May 31, 2005

A challenge

I could not but notice the indignation on Dartlog over Dartmouth's apparent failure to lower the American flag to half-staff for Memorial Day. This gave me an idea.

In recognition of The Dartmouth Review's steadfast passion for patriotism and free speech, I challenge a Review staff member to burn an American flag.

"Stations of the Cross"

This article from the Columbia Journalism Review will tell you more than you ever wanted to know (or confront) about evangelical Christian media in America. Some highlights:
Over the last decade, Christian TV networks have added tens of millions of homes to their distribution lists by leaping onto satellite and cable systems. The number of religious radio stations — the vast majority of which are evangelical — has grown by about 85 percent since 1998 alone. They now outnumber rock, classical, hip-hop, R&B, soul, and jazz stations combined.
...
“News provides the crossover between religious and secular, and it bridges the age gap,” [Pat Robertson] explains. Robertson continues to see news and current affairs as a means to an end. “If you buy a diamond from Tiffany’s the setting is very important,” he says. “To us, the jewel is the message of Jesus Christ. We see news as a setting for what’s most important.”
...
Many Christian broadcasters attribute the success of their news operations to the biblical perspective that underpins their reporting in a world made wobbly by terrorist threats and moral relativism. “We don’t just tell them what the news is,” explains Wright of the NRB. “We tell them what it means. And that’s appealing to people, especially in moments of cultural instability.”
...
The turmoil gripping the Middle East has proven to be a particularly appealing topic for shows like the International Intelligence Briefing and Prophecy in the News, which interpret world events — be it the rise of the European Union or the Asian tsunami — in light of biblical prophecy. This approach tends to cast events that flow from controversial human choices as the natural and inevitable march of destiny. Prophecy-focused shows suggest that the war in Iraq was foretold in the Bible, for instance.
...
In the months that followed the Roosevelt Room gathering, the NRB [National Religious Broadcasters] executive committee continued to meet periodically with senior White House staff members. On occasion, Bush himself attended. And monthly NRB-White House conference calls were established to give rank-and-file NRB members a direct line to the Oval Office.

George W. Bush also attended NRB’s 2003 convention and gave a speech, much of it dedicated to promoting the looming war in Iraq. At the event, the NRB passed a resolution to “honor” the president. Though the NRB is a tax-exempt organization, and thus banned from backing a particular candidate, the document resembled an endorsement. The final line read, “We recognize in all of the above that God has appointed President George W. Bush to leadership at this critical period in our nation’s history, and give Him thanks.”

I'm assuming most of the cons who read this blog are not the Jesus-con type. This is a question I've wondered about before: how does it feel to be an "enlightened" Ivy League conservative aligned with this kind of extremism, helping advance its agenda? Especially if you're a Republican of some faith other than Christianity. Are the "benefits" of the alliance worth it, or do you worry these wackos might just exterminate all you infidels once they can? To put it less hyperbolically, don't you think their power, which you're both facilitating and increasingly beholden to, is getting out of control? And don't just ascribe their ascendence to market forces and simple demand -- the Right has disproportionately yielded to lobbying by Christian fundamentalists, creating a frightening snowball effect. In short, what in Christ's fucking name are you thinking?

May 29, 2005

Storm On The Horizon

I was channel surfing recently when I came across this promo on FX for Oil Storm. Unfortunately, I couldn't really find much information on the plot of the movie, just the air date of June 5th @ 8PM. From the commercial I saw, the movie narrates the ramification of a hurricane in Central America which destroys 1 million barrels of oil, leading to skyrocketing oil prices in the US. Ultimately, a state of bedlam ensues as the US dependence on foreign oil is exposed. I read somewhere online that it takes place in 2007. It must take place sometime in the future as we imported an average of 11.8 million barrels per day (bbl/d) from January to October last year and consumed about 20.4 million bbl/d, and experts believe that the US has almost 21.9 billion barrels of oil in reserve as of the 1st of this year.

Even though Oil Storm will almost certainly prove to be a sensationalistic exploitation of current fears about US energy policy, I still believe such movies do an important job of getting environmental issues on the radar for people who wouldn't normally think about them. The Day After Tomorrow is case and point. Although it set the pace of global climate change at an almost absurd rate and was a silly movie in general, it provided a real booster shot to the global warming debate. I also think it picked up on a real misunderstanding between the government and the public on the environment, climate change in particular. According to a study published by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations in October 2004, 71% of the American public, 72% of leaders (admittedly a murky term), and 68% of administration officials favored the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. Yet it was unanimously rejected by the Senate that same year. You can argue that big business was behind this, but the unanimous rejection in light of public opinion indicates that many representatives either don't understand their constituencies or don't think their opinion matters.

Okay, that was enough of a tangent, back to Oil Storm. Politicized movies bring important issues to the masses. Hypotheticals like Oil Storm, albeit outlandish, can be good for intensifying the debate. The US can't rely on oil forever and steadily climbing oil prices have screamed of the need for more research and development of clean, renewable sources of energy. Although I vehemently disagree with drilling in the ANWAR, I have noticed that Bush has recently been quietly promoting biodiesel and ethanol as alternative fuels. I think this is a good place to get the ball rolling, but we still have a way to go before we achieve a responsible energy policy. Check out this cool alternative energy blog for more on developments in the industry.

May 28, 2005

The Robinson-Zywicki Agenda

Cons, no need to read this one; most of you are already well aware of what, behind all the distorted rhetoric, you were fighting for in the last Dartmouth Trustee election. Whom I hope this post reaches are a few fairly moderate Dartmouth students and alumni out there who might not understand that there is indeed a battle being waged for American universities, that the only thing preventing it from being an all-out war is a strategic quietness by the aggressor in this war, the intellectual Right. For example, I once had a conversation with Colin Barry, president of The Dartmouth, about the petition candidates while the contest was still in its early stages. Though the D's editorials made it clear that Colin and the other editors at the D did not support Zywicki and Robinson, Colin was very skeptical when I explained how Dartmouth was target # 1 in the crosshairs of the cons' War on Liberal Thought. I could tell he thought I was being a little tooo conspiratorial.

What will it take for people to realize just how subtly ruthless the Right is in its quest for domination of this nation at all levels and in all forms, and how a movement like the Robinson-Zywicki petition campaign -- cloaked in empty language of "Intellectual Diversity," "Liberal Bias," and " of "Free Speech" -- is in reality the culminating action of a massive operation focused on gaining power and wiping out most of the progressive gains this country has made in the 20th century?

Don't believe me? Go read this NYT article about the Olin Foundation (Notice the eerily uninformative website), perhaps the driving force behind the intellectual operations branch of the neo-conservative army. They are the "philanthropists" behind the Hoover Institution, the Heritage Foundation, the New Criterion, the Federalist Society, the economics departments at Harvard, Yale, and Chicago, The Closing of the American Mind, The End of History, the Dartmouth Review, and, essentially, the Robinson-Zywicki Trustee victory:

As for ideas, Mr. Piereson has a new one. He is hoping to start an initiative to counter liberal influence in academia. Liberal academics "don't like American capitalism, American culture, and they don't like American history - they see it as a history of oppression," he said. "There are some people who are prepared to spend large sums of money to address this problem."

The Olin Foundation, about to close down and make way for newer foundations of its kind, has provided $380 million dollars to fund the grass-roots Con Revolution of our time. And now we at Dartmouth can say we're reaping the benefits.

Republicans = Crazy


Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) slept for a night next to his stillborn child and took its corpse home to meet and be physically embraced by the whole family. This is the culture of life:
What happened after the death is a kind of snapshot of a cultural divide. Some would find it discomforting, strange, even ghoulish -- others brave and deeply spiritual. Rick and Karen Santorum would not let the morgue take the corpse of their newborn; they slept that night in the hospital with their lifeless baby between them. The next day, they took him home. ''Your siblings could not have been more excited about you!'' Karen writes in the book, which takes the form of letters to Gabriel, mostly while he is in utero. ''Elizabeth and Johnny held you with so much love and tenderness. Elizabeth proudly announced to everyone as she cuddled you, 'This is my baby brother, Gabriel; he is an angel.' ''

Random Funny Video

I thought I saw Trey Parker's name in the credits for this. It might be from Team America, but I haven't seen it yet. Regardless, click here to watch a funny short about everything that makes America great.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Mad Scientist


Love your sick kitty and you don't know what to do? Clone it. That's right, for the paltry fee of $32,000 a pop you can now xerox your beloved pet ad infinitum. Well, that plus $300-$1400 in storage fees for the cells of your pet. The company that provides this service, Genetics Saving and Clone (it's a pun, get it?), is only cloning cats now but hopes to move forward to dogs later this year. You may say "That's ridiculous, no one would pay that much for a cat," but this is the reduced price. Until recently people would pay $50,000 for this service. Almost 200 dog owners are on the waiting list for when the procedure becomes viable.

Wesley Clark in 2008?

Via the new Dartmouth Young Dems blog and Kos, here's a story from Carpetbagger about someone I had almost forgotten about as a potential 2008 Democratic presidential nominee. My thoughts on Clark? I railed on him pretty hard during the 2004 primary, being skeptical of his commitment to Democratic values, and finding him a deficient public speaker. Nor was I terribly impressed by the supporters he had at Dartmouth, to be honest, as many of them struck me as fairweather Democrats who would never discuss beliefs or positions but only "electability." I did have one good conversation at 5 Olde with an older, impassioned supporter of his here in Hanover (I think this gentleman was one of his campaign organizers around here, anyone know who I'm talking about?) who kept saying Howard Dean would take Democrats "straight to the fucking grave." I could see his point but respectfully disagreed with his opinion in terms of both good policy and good politics.

Though I remain unconvinced of his political ability and I'm pretty sure he holds fundamentally different ideas than I do on a lot of important issues, I'd have nothing against a Clark run in 2008 and would expect a better, more developed, more substantive candidacy from him. On the one hand the guy is a former Republican, but on the other it's pretty nice seeing a con-vert to all that is just and liberal in this world.

May 27, 2005

Tom DeLay, More Pathetic By The Day

The conspiracy to tarnish Representative DeLay's reputation extends from Washington DC all the way to Hollywood. DeLay criticized a Wednesday episode of "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" today for what he called a "manipulation of [his] name" on the show. In the episode, a police officer investigating the murder of a federal judge opined that the police should put out an APB on "somebody in a Tom DeLay T-shirt." DeLay declared:

"I can only assume last night's slur was in response to comments I have made in the past about the need for Congress to closely monitor the federal judiciary, as prescribed in our constitutional system of checks and balances."

Yeah...but maybe it also had something to do with your threatening retribution against federal judges who failed to fall into line during your attempt to circumvent the constitutional system of checks and balances in the Terri Schiavo debacle. L&O producers have refused to apologize for the comment. They even had the gall to accuse DeLay of using this as an attempt to take the spotlight of his ethical quagmire. Where do they get off? It's not like DeLay has tried these tactics to deflect scrutiny from him before, oh wait, never mind.

Oh Really Little Pinko Blog

Dear parody, please update your posts. Don't let Fartlog outdo you in making fun of another Dartmouth blog. You are quite behind the times of ours.

http://thelittlepinkoblog.blogspot.com/

Ten Seconds to Spare



When my trusty yet bulky Nokia finally died last spring, I opted for an almost high-tech camera phone. I declined the uberchic video cellphone, because I just don't need that much technology in general. However, if I had had the foresight to predict the Ten Second Film Festival, perhaps I would have upgraded higher.

The Ten Second Film Festival is asking for ten second video clips recorded on any object that is NOT "primarily a video camera." No editing allowed. Winners receive a hamburger and beer from a restaurant in Minneapolis.

I can't decide if this endeavor is a slap in the face to filmmaking or an interesting endeavor to combine art and technology. Thoughts? Go crazy in the comments section if you have an opinion.

No matter what, I will personally buy a beer and hamburger for any Dartmouth student who enters and wins the Ten Second Film Contest in any of their ten categories.

May 26, 2005

Libertarians are Psychotic Assholes



In response to a proposed legislative ban on the sale of toy guns in New York City (which I also oppose), the Manhattan Libertarian Party came up with protest/program "Guns for Tots." For some reason, the Party chose to distribute these toy weapons outside of an East Harlem school (P.S. 72). Parents were outraged and felt that the implication is that their largely black and hispanic children would be most likely to like guns. A challenge to Libertarians: defend this total asshole move by a major local Libertarian Party. Note: I did hear of this story from the Daily Show.

Graduating to Music


High school graduating classes are given the opportunity to choose a class song near the time of graduation (my class and every class I've heard of that graduated in 2001 chose Vitamin C's "Graduation(Friends Forever)"). I don't know if Dartmouth offers its Senior's such an opportunity, but I would like to suggest a candidate anyway. In a move of extremely hilarious misantrhopy, I hereby nominate the Stills' "Changes Are No Good." Here are the lyrics (via lyrics007):
I wear the smile, I wear the laugh
I'm in the backstage changing heads
I am a weekday on weekends
I hate my best friends

Spoken, choked-up, punk man holds this hot drones 's, try and act adult
Like a walk-man falls to pieces, all parts no high

See me change, changes are no good... [2x]
See me change

All the world's deranged and I'm left crouched, people delayed are in a rush
I want a world but I might throw up. Will it ruin my maker?

See me change, changes are no good... [2x]
See me change...

See me change, changes are no good
See things change, changes are no good
See me change...


Image courtesy of YADA.

ACIR Public Forum Today

The ACIR will hold a public forum today, from 4:00-6:00pm in the Faculty Lounge of the Hop, to discuss, among other things, divestment from Sudan.
The ACIR must render a decision by the end of the term regarding divestment, in order for the Investment Committee and Board of Trustees to review and approve the decision as soon as possible. (Genocide is one of those timely matters where expediency is appreciated.)
The more students come to the meeting, the better the discussion and debate will be, and the more likely something conclusive comes out of today's event.
More importantly, if enough of you show up, this could be the last you have to hear from me about divestment.

Broken Pork Barrel Promises

The recent Pentagon decision to close military bases across the country has senators and representatives alike up in arms. One of the bases under consideration for closure resides in little old South Dakota. You might be saying, "Why the hell is there a military base in South Dakota? Are we invading Canada anytime soon?" Defense officials apparently have the same questions. The Pentagon has recommended closing the state's Ellsworth Air Force Base. The base currently is the second-largest employer in South Dakota and was central to the unseating of former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle in the 2004 election. Daschle campaigned that his leadership position would have enabled him to ensure that the base remained open, as he did 10 years ago under Clinton. Senator Thune declared that as a Republican he would have the President's ear and could better prevent this closure, a position endorsed by the majority of voting South Dakotans. Thune has now ineffectually indicated that he might defect from Republican positions on issues such as John Bolton, the CAFTA, and judicial nominations in order to try and influence a reversal on this decision. According to the NY Times article on the matter, under Pentagon recommended reassignments "the home state of Dr. Frist, would gain 1,088 jobs under the recommendations, while Nevada, the home state of the Senate Democratic leader, Harry Reid, would gain 1,059 jobs." Oops South Dakota.

May 25, 2005

In search of kindred blogs

So I am vaguely trying to find some good liberal blogs at other Ivy League colleges and colleges in general. Blogs that are active, i.e. have been posted on in the past few weeks. Here's what I got so far, basically by Googling "[school name] democrats blog" or "[school name] liberal blog", an admittedly primitive method:

Princeton Progressive Review
Dem Apples: Harvard College Democrats
Lion and the Donkey: Columbia Democrats
Get More Ass: Brown Democrats

That's about it. There are some that looked cool but seem to be defunct (Bulldog Blue). As you can see, the above blogs are all tied to organizations, which is fine, but I'm hoping to find some independent blogs, too, like ours. Does anyone know of any? Is blogging just bigger at Dartmouth?

Fuck Yes (Pardon the Profanity, or Don't)

I could post a comment to Niral's last post, but I'd rather write my own post saying "well done." Although I had my own doubts about the use of armbands earlier this term, I have been proved rightly and sufficiently wrong and called out for my moments of cynicism. My own efforts raised a significant donation to the Genocide Intervention Fund.

I would just like to echo the concise sentiment: "Congratulations. You, sir, are an asshole."

May 24, 2005

Malchow Chortles at Genocide

Yesterday, Joe Malchow decided to jump on the conservative bandwagon of criticizing divestment (and activism in general). Malchow does an excellent job of proving his complete and utter ignorance, and even manages to throw in a bit of condescension. Congratulations. You, sir, are an asshole.

I have a terrible habit of smirking to myself at the flavor-of-the-month liberal causes.
Joe, you moron, this isn't a liberal cause. Stopping a genocide isn't a liberal cause. The members of the DAG are not exclusively liberal. Sen. Brownback (R-KS) has been a louder voice than Sen. Corzine (D-NJ), his democratic co-sponsor of the Darfur Accountability Act. What in god's name are you talking about? Tibet is a flavor of the month cause? Oh yes, I forgot about last December, when Dartmouth Tibetans got all up in arms about that occupation, mass murder, and cultural extinction thing thats been raging since 1959. The Save Tibet movement is as strong as it has ever been, seeking govermental pressure and relief for refugees. Hybrid cars? Who the fuck is wearing armbands (I presume you mean wristbands) about hybrid cars?

Like hybrid cars and Tibet, I can't help but presume in the back of my mind that the latest armband-birthing craze is going to disappear when the WB comes up with the next teenage drama.

Aside from the fact that the above sentence is shit, gramatically speaking, do you seriously believe that? That is incredibly insulting to the thousands of students and activists everywhere who work tirelessly and effectively towards causes. Participation in the DAG only wanes during exam periods, not during episodes of the OC. You're like an old man warning kids about the dangers of "the MTV." You don't know what activism is, you don't know what activists do.

But lets get to the point.
1) The UN should be doing something. Why won't it? Not because it hasn't officially declared genocide - that act is a legal term that would force the UN to take action, but will most likely be decided afterwards. The UN has put resolutions forth (1556 and 1564). They won't actually intervene because China would veto it (75% of Sudan's oil is exported to China), and because Khartoum refuses any non-African peacekeepers. The UN has proved vital in providing food aid, although if levels aren't increased, another 3-4 million will die by the end of the year.
Because the UN can not take action yet, the onus falls on individual nations. The US imposed sanctions on Sudan in 1997, and has provided food aid. The US has pitched in with the EU, which is funding the majority of the African Union peacekeeping effort. This effort has so far been ineffectual because of low numbers of troops, insufficient equipment, and a restricted mandate. We can only hope more states will take action, providing aid and perhaps even military resources for the AU or the creation of a no-fly zone.
Activism regarding Darfur is intended to help provide increasing levels of aid through NGOs, and to compel the government as well as the UN to take action.

2. The DAG wore armbands for a while, hoping to raise awareness (and yes you cynical jackass, people did take time to ask me what it was about), but primarily to raise money. The money we have raised, along with various other campuses, is a pretty significant amount, and it will be sent to the African Union. More importantly, when an NGO raises that much money, governments take notice. Bush pledged $50 million to the AU recently.

3. The DAG did not move on from awareness to divestment, and we never held one useless candlelight vigil as far as I know. The group (if you've read any of the articles or posts on us) is comprised of several sub-groups. One of these was the Responsible Investment group, which became the Divestment group.

Lets move on to Divestment, because although there are valid arguments against it, you only have misconceptions.
1. The decision to divest has absolutely no financial impact on the endowment. If it did, we wouldn't advocate divestment, and the school wouldn't choose to do it. While these are "fiscally sound" investments, conditions in Sudan could change that very quickly. They are such a minute portion of the endowment that they could easily be shifted to other, equally if not more lucrative stocks. Furthermore, we don't what the hell we're invested in at any given moment. Eight investors individually manage a certain amount of money, constantly altering our holdings. At the end of every quarter, the investment office publishes a snapshot of current holdings, for public view. One moment we may have stock in PetroChina, and then we don't the next day. There is no negative consequence for Dartmouth. The endowment is not affected. These small holdings are sold, another stock is bought. Simple.
2. There are 93 corporations operating in Sudan. Dartmouth holds stock in Siemens, Bayer, Alcatel, and Volkswagen. Dartmouth has no holdings in what we have labeled Category One companies (oil and military suppliers). What we are actually asking is that Dartmouth restrict future investment in any of these other firms. We are recognizing that Bayer provides vital and life-sustaining services (as do another 14 companies), and we have no desire for Dartmouth to divest from this company. A letter from the Dartmouth Investment Office stating that the school is blocking investment in this corporation until they can be assured the corporation is not complicit forces the firm to make a statement on their operations and publicly acknowledge the situation, and creates negative press for the corporation. When Talisman divested from Sudan, its share price had been driven down significantly by this negative attention.
3. Also, its idiotic to think that every minute fluctuation in the endowment translates to a decision regarding financial aid or hiring practices. The market goes up, the market goes down, the endowment changes every day. Financial decisions are based on long-term goals and projections of the endowment. The day we wait for some mutual fund to accrue an extra dollar before we decide to restock the paper in a Greenprint center is the day I get the fuck out of Hanover.
4. That is a ding for the College and- even a blip on the international political radar?
Wrong. I disproved the first part of this. And besides, I think investment in corporations that enable genocide is a moral blight on the college's record that outweighs the unlikely event of a minor (one-tenth of one percent) financial consequence. The second? Dartmouth played a large role in the expansion of the South African divestment movement. In the year or two following our decision to divest, a slew of college campuses, and more importantly, state pension funds chose to divest. It's all about precedent for these things. Harvard decided PetroChina was a morally untenable investment. This makes it easier for the ACIR to "divest." Illinois made the decision just this week. Thats $1.2 billion in corporations active in Sudan. When NJ does it, that's nearly $5 billion. Calpers? $7.5 billion. That's more than a blip.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I welcome valid criticism, but if you don't know what you're talking about, and can't offer a better solution, then shut the fuck up.

May 23, 2005

Fili-busted


Hooray for compulsively checking internet news. The news agencies have just reported on a deal brokered between Frist and Reed over the filibuster debate. Unfortunately, Janice Rogers Brown, William Pyror, and Priscilla R. Owen will be getting floor votes while the fates of nominees William Myers and Henry Saad have been left up in the air. Other agreements reached were Democratic promises to filibuster in the future only in "extreme" cases (whatever that little ambiguity means) in exchange for a Republican promise to not support future attempts to change the filibuster rule.

In particular, I'm disappointed and frustrated that nominee Priscilla Owen was advanced to a floor vote. The freaking Attorney General, a Republican nonetheless, described her dissenting opinion in an abortion case which flouted Roe v. Wade as "an unconscionable act of judicial activism." What the hell, isn't activism what the Republicans were bitching about when Justice Kennedy wrote his opinion against the death penalty for minors? In fact, isn't that the main reason they want more conservatives in the court system, to stop activism? The hypocrisy of it all is mind-boggling. Owen's repellent record backing discrimination and shielding big business only add to my distaste for her. Check out Save Our Courts to find out more about the federal judges of tomorrow.

Nice Find on Amazon

So I was buying my little sister a birthday present today when I stumbled upon this nifty little find. Click on the link for a list of 200 free downloads that Amazon has compiled for you and me; and yes, they are gratis.

The Darfur Action Group: Where it's at

So I couldn't help notice Nick Desai's incessant equivocating (some here, more here) over at Dartlog and in TDR about whether the Darfur Action Group is a worthwhile endeavor or not. I quote some of his stances:

This leads me to my opinion of 'activism.' Yes, I do basically oppose it, as it manifests itself on college campuses. I suppose activism came about because people for centuries thought there was nothing they could do to change their government. And certainly rights of assembly and petition are among the most powerful tools of a free society. But 'activism' I consider a different bird from political action. It's largely symbolic. Linking arms, making signs, jumping up and down, chanting, making your voice heard.

Why do I say it wouldn't effect change, specifically in Darfur? I see it as something of a prisoner's dilemma. That is, if all the 'players' (investors) participate, that is the best outcome. There's some leverage. However, if only Dartmouth divests and no one else (or just a few other colleges), then companies will not care, nor will Khartoum or the janjaweed, and Dartmouth will have participated in a futile yet expensive gesture. (I always thought Thoreau looked ridiculous sitting in that jail-- it seemed more like self-indulgence than true protest to me.) You could argue that your divestment will inspire others. People make this argument aboutvoting. One person says, 'I'm not gonna vote. My vote won't count-- it's one of millions.' The second says, 'What if everyone said what you say? Where would we be then??? It's, like, democracy would be shackled.' And he's right. But the decisions in divestment are not simultaneous. If we had 'divestment day,' it just might, especially if others received word that companies would divest. To be effective, it must be a group effort.

So we're to conclude from this line of reasoning that...trying to accomplish divestment is just not worth it--? I would hate to see how effective Nick Desai would be at spearheading action against genocide.

Maybe in another two or three years, when all the rape and murder is complete, he'll have finished expounding his subtle position on the subject.

So here's my reaction to seeing anyone associated with TDR play the voice of moral clarity at such dire moments:

Have you read about that little example of actvism at Dartmouth a few years ago, the one that spoke out again South African Apartheid? Wow, those Revewiers were certainly on the right side with their actions there.

The Review is the institution that once literally led the demolition of the efforts of a large and passionate group of Dartmouth students who were actively trying to contribute to helping end Apartheid through divestment by Dartmouth. The effort of the anti-Apartheid students eventually succeeded and had a big impact in getting going a movement, of awareness and action, across college campuses nationwide, and then beyond colleges. No thanks to The Review. (But go check out this 2004 gem of a post in which R. Bennett Samuel revels in a grammatical ambiguity that makes Reviewers seem like they were the ones fighting the good cause. Right-o!)

Or was that shantytown destruction in the middle of the Green actually a brilliant and meaningful artistic happening by those reticent creative spirits at TDR? They did, after all, destroy it in the name of aesthetics, citing it as an eyesore. And now they, of all people, actually complain in their op-eds of "moral relativism," with their history behind them?

There's a word for this: hypocritical. And despicable. Reviewers who even care: Get off your intellectual high-horse, which is more or less paralyzed when it comes to doing anything productive to end this genocide, and join the movement that's actually getting things done.

Biota Water

The sad truth is recycling is on the decline and waste is on the rise. One big reason is the consumption of bottled water, which in the past five years has spiked from 3.3. billion to 24 billion bottles sold per year. Water bottles are the least recyclable of all plastics. A solution? Biota water--derived from a pristine colorado mountain source and packaged in the first ever compostable container.

Trump U.

The Donald has announced the launch of his own University. It won't be of the conventional type, however:
Don't expect ivy-covered walls or a football team. Trump University will consist of online courses, CD-ROMS, consulting services and Learning Annex-type seminars.

Also, dear old Dartmouth will be sharing a faculty member with this extremely shitty sounding new institution (John Vogel, adjunct professor of business administration and associate faculty director of the Allwin Initiative for Corporate Citizenship at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth). First hufu, now this. Tuck loses prestige by the day.

A Massive Shift

I'm slowly putting together in my mind some arguments about changing political alignment and labels in America. The number of articles and essays that have been written lately about the Republicans (as abandoning their traditional platform, or as not actually being conservative) and the Democrats (as being reactionary, or hijacked by special interests), and the role of Progressives (whatever they are) in all of this point towards some dilemma or contention in American politics. As I put all this together, I'm kind of stuck on a question that a Professor recently asked me.

Margaret Thatcher could slam down a copy of some Hayek book and say "this is what we stand for." For conservatives, Friedman and Hayek define much of their philosophy.
Is there a leftist/liberal/progressive equivalent?
I'm inclined to say that the nature of the left is antithetical to adopting a doctrine. I'm also going to admit I'm not that well-read.

May 22, 2005

Class in America, Take II

Today's segment from the NYT series on Class Matters in America describes the economic improvement among Evangelical Christians. Specifically, it talks about the desire among many Evangelical groups to gain influence on Ivy League campuses, which are seen as the training grounds for the leaders of tomorrow. Ironically, it focuses largely on attempts to proselytize the Brown community, which I always thought of as the most liberal Ivy league campus. The article even acknowledges that Brown recognizes "heathen/pagan" as a legitimate religion. Perhaps this explains their efforts best. The leader of the Brown Campus Crusade Geoff Freeman remarked:

"It is easy to sell New England in the Midwest," as Mr. Freeman put it later. Midwesterners, he said, see New Englanders as "a bunch of heathens."

Is the North East this century's Africa? Frankly, I enjoy living in my little godless corner of the world. I think stem cells, gay marriage, and abortion are all swell. I would rather play pong than "regroup in the living room for board games and goofy improvisation contests, all free of profanity and even double entendre." The Midwest can keep its missionaries. It's taken centuries of history and struggle to make the North East the center of liberal thinking in our country. I'm very skeptical that the proliferation of these Evangelical Christian Centers on Ivy League campuses will be anything more than a joke for us smarty-pants liberals. Sorry Jesus freaks, but if you think the North East is going red anytime soon you're in for a rude awakening.

May 21, 2005

Is the Dark Side Just Cooler?


I just came back from seeing the new Star Wars, which was actually pretty cool. I still think allowing Anakin and Padme to talk was a big mistake. I honestly don't think I've ever heard worse dialogue in my life. That being said, I was left with one question after seeing it: why can the Sith shoot those cool lightning beams out of their hands and the Jedi can't? The philisophical implications alone make the question worth answering. What, evil gets all the powers of good plus can shoot nifty lightning bolts out of their hands? I searched online to try and find an answer, but was left empty-handed. Are there any Star Wars buffs out there in cyberspace that have an explanation?

What I have learned from our polls

What I have learned from our polls so far is this: you're mostly a bunch of Review-reading, Ramuntos-eating cons who are barely redeemed by your marginal preferences for this blog over Joe's Dartblog and for Gerhard Schroeder over Tony Blair. Glad I know that now. Go lock yourselves inside Zete, which you guys also like, or something.

Accidently in Love


Mary Kay Letourneau, that teacher who had sex with her 12 year old student Vili Fualaau awhile back, has finally married the man of her dreams, Vili Fualaau. The couple have two children from their school-yard dalliance. The happy couple is registered at Bed, Bath, and Beyond, Williams & Sonoma, and Toys R Us (Vili loves those new Star Wars action figures).Congratulations can be sent to whatthehellwasithinking@yahoo.com.

May 20, 2005

Turning OUTSIDE the Dartmouth Blogging World

My friend Josh passed along some great information to me about the blogs run by soldiers on duty in Iraq. This one is particularly interesting - well-written, honest, and attracting the attention of everyone from USA Today to Jello Biafra. The fact that he starts the page with Picasso's Guernica is sure to give you some idea of his feeling about this war

Speaking of Guernica, here's Iraqnica:


Kitten Falling Asleep


Short video of a kitten slowly losing the ability to keep open its tiny eyes or hold up its massive head. This shit is so fucking cute as fuck.

Food for thought



The senior class having enjoyed a festive night of lobster and drink tonight, I thought it apposite to link to this David Foster Wallace article on mass lobster consumption, "Consider the Lobster" (PDF), which was published in Gourmet magazine. Among other things, DFW informs us how lobsters were considered disgusting fare, unfit even for prisoners, until the 19th century, and he poses the great moral question, "Is it all right to boil a sentient creature alive just for our gustatory pleasure?"

Enjoy.

May 19, 2005

Next Stop, 1950

This is what we get for letting the ERA fall by the wayside. The gender equality movement could be facing another hurdle in the House of Representatives soon. The Armed Services Committee today approved a bill that would prevent women from participating directly in combat in all four branches of the military. Pentagon policy already dictates that women cannot participate in direct combat, but the armed services have been known to make exceptions in emergency situations. Women are currently serving in support teams for infantry, armor, artillery, ammunition, maintenance and other units. Under the new law, women would be formally barred from these positions. Now I'm no expert, but I would think at a time when the military is facing serious difficulties meeting recruitment quotas the government would want to open up the armed services rather than place more restrictions on them. Unless we're facing a draft soon (which is dubious), it really doesn't make any sense to pass this restriction on military eligibility at this juncture. Furthermore, shouldn't it be up to women whether or not they participate in direct combat? It's unconstitutional and frankly, to borrow a term from the neo-McCarthyists in the Republican party, un-American to deny a woman a job based solely on her gender. Why can a woman be a surgeon, police officer, and fire fighter but not a soldier on the front lines?

Considering Discussing further Consideration

After months of exhausting and mind-numbing research, the Darfur Action Group has put together a comprehensive argument for divestment. It is briefly outlined on my Free Dartmouth post.

Divestment is being pursued through the bureaucratic framework for these things. Unfortunately, that means things are a bit slow. After repeated discussions and presentations to the ACIR (Adivsory Committee on Investor Responsibility), some members are prepared to reccomend divesting from highly complicit oil companies (i.e. PetroChina) and military suppliers. Unfortunately, other members are insistent on gathering additional information (that could not possibly change the reality of the situation enough to make these specific investments ethical), and so all I got today was a pledge to discuss considering the possibilities of considering further discussion on the matter.

However, the committee is likely to make some decision by the end of the term. Decisions made by the ACIR are only reccomendations, however, and so they will then have to be approved by the Investment Committee and then the Board of Trustees. The problem? The Trustees meet in June and then over the summer. The Investment Committee meets in September.

Still, there is hope. Dartmouth could quite possibly lead the way, pushing other colleges and institutions on the brink of divestment to make that final leap. Already, Harvard has divested from PetroChina, and yesterday Illinois officially began the process of divesting its $1.2 billion in public pension funds invested in these companies.

There will be a public forum with the ACIR next Thursday, at 4pm, in the Faculty Lounge in the Hop.

May 18, 2005

Lecture on Adorno tomorrow

Tomorrow the Jewsish Studies program is holding a lecture by renowned scholar Martin Jay on Theodor Adorno:

Martin Jay, University of California, Berkeley:
"Taking on the Stigma of Inauthenticity: Adorno's Critique of Genuineness"
Underwritten by the Mary and William Barnet II 1934 Family Fund
4:00 p.m., Rockefeller 2

Regardless of your views on Marxist, neo-Marxist, or post-Marxist thought -- and Adorno does not fit neatly into any of these categories, perhaps being better described also in relation to Hegel -- this should be a fascinating event. Riding the line between dialectical thought and its poststructrualist critiques, Adorno is one of the most complex and profound thinkers of the 20th century, especially when it comes to aesthetics. I use him in my thesis on Beckett, for whom he expressed a deep intellectual admiration.

See you there.

Norman Mailer's got a hunch

Rathergate and now the Newsweek affair. Two disastrous cases of misinformation from sources assumed to be credible.

Misinformation, or counter-intelligence? Norman Mailer probes the question on the Huffington Post:
At the age of eighty-two I do not wish to revive old paranoia, but Lenin did leave us one valuable notion, one, at any rate. It was "Whom?" When you cannot understand a curious matter, ask yourself, "Whom? Whom does this benefit?" Dare I suggest that our Right has just gained a good deal by way of this matter?

May 17, 2005

Con Rock

In keeping with the recent spirit of this blog, I thought I'd do some investigative work into the evils being done by Cons in my particular area of expertise: music.

It didn't take long to dig up some disgusting abuses of the arts in this country by the current administration. Thats right, awful Con rock FINANCED and SUPPORTED BY our Federal Government. And despite all of the dollars being poured into these musical acts I have never heard a single god damn one of them. Its a pretty disturbing realization of the inadequacies of our beaucracy when record label payola outstrips our own mighty iron-fisted federal institution, and we get, say, "The Killers," on every fucking radio dial in the nation, while the labors of "Sixteen Beat" go completely unrecognized. But at least "The Killers" aren't Cons. And if they are they're too busy banging chicks and mainlining horse to bother me much (and at least doing it on their own dime.) Whatever.

Fuck you cons! And your paltry overfunded attempts at rock and roll! I'll stick with the MC5.

Reading Surveys and the Dictionary

A recently released Gallup poll found that 75% of Americans polled supported euthanasia. The survey also seemed to indicate that a small but signifant portion of Americans either don't know what euthanasia is or are easily manipulated by emotional wording (either explanation works out in the cons' favor). When asked whether they supported doctor-assisted suicide, only 58% of the same group of Americans said yes. Other intesting findings include that 61% of Evangelical Christians support "euthanasia" and 32% support "doctor assisted suicide," a difference of 29%. The average difference was 17%, supporting my belief that the Evangelical Christians are a bunch of Bible-thumping morons. When asked if they would want their life support removed when "in a persistent vegetative state with no hope of significant recovery," the answer was a resounding yes across all groups of people, even Evangelical Christians (70%). Looks like House and Senate Republicans need to pay more attention to their constituents next time they ponder superceding their constitutionally mandated powers.

Follow these instructions:

Go here. Vote "D."

Niral



Welcome to Niral Shah, our newest poster. Niral's an established and excellent DFP writer at the ripe year of '08. He's even got a bio with his complete articles you can check out.

The corrupt world of poetry contests

In honor of the Dartmouth English department's recent creative writing awards ceremonies, here is an altogether strange tale, from The Chronicle of Higher Education, of a man on a crusade to expose all the fraud in academia's poetry contests, and of the subsequent backlash against him. (Be forewarned, the last line of the article reads, "Everyone it seems is looking for justice -- and not the poetic kind.") Our own Bennat Berger just won an award for his short stories from Dartmouth. Bennat, what do you have to say for yourself?

May 16, 2005

Deliver Us from Liberty

According to Sean "Scream" Hannity, Sean Hannity addressed the graduating class of Jerry Falwell's Liberty "University" over the weekend. He also recieved an honorary doctorate. On the show he hosts with Alan "Whimper" Colmes, Mr. Hannity demanded that Mr. Colmes address him as "Dr. Hannity." Taking his most contrary position ever, Mr. Colmes referred to Mr. Hannity as "Mr. Hannity."

I'm sure it was a rousing commencement speech. According to news reports, Hannity told Bill and Hillary Clinton jokes and encouraged graduates of the "University" to "bring others out of moral darkness." On a related note, I can't find a FIRE rating for Liberty "University."

I'm just going to preempt the obvious response by smart cons by saying that, yes, the only point of this post is to mock two of the easiest targets for mockery in all of con-dom.

Lancet Study considerations

Silly hypothetical question: Is a person responsible for the death of someone he starves to death?

I have a few more things to say about the Lancet Study in light of Joe Malchow's offhand dismissal of it. Malchow seems to have concluded that the study is somehow worthless because, "While the Lancet Study does take the difference in pre- and post-war deaths, it is still wrong in terms of magnitude. It still counts deaths not related to war violence."

This is a) a misleading characterization of the study, and b) making what is in principle a completely absurd, inhumane argument about how a nation that beings a war and invades a country should be held responsible for the civilian deaths it causes.

(a) What the Lancet Study demonstrates through its well-established scientific methodology is an estimate of the deaths due to the US invasion of Iraq, whatever form those deaths took. That means deaths related to war violence but not necessairly directly related. Just thinking through the study's methodology, explained in an earlier post, for a second will make this clear. It does not just measure the number of Iraqi civilians who die from being shot, bombed, or otherwise destroyed immediately by US forces. It measures all kinds of deaths from disease, malnutrition, etc., that are the inevitable side-effects of war. It's a logistical reality that many cons like Rumsfeld would not even care to include under "collateral damage," since those who die under collateral damage are those who die only directly from being accidentally bombed or shot, presumably.

Just image if any region in the US were devastated as parts of Iraq have been. As is, without such a devastation, there are large numbers of people who are in need of healthcare, food, shelter, etc, and most of whom manage to scrape by thanks to many services that are provided to such people. Now take the logistical damage that would happen: cut off some water, power, overcrowd the hospitals and soup kitchens and shelters, and think about what would happen. Now imagine this scenario in a nation like Iraq, with a fraction of the resources the US has.

The Lancet Study has a few problems with it, mainly problems of scale or sample size. It happened to include Fallujah in its sample, where the damage wreaked by a prolonged and heavy assault probably skewed the results slightly. But this study still deserves to be taken seriously, and provides a good estimate of the real magnitude of civilian death in Iraq. Having looked critically at the major studies of the death toll, I believe a good estimate of the total deaths caused by the invasion is in the range of 50,000 to 100,000, with 75,000 as the most likely, and, I think, conservative number.

(b) I just don't get it: people seem to be criticizing the Lancet Study for its very fundamental, and fundamentally humane, purpose: to figure out how many people the war has actually killed. Do these critics believe that if one person starves another, no one is responsible because no shots dealt the deathblow? Would they also argue that the embargo on Iraq was not resonsible for any deaths? (Try on the order of hundreds of thousands after looking at some evidence here and here.)

What's The Matter With Texas?

Looks like the thought police have lost out and sexy Texas cheerleaders will live to grind their pelvises another day. The AP reports that the bill passed recently in the Texas House that outlawed sexually suggestive cheerleading has stalled in the Senate. State Senator Florence Shapiro remarked "We have some very important work to do in the next two weeks, and that's not one of them." HA I say. What could be more important than saving the moral fabric of the Dallas Cowboy's cheerleaders of tomorrow? For shame Texas, for shame.

Dartblog responds, still wrong

Joe Malchow has an update addressing an email he recveived which pointed him to my post below. Malchow gets the link to this post wrong, and also seems oblivious to his initial error, or at least cursorily dismissive of the error, as he remarks,

John Tepperman e-mails in, directing my attention to this post- "Dartblog Distorts Lancet Study"- and adds, "Ouch." Not quite.
While the Lancet Study does take the difference in pre- and post-war deaths, it is still wrong in terms of magnitude. It still counts deaths not related to war violence.


Yes, quite. You can't just shift the terms of your criticism away from the obviously false characterization you made originally, to a fact about the Lancet Study that is well known. Furtermore, the Lancet Study is excellent and interesting precisely because of the latter fact: its methodology is a scientific attempt to track the total civilian deaths caused by the US invasion, not just the number of civilians killed directly by US bombs and bullets. This straightforward numerical analysis is used universally by economists, statisticians, etc. to identify the ceteris paribus effect of an event on a population.

I can't begin to describe how disturbing this kind of quick and uninformed dismissal of the possibility -- statistical likelihood, really -- of about 75,000 more dead Iraqis is. This is the extent of how so many of the people who "support the War in Iraq" actually care about Iraqi people.

Again, I hope Mr. Malchow will respond to this post and re-evaluate the facts.

May 15, 2005

KITTENWAR


This site offers a novel take on the concept of rating kittens. Cons will probably prefer this one for its use of military metaphors. They won't admit it, however, because cons are so evil that they hate kittens!

EDIT: Also, they hate America!

Dartblog distorts Lancet Study

This is probably the most offensive example of an indisputable distortion of truth I have found yet on Joe's Dartblog. It needs to be set straight.

Joe Malchow asks, "How Many Iraqi War Deaths?" He mentions the Lancet Study, which estimated that the US invasion of Iraq caused 100,000 deaths (actually, between around 5000 and 200,000 was their estimate, with the likeliest number thus being 100,000 -- the Lancet Study is an admittedly imprecise study but could well still be accurate). Joe completely misconstrues the Lancet Study by misconstruing another person's (accurate) construal of the Lancet Study on Volokh. Jim Lindgren, the poster on Volokh, rightly points out that "The 98,000 figure covers deaths from all sources (including accidents and disease), while the new ILCS study's 24,000 estimate excludes deaths from non-War related sources of death, such as accidents or disease." He also is correct that "For example, the Lancet study distinguishes between the 14.6 month period before the War and the 17.8 months after the War."

Malchow then writes that

The number comes from the Lancet Study, which reported that 98,000 Iraqi non-militants had been killed. That is incorrect, as Jim Lindgren reminds us. What Lancet actually found was that 98,000 Iraqis had died since Operation Iraqi Freedom began. In a country of 25 million, that isn't hard to believe. The 98,000 includes asthma, cancer, accidents, car crashes, heart attacks, old age, suicide... The 98,000 includes everything.

Not at all. The Lancet study, as the Volokh post recognized, took the number of deaths in Iraq from a 14.6-month period before the war, and the number of deaths from the 17.8-month period after the war, and subtracted the former from the latter to estimate the number of deaths due to the Iraq war. The change in death rate, essentially, NOT just the total number of deaths after the Iraq war. No one in their right mind would ever propose or lie about the latter as a method for for estimating the death toll in Iraq. Only Malchow seems to be under this illusion about the Lancet Study.

Go check it out for yourself. Here is the Lancet Study in PDF, and a summary of it from The Washington Post.

I sincerely hope Mr. Malchow will issue a correction on his blog and remove the offending post.

DarTV

So I was just trying out DarTV, the new TV broadcasting over the campus network, for my first time. (Try it out here.) Pretty cool. I was using it on a PC plugged into the wired Ethernet, as it was not working on a Mac laptop I was using in the bottom floor of Silsby. According to Dartmouth, 'A limited selection of channels will also appear, in certain areas of campus, on the "Kiewit Video" wireless network.' So either this area is not one of them or I was doing something wrong.

On the plugged-in PC it was working pretty nicely, though a lot of channels -- Fox News, CNN, Headline News, TV5US (French), and DTV!, for example -- were not working, giving the message "Reception: (No broadcast available)". But the ones that worked were really smooth and fairly clear, like watching on a grainy TV from the 80s, maybe. The interface is probably the most immediately appealing thing: it's really easy to navigate, switch channels (while a small window of the broadcast keeps playing), and get info on the channels, schedules, and programs. Much easier and faster than a normal digital cable or satellite TV.

Has anyone else tried this yet? I am curious if people are having the same problems I am.

Too bad I'm graduating just in time to miss this pretty much. Though I don't really care for TV other than Fox News.

Neither Insane nor Addicted, Just Overwhelmed


Time just published (exclusively online) an interview with wayward comedian Dave Chapelle. Chapelle denies rumors that he has gone to South Africa to check into a mental hospital or because of substance abuse. He is staying with a family friend and has gone to South Africa to escape some of those in his "inner circle" whose behavior towards him has changed since he signed a $50 million deal with Comedy Central. Chapelle describes the reasoning behind his departure from the U.S. as follows:

Chappelle says he is in South Africa to find "a quiet place" for a while. "Let me tell you the things I can do here which I can't at home: think, eat, sleep, laugh. I'm an introspective dude. I enjoy my own thoughts sometimes. And I've been doing a lot of thinking here."

I don't quite know how to spin this story into dissing on cons, so I'll just say this: "Fuck you, cons."

CEOs Gone Wild

The NYT began today what will be a three week series investigating the role of class in America. While most of the information contained in this Sunday's beginning piece was introductory fluff, one little nugget buried at the end is worth mentioning. Right before the closing section, the author remarks:

The benefits of the new meritocracy do come at a price. It once seemed that people worked hard and got rich in order to relax, but a new class marker in upper-income families is having at least one parent who works extremely long hours (and often boasts about it). In 1973, one study found, the highest-paid tenth of the country worked fewer hours than the bottom tenth. Today, those at the top work more.

In downtown Manhattan, black cars line up outside Goldman Sachs's headquarters every weeknight around 9. Employees who work that late get a free ride home, and there are plenty of them. Until 1976, a limousine waited at 4:30 p.m. to ferry partners to Grand Central Terminal. But a new management team eliminated the late-afternoon limo to send a message: 4:30 is the middle of the workday, not the end.


As someone who recently worked in a big corporate office, I can testify to how true this is. I was able to look at my supervisor's timesheet once and discovered that not only had he worked 24 hour days, but came in for another 10 hours the next day, and he was a paralegal for god sakes! This overworking in the corporate world has become such an epidemic that there's a movement of sorts started called Take Back Your Time that has made it their mission to bring back a reasonable work week. In fact, when I was home during the winter they ran numerous well-made commercials during prime-time indicating that this might not be some flash in the pan.

I hope that the NYT decides to investigate this issue more thoroughly because I would like to understand why Americans (particularly in the coroporate world) work so much more than other workers in the developed world, particularly the EU. I don't know if I buy most cultural arguments: America was founded on the Protestant Work Ethic (the most wealthy European nations are Protestant ), Europeans are lazy (America was founded by Europeans), it's part of the American Dream (I thought the American Dream achieve success so one could cut back on or eliminate work), it's why we're so successful (European corporate firms have tantamount success with a much shorter work week). Maybe I'm missing something, but cultural theories just seem to be useless oversimplification. Why do we have to hold our noses to the grindstone in the US while Europeans get a 3 hour lunch break and a work week almost half that of the US and still their currency is kicking our ass?

May 14, 2005

Anti-Wal Mart? You're a...Nazi?

Ha -- this is too good. From Editor and Publisher:
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is apologizing for a newspaper ad featuring a photo of a book-burning in Nazi-era Germany. The ad was published in a northern Arizona newspaper by a political action committee the company helped fund.

The company was writing an apology letter Friday to the Anti-Defamation League in Arizona and will run an apology ad this weekend in Flagstaff's Arizona Daily Sun, which carried the original ad, said Daphne Moore, director of community affairs for Wal-Mart...

The ad ran as part of a campaign opposing an ordinance that would effectively prevent Wal-Mart from opening a supercenter in Flagstaff. The ordinance was passed by the Flagstaff City Council but voters are being asked to ratify it.

The ad showed a historic photo of people throwing books into a large fire. A swastika is clearly visible near the center of the photo.

The text below it reads: "Should we let government tell us what we can read?"
Yes. I'd rather have government tell me what I can read, watch, or listen to than Wal-Mart tell me.

Filibuster constitutional, GOP should break rules

That from the National Review. Analysis on Kos.

Looks like the thinking cons are out of sync with the party line here. When the dust settles perhaps words like these from the Nat'l Review will remind people of the radical illegitimacy of the Nuclear Option, like next time they're in the voting booth.

Snark Smith

I would just like to direct you to Snark Smith, a web site by Michael Weiss '02 and Nic Duquette '04. Both were Jack-O editors/writers at Dartmouth in addition to being other things. Weiss was also the author of Zooperville, probably the greatest comic strip of all time, certainly ever to grace the Daily D as far as I know. I've never met either man but Snark Smith is an impressive web site, a storehouse of all kinds of treasures. These guys are real smart, they read books and whatnot.

May 13, 2005

Stop Hammer Time

Tom Delay continued his ad hominem defense yesterday at a black tie gala thrown in his honor. Instead of addressing any of the numerous charges against him, he declared that his whole legal mess is merely a result of partisan politics. He stated that the Dems have "no class" among a slew of other insults. I think it's so pathetic that the only rebuttal Delay can offer in his defense is school-yard name calling against the Democratic Party. The evidence must be mounting because accusing the accuser is such a blatant last ditch effort of the guilty. Call it schadenfreude, but I can't wait for his investigation to begin so we can get this morally repugnant chiseler out of a leadership position. I should probably hold off on my celebration though as he'll probably be replaced with another racist or crook, which seem to be the only cons (pun intended) capable of leading the Republican House these days.

Cool it.

Calls for President Wright's resignation are now in the air, how many hours after the Trustee election results were announced? The heretofore quiet blog Voices in the Wilderness has dropped all pretense of quietude, and one impudent young Dartmouth alum says it on Dartlog, to be echoed by other Dartloggers. When will the guillotine be wheeled in?

I'll just briefly dissect the charges:
Jim Wright, the author of the seminal work for the destruction of the fraternities, now says he supports them.
Maybe because the fraternities have become much more responsible, commendable institutions in the face of the Adminstration's challenge to them? Fraternities should die, anyway. (I'm in one.)

His administration has driven the athletic program to its worst record in memory, and his admissions director has badly embarrassed the college, our athletes and crippled our recruiting capability, but he now says he supports a strong athletic program.
Athletics really shouldn't be mentioned in the same sentence as "Ivy League," at least not in the post-1950 world. Women's sports look like they're doing just fine to me. How about revoking Title IX, cons?

His administration has spent millions trying to develop graduate Ph.D. programs in the arts and sciences towards developing a research university, which he now entirely repudiates.
It takes research opportunities in the sciences to bring the kind of professors you want to teach at Dartmouth. This is quite a simple point to grasp.

His administration has driven legacy admissions to half the rate of our sister institutions (for example Princeton's most recent class has 12% alumni children, whereas Dartmouth had 6%), but now says he now "welcomes these applicants" (a nice evasion: but does he admit them?).
Good. Legacies are the dumbest of the lot. Wright's still gotta provide lip service to nepotism, though, 'cause as of now it brings in the dough (a very mutable status quo, in my opinion).

After adopting policies regulating unwanted speech, he recently had his minions withdraw these policies (see [FIRE link]) In short, can an administration that had veered one way and now veers back in the opposite direction possibly have any further credibility? And can it possibly lead effectively?
Did you see the news? FIRE now gave us the green light. Should Wright never have let his thoughts on the issue evolve? Flip-flops are for weak-kneed liberals, right?

And to make the point most clear, look at the record of fundraising of this administration. Dartmouth is now lagging badly behind its peers in both its undergraduate program and facilities as a result of poor fundraising. All one need do is look at the facilities of our peers to see the evidence of this. The point would be proved if Alumni Relations would only get the college to publish the information it most surely has, comparing the rate of growth of both annual giving and capital giving from alumni sources at Dartmouth, as compared with our peers over the last ten years. I have no doubt that if this were published, the evidence would be clear. Will the college do so? Under Wright, we sincerely doubt it.
Last I heard, that capital campaign was doing pretty damn well, and our fundraising was not at all lagging behind that of our peer institutions when you factor in that Dartmouth is just a wee bit smaller than, say, Harvard or Yale or Princeton or Brown or Penn or Cornell or Columbia. In fact per-capita we at the top of the list, I believe. Can you show me a causal relationship between Wright's leadership and a decline in alumni giving? Maybe that 9/11 dip in the economy is to blame?? Or, better yet, the Clinton adminstration?
I hope you can see how weak these claims are. The statement made by the election of RoboZywick is significant already, though neither got a majority; can we hold off on the purge? Go start your own college with David Horowitz or something.

Happy Green Key

Happy Green Key. Even you, cons.

Dartmouth Observer advises new Trustees

I disagree with Chien Wen Kung over at the Observer sometimes, but I agree with this message he has:
James Panero, following up on an essay by Roger Kimball in the latest New Criterion, is hailing Robinson and Zywicki's victory as "one more battle won in the effort to retake the universities." I'm a little skeptical of the military metaphor. As I've said previously, I don't think Dartmouth is in dire straits; and I certainly don't think it needs to be "retaken." We aren't Crusaders and Dartmouth isn't Jerusalem. In fact, I think conflict and open hostility between the new trustees and the administration or faculty is a bad thing. Conservative stalwarts may recollect with fondness the battles the Review waged against official Dartmouth in the 1980s, and may look forward to such skirmishes in the years to come, but I don't. I don't want my professors protesting on the Green; I want them in the classroom, teaching students. This is not to say that I'm against the trustees criticizing the faculty or administration. Some degree of criticism is necessary, because some things -- like tuition fees for instance -- need to be looked at. The question is how.

Panero's rhetoric betrays exactly what I fear a lotta cons are actually thinking now. I hope and feel pretty sure that the new Trustees won't get carried away in the glory and glamor of their victory.

LGB Poll

Don't ask me why I didn't think of this earlier, but I have put a permanent poll feature on the blog, like right over here as of now

<--------------------------

I am pretty psyched about this permanent poll feature. We'll have a new poll every few days, maybe even every day.

The first poll might seem a little vain or puerile, but this is a pressing question of our time I believe. I hope you'll put in your two cents.

More serious polls will follow, such as about Iraq or "Steph's So Dartmouth," and it would be cool if they actually generated a little discussion -- anyone can comment on the poll results after clicking to see them or after voting.

CLARIFICATION: The current poll asks, "Which blog sucks LESS?" This poll is turning out to be way too close. Maybe it will be some indicator of the composition of our readership...

May 12, 2005

Diplomats Hide Your Staplers

John Bolton received the approval of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today in a vote that represented a Pyrrhic victory for the Bush Administration. In a strictly party line vote, Bolton received 10 votes in favor of sending the nomination to the Senate floor and 8 against. However, Senator Voinovich voted against endorsing candidate Bolton, meaning Bolton will face the full Senate vote without the endorsement of the committee. Although the senator ultimately voted in favor of the nomination, he was quick to point out that it was not because he believed Bolton should get the post. Senator Voinovich declared that it would be arrogant of him to prevent the full Senate body from voting on the nomination while conceding that Bolton might do more harm than good at the UN by alienating the other members, implying that he'll vote against Bolton next round.

The appointment of John Bolton as the US representative to the United Nations flouts campaign promises made to Americans, in which the Republican Party pledged to pursue a multilateral foreign policy this term. It makes me so angry that Bush made all these promises about trying to improve the US image abroad and then nominates a man like Bolton to represent us at the UN. How can a man who advocated halting all payments to the UN be expected to represent the interests of Americans who, by and large, support the UN? Furthermore, Bolton has publicly denounced numerous international treaties that would promote arms control (wasn't the ultimate goal of the UN to end war?). Moreover, I have numerous ethical objections to Bolton's appointment. The Washington Post reported that he had been on the payroll of Taiwan while ironically advocating that Taiwan be admitted to the UN, an organization which he claims does not exist. Bolton's intimidation tactics, used to remove dissenters in the State Department or block them from attending meetings, are public knowledge now. In May 2002, Bolton spoke that, not only was Cuba developing biological weapons, but sharing these developments with other nations hostile to the US. Bolton made these claims without any evidence. This assertion was later discredited by several officials within the US Intelligence Community, concluding a situation which eerily mimics the tactics used to draw the US into Iraq. Is it crazy to think that someone who throws staplers at the heads of US AID workers might not have the tact necessary for the most important diplomatic post in our country?

I strongly believe that Bolton is not the right man for this job. With all the evidence we have now, it just boggles my mind that he has so much support within the GOP. Sure the UN has problems but we need a uniter, not a divider if reform has any chance of being successful. Even though I maintain my skepticism regarding possibility of dissent within the Republican rank and file, I can only hope that Senator Voinovich's remarks are emblematic of fissures developing in Senate Republican unity that have been more prevalent in Bush's second term.

Lil' John Safe For Now


Those of us waiting for Season 3 are going to have to sit tight a little while longer because it looks like Dave Chappelle has pulled a Mariah. Entertainment Weekly reported that Chappelle checked into a mental health clinic in South Africa earlier this week. Although this rumor has yet to be substantiated by Chappelle's reps, Comedy Central acknowledged that production of the 3rd season which was scheduled for release on May 31st has been put on a moratorium due to the comedian's recent disappearance. Feel better Dave.

Kinda unintelligent speech on intelligent design

Along with Ariel, Mike, and some other friends, I saw a good portion of Christian scientist (like, Christian and scientist, not Christian Scientist) Michael Behe's lecture on the concept of intelligent design. This was a pretty disappointing event. Maybe partly because I was already familiar with the main themes -- essentially, a bunch of metaphors about clocks in fields, projected upon reality -- and figures (e.g. William Paley) of intelligent design, but still, a disappointment.

Behe's argument consisted of five parts, the first two being devoted basically to all the metaphors put forth for intelligent design, with the central, and rather weak, point being that if things appear to be designed, isn't it likely they were? Behe showed slides with unenlightening comparisons of Mount Rushmore to regular ole' mountains and the like. The crux of Behe's overall argument rested in the third part, where he attempted to show that Darwinian evolution has failed to explain the most basic biomolecular systems -- punctuated brilliantly by an unforgettable PowerPoint slide featuring a "fancy" phrase he "coined": Irreducible Complexity -- and thence draw the conclusion that intelligent design is the most viable alternative explanation. His point here about the current inadequacy of evolutionary science, which many prominent evolutionists readily admit and see as a welcome intellectual challenge, is well taken, and he illustrated it with an interesting example of bacterial flagella (snicker), but he did not develop this core part of his thesis sufficiently. Nor, of course, does his conclusion that some force of intelligent design is at work follow. In fact, intelligent design remains what it always has been: a big projected metaphor that can't ever be "proven" false, because positing paranormal forces outside the bounds of the physical universe. Scientist Kenneth Miller sums it up pretty well: "Michael J. Behe fails to provide biochemical evidence for intelligent design."

The theory of evolution still has considerable work to do, but it has so far proven to be a wonderful, powerful explanation of our world, and I can only guess it will continue to explain much, much more as more work is done. Assuming teachers don't get lynched for teaching it. And, who knows, maybe some serious modifications to the theory or some other theories might help to explain the basic mysteries of life -- intelligent design just isn't one of them.

Behe's presentation also had the feeling of being dumbed-down; I know he has some provocative, well thought-out ideas, but he didn't get them across too thoroughly here. Plus the event had a suspicious aura of religious agenda on account of all the Jesus freaks around and the table set up to raise funds for the C.S. Lewis Society, whose mission is "Helping skeptics doubt their doubt."

I don't need the help, thanks.

Another conservative Dartmouth blog

God knows we need more. I just discovered this blog but I won't link to it because that would give it unnecessary, and undeserved, attention.

The author of this blog pertly describes her mission thus: "A conservative college woman takes on liberals, radical feminists, the anti-war crowd, and pseudo-intellectuals of all kinds."

Curiously, "pseudo-intellectual" is a word used only by pseudo-intellectuals.

Ken Wells '08 responds

The Review pointlessly singled him and his blogging friends out and only made themselves look like assholes. The man deserves to have his rebuttal read:
When the aliased was drafting this story, the first thing that should have clued him in on the context of theRandomness was the blog's URL (whip that shit out) and the title (the Randomness). Think about it syllable by syllable. The Randomness.....The. Ran. dom. ness. Basically, it implies a collage of useless, insignificant crap; kind of like your article and kind of like most all other TDR articles for that matter. I mean, it may be unfair to point out only one specific article of TDR and draw conclusions about the integrity of the entire organization, but then again, that's what the author in question has done to me and my friends.

Republicans win again

Rumor has it the petition candidates have won positions on the Board of Trustees.

UPDATE: Dartlog says it's confirmed.

UPDATE 2: God bless Dartmouth, whatever that means. Official College press release.

I bet that during Green Key....

...a ridiculous amount of material will be generated that would be quite postable to this site. It's called Group Hug, and will feed into a bad sense of voyeurism at times but is just hilarious at others. It's an anonymous online confessional.

May 11, 2005

How Would Jesus Vote?

If God could vote, it would obviously have been for Bush. At least that's what one NC Baptist preacher believes. The members of a Baptist Church in Waynesville, North Carolina had to listen to their preacher, a Rev. Chan Chandler, wax poetic over the virtues of voting for President Bush as opposed to Democratic nominee Kerry throughout the election due to their positions on abortion. Baptists planning to vote for Kerry were told to "repent or resign" from the church. In fact, Rev. Chandler ousted 9 members of his congregation due to their failure to support Dubya, prompting his resignation yesterday. This is such a blatant example of the ever-increasing discrimination against people of faith. If they can't get judges to impose their conservative agenda on other people and ministers aren't allowed to tell their parishioners how to vote, how are people going to know what to think? God forbid people form their own moral beliefs, literally.

May 10, 2005

"We wish him well"

Funny observation by David Folkenflik at NPR.org on a Fox News public relations custom: wishing the enemy well, right after kicking him in the gut:

Former Fox Sports anchor Keith Olbermann can now be found on MSNBC, where he often torches such Fox News figures as Bill O'Reilly.

Here's how Fox News' [Brian] Lewis responded to one such attack by Olbermann last May:

"Since he stopped reading sports scores, Keith has attracted fewer viewers than a test pattern, and his career has been nothing short of a train wreck. We pity his tortured soul and wish him all the best."

Fartlog lives

Man, I was getting worried for a while. Go read the newest posts. John Elizabeth Dexterhouse beats me to an important observation on the Review's new leadership, namely about Editor-in-Chief Michael Ellis' bad-ass avatar. (What are they all compensating for?)

Larry David, blogger



Say what you want about the new Huffington Post -- a lot's been said already -- at least we can now get Larry David's thoughts on the world outside his own perverted, solipsistic one, which is pretty much what "Curb Your Enthusiasm" is confined to. This will be one blog column I check out often. David's first post comes out in support of John Bolton, Bush's hotheaded, xenophobic nominee for U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Because sometimes you just gotta treat the people around you and below you like shit to get what you want:

Let's face it, the people who are screaming the loudest at Bolton have never been a boss and have no idea what it’s like to deal with nitwits as dumb as themselves all day long. Why, even this morning my moronic assistant handed me a cup of coffee with way too much milk in it. I was incensed...

So get to work, Bolton. Show these other countries who’s the boss."


In typical Larry David style, you might not know he's kidding till you click the links.

It's Too Late Baby


Germany opened its new Holocaust Memorial in Berlin today. The memorial consists of rows of large stone columns of varying heights in an attempt to mimic a graveyard, which I was lucky enough to see through a chain-linked fence while visiting Berlin last November. There's also an information center where one can learn more about the Holocaust. Read the rave review by the NYT if you want to learn more about it.

Although I can appreciate the sentiment to some extent, am I alone in thinking that the significance of this Memorial is seriously undermined by the 60 years separating it from the event it's lamenting? Sure, it probably couldn't have been built until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, but that was over 15 years ago. The memorial is not so architechturally complex that it should have taken that long for it to be built. To me, it seems like this is a schmaltzy attempt by Germany to try and distance itself from Naziism in order to further its bid for a permanent seat UN Security Council. Maybe if this had been built in the couple of years immediately following unification I could have bought it as legitimate pennance. Now its just too little too late. Face it Germany, no matter how many memorials and museums you build people are never going to forget your role in one of the biggest tragedies in human history.

May 9, 2005

Left out, but not just us...

Our friends at the Review have left us out of their article about blogs. In fact, they've left out all of Dartmouth's political blogs aside from making a passing reference to their own and to another blog and to another that is spelled like their own but with the addition of the letter 'b.' The majority of the article concentrates on criticizing members of the class of '08 who keep personal journals for posting about their sex lives. This criticism, of course, takes the form of reprinting these posts about the sex lives of said '08s. Seriously, the Review needs to give better coverage to Dartmouth blogs. I'm sure any of the frequent contributors to their blog could do much better than this Kevin Parkman fellow. I suppose that the poor job he did only reflects this paper's growing irrelevance.

EDIT: Apparently the Review staff uses "Kevin/Karen Parkman" as a psuedonym when they don't want to attach a real name to an article. I think that, in this case, they made the right choice.

Joe Trippi Coming to Dartmouth



Joe Trippi will be at Dartmouth this Friday to participate in a conference co-sponsored by the Cyber-Disciplinarity Humanities Institute. He will give a public lecture entitled "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," which happens to be the name of his new book, at 1pm in the Loew Auditorium.

As a Deaniac I'll definitely be there (though we all know Trippi resigned before the end of the race).

I love the fact that when I was pulling up Amazon to insert a link to Trippi's book, the "related search" listed was Ari Fleischer.

If you have ever wondered exactly where the phrase "the revolution will not be televised" originated, before it was the title of Trippi's book or a documentary about Venezuela, read on. The phrase is the title of an incredible song by political artist Gil Scott-Heron. So now you can stop pretending to understand the reference in conversation and actually know.

Ethicist naïve?


I guess that like many other liberal (and conservative?) blogs, making fun of the New York Times is our bread and butter. In that vein, I'm going to go out on a limb and call Randy Cohen, the ethicist, shockingly naïve. Anonymous from Charlotte, NC writes asking whether it is ethical to destroy the copies of Focus on the Family magazine displayed at the local YMCA by the Christian Emphasis Committee. This is a political magazine put together by the group of arch-con James Dobson (a brief MO: one of the single most important political figures of the radical right, not a big fan of women or homosexuals). I don't know anything about Mr. Cohen's politics, but as far as the ethical decisionmaking of Anonymous and this blog goes, I think that having consideration for people this morally repugnant is simply unneccessary. We are in a motherfucking culture war, and the other side is not afraid to cut a few throats (metaphorically speaking of course). We can no longer afford to maintain the moral high ground because we've paid the price of political erosion. Now, Anonymous' choice in this situation is not particularly pivotal, but it did serve as a good jumping off point into a discussion we should have. Leave comments: how should ethical people deal with enemies who behave in patently unethical ways (Karl Rove, DeLay, every republican at this college, etc.)? Note to Dartmouth cons: Please appreciate the levity in that last sentence before you lambast me.

May 8, 2005

NYT Editorial Board = Cry Babies


The NYT editorial board opined today that blogs should be held to the same ethical standards as MSM (that's mainstream media, a term commonly used by bloggers that I just learned by reading the piece). I think the NY Times is just running scared from the soaring popularity of blogs and sagging circulation of newspapers. Isn't being sensationalist and sounding off on things you really don't know that much about half the fun of blogging?

Sadly, the Little Green Blog was not mentioned in this piece.

May 7, 2005

Right Wing Eye for the Left Wing Guy


This hilarious flash movie lampoons the right by casting Ralph Reed, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Pat Buchanan, and Rush Limbaugh in a parody with an obvious source. This is part of a promotion for a march planned by Planned Parenthood.

Image courtesy of I Blame the Patriarchy (which, if I'm not mistaken, is Joe Malchow's favorite blog).

Talking Ann Coulter Doll



If you thought Barbie saying "Math class is hard" was a big deal, just take a look at this. Her fourteen phrases include: "Liberals hate America, they hate flag-wavers, they hate abortion opponents, they hate all religions except Islam, post 9/11. Even Islamic terrorists don't hate America like Liberals do. They don't have the energy. If they had that much energy, they'd have indoor plumbing by now."

Patrick Gibbs, Totally Sweet DJ

So my friend Patrick Gibbs at UNC Chapel Hill has been doing a radio show on Saturdays during his time there. He's graduating in like a week, and this I think is his last show. Go to http://wxyc.com/ and you can listen to his show via live streaming audio. Why would you bother to do this? Because he plays pretty much a huge variety of really awesome music, everything from post-punk to contemp. indie rock to some instrumental "world" music, all of which rocks and will make you want to party. From 6 to 9 tonight. Check it out.

The Little Pinko Blog

It was bound to happen:

http://thelittlepinkoblog.blogspot.com/