The RP’s Weekly Web Gems: The Politics of Laughter

The Politics of Laughter - Artist credit to ~Razzah

How bad could her life be?? [picture]

Oh, Abe, you’re so honest. [picture]

Cheating on a chemistry test [SMBC]

President God [Deep Cover]

Pizza stationary [Mocktopus]


The RP’s Weekly Web Gems: The Politics of Recovery

Need a cure for those days when you have nothing to wear? Experts say the key to overcoming the situation is simplifying your closet. [CNN]

How will history see President George W. Bush ten or twenty years in the future? [NY Magazine]

Something else that needs recovering: students’ research skills in the age of Google. [Good Magazine]

Check out this inspiring story of a Virginia painter fighting the recession to keep his business afloat. [Washington Post]

Ron Granieri: On the Tyranny of the Measurable

The media are full these days of stories discussing the relative value of education. Some detail the political fights in various states, such as Texas and California, over funding and control of state universities, while others discuss the failure of universities in general to educate “academically adrift” students, or the pernicious effects of the tenure system on higher education. Central to many of these discussions are attempts to evaluate education, or individual educators, on the basis of measurable quantities—student scores on standardized tests or average salaries upon graduation on the one hand, number of refereed publications or hours taught on the other.

Frankly, I find these discussions both depressing and unenlightening. Attempts to quantify the value of an education strike me as irrelevant at best and pernicious at worst.

Part of my objection is practical. Any quantitative measure of education is susceptible to interpretation and manipulation (literally, if one follows the growing scandal in the Atlanta public schools over cheating on standardized tests). Even if honestly gathered, such data may still not tell us what we think we want to know. Do the GPAs or the starting salaries of graduates really tell us whether those graduates received good educations, or do they just tell us about the relative success of those graduates to manage the practical aspects of life? Should we be surprised that Engineering majors make more on average than English majors? Do the number of refereed publications or the numbers of credit hours taught tell us whether a professor is an effective educator?

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Ron Granieri: On the Tyranny of the Measurable

The RP’s Weekly Web Gems: The Politics of Film

The Politics of Film

Hunter S Thompson books have been adapted into films by Johnny Depp before, to great acclaim.  Coming soon is The Rum Diary, which was written by Thompson before he went too crazy, and I think this film has a good chance to be really fun and good.  Check out the trailer. [The Movie Blog]

Am I too old to love comic books?  I really hope not.  After watching 3 years of films building up to Marvel’s The Avengers, we now officially have a poster.  I’m excited, and you should be too. [IFC]

Now that the Harry Potter series is over and the Twilight films are all in the can, we need a new Young Adult Fiction series to win over our hearts and minds.  Hunger Games seeks to do just that.  Check out the trailer, featuring Jennifer Lawrence heavily. [Film Junk]

Oldboy is a Korean revenge flick which is incredibly violent and very intense.  It is definitely not a movie that everyone can stomach.  However, for the people who like those kinds of films, it is a classic.  Spike Lee plans on adapting it into English, and has tapped Josh Brolin to play the lead.  This is very excited, if you ask me. [The Guardian]

Lars Von Trier managed  to get himself kicked out of the Cannes film festival earlier this year because he said he sympathized with Hitler.  Even after that, his film, Melancholia, managed to win a few awards.  If a film can come back from that, it must be pretty good.  Experts say that this film will do for Kirsten Dunst what Brokeback Mountain did for Heath Ledger.  Check out the trailer. [/Film]

The film The Artist is a movie set during the silent film era–and pays homage to that era by actually being a silent film.  This film has generated a lot of positive buzz, but it remains to be seen if a film without any talking can win awards this year.  Check out the trailer to see what you think [LA Times]

The RP’s Weekly Web Gems: The Politics of the Media

Two tabloid newspapers covering Hurricane Irene, one photo. Who wore it better? [NY Magazine]

Eliot Spitzer is in the news again. He’s being sued for libel for a column he wrote last year for Slate. [Reuters]

In honor of Steve Jobs’ retirement, here’s a story about his impact on the world of journalism. [Poynter Institute]

After spending five months imprisoned in Libya, freelance journalist Matthew VanDyke returns to visit his cell and confront his past. [CNN]

Jeff Smith: On Rick Perry’s Intelligence

When LBJ was a young legislator burning with ambition, the famed Georgia powerhouse Richard Russell cautioned him not to lose his Southern accent as he maneuvered on Capitol Hill. The accent, counseled Russell, helped ensure that the Yankee liberals would underestimate him. During my first year in the Missouri Senate, I was a stereotypical urban liberal who got hoodwinked just that way by more than a few canny country boys.


So: do I think Rick Perry is as smart as LBJ? Of course not. But I think he probably has some similar qualities. Intelligence isn’t just about who can mark up a bill at a granular level, although that’s a great quality for a legislator to possess. Rather, the ability, on any given issue, to understand the critical leverage points with another legislator or interest group or agency is the most important trait for those seeking to obtain, accumulate, and wield power. And my gut is that Perry has plenty of that wiliness.

Does that mean he’d be a good president? No. Does it offset what appears to be a rather parochial world-view? Definitely not. But the fact is that unlike GWB, Perry didn’t have an instant leg up over his opponents in all his races. He’s skilled at reading people, polls, and situations and should not, as the longtime observer notes in Jonathan Martin’s piece this morning, be underestimated.

(Cross-posted, with permission of author, from Politico’s Arena)

The RP’s Weekly Web Gems: The Politics of Fashion

Politics of Fashion

Abercrombie & Fitch isn’t the only fashion brand trying to disassociate itself from the jersey turnpikes and fist pumps of Jersey Shore. Yikes!   [NY Mag]

Marc Jacobs to Dior?   [Reuters]

From the tennis courts to the runway: Maria Sharapova teams up with Cole Haan for a fashion line.   [Vogue]

Take a trip down memory lane with OPI’s latest Muppets inspired nail polish!   [Fashionista]

Fall must-haves! Check out H&M’s trend guide for this fall: [YouTube]


TSA and Terrorism: Visualizing

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Kathleen Kennedy Townsend: Ayn Rand vs. America

Ayn Rand has a large and growing influence on American politics. Speaking at an event in her honor, Congressman Paul Ryan said, “The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand.”

A few weeks ago, Maureen Fiedler, the producer of the weekly radio show, Interfaith Voices, asked me to participate in a debate with Onkar Ghate, a senior fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute. I eagerly accepted. I wanted to hear how a follower of Rand would defend proposals to cut Medicare, Medicaid, and food stamps while exempting the wealthy from paying their fair share.     

Ayn Rand

In one sense there was agreement. Maureen, a Sister of Loretto, argued that Republican budget proposals turned their back on Christ’s admonition to care for “the least among us,” the hungry, the sick, the homeless. Ghate did not dispute that. Rand, he said, was an atheist who did not believe in government efforts to help those in need.

Ghate countered Sister Maureen’s religious position with a moral argument. He maintained that redistribution of wealth was unfair to the rich and weakened the ambition of the rest. I wasn’t surprised by this position, since I’d heard it repeatedly during the fight on welfare reform.

What I did find startling was Ghate’s insistence that just as there should be a separation of church and state, so there should be a separation of economics and state. That notion really got me thinking. 

I’ve always understood that one’s loyalty to God should take precedence over one’s patriotic duty. Churches are exempt from taxation, and conscientious objectors aren’t required to serve in war. Our high regard for the First Amendment shows the preeminence of faith in the American consciousness. 

But to place economics on the same level as religious freedom seemed to me almost blasphemous. Are we really to believe that the freedom to make money should stand on the same level of religious liberty? Are the words of Milton Friedman equal to the Sermon on the Mount?  I don’t think so. But maybe in the eyes of Ayn Rand and Paul Ryan, they are.

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Kathleen Kennedy Townsend: Ayn Rand vs. America

The RP’s Weekly Web Gems: The Politics of Tech

The Politics of Tech

I’m sure you have already heard, Steve Jobs has resigned as CEO of Apple. The new CEO will be his protege Tim Cook. Many people were ready to make wild proclamations regarding this change, but the fact is Jobs and Apple have been anticipating and preparing for this transition for a long while. [Wall Street Journal]

Here are five things to watch for during the transition period for Apple and going forward into the future. [PC World]

Finally, what are the repercussions for all of those investments you made in Apple? Check out the nice breakdown in the link. [Seeking Alpha]

Chloe Holmes, 15, is the proud new owner of bionic fingers after growing up having lost her fingers to septicaemia. The field of robotics and bionics continues to amaze. [Huffington Post]

Here is an autopsy performed on a Pentium III CPU. Some of those magnified images are just awesome. [Sciency Stuff]

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