Friday Night Fun and Culture: Alabama Shakes

Alabama Shakes played South by South West this year and took the festival by storm.  They are a band to be reckoned with, and the woman in the band doesn’t just sing, she plays guitar.

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Woman Hating Republi-Nazi Wisconsin Lawmaker: If You Are Being Beaten, Just Remember the Things You Love About Your Husband

From RH Reality Check:

by Jodi Jacobson, Editor in Chief, RH Reality Check
March 23, 2012

If you need any further proof that we are in the midst of a full-on patriarchal biblical-religious war on women, a Wisconsin lawmaker is happy to provide it.

According to Yahoo News, Wisconsin Rep. Don Pridemore helpfully suggests that, rather than divorcing an abusive spouse, you should try to remember the things you love about the guy while he is beating you up.

In Wisconsin — yes, the same state where lawmakers have introduced a bill penalizing single mothers for being unmarried — a Republican state representative has come out against divorce for any reason — even domestic abuse.

Instead of leaving an abusive situation, women should try to remember the things they love about their husbands, Representative Don Pridemore said. “If they can re-find those reasons and get back to why they got married in the first place it might help,” he told a local news station.

Yahoo continues:

Pridemore — who, coincidentally, is a co-sponsor of Republican state Senator Glenn Grothman’s “being single causes child abuse” bill as well as a controversial voter ID bill that was ruled unconstitutional earlier this week.

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The Best Nanny Money Can Buy

From The New York Times:

Published: March 20, 2012

It took Zenaide Muneton 20 seconds to convince me that she was the perfect nanny. Short and dark-haired, she has a goofy, beaming smile and knows how to make everything fun for a little kid. Time to brush your teeth? She shakes her hands and does a pantomimed teeth-brushing dance. Bath time? She pumps her arms up and down in a going-to-the-tub march. After I told her I’d love to hire her, she smiled and thanked me.

Then we both laughed, because there is no way I could possibly afford her. As one of New York City’s elite nannies, Muneton commanded around $180,000 a year — plus a Christmas bonus and a $3,000-a-month apartment on Central Park West. I should be her nanny.

I began researching this bizarre microeconomy shortly after my wife and I started looking for someone to watch our son for a few hours a week. We met with several candidates, all of whom had good references and seemed fine with him. Still, we weren’t sure how to judge them. Should we hire the one who seemed to be the most fun? The most experienced? A native English speaker or someone who could speak a foreign language to him? Someone with a college degree? A master’s?

We had no idea. But I began to wonder if price conveyed any important information about the nanny market. All the candidates we spoke with charged about $15 to $18 per hour, which, though standard in our Brooklyn neighborhood, seemed like a bargain when I learned that some nannies charge considerably more than double that rate. Would my son suffer with a midmarket nanny?

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This pampered private school elite can only lead to US decline

From The Guardian UK:

Insulated from any real-world experience, these ‘cotton-wool kids’ are ill-equipped to cope with global competition, Thursday 22 March 2012

I recently attended an event to welcome new parents to a private school in Manhattan. The options presented to the wealthy parents were jaw-dropping: kayaking and skiing for field trips; yoga among dozens of electives; the school gives each kid a new iPad. Parents asked one question after another about the offerings, sounding more as though they were evaluating a luxury vacation than preparing themselves to support their kids to exert themselves in a challenging environment. It was when one student presenter began to enthuse about the availability of the teachers – “You can email them anytime, you can call them anytime, they will always meet with you and help you: they are always there for you!” – that I became really uneasy.

Was that, I wondered, what teachers should be for students?

This school is not at all unusual in Manhattan’s elite private school environment. If anything, it is restrained. A trend in Manhattan’s wealthy private schools, as in major cities across the United States, reproduces this set of delights and more, as each competes to offer affluent parents, who can afford the $40,000 annually that such schools cost, the most fabulous experience for the child. Part of this trend is the excision of any part of the school experience for kids that is, in any way, unpleasant, taxing, scary or boring. I believe that these kids are being put at serious risk by this trend to smooth away any of life’s rough spots, once kids are within private school doors; and that US competitiveness and innovation even are being put at risk by it.

Educators complain that wealthy US parents are increasingly demanding in seeking a massively vibrant, pleasurable and supportive school experience for their kids – one that will get them into Harvard, certainly, but with no negative experiences along the way. Many educators in these schools complain that parents’ – and, increasingly, students’ – attitude to educators is that they are consuming a costly luxury product, and that the teachers work for them; rather than serving as authority figures to the kids, educators at such schools complain that wealthy US parents increasingly expect “service” and “deliverables” from teachers, so won’t brook a poor grade or evaluation, or a difficult experience for their child. This attitude then carries over into colleges that serve wealthy populations. And it does not stop there: the consumerist ethos has trickled down, destructively, into the public school system, too.

“How many times has a kid said to me,’You work for me; I am your employer,'” sighed one such administrator to me, recently. This unbalancing of the power relationship in the parents’ direction has forced private school principals and teachers to cater to parents by increasingly offering an obstacle-free school experience – since that is what parents demand.

This trend has accelerated as US public education has been cut to the bone – losing $258m in federal grant money in 2011-12 – and as the middle class has shrunk in the US, leaving a two-tier system. As public schools struggle to offer textbooks and supplies, the plenty and fabulousness of the private-school experience only intensifies, and these two groups of students increasingly inhabit totally different worlds. In one, there is challenge and difficulty; in the other, kids are expected to try for good grades, but even this, as in every other aspect of their experience, has been padded over with fun and “support”. I was astounded once as I watched a kindergarten class get ready for a field trip, and the school insisted that it needed as many parent volunteers as there were five-year-olds (“Because every child needs a hand to hold”).

Do they? Do they really?

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Lauren Zuniga, To the Oklahoma Lawmakers: a poem

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How Religion’s Demand for Obedience Keeps Us in the Dark Ages

From Alternet:

The most fervent advocates of religion in the modern world are also the most deeply inculcated with the mindset of command and obedience, which has dangerous consequences.

By Adam Lee
March 19, 2012

For the vast majority of human history, the only form of government was the few ruling over the many. As human societies became settled and stratified, tribal chiefs and conquering warlords rose to become kings, pharaohs and emperors, all ruling with absolute power and passing on their thrones to their children. To justify this obvious inequality and explain why they should reign over everyone else, most of these ancient rulers claimed that the gods had chosen them, and priesthoods and holy books obligingly came on the scene to promote and defend the theory of divine right.

It’s true that religion has often served to unite people against tyranny, as well as to justify it. But in many cases, when a religious rebellion overcame a tyrant, it was only to install a different tyrant whose beliefs matched those of the revolutionaries. Christians were at first ruthlessly persecuted by the Roman Empire, but when they ascended to power, they in turn banned all the pagan religions that had previously persecuted them. Protestant reformers like John Calvin broke away from the decrees of the Pope, but Calvinists created their own theocratic city-states where their will would reign supreme.

Similarly, when King Henry VIII split England away from the Catholic church, it wasn’t so he could create a utopia of religious liberty; it was so he could create a theocracy where his preferred beliefs, rather than the Vatican’s, would be the law of the land. And in just the same way, when the Puritans fled England and migrated to the New World, it wasn’t to uphold religious tolerance; it was to impose their beliefs, rather than the Church of England’s.

It’s only within the last few centuries, in the era of the Enlightenment, that a few fearless thinkers argued that the people should govern themselves, that society should be steered by the democratic will rather than the whims of an absolute ruler. The kings and emperors battled ferociously to stamp this idea out, but it took root and spread in spite of them. In historical terms, democracy is a young idea, and human civilization is still reverberating from it — as we see in autocratic Arab societies convulsed with revolution, or Chinese citizens rising up against the state, or even in America, with protesters marching in the streets against a resurgence of oligarchy.

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ALEC Ratified NRA-Conceived Law That May Protect Trayvon Martin’s Killer

From The Center for Media and Democracy:

by Brendan Fischer
March 21, 2012

A Florida law that may protect the man who shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in February is the template for an American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) “model bill” that has been pushed in other states. The bill was brought to ALEC by the National Rifle Association (NRA), and fits into a pattern of ALEC bills that disproportionately impact communities of color.

Florida’s “stand your ground,” or “castle doctrine,” law could prevent the prosecution of George Zimmerman, the 28-year-old “neighborhood watch” vigilante who shot the unarmed Martin as the teen returned from a trip to 7-11 with an iced tea and a pack of Skittles. The law, also pushed by its supporters under the name the “Castle Doctrine,” changes state criminal justice and civil law codes by giving legal immunity to a person who uses “deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.” It also bars the deceased’s family from bringing a civil suit.

Evidence suggests a major reason Zimmerman thought he needed to use deadly force against the unarmed Martin is because the teen was black — on the recording of Zimmerman’s call to 911 (which he made before pursuing the teen), he is heard using what sounds like a racial epithet and saying “he’s a black male…Something’s wrong with him…These a**holes, they always get away.” Zimmerman has not been charged with any crime.

As Media Matters reported earlier, Florida’s “stand your ground” law is nearly identical to the ALEC Castle Doctrine Act.

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