Thursday, June 26, 2003

Holistic

The Supreme Court has done a nice job of fuzzying up the question of affirmative action. The collective result of the two decisions is a don’t ask, don’t tell policy. A point system is out, but race (or “diversity” as the Court insists, to portray affirmative action as benefitting all of society, which it does, but heaven forfend that just assisting historically discriminated-against minorities should be considered worthwhile all by itself, no, we have to insist that everyone gains, even while we’re making decisions about distributing a scarce resource, which is a process which will always benefit some people at the expense of others) may be considered in an “individualized, holistic review.” I’m from California, so I know that anything with the word “holistic” in it somewhere is going to be bullshit, like a “nutritionist” who swings a pendulum over you to discover whether you can eat peaches. A point system may be mechanical, but at least there’s transparency. Now, Michigan gave points not only for race (too many points, in my opinion) but also for children of alumni. In the old days, such applicants were given an individualized, holistic review, or, as they would have called it, the old boys’ network. Yeah, by all means let’s go back to that, only everyone who gets admitted gets it by a wink and a nod and an unaccountable back-room process.

The Supreme Court votes 6-3 to uphold requiring libraries to use internet filters.

New Zealand legalizes prostitution. Plan your vacations accordingly.

The CIA spirits five legal residents of Malawi out of the country, possibly with the connivance of the government, but in defiance of a high court ruling that they be either charged or released.

Showing our keen understanding of Islamic culture, we planned to give the Iraqi army a new name whose acronym meant fuck in Arabic (although even the Brits have their problems; the killing of 6 soldiers yesterday was a response to searches of women’s underwear drawers). Incidentally, the US has changed its policy and will now pay Iraqi soldiers their salaries. And employ them. To clean up minefields.

Speaking of which, the US is trying to weaken a proposed UN convention that would impose a legal requirement to clean up cluster bombs at the end of a war.

In Germany, a woman stabs her husband to death in a fight over what color to paint their apartment walls. The news story does not specify which colors each one wanted, so it’s hard to judge whether her reaction was appropriate.

The top 400 taxpayers in the US in 1992 had gross incomes totaling $19 billion. In 2000, $70 billion. Their income tax fell from 26.4% to 22.3%. Their share of total US income doubled from 0.52% to 1.09%.

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