Blessed be the nuns

This is a biggie, which no doubt will get them all  into more trouble with the vatican.  It’s also 4-days old news, but it may have made Stupak’s change possible.  From the NY Times:

Catholic nuns are urging Congress to pass President Barack Obama’s health care plan, in an unusual public break with bishops who say it would subsidize abortion.Some 60 leaders of religious orders representing 59,000 Catholic nuns Wednesday sent lawmakers a letter urging them to pass the Senate health care bill. It contains restrictions on abortion funding that the bishops say don’t go far enough.

The letter says that ”despite false claims to the contrary, the Senate bill will not provide taxpayer funding for elective abortions.” The letter says the legislation also will help support pregnant women and ”this is the real pro-life stance.”

Maureen Dowd has a shrewd column, advising Stupak that the nuns have the moral authority now, despite his view that they are not the official voice of the Church.  Here is a  longer and more recent discussion of the nuns v. the legislators who oppose the bill.

As far as I can  see, Stupak and Pelosi have reached some agreement, the details of which are not yet available.  I am concerned that it will include further restrictions on abortions in one guise or another.

How do you cope with really big disappointments?

Not  that I’m worried at all about today ending with one of the BIG ONES.  But even if it doesn’t, then chances of another one coming along soon are pretty big.  And maybe even worse, we could have nearly a year when catastrophe loams large in the guise of you-know-who as a presidential candidate.

So how do we remain sane and functional?  At least most of the time. 

We might  think of big losses in our personal lives or in a profession we care about, such as not getting a tt job or tenure.  But let’s stick for now with the sort of state or national events, ones where the effects of the loss are not immediate and deeply personal, but they seem like pretty severe blows to something we care about, such as the welfare of  many people around us.  Like the second election of Bush II.

What do you do?  Try not to think about it?  Try turning to something else to regain a senses of control and progress?  Have some good stiff drinks?

I hope I haven’t just covered all the options!  Are there more ideas out there?  Or details for the ones above?  Let us know what you have or will do.

Norway’s First Male Minister for Gender Equality and Children’s Affairs

is a pretty great guy. He also makes a very interesting claim:

Norway did not invest in paternity leave schemes after it got prosperous. We are prosperous because we invested in gender equality and it is important that all nations see that equality is a prerequisite for development, not the other way round.

I’d love to have the facts to back this one up. Does anyone have the data?

Thanks, AG!

Healthcare and abstinence

The latest version of the Health Care Bill reinstates funding – $50 million – to Abstinence-before-marriage programmes. This has no doubt been included to try and get the bill past the House and Senate. But that’s a lot of money to spend on programmes that have been shown to be ineffective in preventing STDs and unwanted pregnancies. You can read more here.

Cosmetic surgery

The following articles might be of interest to some readers. This one reports on changing trends in US cosmetic surgery – less surgical operations (tummy tucks, face lifts, etc.), but a rise in non-surgical procedures (botox, etc.). Whilst this one talks about the rise in ‘lunchtime’ surgery in the UK.

“Much of this is not about health care at all”

Yes, that seems right.

Preceding the president’s speech to a gathering of House Democrats, thousands of protesters descended around the Capitol to protest the passage of health care reform. The gathering quickly turned into abusive heckling, as members of Congress passing through Longworth House office building were subjected to epithets and even mild physical abuse.

A staffer for Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) told reporters that Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) had been spat on by a protestor. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a hero of the civil rights movement, was called a ‘ni–er.’ And Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) was called a “faggot,” as protestors shouted at him with deliberately lisp-y screams. Frank, approached in the halls after the president’s speech, shrugged off the incident.

But Clyburn was downright incredulous, saying he had not witnessed such treatment since he was leading civil rights protests in South Carolina in the 1960s.

“It was absolutely shocking to me,” Clyburn said, in response to a question from the Huffington Post. “Last Monday, this past Monday, I stayed home to meet on the campus of Claflin University where fifty years ago as of last Monday… I led the first demonstrations in South Carolina, the sit ins… And quite frankly I heard some things today I have not heard since that day. I heard people saying things that I have not heard since March 15, 1960 when I was marching to try and get off the back of the bus.”

“It doesn’t make me nervous as all,” the congressman said, when asked how the mob-like atmosphere made him feel. “In fact, as I said to one heckler, I am the hardest person in the world to intimidate, so they better go somewhere else.”

Asked if he wanted an apology from the group of Republican lawmakers who had addressed the crowd and, in many ways, played on their worst fears of health care legislation, the Democratic Party, and the president, Clyburn replied:

“A lot of us have been saying for a long time that much of this, much of this is not about health care a all. And I think a lot of those people today demonstrated that this is not about health care… it is about trying to extend a basic fundamental right to people who are less powerful.”

(Thanks, Jender-Parents.)

If not diversity training, then what?

It can be frustrating reading the literature on implicit bias and wondering what to do about it. It’s one thing to know it exists and quite another to know how to effectively combat bias. As someone who regularly chairs gatekeeping committees of various sorts (from admissions to appointments) I struggle with this one. For sure, I talk to committee members about the issues. Our university’s equity guide is pretty good on these points as well. But I was disheartened to read a Boston Globe story that diversity training has little effect on bias. The Boston Globe story, “Who’s Still Biased?” is here.

Here’s a piece of their story: “Now a few social scientists are taking a hard look at these programs, and, so far, what they’re finding is that there’s little evidence that diversity training works. A paper published last year by the psychologist Elizabeth Levy Paluck of Princeton University’s
Woodrow Wilson School and the Yale University political scientist Donald Green comprehensively surveyed the literature on prejudice reduction measures and found no empirical support for the idea that diversity training programs change attitudes or behavior. Similarly, a 2008 literature review paper by Carol Kulik of the University of South Australia and Loriann Roberson of Columbia University found that, on the question of changing behavior, there were few trustworthy studies – and decidedly mixed results among those. And research by a team of sociologists on more than 800 companies over three decades has found that the best diversity training programs make little difference in who gets hired and promoted, and many programs actually decrease the number of women and minorities in management.”

There were some dissenting voices in the story who argued that effects can be subtle and that small changes can add up and make a difference over time. What do you think? Does standard issue diversity training make a difference when it comes to bias? What concrete steps can we take to combat bias in settings where we can’t simply evaluate without knowing candidates’ gender?