Thursday, June 09, 2005

There is a new figure in the lives of teenage girls: Ana.

For [some], Ana is a person --- a voice that directs their every move when it comes to food and exercise.

"She's someone who's perfect. It's different for everyone --- but for me, she's someone who looks totally opposite to the way I do," says Kasey Brixius, a 19-year-old college student from Hot Springs, S.D.

To Brixius --- athletic with brown hair and brown eyes --- Ana is a wispy, blue-eyed blonde.

"I know I could never be that," she says, "but she keeps telling me that if I work hard enough, I CAN be that."

For others, the devotion goes beyond that:

"People pray to Ana to make them skinny," says Sara, a 17-year-old in Columbus, Ohio, who was an avid organizer of Ana followers until she recently entered treatment for her eating disorder. She spoke on the condition that her last name not be used.

Ana, if you haven't guessed, is Anorexia Nervosa, personified and deified people who have the disorder and are proud of it. And quite aside from the horrific health consequences of this -- Sara quit organizing when she realized "I was helping girls kill themselves" -- some anthropologist certainly ought to be studying this as a gift-wrapped example of apotheosis in the wild.

via Majikthise

Our newest Federal Judge is Janice Rogers Brown. She is not a liberal. She has said in speeches that "In the heyday of liberal democracy, all roads lead to slavery", and that "We no longer find slavery abhorrent. We embrace it."

One can't help but wonder what, say, Harriet Tubman, who had the same color skin as Judge Brown, would think of a recognized professional black female attorney giving speeches to this effect to the white males in the Federalist society.

Judge Brown was confirmed as per Harry Reid's deal, which was praised widely in the left blogsphere for preserving the filibuster on judicial nominations. And so the filibuster is still available -- in extraordinary circumstances. It's just that the nomination of a judge with views like Brown's appears not to be an extraordinary circumstance.

But if an extraordinary circumstance ever does come along, the filibuster is still there. That's good to know.

Monday, June 06, 2005

A little news from around Boston:

There are faux dives in town. Bars that are designed to look like the kind of cheap dive that opened just after Prohibition, and haven't been redecorated since. Behind the bar are stacks of expensive flavored vodka.

The Abbey Lounge in Somerville is the real thing. Not too long ago, they moved the bar from one side of the room to the other. Old timers will say the place isn't quite the same since they spruced it up. No one walking in off the street would believe it had been spruced up at all.

A few years ago, they hired a booking agent for their music who actually brought in a lot of really good bands, which makes for a very strangely mixed crowd -- half young local musicians, half old laborers out for a beer. There's a bumper sticker -- "The Abbey Lounge: Rock and Roll for Drunks and Hunks". The other day, I saw one of those up in the lounge itself. "And hunks" was crossed out. They all have something in common...

Ever wonder what folks like the Heritage Foundation want the rest of us to aspire to? Here's a revealing bit. Wrapping up their "class in America" series, the New York Times ran a few numbers, revealing that the hyper-rich are getting better off, while income for the middle class and poor is stagnating. Then they asked a few economists to comment. Here's one of the comments they got:

Those who contend that the extraordinary accumulation of wealth is a good thing say that while the rich are indeed getting richer, so are most people who work hard and save. They say that the tax cuts encourage the investment and the innovation that will make everyone better off.

"In this income data I see a snapshot of a very innovative society," said Tim Kane, an economist at the Heritage Foundation. "Lower taxes and lower marginal tax rates are leading to more growth. There's an explosion of wealth. We are so wealthy in a world that is profoundly poor."

But what the data say is that the middle class and poor are not better off. We're just, in effect, supposed to be happy about an "explosion of wealth" for somebody else, while, as Avedon Carol says, the Kanes and Tom Friedmans of the world keep telling us... give up our comfortable little welfare-state provisions in order to join the cut-throat new world the corporate globalizers want to give us, but they never tell us what we're going to win for it other than an endless life of struggle for what we used to have.

And it's not just them. Read Niall Ferguson, in Colossus, about how Europe is doomed because of its lazy 35-hour weeks. When I was in school, we were taught that the 40-hour work week was a proud achievement of the union movement, won literally with blood in the streets. When did a good lifestyle for the masses become something for a country to be ashamed of?