CNN Congressional Poll: Anti-incumbent fever at record high


Here are 2 retiring senators. Names and parties don’t matter. Both are useless.

Only a third of U.S. voters think that most members of Congress deserve to be re-elected this year, according to a new national poll. That’s the lowest number ever recorded for that question in a CNN survey.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll, released Tuesday, indicates that only 34 percent feel that current federal lawmakers deserve re-election, with 63 percent saying no.

According to the survey, 51 percent feel their own member of Congress should be re-elected — also an all-time low in CNN polling — while 44 percent say their representative doesn’t deserve to be returned to office in November…

This is not a good year to be an incumbent, regardless of which party you belong to,” said CNN polling director Keating Holland. “Voters seem equally angry at both Republicans and Democrats this year.”

Fifty-six percent of people questioned in the survey say that most Democrats in Congress do not deserve to be re-elected. An equal percentage say that most congressional Republicans don’t deserve re-election.

Here’s the details of the poll (.pdf). In my neck of the prairie, we elected 2 Dems as senators. The one returning was the stodgy centrist. The new one has backbone – and a history of environmental and social activism. They’ll both be re-elected.

We got a replacement 2nd generation hack replacing the activist mentioned above in his old House seat. He seems to be bright enough to stay on the side of peoples’ needs. And since the Republicans around here are lining up behind the usual range of hawks and beancounters – including the former commandant of Gitmo – Hack, Jr. will probably catch re-election first time around.

Sony pulls the plug on OLED TV


$2000 for an 11″ TV set

Sony Corp has pulled the plug in Japan on sales of a next-generation flat TV due to sluggish demand, a setback for a product the company had trumpeted as a sign of its revival as an innovator.

Sony said it had stopped production of ultra-thin TVs using organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technology for Japan, just a little over 2 years since it launched its first set. It plans to keep selling the TVs in overseas markets, a spokesman said…

Apparently, Sony thinks everyone else in the world is too dumb to notice the price vs. utility.

Sony has aimed to become a leader in the technology and positioned the product as crucial in its drive to regain its reputation as an innovator after losing out to Apple Inc in portable music and Nintendo in video games.

“I want this world’s first OLED TV to be the symbol of the revival of Sony’s technological prowess. I want this to be the flag under which we charge forwards to turn the fortunes around,” then president Ryoji Chubachi told a briefing in October 2007…

Sony did not disclose how many OLED TV sets it has sold. DisplaySearch said it estimates worldwide shipments of about 2,000 Sony OLED TVs in 2009.

Bishops say you should give up your iPod for Lent


Does this mean Steve Jobs is the AntiChrist?

British church leaders are encouraging people to give up their iPods for Lent, instead of more traditional vices such as chocolate, to help save the planet.

The Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, and the Bishop of Liverpool, James Jones, are among those calling for a carbon fast for Lent — a period ahead of Easter which Christians traditionally consider a time of penance and reflection — which begins on Wednesday.

As well as spending a day without using technology such as mobile phones or iPods, the 46 daily suggestions also include eating by candlelight, cutting meat and vegetables thinner so they cook faster and flushing the toilet less often.

Why not give up silly, medieval superstitions and make decisions about ethics and the environment a year round activity?

Student has right to sue when suspended for her Facebook page

A student who set up a Facebook page to complain about her teacher – and was later suspended – had every right to do so under the First Amendment, a federal magistrate has ruled.

The ruling not only allows Katherine “Katie” Evans’ suit against the principal to move forward, it could set a precedent in cases involving speech and social networking on the Internet, experts say.

The courts are in the early stages of exploring the limits of free speech within social networking, said Howard Simon, the executive director of the Florida ACLU, which filed the suit on Evans’ behalf.

“It’s one of the main things that we wanted to establish in this case, that the First Amendment has a life in the social networking technology as it applies to the Internet and other forms of communication,” Simon said.

In 2007, Evans, then a senior at Pembroke Pines Charter High School, created a Facebook page where she vented about “the worst teacher I’ve ever met.”

But instead of other students expressing their dislike of the teacher, most defended the teacher and attacked Evans. A couple days later, Evans took the page down.

But after Principal Peter Bayer found out about it, he bumped Evan from her Advanced Placement classes, putting her in classes with less prestige, and suspended her for three days.

In late 2008, Evans filed suit against the principal, asking that the suspension be ruled unconstitutional and reversed, that the documents be removed from her file at the school and that she receive reimbursement for attorney fees.

“Evans’ speech falls under the wide umbrella of protected speech,” Judge Garber wrote. “It was an opinion of a student about a teacher, that was published off-campus, did not cause any disruption on-campus, and was not lewd, vulgar, threatening, or advocating illegal or dangerous behavior.”

RTFA. Lots of useful detail supporting free speech within sane rules. The young lass didn’t break those rules, e.g., threatening harm, etc.; But, the school principal certainly did.

Does Barbie’s new geek look fit the reality?

Barbie, the toy doll that is a perennial favourite among girls, has been assigned a new career – computer engineer. But how accurate is the glam-looking tech support Barbie compared to real life..?

Her new occupation is the result of an online vote hosted by Barbie’s makers, Mattel – and the doll itself was unveiled last week at the New York Toy Fair. The new doll is decked out in black spangled leggings and a lime-green fitted tunic patterned with binary code, worn under a slinky waistcoat, with saddle-stitching detail. The ensemble is topped off with the requisite hot-pink accessories: glasses, watch and shoes. To emphasise her innate “techiness” she carries a pink laptop and sports a Bluetooth headset…

So would tech support Barbie fit in among the IT crowd in your office?

“It’s very much a young man’s industry,” says Rachel Andrew, director of Edgeofmyseat.com. “Women find the need to become quite laddish. You try and become very geeky and not particularly feminine…”

Despite Mattel’s claims that Barbie “can help inspire a new generation of girls to hone in on their computer skills and become a part of this growing profession”, not everyone is convinced.

“As a career, IT probably sounds a bit dull and boring,” says Katherine Coombs, a chief information officer. “I don’t think the doll’s going to change the world. It’s when other women are working in IT, not a doll.”

But computer professionals do think tech support Barbie could help change the perception of women in the industry, and make girls realise you don’t have to eschew makeup and styled hair to work in the computing sector.

IT women certainly needn’t feel trapped by the geek stereotypes that trap a few guys. Most male IT pros I know regard comfort as more important than style. And that’s it.

Women take style and appearance more into account than men ever will – and to whatever extent they wish to deal with attractive dress and fashion, they will bring that portion into their work life. Though, as ever, it’s a pleasure to poke fun at Barbie.

Evan Bayh doesn’t love Congress – just money and power


What do you feed a Blue Dog Democrat?

Evan Bayh learned early that liberalism and ambition don’t always mix in a red state like Indiana.

It was 30 years ago that Bayh, then a 24-year-old law school student, helped run the re-election campaign of his father, Senator Birch Bayh. An unrepentant liberal with national aspirations (he’d run for president in 1976), the elder Bayh was targeted by a then-emerging network of “New Right” activists and fundraisers, who pilloried him as a big spender and slammed his support for abortion rights, gay rights and school busing.

As expedient as it might have been, Birch Bayh refused to back down from his principles in that campaign, an honorable stand that hastened his demise. On Election Day, he was defeated — handily. By Dan Quayle. At 52, his political career was over.

His son, it seems, was taking notes.

Evan Bayh inherited all of his father’s drive for national office but none of his progressive backbone. From his father’s defeat, he seemed to draw a lesson: You can dream big dreams if you’re a Democrat from Indiana — you just can’t be proud to be a Democrat. And that has been the defining principle (to the extent there’s been one) in Evan Bayh’s quarter-century political career, which began with a successful 1986 campaign for secretary of state in Indiana and which now may be ending, with his stunning decision to exit the Senate after two terms…

But now, at the age of 54, Bayh’s national window is closing. Three presidential cycles have come and gone since 1998 and he’s still in the Senate. Youth was always part of his selling point, but in 2016 — the next time the Democratic presidential and vice-presidential nomination are likely to be open — he’ll be 60. He can hear the footsteps behind him. It raised the question: What’s the point of staying in the Senate..?

24 years ago, Evan Bayh set out to prove voters that he wasn’t like his father. As his Senate career ends, we can safely say: Mission accomplished.

RTFA. Lots of detail.

Any bookies out there giving odds on which healthcare corporation, insurance company, Bayh will be fronting for in his inevitable return to Congress as a lobbyist? His wife hustled a couple million$ shilling for Wellpoint.

Wanted: 100,000 volunteers, all pregnant

Alejandra agreed to be part of the study when she was pregnant. Isabella was born in August.

Although Alejandra was exactly what the scientists were looking for — a pregnant woman — she was “a bit scared,” she said, about giving herself and her unborn child to science for 21 years.

Researchers would collect and analyze her vaginal fluid, toenail clippings, breast milk and other things, and ask about everything from possible drug use to depression. At the birth, specimen collectors would scoop up her placenta and even her baby’s first feces for scientific posterity.

“Nowadays there are so many scams,” Alejandra said in Spanish, and her husband, José, “initially didn’t want me to do the study.” (Scientists said research confidentiality rules required that her last name be withheld.) But she ultimately decided that participating would “help the next generation.”

Chalk one up for the scientists, who for months have been dispatching door-to-door emissaries across the country to recruit women like Alejandra for an unprecedented undertaking: the largest, most comprehensive long-term study of the health of children, beginning even before they are born.

Authorized by Congress in 2000, the National Children’s Study began last January, its projected cost swelling to about $6.7 billion. With several hundred participants so far, it aims to enroll 100,000 pregnant women in 105 counties, then monitor their babies until they turn 21.

It will examine how environment, genes and other factors affect children’s health, tackling questions subject to heated debate and misinformation. Does pesticide exposure, for example, cause asthma? Do particular diets or genetic mutations lead to autism…?

Study officials are trying to determine what information to give participants and when. Some experts say people should get results of their chemical or genetic tests only if medical treatments exist because otherwise it only causes anxiety. Others agree with Patricia O’Campo, a member of the study’s advisory committee and the independent panel, who says the study should be “less ivory towerish” and disclose more information to families and communities.

RTFA. Interesting. If you’re interested in advancing knowledge, health, through science, it’s more than worthy of support.

OTOH, I expect the most sectarian nutballs, libertarian paranoids and old-fashioned Luddites will reject any notion of cooperating with such a study.