Uma Venkata

Articles

Venkata: A smart ALEC

The American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization of senators and lobbyists in Washington, D.C. dedicated to the “principles of limited government, free markets and federalism.” Its goal is to facilitate policy with advice from the private sector. ALEC is quite effective, as it turns out. 


Venkata: The past is another university

The University of Minnesota Women’s Club is full of accomplished, lively and fascinating women. A few weeks ago, I had lunch with the UMWC and talked with its president, Maggie Hoover, whose dynamic life story captivated me. I learned a lot about her career, education and varied interests, some of which were present in the Twin Cities and at the University of Minnesota. I think a few things are relevant to many of us.


Venkata: En l’an 2019

In France, around the years 1890-1910, a group of artists produced a series of cartoons called "En l'an 2000" depicting French life as imagined in the year 2000. The artists went beyond the typical futuristic ideas regarding transportation, like flying cars or jet packs. These things do show up, and there’s an additional emphasis on human habitation undersea. This was just after the publication of Jules Verne's "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea", after whose heyday, I think, we largely moved on from seahorse races.


Venkata: You’re cute, but ...

Imagine you were born in 1998. Unlike our 1998, in this imaginary one, Facebook and all the other internet connectivity norms existed. Your parents adored their healthy, happy baby and so did their friends and family. I could watch you and your siblings grow, month to month, through your parents’ Facebook posts. 


Venkata: Amazon basics

It’s possible that I never learned about the Triangle Shirtwaist Company factory fire in school, but I certainly heard about it at home as a fixture of Manhattan’s abuse of the working class, in the days of Jacob Riis’s "How the Other Half Lives" living in penury on the Lower East Side. The Triangle Shirtwaist fire is a textbook example of what happens to workers when their employer, a large company with a large output target, cares more about production than the safety and health of the workers.


Venkata: Medical hubris

Anyone who has happily wasted time in front of the television show Scrubs is aware of hospital rounds: the educational method where a doctor and her residents focus on patients, one at a time, to diagnose, prescribe treatment and more, under the doctor’s guidance. Hospitals can be busy places, so grand rounds can be lightning-fast and ultra-competitive, employing intimidation and shaming on the residents. (This is from real life, not Scrubs.)  


Venkata: Indictment (Remix)

On March 6, Gayle King interviewed R&B singer R. Kelly for his first public interview after his arrest two weeks prior for 10 charges of criminal sexual abuse. Kelly has been under scrutiny for sexual crime for decades. He has had an alleged habit of soliciting and using underage girls for sex, and his entourage allegedly had a habit of assisting him. 


Venkata: On socially responsible investing

The bare-minimum financial move any time we receive a paycheck is to put a certain amount of it away for retirement and emergencies. As you may have heard, rough common knowledge is to have six months’ income as backup at all times and to save 10-15 percent of income starting in our twenties. I’m sure you’re allowed to save a lot more than that, if you want to. 


Venkata: Refugees are still waiting

Greece is across the Aegean Sea from Turkey, and five Greek islands bear about 20,000 refugees and migrants who have escaped conflict zones through Turkey. One island is Lesbos, which has a few refugee camps. One of those camps is Moria, a repurposed military facility built for a capacity of 3,100 refugees. Currently, it houses more than 8,500 refugees, most of whom come from Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, but mostly Syria. 


Venkata: The politics of women's health

I think it is important for everyone to know — male, female, conservative and liberal — that Planned Parenthood provides much more than abortions. Cutting off funding to Planned Parenthood on the grounds of abortion is like shutting down all musical concerts on the grounds of Taylor Swift, except much more life-threatening.