

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DO YOU VOTE WHAT YOU DRINK?

 

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Must be noted

December 10th, 2014 by Froma Harrop in Froma Harrop

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Whipsaw at UVA

December 10th, 2014 by Froma Harrop in Froma Harrop

The Rolling Stone account of a brutal gang rape at the University of Virginia — now being doubted — has led to competing demands for apologies by UVA President Teresa Sullivan.  From all sides of the story.

The wisest observation comes from Richard H. Hersh, former president of Trinity College and Hobart and William Smith Colleges. The NYT quotes him thusly:

 

The one thing you know for sure in these situations is that 80 percent of the initial reporting is going to be inadequate, or just wrong — there’s always so much more that’s behind the story and isn’t public. It seems to me that the most responsible thing you can do is say, ‘Give me some time to find out more about this,’ but that’s unsatisfying to everybody but the lawyers.

The demand on the part of the media for simple, clear and quick answers is part of the problem.

 

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Sometimes only paper will do

December 9th, 2014 by Froma Harrop in Froma Harrop

 

In case you haven’t seen this French ad:

 

 

Or this column:

THERE’S SOMETHING SPECIAL ABOUT PAPER

 

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Rape victims have nothing to be ashamed of

December 8th, 2014 by Froma Harrop in Froma Harrop

 

Rolling Stone’s journalistic nightmare stems at least in part from the practice of not identifying the accusers in rape cases.

The magazine’s story about an alleged gang rape at a University of Virginia frat house neglected to reveal the real identity of anyone involved and failed to double-check the alleged victim’s account. The “victim” had demanded that the alleged rapists not be contacted, a demand that should have been rejected.

In a long note expressing regret for publishing the unraveling story, Rolling Stone Managing Editor Will Dana wrote

In trying to be sensitive to the unfair shame and humiliation many women feel after a sexual assault, we made a judgment – the kind of judgment reporters and editors make every day.

That may be so.

But rape is a violent crime, a felony, and any woman so victimized has no reason to be ashamed of it — any more than had she been slashed or punched in the face. This is a notion that needs to be fought.

 

MAKE RAPE IDENTITIES PUBLIC

 

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No, Chuck Schumer, Obamacare IS for the Middle Class

December 6th, 2014 by Froma Harrop in Froma Harrop

It’s hard to get more cynical than Chuck Schumer, who characterized the Democrats’ passing of the Affordable Care in 2010 as a political inconvenience for the party.

Compounding the cluelessness, the New York Democrat fed into the narrative that fixing the economy and passing health-care reforms are two competing agendas — and that the middle class wanted only more jobs and higher wages.

Alas, the Affordable Care Act is not some distraction in that quest. It is more jobs and better pay. And, despite its warts, it is a godsend for Americans competing in a global economy where even the rich countries spend half of what we do on health care.

 

I elaborate in:

OBAMACARE AND THE MIDDLE CLASS

 

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