2012 - %3, January

Rock Out With Your Vagina Out (Happy B-Day, Title IX!)

| Mon Jun. 25, 2012 6:00 AM EDT
Aretha Franklin belts it out at President Obama's inauguration.

As of Saturday, Title IX, the anti-discrimination law that isn't just about sports, is officially over the hill. Over the past 40 years, women have surpassed men in college degrees. Women's participation in college athletics (check out these cool charts) has more than septupled (!); world-class boxers like Marlen Esparza, Claressa Shields, and Queen Underwood (check out these great photos) will be competing for Olympic gold this summer; and boob bounce has sharply diminished thanks to two women runners and a pair of jimmied-up jockstraps. Sure, disparities of all stripes still exist—here's the most recent Sports Illustrated with a woman on the cover—but no one ever said equal opportunity would be easy.

To celebrate four decades of government-mandated gender equality in schools and yes, federally funded sports—no matter what the asshats on TV say about women's athletics—we put together this roundup of eviscerating "grrl" power anthems, hair-whippin' dance jams, and breathless ballads. So this one's for you, girls. Whether you're a diva, rebel girl, or teenage whore, bossy, nasty, or just wannabe, shake yer dix, put a ring on it, and call memaybe?

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Optical Illusion of the Day

| Sun Jun. 24, 2012 2:48 PM EDT

Via Alex Tabarrok and Geekolinks, I have to admit that this is one of the damnedest illusions I've ever seen. What's really surprising is that if you cover up 90% of the white line in the middle and let only a tiny part show, the illusion still works. The top looks darker. The fact that both halves are the same color (which, by the way, I confirmed in Photoshop) isn't apparent unless you cover it up completely.

Quick Reads: "Little America" by Rajiv Chandrasekaran

| Sun Jun. 24, 2012 6:00 AM EDT

Courtesy of Knopf PublishersLittle America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan

By Rajiv Chandrasekaran

ALFRED A. KNOPF

Before turning his attention to our other military misadventure, Washington Post associate editor Rajiv Chandrasekaran wrote Imperial Life in the Emerald City, a damning Iraq War exposé that became the basis for Green Zone, that Matt Damon flick you probably missed. Here he returns with a highly readable chronicle of Obama's troop surge in Afghanistan. Little America offers a window into the thinking of our key decision makers, along with the requisite political and cultural context; his apt portrayal of the Afghan perspective and on-the-ground tensions—as when Richard Holbrooke, the late US envoy, backed a Karzai rival for president—makes the book a must for policy shapers and voters alike.

Chris Hayes Wins the Wonk Marathon

| Sun Jun. 24, 2012 1:25 AM EDT

The New York Times profiles rising Sunday TV prodigy Chris Hayes today, and includes this biographical tidbit:

At a table of wonks, Mr. Hayes, who studied the philosophy of mathematics at Brown, came off as the wonkiest as he deconstructed the budgetary implications of tax arbitrage.

That may be the coolest, and least likely, field of study of any TV host ever in history. I am in awe.

Six Minutes With Karl Rove

| Sat Jun. 23, 2012 9:55 PM EDT

The New York Times has a story today about a stupendous Mitt Romney shindig for wealthy donors in Park City, and for the most part the event turns out to be just what you'd imagine these things are like. Flawlessly executed, as you'd expect from Romney, packed with GOP stars, backstopped by gorgeous scenery, sprinkled with speeches about how President Obama is destroying America, and crowned by glimpses of Romney himself in between the barbecued beef, chicken and salmon.

But really, the story saves the best for last:

Mr. Rove playfully mocked a Wall Street banker for his casual wardrobe: a baseball cap, gray hooded sweatshirt and a pair of worn bluejeans. You’re the most underdressed banker I’ve ever met,” Mr. Rove told him.

After Mr. Rove walked away, the gaggle of men excitedly recounted the conversation, reveling in their access. “That’s the price of admission right there,” one donor said to another. “Your six minutes with Rove.”

Honest to God, I don't get this. Sure, I suppose everyone likes to be schmoozed. But seriously? These wealthy, powerful, connected men are as excited as schoolboys because they got to chat with Karl Rove for six minutes? Isn't that kind of pathetic? Are the lions of our overlord class really that insecure about their stations in life?

NOTE: This post is entirely nonpartisan. I don't doubt that Democratic donors act pretty much the same way.

21 Adjectives (and 4 Adverbs) to Describe Aaron Sorkin's "The Newsroom"

| Sat Jun. 23, 2012 6:25 PM EDT

Whiny, sententious, stale, tedious, rambling, unamusing, flat, ho-hum, childish, embarrassing, jejune, twitchy-eyed, daffy, obvious, frustrating, self-congratulatory, left-leaning, emotionally manipulative, alarmingly candy-ass, maddeningly idealistic, and arduously quirky.

The Newsroom (premiering Sunday, June 24 at 10 p.m. EST on HBO) is a regrettable homecoming to television for writer Aaron Sorkin, the noted wit-and-quotable-monologue maestro behind Sports Night, The West Wing, Charlie Wilson's War, A Few Good Men, and a whole bunch of other plays and movies. After tanking so severely with NBC's one-season Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, you'd think that taking five years off from TV—and winning an Oscar in that interim—would have heralded a rebirth of Sorkin's small-screen touch; the kind of flair and insight that gave us the triumphant second and third seasons of the Bartlet administration.

Verdict: It is now clearer than ever that Aaron Sorkin should stick to churning out scripts for profitable and critically hailed Oscar bait, and stop trying to revisit the brief era when he was considered by many to be the best thing to happen to television since RCA color.

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Anne-Marie Slaughter's Time-Saving Microwave Tips

| Sat Jun. 23, 2012 6:23 PM EDT

Approximately everyone in the world has already commented on Anne-Marie Slaughter's cover story in this month's Atlantic, "Why Women Still Can’t Have It All," so I'm not going to. I'm not female, not a parent, and don't have a hugely demanding job, so I'm unusually poorly qualified to have an opinion anyway. However, I can't resist highlighting this passage:

Louise Richardson, now the vice chancellor of the University of St. Andrews, in Scotland, combined an assistant professorship in government at Harvard with mothering three young children. She organized her time so ruthlessly that she always keyed in 1:11 or 2:22 or 3:33 on the microwave rather than 1:00, 2:00, or 3:00, because hitting the same number three times took less time.

Hey! I do that too. Melting butter? 0:55. Nuking a potato? 5:55. Reheating Chinese food? 2:22, stir it up a little, then 1:11. Etc. And I do this despite the fact that my time is organized exactly the opposite of ruthlessly.

I suppose there's a lesson to be learned from this, but I'm not sure what. Maybe my readers have some ideas. As for the actual point of Slaughter's piece, I agree with the near-universal consensus that (a) the title of the piece is grating, (b) the framing of the piece is grating, (c) the cover photo is grating, but (d) the substance of the piece is worthwhile. The latter was, frankly, a little surprising to me because the gist of Slaughter's complaint seemed so obvious that I was annoyed she felt like she had to spend 12,000 words to convince me. But I guess maybe it's not so obvious as I thought.

By the way, aside from the microwave thing, the most popular time-management technique seems to be waking up at 4 am. Assuming, that is, that you consider this a "time management" technique. I'll let each of you decide that for yourself.

Quick Reads: "The Receptionist" by Janet Groth

| Sat Jun. 23, 2012 6:00 AM EDT

The Receptionist: An Education at The New Yorker

By Janet Groth

ALGONQUIN BOOKS

In 1957, New Yorker staffer E.B. White hired 19-year-old Janet Groth, a doe-eyed Midwesterner, as the magazine's receptionist. For 21 years, Groth was gatekeeper to the literati hub, rubbing elbows with J.D. Salinger, Calvin Trillin, and Jamaica Kincaid while dreaming of publishing her own stuff. In the Mad Men-esque meantime, she marshaled staffers' wives and their philandering husbands, minded kids and empty houses, and sorted rejected cartoons. For all its intrigue, her graceful memoir aptly portrays the lot of the aspiring writer: self-loathing, loneliness, and a desperate desire to inhabit the literary world.

This review originally appeared in our July/August issue of Mother Jones. 

Corn on Hardball: Why Obama Appeals to Latino Voters, But Romney Can't

Fri Jun. 22, 2012 7:02 PM EDT

Compared to Obama's rousing speech today on immigration and the DREAM Act, Romney's speech yesterday drew only faint applause in front of the same group, the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. Mother Jones's Washington bureau chief David Corn discusses how the candidates are competing for this demographic on MSNBC's Hardball.

Henry Blodget Says it All Today

| Fri Jun. 22, 2012 5:34 PM EDT

Headline of the day, from Henry Blodget:

Corporate Profits Just Hit An All-Time High, Wages Just Hit An All-Time Low

Actually, let's make that headline of the decade. Click the link to see the relevant charts.