Thursday, March 23, 2006

Boy, the world is moody

MoodViews: blog mood analysis
Moodgrapher is a Global mood analysis tool! It plots the mood levels reported by LiveJournal users in their posts during the last days, updated every 10 minutes.

Interesting to see the connection between moods and both cyclical and global events.

For example:
* Drunk is highest around the weekend
* Happiness around Christmas 2005
* Thankful, hungry, and full around Thanksgiving 2005
* Scaredness around Halloween 2005
* Mass increase in the level of worriedness around major weather phenomena, such as hurricane Katrina on August 29, 2005
* Excitedness around global media and culture events, such as the release of a new Harry Potter book on July 15, 2005
* Mass increase in the level of distress and sadness after terror attacks, as witnessed by the response to the London bombings on July 7, 2005

Not necessarily scientific, but definitely interesting!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Why Do People Vote Right-wing?

...the political appeal of Right-wing calls to order comes from society's anxiety for the ever-increasing possibility of catastrophic disorder. From the viewpoint of an isolated individual, it makes no difference if disorder is produced by another individual for random reasons, or by a progressive collective that does it as part of a political action. It does not matter if it is a criminal, a madman, a union striking, or an anti-capitalist group doing direct action: whenever there is fear of catastrophic disorder and of the dissolution of social bonds, Right-wing calls to order find a fertile soil. More

This is a thoughtful article that seeks to stop blaming or denigrating people who support what is obviously not in their best interests.

People actually aren't stupid and they generally seek to act rationally and make the best decisions for their particular circumstances. It drives me crazy when progressives talk about the "stupidity of the masses" etc.

In addition, there is a fair bit of psychological study in the scholarly and popular literature about why people are self-destructive. As an example, why do women stay with abusive men?

By understanding this, we can reduce our negative judgements on people, increase the compassion we like to think we feel as progressives, and learn best how to effect change individuals (without being condescending).

More Philosophy & Reflection, General Politics

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Turn a Parking Space into a PARK

How to Turn a Parking Space into a PARK, "Just be sure you pay the meter."

More green design by Treehugger and Cameron Sinclair's Architecture for Humanity
Filed under: Art, Urban Issues, Environment

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

So ridiculous you just have to laugh (O'Reilly Attacks...)

Watch O'Reilly (who claims he doesn't make personal attacks) tell us how NOLA hurricane victims are "drug addicted", European population "are cowards... soft and afraid", Krugman is "just to the right of Fidel Castro", Cindy Sheehan is too "dumb" to realize she's being used by far left, Iraqi's are a "prehistoric group"... Yup, that's fair and balanced commentary from the "no-spin zone".

So ridiculous I never know whether to laugh or cry. It's funny, until you realize people actually listen to O'Reilly and parrot his words back and forth between each other as thought it's the gospel.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

International Women's Day

Unfortunately, women, like other marginalized groups, still have a long way to go. Domestic violence, sexual abuse, and women's poverty are still endemic.

According to the United Nations, women do 2/3 of the world's work yet earn only 5% of the world's income and own less than 1% of the world's real property. Women often lack resources that might help them get out of poverty. This includes capital, land, and borrowing opportunities. (Source)

Although we have come a long way in many respects, economically we have a long way to go. In Canada, women still earn on average only 63.6% of men's earnings. Women are more likely to be employed in precarious "pink collar" jobs, often part-time. Don't forget, women's poverty is difficult to measure, because if they reside in a family that is above the poverty line, they are considered non-poor, despite the fact that women often have unequal access to resources within marriage. Women often go without so their husbands and children can have. The situation for single mothers is abysmal. 34% are below the poverty line (compared to 12.6% of single father-headed households) - and they are way below the line. The average income of lone parent families headed by women was $6,300 below the poverty line. (Source)

In the USA the situation is similar. For the same year (2003) 35.5% of single mother-headed households are below the poverty line. Compare to 19.1% of single father-headed households. For women of colour it is even worse - 42.8%. (Source)
Of course, how they measure poverty in US is pretty uninformed. Using only the cost of food as its measure, it doesn't account for proper inflation since it was implemented in the 60's. The cost of food has increased far less than the cost of transportation and housing.

Moreover, many hard-won liberties are slipping away. The South Dakota abortion ban in the US, for example. Here in Canada, we've already had our family allowances taken away, and now we elected a PM who pledged another tax credit (which does nothing for the poorest among us) instead of national daycare.

So with all the great things the past generations of feminists have done, why are we still struggling? Why has poverty become a women's issue? Well, I'm not sure I know the answer to that, but I read something interesting this morning. The book Rebel Sell blames counter-cultural mistakes. Firstly, instead of focusing on reforming the rules to counter structural injustices, the counter culture in the 60's and 70's was interested in destroying the rules totally. Unfortunately, free love and reduction in responsibilities, was often in men's interests to the detriment of women, who in the final instance are left with the responsibility for the kids. Lacking cultural pressure to marry and support a "knocked-up" woman, for example, many men abandoned their children, leaving single women in serious economic trouble. This is an interesting argument, but I don't think it tells the whole picture. Some of the problem is probably the sheer immensity of the injustice. Thousands of years of patriarchy means it is still pretty strongly rooted. I'll have to think on this some more.

However, the more we stick to our convictions, and the more generations pass with freer women as role models, the better things will get.

So, stay strong sisters!

More on Women's Rights, Poverty & Class Issues