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Nap Time!!!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Parody?

It's time to solve a mystery: Is this letter a parody? (it also appeared in the SF Examiner)
CHENEY'S SHENANIGANS

Editors, Daily Planet:

For over two hours on July 21, Vice President Cheney held presidential power while Bush underwent a medical procedure. What executive orders did Acting President Cheney sign that might have given additional powers to the vice president? What secret “findings” did Cheney sign that might have authorized extra-legal activities by covert agencies? What pardons might Cheney have signed to free his convicted aid, Lewis Libby, or perhaps to shield Cheney's accomplice, Donald Rumsfeld?

How many investigative reporters has your news organization assigned to look for answers?

Bruce Joffe

Piedmont
What do you think? I'm voting "not a parody," which is rather sad. (isn't the narrative that Cheney controls Bush? Why would he need to wait until he gets official power when he could just make Bush do these things?) Does anyone think it is a parody?

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 7/31/2007 04:16:00 PM #
Comments (2)
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Cheap!

Says Dave Lindorff:
What a cheap shot by columnist Becky O'Malley, backhandedly saying that my criticism of Rep. John Conyers for having 45 people who came to demand that he act on the impeachment bill for Dick Cheney that he has let sit in his committee for three months arrested was "not quite racism." Why does the white Becky mention the race word? Because the chair of the Judiciary Committee is black?
How odd that he would criticize O'Malley's backhanded statements without addressing the quite direct (forehanded?) accusation of racism that she was responding to (hint: That's also why she would "mention the race word"). Maybe Lindorff is just afraid of black people.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 7/31/2007 04:13:00 PM #
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Monday, July 30, 2007
More smoke inhalation

Only a small number of years after the stunning revelation that inhaling smoke is bad for you, the war against tobacco continues, with an op-ed from mom. Oh, I mean Betty Yang, a student who interns at "Berkeley's Tobacco Prevention Program," which advocates overpopulation and reducing genetic diversity in the ecosystem.
Many merchants are still allowing for simply providing an adequate birth date, but any middle or high schooler can do the math ahead of time and come fully prepared with a correct number.
Sadly, this isn't actually true. But we're not talking about the school system, so let's let that slide. (Did you know that math prepares you for science? Apparently someone didn't)
In a country where 435,000 deaths every year are due to tobacco-related causes—a number totaling more than the combined death of all homicides, suicides, drug and alcohol deaths, car accidents, AIDS deaths and fire deaths—efforts to stop the problem surfacing in our youth is crucial.
That's right. More tobacco-related deaths than drug deaths! Boy, my DARE officer must have been way off the mark when he suggested that tobacco was a drug.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 7/30/2007 07:52:00 PM #
Comments (1)
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Oh, right

So, some folks may (or may not) be wondering what should be done about the student group naming policy. I've already suggested that whining is not going to work, and neither will providing solutions that don't actually solve anything.

The administration isn't doing this to be a dick. It's really easy for us, as students, to impotently whine about how things aren't the way they should be, and insist that the solution is for everyone to pretend that things are that way. But the administration just doesn't care. The instinct to act like a bunch of spoiled brats trying to extort another favor from mommy and daddy doesn't work, because the administration isn't a person. It's an institution. Even if every administrator agrees that it's a bad policy, it just doesn't matter, because it's always someone else's job to make the call. Eventually it reaches someone who has the job of determining how to minimize costs to the university, and the answer is always "avoid risks."

So you can't convincingly argue that the possibility of folks mistaking the actions of a student group for those of the university is small, and thus the issue isn't a big deal. If we were appealing to a benevolent dictator, or an electorate, maybe such an approach would make sense, but we're appealing to an institution. No matter how good of a case you make, the balance for that guy minimizing costs merely changes from "risk or no risk" to "slightly less risk or no risk," and the answer remains the same.

Also remember that student groups don't have a basic "right of recognition." At the end of the day, the student groups are asking for recognition from the university, so the university can put whatever restrictions it wants on that recognition, no matter how stupid they may be. ("We own cursive and the word 'California,' bitches!")

That last sentence is partially incorrect, though. The university, as a government entity, can't just do whatever it wants. It's restricted by the rules that restrict governments. It can't, for instance, deny recognition of a group based on race.

The point I'm trying to make is this: Arguing that somehow the administration is uninformed and doesn't know anything, and only needs to be informed, is beyond pointless. That's not the problem. None of those complaints are news to them. The university is a government-run institution that has a role, restrictions, and priorities set for it. In arguing against this, you're really trying to change those priorities, and so if you're taking this up with the local administration, you're demanding change from those who don't have the power to change.

The "solution," then, is going to involve taking this up with the folks who do have that power. This puts us at the statewide level, and means we should be dealing with the Regents (and, potentially, the state legislature) on this and similar issues. It's for issues like this that we need (but don't have) a statewide student organization that is actually effective at demanding real change on behalf of the student body of the state. The UCSA is busy being the Democratic Party's bitch and pushing pointless ideological battles, and no one is going to organize a statewide movement around an issue as trivial as this. But an organization should exist to deal with these kinds of trivial issues all the time, instead of constantly fighting a futile battle over affirmative action, which, despite appearances, is neither a student problem, nor even an issue which students agree on.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 7/30/2007 07:13:00 PM #
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Too white

Instapundit points us to some reviews of a New York Times Magazine article about how a Santa Barbara linguist, Mary Bucholtz, concluded that "nerds" are those who act "hyperwhite" in the sense of rejecting black culture. (The "cool" white kids are those that act "black," apparently) Anyway, it's a painful read, so read it through the reviews. In particular, the Jerome J. Schmitt notes that:
In sum, I believe that this article and study reveal a lot more about the racial bigotry and monomania of the NY Times and swaths of the liberal arts and social sciences than it does about nerds.
The money quote from the article:
In declining to appropriate African-American youth culture, thereby "refusing to exercise the racial privilege upon which white youth cultures are founded," she writes, nerds may even be viewed as "traitors to whiteness."
Yeah. (insert sigh here)

Let me make a guess: You will never find a single nerd who is a nerd because she wants to engage in "rebellion against the cool white kids and their use of black culture." There is no political statement being made about how superior we nerds are because we refuse to exercise white privilege by adapting the culture of other races. We're superior because we're smarter than everyone else. Duh.

The Schmitt review points out another potential problem with the thesis:
The paragons of "nerdom" are those enrolled in -- or teaching -- advanced degree programs in computer science, engineering or the hard sciences. Since this population includes many, many Chinese, Japanese, Asian Indian and Koreans - a lot of whom are foreign born and educated - it will probably come as a surprise to most of them that they are acting "Hyperwhite".

Dr. Bucholtz could easily have ascertained the facts about the racial diversity of nerds by walking around Berkeley's campus and crossing the threshold of any of the "hard-science" departments. Instead, it appears that her "research" consisted of watching dated Hollywood movies that poke fun at socially-inept white nerds.
Perhaps one of the reasons why nerds seem "hyperwhite" (or rather, "antiblack," which would be the more sensible explanation of the thesis) is because blacks are stereotyped as failures in everything nerds are stereotyped as excelling in, and vice versa. When you discount blacks who emerge as successes in what would probably be described as "white culture" by these folks, saying they "aren't black enough," and you assert that any kind of non-academic prowess is "black," then yeah, I guess nerds are antiblack. Even the black ones. But since the complete absence of blacks wouldn't change anything about nerds and what role they play, it seems odd to tie the definition of nerds to blackness.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 7/30/2007 02:14:00 PM #
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Hahaha

Haha. HAHAHA. Rich!
Over in Berkeley, Rent Stabilization Board member Chris Kavanagh, who by law should be living in Berkeley, is fighting eviction from a cottage he rents in Oakland.

And here's a twist: Kavanagh is fighting his eviction with the help of a former vice chair of the Berkeley rent board, now an attorney for a nonprofit law firm that has a contract with the panel to represent tenants.

A contract, we might add, that Kavanagh voted for.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 7/30/2007 01:04:00 AM #
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Weak

Man, is this a weak editorial. The summary:

That naming policy is bad. We don't like it. We don't wanna follow it. Change it!

Compelling.
The main reasons behind the new rule stems from the fears of university officials, who are afraid that usage of such words implies university endorsement of student groups' and their activities.

Although the administrators' concerns are understandable, for the school to place such limits seems over the top. Student groups include "UC Berkeley" and "Cal" to identify which school they hail from, not to prove they have the approval of university officials.
Oh! That makes everything just fine and dandy for administrators, right? I mean, all that was needed was for someone to point that out. That meeting goes like this:

Administrator A: Hey, guys, did you see this Daily Cal editorial?

Administrator B: *slaps forhead* Wow! I totally thought that students were using "Cal" to trick people into thinking they were university-sponsored! This makes everything clearer!

Legal Analyst: Ah, well, if they're just trying to identify themselves, that changes everything, and makes all of my concerns irrelevant. After all, the fact that they're trying to identify themselves totally changes how people outside the system will view it, eliminates all of our liabilities, and provides us each with a free travel-sized tube of toothpaste.
Furthermore, the new rules do not accomplish the distinction that the school is trying to present to the public. Campus Life and Leadership is permitting students to use the word "Berkeley" in order to denote geographic location. However, to the average person reading a newspaper article on the activities of say, an environmental advocacy group comprised of students from UC Berkeley, the difference between a UC Berkeley student group and a Berkeley student group would not be comprehended immediately. The new policy only affects students, not the general public.
Indeed, no one goes beyond what can be "comprehended immediately." Certainly not lawyers. Besides, who cares about lawyers? They're not the general public. It's not like they represent a significant part of the liability threat. If the general public won't care, then obviously every individual that makes it up won't care either. In any case, whether lawsuits are filed is determined by majority rule of the general public.
Instead of imposing this over excessive policy, the university should consider other alternatives. Allow students to continue the use of the words Cal and UC Berkeley, but stress the point that the university does not condone any actions of student groups. For example, the university can require registered student groups to include a disclaimer on any pamphlets or distributed paper material that clearly states the organizations' actions do not represent the opinions of the university.
So, a few seconds ago, the Daily Cal was talking about the impact of news articles. Their "solution" will completely miss that issue.

If you don't have a reasonable solution, don't propose a stupid one. Please.
We're proud to be recognized as UC Berkeley students. Don't let a little worrying ruin that for us.
COMPELLING!!! No administrator will be able to read this without tears forming in her eyes as she realizes what a terrible mistake it was. Now, the only fear is that those administrators will all commit ritual suicide to atone.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 7/30/2007 12:50:00 AM #
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Why do we even need courts?

Ronald Cruz says stuff. Always a fun read.
The national fight to defend affirmative action is also the fight to save Brown. BAMN's federal lawsuit against Ward Connerly's anti-affirmative action constitutional amendment in Michigan, Proposal 2, is a new opportunity in this fight. A national victory in this case can reverse anti-affirmative action ballot initiatives across the country, including California's Proposition 209, and undermine Seattle-Louisville ruling.
They'd better slow down and make sure there's a dead conservative on the Supreme Court, first, then. Somehow I doubt that the Supreme Court which supposedly hates Brown v. Board of Education, and ruled against some integration plans, would rule the way the BAMN folks want.
When we stand up and fight, no court or governmental authority is stronger than our movement.
Somehow, the old "the government is keeping us down" view doesn't seem nearly as meaningful when folks are making demands on the government-funded public education system. After all, the supposed great benefits from this movement are, by definition, limited to the strength of government authority.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 7/30/2007 12:37:00 AM #
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Sunday, July 29, 2007
Ooh, kinky

Here's a relatively unenlightening piece attempting to explain why folks care more about animal abuse than human abuse, with such compelling arguments as "animal abuse is a precursor to crimes against humans!" (After the precursor, however, when those actual crimes occur, we don't care, I guess)

The frontpage link, though, shows this image, depicting... uh... bestiality, I think.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 7/29/2007 07:35:00 PM #
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Saturday, July 28, 2007
Becky O'Malley shows more sense than college protestors

That's not a compliment.

Daily Planet editor Becky O'Malley responds to this piece by Jean Damu and Alona Clifton accusing white lefties of racism in their treatment of John Conyers after he told them to get lost when demanding a pointless attempt at impeachment. One of O'Malley's few accurate points:
Background: some people, with Cindy Sheehan and Medea Benjamin the big names out front, think that the main agenda for activists against the Iraq War is impeaching the responsible parties right now, from Bush on down. On Saturday a group of such people went to the Washington office of John Conyers, chair of the House judiciary committee, to press their point of view, and when he declined to agree with them instantaneously, saying he didn't have the votes, they announced that they wouldn't leave his office until he complied with their demands.

This was all planned in advance—anyone can track the planning on the Internet, on the Daily Kos site among others. And surprise, surprise, when their plans were carried out, the sitters-in were arrested. Now they, or some of their friends, are whining about it.

You know what? It's called civil disobedience. Getting arrested, if you choose to disobey the law, is part of the program. We always told our daughters not to get arrested by accident, but getting arrested on purpose for a good cause is an honorable tactic in some circumstances. Whining after the fact ruins the whole point of the protest.
She then proceeds to demonstrate that she's a crazy conspiracy theorist who doesn't know anything about who inhabits the internet with:
One lamebrain web-site, supposedly pro-impeachment but probably hosted by the contemporary equivalent of Cointelpro or perhaps the Republican National Committee, shows his picture with a big X across his face, and calls for defeating him in the next election because the protesters were arrested in his office.
Yeah, the folks in power really need to go through the effort to create fake crazies on the internet.

The piece accusing the white leftites of racism is a bit odd, though.
"Conyers has betrayed the American people," bawled Global Exchange and Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin. "Conyers is no Martin Luther King," wailed former analyst of the CIA, Ray McGovern. Lefty journalist David Lindorf scribbled, "The shame of John Conyers." All three articles appeared on the July 24 version of the progressive website Commondreams. In addition, Cindy Sheehan, anti-war mom, had herself arrested sitting in at Conyers' office.

Give us a break!
It's funny because they used derogatory verbs! No, it's funny because of what follows:
What does impeaching George Bush have to do with ending the war in Iraq? And what gives white, anti-war activists the right to call into question the moral and humanistic motivations of John Conyers because he determined the political will did not exist within Congress to impeach the president?
What gives anyone that right? Well, America's freedom of speech, I guess, but the point I'm getting at is what difference does it make on this issue the race of the activists? If they were black activists, could they make these statements? (I'll put the Martin Luther King one aside, for now, and focus on calling someone's motivations into question) Then there's some stuff about how Conyers is a leading advocate for slavery reparations, and how these activists haven't done jack:
But yet, how ironic that these normally progressive whites feel perfectly comfortable labeling John Conyers "a betrayer of the American people."
Are there American people besides blacks? Apparently not. Oh, wait, yes there are:
Here is another irony. If white Americans had voted against George Bush by half the percentage points that Black Americans voted against George Bush, Dubya would have never gotten near the White House.
Aha! So, I guess since whites as a race voted a certain way, all whites are guilty of that vote, and any criticism of the consequences of that vote is "ironic," even if the criticizer voted a different way. Blacks, of course, have no responsibility for the actions of their fellow Americans, as we all know that blacks and whites don't ever communicate with each other.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 7/28/2007 04:47:00 PM #
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Friday, July 27, 2007
Huh

I thought the insurance company got screwed here, but a quick survey of folks I know seems to suggest I'm the only one.

Quick recap:

1) Dentist plays a prank on assistant by putting fake tusks in her mouth and taking a picture before finishing some kind tooth-replacement operation.

2) Assistant quits and sues dentist.

3) The insurance company refuses to cover the claim, saying that it wasn't a normal business activity.

4) The dentist and assistant settle, netting the assistant $250,000.

5) Dentist sues insurers, and a few appeals later, wins a million bucks from them:
In a sprightly 5-4 decision, Supreme Court Justice Mary Fairhurst wrote that Woo's practical joke was an integral, if odd, part of the assistant's dental surgery and "conceivably" should trigger the professional liability coverage of his policy.
I hope, at the very least, his premiums go up.

Does anyone else think the insurance company got screwed here?

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 7/27/2007 07:48:00 PM #
Comments (3)
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Thursday, July 26, 2007
Ouch

Smoke inhalation!
The youth-cop team visited 32 shops of all sizes across Berkeley, and six stores, or 18.75 percent, sold tobacco to an underage decoy.

Marcia Brown-Machen, the Tobacco Prevention Program director, said she believes in the effectiveness of the program.

"I think that (the sting) serves to really educate the merchants and really decrease the sale if they have been surveyed in the past," she said.

In a sting conducted last year, only two out of 34 stores sold tobacco to the youth decoy.
Haha. The Daily Cal should do things like this more often, such as when activists make ridiculous claims.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 7/26/2007 02:52:00 AM #
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Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Snort

Did you fill out the undergraduate survey?
Beyond probing students on diversity and their backgrounds, the questionnaire also asked about study habits, with 42 percent of respondents saying that being easily distracted and unable to concentrate was the most common impediment to their academic success.
I imagine asking folks if they're easily distracted among a sample of folks who agreed to be distracted might give you a somewhat high number.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 7/24/2007 02:50:00 PM #
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Monday, July 23, 2007
Bleh

The "Editor's blog" for the Daily Cal kinda-sorta addresses their unsigned op-ed policy. It doesn't actually respond to any of the criticism I raise, though. Instead, it just says "trust us!"

Couldn't the same points have been raised by the organization itself? Unanswered. Did the writer have any proof (or does it even make sense) that he was rejected from certain positions, but accepted for others, based on his immigration status? Unanswered.

There were a number of students in this organization who publicly protested, after all. How absolutely essential was their need for secrecy? Who is going to commit these hate crimes the writer is so afraid of?

The fact is that none of the writer's message that is "important and timely," or that provides a "perspective that is not always seen" was unique to this writer, and has been expressed by numerous people who do name themselves. Publishing an anonymous op-ed simply to increase the drama value ("Waaah! I lost my architect dream!!!" which was the only part of the op-ed which was actually specific to the writer, and could easily have been described by a named representative of RISE), especially when the anonymity itself would increase the drama value ("Waaah! If my name is known, I'll be in danger!!!"), seems like the sort of motive that the editors should've challenged, according to their precious Code of Ethics.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 7/23/2007 09:28:00 AM #
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Saturday, July 21, 2007
Well,

I'm convinced.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 7/21/2007 07:43:00 PM #
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Friday, July 20, 2007
SuperMalley

Everyone knows we can rely on Becky O'Malley to tell it like it is:
But among the official Iceland boosters at the council meeting, the ones in the blue tee shirts, there was nothing but goodwill and courtesy.
Huh.
Mayor Tom Bates, who also opposed landmarking, suggested that instead of saving the structure, a plaque commemorating Iceland's history should be installed. This caused the audience to erupt in laughter and catcalls.
Well, no matter. The important thing is to call both black councilmembers dogs for daring to agree with someone else:
The other councilmembers brought to mind the British press's unkind characterization of Tony Blair as "George Bush's poodle." They aren't exactly Tom Bates' poodles, of course, but they do seem to follow him around. Anderson acted more like Bates' rottweiler, launching an uncalled-for attack on Iceland supporters, with the genial Moore perhaps a cocker spaniel and Capitelli, who didn't say much but voted with Bates, something fast and nervous like a whippet.
The white guy is the smaller, weaker dog, of course.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 7/20/2007 02:49:00 PM #
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Compelling

Yay, theft, by Randy Shaw:
Attorney Rena Rickles, the East Bay version of San Francisco's Andrew Zacks, began the hearing by disparaging Iceland's historic status and the community efforts to preserve the building. Rickles introduced the theme that a land-marked Iceland would be a public nuisance, an unfounded idea subsequently reiterated almost verbatim by Councilmembers Anderson and Moore, as well as by Mayor Bates.

In response to Rickles, Save Berkeley Iceland representative Elizabeth Grassetti gave a stirring speech in which she declared that Iceland had been built by Berkeley, for Berkeley, and still had the ability to transform the city's vision of diversity "into reality, not just a dream." Grassetti noted that Iceland brought together rich and poor, and people of all races, and that "all were equal on the ice."
Which of those ideas do you think is more "unfounded"?
Olds captured the sentiment best, noting "many people are scared to see how many people really care about saving Iceland, and slapping these people down is not something I will do."
Am I to understand that Betty Olds voted this way because she was scared of the advocates? That seems to be what she's saying. I wish we had government folks who would not be terrified of the idea of disappointing the loudest residents.
Olds and Wozniak are often viewed as conservatives on the Council, yet they had a far keener understanding of community building than so-called progressives like Anderson and Moore. The latter two could find no joy in this process of community togetherness, and both argued the NIMBY line that because people living near Iceland wanted it torn down, the Council should vote to do so.
Wanting to tear it down was the NIMBY position? Ha! Reality is optional for these folks.
All in all, hope triumphed over fear...
Not according to Olds. She says that fear won.
Iceland also had the only girls hockey team in the area, and the number of girl skaters at the hearing exceeded that of boys, showing Iceland's value in enhancing gender equity in recreational facilities.
More girls! That's equity.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 7/20/2007 01:12:00 PM #
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Thursday, July 19, 2007
So...

The new, independent East Bay Express has seemed to me to be far less critical of major institutions than the corporate one. This isn't normally what the stereotypes dictate, but I can't help but note that while "neat boat" and "life in space?" may be interesting topics, they seem to be treading waters that are somewhat safe and boring, compared to some of the EBX's older work. Compare the still-corporate SF Weekly's stories during the same period on State Bar leniency, trans-gendering children, and how to "preserve" the environment when the climate is changing.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 7/19/2007 01:45:00 AM #
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Wow

I wasn't expecting to see Gordon Wozniak voting to keep Iceland a vacant dump.
Speaking for Save Berkeley Iceland, Caroline Winnett told the Planet after the meeting, that while, "the owners have the right to sell to whom they want, the assumption is that a developer will not find the [landmarked site] economically attractive."
Way to be subtle. Really, though, it was an awesome building. We swear that was the issue.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 7/19/2007 01:30:00 AM #
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The divine "we"

Linda Maio, on stealing property:
"We have a treasure in our community, it's true that it's been languishing but we've taken other wonderful places, recognized their value and we've stepped up to the plate to restore those," said Councilmember Linda Maio.
"Unfortunately," she added, "we decided we aren't going to step up to the plate on this one. That would require effort, money, and sacrifice. Instead, we'll just saddle the owner with our commitment deficit." It's about the most straightforward depiction of Berkeley progressivism we've seen for a while: Justice always requires a commitment... by others.

(Again, the Daily Cal leaves out some important context and just throws the number "$600,000" out there, without comparing it to the $6.5 million that the property is actually worth)

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 7/19/2007 01:12:00 AM #
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Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Sweet

Smash a Hummer!
Neighbor Lucille Liem, who owns a Prius hybrid, said that a common sentiment in the neighborhood is that large vehicles such as the Hummer are impractical and a strain on the Earth.

"The neighborhood in general is very concerned with the environment," said Liem, whose Prius gets about 48 miles a gallon compared with the Hummer's 14 miles a gallon. "It's more liberal leaning. It's ridiculous to be driving a Hummer."

Liem quickly added that she does not condone violence.
I just applaud when it's committed on my behalf. All the moral superiority with none of the guilt.

Update: I notice the message read "FOR THE ENVIRON." So while they're all about criticizing folks for overusing limited resources (despite the somewhat vague location of those limits), they can't even budget a limited resource like "space to vandalize" when the limit is obvious and right in front of them.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 7/18/2007 05:51:00 PM #
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Ooh, ooh, I know this one!

An important question:
"Why would the University of California permit university researchers to accept money from a group of racketeers who intentionally misled the public about the dangers of their products?" Sharon Eubanks, a former Department of Justice lawyer who pursued a landmark lawsuit against the tobacco industry, asked regents.
I believe the answer to this is "Academic Freedom." A assume the discussion then ended there.

Oh, I guess not. Remember, for these people, the equation always is:

Freedom = Room for Error

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 7/18/2007 05:45:00 PM #
Comments (4)
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Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Yay

The City of Berkeley has once again seized property without compensation, because it lacks the balls to admit when it seizes property.

As a reminder to all other property owners: Whatever you do, don't make something of any value whatsoever to the community. If you do, the City may landmark it and you'll be stuck with the bill for eternity.

Update: By the way, some legal-types read this. Do the Iceland owners have any basis to argue that this constitutes a regulatory taking, and that they are thus entitled to compensation?

Update 2: It quickly occurred to me that the answer was probably "no," because the same people who pushed to render the space nearly useless are also offering a piss-poor bid for it. So I guess it still has some economic value. Genius.

Update 3: Tom Fletcher agrees. The first comment is comedy gold, though:
I'm not going to argue the merits of this particular issue as I don't know any more about it than the one-sided set of facts posted here, but I really love Berkeley, for better or worse. It has heart, and isn't afraid to do what it thinks is best, making values other than profit paramount.
It's a good thing there isn't more than one person in Berkeley. All people in Berkeley think so similarly that it's appropriate to refer to them collectively in their desires, fears, and values.
There are very few places anywhere in this world where that is the case. If Clif Bars wants to go somewhere else, that's fine.
If folks think differently, they aren't really part of Berkeley. They should just get run out of town. Oh, unless they own something useful. Then they have to stay, or give it away, first. Though, I guess, in the commenter's "defense," she admits she has no idea what she's talking about, so that might not be part of the message.
I don't need to exist in an echo chamber, but I'd appreciate a Boalt blog with Boalt's character, Boalt's spirit. One that would never, ever utter the words "good riddance, Berkeley."
Boalt's spirit: Best embodied by an absolute prohibition on certain speech.

While I'm at it, check out the third comment:
Berkeley really isn't to blame for the homeless problem. The city is in a damned-if-you-do -and- damned-if-you-don't position. So if Berkeley kicks out the homeless, everyone will decry how homeless people have the right to exist, yadda yadda. But if Berkeley does nothing (which is really the only option, because the city doesn't have the resources, nor should it be responsible for solving the Bay Area's homeless problem), then people decry how cruel it is to let people go homeless.
Which people are doing this decrying? Berkeley people? I guess here they aren't collective. But it's not like folks have no choice but to give in to decryers. I think blaming Berkeley is perfectly appropriate. Or at least blaming a significant subsection of its population.

Update 4: Woo! The comments keep getting better and better! (For those of you curious, I have a policy of not commenting on Nuts and Boalts. I don't remember why I have this policy.) The 10:50 comment asks:
But I'm a bit confused. What's wrong with preserving the ice rink? Are you (Tom) complaining about the slightly underhanded way they went about getting it?
Slightly?

Step 1: Make shitty offer
Step 2: Use government coercion (in violation of the law regulating that government coercion) to prohibit owner from accepting any other offer
Step 3: Profit!!!

There's not even a question mark step here.
I agree that the way the Save Icerink group handled this seems a bit haphazard, but what's wrong with maintaining a community recreation place, even if isn't as "profitable" as another venture, so long as people want it?
I think the part that's wrong here is that, even though these people want it, they don't actually want to make the sacrifice and pay for it (via their fund raising effort or through taxes for government purchase), and so are making someone who doesn't want it pay the bill.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 7/17/2007 07:34:00 PM #
Comments (8)
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Dlog

Stephen Chen, the Daily Cal's editor-in-chief, has started a blog to discuss some of the editing decisions the Daily Cal makes, I guess. It's a good move, though only if it really is willing to discuss the Daily Cal's difficult decisions, rather than just the easy ones. Here's an example.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 7/17/2007 05:53:00 PM #
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. . .
Melodramatic bullshit?

The Daily Cal says:
The Daily Californian does not publish unsigned letters or op-eds, unless the author would feel threatened if his or her identity was revealed.
It then publishes this unsigned op-ed. There's nothing here to suggest that the author would be threatened if his or her identity were revealed. It's not like the existence of illegal immigrants is a secret, and it's not like illegal immigrants can't openly declare their status to newspapers. Nor, for that matter, is this person's identity hidden in any meaningful way, apparently:
My dream is to become an architect once I complete one last class at UC Berkeley, but since January the three architecture firms that offered me a job could not hire me due to my circumstances. It is heartbreaking to know that all my dreams and hopes in the past five years, after all the research papers, finals, design projects and sleepless nights in Wurster Hall I will have to settle down for data entry and clerical tasks despite receiving an education from one of the best universities in the nation.
If we're to understand this dude's "circumstances" to be that she's an illegal immigrant, then it looks like the secret is out. I'm a little curious, though, for those of you who know more about immigrant law than I do: Does that quote make sense? Can an illegal immigrant not be able to work at an architecture firm but still be allowed to do data entry and clerical tasks? And did these firms really tell the dude "we can't hire you because you're an illegal immigrant," or is she just guessing, and we're to just trust in the nonexistent credibility of a nameless op-ed?

Since the piece seems to be on behalf of an organization, anyway, what point is there to it being anonymous? For now, I can't help but think that the Daily Cal let itself be duped (perhaps willingly) in order to boost the melodramatic value of this op-ed.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 7/17/2007 05:23:00 PM #
Comments (3)
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No! Freedom! Run!

Well, at least the majority was comfortable with someone doing something without government control.

Basically, some lamers sued the 49ers for their policy of patting down folks who show up to the game. They lost, because they had waived their right to privacy by buying the tickets.
Dissenting Justice Maria Rivera said the ruling dismissed privacy rights too casually and could be extended to allow grocery stores to pat down their customers, or allow football teams to strip-search their fans, as long as they had notice of the policy.
Um... yeah. That's correct. I'm not sure what a horrible fate it would be if that grocery store approach was allowed. I get the impression that, if Safeway picked up a pat-down policy, "Won'tPatYouDownWay" would suddenly see a boom in business. The football league issue is slightly different, though:
"The courts' role in protecting privacy rights should not be so readily abdicated, particularly where, as here, the private actor (the 49ers) has an effective monopoly," Rivera said. "If you are the only game in town, requiring your customers to either submit to a pat-down search or walk away does not present the kind of genuine choice upon which the majority's reasoning is premised."
Would the backlash be strong enough for a "Won't strip-search you" football league? And if not, is this an issue? Do we have the right to attend football games at all, much less without losing privacy?

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 7/17/2007 02:14:00 PM #
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Monday, July 16, 2007
War!

Yaman Salahi notes that the Office of Student Life, which student groups register at, have apparently become far more strict about student group naming rights. In the past, student groups could not name themselves something like "UC Berkeley Club for Doing Fun Stuff" because it would suggest UC approval, but they could call themselves something like "Berkeley Student Club for Doing Fun Stuff." Apparently the new regulations, according to some form letter, are:
Your proposed student group name could not be approved according to the Berkeley Campus Regulations and policy set forth by the Office of Marketing & Management of Trademarks (OMMT) at UC Berkeley.

The name "Berkeley" can be used in your student group name only if it is reference to geographic location, i.e., "at Berkeley" or "of Berkeley." You may not use the name "Berkeley" in any other way.

Additionally, the following names and corresponding variations may also not be used in your student group name: "Cal, at Cal, California, at California, UC Berkeley, and at UC Berkeley."
I don't really see how the University of California can claim any ownership whatsoever to use of the name "Berkeley" (or "California," for that matter). It's a city. And a dead philosopher. According to this, I couldn't start a group "Student Philosophers that Agree with Bishop Berkeley."

Current student groups are not being asked to change their name yet, but it may occur in the future. (I disagree that Berkeley College Republicans are in danger, here. They're Republicans at a college in Berkeley. Then again, Berkeley College might have an issue.)

Cal has been somewhat odd about this in the past. They were angry about "CalStuff," and then angry about CalStuff's cursive font, and then angry about CalStuff's picture of the Campanile ("We, UC, have all ownership of all pictures taken of the Campanile anywhere in the world by anyone," or some such). I'm inclined to change the name of this blog to "Beetle Beat at Cal" just to piss them off.

Anyway, Yaman has already contacted the incoming Senators, I'm told, but remember that Student Action still dominates, and Student Action has gone through great lengths to demonstrate that it's the university's bitch. Maybe they can distinguish themselves from their predecessors on this.

I'll get more information on this, if I can, but remember, the University is afraid of two things: Lost money, and bad PR.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 7/16/2007 12:17:00 AM #
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Friday, July 13, 2007
What a pathetic week it's been

For those of you who don't know who Michael Savage is... yay! Michael Savage is a conservative radio talk show host, but the really angry type. Anyway, people are complaining about him for some reason.
During a July 5 broadcast of "The Savage Nation," his nationally syndicated talk show, Savage said, "I would say let them fast till they starve to death ... because then we won't have a problem about giving them green cards because they're illegal aliens."
Some notes:

I, also, would let them fast till they starve to death. Or, to be more precise, I wouldn't take any responsibility for their decision not to eat. I think that my opinion is not particularly rare, either.

While I don't listen to him, my understanding is that this is fairly tame by his standards.
More than 30 protesters publicly denounced Savage and the on-air remarks outside San Jose City Hall on Thursday and said his comments should not be disregarded on the basis of constitutional free speech.
... Since when should any remarks be disregarded on the basis of constitutional free speech? Free speech wouldn't be much use if everyone disregarded it.
The group, which included San Jose State students who participated in the hunger strike and a variety of community activists, called on radio stations such as Clear Channel Radio's KNEW 910 AM in San Francisco to apologize for airing vile language and hate speech and cheered in support of the immigrant students who fasted.
Oh, that kind of "not disregard." (Note that the students who participated in the hunger strike are apparently cheering themselves.) I don't know... it seems that the standard of "vile language and hateful speech" would have to be quite low to include something like this, especially if we're talking about things that are supposed to be unacceptable to say.
Mark Silverman, an attorney with the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, said Savage's comments were as offensive as those of controversial radio host Don Imus, who was fired from CBS after making racist remarks about the Rutgers women's basketball team earlier this year.

"I think wishing the death of people is just beyond belief for someone who has access to 10 million listeners," said Silverman, a longtime immigrant rights advocate.
Wishing death upon hunger strikers is, again, quite common, because the context is that they're killing themselves. It's not advocating for the murder of folks. And there is, after all, a policy statement here, as compared to the "nappy-headed hos" comment. Is it "as offensive"? Who is allowed to wish death upon folks, by the way? Nobel Peace Prize winners?

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 7/13/2007 03:26:00 PM #
Comments (6)
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Another random opinion

In another student government decision pointed out by Eugene Volokh, there is some stuff that might be of interest to the ASUC's attorney, if he were competent. Some student government election got canceled because a student-funded publication did an overwhelming endorsement of one side. Notably, though, there were no rules preventing this kind of behavior, which differs significantly from the ASUC, which does have such rules, despite the ASUC Senate's cowardice in enforcing them.

The interesting part, however, is the discussion of the dismissal of suits against the student defendants. The plaintiffs sued everyone in sight, including student government dudes. Down near page 43, you can read:
Despite these facts, the plaintiffs insist that the Student Government Defendants were state actors because the Student Senate's existence and its power to regulate student organizations, including the College Voice, derive from the CUNY Bylaws and CSI Governance Plan. But, assuming that state law or regulations gave the Student Government Defendants the power to act as they did, these laws and regulations certainly did not require the Defendants to do so. As a result, the state authorization was insufficient to establish that the Student Government Defendants were state actors in the circumstances presented here.
This may be of significant interest to those who are worried about the ASUC's autonomy. It's a Second Circuit decision, so may not be directly applicable, but it's worth keeping in mind.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 7/13/2007 01:43:00 PM #
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Thursday, July 12, 2007
She looks so sad

Does Cindy Sheehan receive training in looking sad?

Folks here know that I hate Sheehan. I despise her. It's not something I do lightly, as despite my disagreements and contempt for most folks, I don't hate them. It isn't about her politics. It's the way she used her son and denied him his very existence as an independent human being. Those who are so quick to destroy any recognition of responsibility on the part of acting parties, like those who deny that anyone could possibly want to commit suicide simply because they lack the mental capacity to understand them, essentially declare us all to be automatons. This, conveniently enough, means that, as they're merely non-thinking reeds in the ocean of life, there is no reason to worry the slightest bit when denying folks freedom, since they don't have it in the first place. Folks saying something other than what they're supposed to say are crazy, and not really expressing themselves, so there's no need to give them "freedom."

This idea doesn't manifest itself so overtly, of course, but we see it every day in "I support freedom of X, but..." statements that folks make so casually. Freedom is restricted only to legitimate activities, after all, and while you have no right to tell people which legitimate activities to engage in, you have all the power in the world to define which activities are legitimate. And your puny mind, incapable of holding a multiplicity of lives at once, determines that legitimate activities are only the ones that you might consider sensible. And so freedom dies, or never really lived in the first place.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 7/12/2007 11:59:00 AM #
Comments (2)
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Unrelated

In a topic completely unrelated to efforts to sell Berkeley Iceland, folks are trying to landmark Berkeley Iceland. Let me stress that this has nothing to do with folks who just don't want to see Berkeley Iceland sold and repurposed, but can't buy it because they suck at getting money. Nothing at all.
But members of Save Berkeley Iceland, a community group formed to try to save the rink, said they believed the entire structure was worthy of landmark status because of its history and architecture.

"Berkeley Iceland is by far the most impressive building I've ever seen," said Priscilla Barton, who said she used to skate at the ice rink. "It's really a shame that if Berkeley Iceland is torn down or demolished. It's just a loss to Berkeley that you'll never recuperate."
The fact that this is Save Berkeley Iceland is complete coincidence, by the way. It really is the most impressive building ever to grace the Earth.

Despite the rhetoric of all those folks saying that those evil developers were trying to "sneak in" provisions in Prop 90 last November, it actually wasn't a ridiculous overreach to include property value reduction in the protection of property from government. Here we have a city government looking to render a person's property completely unusable without offering compensation. It's not "eminent domain" only because the city doesn't have the fortitude to actually buy the properties it wants to see used in a particular way.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 7/12/2007 11:51:00 AM #
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Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Speaking of which

Speaking of San Francisco values, what do the progressives who read The SFBG think about when they run out and watch a movie?
There is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying truck commercials. Enjoying truck commercials can even be a politically innocent act — it does not signify that you secretly lust after fossil fuels. Plus, there's a payoff to admitting that such pleasures can be had guilt free: you can enjoy watching Michael Bay's latest sci-fi actionfest, Transformers, on its own terms. If you're one of the people who helped the flick earn more than $100 million during its opening week, you may not need my help. For those still fighting the urge to cheer for shiny trucks, I offer a few arguments to persuade you.
Well, thanks, Annalee Newitz. My heart was torn. Oh, and keep in mind...
If you want to enjoy this flick without guilt, you will have to ignore the whole Middle East issue.
I'll try my best...

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 7/11/2007 08:51:00 PM #
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More priorities

Who do the people of San Francisco care more about? People or kittens? What a stupid question. Of course the answer is kittens:
Bay Area residents have donated money and support for the kitten, named Adam, and a region-wide call has gone out for prosecutors to throw the book at the girls, who could get up to three years in Juvenile Hall if they are found guilty. Before their arrest last week, a $10,000 reward had been offered for information leading to the prosecution of the culprits.

"I think it is disgusting that somebody could do that to an animal," said Shawna Shaffer, manager of the Papago Court apartments, who brought the singed kitten to the Animal Hospital of Cotati after Cesar and his friends carried it into her office. "In this area I've seen lot of things, but I've never seen anything like this. It made me want to cry."

It is a surreal situation for the mostly Latino residents of the Papago Apartments, who point out that there was no reward and not much concern around the Bay Area when a teenager was slain in the complex about a year ago, a suspected gang-related killing that has yet to be solved.

"People are angry and it was wrong, but it bothers me that they're doing so much for the cats and when a person gets killed they just let it pass," said Arturo Mendosa, 20, echoing what many others in the complex are saying. "It makes me angry that they're doing more for animals than for us."

Edgar Palominos, 14, said his brother was a good friend of the slain teen.

"If they really wanted to find the guy who killed him, they would have put up a reward like they did for the cat," he said.
But... but... kittens are so cute!!!

It's good to see The Chronicle, which pretty much single-handedly determines what is covered in San Francisco daily news, taking note of this set of priorities. Somebody's got to criticize those who make a big deal out of kittens but don't have much to say about dead folks.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 7/11/2007 08:41:00 PM #
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Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Another missed opportunity

The real comedy here would've been if they'd lynched "nigger." It turns out that the print version of this story is not available online, as far as I can tell. This is too bad, or maybe it's good, because we can watch the Chronicle editors try to tiptoe around it, not even deigning to call it the "N-word" outside of a quote. The print version is titled:
At public burial for racial slur, many cheer its symbolic end
And the subheader,
Black leaders say epithet must be expunged from comedy, music.
Which epithet? What racial slur? Aren't you going to do what the online version here does and go with the simpler, yet more descriptive,
NAACP Symbolically Burys N Word
The online version:
Hundreds of onlookers cheered Monday afternoon as the NAACP put to rest a long-standing expression of racism by holding a public burial for the N-word during its annual convention.
gets shifted in the print version to:
Hundreds of onlookers cheered Monday as the NAACP put to rest a long-standing expression of racism by holding a public burial for a racial epithet during its annual convention.
Aww, come on, print version. I'm holding my breath waiting to hear what word we're talking about!

Anyway, the thing that made me think it'd be more appropriate to hold a lynching was the line:
"Die N-word, and we don't want to see you 'round here no more."
Another modification:
The N-word has been used as a slur against blacks for more than a century.
to
The word has been used as a slur against blacks for more than a century.
Some more details from the print version:
The NAACP has been criticized with being out of touch with young African Americans, but Tiffany Tilley said the organization is moving in the right direction.
Who's Tiffany Tilley? This apparently rebuts the view that the NAACP is out of touch with young blacks...
"This is a great start," the 30-year-old Detroit resident said.
Hmm... Is 30 young?

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 7/10/2007 05:27:00 PM #
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Monday, July 09, 2007
Visit Spike!

It's still summer, but I've got a visit spike on my hands! Run for your lives! I have a guess for why, but does anyone else have any ideas?

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 7/09/2007 11:49:00 PM #
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Umm...

Let's see:
Sophomores Jerome Randle, 20, and James Patrick Christopher, 19, guards for the Bears, allegedly drove up next to two pedestrians on Channing Way between Telegraph Avenue and Bowditch Street, held out a silver object later identified as a cell phone and demanded money at 12:30 a.m. last Sunday, said UCPD Assistant Chief Mitch Celaya.

...

The two basketball players were arrested on suspicion of robbery, booked at the Berkeley Jail Facility, and later bailed out, Celaya said.

"What the individuals said is they were just scaring people. They were having fun and scaring people and didn't mean to rob anybody," Celaya said.

Randle and Christopher were interviewed and it was discovered this may not have been the first time they had engaged in similar activity, Celaya said.

"They alluded that they have done that a couple times, although we haven't found any other individuals that have reported being the objects of their games," he said.

Officials at the Alameda County District Attorney's office said no charges were filed against Randle and Christopher because of insufficient evidence.
Oh, well, if they're just scaring people, I guess it's fine. I didn't realize doing things like this was legal. Or if it's illegal, that a confession is not sufficient evidence.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 7/09/2007 03:28:00 PM #
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Those bigots. They're all the same.

The irony meter was broken. It's a piece about how unfair and bigoted it is for folks to blame "Islam" for terrorism done in the name of Islam. Most Muslims are nice guys and don't blow people up. It's just a tiny minority, and those who blame the authority they claim are just bigots. And bad things happen!
Such divisive rhetoric can lead to violence with real victims. Waqar Hasan of Texas, was murdered on Sept. 15, 2001. The Pakistani immigrant was killed by Mark Stroman, who was convicted of also murdering Vasudev Patel days later. Stroman admitted to authorities to attacking a third victim, a Bangladeshi, bragging, "I did what every American wanted to after Sept. 11 but didn't have the nerve."
Yeah, see, it's totally unfair to blame Islam for rare stuff done in the name of Islam, but blaming "divisive rhetoric" for rare events such as this one is perfectly appropriate. Perhaps Suhail Khan should reflect a bit about why it is that folks are so quick to blame Islam when he can't help but do exactly the same thing.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 7/09/2007 03:21:00 PM #
Comments (6)
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Uh oh!

Not one, but two pictures of black dudes on the front page for stories about them engaging in activities of dubious legality. Let's see some Daily Cal office occupation!

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 7/09/2007 03:20:00 PM #
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Saturday, July 07, 2007
Toothpaste returns

Update: It suddenly occurs to me that Oxendine may have named me because he thought I was anonymous, and that "revealing" my identity as a losing candidate would somehow shatter my credibility. In which case, not only did his ASUC source fuck him over, but he further demonstrates his own lack of credibility as someone who knows what he's talking about when he talks.


Butch Oxendine is teh angri3s. He insists he does real, effective leadership work for student governments. Quotes from comments:
Our national organization, ASGA, is changing how student governments operate, helping them grow and improve.
and
25 YEARS of SERVICE to nearly higher education institutions.... Our work changes people's lives for the better and we make a difference in tangible ways...
He then accuses me, by name, of
cliche comments from a frustrated losing candidate.
Now, a guy who just wrote those quotes above accusing someone of cliche comments is itself pretty funny. Since he's referring to me by name, we also know that ASUC folks, probably in Student Action, are actually talking to him about me, which is hilarious on many levels.

The idea that I'm a frustrated losing candidate is also pretty funny, because it not only illustrates his ignorance, it's illuminating for the folks who are talking to him. I wonder if Student Action actually believes that, or just left out the obvious. Perhaps he should check out my Voters Guide statements (PDF) and come to his own conclusions about how desperately I was trying to win. (Also, I didn't vote for me.)

Since he's the defensive type, I was sort of hoping he'd comment on this post with even more cliches, but he found this site by Googling his name, and I left it off. Maybe I'll add it.

Finally, getting into a "look what I accomplished" war with an old guy is sort of silly. But if he insists, I won't hesitate to claim significant credit for helping to head off SB51 last fall, the effort by Student Action to use $22,679 in student funds to pay itself off. If Butch wants to consider himself informed enough to comment on Cal affairs, he might investigate that by asking more folks than just Student Action tools. Speaking of being informed, I'll also claim credit for being the only news source which gives significant in-depth coverage of the ASUC. All this by being an "outsider 'gadfly,'" because the insiders, whose job includes keeping students informed, fail every single week.

But we've now discovered that Butch Oxendine, of the American Student Government Association (or ASGA), will try to belittle his critics in student governments without informing himself about the issues but merely listening to one power group. When he actually does all that "life-changing" consulting work, does he have the same narrow vision?

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 7/07/2007 01:14:00 PM #
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Friday, July 06, 2007
Prostate cancer does not occur more often in men, study says

Erin Allday
Friday, July 6, 2007

A recent study found that prostate cancer does not, in fact, have a higher incidence in men than in women, shattering this stereotype.

A study of 100 college students, half male and half female, found no significant difference in prostate cancer rates between sexes, proving that no such difference exists. It also proved that there's no such thing as prostate cancer.

Some criticized the study as not necessarily representative of people of all ages, but researcher Matthias Mehl said that, if there were important biological differences between men and women, they would have registered in the study.

Other results include the fact that no one in the country works full time, and that college education is accessible for all people.

(context)

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 7/06/2007 03:27:00 PM #
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Cavities!

Haha, toothpaste boy (for the purpose of Google, "toothpaste boy" is Butch Oxendine) is gone. I think I'll pull a BAMN and claim credit.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 7/06/2007 02:23:00 PM #
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Thursday, July 05, 2007
Unbelievable

In a continuation, the Chron is doubling down on its idiotic conclusion. Here's the only nod to the gaping hole in the study:
There are some potential drawbacks to the study, namely that because it used only university students, it might not apply perfectly to men and women of all age groups and education levels. But [Matthias Mehl] said if there were important biological differences between men and women's verbosity, they would have registered at least somewhat in the study.
Not if they don't impact folks until later, nor if we're talking about social differences between men and women. I'm astounded that the Chron could actually keep reporting this with a straight face (take a look at some of the idiotic anecdotal comments surrounding it), even going so far as to claim:
That dispels the popular myth that women talk way more than men.
What a bunch of dolts. This is front page material, too.

By the way, the reason I'm harping on this has nothing to do with the study or the result. The claim that the Chron wants to make may very well be true, and it wouldn't surprise me, though I can't say that I particularly care about average word counts among sexes. The problem is the contribution to scientific illiteracy. Studies and conclusions like this are part of the reason I never believe someone who claims "studies say X." When you draw a conclusion from a limited data set, you have to state your assumptions. Here, those assumptions would be something like:
Men and women talk about the same amount, if we assume men of all ages act like male college students, and women of all ages act like female college students.
Of course, if they wrote that, that conclusion would be laughed out of the water, which is exactly what should happen.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 7/05/2007 11:06:00 PM #
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Maybe it is a toothpaste

It looks like our beloved student government may be considering shelling out a thousand dollars a year to join the "American Student Government Association," run by a Butch Oxendine (noted for Googling purposes). Let's take a look at how stupid this organization seems to be, first glancing at their how can ASGA help public universities page.
YOU are a taxpayer and a constituent of your institution. YOU are the reason your institution exists, and it will be our pleasure to connect you with your peers, and to serve as a resource as you navigate the complex landscape that exists in public higher education.

Did you know that most state constitutions provide explicit direction to your elected representatives regarding the role of higher education? Did you know that as a public college or university, the financial documents and even the salaries of institutional employees are all public information? Are you aware that most public institutions are governed by boards of regents or trustees who are appointed by your governor?

These are just a few of the important realities that can shape your approach in setting a direction for your organization. By knowing the information available to you and accessing the resources you can tap into, you can become a collaborative partner in determining the focus of your college or university.
... Umm... is that what the AGSA will do? Point out the obvious? We're governed by a Board of Regents, eh? Sounds like an excellent value for thousands of dollars. Let's take a closer look at those member benefits.

Databases. An hour of consulting. Oooh, access to a password-protected site somewhere. Sounds exciting. What are some reasons to join?
ASGA will help you prove that Student Government actually DOES something at your school!
Well, I won't dispute the need, but so far they haven't said anything which remotely suggests they can help accomplish this goal.
ASGA will give you morale support.
Good to know. What I'm really curious about, though, is whether they can provide moral support.
You'll get member-only discounts on speakers, conferences, and more.
I point this one out just to make sure everyone is aware of what kind of organization this is. You can read about another such organization, which tries to sell real estate books, here.

Finally, an interesting detail that suggests that the ASGA approach isn't really suited for our student union is located on the dues page:
Your membership will include all officers, members, and advisors of your Student Government organization. All members, officers, and advisors will get their own passwords to access ASGA resources. There is no limit on the number of members in your group who may have access to ASGA. Auburn University, for example, has 100 SGA members, officers, and volunteers-- and all 100 have their own usernames and passwords to access ASGA resources.
Wow, 100! With their own usernames and passwords! Unheard of! No, the interesting thing here is that there are some 30,000 members of our Student Government association, since we're a union of sorts. The fact that they're trying to impress us with a hundred suggests that they aren't really suited to our kind of system.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 7/05/2007 09:25:00 PM #
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Take that, incorrect methodology

Apparently, dudes speak about the same amount as chicks. Or so some folks claim. But putting aside the broad conclusions about "men" and "women," let's take a look at the summary of methodology:
The study used audio clips from university students who agreed to be recorded for several days at a time between 1998 and 2004.
University students? Doesn't that mean the study only shows that dudes who are university students talk about the same as chicks who are university students? While we're "debunking" stereotypes about men and women, shouldn't we be testing them? What about older dudes? The "women talk more than men" stereotype always struck me as more of a mid-to-late life thing, when dudes were settled into careers.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 7/05/2007 01:10:00 PM #
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It's not a toothpaste

A pointless Facebook detail: Some Senator has approved the addition of one Butch Oxendine to the ASUC Senate Facebook group. A quick Google search suggests that Oxendine sells books on how to win student government elections, and runs or has a hand in some national student government organizations. Or something. If you like boring, formulaic student government, Oxendine is apparently your guy.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 7/05/2007 12:20:00 PM #
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Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Very compelling

For a dude with "no answers," Americ Azevedo sure seems to draw a lot of conclusions.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 7/03/2007 04:29:00 PM #
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Sunday, July 01, 2007
I wasn't expecting this!

Hrmmm.
Event organizers say skateboarders from up and down the West Coast will take to the streets for an impromptu ride along a downtown route that has yet to be disclosed.

But unlike the unscripted Critical Mass bike rides, the skateboarding event actually has a commercial sponsor behind it -- Emerica, an Orange County skateboard shoe company, which has been hyping the event on the Internet and in skateboard magazines.
Doesn't that make it... not impromptu?

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 7/01/2007 01:43:00 AM #
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