Five Best Tuesday Columns
Eliot A. Cohen on Obama's teenage administration, Felicity Morse on why the Bring Back Our Girls Campaign is working, Mark Gilbert says soccer sexism is worse than basketball racism, Dan Gillmor on the harbinger of doom that is 'the Internet of things', Frank Bruni on the report that children are reading less.
Eliot A. Cohen at The Wall Street Journal on Obama’s teenage administration. “As American foreign policy continues its long string of failures, the question becomes: Why? Clues may be found in the president's selfie with the attractive Danish prime minister at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela in December; in State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki in March cheerily holding up a sign with the Twitter hashtag #UnitedForUkraine while giving a thumbs up; or Michelle Obama looking glum last week, holding up another Twitter sign: #BringBackOurGirls,” Cohen writes. “Often, members of the Obama administration speak and, worse, think and act, like a bunch of teenagers. When officials roll their eyes at Vladimir Putin's seizure of Crimea with the line that this is ‘19th-century behavior,’ the tone is not that different from a disdainful remark about a hairstyle being ‘so 1980s’.”
Felicity Morse at The Independent on why the Bring Back Our Girls Campaign is working. “Boko Haram must be quaking in their boots. These ‘Islamic’ militants have razed entire villages to the ground, hacked men to death and killed children as they slept, but now the West has a hashtag campaign. #BringBackOurGirls has exploded across social media. The media weren’t ignoring those girls. If readers don’t suggest they are interested in Boko Haram (which given the lack of Western outrage in February, it would be easy to assume), then there will be no primetime coverage,” Morse writes. “Yet despite being simplistic and at times hypocritical, hashtag activism can work. The media watches Facebook and Twitter to see what issues people care about. Politicians read newspapers: they also want to get votes. It’s not just politicians and the media watching social media. Boko Haram might be militants, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t on Twitter.”
Mark Gilbert at Bloomberg View says soccer sexism is worse than basketball racism. “When Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was caught making racist comments, he was fined and banned from basketball for life. Now the chief executive of the U.K.'s soccer Premier League, Richard Scudamore, has been caught off-camera making repugnant sexist remarks about women. Unacceptably, it looks as though he may keep his job. In his slightly less offensive comments, he told a friend that 'female irrationality increases exponentially depending on how many members join your family',” Gilbert writes. “So what did the U.K.'s governing body for soccer do? The Football Association said it won't charge Scudamore with bringing the game into disrepute, because this was a private matter. It was heartening that fans booed Scudamore as he presented medals to the winning U.K. soccer team, Manchester City, after the league's final game on Sunday. If Scudamore won't jump, he should be pushed.”
Dan Gillmor at the Guardian on the harbinger of doom that is ‘the Internet of things'. “The 'internet of things' is turning into Silicon Valley's latest mania. At first glance, it is a trend with great appeal: a world in which everything we touch and use has an embedded intelligence and memory of its own, and all of it is connected by way of digital networks. What's missing from this rosy scenario? Plenty – because security and privacy seem to be mostly an afterthought as we embed and use technology in our physical devices,” Gillmor writes. “In some ways, the horror show has already started. Aren't you just thrilled to know that smart folks have already figured out ways to remotely set the controls for the heart of a self-driving car? Or the video monitor you normally use to keep an eye on your baby in her crib?” James Cotton, founder of Onespacemedia, tweets, “Interesting article on @theguardian about IOT security”.
Frank Bruni at The New York Times on the reports that children are reading less. “As an uncle I’m inconsistent about too many things. Birthdays, for example. School productions, too. But about books, I’m steady. Relentless. I may well be responsible for 10 percent of all sales of “The Fault in Our Stars,” a teenage love story to be released as a movie next month. So I was crestfallen on Monday, when a new report by Common Sense Media came out. It showed that 30 years ago, only 8 percent of 13-year-olds and 9 percent of 17-year-olds said that they 'hardly ever' or never read for pleasure. Today, 22 percent of 13-year-olds and 27 percent of 17-year-olds say that, Bruni writes. “There’s research on this, and it’s cited in a recent article in The Guardian by Dan Hurley, who wrote that after ‘three years interviewing psychologists and neuroscientists around the world,’ he’d concluded that ‘reading and intelligence have a relationship so close as to be symbiotic’.”