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The Morning Grumpy – 8/14/12

14 Aug

All the news, views, and filtered excellence fit to consume during your morning grumpy.

1. So, how did America lead the medal count at the Olympics? It was made possible by Title IX and woman’s equality.

More women than men made the American team, and they won far more gold medals than the American men. The USA won 46 gold medals in the Games, more than any other nation. Women won 29 of them. Were U.S. women their own nation, they would have finished ahead of every other country’s total gold medal count except China and tied Great Britain.

It turns out the U.S. squad’s early nickname — “Team Title IX” — couldn’t have been more appropriate. In the summer of the 40th anniversary of the law that opened America’s playing fields to women and girls, women were the dominant athletes on the U.S. team.

Incredible, but what’s next?

2. A great Christopher Hitchens piece from 2007 about why Mitt Romney’s Mormonism matters.

It ought to be borne in mind that Romney is not a mere rank-and-file Mormon. His family is, and has been for generations, part of the dynastic leadership of the mad cult invented by the convicted fraud Joseph Smith. It is not just legitimate that he be asked about the beliefs that he has not just held, but has caused to be spread and caused to be inculcated into children. It is essential. Here is the most salient reason: Until 1978, the so-called Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was an officially racist organization. Mitt Romney was an adult in 1978. We need to know how he justified this to himself, and we need to hear his self-criticism, if he should chance to have one.

There is also the question—this one more nearly resembles the one that John F. Kennedy agreed to answer so straightforwardly in 1960—of authority. The Mormons claim that their leadership is prophetic and inspired and that its rulings take precedence over any human law. The constitutional implications of this are too obvious to need spelling out, but it would be good to see Romney spell them out all the same.

I am troubled that a Mormon has ascended to the role of Presidential candidate without any discussion about the tenets of his faith. With the focus on President Obama’s faith (or lack thereof) over the past six years, this is territory that needs to be explored by the press.

3. The Economist opines on “The Balance Trap” in U.S. media.

Many assume that balance is a key element of good journalism. Fresh-faced journalism students often arrive with the dewy-eyed aims of pursuing the truth and preserving balance and objectivity. Objectivity is easy to dismiss. It just doesn’t exist. There, I’ve said it. But balance is a trickier beast. Balance can be a great asset in an article. It can also be ruinous.

Balance is easy and cheap. In political journalism, a vitriolic quote from each side and a punchy headline is all that is needed to feed the news machine. Who cares if substance and analysis are thrown to the wind? Journalism is a commodity. There is always a need for more “inventory” on which to place ads. Journalism, real journalism—the pursuit of truth—also creates inventory, but not as much, and it is difficult, costly and time-consuming. Far easier to bolt together a few pieces of trivial comment from political pundits and move on.

He Said/She Said journalism is destroying American politics. We need our reporters to be smarter and to present us with “the best obtainable version of the truth“.

4. How Paul Ryan captured the love of the Republican base. There have been hundreds of articles written about Rep. Paul Ryan, but this is the best.

“The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand,” he told the group. “The fight we are in here, make no mistake about it, is a fight of individualism versus collectivism.” To me he was careful to point out that he rejects Rand’s atheism.

For decades, policy wonks on the Republican fringes had talked about turning Social Security, the government safety-net program for retirees, into a system of private investment accounts. The architect of the movement was Peter Ferrara, a former Harvard Law School student, who, calling it “the craziest idea in the world,” sold it, in 1979, to the small-government fundamentalists at the Cato Institute. (Ferrara is now at the Heartland Institute, best known for its denial of climate change.) They evangelized on behalf of the idea for more than two decades, before pushing it into mainstream Republican politics. Bush was the first Republican Presidential nominee to embrace the idea, but it wasn’t a priority in his first term, which was dominated by the response to 9/11 and the war in Iraq.

Ryan and other conservative leaders, among them Senator John Sununu, of New Hampshire, wanted to be sure that Bush returned to the plan in 2005. Under Ryan’s initial version, American workers would be able to invest about half of their payroll taxes, which fund Social Security, in private accounts. As a plan to reduce government debt, it made no sense. It simply took money from one part of the budget and spent it on private accounts, at a cost of two trillion dollars in transition expenses. But, as an ideological statement about the proper relationship between individuals and the federal government, Ryan’s plan was clear.

Ryan is a fascinating case study, in well, radicalism.

5. Stop shaving your balls.

Pubic hair removal naturally irritates and inflames the hair follicles left behind, leaving microscopic open wounds. Rather than suffering a comparison to a bristle brush, frequent hair removal is necessary to stay smooth, causing regular irritation of the shaved or waxed area. When that irritation is combined with the warm moist environment of the genitals, it becomes a happy culture media for some of the nastiest of bacterial pathogens, namely group A streptococcus, staphylococcus aureus and its recently mutated cousin methicillin resistant staph aureus (MRSA). There is an increase in staph boils and abscesses, necessitating incisions to drain the infection, resulting in scarring that can be significant. It is not at all unusual to find pustules and other hair follicle inflammation papules on shaved genitals.

Additionally, I’ve seen cellulitis (soft tissue bacterial infection without abscess) of the scrotum, labia and penis from spread of bacteria from shaving or from sexual contact with strep or staph bacteria from a partner’s skin.

Some clinicians are finding that freshly shaved pubic areas and genitals are also more vulnerable to herpes infections due to the microscopic wounds being exposed to the virus carried by mouth or genitals. It follows that there may be vulnerability to spread of other STIs, as well.

It’s science.

Fact Of The Day: The Catholic Church owns a German publishing company that stocks pornographic books, movies, and magazines. Sluts’ Boarding School is probably my favorite Catholic Church book.

Quote Of The Day: “How often I have found that we grow to maturity not by doing what we like, but by doing what we should. How true it is that not every ‘should’ is a compulsion, and not every ‘like’ is a high morality and true freedom.” – Karl Rahner

Video Of The Day: “Can Democracy Exist Without Trust” – TED Talk by Ivan Krastev

Song Of The Day: “Crazy” – Ray LaMontagne

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