For all of you that were in suspense after the last video:
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
Sadly, I am not joking.
Jesse Eisenberg will play founder Mark Zuckerberg, Justin Timberlake will play Sean Parker, the Napster co-founder who became Facebook’s founding president, and Andrew Garfield will play Eduardo Saverin, the Facebook co-founder who fell out with Zuckerberg as the social network became a financial juggernaut...
The pic focuses on the evolution of Facebook, the social network created in 2004 on the Harvard campus. And how overnight success and wealth changes the lives of the classmates who created it. The trio were the subject of internet rumors as Fincher zeroed in on his leads.
I am just trying to picture the meeting where David Fincher, Aaron Sorkin and Kevin Spacey got together and thought, "Hey, this sounds like a good idea. What's JT up to these days?"
Friday, September 25, 2009
Jezebel has been doing this new weekly feature called "The Name Game," where they pick a girls name and talk about what kind of girl she usually is. I never paid much attention to them, until, of course, they did my name. And the description is nothing at all like me. In fact, I'm a little offended.
Ahh, Emily: the girl with the adorable pigtails who just might poison your soda.
I have never- literally, never- worn pigtails, and do not even know where I might procure said poison, much less have the inclination to put it in someone's carbonated drink.
On the surface, Emily is a cute name, a little name. Like Molly, it has that -ly ending that makes it sound sweet, childlike, pixieish. And when I picture an Emily, she is cute. She wears the aforementioned pigtails — she may even be able to pull them off past the age of 18. She's got freckles, and she probably owns a pair of Mary Janes. But beneath her adorable exterior lurks evil. It's not a bitchy, mean-girl type of evil, though. It's an evil that can be kind of awesome — as long as you're not on the wrong side of it.
I am not evil in either the bitchy, mean-girl way nor the awesome way. Also, Mary Janes? Seriously?
Part of my evil-Emily idea may come from literary Emilies who were not what they seemed. Reclusive, supposedly virginal Emily Dickinson may not have been so chaste after all — and her poems about "wild nights" and volcanoes certainly weren't. Emily Brontë also never married and was, at least according to Anne Carson, antisocial and awkward. But she wrote the best — and the scariest — book of her whole literary family. Then there's Emily the Strange, who with her trademark Mary Janes and inscrutable gaze is clearly capable of dark things — including stealing the identity of a certain Nate the Great character.
Well...Emily Bronte did write some weird shit, and Emily the Strange did give us a bad name, I'll give them that.
Hollywood Emilies Blunt and Watson tend to play characters with an edge, and though Emily Mortimer often plays sweet, her face and voice have some mischief in them. In fact, she might be the best person to play my image of the quintessential Emily — someone underestimated because of her cuteness who is more than capable of cutting a bitch, perhaps in an ingenious and underhanded way. This Emily is a good friend to have, especially if your life sometimes called for someone devious. But she's a dangerous enemy. Her name actually means "rival" — watch out if she's yours.
Yeah, you better watch out, before I poison your Dr. Pepper.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Salon also wrote about the American Prospect article I referred to in this post about the "rules" women are given to keep themselves from getting assaulted. They also point out, correctly, that only rapists can prevent rape, and then link to a list of sexual assault prevention tips guaranteed to work.
Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work!
1. Don’t put drugs in people’s drinks in order to control their behavior.
2. When you see someone walking by themselves, leave them alone!
3. If you pull over to help someone with car problems, remember not to assault them!
4. NEVER open an unlocked door or window uninvited.
5. If you are in an elevator and someone else gets in, DON’T ASSAULT THEM!
6. Remember, people go to laundry to do their laundry, do not attempt to molest someone who is alone in a laundry room.
7. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM! If you are not able to stop yourself from assaulting people, ask a friend to stay with you while you are in public.
8. Always be honest with people! Don’t pretend to be a caring friend in order to gain the trust of someone you want to assault. Consider telling them you plan to assault them. If you don’t communicate your intentions, the other person may take that as a sign that you do not plan to rape them.
9. Don’t forget: you can’t have sex with someone unless they are awake!
10. Carry a whistle! If you are worried you might assault someone “on accident” you can hand it to the person you are with, so they can blow it if you do.
And, ALWAYS REMEMBER: if you didn’t ask permission and then respect the answer the first time, you are commiting a crime--no matter how “into it” others appear to be.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
Last week, Anna at Jezebel discussed an article in the American Prospect about combating the campus rape crisis. The writer, Jaclyn Friedman, proposes that instead of teaching female students how to avoid geting raped, we should be educating men on how to avoid being rapists.
At about this time every year, adult anxiety about sexual assault reaches a tipping point and gives way to an avalanche of advice to young women from campuses, commentators, and parents alike: Don't hook up! Don't dress provocatively! Watch your drink! Actually, don't drink at all! Always stay with a friend! Don't stay out too late! Don't walk home alone! Etcetera, etcetera, ad nauseam.
And every year, it fails to work. A 2007 Department of Justice-funded trend analysis of rape studies over time revealed that rates of rape haven't declined in the past 15 years — in fact, they may be increasing.
As early as the eighth grade, I was being taught to watch my drink at a party, and to always buddy up if I was going someplace where I wouldn't know a lot of the people. Not until very recently have I thought that there is something very warped about the rules we teach young women about how to avoid being raped, as if it is an act of God, something that just happens. Anna writes:
Even though I know that, for my own safety, I need to be aware of the potential threat of assault, it frustrates me that managing the threat is so often treated as women's responsibility.
So how can we end the campus rape crisis, and how would we teach men not to be rapists? Friedman has some suggestions:
Schools would stop telling girls to mind their liquor so they don't "get themselves" raped and start teaching young men that alcohol is never an excuse to "get away" with anything. They would offer bystander training, so that all students on campus know what it looks like when someone's sexual boundaries are being violated and what to do if they see that happening. They would teach students that the only real consent is the kind that's freely and enthusiastically given, removing the "she didn't exactly say no" excuse that too many rapists hide behind. And their campus policies would support prevention, recovery, and justice, not dismissiveness, victim-blaming, and denial.When girls are given "rules" to follow to avoid sexual assault, it places the responsibility of not getting raped on their shoulders. Then if they are raped, they are more prone to think it was their fault, because they must not have been following the rules closely enough. They must have left their drink for a minute, or wore the wrong shirt, or didn't stick with their friend. This victim blaming keeps women from reporting their rapes, continuing the cycle. And these "rules" are not just bad for women, they are bad for men as well, because it makes women think all men are just predators, when the majority of them aren't.
Ending sexual assault still seems like a pie-in-the-sky idea, even to me. I'll admit that the first time I saw "Stop Rape" graffitied in an alleyway in my college town, I let out a bitter laugh. But maybe I'd feel less like that if the schools I went to had been better at "taking responsibility for rape prevention off of the potential victims and placing it where it belongs — with the potential perpetrators and with the adults and institutions whose job it is to keep young people safe." And maybe if colleges — and everyone responsible for teaching young people — followed Friedman's suggestions, then the women who come after me won't have to live in fear.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
"Plus size" model Crystal Renn was on Good Morning America a few days ago to talk about her battle with anorexia and her modeling success after she returned to her normal weight. I like seeing average women in magazines as much as the next girl, but I hate that they are considered "plus size."
Really. On what crazy planet would this woman be considered plus size?
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
There has been yet another instance of school officials strip searching girls, this time in Iowa. You might remember the case of Savanna Redding, a girl who in the 8th grade was forced to strip because a classmate accused her of having ibuprofen. She took her case the Supreme Court, and won. Apparently, school officials in Iowa did not get this memo.
School officials in Atlantic forced five teenage girls to take off their clothing for a search after a classmate reported $100 missing from her purse, according to the girls' families and two lawyers.
The classmate and a female counselor stood watch in the girls' locker room at Atlantic High School as the five girls removed their clothing, lifted up their underwear, and in one case took off all her clothing, according to lawyers Ed Noethe of Council Bluffs and Matt Hudson of Harlan.Strip searching is illegal in Iowa schools.
Ben Stone, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, said: "If a strip-search occurred as it's been described to us, it was an absolutely intolerable act by the government and there should be very high accountability."
Young people who are ordered to take off their clothing in front of a stranger whose intention is to search them "creates an anxiety that is extremely heightened, especially with kids in their formative years," Stone said.
"The fact that the girls were in a locker room means absolutely nothing. They weren't taking off their clothes to go back to class. They were taking off their clothes because a person in authority has demanded they take off their clothes. That type of psychological stress can be long-lasting.
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
The New Yorker published an article a few weeks ago on “Rubber Rooms” in New York City. If a teacher has been accused of misconduct or incompetence, they are sent to Temporary Reassignment Centers, which are called Rubber Rooms. Here they sit, day after day, waiting for arbitration for their case. There are about 600 of these teachers in various Rubber Rooms around the five boroughs of New York and they have been in those rooms for an average of three years. They have gotten paid their normal salary, benefits and pension for this time, despite never setting foot in a real classroom as they wait to present their case.
The teachers have been in the Rubber Room for an average of about three years, doing the same thing every day—which is pretty much nothing at all. Watched over by two private security guards and two city Department of Education supervisors, they punch a time clock for the same hours that they would have kept at school—typically, eight-fifteen to three-fifteen. Like all teachers, they have the summer off. The city’s contract with their union, the United Federation of Teachers, requires that charges against them be heard by an arbitrator, and until the charges are resolved—the process is often endless—they will continue to draw their salaries and accrue pensions and other benefits.
The United Federation of Teachers is arguably one of the most powerful unions in the country, and is especially powerful in New York. The U.F.T was founded in 1960 to fight meager salaries, gender discrimination and other unsatisfactory workplace conditions- like most unions. But by 2002, many education reformers believed that the union had become so powerful that it became impossible for the Board of Education to “maintain effective school oversight.”
Joel Klein, the chancellor of NYC public schools, thinks tenure is “ridiculous,” and I have always agreed with that sentiment. The mere existence of Rubber Rooms only proves how ridiculous tenure really is. Brandi Scheiner, a teacher who is in the Rubber Room for “incompetence” (the reporter was denied access to her complete records), enjoys the following benefits of occupying the Rubber Room:
Brandi Scheiner says that her case is likely to be heard next year. By then, she will have twenty-four years’ seniority, which entitles her to a pension of nearly half her salary—that is, her salary at the time of retirement—for life, even if she is found incompetent and dismissed. Because two per cent of her salary is added to her pension for each year of seniority, a three-year stay in the Rubber Room will cost not only three hundred thousand dollars in salary but at least six thousand dollars a year in additional lifetime pension benefits.
Another teacher in the Rubber Room is there because she was found in an unconscious state in her classroom because she was drunk. She spent two years in the Rubber Room, and then made an agreement with the Department of Education to:
teach for one more semester, then be assigned to non-teaching duties in a school office, if she hadn’t found a teaching position elsewhere. The agreement also required that she “submit to random alcohol testing” and be fired if she again tested positive. In February, 2009, Adams passed out in the office where she had to report every day. A drug-and-alcohol-testing-
I must admit I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I don’t think it’s unreasonable that if a worker shows up to their workplace drunk, they should promptly be fired. Apparently, this is not the case if you’re a NYC teacher.
When the teachers actually do get to trial, the process isn’t any more time or cost effective. Take, for instance, the case of Lucienne Mohammed, who was removed on charges of incompetence in July 2008.
The evidence of Mohammed’s incompetence—found in more than five thousand pages of transcripts from her hearing—seems as unambiguous as the city’s lawyer promised in his opening statement: “These children were abused in stealth. . . . It was chronic . . . a failure to complete report cards. . . . Respondent failed to correct student work, failed to follow the mandated curriculum . . . failed to manage her class.” The independent observer’s final report supported this assessment, ticking off ten bullet points describing Mohammed’s unsatisfactory performance.
…Under the union contract, hearings on each case are held five days a month during the school year and two days a month during the summer. Mohammed’s case is likely to take between forty and forty-five hearing days—eight times as long as the average criminal trial in the United States…Jay Siegel, the arbitrator in Mohammed’s case, who has thirty days to write a decision, estimates that he will exceed his deadline, because of what he says is the amount of evidence under consideration. This means that Mohammed’s case is not likely to be decided before December, a year after it began. That is about fifty per cent more time, from start to finish, than the O.J. trial took.
The total cost to the city and state for this trial? $400,000. Plus, of course, Mohammed’s salary, $85,000, which she was paid the entire time.
The amount of teachers who ever get dismissed due to incompetence is very low. The arbitrators are reluctant to dismiss a teacher on account of incompetence because the teachers union hires the arbitrators, so they don’t want to get fired. Really, does this make any sense?
I could go on about the article, but instead I’ll just strongly suggest that you read it yourself. Although I believe that unions served a great duty decades ago when workers toiled in inhumane conditions, they have become mostly irrelevant with the implementation of labor laws. Tenure has allowed many horrible teachers from ever being fired, even if it would serve in the best interest of the students. The fact that New York taxpayers are funding incompetent and dangerous teachers to not work, instead of promptly firing them, is absurd.
In related reading, Time magazine published an article this week about how Education Secretary Arne Duncan will give out $5 billion dollars to schools that start making teachers accountable for the success or failure of their students. This, shockingly, is the most controversial item for the teachers unions, as they don’t think test scores should be tied to their performance.