Natalie vs. Sarah

Back in 2003, Natalie Maines and The Dixie Chicks were pretty much run out of town on a rail for saying, “Just so you know, we’re ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas,” at a concert performance in London. The hew and cry from the Red State soul of country music was that you just didn’t criticize the President on foreign soil, especially during wartime. Rallies were held where Chicks CDs were burned, and for several years after, the band was persona non gratis in the music industry. It was very nearly a career ending statement.

Fast forward to Wednesday, September 23, 2009. Former Alaska governor, 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, and presumed 2012 Presidential candidate Sarah Palin speaks to an investor conference in Hong Kong. During the course of an hour and a half, she rails against Obama’s policies and plans on everything from the economy, healthcare, foreign policy, to even Afghanistan. This sure sounded like criticism of the President. I’ve checked the map twice and I’m pretty sure Hong Kong is considered foreign soil. And this morning’s paper sure made it sound like we were still in a war.

I assume that shortly the right-wing conservatives will start their career ending assault on Palin. I would have thought we’d have heard the klaxon by now, but Hong Kong is farther away than London, so maybe the percolation time is longer. But I’m sure somewhere there’s a Fox News producer rummaging about for a fresh can of Whoop-Ass to open on poor Sarah. After all, it’s the fair and balanced thing to do.

Can Men be Taking to Eyebrow-grooming?

Please, please, please… let the answer be no… crap. It seems that at least in Britain, men are spending actual time and money having their eyebrows threaded. And no, I didn’t know what that meant either, but the article describes it as:

…a treatment called “threading,” an ancient method of hair removal which originated in India in which a thin twine of cotton thread is rolled over the offending area, plucking the hair from the follicle level.

What fun! Seriously, to anyone who’s undergoing this procedure, isn’t there a football match on somewhere or an empty pub stool you should be sitting on?

Sara Stern, Director of Cosmetic Merchandising at Debenhams department store stated, “Men are recognizing the power of a groomed brow to frame the face and create a sexy James Bond-style arch when raised.”

On the flip side, I recognize that my furry unibrow isn’t maybe my best look. But 8 seconds a week with scissors or a beard trimmer keeps that in check just fine. I’m also smart enough to realize that no girl on the planet will mistake me for Sean Connery if only I had his eyebrows.

To any men of the male persuasion out there thinking that this seems like a good way to up your metrosexual cred, I have this advice. Grow a pair… (of eyebrows).

Another National Embarrassment

I have often bemoaned the state of science education in our schools, but apparently our kids aren’t learning civics either. The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs wanted to know how prepared its high schoolers were to take up the job of full fledged participant in politics when they turned 18. They commissioned a national research firm to test their state’s students.

The firm randomly selected 10 questions from the pool of 100 questions used to develop the naturalization test for new citizens. This is similar to how the real tests are developed, and someone applying for citizenship must score 6/10 correct to pass. It’s interesting to note that immigrants taking the test pass 92.4% of the time on the first attempt.

Here is the actual test, along with the percentage of high school students who answered the question correctly:

These are not trick questions. Hell, only 6 in 10 knew the Atlantic Ocean was on the east coat! Only 1 in 5 that George Washington was the first President! Out of 1000 students absolutely no one scored 8 or higher. No one! All tolled, only 2.8% of Oklahoma high school students would qualify for citizenship. Even allowing for the 3 point margin of error, that’s a really sad state. And it’s not just Oklahoma. The same test was administered in Arizona where they crushed Oklahoma with 3.5% of their students passing.

In fairness, I would be surprised if the results were much different had they surveyed adults than kids. But that doesn’t make me feel any better. These results are damning not only to the kids, but to us as a society. We can’t reasonably expect people to participate thoughtfully in a form of government they do not understand.

It’s tempting to view this as a failure of the education system, but this is also a failure of parents. You talk to your kids about drugs. You talk to your kids about religion. You talk to your kids about sex. Have you talked to them about politics lately?