30.11.04

CLANG, CLANG, CLANG GOES THE TROLLEY? Professor Althouse is not pleased with Madison, Wisconsin's plans to provide light rail and commuter train service to 52 Square Miles Surrounded By Reality.

One of her readers asks what seems like an obvious question.
I am fascinated that no one brings up the fact that the cities that our city fathers & mothers are emulating all have much larger populations, very different demographics, and much longer commute times than Madison. And it is population, demographics and commute times which determine the market for light rail or trolleys. If someone can show me a similarly sized city to Madison that has a successful light rail/trolley system I might be convinced; but to the best of my research there is none. Chicago has about 3 million people. Portland has 1.7 million people. San Diego has 1.25 million. And, having lived in both areas, I can tell you that the commute from Middleton to downtown Madison IS NOTHING like the commute from San Ysidro to downtown San Diego.
The problem, dear reader, is that Madison has a bad case of Kenosha envy.



It is sheer serendipity that the State Line got snow today.

The Kenosha trolley service is a downtown circulator, with several cars operating around a loop serving the Metra train station on the west and some museums and parks at the lake shore.

Furthermore, Kenosha's northern neighbor Racine is also considering trolleys.The Madison plan, however, does not sound like an operation intended to serve tourists, which later can be expanded, a la Memphis and possibly Kenosha, to serve shoppers and commuters. (Oh, and I wish newsies would learn something about railroads. What on earth is a diesel-electric hybrid train? Are we talking about your basic internal combustion engine spinning a generator that provides current to motors geared to the wheels, the way Hermann Lemp and Harold Hamilton envisioned it around 1920? Is it a train that draws power from trolley wires on city streets and then operates on the diesel-electric principle away from the trolley wire, also an old idea? Or is there some drive system in the manner of a Toyota Prius that I don't know about?)

Trolleys, however, are going to make a comeback where there is utility for them. If Indiana runs a service Hammond-Munster-Valparaiso-Lowell, it is replicating and then extending a Gary Railways service from before the Depression.

I will not be so bold as to suggest that residents of the new subdivisions of East Troy and Mukwonago become advocates for an extended interurban service.
IT'S OVER. At the beginning of today's Jeopardy, host Alex Trebek asked record money-winner Ken Jennings if he had quit his day job yet. His response: "No, but I might work less hours." Time for those scaled back hours to begin. The buzz in the entertainment business, for the past week, was that his streak would end at the end of November. It did. Sean at The American Mind has coverage and linkage. I sneaked away from the numerical analysis and watched the show. How could one first mistake Bastogne for Verdun (relieved by General Patton on December 26, Germans finally ejected in January) and then be so unaware of the 1920s as to not get the brimless hat that resembles a bell, which is the French translation of its name? Cloche, darn it. Theda Bara and all that. Apparently ABC's Nightline is in the loop, Mr. Jennings will be the story this evening.

Today's winner's strategy was interesting. She wagered enough to get a $1 lead in case Mr Jennings made a mistake, then correctly asked which company employs most of its white collar workers for four months. Hint: taxes are due April 15. And yes, H&R Block has offered to do Mr Jennings's taxes.
GET A GRIP. Pejman Yousefzadeh:
Let's put a silly myth to bed, shall we? Contrary to what some believe, American politics is not devolving into a state of fascism.
He continues,
None of this is to say that when it comes to fascism, "It Can't Happen Here." But those who make the claim that America is becoming a fascist state have an obligation to be responsible with the facts, lest others stop taking them seriously. Ironically enough, fascism has its best chance when those who line up to denounce it discredit themselves with one too many false alarms. The next time they sound the alarm, they may have reason to. But few people will be inclined to listen if those who make the claims have proven themselves to be untrustworthy demagogues in the past.
Quite so. John Podhoretz suggests that listeners consider the source, which is wrong on other things as well.
For you see, having passionately opposed the war like so many on the Left, Ackerman has a weirdly vested interest in the failure of American efforts to ensure that the future will be better than the past.

Otherwise, he and his willfully blind brethren will be proven history's fools — which has been the unhappy fate of many on Left who have spent their intellectual capital placing bets against the American creed.
It's a dig at a specific columnist, but the columnist is representative of the school of thought Mr Yousefzadeh is calling to account.
IS THIS REALLY THE HILL YOU WANT TO DIE ON? Lionel Shriver evaluates the British foxhunting ban, finds it wanting.
Self-evidently, class antagonism plays a part. Decrying fox hunting as a decadent diversion of the aristocracy, Labour is now in the saddle, and will hound the toffs in their poncy red outfits. The fact that latterly fox hunting bridges class barriers, bringing rural communities of varying incomes together, has failed to diminish this class bloodlust, since most ban advocates are proudly ignorant about the sport they would abolish, and have never been on a fox hunt.

Yet the deeper modern rift between the urban elite and the disempowered countryside is more salient. The urban professionals backing the ban have ideas about themselves, very precious ideas. They are civilized. They recycle. They believe that meat grows in cellophane packets. They abhor genetically modified foods and animal testing. They are good. Britain's country dwellers, who actually make things, grow things, raise things and, yes, kill things, are too busy to worry about being good.

Fox hunting turned an unpleasant necessity, the eradication of livestock predators, into a ritual--an excuse for a frolic on horseback, fresh air, fellowship and a warming drink. And therein lies the nugget. For the virtuous, killing animals grimly is OK, but killing animals and enjoying it amounts to sadism and is therefore unacceptable. What was legislated was not so much what rural sportsmen are allowed to do as what they are allowed to feel.

Alas, Europe in general is suffering under the tyranny of Goodness. The same impulse to legislate virtue drives the antismoking lobby. Hate-crime legislation levies additional jail time on criminals not for what they did, but why. And recycling is embraced as an intrinsically virtuous idea, whether or not its economics or even its environmental merits add up. Thus Goodness is not about doing good but affecting it, and about telling moral inferiors what they may or may not enjoy. In sum, the hunting ban is about vanity.
Amen.
FOURTH TURNING ALERT. The Armed Liberal thinks Michael Kinsley doth protest too much. Here is Mr. Kinsley sounding like a technocrat.
Especially humiliating are efforts by liberals to reposition the issues they care about as conservative and therefore, we hope, transform them into values. Welfare? It (like nearly everything else) is about families, of course. And affirmative action is about work and opportunity. Liberals' actual motivation — the instinct that a prosperous society ought to mitigate the unfairness of life to some reasonable extent — isn't considered a value. So let's keep that one among ourselves.

Why should anyone care, or care so much, whether the people running the government have good values? Shouldn't we prefer a bit of competence, if forced to choose? For example, suppose we had a government that was capable of assuring enough flu vaccine to go around, like the governments of every other developed country in the world. Wouldn't that be nice? And if we could have that kind of government, would anyone really mind if a few more of its leaders secretly enjoyed Janet Jackson's halftime show at the Super Bowl?
Does it have to be either-or? The first paragraph brings to mind "What you have done to the least among yourselves, you have done to Me." In Mr Kinsley's world, that is not a value. Strange times we live in. Armed Liberal is unimpressed.
Looking at America in the late 1950's and early 1960's it was fairly obvious that the gross injustices faced by African-Americans fell outside the boundaries of the 'norm' of American values as they had come to exist at that point in history.

Today, the left can't talk in terms of American values, because to significantly large portions of the left, those values are what must be rejected - wholesale - in order to establish a desirable society.

That's the deliberate result of a long effort to cut ourselves adrift from our own American history - re-imagined by those who are doing the cutting loose as an endlessly sordid, corrupt, and brutal chain of exploitation, misery, and waste.

I detest those who make the political into the psychological. But somehow I find myself unavoidably drawn to this rejection of our heritage as a political version of the adolescent's rejection of their parents. They are tragically uncool, embarrassing in almost every way, and - other than enjoying the material benefits of our relation to them - we didn't possibly see what we might get from them.
Indeed. "Hope to die before I get old." Be careful what you wish for, perpetually aggrieved oldsters.

But there is more to the argument than delivering us from evil. To be sure, there are at least two systems of belief at work. Former Governor Pete DuPont has a good summary.
What was determinative is that the two political parties view the American people very differently. The Republican Party has become the party of individualism, believing that free enterprise, market economies, and individual choices give people the best chance of a good life; that if ordinary Americans are left alone to make their own decisions, they will generally be good decisions, so they--not the government--should have the power to make them.

Conversely, the Democratic Party is the party of centralization, believing that a wise and benevolent, best-and-brightest, urban blue-county government can make better choices than those of rural, red-county Americans. This is not a new belief; it is the legacy of the 1930s (the New Deal) and the '60s (the Great Society). It was fully reflected in John Kerry's campaign: Taxes must rise and government must grow; trade must be regulated and limited; the 1935 Social Security system is perfect and nothing about it may be changed.

But America today is very different than in the '30s and '60s. Socialism is dying; collectivism is vanishing. Market economies have overtaken government-run ones around the globe. Life expectancy is increasing; inflation-adjusted median family income is up 24% in 20 years; 69% of American families own their own homes, and 52% own stocks, bonds or other financial instruments. Americans have expanded their vision and abilities and prospered; we have become an opportunity society where individualism is far more important than centralization. People want to be a part of that progress, to participate in the pursuit of happiness.
Furthermore, results count at least as much as intentions. Opinion Journal's Dan Henninger makes that point.
This country's social fabric might have been better integrated than it is today if more of the war on poverty had been left to voluntary associations, such as the Salvation Army, the bright beacon of the holiday season. Public politics is a necessity, but it's also a killer. Fought for 30 years, the war on poverty stalled, failed and forced passage of welfare reform to clean up the mess. President Bush's faith-based initiatives is an admirable recognition of voluntary power, but one wonders if it too will break under the weight of federal appropriations.

The Iraq war itself hasn't been immune. Many of its manifest problems are due to the complex bureaucracies (like the ones that were in charge of prewar intelligence) that created chokepoints rather than pathways to good decision-making in Iraq after we arrived there in March 2003.

This isn't intended as a simple rant against our fatso government, though we do damage to the targets of our good intentions if we refuse to recognize government's lumbering ineffectualities. The government can organize men and women to fight well, but it appears no longer able to organize the American people to support the fighters. Now we have this largely private support network that is reaching critical mass on the Web--without fanfare, with little official support. Sounds like a coalition of the willing.
Intentions are easier to evaluate than results. Consider this dig at an unenlightened Republican voter. Ken at Chicago Boyz offers a dissenting point of view.
RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS. Harvard Law's William Stuntz attends an evangelical church. He suggests that the churches and the universities continue (let us not forget that universities evolved from seminaries) to have much in common, and both are somewhat different from the rest of the world.
Churches and universities are the two twenty-first century American enterprises that care most about ideas, about language, and about understanding the world we live in, with all its beauty and ugliness. Nearly all older universities were founded as schools of theology: a telling fact. Another one is this: A large part of what goes on in those church buildings that dot the countryside is education -- people reading hard texts, and trying to sort out what they mean.

Another similarity is less obvious but no less important. Ours is an individualist culture; people rarely put their community's welfare ahead of their own. It isn't so rare in churches and universities. Churches are mostly run by volunteer labor (not to mention volunteered money): those who tend nurseries and teach Sunday School classes get nothing but a pat on the back for their labor. Not unlike the professors who staff important faculty committees. An economist friend once told me that economics departments are ungovernable, because economists understand the reward structure that drives universities: professors who do thankless institutional tasks competently must do more such tasks. Yet the trains run more or less on time -- maybe historians are running the economics departments -- because enough faculty attach enough importance to the welfare of their colleagues and students. Selfishness and exploitation are of course common too, in universities and churches as everywhere else. But one sees a good deal of day-to-day altruism, which is not common everywhere else.

And each side of this divide has something to teach the other. Evangelicals would benefit greatly from the love of argument that pervades universities. The "scandal of the evangelical mind" -- the title of a wonderful book by evangelical author and professor Mark Noll -- isn't that evangelicals aren't smart or don't love ideas. They are, and they do. No, the real scandal is the lack of tough, hard questioning to test those ideas. Christians believe in a God-Man who called himself (among other things) "the Truth." Truth-seeking, testing beliefs with tough-minded questions and arguments, is a deeply Christian enterprise. Evangelical churches should be swimming in it. Too few are.

For their part, universities would be better, richer places if they had an infusion of the humility that one finds in those churches. Too often, the world of top universities is defined by its arrogance: the style of argument is more "it's plainly true that" than "I wonder whether." We like to test our ideas, but once they've passed the relevant academic hurdles (the bar is lower than we like to think), we talk and act as though those ideas are not just right but obviously right -- only a fool or a bigot could think otherwise.
I think I see an internal contradiction here. Does a congregant come to Jesus by faith? How many court intellectuals come to the Welfare Economics Paradigm by the same route -- particularly specialists in disciplines who find the Croly Ghost conforms to their prejudices but whose secular rewards do not depend on testing those commonplaces.

The first paragraph also sheds light on a phenomenon Henry at Crooked Timber observes, namely a relative paucity of economics weblogs.
I suspect that one of the important causal factors is legitimation. Junior academics may be unwilling to get involved in blogging. Not only is it a time-suck, but it may seem faintly disreputable - senior scholars in many fields of the social sciences take a dim view of ‘popularizing.’ However if there is a well known senior scholar in a discipline who blogs, it’s much easier for junior people in that discipline to dip their toes in the water without worrying that it’ll hurt their tenure chances.
To some extent that's true, although to the extent that economists recognize scant incentives to write weblogs, they will continue to be "underrepresented" on line.

Tyler at Marginal Revolution has some thoughts on possible motives for Professor Becker and Judge Posner.
CELEBRATING BRETT FAVRE DAY. Star Ram receiver Isaac Bruce twice leaves the ball on the ground for a Packer defender to run in for a touchdown. Quarterback Favre throws three touchdown passes (38 straight games with a touchdown pass, a longer streak than Bart Starr.) Late in the game, the Packers lined up in the U-71 formation with the purpose of converting a fourth down and running out the clock. The blocking worked so well that Najeh Davenport stopped running with a Lambeau Leap. Packers win 45--17.
BEGGAR THY NEIGHBOR. The Canadian government is considering prohibitive tariffs on a number of goods, including a 100% tariff on the declared value of recreational boats. If memory serves, the largest M Scow fleet in the world is in Canada. But new M Scows come from Zenda, Wisconsin.
SO MUCH FOR PLAYING THAT RACE CARD. Charges say 4 were shot in back.
The criminal complaint charging Chia Soua Vang with six counts of first-degree intentional homicide asserts that he shot four victims in the back and all but one were unarmed during the slaughter on the gun deer season's second day.

Those facts and other evidence cited in the complaint filed late Monday conflict with Vang's statements that he began firing upon the hunting party in self-defense, after being told to leave their property near Exeland in Sawyer County.
It will be difficult for the Minneapolis latte liberal establishment to explain this away.
CARNIVAL CALL. This week's Carnival of the Capitalists visits Lachlan Gemmell.
TODAY'S RECOMMENDED READING. Milton Rosenberg is a much more active reader of the think-sites than I. His Monday links are particularly rich. Go and educate thyself.

29.11.04

SIXTY YEARS AGO. Sgt. Karlson reported boarding a LST on November 28, 1944, enroute LeHavre, then up the Seine to Rouen.
Immediately off to Saint-Saens to camp in cold muddy field for several days. Shared two man pup tent with Charlie Yesline.

KUDOS.

Good going, guys.
For the first time in modern history, Northern Illinois University’s football team has four candidates on the national College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-America ballot.

The quartet of Huskie student-athletes---senior quarterback Josh Haldi, senior cornerback Rob Lee, senior wide receiver Dan Sheldon, and senior offensive tackle Jake VerStraete---were named to the 2004 CoSIDA University Division District Five All-Academic football squad, regional coordinator Tom Lamonica of Illinois State University announced Thursday (November 11).
In other good news, some of the BCS conferences that had commitments in principle for their lower-division teams that somehow scraped together six wins have failed to deliver those teams.
The ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC did not produce enough qualified teams to fill out their preseason bowl tie-ins, freeing up those games for other eligible teams.

NIU (8-3) is one of six bowl-eligible MAC teams.

All four ESPN.com experts predict NIU will play in its first bowl since 1983. Ivan Maisel and Rece Davis both have the Huskies playing in the Silicon Valley Football Classic against Fresno St., while Pat Forde and Dave Revsine predict the Huskies will play Minnesota in the Motor City Bowl.
Road trip?
GETTING THERE WAS NOT HALF THE FUN. That's the message from Live from the Third Rail, riding the Northeast Corridor on the day before Thanksgiving. Getting back was not fun either.
1. The train back to D.C. was a "Holiday Special" from New Jersey Transit and thus went at a top speed of 79 mph as opposed to the 125 of which Amtrak trains are capable. This alone added 45 minutes to the three-hour trip, but that was scheduled.

2. The Metroliner ahead of us, already 20 minutes behind on departure from New York, broke down in Jersey but managed to pull into Newark Airport station, where everybody left. We took on all of their passengers, most of whom ended up standing. There was a Metroliner a few minutes behind us, but they didn't split up the train, leaving our creaky commuter train to take the entire burden.

3. No new passengers at Metropark or Trenton, whether they had tickets or not. Of course, the announcement came after some people had already boarded the train. We had to wait for them to get off.
In some ways this reminds me of The Pennsylvania Railroad's "Big Red Subway." During the Second World War, passengers on the Corridor might have to ride in a converted boxcar, and they might have to stand, but they got there.
TODAY'S IMMIGRATION PUZZLE. Can you be outrageous to make a point? Don at Cafe Hayek is.
According to the theory of many of those who fear immigration and population growth reduce wages, wages in Zimbabwe should rise, as should its people’s standard of living. According to those who fear that immigration and population growth damage the environment, the environment in Zimbabwe should become cleaner, safer, more sustainable, and more beautiful. According to those who fear that immigration and population growth put a too-heavy burden on government schools, roads, and other public goods, public goods in Zimbabwe should become models of efficient and uncongested use.
Erm, there still are laws of conservation in economics, and the factor price equalization theorem still holds. A counterexample can be a disproof, but as my dad asked, "Why compare yourself with the worst?"
IN QUEST OF VIEWPOINT DIVERSITY. Robert at Signifying Nothing links to a George Will column raising the by-now-standard recognition of leftist bias in the academy. Herewith America's most erudite Cub fan, who is also a defender of American Flyer against Lionel. (Yes, I can document these things but look it up yourself.)
Many campuses are intellectual versions of one-party nations -- except such nations usually have the merit, such as it is, of candor about their ideological monopolies. In contrast, American campuses have more insistently proclaimed their commitment to diversity as they have become more intellectually monochrome.
Mr Prather wonders if the biases of the academy had something to do with the rise of the conservative think-tanks that provide intellectual ammunition for the vast right wing conspiracy. Let me return to this.
Right Nation [details or compare prices] also offers a better treatment of the vast right wing conspiracy financed by five families than [What's the Matter With] Kansas [details or compare prices]. The money from the Kochs, Bradleys, Scaife, and the like has been helpful, but without ideas and resonance among the voters the return on that investment would be small indeed.
The "best and the brightest" had to be revealed for the poseurs they were, and it is true that some of the new commonplaces were reviled in the common rooms. On the other hand, that the universities lacked receptivity to such ideas is also true (I recall some hostility to Milton Friedman's approach to economics at Wisconsin, although that was not shared by all faculty or all graduate students.) Right Nation (pp. 72-73) presents another element: the mistreatment by the "best and the brightest" of some of their own.
The neocons hated what was happening to America's universities, the institutions that had lifted them out of the ghetto. How could the high priests of America's temples of reason stand idly by while students trashed university property? How could people who were supposed to care about intellectual standards agree to the [re -- ed.] introduction of quotas? Criticizing the war in Vietnam was all very well, but how could these overprivileged brats burn the American flag? How could they argue that America was always wrong and its critics always right?
Why only a partial reality check for the academy? Some disciplines are more grounded in reality than others. Physicists can pursue unified field theories without regard for laws of conservation in economics. Political scientists, economists, and sociologists cannot; and those disciplines are far less p.c.-positive than physics, let alone history, English, or the assorted area studies disciplines (want fries with that?)

(I really have to locate and post that "Costs of Correctness" essay. Here I go repeating points from it ... Stick around, Christmas is coming.)

The good news is that some of the less transgressive remnant in English recognizes that they have a problem. Critical Mass comments,
When the academic humanities are finally, definitively destroyed by the studied, self-important irrelevance of theorists' dogmatically inaccessible progressivist stance, no one will be able to complain that there were not cogent warnings of what was to come.
Excellent. Perhaps one of these days the Economics faculty will receive capstone paper drafts that look like proper papers.

SECOND SECTION. Evidently the universities have not suffered enough. Captain Ed notes that the expense-preference behavior goes on. At the Washington Post, the big problem is a lack of ... minority enrollment at the name colleges.
Post staff writer Michael Dobbs reports that numerous other large universities are reporting declining black enrollments; these include many campuses in the University of California system, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the private University of Pennsylvania. The University of Georgia experienced a 26 percent drop in African American freshmen this year, Ohio State University a 29 percent drop and the Urbana-Champaign campus of the University of Illinois a 32 percent drop.
And the solution: more of the same.
The key to increasing minority enrollment lies partly in intelligent affirmative action programs; partly in awarding tuition aid on need, not merit; and ultimately in increasing the number of students ready and able to apply. No matter how committed to diversity or recruiting of minority students universities may be, they can compensate only so much for the profound failures of the primary and secondary educational systems that generate their applicant pools.
Let the reality check begin. The Captain adds,
The true cause of falling enrollments is a public-school system that locks children into failing institutions with no hope of upward or outward mobility. Middle-class parents of all ethnicities can move to the suburbs or exurbs, where fewer students and greater resources create a better environment for their children. Upper-class parents can afford to send their children to private schools, where teachers have to produce to remain employed. Other parents remain locked into urban school districts that attract few talented teachers and, because of idiotic state laws, cannot expel troublemakers except under the most critical of circumstances, forcing them to spend money on security that would be better spent on education. And without economic mobility, the children must go to these schools, whether they teach well or not.
That's part of the solution, but it also behooves the "best and the brightest" to consider Michael at 2 Blowhards's suggestion (via Spitbull) intended for the Angry Left, but apt advice to the academy in particular.
Perhaps what many Bush voters were doing instead was voting against Kerry's backers, many of whom have been fantastically abusive and snide towards Red America. As far as I can tell, it almost never occurs to the left that the other half of America might not like being ridiculed, being called stupid, and being put down for what they believe in. Yet as dumb -- or at least clueless -- as this demonstrates them to be, these same lefties persist in thinking that their only problem (and the only reason they lost) is that they're too smart for the rest of us. Good lord, what to make of this?

And, hey, has anyone else been as struck as I have by the way lefties -- so quick to ask "what have we done to make them hate us?" when we're attacked by foreign nuts -- never think to ask the same question about why so many of the people they share their own country with dislike (or at least mistrust) them?
Substitute "academic administrators" for "lefties" in the above. It scans.

Oh, and it's time for a reality check for the students. The extended Thanksgiving recess has ended at Northern Illinois, and the Northern Star is following up on the National Study of Student Engagement. (No, this has nothing to do with granting M.R.S. degrees.)
Stephanie Guido, a freshman pre-physical therapy major, said studying more than 25 hours a week is just too much to ask.

“Nobody wants to study for 25 hours a week, that’s too boring,” Guido said. “I only study 15 hours a week.”

Although this year’s study found the typical student isn’t putting in the “appropriate” 25 hours or more to achieve his or her grades, 40 percent said they earn mostly As, while 41 percent said they earn mostly Bs.

“You can get As and Bs without studying that amount,” said Brian Murphy, a sophomore physical education major. “If they are classes within your major, they are naturally going to come easier to you, I would think.”

Other NIU students said the study fails to acknowledge other aspects of college life.

“College is not about academics all the time,” said Vince DaCosta, a sophomore business administration major.

Other important aspects include going out and meeting and connecting with other people, DaCosta said.
Prepare yourselves! The Academic Ninja (TM) returns in January.
QUESTION OF THE DAY. Courtesy of Econ Log.
Why do people prefer that "social justice" be carried out with other people's money via taxes than with their own money via charitable contributions?
Interesting statement of the question, as it presupposes that there is something called "social justice" that can by achieved by spending money, with the debate limited to the means by which the money is raised and spent. I suppose it's too curmudgeonly to ask whether there is any kind of justice that isn't social.

Secondary nitpick: does the tax code provide for deductions for charitable contributions?
INSTITUTIONALIZED PUSILLANIMITY? What happens when indecisive adults whose childhood was marred by depression and war gain control of the institutions? Richard Bailey doesn't like the outcome.
For fear of possible dangers from an unpredictable and hostile world, parents restrict their children's freedom to be outdoors, to play without adult supervision, and to do the sorts of things that many of us took for granted as we were growing up. A report published by the Children's Play Council claimed that children had become virtual prisoners in their own homes.
He's reporting from the U.K., where pedestrian-unfriendly subdivisions and distant schools are not the norm. Nonetheless,
There is mounting evidence that increasing numbers of children are being denied the freedom to move around their local environment. For example, 30 years ago, almost all schoolchildren were free to walk to school unaccompanied; now, most are not. There has also been a reduction in the proportion of children of all ages allowed by their parents to cross roads, cycle, go out after dark, and access leisure facilities by themselves. Even in the years between 1990 and 1998, there has been a significant reduction in 10- and 11-year olds who walk to school, and an increase in those who are driven (despite the fact that these are primary school pupils who usually live close to their school).
Joanne Jacobs, who located the story, notes,
The British have been more likely than Americans to send students on adventure trips -- until recently, when "safety first" has made school a lot duller.
I note the following: such kids, as young adults, develop the habits of using their cars to drop off their friends at college, and find the initiative to whinge about a lack of parking, or perhaps a lack of middle-school type turnarounds, but lack the initiative to write a proper research paper. It's stuff like that that makes academic ninjas.
TODAY'S VISION OF THE ANOINTED comes from The Econoclast. The aesthetic imperative: banning drive-throughs at the Bun and Run.
I expect that some people favour the ban on drive-throughs because they don't want the extra traffic in their residential neighbourhood. Others, however, see drive-throughs as a hated symbol of our North American consumerism. This nefarious group happily asserts that drive-throughs contribute to air pollution, even though the evidence is that using drive-throughs reduces pollution! What a bunch of feel-good anti-intellectuals.
Exactly. But try banning tattoo parlors, piercing shops, check cashing services, or tanning and nail salons.
SHCHE NE VMERLA UKRAINA. King at SCSU Scholars continues to cover the Ukrainian election and recommends that people wear orange today to show support for wronged opposition candidate Yushchenko.

There is one potential identification problem. A number of Wisconsin deer hunters have suggested that Packer fans wear orange tonight in order to provide national television with a tribute to the Rice Lake hunters.

SECOND SECTION: Solidarity with Ukraine Day is also Brett Favre Day, reports Sean at The American Mind.
I RESEMBLE THAT REMARK. Remember this?
"This man is an academic ninja, who kicks our butts and has little to no remorse."
Something similar has made the Hall of Fame. (Hat tip: Newmark's Door.)
GET INVOLVED. Jeff at J.V.C. Comments links to my "Thanksgriper" post, and offers some suggestions for the holiday-challenged.

But verily, I say unto you: If, by some dolorous chance, the only people in your life are empty-hearted shopping addicts, and if you expect to witness not a single act of generosity or selflessness between now and December 25, then you know what? You need new friends. You need a new family. You need a new life. At the very least, you need to look a little harder at your town or city or neighborhood without seeing past signs of decency that in your bitterness you've chosen--yes, chosen--to overlook.

Or maybe you need to do something unselfish yourself. By that I don't mean thinking nice thoughts about idealized poor people and complementarily mean thoughts about suburbanites and Wal-Mart. That's effing useless. Get out your checkbook, get out into your community, get off your ass, and do something. Find a hard-up family whose kids need a Christmas. Find a group home that could use the old beds or dressers hiding under that shroud of dust in your basement. Find a soldier who will dance for joy over a package containing books and Slim Jims and clean underwear. Find his family; they need you too.

At Winds of Change, Joe has an extensive list of suport organizations for service personnel, from the United States and from numerous Coalition allies. Jeff is correct. Be helpful, but don't brag about it on your weblog.
A DISTRESSING WAY TO START THE WEEK. Kerry reports that The House will close at week's end.
I'm really at a loss here...what am I supposed to do for finals week!? Any DeKalbians out there who can suggest something besides Caribou or Holmes for a place to get some iced mocha?
The choices she lists leave much to be desired. Holmes is the student center. Imagine a Starbucks counter in the corner of a bus station. Lovely. Caribou is good, but located in a strip mall. Why does the prosperous commercial part of DeKalb have to look like Scumburg? There may still be a Coffee Gourmet in Sycamore, but one might as well plan a road trip to Geneva. Borders have a coffee shop, but again, it's in Scumburg. And none of these offer a view of the tracks.

27.11.04

HIGHWAY PRIVATIZATION. Coming north of the Cheddar Curtain?

Gov. Jim Doyle has vowed Wisconsin will never have toll roads as long as he is in office, and a recent poll conducted for the state Department of Transportation showed only about one-third of the population would back them.

But that hasn't stopped former legislator Kevin Soucie from pushing the idea. Some business leaders and lawmakers have said the state shouldn't rule out tolls to avoid raising gas taxes or license fees to pay for rebuild the area's aging freeways, potentially a $6.2 billion job that started with the $810 million reconstruction of the Marquette Interchange downtown.

(I've added the links.) I suppose we should be grateful for this:
[Chicago] also retained naming rights, just in case someone offers a few million bucks to turn the Skyway into the Taco Bell Turnpike or the Wal-Mart Parkway.

A SMALL VICTORY FOR LUCY. Michele at A Small Victory sees it as an image for the Thanksgiving season.



It's true that the gag appears at the beginning of "Charlie Brown Thanksgiving," but the annual football pull generally appeared on an October Sunday.
LINKING THIRTEEN GREAT STATES TO THE NATION. Opinion Journal's Russ Smith pens a tribute to the recently-reopened Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum at Mount Clare Shops in Baltimore. He also notes what we've lost.
One exhibit that caught my eye upon the museum's reopening was devoted to the dining service of the old B&O, when passengers relaxed in club cars and had waiters carve turkey tableside. There's a snack menu from the 1960 Capital Limited, which traveled from Washington to Chicago; it offered a plate of either olives or pickle chips for 30 cents, Cokes at 20 cents, tuna sandwiches for 80 cents and a crab cocktail for a dime short of a dollar. Think about that the next time you purchase a cardboard, microwaved pizza on an Amtrak Acela or Metroliner train.
I will skip the obligatory conversion to current dollars. Economy measures in food service might be self-defeating. Right up to the end of service, the dining service on the Electroliner reported a profit.
FACTOR PRICE EQUALIZATION DOES NOT EQUAL A RACE TO THE BOTTOM. Captain Ed headlines a post "Era Of Cheap Chinese Labor Coming To A Close." It links to a Washington Post story (registration required) about the old class struggle.

Stella International Ltd., a Taiwanese-owned shoe manufacturer employing 42,000 people in and around Dongguan, faced strikes this spring that turned violent. At one point, more than 500 rampaging workers sacked company facilities and severely injured a Stella executive, leading hundreds of police to enter the factory and round up ringleaders.

"We never had anything like that before," said Jack Chiang, Stella's chief executive.

Chiang suggested that several factors have contributed to the shift in attitude. On the one hand, he acknowledged, assembly-line wages have not risen in recent years nearly as fast as the cost of living. On the other, image-conscious U.S. retailers who buy Dongguan's shoes have demanded better treatment and human rights counseling for the workers, encouraging them to step up and make demands for change.

Finally, Chiang added, broader general freedoms in the country have reduced the Chinese people's traditional fear of authority, and not just among factory workers. Protests by farmers and others, many of them violent, have broken out with increasing frequency across the country in recent months.

The growing assertiveness of factory workers has posed a particular political problem for the governing Communist Party, which ideologically should champion poor laborers struggling against capitalist managers. But local governments have become shareholders in many of the factories, steering officials toward the management side of labor relations.

That looks like an Orwell moment. But read on.
Although recruits are still abundant for most areas, they said, the most sought-after workers -- young women with high school educations -- have become scarce in recent months, particularly in Dongguan's low-paying shoe industry.
As Captain Ed notes,
The maintenance of free trade with China has the scales falling from the eyes of Chinese workers. While free trade may have hurt the US in the short run, we have mostly recovered from the blow, while the Chinese have just started to discover that a little freedom is an impossible measure: it either grows exponentially or dies altogether. Now that they have built the economy that communism could never deliver, neither option will be compatible with their autocratic rule. Either the government has to allow more freedom and individual choice to its people, or crack down and face the loss of overseas investment and a wide-scale worker revolt which could wipe out the government.
Indeed.
RIGHT TO TIME IS HIAWATHA. The latest National Corridors Freedom Newsletter provides the on-time performance for Amtrak trains. But let's get real about some of these performances. Is it that difficult for the Hiawatha service to be on time 85 percent of the time, with as padded a schedule as it has?
INDISCIPLINE. R. J. at Live from the Third Rail rides a busy Amtrak train north.
Thanksgiving on the NEC is a little different from normal operations. The train stations on both ends are filled far beyond normal capacity with people who rarely use public transportation and are thus confused and cranky. The 5:10, which would normally require arrival at about 5:05 for boarding, had a line at the gate by 4:30.

I eventually boarded and the train left, filled with the usual train suspects -- college students going back to New Jersey, Hill people headed to their home districts in New York and Connecticut, the inevitable clump of foreign tourists who booked under the false impression that our trains would be as fast, clean and efficient as those in their home country.

I found a seat in the clump of Japanese and all was well until Metropark, N.J., a suburban stop popular with college students whose parents would never venture into Newark or Trenton even if those stops were closer to home. As the train pulled in, I saw the people on the platform looking confused. I also saw that they were rather far away. Since the other platform had a southbound train letting off passengers, we had either skipped the previosly announced Metropark stop or we had arrived, but at the wrong track.

It was the latter, something I've never once seen before in all my years riding trains. The train backed up, the conductor told everyone exiting at Metropark to go to the second car (my car) and they let everyone off over the tracks at the edge of the platform. I saw the whole confused scene from my window.

Then, as the train started slowly leaving the station (I know train engines can't be sheepish, but that's what it felt like), it backed up again, this time on the correct track. Someone forgot a guy in a wheelchair wanted to get off.
Demerits to both the dispatcher and the engineer. The dispatcher is supposed to route the trains onto the proper tracks. On the old Pennsylvania Railroad, the platforms are on the outer tracks only. The engineer is supposed to know where his train is stopping. If he gets a signal aspect that doesn't route him to a platform track, he must stop and radio the dispatcher for instructions. Sloppy.
ATTEMPTING TO PROVE A NEGATIVE. Another academic bully who can dish it out but can't take it? Consider Professor Oneida Meranto in Political Science at Denver's Metropolitan State College (motto: Our students make a "difference." I'd put that in scare quotes too.)

Five, whites are trying their darndest to demonstrate that they too are victims in a society where they dominate. Whites have failed to prove to us that they are not part of the privileged class. They have failed to prove that they have gained so much from subjugation and domination of nonwhites. They have failed to prove to us that they don't have racist, sexist tendencies that just might be part of the very essence of their white skin. They have failed to prove to us that they too have not benefited from affirmative action legislation. They have failed to demonstrate to us that the reason for their poor grades is the flood of nonwhite professors. They have failed to take responsibility for their actions in this country where being white has its privilege.

So what do if you're a failure and you're white? You create a new kind of action. The kind that existed prior to 1965, similar to what has happened on this campus. White students get poor grades and instead of cracking the books and studying harder they blame the professors. File a grievance against a professor based on ideological repression. A white faculty member gets fired, can't finish his PhD, doesn't renew his contract, what does he do? He charges a faculty member with sexual harassment. The system isn't broken; it was never fixed. The administration of these universities consists of individuals that lack the fundamental understanding of race relations in America. If any organization is going to try and organize and integrate a football team or draft the best players they must demonstrate they know race-sex relations in America. And herein lies the problem.

It's not clear from the Front Page post that Professor Meranto is making this statement as a truthful premise or as a false premise to be rebutted. King at SCSU Scholars suggests that some students on his campus keep a low profile in the presence of openly leftist professors.
No assumption of innocence there. You hear stories like this around SCSU from many students, most too scared to go on record. I'm glad Prof. Meranto is taping her lectures now. Perhaps, in the spirit of glasnost', she could release transcripts?
Brian Leiter, on the other hand (hat tip: K. C. Johnson at Cliopatria) suggests,
Plainly faculty in the inherently political disciplines, like political science, will be more vulnerable to these smear campaigns and intimidation tactics. But it is good to know that the remedy for allegations of bias are death threats and hateful e-mails.
To repeat: the problem is the machinery of repression itself. If the readers of Critique of Pure Tolerance intended the prohibitions against creating an "intimidating or hostile environment" as advancing their agenda, they deserve to have that machinery used against their own intimidation and hostility.

(Editorial note: somebody at Metropolitan has to take responsibility for that "difference" motto. Herrn. Schneider u. Schwartz, fertig?)
NO. Professor Althouse asks, "Isn't Thanksgiving more deserving of a naysayer?" (Her universe of comparison is Christmas, with the 19th Century's Scrooge, and the 20th Century's Grinch, both of whom object more to the presents and the time off.) But if you look closely, you will find plenty of Thanksgiving naysayers. Some Islamic cleric can always be counted on to say something like this.
Thanksgiving being a national holiday express its salient position in the American culture, which has many unislamic values and principles. Celebrating Thanksgiving purposefully or subordinately is an expression of accepting the general American Culture. It is not celebrated independent of the American Culture. In view of the above it is not permissible to celebrate Thanksgiving Day.
(Via Norm Blog.)

There are always Cranky Leftists.

Somehow we have to deal with the world as it is. Thanksgiving’s myths and politics of food, family and faith could inspire us to continued smug and self-righteous optimism for prosperous white Americans, or help us to develop a generous and compassionate optimism for all the world. Singing old hymns about God oppressing the wicked on our behalf won’t help us, and neither will despair. We need to compose new hymns based on shared values and common dreams. Food, family and faith are good words, but we need a new melody, in a new key, with a new harmonization of hope and optimism.

As we give thanks for food, let us remind ourselves that in a world where anyone goes hungry, it is immoral to consume more than one’s fair share. And let us remember that the destruction of Earth’s ecosystems and the commodification of its basic resources will assure that eventually we all starve.

I found this essay two years ago, but the crankiness is much older, and is not likely to go away. This recent example puts Thanksgiving in too negative a light.
THE election battles over same-sex marriage behind them, some conservative Christians have returned their attention to a longstanding struggle over the singularly American holiday of Thanksgiving.

For years, David Barton, a popular speaker who toured the country speaking to clergy groups for the Republicans during the campaign, has been collecting evidence to rebut what he considers distortions of the holiday in textbooks and public celebrations. "Some textbooks say the first Thanksgiving was the pilgrims only saying thanks to the Indians," said Mr. Barton, who is vice chairman of the Texas Republican Party. "That is incorrect. They were thanking God for bringing the Indians to them."
There are churlish Virginians (via Betsy's Page):
The Virginia Thanksgiving was lost to history for more than 300 years, thanks in part, the Virginians say, to a massacre by Native Americans, the Civil War and the Yankee historians who "absconded" with it. The South's historic disregard for the holiday as a Northern tradition -- in the 19th century and even into the 20th, businesses and state and city offices in parts of the South stayed defiantly open -- didn't help, either.
True enough. I had family first at Jamestown and later at Plymouth, and can sympathize with the Virginians' case -- Mayflower was blown off course and the Company decided to winter at Cape Cod rather than attempt a coastal passage, but it didn't help the Virginians to back the wrong side in the War of Southern Rebellion.

Among the others giving thanks are Michelle Malkin, Reverend Sensing, and Captain Ed (who links to President Bush's Thanksgiving Proclamation.) Hugh Hewitt posts President Washington's proclamation.

As Clifford May notes, the Plymouth Company was the first colonization to make an attempt at self-government.

On the Mayflower – a cramped old ship built not to carry passengers across the Atlantic but only barrels of wine between Bordeaux and London – they signed a social compact “based upon the original Biblical covenant between God and the Israelites.” Also influenced by early-17th-century social-contract theory, they drafted “just and equal laws” that were firmly anchored in the teachings of the church.

Their piety did not diminish their thirst for education – quite the contrary. Nor did their faith deter them from a keen interest in science. Indeed, among the most famous of the Puritans was Cotton Mather (1663-1728) who entered Harvard at the age of 12, learned seven languages and wrote 450 books. He popularized the Copernican system of astronomy. He also believed in witchcraft. He was concerned, too, with the rights of slaves and Indians, not big issues in those days.

So let there be no Thanksgriping.

SECOND SECTION. Tyler at Marginal Revolution has more reason to be thankful ... really! Andrew Sullivan is making a case for Grinch of the 21st Century.
That's one reason I'm such a Christmas-phobe. Each year, we have a communal campaign to persuade ourselves that we never have enough, the new things will assuage our real needs, that buying is the same as living. Yes, of course, some of this is fine, generous or even important. I really did need a new sleeper-sofa. And my boyfriend loves his new, mini-iPod. But the hysteria is a form of cultural disorder. And "Christmas" merely feeds it. If "Buy Nothing Day" helps assuage this a little, it's an excellent thing.
And he sat at his keyboard, fingers drumming and drumming
"I must find some way to stop Christmas from coming."

THIRD SECTION: Knew if I looked around I'd find an angry leftist.
But Thanksgiving sends us all searching for the goodness in life, the comforts and pleasures beyond the salt-brined free-range turkey, which, I am told, had a far better life than most.

This year that comfort lies in knowing that 58 million Americans did not vote for four more years of irresponsibility and madness. It lies in the distinction of casting my vote in one of the blue states, where IQs are higher, divorce rates are lower, and we pay out more in federal taxes than we take in and don't whine about it.

This year it lies in knowing that four years go by more quickly the older you get, so for some of us it will seem like an eye-blink.

This year, as perhaps in many others, Thanksgiving will serve as a day of grateful diversion in blue states and red; as a time to sit down together with family and friends in homes or shelters or mess tents, trying to forget for a day that there is a place called Iraq, to share a meal browned and buttered with love and caring and hope.
Where else but Minneapolis?
TODAY'S RAILROAD ACHIEVEMENT. Hoosac Tunnel completed, 1873. The Hoosac Tunnel gives Guilford Transportation Industries' Boston and Maine line a relatively easy crossing of the Berkshires. The tunnel is on the Historic American Engineering Record National Register.
PLAYING TO NICK COLEMAN? The investigation into the shooting of five hunters in Northern Wisconsin is turning into an interesting case study in he said, they said.

Authorities have said a hunter identified as Chai Soua Vang, of St. Paul, Minn., opened fire on the group after one of them confronted him for trespassing on their private property shortly after noon. Vang was arrested hours after the onslaught.

The suspect, 36, has asserted that he acted in self-defense after being taunted with racial epithets and was fired upon by someone in the hunting group. Hunters in Roidt's party have told authorities that Vang fired first, and he is expected to be charged Monday with homicide and attempted homicide.

The suspect is turning out to be a rather complex character. On the one hand, his neighbors, past and present, praise his efforts as a spiritual leader.

In Stockton, Calif., where Vang lived in the 1990s, neighbors remembered him as a nice man who presided over a busy household that was often filled with visiting family members. He drove a semitrailer truck, and sometimes a bulk cement truck, so he was often away from home, but Vang told a neighbor that he wanted to move to Minnesota, seeking a better life for his wife and children.

Pheng Lo, executive director of the Lao Family Community of Stockton, remembered Vang as an outgoing guy with a friendly face. Which makes it so difficult for Lo to understand how the man he knew could be accused of shooting eight hunters and killing six of them.

"I said something must really, really have happened to him. He was so mad or angry, or maybe he had mental problems lately," Lo said.

On the other hand, he has had previous run-ins with the authorities in Wisconsin, where there is an outstanding warrant from 2002, and authorities in another northern county are comparing this shooting with an unsolved shooting of a hunter in 2001.

What's the Nick Coleman connection? Nick Coleman is a Garrison Keillor liberal from Minneapolis, who writes a column for the Star Tribune. Mitch at Shot in the Dark characterizes him as a bigot of low expectations. Did such columns -- nay, the entire latte liberal Minneapolis establishment -- inspire Mr Vang to play the race card upon his arrest?

SECOND SECTION. Owen at Boots and Sabers offers his hypothesis.

Here’s what I think happened… Vang is a former child soldier. When he was in the woods and was confronted by some other guys with guns, he snapped into a psychotic flashback episode of some sort. He took the scope off of his SKS, thus returning it to the war rifle of his youth instead of the hunting rifle of his present.

I could be totally wrong, but that’s my best guess. When something as senseless and horrific as this happens, we all grasp for an explanation. That’s the best one that I can come up with.

He has since posted more on the obligatory attempts to ban automatic weapons, on the suspect's statement, and on the suspect's defense.
MICHIGAN STATE, AGAIN? Michigan St. 4, Wisconsin 0. Hey, the home team is supposed to win its tournament every so often. Not so for the Badgers in the Midwest Showcase ...
SHCHE NE VMERLA UKRAINA. Ukraine Parliament Calls Election Invalid.

Ukraine's parliament on Saturday declared invalid the disputed presidential election that triggered a week of growing street protests and legal maneuvers, raising the possibility that a new vote could be held in this former Soviet republic.

Parliament's vote came amid a flurry of domestic and international support for the possibility of a revote. A European Union envoy - Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot - said new elections were the "ideal outcome" for the standoff between Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych and Viktor Yushchenko. Asked if new elections were the only solution, Ben Bot answered: "Yes."

The Unian news agency quoted Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko as saying Friday that Moscow regarded a potential revote favorably - an apparent significant retreat from its earlier insistence that the Nov. 21 elections were fair and valid.

Parliament's move was not legally binding but clearly demonstrated rising dissatisfaction with the announced outcome. The United States and other Western nations contend the vote was marred by massive fraud.

The place to go for continuing analysis of the Ukrainian vote and revote is SCSU Scholars. King has made exchange visits to Ukraine and maintains contact with numerous sources in country. Raku roku moyet, eh, King?
GET INVOLVED. Katie at A Constrained Vision provides an extensive list of agencies providing care packages, travel mileage, and other useful things for our troops.
MORE WORK FOR THE WTO? Court Rules French Film Not French Enough. You can't make up stuff like this.

Never mind that Jean-Pierre Jeunet's new film is a French story filmed in the French language featuring one of France's biggest actresses. A Paris court has ruled that "Un Long Dimanche de Fiancailles" (A Very Long Engagement), which opened Friday in the United States, is too American to compete in French film festivals - because of its Warner Bros. backing.

The movie, which opened at the end of October in France to much acclaim, stars Audrey Tautou, the winsome young actress who went from virtual unknown to international star with Jeunet's 2001 romance "Amelie."

The National Center for Cinematography, or CNC, made state funds available for Jeunet's movie in October 2003. A producer's association immediately questioned the film's nationality and filed a complaint.

On Thursday, the court canceled the CNC approval, saying that 2003 Productions, a French company acting as the delegated producer for the movie, was created solely "to allow the company Warner Bros. France ... to benefit from financial help even though (the fund) is reserved for the European cinematographic industry."

Worse yet, this picture is not eligible to join Fahrenheit 9-11.
In an ironic twist, Jeunet's movie cannot even become a candidate for the prestigious Cannes Film Festival awards because, with its U.S. debut, it will have been screened outside its country of origin, France. Movies shown at Cannes must not have been screened outside the country where they originate ahead of the festival.
And there are content restrictions at work in the States as well.
Despite his legal troubles in France, Jeunet can still hope for honors in the United States - but not this season's best foreign film Oscar, because the film did not open in France in time to qualify. It is, however, eligible for Oscar nominations for best picture, actress or director.
Cartels ... a never-ending source of war stories. Confession time: it is damned difficult to introduce some of these examples in class and keep a straight face.
TODAY'S D'OH MOMENT. WTO Imposes Penalties on U.S. Exports. What? I thought the WTO was a handmaiden of American plutocrats...
The World Trade Organization imposed penalties Friday on U.S. exports ranging from apples to textiles, escalating a trade dispute the Bush administration has struggled to defuse by unsuccessfully urging Congress to repeal legislation aimed at protecting American steelmakers.
About time, too. There's this little concept, "gains from trade." Those who claim an injury as a consequence of a trade all too often seek succor by imposing losses on others.

The Consuming Industries Trade Action Committee, a Washington-based group representing manufacturers, farmers, retailers and other businesses, has called the Byrd amendment "the equivalent of a tax on American consumers."

Companies launch trade cases "in hopes of not only closing the U.S. market to global competition but also gaining significant financial rewards," the group's chairman, Michael Fanning, has said. The measure "clearly distorts trade by creating a big incentive for companies who don't want to compete in the global market."

Quite so. Such naked displays of self-interest never fail to provide teachable moments.
GET INVOLVED. Laura at 11-D recommends that readers write their representatives and consider donating to relief organizations working in Darfur. There is more to the Darfur story than meets the eye. Consider this passage from Richard Miniter's Shadow War (details or compare prices) at p. 97.
To many, Darfur was on the verge of becoming another Rwanda, a hideous scene of death and destruction on a desolate African landscape. In reality, it is another Somalia, where tribal warfare and ideological hatred foster anarchy, murder, and starvation. And, as in Somalia in the early 1990s, al Qaeda plays a role.
Former Secretary of State Powell calls what is going on genocide. The United Nations turns a blind eye. Accident?
QUOTE OF THE DAY.

"People change, Kerry. Do you think that I'm the same person now that I was 30 years ago? You'd be wrong. Your mom has changed too. You know that coming up in November we'll be married for 30 years, but those things that made me fall in love with your mother are still there. Those great qualities that she has will always be there...and everyday I wake up and know that there's no one else on earth I'd rather be with."

To which I responded..."zuh!? Wait...lemme get this straight...you've been married for an assload of time...and you still like each other!?"

It's a little premature...but I'm thankful for my 'rents.

Read the whole thing.

23.11.04

HAPPY THANKSGIVING. That's all for this week. I give thanks for your readership and your comments.
384 YEARS OF THE MAYFLOWER COMPACT. Barbara Miner offers a history lesson, also shows her need for one.

This assertion is basically correct.
As they were about to embark on their new life in America, those aboard the Mayflower faced a dilemma. How would they govern themselves?

The matter was particularly pressing given tensions during the voyage between the Pilgrims, known as “the saints,” and the others, known as “the strangers.”

Again, there was much discussion. On Nov. 22, the two groups signed an agreement to form a “civil body politic” for the good of all. Furthermore, they decided they would find their wisdom to govern not from the edict of a priest or king, but from the consent of the people.

This agreement of such momentous and revolutionary impact had a simple name: the Mayflower Compact.

Out of the wellspring of respect for religious freedom, tolerance and individual liberty, American democracy was born.

Over time, the principles of the Mayflower Compact would find voice in other American documents, from the Declaration of Independence to the U.S. Constitution to the Bill of Rights.
Her litany of complaints is a bit misplaced.
But the future of the Pilgrims’ legacy of religious freedom and democracy is not so certain.

What else but religious intolerance can explain the epithets of “murderer” that are hurled at those who worship life but do not believe that a fertilized egg - no bigger than the period at the end of a sentence - has equal legal and moral weight to a living, breathing human being?

What else but intolerance can be at the root of the Texas Republican Party platform, which declares that the separation of church and state is a myth?

Which opposes current “no-fault” divorce laws?

Which would make it a felony to issue a marriage license or perform a civil marriage ceremony for those in love who happen to be of the same sex?

And how can one reconcile religious freedom with the Texas platform’s declaration that this land known as the United States of America be declared a Christian nation?
What "religious freedom and democracy?" The point of the Puritans' pilgrimage was to find someplace where they could practice their own ... extremely fundamentalist, think about the etymology of "puritan," version of Dissenting Protestantism without let or hindrance. The flash points in the culture war that Ms Miner identifies are upwellings of the saintly sentiments, again with an element of being beset by strangers who have sinned and fallen far short of the glory. (We have the Establishment Clause as a way of avoiding the troubles of establishing churches in the several states ... Quaker Maryland, Methodist Georgia, Baptist Rhode Island.) But let us take the longer view. Among the Saints was one William Brewster, the Learned Elder of the Puritan congregation. Among the Strangers was one Stephen Hopkins, who in a few years would find himself in trouble with the authorities for selling beer to Puritans on Sundays. (Therefore, there had to be Puritans willing to buy beer, but that's for another day.) Within a century, descendants of Brewster were marrying descendants of Hopkins. We'll manage again.
REVISE AND RESUBMIT Captain Ed grades an essay in the St. Olaf Manitou Messenger and finds it wanting in logic and content.
SEEKING VIEWPOINT DIVERSITY IN THE UNIVERSITY. John Fund addresses the general principles.
Conservatives contend that assurances by liberals that the professional ethics of professors will keep them having their politics dominate the classroom and smothering alternative views just doesn't pass muster. A forthcoming study by Stanley Rothman of Smith College looked at a random sample of more than 1,600 undergraduate faculty members from 183 institutions of higher learning. He found that across all faculty departments, including business and engineering, academics were over five times as likely to be liberals as conservatives.

Mr. Rothman used statistical analysis to determine what factors explained how academics ended up working at elite universities. Marital status, sexual orientation and race didn't play a statistically significant role. Academic excellence, as measured by papers published and awards conferred, did. But the next best predictor was whether the professor was a liberal. To critics that argue his methodology is flawed, Mr. Rothman points out that he used the same research tools long used in courts by liberal faculty members to prove race and sex bias at universities. Liberals criticizing his methods may find themselves hoist by their own petard.
The reform Mr Fund seems to get behind might not work as well as he would like.
Richard Vedder, an economist at Ohio University, argues that its time to scale back taxpayer subsidies to universities and move towards a voucher plan so that schools would have to compete for students as paying customers. That might also end the punishing double-digit tuition increases many schools have been imposing. Our colleges and universities would benefit not only from some intellectual diversity, but also some diversity and competition in how they pay their bills and how students and taxpayers hold them to account.
I think there's a move in that direction in Ohio, with the old in-state out-of state distinction replaced by a common rate for all students and a $1000 discount for residents disguised as a "scholarship." The double-digit tuition increases are not per se bad, and competition for students can take the form of amenities as well as discounted tuition or more challenging courses.

Turning to the specific, this David Adesnik post draws the reader's attention to hidden biases in a scholar's work.
In contrast to her (often justifiable) criticism of President Reagan, Shogan provides an extremely positive, almost glowing description of the academy. She writes that
The intellectual community is inherently critical of the status quo and often serves as the catalyst for social upheaval and development. (Page 8)
Sometimes asking academicians about leftist biases is like asking fish about water.
BEST WISHES Grant at Anthropology and Economics gets married, finds time to offer an insight into tax revolts.
I have sometimes wondered to myself whether the tax revolts and reticence that have done so much to advance the Republican cause are not so much a refusal to "share," as they are unwilling to fund incompetence (or programs that have a way of funding the problem they are supposed to fix). Or, to put this another way: if governments were more efficient, I think every tax payer would be prepared to be more generous.
Enjoy! But temper principle with practicality, particularly where wine is concerned.

22.11.04

ADVICE FOR FRUSTRATED TEACHERS. Some Sufi wisdom from Winds of Change.
When a nature is originally receptive
Instruction will take effect thereon.
No kind of polishing will improve iron
Whose essence is originally bad.
Wash a dog in the seven oceans,
He will be only dirtier when he gets wet.
If the ass of Jesus be taken to Mekkah
He will on his return still be an ass.
Final examinations approach, and with them the discovery of the bad iron. But consider this before you fail everybody.
THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS LAISSEZ-FAIRE. Don at Cafe Hayek clarifies some common misconceptions about regulation.
If a market proponent argues against regulation by government, he or she is heard by many on the other side of the political spectrum as arguing against regulation.

The presumption is that only government can regulate, or at least regulate effectively.

All honest disagreements are over the effectiveness of regulation based upon centralized bureaucracies and statutes versus regulation based upon common-law processes and economic competition. Both are methods of regulation. The serious debate is not whether regulation is good or bad – no sane person wants a world without regulation. The serious debate is over the best form of regulation.
There will be an examination on this point later.
I LOVE IRAQ 'N ROLL. Sometimes the heavy metal that breaks the bad guy's will is Metalllica or AC-DC, not a Warthog or an Abrams. (Via Betsy's Page.) Amnesty International might have a point about the Barney song being cruel.

The tactic, however, is not new in that part of the world.
So the priests blew the trumpets. As soon as the men heard it, they gave a loud shout, and the walls collapsed. Then all the army went straight up the hill into the city and captured it. With their swords, they killed everyone in the city, men and women, young and old. They also killed the cattle, sheep, and donkeys. - Joshua 6:20-21

SHE'S REAL FINE, MY 409. The latest incarnation of the 409 email scam, which usually involves some Nigerian public official who has some money salted away, features Suha Arafat. Reverend Johnson received such an email and had some fun with it. Enjoy.
FOOD FIGHT. Chris Lawrence and Will Baude trade fours on the merits of Cajun cooking in the Chicago area. Heaven on Seven comes in for some criticism on style but props for convenience ... but bring cash. Dixie Kitchen and Ragin Cajun are closer to the University of Chicago. These are new recommendations to me ... is the Metra Electric running?
QUESTION OF THE DAY. From Ace of Spades. (Yes, I'm repeating myself. No matter how many times I tell you, there's always somebody going to screw it up.) If "Diverse Opinions" Are Important for Bush's Cabinet, Why Not for the MSM & Academy?
"Diversity of thought" always means "need more liberals." When lefty media critics whine about the absence of "alternative points of view" in the media, they're not talking about Fox and Rush Limbaugh, now are they? The "alternative voices" they mean are NPR and Pacifica radio types-- lefties. Never those on the right. Always more liberals are needed.

David Gergen, the current whiner about Bush's lack of liberals in his cabinet, never seemed bothered by Clinton's cabinet. I guess that's because he had a good sampling of both types of necessary political thought-- liberalism and left-liberalism.
Precisely.
FINDING THE RIGHT ROLE MODELS. Mark at Conservative Revolution suggests that celebrating transgressiveness for its own sake has bad consequences.
More importantly though, the NBA has centered themselves around the hip-hop culture for the last 5 years in order to create a stronger fan base. The players buy into that and the fans buy into that. Have you ever seen so many thugs as you do in the NBA? There are always fights in the NBA, more than even in the NFL. I think the real problem is that the NBA is comprised of a couple hundred millionaire street bangers and the NBA thinks that is a good thing. To further prove my point, Ron Artest is the same person that asked his coach last week if he could have a month off, in the middle of the season, to promote his rap label.
Meanwhile, The London Times has a story about Secretary of State Rice's mother, who understood the value of transgressiveness.
Rice’s mother refused to play by the Jim Crow rules. She stood her ground. One confrontation took place at a department store, where Angelena and Condi were browsing through dresses. Condi picked one she wanted to try on, and they walked towards a “whites only” dressing room. A saleswoman blocked their path and took the dress out of Condi’s hand. “She’ll have to try it on in there,” she said, pointing to a storage room.

Coolly, Angelena replied that her daughter would be allowed to try on her dress in a real dressing room or she would spend her money elsewhere. Angelena was composed, firm and resolved. Aware that this elegantly dressed black woman would not back down, the shop assistant decided that her commission was worth more than a public incident and ushered them into a dressing room as far from view as possible. “I remember the woman standing there guarding the door, worried to death she was going to lose her job,” said Rice.
Hat tip: The Anchoress (when I find a new weblog, I look around a little) who adds,
Read the whole thing, and realize that if only Dr. Rice had a "D" after her name, the press and the left would have a completely different regard for this woman; they would be holding her up as a noble and shining specimen of humanity (which she is) and claiming some credit for it all. They might even allow her some secondary leadership position somewhere in the party. Maybe. If she toed the line.

But Rice has dared to excel without the Democrats (who would not allow her college-educated father to register with the party unless he could correctly guess the number of beans in a jar. He became a Republican, instead) - her successes came, she says, not...from the civil rights struggle but from her own family legacy. Condi Rice's story is all about the worth and value of having a strong, nurturing family life, one that keeps you centered and safe as it introduces you to the world, and allows you to explore and discover your potential. Her cultured, educated, middle-class parents sound just stupendous. I hope this story gets wide dissemination.

DELIBERATELY STUPID? It sure doesn't rise to the level of domestic terrorism.
A Caltech graduate student was convicted Friday of firebombing sport utility vehicles at a Hummer dealership last year to protest the American auto industry's contribution to environmental pollution.

After deliberating less than a day, a federal court jury found William Jensen Cottrell, a 24-year-old doctoral candidate in physics, guilty of seven counts of arson and one count of conspiracy.

Cottrell, who testified that SUV dealers were "evil," faces at least five years in prison when he is sentenced in March.

But he was spared an additional 30 years behind bars, mandatory under federal law, when the jury acquitted him of the most serious charge of using a destructive device during a crime of violence.
What ever happened to hacking the scoreboard at the Rose Bowl? And how clueless could this person have been to leave such an obvious clue?
Josh Connole, a 25-year-old peace activist who lived in a commune in Pomona, was released after four days in jail.

Connole later received a public apology from the West Covina police chief and $20,000 from the city to cover his legal expenses. He recently filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the FBI for unspecified damages.

Connole's arrest eventually led the FBI to Cottrell. Upset that the wrong man was in custody, Cottrell sent a series of e-mails to the Los Angeles Times chiding the FBI for ineptitude and including some incriminating information known only to the arsonists and investigators.

Among the tidbits was a mathematical formula, known as Euler's theorem, that Cottrell had painted on a couple of SUVs.
We're talking about a physics student here. The "Euler's theorem" noted is probably the really funky one, exp(i pi)+1=0, not the special case of the homogeneous function identity we use in economics.

21.11.04

DO I HEAR AN ECHO? Presto Pundit has been following the K-Mart and Sears merger. Scroll down for more. This quote from the Chicago Tribune illustrates why some business journalists make the big bucks.
"You put a bad heart and a bad liver together, and you don't get a healthy body."
My phrasing was somewhat more pedantic.
Even the dullest least motivated among them quickly grasp that the resulting company is simply a larger collection of dinky plants.
On the other hand, some business gurus just speak badly. Negative synergies? Why not just call it "incompatibility?" Long before there were Red States and Blue States, there was Red Team (The Pennsylvania Railroad) and Green Team (New York Central.) Different operating styles, different traffic bases, different college degrees, different churches, about the only thing they could agree on was getting rid of passenger trains. Didn't have to say "negative synergies" to explain that.
THEY'RE ALL GOING TO LAUGH AT YOU if you're some overly earnest Blue State type. Andrew Sullivan recognizes that the Right ... has more fun.
The truth is: there is a conservative majority in this country not because the religious right is a majority but because the Republicans have also been able to corner the market on the themes of achievement, individualism, energy, action. And they have also won over those who disdain the politics of resentment, whining and permanent criticism. If James Dobson represents one wing of contemporary Republicanism, Arnold Schwarzenegger represents the other. Democrats will never win over the Dobsonites. But they can win over the blueish voters who voted red last time because the pious, do-good, elite whining of Gore and Teresa and Hillary seemd so alien to many Americans' entrepreneurial, anti-p.c. and irreverent popular culture.
And because, as the column argues, the pious, do-good, elite whiners are so easily lampooned.