From that fateful day she first became a mother — Feb. 7, 1999 — Mrs. Rafaat knew she had failed, she said, but she was too exhausted to speak, shivering on the cold floor of the family’s small house in Badghis Province.


This week has been my last at CPPP, and even though I am excited about my move to DC and what lies ahead, I am a little sorry to be leaving so soon. I’ve gotten to work on some pretty cool projects at CPPP, and have learned a lot, both about the technical aspects of my job (video/audio editing, grant proposal writing, managing a web site, etc), and about the policy areas that our analysts work on.

Earlier today, we had one of the last CPPP events that I’ll be a part of, a Kids Count briefing highlighting new numbers on national child well-being from the Annie E. Casey Foundation (they aren’t good). We got quite a bit of coverage, and even though the event was a last-minute affair, we were still able to get about 150 people to show up. State Rep. Mark Strama and his wife, Crystal Cotti, delivered introductory remarks, and after the presentation, they joined our policy analysts onstage to field questions. The discussion pretty quickly gravitated towards state budget issues, mainly what state officials and anti-poverty advocates can do to prevent deep budget cuts that could prove harmful to education, health care, nutrition, and other state programs that drive down child poverty. After one question, Strama went on a bit of a tangent and made an encouraging observation that I thought was worthwhile. Luckily, I had my audio recorder rolling up on Strama’s podium, and I’ve posted the audio here.

It has been a long and frustrating DC housing search, but I’m happy to say that it is over and I will not be a homeless person when I start law school in a few weeks.

Mostly, this is thanks to the awesome power of the internet (specifically Craigslist, Google Maps, and Facebook), which has allowed me to:

  • Conduct a detailed housing search … from 1500 miles away.
  • Coordinate that housing search with a roommate who is literally on the other side of the world (Daniel, who I have been looking with, is currently traveling though SE Asia–at various points during the housing hunt, he has been in Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand.)
  • Remotely check out the neighborhood, virtually take what will be my daily commute from the house to the Metro to campus, and stalk (not too much) my landlord and roommates.

Additionally, once Daniel and I had made a deal with the landlord to get all three bedrooms at a discounted rate, we were able to seek out and vet a third roommate and remotely coordinate a showing (the third roommate is actually the only one of us who has seen the house in person so far–he will be joining us in mid-August with his dog, Dimitra).

Thank you, internet.

So, one of the political gossip items of the day has featured some off-color remarks by Colorado Republican Senate hopeful Ken Buck, who, in an apparent dig at GOP primary opponent Jane Norton during a recent campaign event, said that GOP voters should choose him “because I do not wear high heels.

The comment was apparently well-received at the time, but Buck’s campaign has responded to the subsequent fallout by claiming that the remarks were not motivated by gender, and blaming the Norton campaign for injecting gender politics into the race.

Setting that aside, though, I noticed that the caption on the video says the remarks were made during the “Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms Party,” which sounds a lot like lunch with the M.O.D. squad from “Thank You For Smoking.” What is this group? Who would hold such an event? Who would attend it?

After a bit of online poking around, I’m here with the answers.

The event was organized by Colorado’s “Independence Institute” (“Freedom’s Front Line”), which as far as I can tell, is a libertarian-ish quasi-think tank whose central insight seems to be that protecting freedom necessarily involves engaging in as many self-destructive activities as possible, simultaneously (thus making them exponentially more self-destructive). I wanted to learn more about them, so I clicked on their Web site’s “About” tab:

This is an example of a WordPress page, you could edit this to put information about yourself or your site so readers know where you are coming from. You can create as many pages like this one or sub-pages as you like and manage all of your content inside of WordPress.

There is a pretty through description of the “8th Annual ATF Party,” however:

The award-winning event features a PETA-friendly clay pigeon shoot followed by a clubhouse luncheon complete with whiskey and cigars in one of the last places available to smokers – the outside.

“The thought of responsible adults enjoying these pastimes just drives the liberal meddlers nuts,” said Institute president Jon Caldara. “I can’t think of a better use of my time or yours for that matter.”

The $150 fee to participate in the ATF event also includes 100 sporting clays, ammunition, lunch, libations, cigars and lunch time entertainment. Past lunch speakers include Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, Steve Moore of the Wall Street Journal, Weekly Standard Executive Editor Fred Barnes, Joe the Plumber and internationally renowned columnist Christopher Hitchens.

Sounds delightful.

Walt Whitman imagined a future in which the global community was “welded” together, and Mao Zedong promised to build a “forest of chimneys” in Beijing. Industry has long been yoked to visions of utopia, but for decades now, we’ve also been quantifying the toxic emissions, rising temperatures and habitat fragmentation associated with unchecked growth.

More here.

I anticipate moving to DC will be something like this.

In the meantime, following up on a promising new apartment prospect, and hoping to find a Texas angle so I can turn this into a piece (my last!) for the Observer.

This might be the most interesting thing I’ve ever read.

In the colonial era, the mapmaker’s imperative was to tame the foreign wilderness with names and boundaries—to discipline a profusion of facts and claims into a narrow and authoritative set of data. Now the profusion of facts and claims is a feature, not a bug.