Today's Blogs

Getting to “Mission Accomplished”

Bloggers are evaluating President Bush’s plan for “transition” in Iraq and reacting to a controversial 60 Minutes broadcast on the science of sexual orientation. They are also amused by research that suggests that Ambien, a prescription sleep aid, may cause users to sleepwalk, and, more interestingly, “sleep eat” and “sleep drive.”

Getting to “Mission Accomplished”: Speaking at George Washington University yesterday, President Bush outlined his hopes to turn over Iraqi security to newly minted Iraqi troops by the end of the year. While he did not address the specifics of U.S. troop withdrawal or a timeline, many see in this speech a change of tone.

Conservative administration critic Andrew Sullivan was encouraged by the president’s speech. “These kinds of speeches are important. They show ideology ceding to reality—finally—in the president’s mind.” At Technosailor, Aaron Brazell lauds the president. “I commend the President for taking this stance. It is not so concrete that the date can’t change if the need is there, yet it is concrete enough to reverse the pessimism in America (and the world) over Iraq.”

Liberal “Creature” at State of the Day remains dismayed, writing, “Listen George, another round of speeches is not going to change the reality on the ground. The American people ‘have looked into the abyss’ that is your Iraq policy and do not like what they see. I think it’s time to show us you are serious about the Iraq war and hold your administration accountable.”

At Ratiocination, self-described “empiricist” Paul Davis sees Bush’s plan to turn Iraq over to Iraqi forces as unrealistic: “It’s a lovely vision, really, though it does require that you remain completely ignorant that ‘Iraqis’ are not unitary. … [T]he ‘Iraqi police and soldiers’ we’ve been training include sectarian death squads who murder in government uniforms,” he writes. At The Daily Background, progressive Arlen Parsa finds little to admire in Bush’s speech and his “non-timeline.” “[W]e need to keep the pressure up. Otherwise they’ll get away with this non-timeline.”

The liberal blog The Carpetbagger Report faulted the Washington Post’s coverage of the speech, seeing the “same old Bush.” “[The speech] sounds like something of a breakthrough, right? Benchmarks and target dates have been a Bush anathema for years now. Did the president suddenly join the cut-and-run caucus? Reviewing the president’s remarks, it doesn’t seem like it.”

Read more about Bush’s speech.

Scientifically oriented: On Sunday, 60 Minutes aired a controversial segment titled “The Science of Sexual Orientation.” The segment highlighted the “older brother effect,” a theory that posits that the more older brothers a boy has, the more likely he will be gay. In 15 minutes, the show also dealt with the nature vs. nurture argument and the effect of hormones in the womb. CBS’s Public Eye blog has been following the reaction to the segment, featuring an interview with the show’s producer and a follow-up post.

San Diego blogger Erik Rivard at Stark Ranting posed an interesting question for the Gattaca era: “They made quite a compelling argument that sexual orientation is affected by some combination of genes and hormone exposure in the womb. If that’s the case it suggests we might be able to control sexual orientation before birth. Given that choice, will homosexuality be effectively eliminated from society? If you ask a gay man whether he’d rather have been born straight, the answer would probably be the same thing everyone says: I can’t imagine being anything other than who I am. But given the choice to assign the sexual orientation of your child, how would you decide straight or gay? If everyone chooses to have straight babies, then society will lose out on the unique qualities of people who aren’t like everybody else, and that seems like a shame.”

Jerry, blogging from Ontario at Yes, ceramics is the bomb faulted the show for identifying an effeminate 9-year-old boy as probably being gay, not transgendered. “Ask any gay man, do you want to be a woman. You will get a definite no. It sounds like Adam is going to end up being a transgender … It’s a completely different type of mindset, personality, everything.”

Grove City College psychology professor Warren Throckmorton took issue with the slim selection of research the show included and how the show addressed the issue of gender nonconformity. “Your broadcast … just assumed that gender nonconformity was a precursor to homosexuality,” he writes in a letter to the show that he posted on his blog. “In the process, you reinforced all of the stereotypes about gay men being effeminate and helped to reinforce the social environment that assumes effeminate boys will become gay.”

Read more about reaction to the 60 Minutes segment.

Eating under the influence: A recent study reveals that Ambien may be the culprit behind late-night refrigerator raids. Many who engage in “sleep-eating” have no recollection of their gluttony and are tipped off by tell-tale crumbs and wrappers.

Georgia at Daily Kos is amused by the prospect of Ambien causing sleep-eating. “Now we learn that taking Ambien can cause you to sleepwalk, raid your kitchen, and gorge thousands of calories without waking up. Ambien should change its slogan from ‘Tomorrow will thank you’ to ‘Your Hips Will Hate You.’ “

At Ad Freak, Catharine P. Taylor finds that Ambien-induced sleep-eating eclipses even the four-hour erection as the weirdest prescription-drug side effect. “Perhaps the Ambien disclaimer should be tweaked: ‘Side effects may include downing four pints of Häagen-Dazs, a party-size bag of Doritos and two rolls of raw cookie dough between the hours of 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. … ’ We’re just here to help,” she quips.

Law prof Ann Althouse sympathizes with a woman featured in the New York Times article whose husband observed her eating a whole bag of hamburger buns. “I’d be rather pissed at the guy for not waking me up or at least offering me a pint of Haagen-Dazs. I mean, if I’m going to eat that many calories. … Hamburger buns! Ugh!”

Read more about Ambien-triggered gorging.