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Forget the time machine - the 1950s will just come to us

The movie, "Back to the Future," will be one of those pop cultural landmarks forever imprinted in my Gen-X brain. It's a story of a teen-age boy named Marty McFly, played by Michael J. Fox, who travels back to the 1950s in his weird scientist friend's souped-up DeLorean and has a bizarre adventure in yesteryear. Sometimes I feel like I'm having one, too, only I don't even need a DeLorean to get there. The 1950s attitudes out there do the job just fine.


Maine Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins both made the right call when they voted against the confirmation of federal District Court nominee J. Leon Holmes.

Holmes once co-authored an article with his wife in which he said that "the wife is to subordinate herself to her husband" and "the woman is to place herself under the authority of the man."

Not only that, but he also wrote a letter to a newspaper regarding abortion for rape victims, saying "concern for rape victims is a red herring because conceptions from rape occur with approximately the same frequency as snowfall in Miami."

No. 1, that's not true, and No. 2, yikes.

Despite the efforts of our senators - Collins even spoke out on the Senate floor against this guy - he was approved 51 to 46.


W. David Hager, a Kentucky obstetrician who wrote a book (again, with his wife) that recommends Scripture and prayer to deal with premenstrual syndrome, was reappointed to the FDA's Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee.

That's not to say medicine couldn't use a little more spirituality nor is it to say that Christians shouldn't serve on scientific panels.

The science should come first, though. Hager's record puts that in doubt.

Hager was one of a handful of panelists who recommended against approval of over-the-counter use of emergency contraception.

If his objection had been based on the safety of the drug, that would be one thing.

But Hager had this to say about his opposition to the drug: "What we heard today was frequently about individuals who did not want to take responsibility for their actions and wanted a medication to relieve those consequences."

Not his business.


When Treasury Secretary John Snow visited Portland last week and stopped at the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram to talk with us, one of his responses gave me that nails-on-a-chalkboard cringe.

Our president and general manager, Rob Bickler, asked Snow whether he thought the nation's workplace productivity was reaching a breaking point and whether there was a social cost of having so many dual-income families.

Snow explained that it was impossible to go back to the 1950s, that women now sought fulfillment in the workplace. "Women are going to want to work . . . There's a couple of them right here," he said, indicating the women at the table.

Wow! There are women here! At a conference table! Imagine that. And how great to find out that we women choose to work because it makes us happy, not because we need to pay the rent. No, our big strong men can do that for us. We just want some pocketbook money to spend on bonbons.

You'd think the top economic official in the nation would be a little more savvy in his discussions concerning a sector of the population which makes up nearly half of the work force. Not too many chicks on the Business Roundtable, I guess.


The company that tops the Fortune 500 list, Wal-Mart, is now the subject of the largest ever class-action lawsuit. The discount mega-giant is getting sued by 1.6 million current and former female employees for a rampant disregard for gender equality.

Not only have Wal-Mart's female employees allegedly been paid less than men in every category, they've also been promoted less often and subjected to insensitive treatment, such as having to attend company meetings at Hooters' restaurants and strip clubs. (Whether or not they went on "Ladies' Night," I don't know.)

Female employees also were allegedly told that men have families to support so they should be paid more, and men are serious about their careers whereas women are just housewives looking for some extra cash.

Looks like prices aren't the only thing Wal-Mart is rolling back.

And then there's this one: The lawsuit states that a female manager in Arizona was told that she was paid less than a man because she didn't have the "right equipment." What equipment do you suppose he meant? A spreadsheet program? Hello? McFly?


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