What to read

I've just updated my book review list for the first time since January.  It's still not quite up to date, but I'm only about four months behind.  Hopefully, my next update will bring me fully up to date.  Its been a really good run of books since my last update– I've got two to add to my all time favorites list, one fiction, The Road and one non-fiction, Good Germs, Bad Germs.  And some other really excellent books– The Terror, Omnivore's Dilemma, The Subtle Knife–of all stripes.  Anyway, take a look and see what I've been reading (other than my voracious consumption of blogs and on-line political news sources).  The Road by Cormac McCarthy probably deserves a blog post of its own (though, this is all it will get).  The tale of a father and his son making their way down the road, just trying to survive is one of the most beautifully written and emotionally intense books I've ever read. 

Racism, Sexism, and those Appalachian voters again

Even more than I like getting suggestions from readers, I like it when my wife actually finds one of my posts interesting.  Well, now I've got a two-fer, as Kim was so intrigued by the whole racism in Appalachia thing that she suggested I discuss the potential for sexism there as well.  So, this post is actually largely channelling Kim's interesting argument.  In short, isms tend to go together.  Where there's considerable racism, there's every reason to believe there's considerable sexism.  Clearly, Democratically-inclined white Appalachian voters strongly prefer a white woman over a Black man.  But does that mean we can be so sure they would prefer a white woman over a white man?  While these voters chose Hillary over Obama, it's not unreasonable to think that many of them nonetheless hold attitudes regarding gender that where trumped due to attitudes regarding race.  Put Hillary up against a white man, i.e., McCain, and it seems that many of these voters might very well defect from the Democratic party and vote for McCain.  Probably not to the degree that will happen for Obama as the nominee, but it is probably a bit naive to think that Hillary would necessarily hold onto all these primary voters against McCain in November.

Our currency disciminates

In a rather interesting decision, a Federal Appeals Court has ruled that U.S currency discriminates against the visually-impaired.  From the Post:

A federal appeals court today upheld a lower ruling that the U.S.
currency system discriminates against blind people because bills of
different denominations are the same size, shape and color and cannot
be easily distinguished by the visually impaired.

In a 2-1 ruling issued this morning,
the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said the existing system
violates the federal Rehabilitation Act and ruled that the Treasury
Department must find a way to accommodate the needs of the visually

This decision struck me as perhaps going a bit too far– blind people are going to have trouble seeing things, but it appears that the United States is unique in the difficulty of determining denomination by sight:

In his 2006 ruling, Robertson ruled that the government must make
changes to its bills, but left it up to the government to decide what
changes would be made. He also said that of more than 170 countries
that print paper currency, only the United States prints bills that are
identical in size and color regardless of denomination.

There's all sorts of possible remedies (as the article details, if you are curious).  Who knows, maybe we'll be looking at red 5's, blue 10's and purple 20's in a few years.

With a wink and a nod

It's just an aside in his essay on how Democrats should not be so afraid of gay marraige this year, but I just love how Paul Waldman sums up the media's irrational love for John McCain:

(This Sunday, Matt Bai wrote in The New York Times
Magazine, “Like every politician I've known, McCain will sometimes
surrender to the cheap ploy or prevarication when the moment demands
it, but it is often with a smirk or a wince, some hard-to-miss signal
that he knows he's up to no good.” Attention, reporters: The fact that
he winks at you, acknowledging that he's lying to the voters, doesn't
mean he's not lying to the voters. It doesn't make him more honest than
other politicians. It just means that he's letting you in on his scam.
If because of that you fail to characterize his dishonesty as such,
then he has just played you like a violin.)

This wink and a nod approach seems to have convinced many a liberal journalist that McCain is secretly liberal on social issues and they forgive him for his obvious pandering.  Even if McCain is secretly liberal in his heart, that does not really matter if he thinks that it will always be most politically expedient to be conservative on these issues.

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