Is it me, or is this American Express ad trying to turn extraordinary rendition, black sites, and military tribunals into a tagline? Or is it just a sad reminder that even a credit-card company is more committed to due process than the U.S. government? (Spotted on the Vanity Fair website, where I was considering equally unsettling images of Christopher Hitchens getting his inner thighs waxed. Seriously.)
The Times just profiled Gail Simone, the first woman to write DC Comics' Wonder Woman series. MJ was on the story back in July, when Charlie Anders introduced readers to Simone as part of a generation of feisty female comic-book geeks who are breaking into the boys-in-tights club. Simone helped get the ball rolling with her Women in Refrigerators site, which listed the horrible demise of many a female superhero. So don't expect Wonder Woman to pull a Captain America any time soon. Meanwhile, it looks like Simone is keeping Princess Diana of Themyscira plenty busy fighting off a troop of groping blue gorillas.
For a spot-on spoof of an evil trade group website, visit the Predatory Lending Association, whose stated mission is to "help predatory lenders extract maximum profit from the working poor and retired poor with payday loans." The site includes debt calculators, an interactive "PoorFinder" map, and a helpful explanation of the difference between 450% APR payday loans and old-fashioned debt bondage:
It's not clear who's behind the parody (a good guess would be the Yes Men, but the absurdity-to-reality ratio is too low), but it seems to be inspired by North Carolina's 2006 decision to outlaw payday loans. That move has proved quite popular, according to a new UNC study [PDF] that found that 90% of respondents, including those who had used check-cashing stores, said payday loans are a "bad thing."
Update: In comments, pablo points to this interview with the site's creator, a "Seattle Internet entrepreneur."
Here's another story that will no doubt be dumped into the Those Apathetic Millenials file, so let me preemptively remind you that the youth turnout in 2006 was the biggest ever in a mid-term election.
That said, this is sad: A survey of NYU students finds that 20 percent would forfeit their right to vote in the 2008 election in exchange for an iPod. Two-thirds said they'd give it up in exchange for free tuition. Alright, politicians suck and higher education is exorbitantly expensive, so I understand why someone would see it as worthwhile to sit out this election in return for a four-year free ride at a great school (worth $140,000+ at current rates). But giving up your vote for a $300 piece of soon-to-be-obsolete electronics? That's nuts, yet considering that a vote once could be bought with free beer, this could be taken as evidence that the value of a vote has risen considerably. (The survey also found that half of respondents would give up voting forever for $1 million.) But the real question is, just how low would a vote-trading college kid (or Gen X-er or Boomer for that matter) go? I bet that would be truly discouraging. And likely would involve free beer.