Saturday, July 6, 2002
I took a trip to the city today, (three hours each way) so I didn't have any time to post. I will make up for it tomorrow, however.
posted at 09:17 PM | permalink | Comments (0)
Stupid letters derby...
...will return tomorrow. For those who can't wait, the Sunday letters to the editor are up at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and there is a real winner amongst several candidates. In the interests of fairness, however, I will give Moira and Bill a chance, since their papers haven't posted the Sunday letters yet.
posted at 06:56 AM | permalink | Comments (3)
Friday, July 5, 2002
Guardian weblog awards
The Guardian did a survey of blogs recently, and listed their favorites. Not surprisingly, none of the winners were US "warbloggers" of a conservative or libertarian bent (go figure). There were plenty of lefty sites, though (who'd have expected that from the Guardian?)
However, there were a trio of familiar blogs: Stacy Tabb's Blogatelle, Peter Briffa's Public Interest and Sumin Palit's The Kolkata Libertarian.
Congrats to the winners.
Perhaps if we all submit Instapundit, Andrew Sullivan, VodkaPundit, and USS Clueless, they'll get added to the list. Perhaps the Earth will stop turning...
posted at 05:37 PM | permalink | Comments (0)
Over at Live from the World Trade Center, Jane Galt has a lively debate centered around the question
So how come the same people who are ranting that it's not fair that low-population midwestern states get the same Senate sway as high-population Eastern states nevertheless think that the UN is the answer to every foreign policy question?
Of course, the comment thread has been hijacked, and one of the little sub-debates is on the Canadian system vs. the American system of electing representatives. While I am not a scholar of Canadian politics by any stretch of the imagination, I am interested in the subject.
Because of historical differences, Canada doesn't have national parties, per se; The Liberal Party (which is currently in power) is the closest thing to a national party the Canadians have, although almost 80% of its representation in the house of commons comes from two provinces (Ontario and Quebec). The second largest party, the Canadian Alliance, dominates the three westernmost provinces, but has only five members in the rest of the country, with none at all in the five easternmost provinces. The Bloc Quebecois is the largest party in Quebec, but they are a Quebec-only party (they are the Francophone separatist party). The Progressive-Conservatives are strong in the Maritimes, but weak everywhere else. The New Democratic Party has support in Manitoba and Nova Scotia, and a few seats elsewhere.
The Canadian senate is not like our senatetheir senators are given lifetime appointments by the governor general, under recommendation of the sitting prime minister. Unsurprisingly, the Liberal Party, which has been in power for some time now, dominates the Senate, with about 2/3 of the seats.
Until 1993, Canada had two major partiesthe Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives, with the NDP a distant third. In 1993, the governing Progressive Conservatives were seen as out of touch and scandal-ridden; the western provinces felt that the leaders of the party ignored them in favor of the more populous east. In the elections that year, the PC party was annihilated, going from an absolute majority of 169 seats in the House of Commons to only two seats. The formation of the Reform Party (later the Canadian Alliance) was a significant factorboth the PC's and the NDP lost many seats to the new party, and the Liberals picked up many seats where the fragmented electorate couldn't decide on a single candidate.
While it is not likely to happen, there have been reports for years that Canada is about to shatter. Between the whole Quebec issue and the continuing resentment from the western provinces over the iniquitous distribution of power and wealth, there is plenty of discontent in the country. However, when push comes to shove, it appears that the people of Canada will hang together, rather than hang separately. That is a good thing for the US, because dealing with one neighbor is easier than dealing with three or four (or more).
If there are any Canadians out there reading this, I'd love to hear your comments, especially if I am way off base. These are just the musings of an American, and may not bear much relationship to reality (I'd like to think that I'm close, though).
posted at 04:00 PM | permalink | Comments (0)
Today's paper had an article about a 66 year old organization, one that lost a good deal of money last year, and resorted to layoffs for the first time in more than 20 years. However, they have 800,000 subscribers to their paid-subscription website, making that website the largest publication-based subscription site on the web.
Of who am I speaking? Dow Jones (publisher of the Wall Street Journal?) The Times of London? The Economist Group (Publishers of The Economist and Roll Call? Business Week?
Nope. It's Consumer's Union, publisher of Consumer Reports.
This article in the Seattle Times discusses CU's efforts to update their image, and explains why the web is the future for the group.
posted at 01:54 PM | permalink | Comments (0)
Blogatelle has a list of tests that will make your eyes glaze over. I picked this one, because it sounded interesting: Ethical Philosophy Selector. I was just a little surprised by the results.
1. Rand (100%)
2. Mill (85%)
3. Sartre (82%)
4. Epicureans (80%)
5. Bentham (79%)
6. Aristotle (74%)
7. Kant (74%)
8. Stoics (74%)
9. Aquinas (68%)
10. Cynics (67%)
11. Hobbes (64%)
12. Prescriptivism (64%)
13. Spinoza (56%)
14. Ockham (47%)
15. Hume (44%)
16. Nietzsche (44%)
17. Noddings (38%)
18. Plato (37%)
19. Augustine (35%)
Since I am not atheist, there is a very big disconnect with Randian Objectivism. However, my religious beliefs, such as they are, seldom dictate how I choose to react to a situation, which may be why this test paired me with Miss Rand.
posted at 01:16 PM | permalink | Comments (0)
Seattle is tops...
...at least, compared to the amateurs in Portland and San Francisco. Moira and Bill, I bet you can't top this:
How absurd for Israel to splash a family photo all over the world. No matter how the picture was created, it was used by Israel to build animosity toward Palestine. It was not used by Palestinians to incite hate; Israel has done that too.
It's hard to imagine a world where nothing is private, no one has any rights, people are killed for going to the market because they think a curfew has ended. But this doesn't scandalize the people of Israel. It's a photo in a family album that shocks them. They're used to Palestinians being killed. And how many Palestinians have been killed? How many have been killed because they couldn't get medical care? How many were killed because Israeli soldiers thought they were a threat when they weren't? Even with deflated numbers the statistics are shocking.
It's hard not to feel sympathy with a people constantly being treated as if they were less than human.
Carla Fisher, Kirkland
posted at 12:29 PM | permalink | Comments (4)
America's Fifth Column
From Texas, of all places, comes this radical cretin who doesn't like our country. She apparently doesn't have a problem taking our tax dollars (she is a professor at the University of Texas), but she thinks we are bad. From the letters section of the Daily Texan:
My daughter, who is 11, and I were delighted at the California court decision omitting the words "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance. She and I have always been uncomfortable saying the pledge, not only because of the religious imposition, but because it seems very strange to pledge loyalty to a scrap of cloth representing a corrupt nation that imposes its will, both economic and military, around the world by force. So she inspired me to rewrite the Pledge.
If our country is so awful, why do you work for it? Aren't you contributing to the corruption by accepting a job (and its blood money) with the government?
The letter continues with her rewrite of the pledge, which manages to work in solidarity with third world workers, those laid off by WorldCom and Enron, Iraq and Palestine, and not less than three references to the "brutality" of Capitalism.
Castro would be proud; maybe the next time he needs a new speechwriter, he'll hire her, since her communistic worldview (no other way to describe it) syncs nicely with his.
Remember, folks, this is your tax dollars at work.
It's people like her that give universities a bad name.
(link courtesy of Andrew Sullivan.)
posted at 12:22 PM | permalink | Comments (1)
Kausfiles has a nice post* on the Andrew Sullivan/Tapped catfight over the latter's online traffic claims (they were severely overinflated). He notes Tapped's savage attack on Sullivan, and provides a link to Sullivan's retort, which is too good not to repeat:
HOW IS THE AMERICAN PROSPECT LIKE WORLDCOM? You've probably read lots of articles in the American Prospect, bemoaning big CEOs fiddling numbers, inflating profits, engaging in all sorts of creative accounting. Well, Bob Kuttner's online magazine should know. In the Columbia Journalism Review, they claimed 450,000 unique visitors a month. Amazing traffic. Eric Alterman, always alert to factual accuracy, pointed out that this showed the hegemony of the Left on the web. Well, after the equivalent of a blogger SEC investigation, they've finally released their amended report. Their actual unique visitors for June was 161,025 - a little over a third of their previous claim. In classic fashion, they don't admit their error; they don't apologize; they barely explain; they release the news the day before July 4. More spin. And I thought Chris Mooney was a straight-up kind of guy. These guys fibbed about something as basic as their web stats. And you're going to trust them on the economy?
Mrowr. I'm looking forward to seeing Tapped's reply (if they come up with one).
posted at 09:58 AM | permalink | Comments (0)
*Kausfiles doesn't use permalinks (one of the reasons I normally won't link to him); the post in question is from Tuesday. Scroll down to read it.
Thursday, July 4, 2002
ICC-dissenting view from Europe
I was startled to see this column in The Telegraph (until I reminded myself that is's not The Wanker). Europe seems to be so enraptured by the ICC that it never occurred to me that some of their media might understand our opposition to the Treaty of Rome.
This paragraph contains the root of the argument:
From now on, it will function as an international body answerable to no one. The idea that laws ought to be made by the people's representatives will be replaced by the pre-modern concept that law-makers are answerable to no one but themselves.
(link courtesy of Kim Du Toit)
posted at 04:55 PM | permalink | Comments (0)
New addition to the links
I've just added Pontifex Ex Machina to the links.
He is apparently a possessor of the green card of the Armed Forces, although one has to search to find anything about him. (Colinadd an "About Me" section!).
Check his blog outhe has a lot to say, and most of it is pretty good.
posted at 01:44 PM | permalink | Comments (0)
Happy Independence Day
I'm late to the game, as everyone else seems to have posted something relevant and thoughtful.
Have a happy holiday, and think a little about what it really means, in practical terms. Then (if you were born an American) be grateful for your good fortune. Naturalized citizens (Martina Navrotilova notwithstanding) already know why it is wonderful to be an American.
posted at 12:29 PM | permalink | Comments (0)
Wednesday, July 3, 2002
Bloggy Book day
Today, I received not one, but *two* different blogger's books in the mailThe Gallery of Regrettable Food and Dot.con. I will eat them up this weekend. The weekend has already begun. :)
posted at 08:48 PM | permalink | Comments (0)
Tuesday, July 2, 2002
Newdow is a crackpot.
Craig Schamp found this article in the New York Times, an interview with anti-pledge activist Michael Newdow. Not only does he want to stamp out God from public view, he wants to take on the structure of the English language (different prounouns for males and femaleshow gauche), and he doesn't like the court decision on custody rights for his daughter.
He's not stupidhe is a licensed doctor AND a lawyer, but he appears to have the zealotry of the true believer, which means that reason and logic will not sway him from his views. Of course, without true believers, I would not have much to say on my weblog, so they have their value. (wry grin)
posted at 08:08 PM | permalink | Comments (0)
Opening Pandora's box
Jeff Goldstein, over at Protein Wisdom, is one of my essential reads. He is incisive, direct, occasionally bitchy, and often funny. Today, he took on the stupid law that passed here in Washington State that not only bans, but apparently forces retrograde editing of the word "Oriental" when referring to people. He posted a wonderfully vitriolic rebuttal, and then the comments started pouring in. Amongst the regular posters, there were a few trolls (yes, Aaron, I'm talking about you), a couple of interesting posts, and a few that simply defy belief. Check out the thread, and read all of the comments.
Andrea and Blow Hard have a lot to say about this idiocy, too. Take a look at their blog entries.
posted at 07:17 PM | permalink | Comments (7)
The LA Times has managed to outdo itself, because they have not one, but two moronic columns today.
The first is from the (thankfully) incomparable Robert Scheer, who manages to miss the point of the lawsuit (of course), which is to impose the wishes of one upon everyone else. I won't bother dissecting him, because what I have to say has already been said, on this and many other blogs.
The second is a column that states that the United States is a spoiled adolescent, and that we need to grow up to take our place among other nations. A sample:
So, happy birthday to the United States of America. We face a very different future than we did on our last birthday, and, according to tradition, it is time to reflect. Is it to our advantage to remain eternally adolescent, to face the challenges of terrorism and global relations with single-minded determination and resilience? Or is it time to inch into adulthood, cultivating wisdom and restraint?
Yeah, whatever. I must have missed the lesson where we were taught that maturity equated removal of one's spine and intestinal fortitude.
Unlike the last guest columnist I dissected, Ms. Barnow does not appear to have much of a paper trail. The only references I found through a google search were one dealing with tutoring at Howard University, and two references from the National Academy Press, with her name at the very bottom. (It's white type on a white background, so it is probably not intended for reading. Try clicking and dragging across the bottom section of the page to find the hidden type.)
posted at 06:55 PM | permalink | Comments (4)
Monday, July 1, 2002
As I mentioned in an earlier post, the Senate voted 99-0 to condemn the 9th Circuit's decision on the Pledge of Allegiance. One member was ill and was unable to vote.
That member's identity?
posted at 08:44 PM | permalink | Comments (0)
When special interests collide
I read this in the Seattle Times, and I don't know whether to laugh or to cry. It embodies all I despise most about multiculturism and the politics of identity. For those who cannot bear to read the whole thing, the writer is torn between her loyalties to the environment and an assumed kinship with the Makah tribe, for whom hunting whales is an integral part of their culture. Even though the writer is Oglala Lakota and Ojibwe, she identifies with the Makah, even as she dislikes hunting.
If I sound a little snide towards the writer, it is because the whole concept of "listening groups" is *way* too touchy-feely to me. Sorry, but one can listen attentively all they want, but ultimately it is actions that count.
posted at 08:38 PM | permalink | Comments (1)
URL Change for Protein Wisdom
Protein Wisdom has moved. The new URL is http://www.proteinwisdom.com.
Update your bookmarks accordingly.
posted at 04:53 AM | permalink | Comments (0)
Sunday, June 30, 2002
Buzzwords I hate
After noticing Kevin's BS Bingo link at the Large American Organ, I had a flashback to my Total Quality Leadership class. TQL (it goes under a variety of names) seems to have created a lot of bizarre word constructs, many of which have exploded of the workplace and into the everyday speech of Americans. (Click on the link, and follow the instructions to refresh a few times). Some examples of overused buzzwords are "Outside the box", "proactive", and "empowerment". One that does not appear in BS Bingo was a word that became extremely popular during the Bill and Monica show"parsing".
One of the most grating examples of TQL fargling the language was the "Mission Statement" of one of the departments at a previous command of mine. It was broken up into several sections, one of which was headed "We are impactful". Thankfully, that word is not in any dictionary of which I am aware. It literally causes me to shudder when I think about it.
Can anyone come up with hideous abuses of the language due to corporate jargon overtaking common sense? Are there any buzzwords that need to be eradicated from the national consciousness?
posted at 09:55 PM | permalink | Comments (6)
One more factoid
While doing a little research for my previous post, I ran across this column by Cornelius Chapman, which originally ran in the Boston Herald. One paragraph was particularly quoteworthy:
Connoisseurs of hypocrisy will appreciate the fact that more than half of Cleveland's public school teachers refuse to send their own kids to public schools. In other words, a good portion of public school teacher salaries goes to private schools as soon as the paychecks clear. When you do it, it's unconstitutional. When they do it, it's for the children.
Which pretty much sums it up.
posted at 09:28 PM | permalink | Comments (0)
NYT Wrong on vouchers
An editorial from the New York Times (linked to by the International Herald-Tribune, where I found it) argues against vouchers. Of course, coming from the New York Times, this is no surprise. I have a few issues with the editorial (again, this is no surprise).
In theory, Cleveland's voucher program allows children to use state stipends to go to any school they want. In practice, the choice it offers them is between a failing public school system and the city's parochial schools. This is not a choice that the constitution intended public tax money to underwrite.
The constitution intends for public schools that are utterly failing to educate children to continue receiving subsidies to do so?
The problem with the Cleveland program begins with the size of the stipends, which are capped at $2,250. That is far less than most private schools cost. But it is just right for parochial schools where, for a variety of reasons, tuition is far lower. Not surprisingly, fully 96.6 percent of students end up taking their vouchers to religiously affiliated schools.
So you are arguing that the stipends should be increased? I think I can agree with that.
Some of the "variety of reasons" the tuition is lower in parochial schools is fewer administrators per teacher, less union influence over policy, fewer electives (a greater focus on core education), and smaller maintenance costs. Security is seldom a concern in parochial schools (no metal detectors, for example), and vandalism is negligible, as opposed to public schools.
Once students enroll in those schools, they are subjected to just the sort of religious training the First Amendment forbids the state to underwrite. In many cases, students are required to attend Mass or other religious services. Tax dollars go to buy Bibles, prayer books, crucifixes and other religious iconography. It is hard to think of a starker assault on the doctrine of separation of church and state than taking taxpayer dollars and using them to inculcate specific religious beliefs in young people.
This is simply incorrect. Since the state is not allocating money to the church, there is no "underwriting" involved. The school is simply subcontracting the task of educating the child, since the state-run schools apparently cannot accomplish the task.
The majority argues that the Cleveland program does not, as a technical matter, violate the First Amendment because it is parents, not the government, who are choosing where the money goes. But given the reality of education in Cleveland, parents do not have the wealth of options that would make their selection of religious schools meaningful. And in any case, the money ultimately comes from taxpayers, and therefore should not be directed - by whatever route - to finance religious training.
Given the reality of education in Cleveland, sending children to anything other than a religious school is either too expensive (secular private schools) or worthless (sending them to public schools).
Since the voucher program has survived all of the court challenges, and cannot be overturned, expect to see an increase in the number of private schools that accept them, and perhaps an increase of the number of secular schools that open to service the voucher students.
This ruling does as much damage to education as it does to the First Amendment. A common argument for vouchers is that they improve public schools by forcing them to compete for students. What is holding the public schools back, however, is not lack of competitive drive but the resources to succeed. Voucher programs like Cleveland's siphon off public dollars, leaving struggling urban systems with less money for skilled teachers, textbooks and computers. They also skim off some of the best-performing students, and the most informed and involved parents, from public schools that badly need their expertise and energy.
The public schools in Cleveland are not suffering from a lack of resources. Per-pupil spending is $8,814, so a $2250 voucher means a net gain of $6564 for each student offloaded to the private school system. For what it is worth, since the initiation of the voucher program, the spending per pupil has increased almost 10% in Cleveland.
The Times is looking for an "equality of outcome", where all students perform the same. The problem with that is that some students are not able to do well, and insisting upon equality results in all students performing poorly. Forcing students whose abilities exceed the norm, but whose parents cannot afford to send them to a private school, is wrong. It destroys them, and almost guarantees a lack of success later in life. Is this what the Times is actually advocating?
The decision Thursday also undermines one of the public school system's most important functions: teaching democracy and pluralism. In public schools, Americans of many backgrounds learn together. In the religious schools that Cleveland taxpayers are being forced to sponsor, Roman Catholics are free to teach that their way is best, and Jews, Muslims and those of other faiths can teach their co-religionists that they have truth on their side. As Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in dissent, "Whenever we remove a brick from the wall that was designed to separate religion and government, we increase the risk of religious strife and weaken the foundation of our democracy." This court has removed many bricks.
Australia, unlike the United States, has public financing of religious schools. Last I looked, Australia was not a hotbed of religious strife.
Another issuemany of the minority students who attend parochial schools are not practitioners of the religion that sponsors the school. (More than half of the voucher students are black, a plurality of whom attend Catholic schools, yet the African-American population in this country is overwhelmingly Baptist). That is a type of diversity that the public schools cannot hope to teach.
In addition, the Cleveland public schools are overwhelmingly minority; sending minority children to parochial schools increases their exposure to whites and to other ethnic groups, rather than remaining in the de facto segregation that exists in the public schools.
posted at 09:24 PM | permalink | Comments (0)
The Telegraph brings us a
The Telegraph brings us a story of a Palestinian mother who is not happy about her son becoming a Islamakazi.
This article has been covered elsewhere, but the last paragraph of the story really caught my attention:
The same day, masked men from the al-Aqsa brigade arrived at the house with the "martyr" posters. The family later turned away representatives of the Ba'ath Party of Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi president, who issues cheques to the parents of suicide bombers.
Two thoughts on this.
1) Israel should hunt down and execute the men who deliver the "martyr" signs. They are terrorists, pure and simple.
2) Hussein's representatives need to be deported, right away. If they possess diplomatic immunity, revoke it and deport them immediately. Bar any Iraqi governmental representatives entry into Israel, the West Bank, or Gaza. It won't stop the odious practice of rewarding the families of bombers, but it might make it more difficult for them to operate. In addition, it will create an electronic paper trail.
Another section of the story sickens me:
Issa and a female would-be suicide bomber, Arin Ahmed, were driven to the town of Rishon Lezion on May 21 by a minder from the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a radical offshoot of the Fatah movement of Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader.
Issa was to walk into a plaza lined with cafes and open-air backgammon tables and detonate a bag packed with 35kg of explosives and nails.
Arin's orders were to wait on the other side of the street where survivors from the first blast would take refuge and then detonate her bomb when she was surrounded by a crowd.
Thankfully, Arin backed out, otherwise the death toll would have been much higher. The concept that they would cause a second detonation after a crowd gathers is unspeakable.
posted at 12:19 PM | permalink | Comments (0)
(Link courtesy of Ye Olde Blogge, who found it at Daimnation)
Blogspot Flaking out again
Hmmm, it appears that Blogspot has crashed again.
It's nice for a free service, but you gets what you pays for.
Thank you, Hosting Matters, for cheap, reliable service.
posted at 11:35 AM | permalink | Comments (0)
More on the Pledge flap
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that Michael Newdow originally filed his lawsuit in Broward county, where he was living with his parents. The judge dismissed the case without a hearing when she discovered that Newdow had moved to California.
There's also a little bleat from his mother, who winters in Florida:
"He’s not against the Pledge of Allegiance," his mother said, fearing that her son will be labeled unpatriotic. "He’s just against that part of it."
Isn't that reassuring?
posted at 11:10 AM | permalink | Comments (0)
Missing my old paper
While flipping through the Virtual edition of the local Sunday paper, and noting once again that is is rather meager, I realize that I really miss the San Diego Union-Tribune.
The U-T has some nice features, and the editorial section is one of them. Monday-Friday, the editorial section is three full pages. The Saturday paper has two pages of opinions. The Sunday "Insight" section is eight pages, with a full page interview with a political figure, including luminaries such as Vicente Fox (president of Mexico) or Gray Davis (governor of California; in fact, he had his famous meltdown during a U-T interview).
In addition, the U-T has an eclectic assortment of columnists. The editorial policy of the paper is conservative (of a suburban sort; they support gun control, for example), but the paper's resident daily columnist, James Goldsborough, is a reliable liberal. Joseph Perkins, another of the paper's columnists, is an articulate, ardent conservative. Lionel Van Deerlin (a former congressman from the southern end of the county) adds his partisan snipes several times a week, usually gunning for the Republican majority in the local congressional delegation (he was defeated by a Republican in 1980). The last of the regular columns is from Robert Kuttner, of The American Prospect. The guest columnists are a mix, but tending towards the conservative end, due to San Diego's interests in the military and biotech fields.
The actual news coverage is good, as well. The U-T usually garners awards in regional reporting (they received 16 in the last "Best of the West" awards), and occasionally picks up national awards as well. The paper has a pair of Pulitzers, one for general reporting (1979) and one for editorial writing (1987). The national and international coverage is primarily confined to AP wire reports and those of other news services, but only the largest papers have their own Washington and International bureaus.
The U-T is definitely a second-tier paperthe first tier being the big fiveNew York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Washington Times, and Wall Street Journalbut it is a very good second tier paper. (Being a first-tier paper does not ensure that it is a good paper, as the Los Angeles Times is a terrible big paper.)
Is your local paper a second tier paper that is especially good or bad? Leave a comment! If someone knows of an notably good paper (with a good online presence), I will add a link to them on the sidebar. I am always looking for a good source of news, and appreciate inputs.
posted at 10:50 AM | permalink | Comments (2)