"America the Charitable: a Few Surprises" (CSM, Nov 27, 06) breaks down the stats on philanthropic giving in America. The one result that surprised me? "Demand for nonprofit services gets proportionately bigger, not smaller,
as a locality's income rises, a Federal Reserve economist finds."
"Know Where Donations Go" (Raleigh N&O, Dec 2, 06) warns readers that a lot of the time, the charitable promotions that retailers and restaurants run may merely be PR ploys.
"Helping Consumers Rein in the Holiday Excess" (SF Chron, Dec 16, 06) gives you the Earth-friendly take on holiday celebration as filtered through Worldchanging.com. One of the ideas that apparently did not gain traction in 06? "Buy less crap."
"The Giving Gap" (Reason, Dec 16, 06) finds that people who believe that "individuals, not government, offer the best solutions to social ills" tend to be heartier philanthropists than those who favor some forms of governmental intervention. Also related to giving rates: whether or not you're a church-goer.
"In Your Name: Holiday Donations on Behalf of Those with Plenty" (NYT, Dec 21, 06) explores the growing trend of hitting up Heifer.org for your sweetie when you've grown tired of buying them expensive baubles. (The article takes pains to warn that said sweetie had better be tired of receiving said baubles, or else the gift won't go over well.)
"Charity Experts Beg to Differ" (Reason, Dec 22, 06) raises the issue of donor futility: that maybe, people stop donating to philanthropic efforts because they don't perceive their money as being well-spent or effectively deployed toward advancing the cause they back.
So one of my favorite bloggers is expecting her second child, and recently she asked whether or not people who had left the paying workforce to raise kids had really liked or disliked their jobs or not. Linda wrote:
it seems like many SAHMs I know (in real life or in the blogosphere)
weren't particularly happy in their job before leaving, but I have no
idea if that's generally true or not.
The debates people are having and the decisions they make put a really human dimension on some recent articles covering -- you guessed it -- mothers in the workforce. In May, there was "After Baby, Boss Comes Calling" (NYT, May 17, 07), in which the same woman who reporting on the "opt-out movement" posited that a new, opt-in movement was forming. To support this:
A study by the Families and Work Institute shows that 24 percent of
women and 13 percent of men who work full-time would like to work
part-time. And among the youngest workers, those now having children
and most actively juggling family and career, Fortune magazine found
that 61 percent would leave their job if they could find another that
allows them to telecommute.
Because studies breed more studies, we soon got more stats. On July 12, the WaPo reported "Part-Time Looks Fine to Working Mothers." Apparently 60% of mothers in the workplace would like to go part-time. Three days later, the NYT ran "The Anguish of a Part-Timer," in which the author revealed that she was part of that 40% who preferred going fulltime. Why? Because the logistics alone were a full-time job, even before tossing in parenting tasks and actual paid duties.
But the question remains. Why does Generation X -- the presumed force behind this work-less-live-happier movement -- want to step off the career track for a few years? On July 16, Reason columnist Cathy Young posited a theory in "Dispatches from the Mommy Wars:"
It's possible that what has really changed is not the degree to which
women enjoy being at home or working, but the degree to which they
believe these choices are respected by the culture around them.
You know...whenever I enter a "comment zone" about this subject, I
really just think one thing - "Don't drink the koolaid." To me, it
appears the most verbal SAHM's seem to REALLY want to convert you. Like
they get a referral fee or something. And most working moms seem to
just say "hey - whatever works for you." Not sure why this is.
Since this isn't an issue at all for me, I don't feel any pressure one way or the other. But for any of you who have kids ... can you speak to this? What sort of pressure do you feel? Where does it come from?
Also, I need to go hunt down assorted studies because I have a feeling that given the choice, a lot of us would cut our work hours if we could.
This summer, in the face of record droughts and water shortages,
communities from the Gulf Coast to Sonoma Valley are imposing
unprecedented restrictions, and even outright bans, on lawn watering.
They're also stepping up enforcement -- raising fines, sending out
patrols, staffing hotlines and even shutting off service to repeat
But to the most committed grass lovers, these restrictions have become
a test of ingenuity. Some are creating personal reserves by digging
wells or installing rainwater tanks. Others are pumping from backyard
streams or using reclaimed sewer water that must be kept away from
And some are flat-out cheating. Rosie Igo of Brownsburg, Ind., says she
tried obeying her town's new watering restrictions for two weeks this
spring -- until her grass went limp. Lately she's been setting her
sprinkler system to turn on at 3:30 a.m. when nobody will notice. "My
husband's a golfer, he loves green," Ms. Igo explains.
This week's collection of links relates to the whole Harry Potter phenomenon -- which I expect will reach its apex at ... TODAY.
Why this minute? Even if a boatload of people are thoroughly spoiled (and thanks a lot for that, FUNKILLERS. What's next, kicking old people for fun and putting the footage on YouTube?), once the spoiler-averse people have the books in their hot little paws, everything will be up for grabs.
I guarantee that at least one person will be like, "I just wasted EIGHT YEARS on this series! I dressed up like Argus Filch at the last six bookstore events for NOTHING! What the -- ? I mean, I can't -- ? No, no, no. Can't speak. Head exploding in outrage."
So let's enjoy the sweet, swiftly fleeting moments of anticipatory promise before the inevitable fanboy/fangirl bitchfest. Have some links!
"A Bid for Harry Potter's Green Fans" (NYT, Jul 7, 07) -- "As part of a growing worldwide campaign that is prompting a shift in
the publishing industry, environmental groups, including the National
Wildlife Federation and Greenpeace, are asking Potter fans in the
United States not to buy Scholastic's editions and instead to order the
new title online from Canada, where the publisher, Raincoast Books, has
printed the book on 100 percent recycled paper."
"Potter Has Limited Effect on Reading Habits" (NYT, Jul 11, 07) -- "As the series draws to a much-lamented close, federal statistics show
that the percentage of youngsters who read for fun continues to drop
significantly as children get older, at almost exactly the same rate as
before Harry Potter came along."
"Potter Embargo Could Be Broken" (BBC, Jul 12, 07) -- "Some shops are not expected to keep a written agreement which prevents them selling the book before 21 July."
"TV Cameras Record Rowling's Year" (BBC, Jul 13, 07) -- "The show will give a rare insight into the writer's
personal life and show her finishing Harry Potter and the Deathly
Hallows, the final book in the series."
"Harry Potter 'Wrockers' Conjure Musical Magic" (ABC News, Jul 13, 07) -- "Meet Harry and the Potters and Draco and the Malfoys, just two of
nearly 200 Harry Potter-themed bands -- including the Hungarian
Horntails, the Whomping Willows and the Remus Lupins -- who are touring
venues across the country bringing their own style of "wrock" -- that's
wizard rock -- to a generation that has grown up reading about the
magical world of wands, spells and dragons." (Includes link to Draco and the Malfoys' song "My Dad Is Rich.")
"The £10m Charm to Shield Harry's Secret" (The Telegraph, Jul 15, 07) -- "A £10 million security operation featuring an army of guards, satellite
tracking systems and draconian legal contracts has swung into action to
prevent any leak of details of the seventh and final book about the boy
wizard." [Ed note: Read this in conjunction with Time's June 29, 07 "Harry Potter and the Sinister Spoilers."] [Ed note the second: And then wonder if heads are going to roll thanks to all the purported leaks.]
"Harry Potter and the Diminished Returns" (LAT, Jul 16, 07) -- "Amid this avalanche of commerce and pre-publication hype, the book
business is ruefully taking note of a startling incongruity: Very few
U.S. booksellers will be making big money from "Harry Potter and the
"Was the Boy Wizard the Charm that Made Children's Books Fly?" (WaPo, Jul 18, 07) -- "Ask about Harry's effect on the industry and the first thing you'll
hear is that Rowling's books disproved the longstanding belief that
hardcover children's fiction didn't sell. The next is that they've
caused a vast and lucrative expansion of the fantasy category."
A disclaimer on this post: I am a big believer in due process, the burden of proof and innocent-until-proven-guilty. It is fair and accurate to say someone "allegedly" did something until it's proven in a court of law.
That said, all those convictions tend to fly out the door when it comes to animal abuse. I cannot watch any Animal Cops shows; my urge to gun down the perps through the TV screen is too strong. I hear about something like dogfighting and my first thought is, I would buy the pay cable special where the heinous jackwipes who did that had their wrists and ankles broken with a crowbar, and then were tossed into a pit full of the animals they mistreated. Poetic justice, motherfuckers!
... Because it's doing a bang-up job exploring the ways in which cultural assimilation issues play out in everyday life.
I linked a while back to "Picnics, Games and Culture Shock" (Jun 30, 07), which examined the challenges parks personnel faced when trying to mediate the needs of several different ethnic groups in public spaces. Last week's "Feathers Are Flying" (Jul 14, 07) looks at a culture clash in my high school stomping grounds, Prince William County: chickens kept as backyard pets in suburbia.And today's "Two Cultures, Slowly Uniting in Matrimony" examines how thriving Asian communities across the DC Metro area are transforming, and being transformed by, the local wedding industry.
It is coverage like this, which examines how people handle such quotidian details like family pets and wedding planning, that seems to provide a better snapshot of immigration's impact on America than a dozen op-eds that all boil down to OMG illegals!111!!!!!
I am not at all diligent about taking digital photos, but that is going to have to change. Otherwise, how will you be able to marvel at how well my pumpkins are doing now that they have their very own cabana? The plants are chillaxing under something I whipped up with some leftover landscaping cloth and the butt ends of the 4x4s I had after building the raised beds. Photos to come, I promise. This is probably the most exciting re-use project I have had this year.
How are your Reduce/Reuse/Recycle efforts coming along?
Are you eschewing paper towels, passing by the high-fructose-corn-syrup stuff and generally making small, maintainable changes? Anyone going in for big changes?
And here's one for the commentors: are property crimes effective behavioral deterrents, or will they just push people in exactly the opposite direction? ("Hummer Owner Gets Angry Message," WaPo, Jul 18, 07)
Readers and would-be readers often couldn’t decide if Jane was better
than other women’s magazines or if, because it knew better, it was
It's that idea of "you know better" that is fueling the glee I feel at the Redbook cover expose. Because here is the thing: it's not just the editors who know better. It's the readers.
In 2007, if you want to find out how much cellulite someone erased from Daryl Hannah's legs (formerly available at Fluid Effect) or how dramatically Eva Longoria's body is altered, you can. So those features about how, with the right exercises, you too can have Jessica Biel's butt? Bullshit -- not even Jessica Biel has that butt. A collection of pixels does. Pretending otherwise is really insulting to the readers.
Because what that tells me is this: that magazine has lost the understanding of what its relationship with its readers should be like. I am not interested in reading a magazine that hews to "industry standards." I am not interested in reading anything that falls back on "industry standards" to justify its hard sell of the unrealistically attainable.
What I am interested in is being angry. I am angry because I love media. I love magazines. But I love magazines for what they offer in terms of exciting and innovative and relatively fresh content, and it seems like the deck is freakin' stacked against the titles that offer that. I am angry because I love an industry that can't find a way to make Sassy or Budget Living work, but freakin' Redbook will still be hitting the newsstands even after Armageddon ("Rags -- The Exciting New Go-Anywhere Wardrobe!").