Hell, yes, attack Iraq if weapons inspections fail, say a majority of America's college students. But hell, no, many of those undergraduates wouldn't go if the military draft is reinstated, according to a recent survey by Harvard University's Institute of Politics.
The survey found that nearly seven in 10 undergraduates -- 69 percent -- said the United States should take military action against Saddam Hussein, with 51 percent favoring action with allies as the best option and the other 18 percent willing to strike without support of the United Nations. Nearly three in 10 opposed taking any action.
But an overwhelming majority -- 67 percent -- said they opposed reviving the draft as a way to bulk up America's fighting forces, a move the administration has not proposed. And 44 percent said they would "seek an alternative" if they were drafted, while 24 percent said they would "eagerly serve." Another 28 percent would "serve with reservation."
The telephone survey of 1,200 randomly selected undergraduates from around the country was conducted Oct. 18-27. Margin of sampling error for the overall results is plus or minus 3 percentage points.
The Price of Motherhood
Everybody knows that the wage gap between men and women still exists, though it's shrinking. But another kind of inequality -- call it the Mommy Wage Gap -- has proven to be far more difficult to close, reports sociologist Sarah Avellar in the latest ISR Update published by the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research.
Avellar compared data on about 5,500 women aged 21 to 42 from two nationally representative samples. One group was surveyed between 1975 and 1985, the other between 1986 and 1998.
Overall, she found that mothers earned about $1.50 less an hour than childless women in both study periods, after controlling for education, work experience and other factors typically associated with earnings. In the 1975 to 1985 study period, childless women earned about $12.86 on average in 1993 dollars, while mothers earned $10.36. In the later period, the comparable figures were $12.28 and $10.81.
The persistence of this gap over time suggests to Avellar that juggling work and family "is still considered mainly a mother's struggle, rather than the responsibility of two parents. If women continue to be the parents largely responsible for childcare, mothers will not be able to catch up to the wages of childless women, let alone to their male counterparts."
More than half -- 54 percent -- of those who voted in this year's midterm elections were ticket-splitters who voted for one or more candidates from the two major parties, according to a national survey by Harris Interactive.
Only 19 percent of all voters cast a straight party-line ticket for Republican candidates and only 21 percent voted solely for Democratic candidates. Even party faithful weren't so faithful: Majorities of self-described Republicans and Democrats voted for at least one candidate from the other party. A much larger majority (65 percent) of independents split their votes between candidates for both parties.
How's That Again?
Speaking of surveys, your Unconventional Wiz, a pollster himself when he isn't waxing wise, had to laugh out loud when fellow pollster Kathy Frankovic of CBS News forwarded details of an item offered for sale last month on MastroNet, an Internet-based online auction site specializing in "high value collectibles."
The item offered for sale was an original Chicago Tribune front page from Nov. 3, 1948, that bore the infamous headline, "Dewey Defeats Truman."
Even funnier than the headline was the description of the item, which read, in part: "The Tribune's key mistake in that election was in relying on exit polls to determine voter preference. Those polls, which were commonly relied on by many news sources during the time, were, as they soon found out, statistically flawed. That fact, along with many instances of poor judgment regarding basic fundamental tenets of professional journalism, eventually resulted in the greatest embarrassment ever had by a major newspaper."
One problem: The first exit poll wasn't done until 1967, two decades after the Tribune's infamous flub. Apparently, recent exit poll disasters were fresh on the mind of the anonymous blurb writer when he or she penned the description.
"I guess exit polls have become the generic term for election projections," said pollster Warren Mitofsky. He conducted the first exit poll, in the 1967 Kentucky governor's race. "It also seems to be said derisively. Sort of with a sneer. Exxxxit polls did it!"
"That's obviously what happened," laughed Doug Allen, the president of MastroNet. "Our writers try to provide a historic backdrop for the item to draw in the readers. It was a writer projecting the recent mistakes back to the past."
For the record, the Tribune's howler headline resulted when staffers, up against deadline, guessed that Dewey, who was leading as the newspaper was going to press, would win. When Dewey's advantage vanished as later votes were counted, Tribune workers frantically fanned out across town in the wee hours of the morning to pick up and destroy the erroneous copies -- another reason the Nov. 3, 1948, issue is such a collector's item.
The front page, by the way, sold at auction for $1,995.25.
Food is traveling between 1,500 to 2,500 miles from farm to table in the United States, about 25 percent farther on average than just two decades ago, reports the Worldwatch Institute.
And that's a problem, claims Brian Halweil, a Worldwatch research associate who authored "Home Grown: The Case for Local Food in a Global Market."
"Many major cities in the U.S. have a limited supply of food on hand," he writes. "That makes those cities highly vulnerable to anything that suddenly restricts transportation, such as oil shortages or acts of terrorism."
Food is traveling even longer distances abroad, Halweil reports. He said the tonnage of food shipped between countries has grown fourfold over the past four decades. Food consumed in Great Britain, for example, is transported 50 percent farther than two decades ago, largely because of increased reliance on foreign producers.