Topless Taxes, Really
February 14, 2007

A proposed bill in the Texas legislature known as the "Topless Tax" would tax patrons a $5 cover charge to enter strip clubs. The cover charge would then go directly into sexual-assault prevention and counseling services. This makes a certain amount of sense to me. Just as sin taxes on cigarettes end up funding everything from health care programs to education spending, taxing strip-club patrons to support worthy state mandates like assault prevention has a certain symmetry to it. Taxing the sex trade is as natural as taxing casinos and booze.

Poor Recall
February 13, 2007

by Darin McMahon A post a while back on the sadly unreconstructed nature of Florida's official state anthem prompted several people to draw my attention to similar atavisms in the sunshine state. Call me a carpetbagger, but I find it hard to fathom how Jacksonville's Nathan Bedford Forrest High has survived the cultural politics of the last 20 years with its name intact. Those without a close interest in Civil War military history may remember the Confederate cavalry commander primarily as the namesake of Tom Hank's character in the movie Forrest Gump.

The "l" Word
February 12, 2007

by Linda HirshmanI had an interesting experience on the Internet last week after I opined in the Post that women are disaffected from politics. Surprise: Even serious people behave strangely in the blogosphere. Once you clear the noise away, though, sometimes important work gets done. In this case, pressed by Mark Schmitt, a pretty smart thinker generally, I have been digging into the CW that women are reliably liberal. It turns out the disconnect may be not at the voting stage, but between many women's discrete policies and their political identity.

Unbashing Npr
February 10, 2007

by Eric RauchwaySomehow the combination of David's and my comments on NPR prompted Geoff to cast me in the role of Amurrica-hating Anglophile Archers-listener who prefers BHL to Garrison Keillor. That is not what I meant, at all. Hey, I ponied up for WHYY while I was living in England and listening to pledge drives through the Internets, Geoff. Partly because I liked listening to a certain show that features a certain academic linguist. And I wasn't even getting a tax break from Inland Revenue! Just a plastic mug. And nothing made me change the channel faster than the Archers' theme music.

Two Cheers For Public Radio
February 09, 2007

by Geoffrey Nunberg You can think of this as special pleading, but with all respect toEric and David, I don't think American public radio needs a whole lot of defending. On the whole, it does a terrific job of bringing news, analysis, and cultural commentary to a large and appreciative public. It has developed new formats of personal journalism--I'm thinking of "This American Life" and "Soundprint," for example--that have few European equivalents.

Why Isn't It On Npr?
February 07, 2007

by Eric Rauchway I concede that few genres of question more reliably annoy than, "Why do the British do it better?", because so many things, they don't. But I wish now to ask: Why are there so many excellent program(me)s on BBC Radio 4 with no American counterpart? And specifically, why do they get so much more out of their professors and general intellectuals? Let's pick two examples, both podcast, so you can listen for yourself. Exhibit A. "Start the Week." Each Monday, the host has four guests on to discuss their projects.

The Latest Edwards Pseudo-scandal
February 07, 2007

A quick recap for anyone who hasn't been following this story: John Edwards recently hired two liberal bloggers--Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon and Melissa McEwan of Shakespeare's Sister--to blog for his campaign. Conservatives on the internet dredged up some inflammatory things Marcotte had written in the past, and did their best to act offended and cause a ruckus.

Turning To More Important Matters
February 07, 2007

Excuse my sparse blogging today, but I'm a bit preoccupied thinking about a certain sporting event that's taking place tonight. If you too are a bit preoccupied by said certain sporting event, you can't do much better than reading this preview by the excellent Will Blythe. I share Blythe's fears that not only was FSU's victory over Duke on Sunday a negative development for the Heels (in that it's hard to imagine Duke losing three in a row), but that Duke is even better equipped than N.C. State to execute the game plan the Pack used to beat Carolina on Saturday.

Quick, Do Something Manly!
February 06, 2007

While we're discussing potentially offensive Superbowl ads, what do gay rights groups with tons of money on their hands spend their time doing? Fighting against anti-gay ballot initiatives? No, condemning supposedly homophobic television commercials. A complaint from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, and the ostensibly more serious Matthew Shepard Foundation, along with the Human Rights Campaign, condemned a Snickers ad shown Sunday night. In the advertisement, two auto mechanics begin eating a snickers bar from either end and wind up in a kiss, à la Lady and the Tramp.

Houston, We Have A Love Triangle
February 06, 2007

Overheard at NASA Captain Lisa Marie Nowak's preliminary hearing... NOWAK: So check it out, Judge. I was, like, the robotic-arm operator on the shuttle and that was a little sad, you feel me? I needed some real arms, you dig? So, like, Bill became my man. I mean, when I say we went to space together, I don't just mean that literally. And then comes along this slut, Colleen, and she never even went to space, so I was all like, what's up with this? And Bill was like, that's my other woman. And I was like, I don't think so. That's when shit got ugly, your honor.