Friday, March 30, 2007


Sometimes it just ain't that easy, you know?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Loose lips

I found the cover story in this week's New York Times Magazine to be extremely disappointing. I'll comment more later on this, but my main gripe is that the author seems to overlook the complicity that some journalists share in disseminating bad information, or outright lies, in favor of protecting "back channels". Spare me. If there's anything the Iraq War has shown about the press, it's that they are far too often preoccupied with listening to the wrong people in an effort to protect the wrong things.

In a word, clueless

Glenn Greenwald takes the DC pundit class to task.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Obama in Oakland

The Chron has the run down of Obama's St. Patrick's Day rally in Oaktown.

Anyone who still doubts that this man has can't be a transformational figure in American politics need to only look at pictures like these. The crowd is young and old, black, white,Asian...people see something in Obama that just isn't present in the other candidates. He stirs passions and makes people believe in hope again.

And, seriously...where can I get one of these totally pimp t-shirts?

2 article of interest

A fascinating article in the current issue of the Stanford Magazine that deals with how embracing adversity can be good for you.

Barry Schwartz, a professor at Swarthmore and author of The Paradox of Choice, has an op-ed in today's Los Angles Times that deals with selective college admissions and how the standards that are employed to judge applicants are unrealstic. He argues that a lottery system might be more equitable for all parties.

Sunday Bloody Sunday

I've always disliked the University of Tennessee...mostly because of the odious Phil Fulmer and the shameless football factory that he heads. Their obnoxious glowing orange jerseys and the fact that the school fight song, "Rocky Top", gets played approximately 45,300 times during a two hour game also add to my negative impressions of UT.

I now have another reason to hate the Volunteers.

My one question about this the hell did Sean Singletary not get the continuation on the drive near the end of the game?

The Dance

Wow...Friday and Saturday have been epic.

Xavier w/the worst heartbreaker?

Great 2 OT game with Vandy.

My Hoos are now down 3 to Tenn...come on boys!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Too much going on

Josh Marshall is all over the growing U.S. attorney scandal.

Gen. Peter Pace puts foot in mouth over "don't ask, don't tell".

And then there's this dance thing people have been talking about...

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The Changes

Solid set by a good new act out of Chicago at the Rickshaw Stop for Noise Pop last night. They played the majority of their fine first album, Today is Tonight (All Music Review here). Truly a band that defines any easy description, The Changes draw from several genres ("When I Wake" sounds like a lost 80's hit, full with cheesy synthesizers, "Such a Scene" is driven by a propulsive backbeat and charging guitars) but are still firmly grounded as a pop band. Last night's set list (off the top of my head):

Modern Love
On a String
Water of the Gods
When I Wake
Such a Scene
Her, You & I
When I Sleep

Quite a good show...especially for $10. And the extended guitar freak out in "Her, You & I" was choice.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Racial Inequality and Economics

Tim Harford, author of The Undercover Economist, has a very interesting article up in the Forbes about the achievement gap that separates African-Americans from the rest of the population.

I highlight this a) because it's a very good read and b) because within the article is yet another mention of the "acting white" syndrome, a situation that's been getting a decent bit of ink recently. This was an interesting passage:

Now Loury's young co-author, Harvard's Roland Fryer, is attracting attention for his study of "acting white," where black kids who work hard at school are said to be ostracized by their peers. Despite a lot of talk about the problem--Barack Obama raised it in his famous speech to the Democratic National Convention--some academic researchers weren't convinced that it existed. Their surveys showed that kids who were doing well at school, whether black or white, had lots of friends

This goes back to the discussion from a few weeks ago over at Extra Credit on the "acting white" phenomenon. One thing I'm noticing is that a lot of people are overlooking the racial make-up of the schools they are examining when this issue comes up. When you have a student body that is mostly homogeneous (in this case, let's say a mostly black or mostly white elite private school with a strong academic reputation) you're still going to have cliques; nerds, jocks, emo kids, hipsters...what have you. But the difference is that each student's actions will be judged within the context of the mostly similar student body, so, if you have an all black school where there are a lot of high achievers, no one is going to get singled out for "acting white" by doing well in class; that student might be called a nerd, but since everyone else is, in theory, also hitting the books hard, that student doesn't have an additional stigma attached to him.

However, in the context of a racially mixed school with students from a variety of economic backgrounds, you start to add additional layers of judgment (for lack of a better way of putting it). You get the same kind of social groupings (jocks, nerds), but now those groups exist in comparison to one another and they are also subject to differing levels of achievement within each group. That is to say, a black kid who was not out of the ordinary at the all black elite private school for being an academic star might now potentially be an abberation at the mixed school because the other black kids there don't care about academics as much and they now have an outside group against which they can can compare him to (the white students). And, if it's generally assumed as fact that the white kids are going to try to do well in the classroom, and the black student is also trying to do the same, some of the black kids might begin to judge him in that context and deem their peer to be "acting white".

Friday, March 02, 2007

Greenwald writes

You read.

Since everyone was up in arms over some ridiculous comments by anonymous commenter's at HuffPo, will the same people lose their shit due to Ann Coulter calling John Edwards a "faggot" at the biggest conservative event of the year?

Speaking personally, I know a fairly large amount of people who have social positions that are a good deal to the right of mine, but NONE of them, not one, would be proud to be associated with the likes of truly odious Ann Coulter. In fact, I would guess most of them are embarrassed by her. It's one thing for liberals and conservatives to disagree on issues and policy; reasonable people can, after all, disagree and most people are fairly reasonable. But the kind of venom that spews forth out of Coulter's mouth is something all together different and it will be telling to watch the media reaction to this situation.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Little Earthquakes

While sitting at dinner tonight with a friend, who's been on pins and needles awaiting news of great importance to her life, we were jolted by a little earthquake. It lasted only seconds...just long enough to rattle your nerves, but not long enough to (pardon the word choice) shake you to your core.

After dinner, I walked with my friend into her apartment to check her mail, to see if the news had arrived. The letter was there, sitting on the little yellow folding chair, just outside her bedroom door. It was not exactly what she wanted to see. In many ways, the news she did get might have been more cruel than what I would have taken to be the worst case scenario; she'd been waiting weeks for this letter, and now she was finding out, to her considerable dismay, that it could take several more months before there was a resolution.

My friend was shocked, and she had a right to be. Few people I know have her dedication and she had given a lot, maybe more than any person should be expected to, in an effort to chase a dream. And now, after all her hard work and persistence, she is sitting in purgatory, awaiting the judgment of people who, if they were able to see her shine, even just for a moment, could spend the rest of their days looking for a more perfect candidate, yet ultimately come to recognize that their search would never yield one better than her.

So, to her...tonight was just a little earthquake. It rattled your nerves, but it shouldn't shake your core. You are made of sterner stuff and don't ever think otherwise.