Monday, June 18, 2012

Making the Day


There will not be a magic day when we wake up and it’s now OK to express ourselves publicly. We make that day by doing things publicly until it’s simply the way things are.

Tammy Baldwin, Wisconsin senate candidate, on being gay in politics

In this week's sift:

  • Nuggets of the WeekGreece, Jamie Dimon, disrespecting the president, saying "vagina" in Michigan, the end of judicial restraint, an example of American exceptionalism, and President Bush's head on a pike.
  • If not ObamaCare, what? Either through the courts or the ballot box, Republicans mean to get rid of ObamaCare. But Mitt Romney's plans to replace it are surprisingly thin, and the vague plans he has only look good if you're an insurance company.
  • What senate candidates deserve your support? You can only vote for candidates in your state, but you can volunteer and give money to anybody you like. Which campaigns are the best investment of your time or money?

Monday, June 11, 2012


They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.

–  Andy Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (1977)

Changes in the Weekly Sift. It's been almost a year since I re-formatted the Weekly Sift and moved it to I think it's time for some changes again.

In August and September, three posts went viral, totaling over 100K of the 162K views the Sift has had all year. I think it spoiled me. Since then I've been searching a little too hard for the next viral post, and I think I need to shift back towards the Sift's original mission: offering my readers a trustworthy condensation of the public debate, and saving them time by sifting through the info-stream and fetching out the occasional nugget.

The changes will be subtle. I'm still going to write my own articles when I can't find anything that makes exactly the right point, but I'm going to refocus my efforts on serving my regular readers rather than seeking the attention of 10,000 strangers.

The obvious changes are that Short Notes has been renamed Nuggets of the Week, re-organized, and moved to the top of the blog. I've also added a Monday Morning Teaser to preview the day's articles for those who come early. And when I don't have changes to explain, the weekly summary will be shorter than it used to be.

In this week's sift:

  • Nuggets of the Week. Everybody was talking about the Wisconsin recall, Ray Bradbury, and the transit of Venus, but other stuff was also worth your attention: what an oil pipeline break looks like, an anti-rape video from Scotland, the commencement speech you should have heard, how crazy Americans look to Germans, articles based on Chris Hayes' and Joseph Stiglitz's new books, the Netroots Nation videos, a fabulous photo from Milky Way Scientists, and more.
  • What Happened in Wisconsin? After all that, Scott Walker stays in office. How bad were the results? Should Obama be worried about carrying Wisconsin? Should we all be worried about the unprecedented money Walker raised and spent? And can you really buy an election with that much money? How?
  • Demonizing the Girl Scouts. It looks like the Catholic Church is joining right-wing Protestants in villainizing the Girl Scouts. Partly it's the whole female-empowerment thing. But it's also part of a larger pattern. Increasingly the Religious Right sees the American melting pot as a caldron of contamination.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Authority of Women

The authority of women’s speech does not come, finally, from political roles or ecclesial position, but from the truth of words spoken, the authenticity of the speaker, and the relationship of trust and genuine concern that allows one to speak not only words of encouragement, but also words of challenge.

– Mary Katherine Hilkert,
Speaking with Authority (2001)

In this week's sift:

  • Challenging the InquisitionThe Inquisition never died, it just changed its name to the Congregation for the Defense of the Faith. Today the CDF is attacking the Leadership Council of Women Religious, which represents most American nuns. But rather than meekly submitting, the nuns are demanding a meeting with the Grand Inquisitor, as if he were the one with something to fear. As American Catholics rally around the sisters, maybe he is.
  • Who Can Obama Kill? If you want to kill American citizens, at the absolute minimum you should have to convince somebody who doesn't work for you.
  • Carolina Rules the Waves and other short notesNorth Carolina considers ordering planners to ignore rising seas. Adopt a uterus. Indiana charges a suicide-survivor with murdering her fetus. Everything is about race now. Who's worth talking to about women's health? Men. The spending increase that never happened. And more.
  • Book recommendation of the week. Evolving in Monkey Town by Rachel Held Evans. Evans grew up in Dayton, Tennessee, site of the Scopes Monkey Trial. She went to William Jennings Bryan College and learned how to defend a "Biblical worldview". Then she had an unexpected attack of compassion for the people who are going to Hell, and everything started to change.
  • Last week's most popular post.Food-eaters are not a special interest group got 166 views. The most-clicked link was to the blog Food Politics.
  • What you can do. It's get-out-the-vote time in Wisconsin. The Scott Walker recall election is tomorrow and it's close. You can still help phone bank.