Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Does Anyone Have It All?

Last week the Atlantic published an article that caused quite the media ripple. "Why Women Still Can't Have It All" describes the struggles of Anne-Marie Slaughter as she tried to balance a high-powered career with raising two sons. It's a long article, but definitely worth a read. I've heard and seen a lot of response to Slaughter's article since its publication, and I can't help thinking the media got it all wrong, again.

Much of the media focus has been on the notion that older feminists have somehow lied to younger women about the realities of juggling work and family. They've used Slaughter's experience to imply that women can't have a productive career and a happy family life. Slaughter gave up a demanding job, yes, but she didn't leave the work force. She simply went back to her old job, one which allowed her the flexibility to balance work and family better.

Slaughter did not intend to say that women can never have it all, a biological truth she only just came to realize. Quite the opposite actually. She clearly understands that most women in the 21st century don't have a choice. They have to find a way to balance work and family. And this is where Slaughter's main point lies. The majority of women will need to work while raising a family. That's not going to change any time soon. What can change is the way companies deal with their female (and men too quite frankly) employees. Companies need to become more flexible so that women can have more time with their families. That flexibility will create more productive female employees, and that's a win win for everyone.

The media tried to frame Slaughter's article as some existential choice modern women face. Maybe for wealthy women, sure, but for an overwhelming majority of women, there really isn't a choice. Slaughter knows this, and I think she was trying to wake up corporate America. Companies do have a choice. They can work with women to make it easier to balance work and family.

As the father of two girls, this article really has me thinking. I can only hope that by the time they are ready to enter the workforce, companies that don't promote a positive work/family balance will be few and far between.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Fast Five: Sci-fi Edition

Let me do a very brief movie review: I saw Prometheus recently, and I loved it. The look, the sound, the ideas. All top-notch and definitely worth your time.

If you're like me, after seeing Prometheus you might just spend a bunch of time reading stuff online to see what other people think it's all about. That's almost been as much fun as actually watching the movie. In fact, my man, Micheal Offutt, wrote a great piece about Prometheus that helped me sound pretty smart at breakfast yesterday. Thanks Michael. Check him out for some seriously in-depth film analysis.

I wouldn't say I'm a huge sci-fi fan, but Prometheus got me thinking about some of my favorite sci-fi movies. I usually do my lists on Fridays, but I am officially breaking free of that structure. Fast Fives will now appear whenever the motivation strikes. 

So today, in honor of a truly great sci-fi film, I present my top five science fiction movies of all-time.

5) Close Encounters of the Third Kind: This is probably one of the first sci-fi movies I ever watched, and so many of the images have remained with me. The movie perfectly captures a sense of adventure that every sci-fi movie after it has tried to emulate.

4) Back to the Future: I recently watched this again with my daughter. I just kept thinking how damn clever it is. 

3) The Matrix: This movie literally had me on the edge of my seat at times. The sequels, not so much.

2) Inception: The movies love to play with dreams, but nobody did it as well as Chris Nolan.

1) Alien/Aliens: These two are a packaged deal for me. Aliens may be the best sequel of all-time, and Ellen Ripley is one of the great female characters in film history.  

Prometheus may join this list after some more marinating, but for now these are my choices. I'd love to hear what your favorite sci-fi movies are.   

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Coke Addiction

Last week New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg caused a stir with his proposal to ban sugary soft drinks larger than 16 ounces. There was an immediate backlash, much of the commentary invoking the tried-and-true "nanny state" reference.

Bloomberg's critics hate the idea of the government intervening in their choice of beverage, and I can't say I disagree. I love me some soda. I have drunk copious amounts of Coke over the years.

I've tried to quit any number of times, to no avail. I don't drink as much soda as I used to, but on average, I drink a couple cans of Coke Zero a day. Meg and I have made a concerted effort to keep the girls off soda and fruit juices for as long as possible. Soda and juice are considered the rarest of treats for the girls, but they are pushing for more, noting the hypocrisy of their parents drinking soda while denying it to their children. Crafty lil' buggers.

So no, I do not want the gov't telling me what I can and cannot imbibe.

But, on the other hand, I wouldn't mind paying more. Which is to say, I can see parallels to what happened with cigarettes. As more and more information came to light, and it was determined that cigarettes are truly bad for you, with massive economic costs, the gov't got involved. Cigarette taxes have undoubtedly reduced the number of people smoking, and I think most people would agree that's a good thing.

Could the same situation be unfolding with sugary drinks? More and more information is coming to light about the negative health and economic consequences of so much sugar. I have to wonder. If the gov't knows something is causing widespread health problems, and the cost of dealing with those health problems is straining the economy, shouldn't something be done?

People will never allow the gov't to ban sugary drinks outright, but they may be willing to adopt the cigarette model. Taxes on sugary drinks could reduce the amount of sugar people put into their bodies, without eliminating the choice to do so.

 I'm conflicted on this, but I have a feeling Bloomberg's proposal is just the beginning.

How 'bout you? Are you on board with Bloomberg? Should the gov't do something about all the sugary drinks? Or should the gov't get its damn hands off our soda?