LONDON--We're being prepared, it appears, for the sacrifice of the public option in whatever health-care reform bill manages to crawl out of Congress. This might be a good time, therefore, to look at another form of public option in another country. Specifically, the BBC's news channel.
It's on my mind now because, aside from having it on in my hotel room, it was the target a couple of weeks ago of a broadside attack by the head of its chief competitor, Sky News. Speaking at the Edinburgh Television Festival, James Murdoch (son of Rupert and a chip off the old bludgeon) revived his dad's twenty-year old broadside at the same venue against the same target. The BBC, James complained, was unfair competition. A Murdoch complaining of unfair competition, of course, is like a crocodile complaining of reptilian behavior.
The complaint by young Mr. Murdoch, though, echoed the accusations of those who oppose a health-care public option: a government-run non-profit enterprise makes it hard for profit-making outfits to compete. The BBC example is instructive. It is, of course, not government-run (see the row between the BBC's news division and the Labour government during the run-up to the Iraq War, a row whose flames were fanned by, surprise, Rupert Murdoch), although the government does collect the license fee that funds it.
And Americans should disabuse ourselves of the antiquated view of the BBC (gleaned from all those PBS reruns) as some gold standard of television generally; two hours of the daytime output of its main channel would bring you right up to date with the Beeb's capacity to generate benign trash.
But, when you want to understand the impact of the particular public option that is BBC News (and, specifically, its news channel), just compare Murdoch's Sky News and CNN International--which do compete with BBC's output--with Murdoch's Fox News and CNN's domestic product--which don't. The former are, by any standard, more serious, more balanced, more--to boil it down--grown up. In fairness, not only the competition with the Beeb is responsible for the relative sanity of Sky (though it does, in the Murdochian mold, play more downmarket); British communication law has a requirement that news broadcasts be, here's a twist, fair and balanced.
But CNN, which goes head-to-head with BBC's World news channel in global competition, is a good couple dozen IQ points above what CNN offers its American audience. And it's been that way for a while, which leads one to assume that Time Warner can make money that way, too, or the International channel would long since have vanished.
The public option makes for better choices? Where have I heard that before?
Orr: “Sometimes a thing happens. Splits your life. There’s a before and after. I got like five of them at this point.”
This was Frank offering a pep talk to the son of his murdered former henchman Stan in tonight’s episode. (More on this in a moment.) But it’s also a line that captures this season of True Detective so perfectly that it almost seems like a form of subliminal self-critique.
Remember when Ray got shot in episode two and appeared to be dead but came back with a renewed sense of purpose and stopped drinking. No? That’s okay. Neither does the show: It was essentially forgotten after the subsequent episode. Remember when half a dozen (or more) Vinci cops were killed in a bloody shootout along with dozen(s?) of civilians? No? Fine: True Detective’s left that behind, too. Unless I missed it, there was not a single mention of this nationally historic bloodbath tonight.
Educators seldom have enough time to do their business. What’s that doing to the state of learning?
It’s common knowledge that teachers today are stressed, that they feel underappreciated and disrespected, and disillusioned. It’s no wonder they’re ditching the classroom at such high rates—to the point where states from Indiana to Arizona to Kansas are dealing with teacher shortages. Meanwhile, the number of American students who go into teaching is steadily dropping.
A recent survey conducted jointly by the American Federation of Teachers and Badass Teachers Association asked educators about the quality of their worklife, and it got some pretty harrowing feedback. Just 15 percent of the 30,000 respondents, for example, strongly agreed that they’re enthusiastic about the profession. Compare that to the roughly 90 percent percent who strongly agreed that they were enthusiastic about it when they started their career, and it’s clear that something has changed about schools that’s pushing them away. Roughly three in four respondents said they “often” feel stressed by their jobs.
How a radical epilepsy treatment in the early 20th century paved the way for modern-day understandings of perception, consciousness, and the self
In 1939, a group of 10 people between the ages of 10 and 43, all with epilepsy, traveled to the University of Rochester Medical Center, where they would become the first people to undergo a radical new surgery.
The patients were there because they all struggled with violent and uncontrollable seizures. The procedure they were about to have was untested on humans, but they were desperate—none of the standard drug therapies for seizures had worked.
Between February and May of 1939, their surgeon William Van Wagenen, Rochester’s chief of neurosurgery, opened up each patient’s skull and cut through the corpus callosum, the part of the brain that connects the left hemisphere to the right and is responsible for the transfer of information between them. It was a dramatic move: By slicing through the bundle of neurons connecting the two hemispheres, Van Wagenen was cutting the left half of the brain away from the right, halting all communication between the two.
Has the Obama administration’s pursuit of new beginnings blinded it to enduring enmities?
“The president said many times he’s willing to step out of the rut of history.” In this way Ben Rhodes of the White House, who over the years has broken new ground in the grandiosity of presidential apologetics, described the courage of Barack Obama in concluding the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with the Islamic Republic of Iran, otherwise known as the Iran deal. Once again Rhodes has, perhaps inadvertently, exposed the president’s premises more clearly than the president likes to do. The rut of history: It is a phrase worth pondering. It expresses a deep scorn for the past, a zeal for newness and rupture, an arrogance about old struggles and old accomplishments, a hastiness with inherited precedents and circumstances, a superstition about the magical powers of the present. It expresses also a generational view of history, which, like the view of history in terms of decades and centuries, is one of the shallowest views of all.
A controversial treatment shows promise, especially for victims of trauma.
It’s straight out of a cartoon about hypnosis: A black-cloaked charlatan swings a pendulum in front of a patient, who dutifully watches and ping-pongs his eyes in turn. (This might be chased with the intonation, “You are getting sleeeeeepy...”)
Unlike most stereotypical images of mind alteration—“Psychiatric help, 5 cents” anyone?—this one is real. An obscure type of therapy known as EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, is gaining ground as a potential treatment for people who have experienced severe forms of trauma.
Here’s the idea: The person is told to focus on the troubling image or negative thought while simultaneously moving his or her eyes back and forth. To prompt this, the therapist might move his fingers from side to side, or he might use a tapping or waving of a wand. The patient is told to let her mind go blank and notice whatever sensations might come to mind. These steps are repeated throughout the session.
Some experts say the normal effects of severe adversity may be misdiagnosed as ADHD.
Dr. Nicole Brown’s quest to understand her misbehaving pediatric patients began with a hunch.
Brown was completing her residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, when she realized that many of her low-income patients had been diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
These children lived in households and neighborhoods where violence and relentless stress prevailed. Their parents found them hard to manage and teachers described them as disruptive or inattentive. Brown knew these behaviors as classic symptoms of ADHD, a brain disorder characterized by impulsivity, hyperactivity, and an inability to focus.
When Brown looked closely, though, she saw something else: trauma. Hyper-vigilance and dissociation, for example, could be mistaken for inattention. Impulsivity might be brought on by a stress response in overdrive.
Companies that overvalue alpha-male behavior need to change—both to retain female talent and for the bottom line.
When it comes to gender equality in the workplace, the research on its economic benefits is clear: Equality can boost profits and enhance reputation. And then there’s also the fact that it’s more fair. But the progress of women in the workplace is so far inadequate: Women are woefully underrepresented in executive positions, the pay gap persists, and the motherhood penalty is very real.
Barbara Annis is the founder of the Gender Intelligence Group, a consultancy that works with executives at major firms (including Deloitte, American Express, BMO Financial Group, and eBay) to create strategies to transform their work cultures into ones that are friendly to both men and women.
I recently spoke with Annis about her work and the challenges to achieving gender parity. The following transcript of our conversation has been edited for clarity.
Anti-discrimination statutes are coming into conflict with laws designed to preserve freedom of conscience, especially in the private sector.
Last week, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission dropped an astounding ruling: By a 3-2 vote, it concluded that “sexual orientation is inherently a ‘sex-based consideration,’ and an allegation of discrimination based on sexual orientation is necessarily an allegation of sex discrimination under Title VII.”
This is a big deal: The Commission’s recommendations shape rulings on federal employees’ workplace-discrimination claims, and its field offices deal with claims made by employees at private organizations, as well. But the ruling is also a reminder of how complicated—and unresolved—the post-Obergefell legal landscape is. The Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of same-sex marriage at the end of June has set the country up for two new waves of discrimination claims: those made by same-sex couples and LGBT workers, and those made by religious Americans who oppose same-sex marriage. The two may seem distinct or even opposed, but they’re actually intertwined: In certain cases, extending new rights to LBGT workers will necessarily lead to religious-freedom objections, and vice versa.
Taking the measure of the presidential candidate using the Yelp reviews of his customers
With Donald Trump atop the Republican presidential field, leading CNN’s national poll even as he runs first in New Hampshire and second in Iowa, it’s clear that prospective voters aren’t listening to the GOP establishment, members of the mainstream media, or even the flagship publication of the conservative movement. And why would they trust us coastal-elite losers? Maybe we’re just jealous that our names aren’t prominently atop any buildings in shiny golden letters or that our expertise is useless in evaluating such an unconventional candidate.
If elected, Trump will run America like the winner that he is––not like a politician, but a businessman. Americans will be his customers. That seems to be the theory. Fine. I give up. To see what I’m in for once Donald Trump is sworn in as president in January 2017––without any history in elective office––I stopped looking to fellow journalists, politicians, or anyone else who just doesn’tget it. I sought out people who are drawn to the man, who signaled their faith in the Trump brand long ago with their hard earned dollars, and who weighed in afterwards with real American thumbs up or down.