Anything from current events, campaign finance reform, sports (especially baseball), corporate/political/legal ethics, pop culture, confessions of a recovering comic book addict, and probably some overly indulgent discourses about my 3-year old daughter. E-Mail: sardonicviews -at-
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Friday, February 07, 2003

Retun of the Baby

Angie-Zilla strikes!

Caffeine Addicts

Jacob Sullum, over at Hit & Run, takes apart some new studies released by the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (the same people who last year released the study claiming that "children drink 25 percent of [the] alcohol consumed in the U.S."). The conclusion. Marijuana has nothing on Caffeine when it comes to being the gateway drug.

Hometown News

I can't believe my mom didn't mention this to me.

Lebanon, Pa. - Come fall, Gino Vargas and other parents of schoolchildren in this city could be getting report cards of their own: The school system's superintendent is proposing that parents be graded on how involved they are in their children's education. Vargas said he cares deeply about his 4-year-old son and has no problem with the proposal, believed to be one of the first of its kind.

The Lebanon Daily News Website is not very good, and it is likely that this story is well over a week old so there was nothing there. Nor did the Harrisburg-Patriot News' Lebanon link have anything.

I'll have to look into this.

Blow out

Well, someone on the Plain Dealer Editorial board must take I-480 into work.

Thursday, February 06, 2003

But for what?

Looking over my referrer logs, I noticed two different Google searches for "Joe Paterno says women are to blame" (I was #27). What is he blaming them for? His fashion sense. His recruiting class? If anyone knows, tell me.

This just in, fire is hot

Talk about a shocking piece of information:

Peace Activists Frustrated by Bush Over Iraq

With a headline like that, it has to be Reuters.

The article makes a passing reference to Powell's presentation at the UN, but none of the people quoted in the article mention it, leading me to suspect most of the article was put together before the presentation. Essentially, it is a complaint that the Executive branch is just ignoring the anti-war crowd. They aren't trying to discredit them (they generally do that with their own stupidity) and they aren't trying to win them over.

It starts off with quotes from Barbara Epstein, "an expert of peace movements at the University of California, Santa Cruz and peace activist herself." Here's what my McCarthyesque witchunt Google search of "Barbara Epstein" University of California, Santa Cruz turned up.

She is a professor of the history of consciousness at UCSC, and available to the media to discuss the anti-war activities. (Apparently there is a whole department devoted to the history of consciousness. Personally, I like sleep.) The brief faculty bio says: "Social movements and theories of social movements, 20th-century U.S. politics and culture, Marxism and related theories of social change."

Is an admitted former communist, though at a minimum she is still a socialist. She is definitely against capitalism.

Foster criticizes the current version of environmentalism that equates Marxism and modernity with the degradation of nature and points towards a sophisticated and less nostalgic environmentalism which sees capitalism, not modernity, as the essential problem to be addressed.

She chairs the UCSC Committee on Academic Freedom (no violations this past year)

Wrote an article called Anarchism and the Anti-Globalization Movement
The traditional socialist left in the United States now mostly consists of several magazines and journals, a few annual conferences, a small number of intellectuals. Hope for the revival of the left appears to lie with the anti-globalization movement and the young radical activists at its core. There are reasons to fear that the anti-globalization movement may not be able to broaden in the way that this would require. A swarm of mosquitoes is good for harassment, for disrupting the smooth operation of power and thus making it visible. But there are probably limits to the numbers of people willing to take on the role of the mosquito. A movement capable of transforming structures of power will have to involve alliances, many of which will probably require more stable and lasting forms of organization than now exist within the anti-globalization movement. The absence of such structures is one of the reasons for the reluctance of many people of color to become involved in the anti-globalization movement. Though the anti-globalization movement has developed good relations with many trade union activists, it is hard to imagine a firm alliance between labor and the anti-globalization movement without firmer structures of decision-making and accountability than now exist. An alliance among the anti-globalization movement and organizations of color, and labor, would require major political shifts within the latter. But it would also probably require some relaxation of anti-bureaucratic and anti-hierarchical principles on the part of activists in the anti-globalization movement.

For several decades radicalism has been at low ebb in the United States, present in innumerable organizing projects but lacking focus and momentum. The anti-globalization movement provides focus and momentum, and holds out more hope for a revival of the left than any other movement has over the last two decades. The radical ideology that prevails among its core activists represents a soft and fluid form of anarchism. It is open to Marxist political economy, prefers small-scale communities but does not necessarily rule out the need for larger ones as well, is suspicious of structures of authority, especially the state, but does not necessarily deny the need for state power in some form. “Actually existing” anarchism has changed and so has “actually existing” Marxism. Marxists who participated in the movements of the sixties tend to have a sharper appreciation of the importance of social and cultural equality, and of living according to our values in the present, than did many members of previous generations of Marxist activists. If a new paradigm of the left emerges from the struggle against neoliberalism and the transnational corporate order, it is likely to include elements of anarchist sensibility as well as of Marxist analysis.

Fascinating. (yawn) Absolutely fascinating.

And can you believe people like this are being ignored by Bush.

Getting back to this whole History of Consciousness program for a moment. Here's what the program description says

History of consciousness is an interdisciplinary graduate program centered in the humanities, with links to the social sciences, natural sciences, and arts. It is concerned with forms of human expression and social action as they are manifested in specific historical, cultural, and political contexts. The program stresses flexibility and originality. Interest is focused on problems rather than disciplines. Although students are prepared to teach in particular fields, the emphasis is on questions that span a number of different approaches.

Over more than 30 years of existence, the history of consciousness program has won increasing recognition as a leader of interdisciplinary scholarship. Program graduates are prolific scholars at prominent universities, and dissertations have been published by major publishing houses and academic presses. Graduates currently find academic employment in a wide range of disciplines, including literature, women’s studies, science studies, anthropology, sociology, American studies, cultural studies, ethnic studies, communications, and philosophy. In addition, history of consciousness graduates can be found as filmmakers, museum researchers, free-lance writers, postdoctoral researchers, and academic administrators.

Since the curriculum concentrates on methodological and theoretical issues and is concerned with the integration of disciplines, candidates for admission are expected to have a relatively clear idea of the project they wish to pursue. Experience of advanced work in one or more fields is preferred but not required.

Although history of consciousness does not have formal tracks, it does emphasize a variety of topics and approaches in its seminars and research pursuits. Reflecting a serious concern for social, historical, and cultural theories, these areas of research can be most succinctly identified as studies at the intersection of race, sexuality, and gender; global capitalism and cultural process; psychoanalytic and semiotic theories of the image; science and technology studies; theories and histories of religion; and social movements. Seminars are regularly offered in these and other areas of ongoing faculty research.

They have a whole department for this. ]

Basically, the anti-war folks have decided that the reason they are being ignored is because of the Democrats

Many activists blame the weak and disunited performance of the Democrats for their inability to influence policy. While many Democrats voted against authorizing Bush to attack Iraq last October, all but one of the party's prospective presidential candidates supported the resolution.

"The Democrats are frightened of being on the wrong side of the situation or of being perceived as unpatriotic or soft on terrorism," said Tom Andrews, a former Democratic member of Congress who now serves as national director for Win Without War, an umbrella group coordinating opposition to the war.

"The result is there is no clear, articulate, principled opposition to the president in the corridors of power, which does not reflect the situation in the country at large, where opposition to the war is real, palpable, deep-seated and growing," he said.

Still, even Epstein had to concede that there is no political reason to listen to most of the anti-war people (especially her)

"Epstein agreed: "People in the current anti-war movement are people who by and large didn't vote for George W. Bush anyway. We are not his constituency," she said.

Other Coverage of Powell's Presentation

Some of the coverage and responses to the evidence presented by Colin Powell was enlightening.

From UN Security Council hears repeated calls for more time for UN inspections in Iraq. The article only quotes ambassadors who call for more inspections. Notable countries: Syria, Cameroon, Angola, Guinea, France, Germany, Mexico, Russia, and China.

Voice of America does a round-up of Arab papers that, not surprisingly, conclude that the presentation did not give much evidence.

The Express India and the Hindustan Times cite Charles Pena from the Cato Institute to say nothing was new came out.

"Whether Iraq has or does not have weapons of mass destruction completely misses the more important and fundamental point that Iraq does not have any military capability that directly threatens the US and would absolutely require pre-emptive US military action," Charles Pena, defence expert at Cato Institute, a well-known think tanks, says.

The Independent Online (South Africa) bitches that there was no moment that evoked a gasp, so the presentation was boring and a waste of time.

Meanwhile, Turkey, which will decide today as to allowing US military operations from inside its country, is being threatened by Iraq.

Iraq's ambassador to Turkey said on Thursday that if Ankara opened its military bases to the United States for a war on Iraq it would be committing a "great crime" and effectively joining the war.
"Countries that participate in that way should know that they commit a great crime and will see that they made a strategic mistake, because Iraq has never shown them enmity or done them damage," Ambassador Talib Abid Salih El Dileyimi told reporters.

But if they don't have any WMD, how can it be a danger?

Follow the Money

Seems the EU Parliament is getting serious about looking into how the money it supplies the Palestinians is being used (via Damian Penny). The problem is that Christopher Patten, the external affairs commissioner, has been working to block any inquiry by the parliament. Ultimately, Patten may have overplayed his hand because there may effectively be an independent inquiry rather than just a parliamentary.

Infuriated by months of "stonewalling" the group has collected 157 signatures from MEPs, triggering an investigation into the handling of 10 million euros (£6.55 million) donated monthly to Yasser Arafat's administration.

The new inquiry, which requires the backing of the full parliament, will have "quasi-judicial" powers to call witnesses, demand confidential documents, and send investigators to the Middle East. One of its tasks will be to determine if there was "mischief" by Mr Patten's office, or violations of EU terrorist and human rights laws.
The petition demands an investigation of claims that Mr Arafat signed bank transfers to terrorists, including the Fatah-linked Al-Aqsa Martyr's brigade, which is on the EU's list of banned organisations.

The MEPs rely heavily on a report by the Israeli government written after the capture of documents in a military operation last year.

The evidence suggested that the authority had a "black budget"; was issuing false figures on its number of employees; and was "forcefully deducting 1.5 to two per cent of paid salaries as 'Fatah membership fees' ". The Israelis claimed that as much as 10 per cent of its budget was being siphoned off for illicit purposes.

The new Palestinian finance minister, Salam Fayyad, admitted last month that control had broken down. "The system was neither transparent nor accountable. The ministry of finance was not in control of the revenues,"he said.

I wonder about Patten. His unwavering support for Arafat makes me wonder what Arafat has on him. Is it something Scott Ritter-esque?

On the other hand, it could simply be that the EU is the only avenue of power left to Patten. He is just doing whatever he can to keep it, even if it means backing Arafat. This seems more probable since he periodically complains about the US unilateralism and plugs the EU as being the best thing possible for Europe.

Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Another Study from the "No S**t" Institute

Shocking to learn they needed a study and a computer program to learn that: Mothers Better at Baby Talk Than Men.

computer program designed by scientists in the United States to study how voice pitch, rhythm and stress communicate meaning suggests that mother's coochy-coos are less ambiguous than dad's.

The program evaluated the properties of speech of six sets of parents who were told to encourage their babies and then to warn them to avoid dangerous objects.

It correctly differentiated between the majority of disapproval and approval tones.

"But to the researchers' surprise, the program correctly identified 12% more of the comments made by the mothers, suggesting that women use less ambiguous sound than men to convey to babies what they mean," an article in New Scientist magazine said on Wednesday.

Wow. I think someone at Reuters and/or AP should look over the articles they publish in course of the year and collect the "Best of Confirming What Was Known Through Simple Human Experience" studies

I am amused that women use less ambiguous sound than men towards infants, and pardon the sexism, but I just wish they could apply the lack of ambiguity to what and how they say things to men.

Advancing New Tech With the Old

It struck me as a little strange while paging through a magazine on digital video taping and editing at B&N. I glanced over an ad for a company that sells digital video (DV) editing software, DVD burning software and editing cards. While looking it over, I noticed that they offered free tutorial tapes on installing and using cards and particular software. What was odd, to me, was that it was a VHS tape. Not a DVD or even a computer CD. A video tape. Considering the systems they sell are geared towards people wanting to put the stuff on DVD, it just didn't add up.

National Letter of Intent Roundup

It's the first day of signings for college football. The top high schoolers hold local press conferences and announce their school of choice and sign the letter of intent, committing to the school. Sports Illustrated/The lists Florida as having the best class. Pitt, placed at #45, while WVU came in at #48. Penn State wasn't even listed in the top 50.

ESPN hasn't gone beyond the projections it made a day or two ago when it listed USC as #1, other than to say that Florida is charging fast to be #1.

Sporting News also hasn't listed the top classes.

CBS Sportsline lists LSU as #1 (they use PrepStar). CBS, unfortunately, only lists the top 25.

FoxSports also lists LSU (using Rivals 100)

I am well aware how meaningless this really is. It is all based on potential of high schoolers. Still, I like the info.

NFL Announcers

Paul Zimmerman (aka, Dr. Z) has released his annual evaluation of the TV commentators for NFL games. I always enjoy this. He is completely subjective, but admits most of his biases upfront. It comes off much fairer and honest than most media critiques. Almost, blog-like.

Probation for Tea-Baggers

A few months ago, news broke about a hazing incident at Central Catholic High in Pittsburgh, that resulted in the school pulling the football team from the high school playoffs. The two boys responsible for it, were given probation today. They are both Juveniles, and received six months probation for misdemeanor sexual harassment and false imprisonment.

Monday, February 03, 2003

No Grasp of History of the Facts

To say that I generally find the Plain Dealer Editorial Board to be a pack of drooling idiots might be an overstatement. This morning, though, I found myself sputtering some coffee at the fact-impaired editorial attacking Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

By contrast, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon - who has worked tirelessly to make sure there is no partner for peace - now has the mandate to use even harsher measures to put down the 28-month-old Palestinian uprising.

An uprising, that began after Arafat walked away from the best offer he could hope to receive for a Palestinian state -- from a Labor PM, and instead chose to encourage a new Intifada. This would strike most, as rejecting a plan for peace. Funny, the Israelis chose to consider their own safety and security than. Selfish bastards didn't feel like being blown up while shopping or going to a club, or getting shot.

His Likud Party nearly doubled its parliamentary seats. The hard-charging 74-year-old already has rejected Yasser Arafat's peace overtures and begun talking about even more tweaks to a still-evolving U.S. "road map" to a provisional Palestinian state.

Arafat, once again, was the one to walk away from a deal. His use of violence and terrorism during the last 2-plus years through his own Fatah wing and allowing the other Palestinian terror groups to operate with impunity, operating purposefully amongst civilians to use them as shields, kind of make it hard to take his "peace overtures" seriously. Like last spring's sudden desire for a cease fire -- after the Passover massacre. I'm sure the PD would like to pretend there is no evidence of Arafat and Palestinian duplicity (Karine-A, the documents weapons and suicide belts found in Arafat's compound).

As for the "road map," sorry, but it is hard to take it seriously when it doesn't deal with the serious issues first -- Palestinian claims for right of return, Jerusalem, the boundaries, and settlements.

Yet after the lowest voter turnout in Israel's history, Likud's strong showing seems at best a tactical win. Most Israelis still say they want to revive the peace process. They're still fed up with extremists who've saddled them with an indefensible and costly system of settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Sharon also knows where his bread is buttered: in Washington. He's asking for another $12 billion in U.S. aid and loan guarantees to buffer Israel during a possible Iraq war.

Of course they want real peace. It's no fun living in fear thatsome bastard sitting next to you on a bus might decide to blow himself and as many others as possible. As for the settlements, well I can't defend them. They will have to go when a real peace is attainable.

The PD seems to be implying that Israel is a puppet of the US (well at least they aren't claiming the US is controlled by Zionists). Gee Israel worries about possible strikes from Iraq. Wonder why? It's not like it happened during the first Gulf War or something.

That gives President George W. Bush enormous leverage, should he decide to use it. Right now, though, Bush is distracted by Iraq.

Sharon is counting on the coming Iraq war to mask his failure to make any concessions for peace. He also is counting on Bush's blind spot over allies and enemies in the terrorism war - a blind spot that makes Arafat the real loser in last week's vote.

"Distracted by Iraq"? God, I hope so. I hope the President is totally focused on a coming war, where US soldiers will be fighting. It's kind of where I want his priorities to be.

Sharon's "failure to make any concessions for peace"? The deal was an actual cease-fire for a couple weeks first, then peace talks. Arafat wouldn't even give that. Does anyone on the PD Editorial Board remember things from more than a month ago?

Arafat is a loser. A wiley surviving cockroach, but a loser.

Arafat has been written out of the script, without any real effort to identify and elevate an alternative. The result has been to radicalize all Palestinians.

Meanwhile, Arafat's friends in the U.S. administration are being replaced by hard-liners.

To defeat the bomb-throwers, both Sharon and the White House have to do more to help Palestinians see their stake in a peaceful future.

Arafat himself, does his best to eliminate any possible alternatives. Remember those reforms and elections that were supposed to happen? No? That's because after he promised them, he started trying to make conditions on Israel first. "The result has been to radicalize all Palestinians." No. They did that to themselves when they bought into the belief that terror would get them more than negotiations back in 2000. Somehow, the PD decides the Palestinians can't do a damn thing for themselves. They can't make changes, Israel and the US must do it; the Palestinians can't find new internal leadership, only the US and Israel can (like they would trust a US picked leader?). Palestinians treat other Palestinians who they might believe to be working with Israel, oh so well. Great system of justice.

As for "Arafat's friends in the US," they aren't being replaced, they are giving up. Arafat has done nothing to justify trusting him. Even the EU is starting to feel pressure to look into Arafat and where the money has gone.

Nigeria? Bank? Spam? Explosion?

An explosion in Nigeria killed 40. The explosion was at a bank in Nigeria. Apparently people started grabbing fists-full of cash afterwards. Could this be connected to that e-mail I received the other day from the Nigerian who was trying to get that money out? Damn, I didn't respond, he must have found another person to help.

Sunday, February 02, 2003

Ranting Will Resume

For those few who are actually coming here looking for something new, yesterday or today, sorry for the silence. The Columbia tradgedy makes it difficult to have much of an urge to bitch about public works projects in Cleveland, my beloved Pittsburgh Panthers blowing a 12 point lead and then losing the game by a couple tenths of a second, or much else. So much was said about the loss, much of it far more eloquently than I could say, that silence seemed the best response.


(Copyright © 2002-2005 Chas Rich All rights Reserved.);
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