27.2.03

SEEKING EQUITABLE RELIEF. It occurs to me that I have been using proscribed words as far as new schoolbooks are concerned. Specifically, I have been posting, promiscuously, about a r****** involving America's Cup y*****. Worse, I have been a member of the Lake Geneva y**** club and a participant in numerous r******* myself. On the other hand I am a first-generation y********, some of my relatives find the concept of a Lake Geneva Y**** Club a bit much. So do I have a claim in equity? By dropping the y-word from schoolbooks, have the publishers oppressed me by not acknowledging my existence?
DEFIES PARODY. "We view mathematics as one area of knowledge constructed by humans in order to understand and learn about our world. We believe that major objectives of all education are to shatter the myths about how society is structured; to understand the effects of, and interconnections among racism, sexes, ageism, heterosexism, monopoly capitalism, imperialism, and other alienating, totalitarian institutional structures and attitudes; to develop the commitment to rebuild those structures and attitudes; and, to develop the personal and collective empowerment needed to engage that task." That's the mission of the Critical Mathematics Educators Group (via Joanne Jacobs.). I first have to invoke the Jargon Theorem: any title that includes "critical" and "educators" and "group" is likely to be wordnoise. I also have to ask these folks to find the sexism, let alone the alienation, or the classism, in "a function is quasiconcave if and only if it has convex superior sets."
SHUT UP AND DO WHAT YOU'RE TOLD. It's not only university administrators that don't take kindly to being criticized. There are some thin skins at the Michigan Education Association.
DOWNLOAD OR PERISH. Brian's Education Weblog welcomes the development.
DISMASTER. It's 4-0 Alinghi. The race started in 18-20 breeze, and Alinghi took and maintained a lead. On the second beat, New Zealand's mast broke. No ESPN coverage stateside. Based on what I saw them running during the postponement and this evening, match racing is not their principal audience's thing.
RULE 602 VIOLATION. A Tokyo-bound bullet train stopped short of the Okayama station account a sleeping engineer. The bullet trains are sufficiently automated that the engineer's responsibility is to acknowledge that the train is stopping and bring the train to a controlled stop. (Disregard references to "at the wheel" and to "apply the breaks." The controlled stop apparently involves a graduated release of the brakes. If the engineer neglects to hit the acknowledging button, the machinery continues a full-service brake application. On North American equipment, continuing that application for too long results in an emergency brake application.)

The engineer in question continued his run, accompanied by a Road Foreman of Engines. News reports Stateside mention an inquiry to determine whether or not the engineer violated any laws. Stateside, the 1986 version of the General Code of Operating Rules is clear: "Employes must not sleep while on duty. Employes who are in a reclined position with eyes closed will be considered in violation of this rule." More recently, the Federal Raiilroad Administration has implemented its own procedures. This engineer would not be allowed to complete his run, he would likely be immediately suspended from duty pending further hearings, and required to take a drug test.
EXPECTING DIFFERENT RESULTS? Veil of Ignorance reports an assault (battery?) at the University of Virginia. "Last night, [deleted], a student council president candidate at the University of Virginia was assaulted while going to her car parked near the Lawn. All evidence suggests the crime was motivated by hate. At a University that has historically struggled with issues of diversity and respect, these event represent an embarrassing and shocking regression what little progress we have made"

There will be an update providing the news as I have it, sometime during tonight's expected sailing. For now let me offer a simpler explanation: some people act like jerks. Would the news be somehow less newsworthy if it were simply a disagreement over a parking spot, or an old-fashioned mugging?

"I would be a hypocrite if I attempted to represent myself as a person deeply sensitive or thoughtful with regards to diversity at the University in the past. However, events like those of the past evening only underscore the incredible deficiency of any sort of dialogue on diversity here. It calls out sentiments of justice and responsibility that we often allow to lay unexpressed"

Oh it's so groovy now, that people are finally getting together .... Have you considered the possibility that the moral relativism and nonjudgementalism that accompanies diversity initiatives creates precisely the kind of climate in which people demonstrate their transgressiveness by acting like louts?

"More than anything, I think we need a framework to approach these problems as a community. Personally, I see the events of this week, and the history of the university as deeply demonstrative of the lack of solidarity and support among members of this community. Division, complacence, and ignorance are formidable enemies." If you're familiar with Rawls, perhaps you know how to do etymology. It is no accident that "division" and "diversity" begin in the same way. And how you can speak of "this community" in the face of offices, programs, and dorm floors expressly for protected-status communities amazes me.

"With this in mind, the actions of these few assailants in no way reflect the feelings or beliefs of the University as a whole. The University stands behind Daisy as a fellow student, a member, and a friend. We will not continue to tolerate an environment of complacence in our community." Isn't the UVA the place with the honor code? Is there no way to simply shun, or expel, or imprison, or steer toward a different career, the louts in your midst?

UPDATE: Newsday report on the battery here.
DIFFUSION. Berkeley (!) bake sale.
MEGALOPOLIS. Michael Jennings has a post about sports rivalries, different visions of football, and suburban sprawl. I hesitate to comment too much, and do not want to try Michael's patience with yet another transatlantic update fest. However: when it comes to defining megalopolises, "Manchester containing 2.5 million people and Liverpool 1.4 million. However, when if you look at their methodology, you would find that every town between Manchester and Liverpool is counted in one list or the other. That is, the whole area between the two cities is counted towards one or the other. If the two touch, then surely they should be counted as one agglomeration" is not unique. At 24 is Chicago (9.4 m) and at 219 is Milwaukee (1.7 m). I haven't looked at the algorithm to determine if the areas adjoin. By Michael's continuous development test (in the States, consider either congested expressways all the way, or traffic lights every mile or less on the local roads as an alternative) they do, and the people of Kenosha, Wisconsin, are politically with Milwaukee but commercially with Illinois. (You even find some Bear fans in Kenosha, and not a few Packer fans in Illinois. Man United? Give me the frozen tundra.)

A sidenote: on a trip from Liverpool to Manchester, I rode the train through Widnes and noticed some preserved streetcars (trams) near the station. Inquired, found out some information about the project, and learned that Widnes is the railway station where Paul Simon had a ticket for his destination and wrote a song about it.
MISAPPROPRIATING STATE PROPERTY? The latest list of programs from the Faculty Development people is a "Faculty Diversity Workshop for Department Chairs." It's not about choosing maple, oak, or knotty pine.

"The purpose of this workshop is for academic department chairs to share climate issues, discuss communication techniques, and engage in a dialog that promotes awareness and understanding of the needs of a diverse faculty body." Ever notice those compound nouns of the form "x+issues?" Filler. At least one of the words isn't working. Notice also the "share" and the "dialog" and the "awareness." Who is bringing the bong? I bet that the needs of Republicans in any of the humanities departments or of people who lack patience with endless meetings never come up.

"Along with academic department chairs, Provost Legg and a small group of faculty will also participate in the workshop." Oh, so the departments are supposed to lend furniture for the provost and a few friends to have an eight-hour bull session. On a Thursday, during spring break. More evidence that some people lack a life: isn't that a good time to catch up on some reading?

"The workshop will include discussions, video presentations, exercises, and small group activities, and will be led by a nationally recognized diversity expert." Oh goody, Gulag 101. Will participants be graded on how well they play with others, or if they run with scissors? Will there be extra credit for constructive self-criticism? For ratting out counter-revolutionaries?

"This workshop is the first step in developing long-range plans and programs for the recruitment and retention of diverse faculty at NIU."

As. If. We. Haven't. Been. Doing. This. For. Years. Already. What was that definition of insanity?

"Sponsored by Office of the Provost and Pepsi Cola General Bottlers, Inc."

That means Pepsi, who paid the University a large sum of money for the exclusive right to sell pop, gets naming opportunities for such things. What makes this last sentence particularly galling is a session called "Survivor NIU" on the first Friday after classes resume. Subtitle: Doing More With Less: How Are You Surviving? Less well, whenever I read of expense-preference behavior from the central administration.

26.2.03

ZING!
FOURTH TURNING ALERT: "But it is not too early to judge that the September 11th event has created an historic discontinuity in the international order that may well turn out to be of the magnitude of the French and Russian Revolutions or the First and Second World Wars. The long-term strategies and relationships of the world's greatest nations, which only recently seemed timeless, suddenly have become dysfunctional," writes Tony Blankley. (Via Power Line.)
HOW OTHERS SEE US. Diablogger is less than impressed with his encounter with four University of Florida professors at dinner: "Folks, these educated idiots are teaching at our universities. They are living off the public coffers while spewing their ignorant hatred at the very people who pay their salaries, and in the case of this professor--at the very people who made not only his job but his freedom possible. They are more dangerous than any impotent neo-Nazi skinhead desperately seeking something to believe in. They are aristocrats undergirding a fascism of the 'educated', a despotism of the experts. They want a world in which you and I have no political power because we don't speak a certain language, don't posses a certain vocabulary, don't have an advanced degree or don't subscribe to a certain 'logic,' which is nothing less than a camouflaged tyranny that would render us free on paper and slaves in practice." Instapundit, who linked the story, notes that these are the colleagues who give professors a bad name. Quite. And the story allows me to develop this earlier post about the role of students in the academy, and reinforce my assessment of where all philosopher-kingdoms must go. The development, however, is relatively simple: many university administrators are dismayed with their retention rates ... many matriculate, not so many graduate (in some cases, less than half, and if you break down the population by sex or ancestry you see radioactive decay of your diversity efforts.) I am not aware, however, of any research into the effect of "inclusive" policies that imply the silencing of differing points of view on retention.
IN A NUTSHELL. Critical Mass discovers that a radical feminist and a Christian fundamentalist worked together to destroy the Harvard snow-cock. Andrea Dworkin, meet Church Lady. Michael Moore, meet Mullah Omar.
BOSUN, PREPARE THE YARDARM. Attack Iraq and expect the America's Cup to be disrupted. Poison-pen letters have been sent to the U.S., U.K., and Australian embassies in Wellington. (Via American Mind.)
DIFFUSION. Power Line illustrates the bake sale story.
RECOMMENDED READING. I've never read Three Musketeers; Mark Kleiman makes a case for doing so.
N OVER X. More heavy winds in the Hauraki Gulf. The forecast for Friday is winds 13-18 out of the northeast (that's the warm direction) and there will be racing Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Coverage Thursday evening Illinois time, after the theory exam.
THANK YOU. Welcome, explorers of Professor Drezner's link list.
CUSTOMER FEEDBACK? Apparently that concept is not part of the policy at Reed College. More later ....
WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION? Bush Rejects Saddam Debate, Offers Chili Cookoff. This looks good, but the tomato and vinegar take the edge off.
VAST RIGHT WING CONSPIRACIES? Betsy's Page links to the latest "Nation at Risk" update, this time covered by the Washington Times. A Hoover Institution study, funded by San Francisco's Koret Foundation, covered by the Washington Times, that specifically finds fault with the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, might well be research grinding pre-selected axes. None of which exonerates the teacher unions, by the way. The most recent infomercial from Sandra Feldman, president of the AFT, advocates health insurance programs for uninsured workers instead of tax cuts for the rich. That's erroneous thinking: the point of tax cuts is to stimulate economic growth. The untested hypothesis is whether the lower rates bring in tax revenues. Whether some of those revenues ought to be spent on health insurance programs is a separate issue. And if you're looking for a dissertation topic, consider whether or not the failures of the common schools to teach students is affecting the supply of physicians. (That's not as easy as it looks: meddling by lawyers, legislatures, and HMOs also affects the return on a medical degree, incorporating some of the same incentives that keep native U.S. students out of graduate programs.)
GETTING THE RULES RIGHT. "'When I opened the Internet cafe, my friends thought I was crazy,' said {Kabul internet cafe owner Sabir] Latifa, 33. 'But it's been in business about two months now, and it has already paid for itself.'

'The government and [international aid organizations] won't make Afghans stand on their own feet,' he said. 'Businessmen will do it
/'"

Yes, in those parts of the country with a functioning civil society. (Via Betsy's Page.)
KUWAIT LIBERATION DAY observed for the twelfth time. Betsy's Page has more.

UPDATE: Several weblogs remind me that it's the tenth anniversary of the first attack on New York's World Trade Center. Is it no accident?
INSTITUTIONS EVOLVE TO REDUCE TRANSACTIONS COSTS although somewhat slowly in Minnesota.

25.2.03

DEFIES PARODY


How evil are you?
RESENTMENT AGAINST ACHIEVEMENT. Joanne Jacobs finds an Education Week story about the dysfunctional high school culture. The original research is by Cornell economist John Bishop. The crux: "Students who invest their time developing social networks are rewarded with more power in school, he said. They become role models and validate the importance of others in their circle.

The way to dispel such an atmosphere is to foster rigorous, demanding schools while avoiding a competitive environment, Mr. Bishop believes.
"

Is it avoiding the competitive environment or changing the nature of the competition? If the nature of the high school is that it's a nest of anti-intellectualism, isn't "grading on the curve" simply going to reinforce existing norms? Or perhaps we have a communications gap: is "grading on the curve" a reference to a straight grading scale, e.g. 92-100=A, 84-91.9=B, or is it a reference to a flexible marking system in which 10% of the class earns an A and 10% fails irrespective of the level of performance? Makes a big difference. Perhaps de-emphasizing sports and other nonacademic extracurricular activities, including student council, would help.
MIDTERM GRADES. Professor Drezner evaluates the Administration's foreign policy team, and the positions of some of the Democratic hopefuls.
FLYING IN MARGINAL CONDITIONS. Old Blind Dog provides insight into passenger-pilot dynamics on charter and private aircraft, and experience with the capability of a King Air to fly in icy conditions.
EMULATING THE COMPETITION. Michael Jennings notes that railroads often attempt to attract traffic by making their trains look like, well, not trains. "Sometimes, when private firms without much experience in railways take over railway companies, they decide that the way to revitalise the business is to try to pretend that the passenger is not travelling by train at all. In particular, they often conclude that since more people travel by plane than by train, the best way to increase the number of people travelling by train is to make the experience more like air travel. This generally fails to take into account that the reason people fly is because that is the only way to travel long distances quickly, and not because they love the service." That's his take on Virgin Trains's venture into British passenger service. But it's not limited to Virgin (also an air carrier.) The first streamliners emulated the latest airliners, the Penn Central Metroliners had the whole assigned-seat-boarding-pass ritual, Amtrak redecorated lounge cars with orange seats and purple carpeting halfway up the walls, and the Acela Express has latching overhead luggage storage bins. Jennings also finds an interesting blunder in the Virgin enroute magazine. I disagree, by the way, with his characterization of the enroute magazine as "neither particularly positive or negative." At one time, railroads provided dome cars, the better for the passenger to be able to see where he or she is. Enroute magazines, and the rifle-slit windows on the latest coaches, are a step backwards.

UPDATE: Michael Jennings has some further observations (this is beginning to look like the Comment and Reply section of the American Economic Review). He too, notes that modern train operators have (for the most part) forgotten to provide the opportunity to allow passengers to move around, find a card table, or buy a drink. Believe me, the pain is greater when you distinctly remember such things. I have no recollection of any dome cars on the Australian railroads, and only the Germans tried them in Europe. His gripe about Eurostar is instructive. Perhaps it depends on your perspective. There are no interline tickets from Amtrak to any other passenger service operator (suppose you're going by train from Kenosha, Wisconsin, to Brewster, New York, for example: you cannot buy a ticket at Kenosha for the entire journey, you have to change stations at Chicago (short walk) and again at New York City (subway ride), and buy yet another ticket in Grand Central Terminal.) And adult fares have begun at age 12 on US railroads for as long as I can recall. Thus, Eurostar's practices would not come as much of an annoyance to me, on the other hand if I had grown up taking interline ticketing for granted I would be annoyed.) The comment by Eurostar's corporate flack deserves only one response: look what annoyance your policies cause. People remember such things.

FURTHER UPDATE(Now this is beginning to look like a parody of Comment and Reply. The Superintendent is considering a Suggestion Box.) Michael Jennings notes in his further update that some British trains do have club cars, of a sort. I think he and I are in agreement that connecting carriers that don't sell interline tickets are doing something wrong. I would offer the following as well. Some of the British train stations have decent pubs trackside. I would particularly commend Reading's, with a view of Track (er, platform) 4, the express track for the Great Western service from Paddington to Everywhere West. Buy a pint (or several) of Great Western Railway Stout and enjoy. Crewe is also worth a visit, they serve Guinness, and I spent a pleasant part of a spring break evening (warmer spring break trip than Florida, I discovered on return) with a pint and a view of the North Western action before continuing to Manchester.
MIND THE GAP London Underground Weblog provides tales of commuter adventure in the Tube. Links to other Underground sites provided. Mornington Crescent.
CALL TO ARMS. "If Miami administrators don't want their local scandal to become national news, they should start taking seriously the charge that free speech is compromised on their campus." That's Critical Mass, reporting on the latest case of progressive intolerance, this time at Miami University of Ohio. The SCSU Scholars provide additional coverage. Cincinnati Enquirer columnist Peter Bronson has been all over the progressive intolerance and the faculty power play. Professor Jonathan Strauss, chairman of the Department of French and Italian, defends his department, focusing on its procedures and reputation.
FOURTH TURNING ALERT. Where Worlds Collide has comments on the upcoming splits in the British right. "There's one group (who I'll call Daily Mail readers) who are nationalistic, deeply socially conservative and hostile to immigrants and minorities, and there are a second group who are socially liberal but believe strongly in free markets. It's increasingly difficult for a single party to appeal to both groups; any policy that appeals strongly to one will alienate the other." Yes. Absent the war effort in the United States, that describes the two major classes of voters the Republicans wish to attract. But wait, there's more: as I've argued here and alluded to here, the divisions among the populations of the rich countries, including but not limited to the divisions on the Right, are more important for the life of the world yet to come than the divisions between militant Islam and either a Christian or a secular-humanist enemy. Consider the essay by Regis (cram it down the croissant hatch) Debray: "Whence this paradox: the new world of President Bush, postmodern in its technology, seems premodern in its values. In its principles of action, America is two or three centuries behind 'old Europe.'" Precisely. Fast-rewind to the thinking of the Scottish Enlightenment. Those older values have their champions, and those champions well might be interpreting reality correctly.

There's a corollary in Where Worlds Collide's post on "decline." I don't know how the British perceive the 1950s, but that was the last time just about everything worked properly in the United States. (My parents' view on that era was that it may have been the best of times, and well-earned after Depression and War. Perhaps times that trying are a prerequisite before such an era can happen.)

24.2.03

ONE, AND THERE'S NOTHING FUNNY ABOUT IT. Nope, wrong question. "How many angry Harvard feminists does it take to knock down a snow phallus?" is the correct question, and Number 2 Pencil and Critical Mass provide the discussion group.
DEFIES PARODY 2+2=a social construction. No, that's not a lame attempt at a postmodernist joke. Read more by Joanne Jacobs, Number 2 Pencil, and Highered Intelligence. Does it really matter who figured out that the natural exponential function is its own derivative? It's a great gift to everybody who thinks it through. (As a corollary, that was Euler, in St. Petersburg. The visitor to St. Petersburg will still see Soviet-era murals of Mendeleyev's periodic table, also invented in St. Petersburg, on building walls. The Leningraders no doubt had great self-esteem to go with giardia and no sausage.)
INFAMY. Winds of Change has this and this on schoolteachers suggesting to pre-teens that their away-on-active-duty parents are doing something wrong. Using tax money to endorse what people ought to think, indeed. But is it any better to use tax money to endorse other ways of thinking?
I CAN SYMPATHIZE. Fear and Loathing has some good thoughts on why people ought not feel guilty because their ancestors were not perfect. Reading other posts, I discover a familiar problem. Why do we accumulate the kits, and build them? In the hopes that we might build something like this. (I have to retain one of those plane builders, there's that old 1:48 kit of the pre-announcement Stealth fighter I want to build and display, returning from a strike on an HO railroad somewhere ...)
BUCKEYES SUPPORT WOLVERINES. Discriminations reports that Ohio State University's administration would like to file an amicus supporting University of Michigan's position in the affirmative action case. The Ohio attorney general has blocked the filing, at least for now. Will the Michigan case get people thinking about whether there should be something like an Establishment Clause for education? The point of not establishing Churches was to get the government out of endorsing what people ought to believe. The point of not picking Winners is to keep the government from endorsing what people ought to buy. To what extent are the schools and colleges failing precisely because the government is active in endorsing what people ought to think?
N OVER X. Still no Race Four. A tropical cyclone with strong winds (by America's Cup Class or E Scow standards, Lasers rule in these conditions and they're at the low end for Windmills) means no racing until at least Thursday, Auckland time.
PEOPLE RESPOND TO INCENTIVES. Via Andrew Sullivan, early reports of congestion charges reducing gridlock in London.

23.2.03

NOTICE OF DISRUPTION OF SERVICE. Postings will be delayed account engineering work on Blogger.com. More during the expected sailboat race Tuesday afternoon (Auckland time, Monday evening in Illinois.)
NO SURPRISE TO A LAKE GENEVA SCOW SAILOR. Powerboaters can't reef, hand, or splice, let alone stay in the channel.
TRIVIUM AND QUADRIVIUM. Reader Rita Chapman notes, in reaction to my reaction to Joanne Jacobs, observes that "English does not correlate to good teaching -- I should think the surplus of bad English teachers would be proof enough of that.

Ed. classes are marginally useful
"

That's as observed by a high school teacher, and it complements my impressions of the collegiate major, as noted by National Association of Scholars research on the state of general education and the liberal arts.

Ms. Chapman also noted that teachers spend a lot of time on their students' coping problems, and found some teachable moments in the Paul Graham nerds essay. There's a new Jonathan Rauch essay on a related topic, introversion, that Joanne Jacobs has twinned with Graham's essay. It's an interesting bit of writing, perhaps a bit over the top (the author of Kindly Inquisitors making the case that introverts are an oppressed minority?) but worth reading. I can't be too hard on a man who notes, "We tend to think before talking, whereas extroverts tend to think by talking, which is why their meetings never last less than six hours." As they say, read the whole thing.
SIXTIES, REDUX? From ESPN via Betsy's Page comes word of a privileged member of society who has just discovered how others live. "For some time now, the inequalities that are embedded into the American system have bothered me. As they are becoming progressively worse and it is clear that the government's priorities are not on bettering the quality of life for all of its people, but rather on expanding its own power, I cannot, in good conscience, salute the flag," explains Manhattanville College three-guard Toni Smith. Fans at Manhattanville's Division III opponents, including the Merchant Marine Academy, have not been impressed with her act. The college president, Richard A. Berman, however, endorses his foul-prone player's actions, telling her "what she's doing is courageous and difficult." Right. Read Manhattanville's "about" statement: "At Manhattanville College, we offer a rigorous academic experience within a nurturing environment. Every one of our 1,400 undergraduate students is able to make his or her own personal contribution to our community, which is surprisingly diverse. With more than 40 areas of study and 50 campus clubs, our students discover who they are while they are here." In other words, radical chic is likely de riguer and transgressivity is the popular choice. Where is the small college president with the stones to say, "I will defend your right to make such statements, but you must take responsibility for how others react to them."

UPDATE: Tightly Wound is all over Ms.Smith.
N OVER X. Still no Race Four. "At 08:30 [Auckland time] Principal Race Officer Harold Bennett issued the following statement.

'I have consulted both Alinghi and Team New Zealand and their weather teams with regard to today’s weather forecast.

Both teams have agreed that the predictions show little or no chance of a racing breeze which concurs with the Race Committee's findings.

The Race Committee has therefore further postponed race 4 until tomorrow Tuesday 25th February, the next scheduled race day.'

For Tuesday race organisers may have just the opposite problem. The forecast is for Southeast winds of 23 knots, with gusts approaching 30 knots. Strong winds are expected on Wednesday and Thursday as well
."

Sailboat racing is like that, particularly during late summer. You can have that muggy high sitting on top of you with little or no wind and lose most of your racing days, then you have to hustle to get one race in on a blustery day, before the thunderstorm rolls in.

Is there any symbolism in the fact that there have been no races since the Kiwis went to their French tactician?

22.2.03

NOT DENNIS CONNER, BUT OUT IN FRONT? Stars and Stripes is a relatively new web log, appears to be the work of a student at the University of New Mexico. Isn't that where the affirmative action bake sale started?
THE RULES ARE NO GOOD IF THEY'RE NOT ENFORCED. Amish Tech Support has some sad predictions about the likely fallout of the recent deaths at nightclubs. He's right. There's nothing that happened in West Warwick or in Chicago that hasn't happened before. Did you notice that thick black smoke rolling out of The Station from the live tape? Burning foam, as Rhode Island officials have noted. That's Cocoanut Grove, all over again.
MORE HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL SCANDALS. Milwaukee King officially undefeated, a Chicago high school cheated. (What's with this interstate play in high schools? It makes sense for a Beloit or Freeport school, but Chicago to Milwaukee?)
LIFE AFTER COLLEGE IS THE REVENGE OF THE NERDS elaborated. (Via Betsy's Page out of Joanne Jacobs. [Did you absorb too much at the Spanish Riding Academy show?])
WHAT WOULD THAT VISITOR FROM SPACE THINK? Joanne Jacobs's weekly look at the state of the education enterprise.
MORE ROOF COLLAPSES. Fox News is now reporting that the roof of a toy store somewhere in suburban Washington, D.C. has collapsed. No word about injuries. The latest Baltimore Sun coverage of the damage to the Baltimore and Ohio railroad collection reports some antique wooden coaches destroyed.
FLYING IN MARGINAL CONDITIONS. This assessment continues to look accurate. Hat tip: reader David Karlson
BOOTING UP A STEAM LOCOMOTIVE. It isn't pretty. (Via Where Worlds Collide.)
FOURTH TURNING ALERT. "Peace kills," notes Atlantic Blog, referring readers to Bill Keller's column about war fears. Here's Keller's thesis: "Ah, the memories. The paragraphs above are constructed entirely from coverage of our national mood in the winter of 1991. Reading those old files made me wonder if maybe George Santayana was only half right: even those who remember history are condemned to repeat it.

A little time in the archives is a reminder that this war is in many respects a continuation of that war. We are calling to account a tyrant who has flouted the terms of his surrender. It's not just that we have been here before; technically, we never left
." I'm not familiar enough with Keynes's Economic Consequences of the Peace to draw THAT parallel. Keller, however, is onto something. The past 20 years have left a number of Big Issues unresolved. The stakes are higher this time. Keller does a careful job of laying out what those stakes are.
N OVER X. Race four was postponed again Saturday account no wind. The off-water antics are getting interesting. The Kiwis have been making much of loyalty owing to Russell Coutts and Brad Butterworth signing with the Swiss. One school went so far as to arrange the students in a field spelling out LOYALTY. (This is New Zealand. That might be one of those more-British-than-the-British schools one finds around the old Empire. No naked old ladies here, move along.) However, to get some more aggressive boat-handling, Hamish Pepper has been replaced by Bertrand Pacé, native of Dunkerque and veteran of four French efforts, as Kiwi tactician. In other news, a French-based team called K-Yachting has declared its intention to challenge for the next Cup, whenever that might be. The team includes AMERICA^3 and America True veteran Dawn Riley in the management.

Reports on race 4, should it happen in the next ten hours, will be delayed as I will be dispatching the Iowa and Dakota Division this afternoon.
IS SHE DELIBERATELY ANNOYING? Susan Estrich, west coast court intellectual for the Democrats, is making an appearance on a Fox News shout show. Does anyone else find her as annoying to listen to or to look at as I do? Why is it that I have recollections of Molly Yard every time I see Professor Estrich, or Senator Clinton on TV?

21.2.03

NO EVIDENCE OF TERRORISM. Big explosion and smoky fire at a Mobil refinery on Staten Island. Neighbors being advised to close their windows. Cause of the fire has yet to be determined. Yet more upward pressure on gasoline prices: add this loss of productive capacity to a recent fire at the BP Amoco refinery in Whiting, Indiana and the uncertainties about Venezuela and the Persian Gulf.
MORE RULES WRITTEN IN BLOOD. The Station nightclub fire has proven to be deadly. Again, there are lessons to be learned from previous fires. Boston's Cocoanut Grove became a death trap because of inflammable decorations and revolving doors (that's why most buildings with revolving doors have swinging doors as well: they may be locked from the outside, but they have panic bars on the inside.) Boston's Fire Department Chemist, an office that investigates the inflammability and toxicity of building materials, came into being after that fire.
ANOTHER NIGHTCLUB DISASTER. Breaking news of a fire in a nightclub in Warwick, Rhode Island, apparently some indoor fireworks ran away. No word of deaths yet, let us hope it stays that way. Meanwhile, news about the Chicago nightclub deaths continues to accumulate. The one door that wasn't locked opened inward, and the landing at the bottom of the steps was too small for the capacity of the stairs. You'd think Chicago, of all places, would know better. When I was quite small, my grandfather told me about the Iroquois Theater fire, which he recalled "when I was your age" and living in Chicago quite vividly. Read the linked story and weep.

UPDATE: It's bad. Latest news now reporting deaths in Rhode Island, local emergency services at maximum activation, and some casualties being airlifted to Mass. General in Boston.

FURTHER UPDATE: Where Worlds Collide has a sensible tip for concert-goers that generalizes thusly: know where you are, and identify three or four ways out should you get into trouble. He also has links to further coverage.
BITING THE HAND. The chickens are coming home to roost in Wisconsin, where the state government, much like Illinois's, spent money in the late 1990s as if the capital gains tax revenues would go on forever. Reality intrudes. The University of Wisconsin administrators must retrench. State Assembly speaker John Gard, a Republican from Peshtigo, compares and contrasts this year's retrenchment with last: "It is not going unnoticed that the UW approached Democrat cuts differently than Republican cuts." Note the narrow focus of the University's latest diversity plan. No GOP Safe Space here.

The students are raising objections to the University's proposed tuition increases. Meanwhile, Linda Weimer, the University of Wisconsin System's (note: the central administration, not to be confused with the University of Wisconsin in Madison or any other city) says, "We don't have too many friends in the Legislature, and I'd like to know why because we're not bad people doing bad things to the state." Ms. Weimer, just look at the agit-prop in the Alumni Association publications, and the predominance of court intellectuals for the left wing of the Democratic party among your faculty, and then apologize for that statement.

20.2.03

IDENTIFICATION PROBLEMS? Overspill quotes this report: "Despite being new to the country, black immigrants have significantly higher household incomes and a lower unemployment rate than US-born blacks, according to a new study likely to intensify debate about the nature of racial discrimination in the United States."
REAL WINTER ISN'T A HARDSHIP, this East Coast scribe learns.
ZING. New Sun King in Versailles, and check this.
FIGHT BACK. School kids understand the deterrence value of retaliation.
UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES. Gosh, if these are dangerous, wait till somebody sees what's in a command control throttle.
DZENCUJA Former captive nations reject fraternal French advice. More at InstaPundit.
PEOPLE RESPOND TO INCENTIVES. Transport Blog reports the London congestion charges appear to be working, without a major absorbing barrier developing at Vauxhall Bridge Road.

19.2.03

THEY'RE ALL GOING TO LAUGH AT YOU. Precisely.
N OVER X. Race four postponed account variable winds. Next race Saturday afternoon, Friday evening in Illinois.
ECONOMICS IS USEFUL. Hit and Run finds a column citing Michelle White's research into positional arms races with larger cars and trucks. There is room for further research here, possibly including meta-analysis of the National Research Council's work.
HISTORY LESSON. In World War II, the road to Berlin began in North Africa. The first soldiers to surrender to the U.S. Army were
a. Italian
b. Hungarian
c. Finnish
d. French
e. German.
BALTIMORE AND OHIO MUSEUM UPDATE. It's bad. The roof collapse occurred overnight, and no people were injured.
PEOPLE RESPOND TO INCENTIVES. Virginia Postrel on SUVs: "I do think it's ridiculous to bias federal policy in favor of SUVs and against station wagons and minivans. That's what the Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency (CAFE) standards for fuel efficiency do. But, rather than raise standards for SUVs, I'd prefer to dump CAFE regulation altogether. It's a ridiculous approach to the issue. If we must have a federal policy to reduce fuel consumption, it should take the form of a hefty gasoline tax, preferably offset by cuts in income or payroll taxes. A tax affects actual fuel use and treats all cars, of all years, equally." Quite. There is no reason to purchase a fuel-sipping car if gasoline is cheap by historical standards.
DIFFUSION. Let a thousand affirmative-action bake sales bloom. Charlie Sykes is endorsing the Michigan sale on-air as I type.
CONGESTION CHARGES. Knowledge Problem provides commentary, with references to press coverage.
TRIVIUM AND QUADRIVIUM. Transterrestrial Musings proposes that schoolteachers major in something other than "education." Joanne Jacobs observes that aspiring teachers in California do a major in "liberal studies," a name that conjures Sixties-vintage college for the aimless. Readers might want to evaluate her suggestion that all aspiring teachers major in English in light of what passes for the English major these days.
AFGHAN HISTORY. Looks like a startup. The first post of substance is instructive.
SOMEBODY READING ME? Kathy Kinsley sees value in immigration amnesties. "One other advantage that a pardon of illegal immigrants would have, unmentioned in the article, is that it would get them all on the tax rolls. We could use a larger tax base." Yes, provided you don't induce welfare migration. (Go at once to your library, this paper is now in print!) This Cathy Young essay also appears to be current with the research: "An amnesty for illegal immigrants would bring people out of the shadows in which terror cells can lurk and make it safe for people with useful information about possible terrorists to cooperate with law enforcement."
EVIDENCE OF ABSENCE. Power Line takes a dig at the New York Times injecting editorial comment into a news article. "The Times' article is reasonably fair, but it does repeat, as though it were factual, one of the liberals' fantasies about talk radio: the idea that conservatives succeed in radio in part because of their 'fire-and-brimstone manner,' while liberals tend to present ideas in 'too much complexity.' This stereotype seems to be universal among liberals who never actually listen to talk radio. Even Rush Limbaugh has anything but a 'fire and brimstone manner,' and to characterize hosts like Hugh Hewitt, Michael Medved, Oliver North and many others in such a way, or to suppose that they avoid 'complexity,' merely indicates that the Times reporter has never listened to them." Or to liberal talk radio hosts. "Too much complexity" might accurately describe policy-wonk writing or a good conversation with a serious academic of ANY stripe, but the Mike Malloys and Jim Hightowers and Bernie Wards and Nancy Skinners are anything but subtle. "Flying monkey right." "Moneyed interests." "Speak truth to power." Get the picture?
DIFFUSION. The Corner (and scroll up) reports the bake sale has surfaced at the University of Michigan. [Fitting. Michigan and UCLA tie for college band with the most limited repertoire.] It's making people think.

Hmmm ... suggest food items to sell at an Eve Ensler play??
FOURTH TURNING ALERT. The op-ed writers and political weblogs are identifying elements of several secular conflicts. Thomas Friedman has been getting a great deal of play today for this vision: "The new world system is also bipolar, but instead of being divided between East and West, it is divided between the World of Order and the World of Disorder. The World of Order is built on four pillars: the U.S., E.U.-Russia, India and China, along with all the smaller powers around them. The World of Disorder comprises failed states (such as Liberia), rogue states (Iraq and North Korea), messy states — states that are too big to fail but too messy to work (Pakistan, Colombia, Indonesia, many Arab and African states) — and finally the terrorist and mafia networks that feed off the World of Disorder." Peggy Noonan makes a similar observation, with a sharper edge: "The new world reality is a division, a sharp split, between the civilized world on one side and those who comprise, or refuse to thwart, the uncivilized world. The civilized world wants peace and means to stop those who would use weapons of mass destruction to kill civilian populations and terrorize the people of world. Many in the uncivilized world love peace also, but not all, and a key question is whether the peace lovers in their alliance encourage murderous violence by refusing the stop the uncivilized war-bringers in their midst, such as Saddam Hussein."

There are two themes in the commentary that bear watching. The first is the invocation of secular crises past. (source: Power Line.) I've been reading Reagan's War and have been struck by the parallels between the protests against short-range missiles and strategic defense and the recent protests against a war that has yet to start. (Those protests tended to be better-attended; they were also funded with Soviet money.) Tod Lindberg provides a brief summary here. But there continue to be invocations of the 1930s, with the stakes appearing to be higher and intimations of major changes in international institutions and alliances surfacing. John O'Sullivan sees it thus: "It is rather as if a stern headmaster with traditional views on discipline were to arrive at a disorderly school. He would be resisted by the school bullies, of course; but he would also be resented by many of the children who had got used to misbehaving occasionally and by those teachers with "progressive" views on how to keep order."

But that anticipates the more challenging second theme. The real clash of civilizations might not be between Developed Order and Primitive Disorder, notwithstanding the havoc that nineteen guys with modelers' knives can wreak. Rather, look for the clash within the Developed Order over the kind of world we want to live in. The fault lines between the Bush Administration and the French government, and those in the Anglosphere who agree with the French are the most obvious. But look further, and imagine: students who argue for popular sovereignty: "And we recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the problem of dictatorship. In Iran, where there is a strong and growing student movement for democratization, we hope to support change from within, rather than from abroad. What we cannot accept is doing nothing. We insist that suffering cannot end and that the war on terror cannot be won until the dictatorships responsible for that suffering and terrorism are replaced by democratic governments." Imagine further: pluralistic student politics whilst much of the professoriate remains as if in amber loyal to the pieties of the past. [There is something to be said for favoring button-down shirts and ties. Some kinds of dated are classic. But I digress.]

The rethinking of the kind of civilization we want to live in does not end in the campus, or in high geopolitics. Tuesday morning, Milwaukee radio host Charlie Sykes moderated a segment on the Chicago nightclub deaths in which host and callers recognized that nobody deserved to die and that the fight and flight had no racial overtones, but that perhaps some of those young people who left small children might better be at home at 2 in the morning rather than at an after-hours club.

17.2.03

KEEPING THEM MOVING. On the way home from the teacher training session, I used some of the back roads (in northern Illinois, there really is no such thing as a back road east of the Fox River.) The Wauconda police have a novel way of keeping traffic fluid. Where Illinois 59 crosses Illinois 176, there is the usual set of stoplights controlling traffic on and off of 59, which is elevated, into 176. Most of the traffic is bound north on 59 and west on 176 (from the office parks further south to the suburbs.) Just west of the 59 interchanges is a shopping complex, with access controlled by the usual mal-timed traffic lights. In order to keep the traffic fluid, a Wauconda police officer is stationed in a little-used portion of the center left turn lane on 176, and he uses the override feature in his cruiser to hold the signals controlling the southbound 59 ramps and the shopping center entrances at green. I noticed a Crystal Lake patrol car that may have been stationed to do the same thing at a rather nasty crossing further west. I suppose if you can't time the lights more precisely, a high-tech traffic cop will serve.
GATED CITIES? India West and Transport Blog have some information about the new commuter tax in London.
DEPRECIATED? Previous evidence of irregular surfaces on Columbia's left wing.
AMEN. Read and understand. And congratulate the referrers for hitting InstaPundit's link list.
COMPLEX ADAPTIVE SYSTEMS. Where do I sign? (Via Betsy's Page.)
VINTAGE STALIN. "The fear that Iraq's 700,000-strong regular army might refuse to fight invading American troops has prompted President Saddam to take drastic measures. Last week he reportedly deployed a ruthless militia of Iranian fighters to several key cities to crush any popular uprisings. The Mojahedin-e-Khalq - a violent Iranian opposition group based in Iraq - was sent to defend urban areas, including Baghdad, Kurdish newspapers reported. MEK fighters have also arrived at the border with Kuwait and Syria." Send the Astrakhan regiments to Leningrad, and the Estonians to Russia? Source via InstaPundit.
I HOPE HIS CLASSES ARE MORE COHERENT. University of Colorado professor Ira Chernus does not want war. "The Pentagon plans to win a lightning fast war in Iraq by raining Cruise missiles down on Baghdad, about 15 every hour, for 48 hours." Only fifteen? Without some additional work by the Stealth fighters? I seem to recall more ordnance deployed in the first few days of Desert Storm. But I digress. Let's grant the professor's pacifist bona fides and get to the money grafs.

Literally. "One piece of the puzzle, which may be crucial, has been largely overlooked. The OPEC countries sell their oil for dollars, as do most other countries. The oil trade is crucial for keeping up the value of the dollar. In November 2000, Iraq began selling its oil for euros, not dollars. As the value of the euro has climbed against the dollar, Iraq has reaped a substantial profit from its wise decision. Iran and North Korea, the other links in the so-called 'axis of evil,' are also moving toward trading in euros rather than dollars." You mean Iran, Iraq, and North Korea are buying goods from the United States, or have short positions in the dollar? I was under the impression that Iraq was buying goods priced in euros, from inter alia France and Germany, the so-called 'axis of weasels.' The appreciation of the euro against the dollar is not going to have any effect on the prices of goods priced in euros.

"But the Bush administration’s real fear, according to one theory, is that OPEC will switch to euros. Oil importing countries would have to dump dollars and acquire euros. That could dramatically raise the euro’s value against the dollar." Or not. Read and understand this: "Unemployment in the euro area remained stubbornly high, declining from 10.6 percent in December 1998 to 9.6 percent at the end of 1999. Evidence strengthened that trend productivity growth was accelerating in the United States, but there were few signs that much-needed structural reforms were being undertaken in Europe." At that time, the currency traders missed some much-needed structural reforms in the United States. I hope the professor didn't buy any dot.com stocks at 300 times earnings in the hopes that someone would pay 400 times earnings for it next year. You'll find a similar point here. Moreover, there is something called an exchange rate. That, professor, is how many euros your dollar will buy. There is a reciprocal. It matters not to the price of a barrel of oil whether a seller wants euros or dollars for it. That's a portfolio decision. But if the dollar price of a barrel of oil is lower than the euro price of a barrel of oil, either the seller accepting euros sells fewer barrels, or the exchange rate changes, or some combination of the both. You really ought not leave $100 (or E98) on the sidewalk for me to pick up.

The professor's dissertation advisors at Temple clearly did not teach him the distinction between theory and speculation, as we now see. "This theory sees the Bush administration making war to acquire Iraq’s oil fields, but not simply to give U.S. corporations more oil revenues. The main goal is to pump oil like crazy out of Iraq, flooding the world market. That would drive prices down, which might hurt corporate revenues in the short run. In the long run, though, it would break the power of OPEC, which depends on a tightly controlled oil flow to keep prices up." Where to begin? First, if the demand for oil is sufficiently elastic, a lower price for oil would increase the revenues of the oil companies. There is reason to believe the demand is that elastic: just envision all those wood stoves in Indonesia and steam locomotives in China for openers. Such interfuel substitutions likely would help to reduce the Asian Brown Cloud. Second, a lower price for oil is a lower cost for oil users. Ceteris paribus that benefits other kinds of corporate revenues. There is a great deal of economic research into the effects of the 1973 and 1979 oil price shocks on economic growth. Do you miss the end of the Carter administration that much, Professor Chernus? Third, there are easier ways than war to lower the price of oil. Consider ending the sanctions against Iraq, or developing the oil reserves off Florida, in Alaska, and under the Great Lakes. The latter options would put paid to what remains of OPEC without a shot fired.

"With the U.S. firmly in charge of the world oil economy, we could rest assured that the dollar would be the standard currency for the global oil trade. That would save the dollar from U.S. capitalism’s worst fear: the euro replacing the dollar as the world’s pre-eminent and most desirable currency." No. Put the mid-1970s U.S. monetary policy in place and John D. Rockefeller himself would not want to accept dollars for oil. Or fast-rewind to the Weimar Republic's central bank and imagine oil priced in hyperinflating euros. Sorry.

"How many Iraqis must die to save the dollar?" How many Iraqis will die because the Tikriti thugs continue to treat the country as their private seraglio?

Now we somehow wind up here: "But the story in the Times that explained it best seemed to have nothing to do with war at all. Arkansas wants to execute a convicted murderer, but he has become insane." That escapes being a non-sequitur at the expense of giving free association a bad name. Why am I even bothering to comment on it? Because further down we get, "Don’t we all live in the same depersonalized, dehumanized, corporatized, sanitized, mediatized, computerized world? The only difference is that some of us have been lucky enough to realize it. Occasionally, we remember that we are here to change it." Same old same old. We're benighted, he's anointed. Nope. I recognize vanguardism, or fascism, or a man on horseback, or horse-hockey, when I see it.

Professor Chernus is director of graduate studies and a program director. I hope his admission and qualification decisions are better thought-out.
GET A GOOD START AND SAIL ON THE LIFTED TACK. Back from the training session in time to see the upwind mark rounding and drag race to the finish. From what I am able to piece together from the coverage, New Zealand picked the wrong shift at the start and never quite caught up. A spinnaker-handling error immediately after the rounding left the Kiwis with too much real estate to make up. Alinghi with her Kiwi afterguard have a 3-0 edge in the best of nine. Next race is Thursday afternoon (Wednesday evening here). Coverage will be interrupted as the Vermeer Quartet are continuing their Beethoven cycle on Wednesday.
NOTICE OF DISRUPTION OF SERVICE. I'm attending a teacher-training session late this afternoon and will likely miss the first part of the America's Cup coverage.
PANHANDLE HOOK. The latest storm to graze DeKalb is creating havoc in the East. Commentary on the roadworthiness of SUVs is divided: some noting those that are spinning out, others noting those that are getting through. But there are other casualties. Critical Mass appears to have suffered a power failure, and there is truly horrible news from Baltimore: "Local TV news here in Baltimore is showing film of the partial collapse of the roof of the roundhouse here at the B&O Railroad Museum. At least two sections have come down and it's said that more of it is imminent danger of falling at any moment. So far, there are no reported injuries, but from the looks of things, some of the stored equipment must be heavily damaged," reports a member of the O trains discussion list. The Baltimore and Ohio collection is distinctive. North America's oldest common-carrier railroad is one of the few to recognize that its works might be of general interest and it preserved some of its rolling stock, and that of associated companies. This summer will mark the 175th anniversary of the Baltimore and Ohio, and there is a special event planned for the end of June. That might now turn into a preservation effort as well. More details as they become available.

UPDATE: The Flying Scotsman has been providing continuing coverage of the damage to the B&O Museum and the cleanup.
POP GOES THE PARISIAN. Meme, meme, tekel, upharsin.
NIGHTCLUB TRAGEDY. Twenty-one people died in Chicago overnight, the aftermath of a fight in an upstairs after-hours club that the security guards used Mace to break up.a fight between two girls. Reverend Jackson, just back from savaging Prime Minister Blair, appeared on CNN at 9 am (Central) proposing that security procedures at clubs be investigated. Perhaps the good Reverend will have the opportunity to learn that locking up the exits and using chemical weapons on your own people tend to be bad policy.
CONTINUING SHUTTLE COVERAGE at Old Blind Dog.
RETURNING DUCT TAPE. Kathryn Jean Lopez is displeased. Suggestion: find a Laser sailor, or a neighbor with a vacation home in Wisconsin. (For that matter, just about any dinghy sailor can never have enough duct tape.) Why is duct tape like the Force? It has a light side and a dark side, and it holds the Universe together.

16.2.03

FIRST HAVE NO FUN. Rick Brookhiser isn't happy with V-day, rather than St. Valentine's Day. (Scroll down for more in a similar vein.) Would you rather have less fun this way or this way? Happiness is Eve Ensler and Mullah Omar on Blind Date.

UPDATE: Critical Mass, no worse for the light snow, is unimpressed with Eve Ensler, who spent St. Valentine's Day, unsurprisingly, visiting the University of Michigan.
COMMON SENSE from E. J. Dionne?
RETHINKING SPECIAL RELATIONSHIPS. Here, for Richard Foster's thoughts about Saudi Arabia.
YOU CAN'T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS. Columnist Bill Tammeus revisits the theme that nations have permanent interests. Then, "The goal is to respect - and even celebrate - cultural differences but not to endorse governments and societies that violate the foundational values for which we stand." No. Some cultural traditions are not worth respecting. And sometimes, unfortunately, ignoring them and hoping they'll go away, or making them the object of jokes and hoping they'll be shamed into changing, isn't enough.
ISLAMIC REFORMATION? It's out there, if you know where to look.
STRETCH DC-9? Midwest Express buys 25 new Boeing 717s. Boeing and the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors are having some kind of contest for the longest-running series of transportation equipment (707, 720(?),727,747,737,757,767,777,7X7 and now 717 for Boeing, GP-7, GP-9, GP-18, GP-20, GP-35, GP-40, GP-38, GP-50 and the six-axle SD- series, now up to SD-90.) Who will run out of symbols first?
COMFORTABLE WITH HIS OWN PREJUDICES. A Des Moines schoolteacher is in trouble for circulating as humor a list of common-room commonplaces about Republicans. What makes the story newsworthy is the reaction of the president of the Gay and Lesbian Resource Center: "That's hate speech, and I'm outraged." That's consistent, at least. Isn't a central tenet of the Diversity Boondoogle that each of us has absorbed oppressive ways of thinking?
WHY NOT CALL THEM CHIPS? Dave Kopel proposes renaming "French fries" as "victory fries." That's a nonstarter, anybody remember "liberty cabbage" (prior to 1917 and after the armistice known as sauerkraut?) Why not just adopt the terminology of ye olde countrie, where you get fish and chips (as I've never purchased anything from a McDonald's there, I have no evidence whether or not the counter clerk asks, "want chips with that?") and where the thin-sliced, hard-fried potatoes are crisps.

UPDATES: Reader Josh Mercer directs my attention to this (there's even more in earlier posts.) Atlantic Blog notes that the cooking methods for fries differ from those for properly cooked chips. I suppose the term "soggy fries" could apply to either if improperly cooked. Atlantic Blog has also installed comments and posted house rules.

The Superintendent is unlikely to provide a suggestion box any time soon, this project is already rather time-intensive.
BLOCKING COALITIONS. There's more than one, notes John Quiggin.
HANDS BEHIND YOUR BACKS THERE. Why does Harvard's athletic department require diversity 'training' for scholarship athletes? Because it can. Critical Mass has it: "It's common for college athletes to be subjected to sensitivity training. And despite Norred's protests, the offended Harvard students read things right: the rationale is that jocks are less refined and intelligent than non-jocks; that as inhabitants of a muscular, competitive world they are less cerebral and more visceral, more likely to act than think, more likely to use force than reason, more apt to descend to interactive ugliness than to demonstrate tolerance and self-restraint." Perhaps it's the administrators who ought to confront their own prejudices.
PIGS SPROUTING WINGS? "Mr. Blix and Dr. El Baradei cannot be left to play games of hide-and-seek." That's the New York Times, noted by Andrew Sullivan.
DEFIES PARODY. The Saturday morning radio news included a bit from the West Coast. A "grief counselor" does not like the effect of continued terror alerts and placement of troops to protect landmarks. "It's not natural to live in a sense of constant fear and foreboding," according to Stephanie Demos of the Center for Living with Dying. "I think we're making individuals in this country vulnerable in the sense that we're wearing them down. And there will be very little resources left to call upon if something does happen." Where to begin? The Lord may be your shepherd, and He may make you to lie your naked body down in green pastures and study war no more. But the Lord helps those who help themselves. How many residents of the Bay Area have really thought through the fear and foreboding that their ancestors endured, in order that they might indulge themselves today? Have they contemplated crossing Donner Pass before the Pacific Railroad? Have they ever contemplated a bear in any setting other than on the Californian state flag, or as an object of oppression in zoo or circus? Do they view the redwood forest as anything other than a stroll in the park? Have they considered what a life expectancy of 40-50 years means ... as daily reality, not simply as the avoidable consequences of venereal disease?

Lest readers take my comments as more criticism for the coasts, this morning's radio news reported a woman in St. Charles, Illinois (no poverty pocket there) who objected to the Iraq campaign along these lines: there may be weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but there is no way for Saddam to deliver them here. Madam, what if you are wrong? Is that the kind of stress you wish to live with? What is your assessment of the downside risk? Danger properly prepared for must be respected but not feared. Danger, not prepared for, will be a greater test of your resources than any orange markers or scary newscrawls.
BUY IT FROM WISCONSIN. There are wineries in Wisconsin (and Iowa and Michigan) but Kathy Kinsley has provided these options.
TRIVIALIZING THE DISCOURSE. Highered Intelligence has more on the guerrilla theater deployed by the College Republicans at UCLA (motto: On! Wisconsin!). Somebody took issue with the bake sale thusly: "By reducing the complexity of this issue into dollars and cents and cookies they are working to stop discourse." I'm going to have to remember that one the next time there's a "pay equity" cookie sale nearby ... it demeans the research of numerous economists into labor force participation.

UPDATE: The pay equity bake sale will face the same questions in St. Cloud.

15.2.03

DOWNHILL RACERS. Classic match racing tonight. After a two hour plus postponement, the second race of the America's Cup began in the kinds of conditions I've often wished for but rarely seen ... steady but not overpowering winds. Alinghi got the better of the first beat, but New Zealand got around her downwind, staysail notwithstanding. That's the position the yachts maintained until the final run, when Alinghi, again flying her staysail, got the better of a gybing duel downwind and blanketed enough to get into the lead, and late enough that the Kiwis could not blanket back. Lots of stuff for the experts to consider here ... what advantage does the staysail confer, is the "hula" a new design breakthrough, is the Kiwi team just not experienced enough at match racing, local knowledge notwithstanding. Next race is Tuesday (Monday evening in the USA.)

14.2.03

BAIL, BAIL, BAIL. The America's Cup racing commenced at 6 pm local, not 7 pm, and it's already wild. There's 23 knots of breeze and some chop. Team New Zealand have been shipping water, and one of the crew has been attempting to scoop it out one pail at a time. Now a fitting near the outhaul has failed and New Zealand are essentially sailing on the jib. WHOA .... now the jib has carried away. Upwind you can sail on the jib alone, the main is primarily a trim tab, but it appears to have carried away when the boat nosed into a wave. Still no death rolls. And now the replacement jib has carried away. The postmortems are going to be interesting on this. New Zealand have had their boat taken in tow. Race isn't over until Alinghi finishes, no certain proposition in these conditions. Nice conservative spinnaker set, they'll probably throttle back and sail a proper but conservative course.

UPDATE: Read the rather bloodless official coverage here. Forgive me the impertinence, but the attraction of Laser sailing is in the capsizing and the moments of sheer terror. The ESPN coverage suggests that the America's Cup yachts are reaching their theoretical maximum performance. There's apparently still a bit of beta-testing left.
ON THE KIWIS. Coverage of the America's Cup begins at 2 pm Saturday Auckland time, 7 pm Friday night God's time. Commentary will be offered if the mood hits.
BY THEIR FRUITS SHALL YE KNOW THEM. Critical Mass discovers (apropos of a Valentine's Day Massacre) a veritable epidemic of off-court trash-talkin' at Seton Hall University (the website has a rather amusing random phrase generator, but I'm rambling.) An adjunct professor of communications -- communications! -- took some stick from her students, who discovered a site that complements the student grapevine. The professor read the comments and sent an angry e-mail to all the students. Critical Mass sees in the episode the folly of treating a university degree as somehow equivalent to shopping at Marshall Field: "The consumerist mentality of Swissler's students is palpable in their comments. They speak as readily of how much money they have wasted on the course as they do of how offensive she is to look at--as if she had an obligation to please them visually with her person, as if her clothing and hairstyle had anything to do with the quality of her instruction, as if her red moped and yellow thermos materially damaged students' abilities to learn. This is the rudeness of entitlement, the hostility of students who labor under the mistaken idea that education should entertain them, and that teachers are performers whose job it is to play to their audience." It does not come as much of a surprise that the chairman of communications -- communications! -- panders. (Got to keep the basketball team eligible, after all.) The SCSU Scholars link, approvingly, to Brian's Education Blog's take -- and while you're there, look for the Adam Smith reference in the comment section. I have yet to decide whether Brian's "But they can all write quite well. I started reading their abuse, and was gripped to the end" is some of that understated British humour.

Although education is a commodity, it is a mistake to think of students solely as consumers, they are also products. Here Seton Hall -- and this is true of many a university -- has neither served the students well as consumers or as products. It is a mistake to pretend that college teaching -- particularly in introductory courses for any discipline or core courses for any program -- is something that can be done well by cheap and contingent labor. But to tell the truth about that, and to charge a tuition accordingly, is a prospect that turns administrators' spines to jelly. On the lighter side, what's this about eating brats for breakfast? For supper with a couple of beers, yes, or charcoal-grilled before Packer games, but for breakfast?

13.2.03

PC ATROCITY IN RALEIGH. The President of Shaw College brooks no dissent. Annie, Betsy, Big Arm, Craig, Kim, report! (InstaPundit has the main story.)

UPDATE: Tightly Wound suggests future employment for Shaw's president. And isn't this mission statement ("Believing that true education is both cerebral and attitudinal, Shaw University incorporates values and ethics into its curriculum, intent on graduating students with sound character. For the goal of education is the development of character") precious?
FOURTH TURNING ALERT? Teen motherhood goes out of style.
D'OH. Treat health care like a commodity, urges Reason's Ronald Bailey. If you can trade it and you can price it ... The non-converted ought to go hence and read it, and the converted ought read it and say Amen.
SUNK ASSETS. Reason's Sara Rimensnyder wonders why New York City must have fines for cell-phone use. It's New York. The past summer, I took the Circle Line Around Manhattan cruise. The captain asked all passengers to turn off their cell phones. That previous April (bearing in mind that many people were still riding the Circle Line to mourn) a passenger boarded the cruise and started taking calls, before the boat cast off. At the third incoming call, another passenger took the offending instrument and deep-sixed it.
DISTANCE LEARNING. The editor from hell, all the time? But students who expect to cut class and download "lecture notes" will be in for a shock in the future. (Via Newmark's Door.)
SOME MUSIC TO INSPIRE YOU. I've sent this here. There's more.
HERITAGE TROLLEYS. Virginia Postrel reminds readers that her prize-winning article criticized the Dallas heritage trolley, which appears to operate independently of the new Dallas trolleys, otherwise known as light rail vehicles. There's another dimension for readers to consider: to the extent that transit authorities operate heritage trolleys, does that complement or crowd out volunteer efforts at railway preservation?
FOURTH TURNING ALERT. Charles Krauthammer: "Those are the stakes today. Before our eyes, in a flash, politics has gone cosmic. The question before us is very large and very simple: Can--and will--the civilized part of humanity disarm the barbarians who would use the ultimate knowledge for the ultimate destruction? Within months, we will have a good idea whether the answer is yes or no." See also this.
THE UNIVERSITY THAT REJECTED PRESIDENT BUSH. Critical Mass (who has moved house) is all over the usual: "In the name of tolerance and inclusion, it preaches ritual expulsion. In the name of fairness, it seeks to subject each member of the UT community to an intrusive ideological litmus test. Those who fail it must go: all in the name of civility and decency, of course." Nothing new there either. Many years ago, something similar happened at Northern Illinois University. The Vice President for Student Affairs reacted in this order: denounce first, then find out what happened.
UNWITTING ACCOMPLICE. Yes, there is a vast right wing conspiracy, reports Newmark's Door. And I have evidently been a long-time participant. Like Paul Weyrich, I have been a fan of the North Shore Line, although I did not get involved in efforts to save it (perhaps a bit much even for a precocious seven-year old.) And I did earn some college money at Allen-Bradley (the reason Rockwell moved headquarters to Milwaukee) as did my father and all my siblings. But, like Clayton Cramer, I have never received any grants from the Bradley Foundation, established with proceeds from Rockwell's acquisition of Allen-Bradley. Notwithstanding that, I will note that Rockwell products qualify for Get It From Wisconsin.

12.2.03

SUSPENDED WITHOUT TRIAL. Possible drumhead court-martial of Texas A&M's Ross Volunteer Company. Developing ....

UPDATE: The Ross Volunteers have been cleared, as Cut on the Bias and Misha, more colorfully, report. But notice the press coverage. The Corps commander wants to avoid "even the appearance of confrontation or effort to intimidate." Hmm, does A&M apply that standard to, say, a pack of fraternity kids with matching Starter jackets and reversed ball-caps?
POETRY FOR THE WAR. Today's Best of the Web. No doubt the literati will sniff, because the limericks scan, the stanzas tend to be symmetric, the punctuation is correct, and there is rhyming, including but not limited to couplets. No candidates for tenure here.
GET IT FROM WISCONSIN. Just heard a news item. An importer of cheeses has been getting nasty e-mails from the American street. Just tried to go to the site. It wasn't available. May I recommend an alternative? Or start here. (Disclaimer: some of my dairy farmer relatives stand to benefit. Prize bulls have been a Hopkins tradition since 1644.)
VOLKSWAGEN DOES IT AGAIN. Look who drives a Passat.
FOURTH TURNING ALERT. Synopses of current disputes between the US and the EU.
WELCOME INVASION. Disturbing arrival.
ANOTHER SOURCE OF COMPANY MAIL? Me, Version 2.0 is the reflections of a teacher in training. Report cards for parents? Scroll down (permalinks don't appear to have been cut in yet.) Discovered by Highered Intelligence.
SIGNALLING. Highered Intelligence reports, "if a student must choose between failing in Minnesota or succeeding in North Dakota, that choice is easy." I am not making this up. (That also suggests real estate will get cheaper in North Dakota.)
ANOTHER SOURCE OF COMPANY MAIL? Number Two Pencil, not to be confused with No. 2 Pencil, who reported the new site. Go check them both out.
SPONTANEOUS ORDER. Susan Lee posts some thoughts on libertarianism. "To push my argument further, libertarian thought, with its fluid cultural matrix, offers a better response to some of the knottiest problems of society. It is, especially when contrasted with the conservative cultural matrix, a postmodern attitude. In fact, it is precisely this postmodernism that enrages conservatives who are uncomfortable with a radical acceptance that, in turn, promotes change and unfamiliarity. Yet no matter how scary (or irritating), libertarian tolerance provides a more efficient mechanism in dealing with those places where economics, politics and culture clash so intimately." Up to a point. As John McGee noted, "Open markets are institutions in which powerful and appraising evolutionary forces are at work." That implies separating the productive from the unproductive ideas. That also implies a certain conservatism, in that long-established practices well might be efficient practices. Transgressiveness for its own sake is likely to be inefficient.
BRING THEM UP IN THE RIGHT WAY WHEN THEY ARE YOUNG. "Pacifist heaven. Liberal heaven. Five-year old heaven." Read the rest and learn where the police-blotter entries in the college newspaper developed their habits. (Via Misha.)
MUGGED BY REALITY. But Misha remains unimpressed.
TOTO, I DON'T THINK WE'RE IN KANSAS ANY MORE
BARNABY SNEERLY. It's not mean-spiritedness, it's being witty. Right. (via The Corner.) My sense is that Eric Alterman hasn't been listening to Limbaugh recently. James Lileks, natch, has the reality: "I don’t listen to Limbaugh - a bomb could go off in New York on Sunday morning and come Monday, he’d talk about the last golf tournament he was in."
ARE YOU SURE? "Actually, I have a feeling the demand for picture books about adult homosexual love is even smaller than the demand for picture books about adult heterosexual love. Kids who identify with Thomas the Tank Engine aren't interested in Matt and Sailor," notes Joanne Jacobs. You mean Duck didn't have the hots for City of Truro? And Henry didn't have tender envy?
THE ROAD TO WAR. David Broder's FAQs. (Via Vodka Pundit.)
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Right Wing News interviews Mark Steyn.
NOTICE OF DISRUPTION OF SERVICE. Describe a ten-story building with two elevators, neither of which is currently working. Do you see Zulauf Hall at Northern Illinois University? One elevator has been out of commission for going on three weeks. A new motor has been delivered (looks like it had to be built from scratch) but not yet installed. Meanwhile, the other elevator, which has the perverse habit of going from the ground floor down cellar even when nobody has requested that trip, conked out (from three weeks' overloading?) Some notices around the building helpfully provide a number for motorchair passengers and cardiac patients to call for assistance. Despite an eight degree rise in external temperatures in the last two hours, I suppose we should be grateful that there is not a breeches buoy reeved to the outside walls.

Real good day for the elevators to fail, too. Economics is interviewing a job candidate, and today is a school holiday for some districts, with swarms of potential freshmen checking the place out. Come for the academics, stay for the basketball. Perhaps one day we will have elevators worthy of our students and faculty.