Take something like tax policy… if you are writing a news story about it, you try to give equal play to both sides. But it doesn’t work like this in science. More often than not, there is no ‘opposition party’ or ‘other side.’ There is the data and what it means. But the journalistic instinct for balance often means reporters search for that other side, even if it is the side of a quack with no standing or scientific expertise whatsoever.
The architects and homeowners of the late 19th century were as confused as the engineers about what to do. People had washstands in their bedrooms, so at first they just stuck sinks and taps into them, and put the toilet into whatever closet in the hall or space under the stairs that they could find, hence the “water closet.” They quickly realised that it didn’t make a lot of sense to run plumbing to every bedroom when it was cheaper to bring it all to one place, and the idea of the bathroom was born. Since the early adopters, then as now, were the rich with a few rooms to spare, they were often lavish, with all the fixtures encased in wood like the commodes they replaced.
As germ theory became accepted at the end of the 19th century, the bathroom became a hospital room, with fixtures of porcelain and lined with tile or marble. These materials are expensive; as the bathroom became mainstream and accessible to all classes, it got smaller. The plumbers lined everything up in a row to use less pipe. By about 1910 the bathroom is pretty much indistinguishable from the ones built today.
Nobody seriously paused to think about the different functions and their needs; they just took the position that if water comes in and water goes out, it is all pretty much the same and should be in the same room. Nobody thought about how the water from a shower or bathtub (greywater) is different from the water from a toilet (blackwater); it all just went down the same drain which connected to the same sewer pipe that gathered the rainwater from the streets, and carried it away to be dumped in the river or lake.
It is hard to find something that we actually got right in the modern bathroom. The toilet is too high (our bodies were designed to squat), the sink is too low and almost useless; the shower is a deathtrap (an American dies every day from bath or shower accidents). We fill this tiny, inadequately ventilated room with toxic chemicals ranging from nail polish to tile cleaners. We flush the toilet and send bacteria into the air, with our toothbrush in a cup a few feet away. We take millions of gallons of fresh water and contaminate it with toxic chemicals, human waste, antibiotics and birth control hormones in quantities large enough to change the gender of fish.
Opponents of tar sands—the massive bituminous oil deposits in Alberta, Canada with a greenhouse gas impact four times greater than that of standard crude—have inched one step closer to a major victory.
On Wednesday night, the City Council of South Portland, Maine voted 6-1 to pass an early version of an ordinance that would ban the loading of crude oil onto ships and related infrastructure within city limits. It’s a local land use issue with staggering global implications: The oil industry, activists worry, wants to reverse the flow of the Portland-Montreal Pipe Line, a series of pipelines first built in World War II that now ships imported crude from the coast of Maine to Montreal. Amid ongoing tar sands extraction in Canada—and a dearth of export routes there—it would make more economic sense for the pipelines to flow the other way.
As it stands, two hotly contested pipeline proposals in Canada—TransCanada’s Energy East and Enbridge’s Line 9 expansion—would, if approved, transport tar sands oil from Alberta to eastern Canada. From there, the industry still needs access to overseas markets. By closing the door on exports from South Portland, the local ordinance essentially eliminates one potential path to the sea—the Portland-Montreal Pipe Line. This matters in Alberta: As a recent International Energy Agency report found, future tar sands extraction depends heavily on export capacity.
“From the standpoint of all the folks that have an interest in stopping tar sands from expanding, this is an important line of defense,” says David Stember, an organizer with 350.org, which helped gather support for the ordinance in the area. “It is a very big deal.”
But South Portland’s “Clear Skies Ordinance” isn’t finalized just yet. It’s now en route to the city’s planning board, which can make recommendations for any changes before sending it back to the City Council. The Council is then expected to take a final vote on the measure on July 21.
According to statements later made by teachers and administrators, the cheating process at Parks Middle School, in Atlanta, began to take the form of a routine. During testing week, after students had completed the day’s section, principal Christopher Waller distracted the testing coordinator. Then, while the students were at recess, a group of teachers erased wrong answers and filled in the right ones. Waller and other defendants later described how No Child Left Behind, in conjunction with the district’s targets, created an atmosphere in which cheating came to seem like a reasonable option.
A study on masculinity and aggression from the University of South Florida found that innocuous – yet feminine – tasks could produce profound anxiety in men. As part of the study, a group of men were asked to perform a stereotypically feminine act – braiding hair in this case - while a control group braided rope. Following the act, the men were given the option to either solve a puzzle or punch a heavy bag. Not surprisingly, the men who performed the task that threatened their masculinity were far more likely to punch the bag; again, violence serving as a way to reestablish their masculine identity. A follow-up had both groups punch the bag after braiding either hair or rope; the men who braided the hair punched the bag much harder. A third experiment, all the participants braided hair, but were split into two groups: those who got to punch the bag afterwards and those who didn’t. The men who were prevented from punching the bag started to show acute signs of anxiety and distress from not being able to reconfirm their masculinity.
The position in which we are now is a very strange one which in general political life never happened. Namely, the thing that I refer to is this: To have security against atomic bombs and against the other biological weapons, we have to prevent war, for if we cannot prevent war every nation will use every means that is at their disposal; and in spite of all promises they make, they will do it. At the same time, so long as war is not prevented, all the governments of the nations have to prepare for war, and if you have to prepare for war, then you are in a state where you cannot abolish war. This is really the cornerstone of our situation. Now, I believe what we should try to bring about is the general conviction that the first thing you have to abolish is war at all costs, and every other point of view must be of secondary importance.
…what all these issues, no matter how gigantically separated an Esquire puff piece and a Tennessee mother’s jailing for meth may seem, reflect back at us: How, in this country, every barometer by which female worth is measured—from the superficial to the life-altering, the appreciative to the punitive—has long been calibrated to “dude,” whether or not those measurements are actually being taken by dudes. Men still run, or at bare minimum have shaped and codified the attitudes of, the churches, the courts, the universities, the police departments, the corporations that so freely determine women’s worth. As Beyoncé observed last year, “Money gives men power to run the show. It gives men the power to define value. They define what’s sexy. And men define what’s feminine. It’s ridiculous.”
It is ridiculous, and I wish we could all tell them how little it matters what they think. Except that of course most women, those who bear the brunt of these assessments, aren’t Beyoncé or Amy Poehler—who, not coincidentally, was on Junod’s list of newly un-tragic 42-year-olds. Instead, they are women who may not be able to pay for Pilates, let alone for day care or contraceptives, who may need but not be able to afford drug treatment, who Esquire would likely still rate as not-hot or more likely not rate at all, but whose fates nonetheless rest in the hands of empowered committees on the general value and status of womanhood in America.
I wish it were different. I wish that every woman whose actions and worth are parsed and restricted, congratulated and condemned in this country might just once get to wheel around—on the committee that doesn’t believe their medically corroborated story of assault, or on the protesters who tell them that termination is a sin they will regret, or on the boss who tells them he doesn’t believe in their sexual choices, or on the mid-fifties man who congratulates them, or himself, on finding them appealing deep into their dotage—and go black in the eyes and say, “I don’t fucking care if you like it.”
Although a majority of younger voters today are reliably Democratic, there are key issues on which they differ notably from their elders within the center-left coalition. The July Pew survey identifies two predominantly white core Democratic constituencies: the “solid liberals” of the traditional left, which is 69 percent white, with an average age of 46, who exhibit deep progressive commitments on both economic and social issues; and younger voters, 68 percent white, with an average age of 38, which Pew calls the “next generation left.”
The two groups were asked to choose whether “most people can get ahead if they’re willing to work hard” or whether “hard work and determination are no guarantee of success for most people.” A decisive majority of the older “solid liberal” group, 67 percent, responded that hard work is no guarantee of success, while an even larger majority, 77 percent, of the younger “next generation left” believes that you can get ahead if you are willing to work hard.
Asked by Pew to choose between two statements — “Racial discrimination is the main reason why many blacks can’t get ahead” and “Blacks who can’t get ahead are mostly responsible for their own condition” – the older Democratic cohort blamed discrimination, by an 80 to 10 margin. In contrast, only 19 percent of the younger group of Democrats blamed discrimination, with 68 percent saying that blacks “are mostly responsible for their own condition.”
Even though younger voters lean toward the Democratic Party, they clearly do not fit into traditional left-right categories.
Looking again at the Reason poll, the survey found that “while millennials see themselves as closer to Republican governor and potential presidential candidate Chris Christie on economic issues, and closer to likely Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on social issues, they say they are voting for Clinton.”