Friday, August 31, 2007
Five minutes with some being
Ajay Krishnamurthy goes for the straightforward picture: Him with a sign for Student Advocate in the background, saying that "WE CAN HELP."
Daily Californian: Can you describe your position and why did you choose to run for student advocate?What about "I was accused of Zionism"?
Ajay Krishnamurthy: The student advocate's office is billed as ... the student’s public defender, which means that we represent and advise students having disputes with the university. That can range from anything from 'I was accused of plagiarism,' to 'I was accused of assault,' to grade appeals, financial aid and residency issues.
. . .
The Daily Cal issues a decree on the tree-football-hippie thing (now the tree-football-hippie-fence thing) which states that the fence was bad. It also notes:
There are some plausible explanations behind the university's decision to exact the fence. Come Saturday, over 70,000 people will converge for the first and one of the most important games of the season. Some fans, angry over a stalled stadium renovations, could be looking to take their frustration out on the tree-sitters.So, since The Daily Cal thinks the university had to do something, but the fence was bad, it clearly has to propose a better alternative, right? Right? Oh, I guess not.
Knowing the very likelihood of such events occurring, for the university not to take any action would have been negligent and unethical. In the university's eyes, building that fence was a way to protect both fans and protestors.
The Daily Cal also successfully avoids noticing other motivations for the university, such as avoiding liability. This is what's prevented them from going up and removing the protesters by force. This is also probably the primary motivation behind the fence.
The damage from the erection of the fence has been done; it has added more kindling to fuel the protest. The university’s best move now is to reduce the situation to what it was before—when no one really bothered what was going on in the oaks.But I thought the situation before, where the university didn't take action, would have been "negligent and unethical."
. . .
Thursday, August 30, 2007
It turns out a fence to inconvenience protesters into submission is not part of a construction project, or some such. The judge declined to rule on whether free speech had died.
. . .
Don't sell yourself short
Speaking of the tree-football-hippie thing, the folks protesting definitely have a sense of perspective. (I'm going to assume the reader is aware that the university fenced in the grove in preparation for football season) Just ask their lawyer, Steve Volker:
"This fence is contrary to Judge Barbara Miller's ruling on Feb. 9 that there should be no physical alteration on the environment of the oak grove until the court rules on the merits of the case on Sept. 19," he said. "It is a direct attack on fundamental rights, a noose on the First Amendment ... Berkeley is the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement and it now threatens to be its graveyard. This day will be remembered as a day of infamy for this university as an attempt to crush the community's voice."Yes, because the university is trying to remove protesters from its trees so that it can take them down and build a building, FREE SPEECH IS DEAD!!!
He cites a case at Cornell, but I'm not finding the reference through a cursory Google search. If anyone knows it, let me know.
The arrests led to more pushing, yelling and general chaos at the grove. At one point police chased a man dressed in black down Piedmont Avenue. Some protesters formed a circle in front of the evening traffic and refused to budge from the spot for almost 15 minutes.Antagonizing random strangers: The Berkeley way? I don't really see what they're gaining by taunting motorists here.
"Cut your engine off," one woman told a driver of a silver Toyota. "You are not going anywhere."
"Berkeley's back," yelled another oak grove supporters.
"How much did that fence cost?" asked Jonathan Huang, a UC Berkeley sophomore.Shouldn't your parents be the ones pissed off? What do you have to be pissed off about?
"That's my out-of-state tuition money that's going to build a fence," said another UC Berkeley student. "My parents worked their butts off to pay the $40,000 a year and this is what I get! I am pissed off!"
. . .
Five minutes with some official
The Daily Cal interviews an "Academic Affairs Official." I don't know which one.
The picture is not online, but it was one of those "on a balcony with my domain in the background" ones. I don't have anything especially important to say about it.
The Daily Californian: Can you describe your position and why you choose to run for it?It looks like we caught another article in the middle of the editing process, though this one even went to print with the parentheticals. And who knows how he answered about why he chose to run for the position.
Curtis Lee: The Academic Affairs Vice President's office is tasked with working with the administration very closely and one of my main job descriptions is the appointment of student representatives to campus-wide committees ... and really representing the student voice at an administrative level ... Another thing is providing academic programs and services for students to make sure (that in) their time at Cal they have the resources they need to be successful.
DC: Back to Lower Sproul, who do you think should be responsible for paying for the project, the university or the students?I like that result. Everyone, fight for what you want and don't be willing to make concessions! I'd prefer that over the university raping us with a fee increase we get nothing in return for... which, I believe, Curtis Lee advocated last year.
CL: I think the university has an obligation to put some money up for the project ... The students need to put some money forth too just so that we have a seat at the table and ... we are taken seriously by the university, but (at) the same time it should not all be on the students' back. Lower Sproul needs to be an issue that we partner together (so that) we have the programs... and the facilities on Lower Sproul that we as students need to be able to succeed at Berkeley ... because if we are all fighting for what we want and aren't willing to make concessions, then this project is never going to happen.
DC: What do you think about the BP deal and how do you think this and tobacco-funded research affects academic freedom and students?Oh, man, did the editors phone it in for this interview. I don't think there's anything really lost if these interviews are conducted in writing, either. It would certainly be more readable than this quasi-quote of some guy talking, perhaps without a completely coherent flow.
CL: My policy department I have asked to put together an info session and invite someone from the administrative side and talk about the BP deal from their view and also have someone else maybe from the graduate assembly who is very opposed (to the proposal) ... and after that working with the administration to make sure that we are very aware of the issue of academic freedom and that there are dangers of the privatization of research and that we as students ... are knowledgeable about the issue.
But let's hear it for that plan: some guy from that one side and some guy maybe from that one organization on the other side, and then work to be aware of stuff so that folks are knowledgeable. Is that a fair summary?
. . .
The ASUC is considering getting involved in the tree-football-hippie thingie I haven't cared enough to follow with any more precision than calling it a "tree-football-hippie thingie." But once the ASUC takes a side, it's all over. The result is certain.
(It looks like our Senators are settling in well enough)
. . .
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Five minutes with some dude
Danny Montes goes for the smiling, crossed arms, looking up picture, which I refer to as the "confident midget" pose. It's actually pretty appropriate for his job, since he has to try to tell people, from a position of weakness, that they should do what he says.
The Daily Californian: What are some of your goals for the position and for the coming year?Booo! I disagree, and insist that X gets the square. If we just "use the power we have as students," we're fucked, because we don't actually have a lot of it on those issues. Making our voices heard is great for the feel-good dudes, but it doesn't get much done. If we want actual change, we have to first build our power before using it. And we'll never build power on international issues.
Danny Montes: My main goal is to have student involvement in advocacy work ... and that includes stuff that deals with getting involved with voter registration, getting interested in learning about politics, about issues that affect them at a city level, at a state level, at a national level, even international issues that are going on just so they could ... clearly use the power they have as students ... to make their voice be heard.
DC: And how are you going to get those students involved and get them interested in the office?Nothing says power like a tiny contribution to lopsided election results. Voter registration is just the least creative way to go about this.
DM: Well, the main thing that we're working on this semester is with voter registration. ... We work on getting students on this campus registered to vote so they could exercise their power ... come election time ... during the primaries.
Another way is to outreach and recruit for students to be on city commissions ... and also the same thing with national and international issues.National and international commissions?
DC: You mentioned working on the national and international level. What issues do you hope to address and how can students get involved?He does realize we don't have the power to do any of that, right?
DM: At a national level, one of the issues we're going to work on is the Federal Dream Act to make sure that there's equity when joining a university and that all the UCs and all the privates and all the community colleges and all the state schools are not only affordable but desirable for all students, that there's a diversity of students within every college campus and that that affects (them.) Also reauthorizing the Higher Education Act ... so making sure that we look at higher education and see the financial aid and everything is good to go for every student and it's up-to-date with higher education standards and the standards of the students that are going to campus now.
. . .
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Kathy Snowden has a letter in the Daily Planet about Chris Kavanagh and his questionable residence. It includes this gem:
Interestingly, not even Kavanagh has publicly defended his earlier claims to a Berkeley residence. Maybe his attorney has educated him about the penalties for perjury.Maybe that has happened, but I don't see what publicly defending himself would have to do with perjury. Perhaps Snowden should get an attorney to educate herself.
. . .
I think you're missing the point, Becky O'Malley:
For many months, there was a bottle of champagne in our office refrigerator, being saved for the day Karl Rove was indicted. The donor wasn't a member of the reporting staff, since they are expected to preserve the appearance of political neutrality, but I'm pretty sure that if and when Rove had actually been indicted everyone, including the reporters, would have accepted a celebratory glass with enthusiasm.Note: The Daily Planet expects its staff to preserve the appearance of political neutrality (FAIL). More importantly, though, it seems that it doesn't care that they don't have it. There's nothing fundamentally wrong with not having political neutrality, but if that's so, why maintain the false appearance?
. . .
I see the problem with the Berkeley High administration. The cause of all of the issues that BHS has is clear:
"So that when the first day of school starts, we can be ready for class and not waste a single minute," said Berkeley High Principal Jim Slemp during senior registration Friday. "We've wasted a lot of time standing in queues in the past, but not anymore. The new school year will start on time."They've been infiltrated! (Double irony points since my field of study includes queueing theory)
. . .
Five minutes with some chick
Taylor Allbright comes next, and she and Van Nguyen got their poses mixed up. Sitting around smiling for a camera is the kind of role we put the ASUC President in. Crossing arms and looking down on people is clearly more of an EVP job.
DC: Turning to the senate, what role do you feel that party politics can play, what benefits do you think they can have and what can be some of the challenges that arise from that?Party politics should look like gang politics, not coversation facilitation! Conflict is supposed to be unhealthy! *sigh* Another opportunity lost.
TA: Party politics can play a number of different roles. They can completely freeze the senate and prevent it from acting, they can provide a vehicle for the different opinions of the diverse communities on campus ... I feel that my role as the chair is to facilitate these conversations, to find common ground and move forward on that when you can but also to encourage healthy conflict that allows the senate to express the different views of the student body.
DC: Turning to the budgeting process—last year the process was changed so a lot actually took place before the budgeting meeting. How do you feel that process worked and would you go about it in a similar way?Does the ASUC have smoke-filled rooms? Or only smoke-room-filled? Maybe that's the problem with the ASUC... not enough smoking. Smoking is the only way to protect children's health, after all... who knows what else it can do?
TA: I did not like last year's budgeting process. People had lots of secret meetings, there were lots of back-room ... smoke-room-filled type politics that went on last year ... I feel like in the end we did manage to make the process transparent, but we had to fight for that to happen.
. . .
Monday, August 27, 2007
Speaking of which
Speaking of the UCSA, I picked up a letter from UC Davis's graduate student government (They have a seperate student government, which means it has responsibilities and such to go along with its budget, rather than having a fluffy ASUC to demand stuff from and, without exception, have those demands met at no cost) to the UCSA Board of Directors. You can find it here and Beetle Beat Extended (folks who've been chilling here long enough know the reference). Summary:
In the June 2007 UC Davis Graduate Student Association Assembly meeting, the Assembly voted not to approve the UCSA Budget for FY 2007-08. The Assembly asked us to write a letter explaining why we did not approve the budget, and which specific line items concerned us most.Recall that, last fall, the UC Davis undergraduate student government withdrew from the UCSA after refusing to pay higher membership fees. It looks like the graduate student government isn't too impressed either. The complaints are essentially:
The UCSA spends too much money on staffers to come to campuses and try to organize. Since organizing can be done at a local level by campus volunteers, that money should be spent where the UCSA has a unique position, which means in terms of staff to communicate with the legislature, Regents, and media.
The UCSA wastes a shitload of money, including an enormous budget to make a website that still sucks, and doesn't even properly name the UCSA.
The UCSA needs to move from Oakland to Sacramento.
It's hypocritical to whine about fee increases by the legislature while the UCSA is raising fees just as fast, and since the UCSA sucks at actually stopping fee increases, there's no "investment" benefit.
Of note are UCSA efforts to run fee referenda at various campuses. Prepare early!
Some other random UCSA errata:
Does the Graduate Assembly pay its share of UCSA representation? Technically, the ASUC as a whole is the member, which means that the payment may just come directly from the Senate budget. Since the GA gets all the money graduate students pay in fees, this would mean that graduate students not only get free representation in the Senate, they get representation in the UCSA on undergraduate dimes.
From the UCSA website:
Since last summer, we've held rallies and press conferences in district and in Sacramento, collected thousands of post cards, and testified at budget and education hearings in Sacramento. We've made presentations to elected officials, UC Regents, faculty, and alumni. We've built stronger relationships with coalition partners and CSU students locally and statewide. We've researched, tracked, proposed legislation, and much more.Anyone notice something about that list of "accomplishments"? Such as the fact that none of them actually represent achieving any goals?
We have accomplished a lot...
. . .
Five minutes with some guy
The dumbest pose ever lives. It's sort of the "Hahaha, I'm more important than you, stupid reader, which is why you're below me. Look at this building in the background. I'm vaguely involved with it! Well, strictly speaking, this is Sproul Hall, and Eshleman probably would've been more appropriate, but these columns look so much better than Eshleman's walls" thing.
The Daily Californian: What are some of your goals for the president’s office for the coming year?Haha! I'm going to say turnout doesn't break 35% next election. I guess one could argue low turnout means that people "trust" the ASUC enough to not want to meddle through the silly voting process, though.
Van Nguyen: So I think the first goal, and one of the things I'm going to work on the most, is to build a trust of the students back into the ASUC.
I think the second thing that I'd like to work on is to show students that the ASUC can make a significant difference on this campus more so than simply putting on projects, but also a significant difference in the student life here on campus and making sure that students feel included and welcomed to this huge university.Wouldn't accomplishing those things be "simply putting on projects"? Come on, don't mince words. Say "more so than simply putting on useless projects that don't accomplish anything, like those that Student Action losers live on." We know that's what you're thinking.
I think another thing that is critical for all students on this campus is lowering student fees.Yeah, that's sort of an important thing to tag on to the end of that list. (this isn't necessarily Van's fault, since this is a Daily Cal interview)
DC: And how are you going to go about lowering the fees?Single issue voting? From students? "Yeah, lower fees is important, so I'm going to use the democratic process to demand that legislators vote my way. That process will probably take years, and I'll be out of college by the time I see any benefits. But sure, I'll do single issue voting on the topic! Our representatives who all have completely safe districts will definitely be threatened by the possibility of us students voting against them."
VN: We need to build student power through the electoral process and make sure that we have the power to elect representatives that understand our needs and will not vote to increase student fees, but will vote to invest more in UC education....
We need to build relationships with UC Regents which we haven't had before ... to make sure that the UC Regents know us, they know the issues of the UC Berkeley students and they understand that it's not acceptable to increase student fees when there's a budget crisis in the state of California.The way this is written suggests that student fees should only be increased when California is in a good financial position. (Does this ever happen? I can't recall a time when California wasn't in a "budget crisis." I haven't been here very long, though.)
Tip: Withdraw from the UCSA. Everyone knows that getting things done in the California legislature involves buying stuff for Don Perata. If the UCSA isn't going to do that, we're going to need someone who can. Also keep in mind that if the UCSA doesn't speak for all students (i.e. if we pull out), then we can get direct access to the Regents, rather than having to go through the UCSA.
Update: Some anonymous dude explains how this works in practice:
Back in the 90's when Davis and ASUC pulled out of UCSA they were both given their own Whiteliners (people who are allowed enter the Regent's side of the Regents meetings and talk with them when they aren't at the table. Currently only UCSA has control over who can be a Whiteliner)
. . .
According to policy
In keeping with my policy of offering free advertising to pretty much anybody who asks, there's a Squelch Comedy Show next Wednesday. I think it might have some humor or something.
. . .
Sure looks familiar
Is it just me, or does the Daily Cal columnist stable seem a bit thin?
. . .
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Single data point shows decline
Or so this article should be titled. Here's the beef:
The startling collapse of GOP support among young voters is reflected in the poll's findings that show two-thirds of young voters surveyed believe Democrats do a better job than Republicans of representing their views - even on issues Republicans once owned, such as terrorism and taxes.That's it. Besides some vague mention about how things were different "back then," there's no other data, no other numbers, no trends, nothing to suggest that this is a "collapse of support." Young people tend to be liberal. Wow. The commenters seem to think this is a press release, rather than an article, and they may be right. But I particularly like this line:
With headlines about a mortgage crisis, outsourcing, health care costs and immigration, she said young voters want their political parties to stop fighting and offer solutions.The mortgage crisis? Young people care about the mortgage crisis?
. . .
So, it's a brand new semester. And academic year. And week, I guess.
This means that there probably won't be 600 hits a day from folks demanding relief from their AlcoholEdu pain. (I honestly don't see how anyone can get any useful information out of this page's comments. It looks like a total mess, but people keep linking it and saying it's the best thing since sliced bread. I would imagine the effort it takes to parse that page isn't any less than the effort to actually half-listen to the AlcoholEdu folks drone on about booze) Any suggestions for trouble-causing this semester? I've got a couple for the first few weeks, but I need more ideas!
. . .
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Fighting for your right to be an ineffective voice
Fee increases are going ahead as planned. We've got UCSA president Oiyan Poon to fight for us:
"Getting it communicated that fee increases are not good for the state, for California families, not good for future students ... we just need more voices mobilized," said Oiyan Poon, University of California Student's Association president.Yes, the problem is getting that communicated. I imagine the Regents made their fee increase decision under the impression that fee increases were actually good for future students, because not enough folks complained.
If the UCSA is to be effective, there are many things it has to do. One of them is to stop talking in this diplomatic, conciliatory beggar voice. In fee increases, they actually do have an issue that students generally agree on, but any decent student can see bullshit. "Communication" is the problem? Ha. That won't move anyone, because they know it's bullshit. I don't know if these pleasant buzzwords poll well in the echo chamber that they work in, but maybe then maybe the problem lies in the fact that the UCSA is an echo chamber. They can sit around with a bunch of like-minded folks and convince each other until the cows come home, but no one else gives a fuck. Instead of chasing out folks who don't march in lockstep, like UC Davis, maybe they should consider the possibility that there might be actual differing views out there, and that they might have more success getting student support if they paid attention to those views.
Let me spell it out for you losers out there:
YOU CAN NOT WIN A CLASH OF INTERESTS WITH THE PEOPLE IN CHARGE
I hope this isn't too complicated for our UCSA representatives. If you aren't in charge and someone else is in charge, when those interests conflict, it's the person who makes the decisions that gets her interests satisfied. So you can "communicate" how decisions are bad for you all you want, it doesn't make an inch of difference if you aren't in charge. You're arguing from the position of a beggar.
If you want decisions to go your way, you have to actually wield power. Beggars don't. The young adult block of the population doesn't wield power in elections, either, because everyone hates them. That doesn't mean we can't have power, it only means that we have to recognize our limits (e.g. everyone finds us annoying and thus hates us) and strengths (e.g. people will take action to avoid being annoyed). The current plan of trying to take advantage of the conscience of the folks in charge is a legitimate exercise of power, but only if it can be done successfully, and a quick survey demonstrates that the UCSA is incapable of properly manipulating the consciences of state officials.
. . .
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
The tears don't stop
The Chron pulls a hat trick with this:
Mine safety regulations have failed to save miners livesReally? If this is the conclusion they want to draw, shouldn't the comparison be between "mining before regulations" and "mining after regulations" rather than, as done in this piece, between "mining after regulations" and "a world without death"?
. . .
This'll be rich
The Chron writes an editorial entitled:
A way to close the achievement gap between white and minority students in CaliforniaWell, gosh darn, if they knew all this time, why haven't they said anything? Let's take a look!
With the right amount of political will and community support, narrowing California's racial achievement gap could be much easier than healing America's troubled racial history.Well... yeah. That seems like a tautology. If you have the right amount of stuff, then yes, things will happen, by definition of "the right amount of stuff." Still, I don't think that really counts as a solution, so let's read on.
Would the state have the political will to tackle the solutions that emerge?I'll be darned. We knew the answer all along!
Those solutions are unlikely to be new or revolutionary, because schools that have been successful with African American, Latino and low-income students have already shown that these students perform at a high level when they're offered the following things: frequent results feedback, a committed principal who reaches out to parents, engaged teachers who have high expectations for their students, and a flexible schedule that allows for longer school days or extra courses.
I guess the "way to close the achievement gap" is to "have the political will to tackle the solutions that emerge." A bit of polishing seems to give the solution as:
The way to close the achievement gap is to do the stuff that will close the achievement gap.Thank God for the Chronicle. By the way:
Ultimately, what these white and Asian parents must realize is that the achievement gap affects them, too. The future of the California economy depends on all students receiving a decent education.I see this a lot, and consider it the dumbest argument in the history of the universe. (Some exaggeration) There is no possible way to view the facts in such a way that the tiny benefit of overall education to a person somehow outweighs receiving that education herself. I suppose this only applies if you think of people as people. If you think of races as grand uniform hive minds, I guess this logic might make sense.
. . .
Squeal with horror
The Chron joins in on a pretty funny bit of spin:
Alcohol-Related Driving Deaths UpUm... what? How does that count as "up"? This is even worse than the USA Today article, which at least notes that the deaths are only up in 22 states (yes, that's less than half, and the overall rate is a tiny bit down, so it seems like an odd fact to shout from the headline, but at least it's accurate), which is getting pretty solidly slammed.
Drunken driving fatalities increased in 22 states in 2006 and fell in 28 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, federal transportation officials said Monday.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released data showing there were 13,470 deaths in 2006 involving drivers and motorcycle operators with blood alcohol levels of .08 or higher, which is the legal limit for adults throughout the country. The number was down slightly from 2005, when 13,582 people died in crashes involving legally drunk drivers.
But okay, here's their goal:
The overall number of deaths involving drivers and motorcycle operators with any amount of alcohol in their blood was 17,602 last year. That was up from 17,590 in 2005, according to spokeswoman Heather Ann Hopkins.Oh, so I guess it is a teensy bit up. (By 12 out of 17,590... an increase of... uh... 0.07%? I don't know if we're seeing a huge headline-demanding trend here)
How exactly "some guy had alcohol in his blood" leads to "alcohol-related" remains an open question.
. . .
Monday, August 20, 2007
After a thousand or so days of "I'll do it tomorrow," I finally got around to making the title at the top of a page a link. While I'm in the mood, what other odd maintenance things should I take care of? I miss my archive page, and the enormous list on the right kind of bothers me. Still, I don't know how else to go about it. Suggestions?
. . .
Booze some more
The AlcoholEdu scholars are getting desperate, now. The hit counter tells a sad, sad story about America's youth.
. . .
Happy Happy Happy
You know things are going to be grim with a story headlined:
Poll: White Youths Happier Than OthersUnsurprising if true, though that isn't what the poll actually measured. Unless, of course, you ignore the minor detail that there is no control for the relationships between how folks feel and what they'll tell a pollster. Given the exact same feeling, are whites equally likely than others to report being satisfied? I don't see anything trying to show that this is true.
(For those of you who want to insist that, in order to poke this hole in the study, I'd have to prove that there would be difference, you simply don't understand how statistics works. The conclusion the writer is drawing requires the assumption that there would be no difference. The faith you have in the conclusion is the same as what you have in the assumption. Hence, the proper way to report this study is to give the actual result, and then note the assumption if you're going to try to draw the conclusion. Since the study doesn't address the assumption's legitimacy, the reporter certainly shouldn't try to, either. We don't grant assumptions just because we can't prove they're false. But Bush hates science.)
Sex: Sixty percent of white youths are happy with their sex lives, compared with 46 percent of minorities. Both groups are about equal on the sexual activity scale.The sexual activity scale? I'm imagining a bed with an accelerometer. By the way, does this confirm the stereotype about minorities wanting more sex? Another interesting set of quotes:
"It doesn't surprise me," said Martin Carpenter, 21, a black New Jersey resident. "There's a lot of issues out there for African-American young adults. You can still go to certain places and feel uncomfortable, like you don't belong there."What a grand fellow, speaking for the majority of minority youths. I hope he got their permission.
Martin's feeling about racism, real or perceived, was echoed in the survey: 28 percent of minorities believe race will hurt them in the quest for a better life. Among whites, 20 percent feel their race will help in getting ahead.
Carpenter, one of the survey participants, spoke for the majority of minority youths who feel their race will not cause problems later in life.
"I don't think so," he said. "I'm thinking on a smaller scale. In my community, it's not that big a deal."
Those two sets of quotes seem rather incongruous, too. They refer to the guy by his last name in the second set, and his first in the first, which may help to hide the fact that this story apparently says that he both "spoke for the majority of minority youths who feel their race will not cause problems later in life" and was the example of the person who has feelings that are reflected by youths who do think that. I guess one could argue that the 28 percent is reflective of his feelings in the sense that 72 percent don't feel that way, but then it seems like a completely broken connection in the first two paragraphs. Talking about how blacks have issues and feel they don't belong in many places is the feeling that being black won't cause problems?
The AP-MTV poll was conducted by Knowledge Networks Inc. from April 16 to 23, and involved online interviews with 1,280 people aged 13 to 24. It had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.Online interviews, eh? Don't you think the target group of youths who'll give online interviews might be a bit unrepresentative to use for drawing conclusions about all youths?
. . .
Unless it's on things we like. It's rather rough ground to stand on.
After Schwartz's introduction, Bates outlined some of the social services that the amount of money the district has paid for the war could have funded.And yet somehow, those things just didn't happen in those years before the war. Why is that?
"There are important programs that would be feasible if we had the money that our district has spent on the war," he said. "We could end homelessness, we could insure everyone, we could have free transportation. The list just goes on and on."
What does Loni Hancock say?
"So often, these numbers are very abstract, but every dollar means a real human being suffers a diminished life," she said.Oh. That's important. I'm sure she carefully considers every dollar spent on social programs, grants, landscaping, and giant tuning forks with the same degree of care.
. . .
A draft to fight communism or something in Vietnam. BAD! A draft to make us feel important. Good?
"What this country needs is probably a good draft once again," said Rusty Smith, a lifelong city resident and a Berkeley High School student in 1967. "It will change the face of the students. ... You'll find solidarity once again."Well, yeah, probably. But, noting that this solidarity comes from facing adversity, the lack thereof might be symptomatic of some good news: things don't suck for us. If you're the kind of person who loves chaos and suffering, who enjoys it when folks get chased out of town, when stores get their windows broken, when buildings get set on fire, (and some people do enjoy it) then yeah, I guess we need to make things suck more.
If, on the other hand, you're a fan of happiness, and think folks' lives should be defined however they want, rather than by the pain and suffering folks like Smith love, you're probably opposed to the draft.
The public would not tolerate such an action, he said, and there may be no other way to create a movement large enough to immediately end the war.That's the problem with winning, isn't it? You can't fight anymore. If you're fighting because you want to end injustice, that's good! If you're fighting just because you want to feel good about yourself, though, it's terrible to succeed.
Charlotte Hutton, a junior majoring in architecture, says it would take "some sort of debacle in the Iraq war" to get her to protest on the steps of Sproul Hall or the streets of San Francisco.You know, the effort it takes to protest on Sproul is not going to affect your grades all that much. Hell, you can study while protesting.
"Right now, there's nothing I'm so passionate about that I'd be willing to give up studying," she said. "I'm in college to get good grades. I'm selfish right now. I'm working toward my future."
Students today are more practical than their counterparts in the sixties, who were "utopian and ridiculously naïve," said history professor Geoffrey Koziol. They are scared, and for good reason.Excuse me? This is still the "we're special" generation. For most of the folks who come to Cal, prosperity seems to stretch forever, because regardless of how bad the economy gets, they'll still be able to find jobs. In fact, they already could, they're just chilling in college because they have nothing better to do with their lives. College was just the next step in education after high school for most of them. If folks were "scared" for their future, you wouldn't see folks clamoring to take DeCals, or to find "easy classes."
"Society will get more deeply troubled," he said. "The economy is going to get scarier, which will create greater poverty."
People felt more secure in the sixties, Koziol said. Prosperity seemed to stretch forever, which allowed society as a whole to focus on their ideals.
In 2007, protests have not increased in Berkeley or San Francisco, despite growing opposition to the war. According to the New York Times, support was at all-time low in May, when only 35 percent of Americans said the United States' invasion of Iraq was the right thing.It's actually shrinking opposition right now.
Students organized Day X in 2003, a rally that led to the arrest of about 100 students during a Sproul Hall sit-in.I remember that sit-in, but I don't recall it ever being called "Day X" here.
But the demonstrators against the Iraq invasion did not sustain their sense of urgency as the war continued.I think that wrench should've been there in the first place.
"When that many people protesting failed to prevent the invasion, it threw a wrench in people's beliefs in how much protests can change things," Shingavi said.
The mass protests will likely not coalease, but the war may affect the outcome of the 2008 election.It may. There's a small chance of that, so I guess you have to mention it.
. . .
We're at the Green Line!
Stephanie Chen, of the Greenlining Institute, writes an op-ed. But it can be best summarized by the picture. If you're like that guy on the left (it's hard to tell what he's supposed to be), a giant liquor-drinker on the roof of the law firm will drop hammers on you. Actually, I'm not really getting the picture. I guess I'll have to read the article.
Ever look around the room and think "Wow, I am the only person like me in here?" Now imagine that feeling in an office of 200 attorneys.I would definitely get that feeling. "I'm the only person like me! That is, not a lawyer."
The atmosphere is already electric with competition and you can't help but feel that everyone is watching you to see not only whether you can cut it, but implicitly whether everyone who looks like you or comes from your neighborhood can.Ohhh, we're talking about other lawyers. They sure have a lot of free time to be making broad generalizations based on a study of other lawyers, especially if the atmosphere is supposedly electric with competition.
Why, in 2007 in a state as diverse as California, are there so few minority attorneys in the upper echelons of the legal profession? Like all good questions, the answer isn't simple.Now we have a deep philosophical discussion. What makes a question "good"? I can think of a few definitions for which many good questions have simple answers. On the other hand, one could argue that by having a complex answer, a question is by definition "good." Sadly, this intriguing question, despite being a good one with a not-simple answer, is left unanswered by Chen. That's fine, I guess. She's talking about something else. But why throw that out there, then, if she isn't going to take the time to address it? Suddenly, I doubt whether the question is all that good. After all, if it really was a good question, would she have to try to say it was? Maybe she's compensating for something.
Chen then goes into telling law firms what they have to do. If they don't, they're evil or something. I dunno. I don't quite understand where the giant hammer-dropper comes from, but since Chen already implicitly noted that the question is not very good, I'm not going to probe too deeply.
. . .
Not as far as I know:
Remember Welcome Week, when concerned resident assistants and staff members explained the process of fire drills...Actually, I don't remember this. Admittedly, it's been a long time for me, but what would that "process" entail? "When the fire alarm goes off, leave the building"?
...the perils of alcohol...What do you mean? AlcoholEdu takes care of that for us, now.
Anyway, we're talking about the effort to STOP ALL THE DOWNLOADING! With an educational video, I guess.
Regardless, the Daily Cal takes the position that "UC Berkeley's campaign to educate students on the consequences of Internet piracy is a responsible move." Why? Because:
Some individuals might be scared into staying away from DC++, but overall it's unlikely that the move will be as effective as officials wish it to be. Downloading music has become such a natural part of the average college student's lifestyle. Furthermore, just as with topics like alcohol, students don't usually pay much attention to university officials' advice. The new campaign will also be viewed as the school's attempt to placate the aggressive Recording Industry Association of America, which has been putting immense pressure on universities to take a more active role in Internet piracy.... Oh, sorry, that's a big explanation for why the effort is sort of useless. Where's the "responsible move" aspect?
However, the university did the right thing in initiating the new education program. As residential computing manager Dedra Chamberlain said, "We don't want students to end up facing a lawsuit of $3,000 fine and saying 'Why didn't anyone warn me about this?'" Every student thinks "It won't happen to me," but so far at least 16 UC Berkeley students have been sent letters from the RIAA. Whether or not the campaign will actually produce a significant dent in illegal downloading on campus is doubtful. But, for UC Berkeley officials not to address the situation and at least inform students would have been irresponsible.Because the university will get "I told you so" rights. It would be irresponsible not to secure them.
. . .
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Update: I also noticed that the ASUC is identified as the "undergraduate student government," a result of the Graduate Assembly's efforts to convince graduate students not to participate.
I stopped by the ASUC Wikipedia page. The intro hasn't changed (yay!), but someone has "corrected" "referenda" to "referendums" with the explanation "Consistency on plural of referendum using AWB." I don't actually know what that means.
Still, I've seen that "correction" quite a bit of late. What's up with that? "Referenda" sounds so much better than "referendums." Saying "referendums" feels like you get into an accident driving an oil tanker in the middle of a sentence, exploding and killing all words within 500 characters. Or something. You can't end a word with "-dums" and expect it to be taken seriously.
. . .
Finally, some chaos and noise
This weekend is, I would guess, move-in weekend. Remember to engage in my two annual freshman-related activities:
1) Judging the academic quality of the incoming class by estimating the percentage Asian
2) Laughing at the bright, flashy clothes that will forever vanish from freshmen's wardrobes after the start of the first rainy season
What other annual freshman-related activities do you engage in? Discuss the sudden surge in random daylight robberies and rapes in Berkeley as you walk past the parents unloading stuff for their kids? Laugh about the new university policy to make classes more rigorous and stressful to alleviate crowding through suicide?
. . .
Friday, August 17, 2007
Somewhere on Volokh was a link to some other site to something or somewhere that ended up here. The "anti-affirmative action" folks are pushing for one of their referenda in Missouri. (seriously, since when isn't "referenda" cool? "Referendums" sounds so stupid.) "Anti-affirmative action" is in quotes for a reason. The Secretary of State, a Robin Carnahan, has changed the language to something more... uh... "neutral." Well, just judge for yourself:
Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to prohibit any form of discrimination as an act of the state by declaring:Rejected! Opponent... oh, I mean, Secretary of State version, which is more neutral:
The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education or public contracting?
Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to:Hmm...
Ban affirmative action programs designed to eliminate discrimination against, and improve opportunities for, women and minorities in public contracting, employment and education; and
Allow preferential treatment based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin to meet federal program funds eligibility standards as well as preferential treatment for bona fide qualifications based on sex?
For reference, the text of the initiative itself is here. Putting aside accuracy for a second (not all "affirmative action programs designed to eliminate discrimination against, and improve opportunities for, women and minorities in public contracting, employment and education" include discrimination and/or preferential treatment, and so some wouldn't be affected, while there could be programs that involve such preferences that are not such affirmative action programs, which would be), I have a hard time seeing how the actual language can be less neutral than a description of it (comparing second lines).
The language, by the way, is the same as those other ones that have been thrown about the country of late, including California's eternally entertaining Proposition 209. I have to wonder a bit about the exception to protect federal funding. I hope it was at least included with hesitation when the initiative was initially written up all those years ago, presumably to make it more likely to pass. It makes the whole thing seem rather weak in terms of truly opposing racial discrimination, the supposed goal. "Racial discrimination is wrong... unless stopping it will cost us money."
I'm also curious about those "bona fide qualifications based on sex." I'm not sure how that exception has been implemented in California, nor even its legal meaning. Does it come from an established legal principle?
By the way, check out this winning quote:
Carrie Bebemeyer, a spokeswoman for Carnahan, defended the language that the secretary of state's office came up with as neutral, though she said she couldn't comment on the specific wording.Can't comment on the specific wording? Then where, pray tell, does that confidence come from?
"Our office is confident that the language we wrote on the initiative is fair, impartial and complies with the law," she said.
. . .
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
A picture of people not feeling safer.
. . .
People have differing opinions on a topic! Stop the presses! The front page description helps demonstrate the importance:
Rove's announced departure gets widely varied responses from bloggers and pundits.Whoa. That's shocking.
. . .
Monday, August 13, 2007
Can't you at least pretend?
... Can't you news folk at least pretend like you're interested in reporting news?
. . .
As a student newspaper, the Daily Cal made the obvious choice by running this student-related op-ed on Barry Bonds, by Marty Gaetjens, "the Student Affairs Officer for the mass communications and religious studies majors." And, of course, the requisite line:
Instead of spending so much energy on this and other tabloid issues, the public should keep its eye on the real ball. Two wars have gone horribly wrong, the environment is going down the toilet and we have an economy that has been freed from the danger of welfare mothers while the dollar continues to shrivel.Good point! Let's stop writing op-eds on the... topic... uh......
. . .
Today's logical excursion through the Daily Cal editorial leads us to:
You don't need a bunch of advisers though to see that the right thing to do is give part of the revenue of the property sales back to the University Village students. Another option to consider is to use the proceeds to rebuild the decaying apartments and give students more housing options. Either way, since the money was generated from land that used to house Village residents, it's only right that the money is given back to those that truly need it the most.Huh... you don't need to a bunch of advisers to see that THIS should be done. And here's another option! Wouldn't you, then, not need a bunch of advisers to see that the other option is the wrong thing to do? Or is it the same option?
Also note the apparent prohibition on transferring funds between institutional units.
. . .
Monday, August 06, 2007
California joined the list of states who have tried and failed to impose bans on the sale of violent video games to kids. Free speech and all that. Arnie seems unhappy, but the quote doesn't quite work:
Schwarzenegger, named as a defendant in the case, said he plans to appeal the case.Isn't that belief somewhat at odds with the legislative "ban that which we deem inappropriate" approach? I guess one could argue that parents collectively are determining which video games are appropriate for children collectively, but that just becomes "parents involved in determining which video games are appropriate for other folks' children."
"I signed this important measure to ensure that parents are involved in determining which video games are appropriate for their children," Schwarzenegger said in a written statement. "Many of these games are made for adults and choosing games that are appropriate for kids should be a decision made by their parents."
. . .
The PR guys are doing PR!
Another odd anti-tobacco result on AFCSME demanding the university drop its PR firm:
"It's offensive to the public, I believe that Dynes needs to sever this relationship and apologize to the public. (Hill & Knowlton) is known for making things seem not as bad as they are in regards to public health," said Lakesha Harrison, president of the local union.I would imagine a firm that is not known for making things seem not as bad as they are would be the kind of firm that goes out of business. Isn't that why PR firms exist?
. . .
Something doesn't seem right
As folks who've been following the local news (and it's gone national to some extent) know, journalist Chauncey Bailey was murdered in Oakland in what is looking like retaliation for stories he had done in the past and was working on covering Your Black Muslim Bakery.
Still, something feels a little bit wrong about seeing the Daily Cal, eternally terrified of ever giving negative coverage to anyone, cover the story. (Neil Henry's letter also strikes that same nerve) I can't really say what's wrong with it. Obviously, even cowardly journalists need to cover this news. Maybe it's because it doesn't quite seem like Cal news, and the Daily Cal reached a bit to include it in its coverage. If they did so out of some kind of journalistic solidarity, then it really is wrong.
. . .
An odd omission
The Daily Cal tells a funny joke (bolded by me):
The College Cost Reduction Act of 2007, recently passed by the House of Representatives, has been hailed by Rep. George Miller to "do more to help students and families pay for college than any federal effort since the 1944 GI Bill." Eighteen billion dollars will be used to cut down interest rates on federal loans, increase Pell grants and encourage students to become pursue jobs in the public sector. Best of all, it's at no extra cost to taxpayers.So, what makes it "best of all" is that it's not the taxpayers paying, it's the students... Which is, of course, the problem that is supposedly being solved here.
So where's the money coming from? The $18 billion is being diverted from funds used to currently subsidize commercial loan companies. Opponents to the bill say the loss of funds actually hurts students. Students who come from middle class families or do not meet the qualifications for federal financial aid rely on private loan companies to help pay for college tuition. With the funds removed, less lenders will be on the market, which means less options available to students and higher interest rates.
. . .
Eric Witkowski supports slavery and anti-black discrimination. Look!
Plus, Berkeley's population voted over 80 percent in favor of medical marijuana, and the mayor himself supports the cause! The Berkely police department even supports it, because it's what their constituents want! That's why it's legal in California! Now the federal government wants to say what is and what isn't in a state where the federal government is the farthest thing away from any local reality or need!That sounds like "States' Rights," which we all know is a code word for racism!
. . .
Mom strikes again
Betty Yang has another meandering, emotion-driven nonsense piece about OMGTOBACCOMONEY!!! or something. The way questions and answers are phrased often tells us a whole lot about the underlying beliefs that a writer has. These beliefs aren't meant to be argued, or even noticed, by the reader, but they form the foundation from which the writer thinks all things follow, and thus need not be argued.
Two weeks ago, a question was posed to the readers of the Daily Cal: "Can academic integrity be preserved while Big Bad Tobacco is involved?" The answer? A strong and fervent "NO!"Nuh uh! The answer is yes! A strong and fervent one, at that.
Remember that, in order to say "No" to that question, you have to accept that:
1) Faculty are greedy pigs with no morals who will produce any result if given the right money, and
2) There's nothing wrong with having our faculty dominated by such members, as long as you keep tobacco money out of their reach.
In other words, the way to achieve academic integrity is to prevent every possibility of violating it. Say goodbye to risky research. (Unless, of course, you're Betty "Mom" Yang, and are driven by an emotional obsession with one issue, in which case you won't notice the incongruity between how this issue is determined and all others)
But why would we hesitate to accept such a policy? A great number of prestigious research and teaching institutions across the nation and throughout the world have taken a stance to refuse tobacco industry money, either at the university or individual academic unit level, and it's about time the University of California joined them.If a great number of prestigious research and teaching institutions across the nation and throughout the world jumped off a cliff, would you? (This is my counter-Mom argument)
I would argue that those institutions are prestigious in spite of their anti-academic freedom policies, not because of them. Certainly those policies decrease their prestige in my eyes, and I doubt I'm the only one.
What about the great number of prestigious research and teaching institutions across the nation and throughout the world which have supported academic freedom? Do they not count? Not if you're Mom in the middle of an anti-smoking lecture.
The University of California is one of the top university systems in the world, with some of the best faculty and students; our funders should be held to the same high standards.Apparently our faculty aren't good enough to not be bought. If we don't hold our faculty to that standard, how can we say that we're holding funders to the same "high" standards?
For that matter, sometimes it's the people with the shittiest situations which need the most help from academia. It's the ultimate in ivory-towerism to demand that all those who come for assistance prostate themselves before your (often-idealistic) values before you deign to apply your abilities.
Our financial backers shouldn't be involved in the number one cause of preventable death in the United States, our backers shouldn't be responsible for the deaths of over four million people worldwide in the year 2000, and even more today.Maybe this is a silly question, but why not? If a bunch of folks want to subject their bodies to harm in exchange for a smoke, who are we to say that their freedom is meaningless, and so we won't help their enablers?
There's no such thing as a "preventable death," only a "postponable" one. How a person chooses to spend their time alive is none of our business, even if they shorten their own lives.
But even setting the death tolls aside, our funders certainly shouldn't be industries that have already been convicted of being corrupt organizations!I think the same silly question is appropriate here.
More appropriate is to call into question the use of the phrase "our funders." Is Mom taking tobacco money? If not, who is she to claim possession of these funders? Again, that background thought leaks through: Her problem is not that she is working for tobacco companies, it's that those who are feel like they're too close to her. She stretches in order to secure some of that guilt so that she can declare that, for some reason, she should have a say. It's academic freedom, stupid. These arguments are arguments why she and each of us shouldn't take tobacco money (which we may each find to be more or less convincing). None of them are arguments why a policy should be in place prohibiting folks from doing so.
Just last fall, in August 2006, a federal court found Big Bad Tobacco guilty of using external research programs (sound familiar?) to "undermine independent research... to generate industry favorable results, and to suppress adverse research results," in violation of the Federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. What we want to prevent from happening at the University of California research institutions has already happened elsewhere; shouldn't we take a lesson from history and fight the problem at the source?Good question. Let's excise all those corrupt faculty members who were complicit. And those corrupt faculty members who might be complicit in the future (we know we have them, or else there's be no need for this policy). Wrong source? My bad.
Besides increasing profits through partnership, the tobacco companies in funding UC scientific research seek to undermine the research and peer review process and create public confusion. Just imagine the corrupt deals, the faulty research results and skewed science for the sake of better profit on a product that kills, all tainting the esteemed UC name.Imagine it. Feels pretty bad, doesn't it? Therefore, let's write our policy based on our emotional responses to potential results.
This is something that some folks refer to as "the price of freedom." People will do things you aren't happy about when they have freedom. If you prevent them from doing so, they simply don't have freedom. That's why I refer to the policy-creation approach embraced by Mom as "anti-freedom," and why I have such a strong distaste for the tobacconazis. They blindly ride their emotional high to the result they want, without the slightest glance about as to what that means for the principles that actually matter. I don't buy for a second that these people give a crap about "academic integrity." They just don't like smoking. They'll pick up principles and throw them around in order to bring down their hated foe, but those principles mean nothing to folks like Mom. Any other principles hanging around, including those they embrace in different contexts, simply have to give way to the grand goal.
But I digress a bit. Just how much does that esteemed UC name deserve to be tainted if our faculty can, in fact, be bought? It seems that preventing their purchase is simply an effort to hide our own corruption and lack of ethics. I think UC deserves every smear that it receives this way.
Another point to note is that the policy wouldn't ban tobacco funding for research dealing with issues other than tobacco. The industry can fund all the tomato plant or C. elegans protein research they want—as long as there isn't any tobacco involved.That's thoughtful. I assume that anti-tobacco advocates are similarly prohibited from funding tobacco-related research, right? We wouldn't want to see any corruption occurring by the abomination of folks funding things that matter to them.
So what's stopping us? Why haven't we joined those other universities around the world saying "no" to tobacco industry funded tobacco research? Rejecting this specific funding is only a drop in the bucket when compared to the millions upon millions the UC receives from other sources. Our goal as an institution of higher learning is to preserve academic freedom and seek truth, as the UC seal exemplifies: "Fiat Lux," "Let there be light" indeed!It sounds like Mom answered her own question. And apparently she doesn't even notice.
We must prevent the University of California from falling prey to the influence and persuasion of Big Tobacco and other similar corrupt corporations, and hopefully at this September's Regents' meeting, decisions will be made to accomplish just that.We seem pretty pathetic, don't we? Are we so close to "falling prey"? I think Mom/Betty Yang's main point here is that the University of California is extremely fragile, and made up of corrupt, money-grubbing faculty. Maybe we don't deserve all that prestige.
. . .
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
So, the Office of Student Life has changed its name to "Campus Life and Leadership." Not the office of the same, either. It is now itself life and leadership on campus. Here's why.
. . .
You live in a state that respects the right to get high. But those damn feds keep coming and screwing things up. What do you do?
About 75 backers of the Berkeley club rallied at Tuesday's Berkeley City Council meeting, asking that the council declare Berkeley a sanctuary for medical marijuana dispensaries. The council agreed to hold a hearing on the issue.That's... that's... tears cannot express my elation at the great impact such a declaration will have.
. . .
. . .