You are currently browsing the Breaching The Web blog archives for March, 2003.


March 31st, 2003

As if last week’s efforts by congress to get us to pray for our president weren’t enough, a group called In Touch Ministries has distributed thousands of pamphlets to U.S. soldiers in Iraq urging them to pray for president Bush.

My guess is they have more immediate concerns.

<rant>I’m very, very tired of being told to pray. My choice to pray is no one’s business but my own, and it’s insulting when anyone with whom I am not aquainted assumes that (a) I would want to pray, (b) I have spiritual beliefs that are compatible with prayer or (c) that I have any spiritual beliefs at all. The prayer-mongers out there can just leave me alone. And I’d really prefer that they leave the troops alone as well!</rant>

[link via Pasta Whore]

Say what?

March 31st, 2003

Northwest tribes work to preserve language. This is a heartbreaking overview of the efforts of Native American tribes in the Pacific Northwest to preserve and sometimes recover their linguistic heritage. The U.S. government tried to stamp out native languages — it wasn’t until 1990 that this policy was fully reversed. Among the sobering accounts in the article:

–The Lummi have just one remaining speaker.
–The Makah’s last speaker died in August at age 100.
–The Klallam have only 3 or 4 speakers left.

The problem is that all the fluent speakers are old — over 60 — and the children are not learning these langauges at home. Schools are trying to fill in the gap, using creative and innovative strategies, but children are not always interested.

More diversity is always better than less, no matter what the arena.

Funny Hubby

March 28th, 2003

My husband just concluded an e-mail message to me thusly:

I’ve decided to devote all my time and vast fortune to constructing a time machine so that I can go back to 1788 and tell them to just skip it. Stick with the Articles of Confederation. It’ll be easier and it’ll all come out exactly the same in the end anyway. Oy.


March 28th, 2003

So, it seems that our elected leaders, or at least the 26 cosponsors of House Resolution 153, have given up even pretending that they believe in the separation of church and state. Here’s the meat of the resolution:

Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the President should issue a proclamation–

(1) designating a day for humility, prayer, and fasting for all people of the United States; and

(2) calling on all people of the United States–

(A) to observe the day as a time of prayer and fasting;

(B) to seek guidance from God to achieve a greater understanding of our own failings and to learn how we can do better in our everyday activities; and

(C) to gain resolve in meeting the challenges that confront our Nation.

[Link via Politics in the Zeros and Metafilter]. I’m just really, really glad that I’m not in the district of any of the bozo sponsors. If I were, I’d be on the phone right now to let my rep know I think this is stupid.

The good life

March 28th, 2003

Did you know posted an account of an encounter with a cab driver who would rather live in Bosnia than the United States. The cab driver was Iraqi.

It’s definately worth reading.

Patrick Moynihan

March 26th, 2003

Former Senator Patrick Moynihan dies at the age of 76.

Moynihan was a tremendous scholar. The short, 78-page “Moynihan Report” published in 1965 under the title The Negro Family: the Case for National Action is a masterpiece of nuanced data analysis that had a tremendous influence on U.S. social policy. Modern readers often struggle with the report because so much of it has become cliched and its basic ideas have been twisted for political purpose by both the right and the left, making it difficult to understand what Moynihan really intended.

I’ve lectured about the report in several classes, using it to illustrate both the lack of data on poverty in the 1960s and the way social science research is frequently used for political ends; without fail, at least one student in every class has accused me of racism after these lectures, inevitably failing to get the point that findings of fact are different from interpretations of facts — these students always assumed that my (and Moynihan’s) statements about the changing rates of poverty among single Black women with children meant that I was equating being Black with either wanton sexuality or stupidity about birth control (note that at no point in these lectures did I make moral judgements of this sort).

At one point, I even had other faculty members sit in on this series of lectures to make sure that I wasn’t implying any such connections through nuance or gesture — they agreed that I was not. But the lack of critical thinking skills among my students lead to the racism charges anyway. Because my words sounded similar to other words they had heard in other places, they made connections that I did not make and heard things that I did not say.

This digression has a point — Patrick Moynihan’s work has become such an established part of the recurrent welfare and poverty debates in the U.S. that we no longer recognize their authorship or their ingenuity. They are part of the political air that we breathe. Moynihan was the last great scholar to participate in 20th century American politics. We need more like him.

If I only owned a house…

March 26th, 2003

… I’d make a wine-cork chair-rail or baseboard. In fact, if I owned a house, I think I’d be making one of these right now. That’s how cool I think they are.

Oh well. At least I can start drinking the wine…


March 26th, 2003

Jonathan Bell has written a moving essay for the Morning News about the regeneration and healing new architecture can provide.

The essay highlights the new Swiss Re building at 30 St Mary Axe. This phallic building is indeed lovely and it blends nicely into the existing skyline. But what’s most fascinating about this building are the “green” design elements that are intended to make the building energy efficient. These include the use of “light wells” to bring natural lighting deep into the building’s core and natural ventilation that will allow fresh air to circulate in the building and reduce the need for air conditioning.

The building seems a perfect fit for Swiss Re, a reinsurance company, which bases its rates in part on sustainable business practices. I also think it would be a pleasant place to work. While I do have a private office (no cubicle for me!), I don’t have a window — a little natural light filtering in would do me a world of good.

Mostly for me

March 25th, 2003

Instructions for do-it-yourself knitting needles from Little Cabbage. Groovy.

An undeclared war

March 24th, 2003

Representative Carolyn B. Maloney’s (D-New York) website includes a chronology of the Bush administration’s anti-women actions [link via LaDiDa]. This long-standing misogynist agenda hasn’t received the media play it deserves.