A group of American civil rights attorneys filed a criminal complaint in German court against top U.S. officials, including Rumsfeld, for acts of torture committed at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. A google news search will probably be best for more information, because this is fresh news. I got the info here.
Neocons justify the United States’ one-sided support of Israel because it is the only democracy in the Middle East. When was the last time you saw a democracy do this:
“Of all the revelations that have rocked the Israeli army over the past week, perhaps none disturbed the public so much as the video footage of soldiers forcing a Palestinian man to play his violin…. The violinist, Wissam Tayem, was on his way to a music lesson near Nablus when he said an Israeli officer ordered him to ‘play something sad’ while soldiers made fun of him. After several minutes, he was told he could pass….
Yoram Kaniuk, author of a book about a Jewish violinist forced to play for a concentration camp commander, wrote in [an Israeli] newspaper, ‘Of all the terrible things done at the roadblocks, this story is one which negates the very possibility of the existence of Israel as a Jewish state. If [the military] does not put these soldiers on trial we will have no moral right to speak of ourselves as a state that rose from the Holocaust. If we allow Jewish soldiers to put an Arab violinist at a roadblock and laugh at him, we have succeeded in arriving at the lowest moral point possible. Our entire existence in this Arab region was justified, and is still justified, by our suffering; by Jewish violinists in the camps.’”
This poignant picture reminds me of our own national shame, Abu Ghraib, which too was a result of our intentions of bringing democracy to the Middle East.
While President Bush seems to think that Bin Laden and other Islamic terrorists hate us because of our freedoms, the truth is, they hate us because of our foriegn policy. Ayman al-Zawahiri made this point again, just today: “You can elect Bush, Kerry or Satan himself, it doesn’t matter to us,” he said. “What’s important to us is the U.S. policies toward Muslims.”
I think that promoting democracies in the failed states we have supported for years is indeed the only way to win the “war” on terror. But if this is our idea of democracy, I think its time to rethink it.
Though I think it goes a bit too far, this article (linked from A&L Daily) offers a great critique of current theoretical writing in the humanities that I’ve often thought of but couldn’t quite articulate. It’s a review of a book (Just Being Difficult? Academic Writing in the Public Arena) by a bunch of theorists who are indignant over having received the Philosophy and Literature Bad Writing Contest award. The review is highly critical of this “defense of difficult writing” and I believe debunks many of the reasons given for their needlessly dense prose. The basic argument goes:
Theorists: “Because common-sense presumptions and world views—many of them ‘nefarious’ (Butler’s example is slavery)—trickle down into language and abide there as clear and natural expressions, critics contest them by eschewing declarative sentences, coining neologisms, juxtaposing familiar things and unfamiliar descriptions (Adorno: ‘Man is the ideology of dehumanization’), hyphenating terms (Spivak: ‘geo-graphy’), and the like.”
This Review: “If ordinary language is a repository of naturalized values, then the artist/critic’s counter-language must supply other values in infectious, admissible ways: one common sense world collapses only if another takes its place. If you propose to explode certain attitudes and beliefs, and to do so by disrupting their proper idiom, then you must compose a language compelling, powerful, memorable, witty, striking, or poignant enough to supplant it. Your language must be an attractive substitute, or else nobody will echo it. Needless to say, the theorists haven’t achieved that and never will.”
I found it unfortunate that the political scientists for whom I felt an ideological affinity (the so-called radical professors who were taking on the overly quantitative, conservative state of the discipline) were also those whose writing was dense for the sake of being dense. Once I took the time to understand their ideas (and they were good ones) I could articulate them in much more accessible ways. I have noticed this trend at the philosophical edges of many disciplines and this article shows that it is true of the humanities as well. It is their use of inaccessible jargon and incomprehensible prose that puts them at the periphery of their respective disciplines. If the Social Sciences are to turn into more progressive elements in our society, then the progressive elements within these disciplines need to write for a broader audience rather than an inclusive clique of radical theorists.
Oh Lord, we have a lot to be thankful for this year. But firstly, thank you for delivering us from the liberal media.
[Reverend Jerry Falwell, Moral Majority founder and chairman of the Faith and Values Coalition, during his pre-Thanksgiving sermon:]
“I remember a day when ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN and the major print media controlled all the news flow to the American people and we found ourselves getting warped and distorted news. I thank God now in the 21st century for talk radio, that three hours a day people like Sean Hannity [of FOX News], Rush Limbaugh and hundreds of others are telling the truth of what really is going on. I thank God for FOX News Channel. I thank God for the Internet bloggers and the news producers like NewsMax.com, WorldNetDaily.com, even The Drudge Report.”
God, I know you probably read this blog– given your omniscience and all. I wonder if you’ve noticed that in churches (and other places of worship), some of your followers seem to be as interested in politics and power as they are your worship. There’s something unseemly about religious leaders who double as politicians. But I guess you already know.
Wednesday’s Arcade Fire show in Milwaukee was the best concert I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen some pretty good ones - I mean, Red Hot Chili Peppers on their Californication tour, Radiohead last fall, Spoon last summer, Wilco recently, and those Modest Mouse shows years before their music would be featured in minivan commercials. Those were good. This was great. The venue was perfect - tiny, dirty, and in Milwaukee. There were two openers (one great, one real bad) and the Fire didn’t get on stage til 12:15. We’re talking about pure sonic envelopment here, folks. The sound was so great I wasn’t hearing right for hours afterward. There are 7 members and many instruments, including an accordion, standup bass, and violin, though the lead singer’s younger brother mostly ran around the stage wearing a crash helmet swallowing lit matches and beating on the rafters with drum sticks. I was 3 feet from the stage and couldn’t have had a better vantage point. Like the reviews say, these guys are still young enough and not spoiled by success that they put their hearts into every single show they do. The Arcade Fire sing about the trauma of family death and the slower trauma of growing up. Trying to get another fix, I wanted to see them last night in Chicago but was thwarted because the tickets were sold out. If they are in your town, you must go see them (Daniel, get tickets now to see them on December 12).
Happy thanksgiving! Enjoy the Whisky and blankets polluted with small pox!
After the Suns made a fortune on signing Japanese guard Yuta Tubuse and putting him on the “injured” list, some rich dude in Japan got the bright idea to start a professional basketball league in Japan. Games between the initial six teams start in 12 months. Rosters can only have two foreign players, which means all those dudes that played at the HYPER are about to be millionares.
I wonder if the league owner has realized that Japanese people are short and can’t dunk.
For Americans, it’s going to be the WNBA all over again. But I, with all of my Japanese stereotypes, see the Japanese people really loving this.
Scorpio: (Oct. 24—Nov. 21)
Yours is a story rife with pathos, sacrifice, and sexual intrigue, so it’s confusing to see how pathetic it all sounds when you finally write it down.
I’m finally getting a bit settled here in Dublin Ireland. Took about a week and a half to get my US phone line up after some problems with the internet connection at the house I’m staying at. I ended up getting a small office in a building in Dublin’s digital hub in a government sponsored enterprise center. Click here to see a picture of my small closet office. I really like it. It even has a view of of a gravel courtyard in the middle of the building. I’m on a shared 5MB connection right now but I’m in the process of having them install a dedicated 512kb line so I don’t have to worry about other offices downloading all that porn and music and slowing my connection. If the connection isn’t stable the phone line doesn’t work as well.
I’m currently living in the southern suburbs of Dublin, about a 30 to 50 min bus ride into town. Its a nice house and really cheap, my room is the size of my room at carlson terrace. My roommates are real nice. In six months (after that lease is up) I’ll probably try to find a place in Dublin city center to avoid the bus ride and either combine my office and place I sleep or just get a cheap place here so I can walk to work. Hoping to have a bit more room so people can visit or so on. Dublin is really fun but a bit expensive. Tons of young people and lots of stuff to do, I’m really liking it. I enjoy just walking around past all the old churches and so on, good food too! Hoping to actually make it to some museums and so on later this week, finally snapping out of my Florida haze which is nice. Got my visa sorted out today, good until Jan 31st and just have some other forms to do to stay a year and hopefully setup a business here. Since I’m stealing money from the USA and bringing it here they like it. Only crappy thing is my work hours are 2pm to 11pm, not too bad for waking up late but going till 11pm hurts nightlife during the week, need to try to switch that down to 10pm or so later on.
Frissbee is good although a bit new, went to a tournament in Cork last weekend and I won my second tournament ever! The most points scored on the team I played on was 5 points if that gives you a picture of this cakewalk. Plus we paid savage on Saturday and I was sick. I tried to go to an indoor tourney in Leeds but didn’t buy my ticket fast enough and didn’t want to spend the 200 Euros after the price went up. Hopefully going to make it down to Amsterdam in the coming weekends.
Oh and a good movie is Finding Neverland. I’ll post more when I actually feel a bit more like writing something interesting. Lots of homeless people here and holy shit is it expensive to drink, a bottle of whisky that I go through in one night costs fucking 40 Euros, a pint of Guinness 4 euros or so. I’m going to start flying down once a month to Spain and bringing liquor back as its cheaper that way.
I was just confronted by a homeless man. He used the standard approach and asked the standard questions. I’m not sure why, but I gave him my umbrella. Maybe because it was raining, maybe because I have a nice rain coat, or maybe because I was afraid he was going to stab me, I don’t know. Not only did he not say “thank you,” but he demanded more. He showed me a growth on his ankle and said he needed money to save his leg. I told him I didn’t have any money, but he asked about my credit and debit cards. I just walked away (and prayed that he didn’t hit me on the back of the head with my umbrella).
This incident has me thinking about homeless people and homelessness. This just happened though, so I’m going to refrain from saying much until I’ve had some time to think about it. However, I’m curious as to what all of think.
Feel free to discuss anything related to homelessness.
Do you have any notable experiences with the homeless?
What obligations do we (or our government) have towards helping them?
Are you guys going to help me when I’m homeless?
How do you tell the boozers from people that really need help?
Do boozers really need help?
Is the U.S. government ignoring the homeless problem?
Does our society ignore the problem?
So after a lovely retreat to the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, CO (a grand time filled with Oreos, hiking, weed, and a bitchin’ kegger), the NVP stopped paying me. Now I’m unemployed, and have been for 2.5 weeks. The strange thing is how fast these weeks have gone by. I guess it’s no wonder since I wake at 11:00 and spend most of my time sitting around in my underwear drinking black coffee and sort of zoning out or just staring at things in my apartment. The highlights from these weeks of revelry have been: watching about a movie a day, reading like crazy (currently a book called Uncommon Grounds about the history of coffee, primarily its rise and fall in the U.S.), working out again, running again, listening to Uncle Tupelo and the Arcade Fire nearly incessantly, and finally coming to terms with the election outcome. In addition, Lauren and I also made a trip recently to Chicago. This has to be my favorite big city. It’s so gritty and businessy while still being incredibly classic and beautiful. We were there to visit the French Pastry School, which Lauren wants desperately to attend. Located right downtown across from the Sears Tower, it was awesome. The students were making chocolates at the time and they were tasty, let me tell you. She plans on going to school there in January ‘06, while I would either have to get a respectable job in Chicago or pretend to be homeless and sell those newspapers to tourists.
Aside from that, I try to get good and sloshed at least twice per week. This past week I went to the City Bar ($5 pitchers of anything on tap - can you believe that?) with grad school chums and two days later got wine-drunk with 2 of Lauren’s friends while watching Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Yes, the unemployed life is good, though I’m starting to feel like I need some sort of direction or at least structure in my life. Just kidding.
Anyway, I am also working on trying to set up some sort of a job hopefully starting next January. More on this later. Tomorrow, L & I are driving the hour to Milwaukee to see none other than the Arcade Fire in concert. Should be freakin’ amazing, if what I hear about their live shows is true. The next morning we’re driving down to my grandma’s house in the Chi-town suburbs for Thanksgiving; my sister and parents are coming up from Fayetteville. We may also get to see ol’ Keri Steffes while we’re there since she’ll be around Chicago. Also, if you haven’t seen Millennium Park yet then you’ve got to.
Finally, these weeks of contemplation and reflection have been a great time to think about the future. Like Evin, I am still pursuing those “few spheres of the world” I have interest in and plan on leading the life of a thinking man. However, at times, this pursuit gets me down because it is so distant from, means nothing to, and does not help “real people in real life.” I suppose the solution is that you choose a pursuit which you think has some bearing on the well-being of real people. I thought Political Science was this pursuit; my one year studying it at the grad level led me to other conclusions altogether. However, at the same time, the recent election has renewed my interest in American politics, especially elections theory and general political theory. Further, sometimes political scientists do specifically tailor their research so that it can be used by the public interest sector, as is the case with the Green and Gerber studies of nonvoting.
Am I the only one who loves it when cool bands record Christmas songs? I’m talking about u2’s “Christmas (Baby please come home)”, Belle & Sebastian’s “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”, Low’s “Just Like Christmas”, and last year’s phenomenal “Christmas Time” by The Darkness. In this vein are The Walkmen (you may have seen them on Letterman last night) and their new track, “Christmas Party”. Pitchfork reviewed it today and you can download it legally so what do you have to lose?
After such a lengthy and informative update from Murder, I thought it would be good to do the same.
This summer I will be workining DC for the FCC. (So do all your P2P right quicklike) It’s not the job I originally thought I’d be doing come May. In fact, I thought I’d be slaving away at a huge firm in DC while making bank and being wined and dined by the firm so that I would choose to come back to them after graduation. However, that’s not the case. My grades aren’t that great, and it seems as though that’s the ONLY thing that matters to big law firms. I suppose I got sucked into doing “Big Law” b/c that’s what everyone else was doing. I chose Michigan partly because of its loan forgiveness program b/c I didn’t want to work 70+ hours a week every week, and actually wanted to work at something with purpose. It’s easy to forget that when almost everyone you know is looking to work in a huge firm and pay off the huge loan more quickly.
In the end, the FCC job came through a general posting on the law school website to which I sent my resume and later got the offer. I will be primarily filtering bureau reports and then researching the applicable law to inform Commissioner Copps on how he should vote in the Commission. It should be interesting and hopefully provide some opportunities for work after graduation.
My general take on the interview process and law school job-getting:
1. It is VERY unrealistic. Top law schools draw you in with reports of high salaries, a great public service program, and strong X area (international is Michigan’s pitch).
What you find when you get there is that it’s a dog-eat-dog competition for grades, and, in most employer’s minds, that’s ALL that matters. I sat through interviews where I felt like I was talking to a wall until the winding up time (at the end of the 20 minutes) when they asked if I had any “paperwork” (read: transcript) for them. [to be fair, some interviewers were very cordial and seemed interested...that's before they had my t-script]
2. Public service is treated like the bastard son of law jobs. Here at Michigan, we’re fortunate to have a full-time public service dean, but the market at large is hostile to public service folks. For instance, we had over 600 firms that came to interview students over a period of 1 week. If you wanted to do public service, you had to fly to a job fair in DC. I realize that there are obvious restrictions, primarily money. But that gives one a bit of an idea of the scene.
Also, when I tell someone that I’ll be working in gov’t this summer, the “Oh, I’m sorry about that” is plainly obvious.
3. The salaries offered to first-year out law grads is RIDICULOUS! On average, the salaries in Washington, DC are $120,000, NY $125,000, Tulsa $70,000, Minniapolis, $85,000 and LA is commensurate with NY. This is one reason it’s SO hard to get folks to do public service. Although the cost of living is way high (holla Mohs) in the big money markets, it’s still a LOT of money for a person who is reading documents and hi-liting them for three years until they actually get to talk to a client or work on a case that may go to court.
4. I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. Even all the rejection and depression. I have learned more about myself and the “real world” through this process, and realize that although I love corporate law and the intricacies of the corporate structure, I’m not sure I would want to work for a huge firm because I also want to remember what real people in real life do. And, if this law life is my reality, as one of my roommates argues, then I don’t want that reality.
Canada’s most popular law professor and a large following of lawyers and professors are asking the Prime Minister to ban Bush, an international criminal, from their country. Once you click the link, scroll down to the second heading - “An open letter to prime minister Martin: why Bush should be banned from Canada.” The website, www.counterpunch.org, is worth checking out too.
Having never refused a request from ZLindsey (except for that night in Reno - you remember) I will now embark on my first personal update. Much like Oliver Stone’s Vietnam war trilogy, I will update in three installments. As most of you know, I spent the summer living the good life - playing ultimate, smokin’ cheeba, running, biking, hiking, and generally hanging out. However, fate stepped in and in late September I got the call from the PIRGs saying I got the job as the new campus organizer in Madison for the New Voters Project (NVP). For those of you who don’t even know what the PIRGs are, they are a pretty big deal in states that have them. Standing for the Public Interest Research Group, the state PIRGs were started by Ralph Nader in the 1970s. Therefore, they have an extremely liberal reputation, though they are technically nonpartisan. They are set up on thousands of campuses, and are funded by what’s called a negative checkoff, whereby student fees go towards the group unless students explicitly request that their money be withheld. Lobbying mainly on environmental issues, the PIRGs have also tackled issues of homelessness and, recently, democracy and civic engagement.
Working for the NVP was a wild experience. Though the pay was decent and I got to travel a lot (trainings in Boston and Denver, a retreat in Estes Park) the hours were shit-nasty. Immediately, before school had even started, I was working about 60 hrs/week. By the voter registration deadline, this had ramped up to about 70 hrs/week. The goals were also extremely high, and reaching them was quite stressful. Basically, the PIRGs micromanage nearly every aspect of your work, except when something goes wrong - then they wonder why you didn’t change your strategy (because you guys were on my ass the whole time, that’s why). Anyway, my job was to supervise a crew of 30 incredible interns and 100s of volunteers. They needed to be trained and filled in on the NVP model. Voter registration went well, and in hindsight was a breeze compared to the get out the vote (GOTV) strategy that started 3 weeks before the election. You see, what makes NVP different from other groups is that they attempted to follow up with the students that they registered in the two weeks prior to the election. Their research told them that peer-to-peer contacts with young people actually increase the young person’s chances of voting by about 8%. Therefore, it was up to us to make these contacts happen, either through phone banks, tabling on campus, or canvassing door-to-door. We were charged with making 12,000 of these contacts on the UW campus, and it came down to the wire with our 12,000th contact coming the evening of the 1st. I often questioned the value of these “contacts”, especially in such a heated election, where students were engaged regardless. However, since young people still don’t vote in very large number, I suppose anything helps. The central staff are currently engaged in determining exactly what impact our efforts had. You see, throughout the campaing we were entering all of our registrations into a central database. Then, when we later contacted these students during the GOTV phase, this was noted in the database as well. Soon, using the voter rolls from the states, our staff will be able to determine the turnout rate of the young people who we contacted in GOTV vs. the turnout rates of those who did not receive a call or door-knock from us. Preliminary results show that the former will be at least a few % points higher than the latter, which is pretty cool.
So that mess is over. Though throughout the job I couldn’t wait for it to end, I now miss the long hours, excitement, and (most of all) interaction with interns and coworkers who were truly amazing in their dedication. I also met a really good New Yorker turned Austinite named Kevin, who introduced me to the wonderful musical world of Neutral Milk Hotel and Okkervil River. Many people catch the campaign bug and work on them for the rest of their lives. Though I caught a small case, I don’t think I can sacrifice my personal life enough to dedicate all of my time to the cause of the public interest.
Congratulations BWB: you have won EEC’04. Though few states have certified their results and recounts are definitely forthcoming in Ohio and New Hampshire, I think it’s safe to say that, in the end, your prediction of Bush 274, Kerry 264 will end up being the closest. The count will likely stand at Bush 286, Kerry 252. I, for one, am ready to concede my prediction.
Did I write this? The potential of being able to do this is somewhat HORRIFYING.
In the exciting world of cricket, Australia whipped New Zealand by an innings and 156 runs.
Already worth 93 overnight, two Ausies hit a debut Test fifty, for a surprising 114 run partnership. The agony finally ended when McGrath was hooked at midwicket.
McGrath then removed the top order with three wickets, including two wickets on his first two overs. The third wicket came on an lbw trap on one that nipped back.
First-innings centurion Oram completed a brief crease stay when he hit the ball off the back of his bat to Hayden at slip off Warne’s bowling.
McCullum was victim of poor empiring. He was given out caught behind to a ball that hit a crack in the pitch and missed his bat.
After lunch, Gillespie trapped McMillan lbw a ball after he survived a confident appeal for caught behind.
Warne took eight wickets in the match, and increased his world record tally to 549 scalps.
The match only took four days.