Monday, December 3, 2007

Stop the gender insanity!

Hey, did you know that Sen. Hillary Clinton is a woman? Who cares?

Yes, now we've all seen the Mikolajczak comments, but yet, this topic of gender bias keeps being thrown out there: the boys are piling on Hillary, she's being attacked because of her gender - can we really bypass this hurdle?

You know what, I'm going to look like a chauvanistic asshole by saying this: I don't care. I've never looked at Hillary Clinton as a woman, I've looked at her as a politician (which has far more negative connotations than any gender stereotype). Can any of us really say that we thought that Clinton, if elected, would spend her days gardening and putting on makeup? Come on, this is not only a Senator, Yale alum and ambitious politician, but probably the most influencial first lady since Eleanor Roosevelt - does anyone think she's going to get in the Oval Office and start crying?

If you do, please step forward so you can be chastised for your ignorance.

There are concerns about her ability to negotiate in the middle east, but after seeing the ad naseaum rebuttal of "but look at Bhutto, Albright, Merkel, etc." it would be a farce to assume two X chromosomes are going to lead to the downfall of this nation.

So, with opinion piece after opinion piece rebutting this idea of a gender bias and no real legitimate counter-argument, why the hell do people keep bringing this up? AND WHY DO I KEEP PRINTING IT?

I suppose the latter makes sense - if it is really on people's minds, then we should discuss it. However, one thing did strike me, although it's not that surprising - the Clinton topic saw a real surge in opinion pieces from female students on campus - more than I've seen in a while.

And then Kate Maternowski wrote this piece and got me thinking with this part:

At this newspaper, for example, I am the only female columnist on the opinion staff and, admittedly, had to be coaxed into committing to weekly column inches. Indeed the opinion editors here are open to taking on female writers, so my solo presence indicates that other females on campus might share my reluctance.
It would be difficult to dismiss the possibility that the newspaper statistic and this reluctance stem from a tendency in women to not want to put themselves — their opinions — out in the path of potential critique, dissent or attack.

So, when you have a woman that really puts herself out there, in front of the multitude, women may be encouraged, but are they still so reluctant that they only support her candidacy rather than making some arguments on their own behalf?

Obviously, any discussion of women in this respect is going to be a heinous generalization, so I decide not to go any further. Obviously, people like Ms. Maternowski and Suchita Shah counter this idea of female sheepishness in the opinion arena, but I must say that I'd like to see more women sound off in this paper - and on something other than Hillary.

As Maternowski said:

Why would an all-female panel be any less relevant to an issue not related to women? Or, more generally, why do women feel more safe, more confident, more compelled to write and opine primarily about women’s issues, and why is it often expected that women will do just and only that when they indeed choose to be vocal and opinionated?
An individual’s gender is simply not relevant when discussing many of the major political, economic and social issues affecting modern society, and women have as much a stake in the conversation as do men.

Here here. Now I just wish more women would realize the same thing and come write for us. I mean, after all, women are the majority on campus - for them to be relegated to the position of vocal minority is a shame. We've made some leaps forward, but we can always make more strides.

So let's be clear - I welcome the idea of women finally taking the baton and standing up and voicing their opinions, but defending a politician who, I assure you, has no problems with her gender security is a waste of column inches.

So let's stop it, shall we?

Sunday, December 2, 2007

David Lapidus not running for Dane County Board of Supervisor

Also posted at Muckrakers:

Just announced: David Lapidus has decided to bow out of the Dane Co. Board of Supervisors race.

I apologize for taking a few days to decide. The reason it has taken a lot of thought is that my reasons to run are irrational, abstract, and unquantifiable (yet carry a ton of emotional weight), while my reasons against running are very rational, tangible, and quantifiable. Thus, it has been very hard to weigh things in the proper framework, but I have done so and reached a final decision.
First, my thought processes…

The primary reason to run:

Maybe it is arrogance, but I think I would do a dam good job as a county supervisor. Thus, I feel a duty to run and better serve the community, and something close to guilt if I do not.

The primary reasons not to run:

The burden it will put on people I care about on campus who would support me. Some of them sincerely reassured me it would not be a problem (both of the CDs who had kind words for me in CB’s “seriously considering” post included) so it is not because of them, but because of my concern over negatively affecting others who were more unsure.
The opportunity costs affecting my schoolwork, job, extracurricular activities, and social life next semester.
The opportunity costs of not getting my preferred summer internship (which may not be in Madison) next summer.
The opportunity costs of not serving in the military and getting the job I want immediately upon graduating college (since doing these things will not allow me to stay in the Madison area for one year after college, while serving on the board).
The alternatives to running will still allow me to serve the community, although perhaps to a lesser extent. I will still be active with Vets for Vets and People Opposing Prejudice and I am exploring ways to get more involved at the county or city level of government irrelevant to running or not.
The electability factor… would it be worth all these guaranteed costs to try win something that might not even be possible to win? This factor does not concern me too much having thought out all the possible contingencies, but it was still a major part of my analysis.

While my reason to run is significant and carries a ton of “gut instinct” weight, the reasons against it, after A LOT of thought and self-reflection, are too many. Although I would love to campaign for and be the fifth district’s next county supervisor, the costs outweigh even the tremendous passion I have for the position. Therefore, I will not be a candidate in next spring’s election for the county board.

In light of this fact, I am open to meeting with any potential candidates in the race as a resource on what campaigning to win requires and what knowledge of policy is necessary to understand county issues. Otherwise, if time allows, I intend to pursue at least some of the following campus projects next semester:

-starting a value investing club
-starting a military history/appreciation for veterans club
-working on student veteran’s issues at the campus and state level with Vets for Vets
-getting pluralistic spirituality and student development events setup during welcome week through People Opposing Prejudice
-getting a good public speaker on the Middle East to come speak on campus
-getting a debate organized between the College Democrats and Republicans on federal, state, and local issues
-getting more involved in policy making at the city and county level
-getting an occasional column going on a couple of student blogs or possibly in a student paper

Finally, I would like to thank everyone who offered his or her sincere support for my potential candidacy, despite the great costs and risks of doing so. Putting your ass on the line for someone else you believe in is a quality I will not easily forget, even though it is now for something that just “might have been”… Keep showing such principled character as you venture into the future and you will go places.”


David Lapidus

So the question here: With the two potential favorites, David Lapidus and Suchita Shah completely out of this race, has this just become a free-for-all? If some of the most qualified individuals are bowing out, then what exactly does this race look like? Those “dark horses” might just want to start coming out and making a run for it. Because at this point, it’s a free for all.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Reworking Diversity: Take two.

During The Badger Herald's "Exploring the Issues: Race" week, I wrote an article detailing my experiences as a House Fellow at Sellery Hall and the way in which we were taught to deal with "diversity." While there were a certain number of comments that were both critical and encouraging, two stuck out. First:

First off as someone who has been through the house fellow training (all 2 weeks of it)I can tell you that there is not a "rigorous boot camp of diversity training" In fact I think the diversity training was inadequate in that there is not enough of it. Unless you have been a house fellow yourself I doubt that you would know what exactly training entails thus what you report is merely hearsay.

Perhaps I didn't make it clear, but I was at training. I understand that some of the training is not repeated or is altered, but let's not make assumption that I don't know what I'm talking about. Believe me, if there is some ambivalence, I'll let you know. now, calling it a "rigorous boot camp" might have been a little overstated. It would have better to treat it as an extended interrogation. At least, for a white student, it was. I can see how the minorities involved might have felt it was really cheap considering the compressed nature of such discussion and how it seems like a surface discussion rather than frank dialogue. In this case, good - let's extend it over the whole year, but not compartmentalize different groups or discussion. It needs to be an ongoing evaluation of how those tensions operate on campus and in housing - not a three-day free for all where House Fellows are taught to brace themselves.

The people you talk to in small discussions, groups, presentations they are not all experts, they were not elected to be there, they are merely individuals with personal experience, perhaps training that like yourself would like to create dialog and work to challenge discrimination and prejudice on our campus. And as a white male I doubt that you can fully understand the pressures and inevitable shortcomings of having to represent ones entire race or sexual identity.
You're right, I can't fully understand that pressure. Whether that pressure is put upon minorities by housing or is simply internalized I also can't evaluate. So in this case, I'll mark that as a valid point.

I also think that you are perhaps unaware of how often we have speakers and community leaders come in so perhaps what that is telling me is that we need to do more advertising because the programing, the speakers, they are there.
On Nov 2 we had Student Diplomats of South Korea come to speak, we had Dr. Mae Jemison come to speak, Thomas A. DuBois came to talk about his new book, "The World Beyond Our Borders presents", Civil Rights Legend, Joanne Bland came to speak on Nov 12, we had Cinefest, American Heritage month events, and last week was Transgender awareness week where we also had speakers and trailblazers working to make a difference. Those are just a few of the recent programs, speakers, and community leaders, that you claimed weren't available.

Well, good. I didn't have that experience in Sellery. We tried to get speakers to come discuss these sorts of issues with Sellery Hall, but ended up with Housing employees who made up presentations on such broad topics as "Culture of Fear." Go figure.

Lastly in regards to your assertion that "it hasn't worked" yes, there are still sexual, racial, ethnic slurs written on doors, there are still people who are ignorant, who ask ignorant questions. Sorry for not ending racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, ect. Do you really expect that we can in one or even four years undo more than 18 years of socialization, learned stereotypes, biases, and racist and homophobic attitudes passed down by family and community leaders throughout someone entire life thus far? You set the bar awfully high.
No we are not perfect, we will not end racism or homophobia. Not all of our programs will reach everyone but we are doing what is within our capacity as people, citizens, and students to help to fight these prejudices and if not change minds at least open them.
If I was arguing that Housing should eliminate the -ism's, I'd argue for my own redundancy, as well. I know that's impossible. However, if we are discussing what is within our capacity, the way we try to change our community depends on our approach. In my opinion, treating people as individuals rather than members of factions is a good plan. As it stands, housing guilts white house fellows into realizing what "they" have done to minorities through the passive burden of "white privilege." They tried this on us during training and it was probably one of the most insulting things I have ever sat through. I will agree that being a white male affords me an easier status in society than some minority groups, but to try and shame me for it is only going to push me further from the goals of housing. You have to bring the white majority into the discussion - placing blame may be the worst way to do it.

I appreciate that you wanted to take a hard look at diversity issues on campus and that you yourself have tried to create dialog, that is important. obviously you do care and have good intentions however I feel that you are also misinformed about the role and capacity of UW housing diversity programs and if you have suggestions, comments, programing ideas please let us know.
However, there seems to be a change in the works. The second comment I got via email was from the new director of Diversity programs for housing, Magpie Martinez:

too have had feelings at times of being overwhelmed by the sheer amount of things that can and do happen on this campus and in the halls on a daily basis.  I am very unnerved by your comments about not being able to open your mouth and speak your mind.  I am very disheartened that you felt shut down and asked to carry forward a political ideology that you didn’t’ believe in.

I am on a mission this year to END THAT.  I agree that there needs to be diversity of thought and that only through these conversations (1:1 with real people) will things change.  I don’t ever want to hear HF’s tell me that they put on a program that they didn’t believe in.  I want our efforts to be real, and to effect change. 

I met with Ms. Martinez yesterday, and the chat was very encouraging:

-She has talked with campus partners at the Office of Equity and Diversity, who have emphasized their frustration with the Housing diversity initiatives and the way in which they have stifled the opinion of house fellows. Housing employees seem reluctant to embrace change.
-She told me that this isn't the first time she's heard claims like this. She related one story of a house fellow who sat down with her and said that he was afraid of how his political leanings would prevent him from doing his job. "He sat down and told me he was a Republican. I was waiting for some sort of groundbreaking news, but that was it."
-Thankfully, certain programs won't be repeated, such as the awful Halloween program where we lectured students on what costumes they probably shouldn't wear. We got into a huge fight over that one with our residents - could have been a dialogue, instead it was a disaster.
-While she is trying to implement a new approach that treats students as individuals rather than members of separate minority groups, it's likely to meet from some resistance from the rest of Housing. We'll see how well that works.

As it stands, I think Housing could benefit from more specific discussions on issues of racial tension in America or on campus - have roundtable discussions or debates on immigration, Plan 2008, Muslims in America. Housing has to stop leading groups to social justice conclusions when those administrators can't even create a working definition of social justice among them. If we're going to encourage diversity, we need to explain it first.

So, what do you think? What are student's experiences with diversity initiatives on this campus and how should it work?

Friday, November 30, 2007

12 Degrees? And you expect results?

Just got back awhile ago from the College Dems and Republican game. My god. Just a tip next time guys: Have your game at a decent time (when it's light), on a decent field (you know, NOT in front of the Kohl Center.) and when it's not 12 degrees outside.

That being said, the game was a physical one, but much closer than expected. The Republicans pulled out to an early lead, but after two touch downs and a safety, the Democrats began to run away with it. By the end of the first half, the score was 22-15. While "O.K". and his blue bulldozers continued to trounce the self-proclaimed "Patriot" Republicans well into the second half, The CR's came back with a vengeance. Unfortunately, their push came too late. With no timeouts left and no way to stop the Dems on their last possession, the Republicans surrendered to their fate and watched as the Dems ran out the clock.

Final Score: 41-34, Democrats.

That being said, I had barely any idea what I was doing. I'm sure that showed. I was just hoping I didn't have to make any crucial judgment calls.

Speaking of judgment calls, David Lapidus told our reporter, Pedro Oliveria Jr., that he'd be deciding whether or not to run tonight. Everyone I've talked to seems to discuss it like it's a forgone conclusion, and I have to say, I'd be shocked if it turned out any differently from what "insiders" are saying. I guess we'll find out soon enough.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

That may have been the loudest tree in a forest...

Ashok, we hardly knew ye.

With the news of his departure, Madison's political elite is chomping at the bit to replace him with some upstanding student who can truly bring the weight of the student body to the county level. Who? Well, Suchita always sounds like a good choice, but I know she probably won't want to - that whole "real life" thing gets in the way of politics, and that's a good thing. David Lepidus? Sure, I'd stand behind that. Conservative or not, good representation is good representation. However, the question that nobody seems to be asking about this is probably the most important.

How do you get students to care?

Believe me, I've written about this before, and I'm entirely concerned about how segregated fees have been manipulated under our noses, how city council twiddles its thumbs on reasonable police increases and how Dane Co. doesn't really acknowledge the existent of the undergraduate student body. We're politically active, but only on the BIG issues. With the presidential primaries coming around the corner, it's going to be hard to get anyone to care about some seemingly pointless local race. No one did anything that important before and the world didn't collapse, why should we care now? It's a hard case to make.

However, I have a plan. I'll reveal a little more about it after a heaping helping of some turkey and stuffing to remove the stress, but I can only say a few things:

1) it will start next semester.
2) It will require the cooperation and patience of every person of political standing on campus, in Madison and Dane Co. That includes you, bloggers.
3) It will try and bring the political scene to students in a way that admits the faults, but lets them know they actually have a lot of sway, if only they'd speak up. The only way to do that means not being so stuffy about politics - honesty includes a fair amount of comedy, I think.

I've been feeling ambitious lately, what with all the talk of change and hope and vision (Thanks Obama, now it's stuck in my head). I think now might be the time to finally reach out to the uninterested and show them what local politics is really about.

But for now, I'm hitching a ride back to Racine. Hopefully the RUSD hasn't collapsed and I can pay a visit to my old high school. Hopefully my high school hasn't collapsed (built during the Lincoln presidency).

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Addressing the criticism: in print and online.

So, we all see the elephant in the room, so let's address it. I must defend my integrity that has been assaulted by the Union and others, so let me defend myself more specifically than my article does.

First off, that story was right to go into opinion. News was never an option as they don't allow those who write opinion to cover news. It's just a rule at the Herald.

While I was ambivalent about posting my anonymous source information earlier, considering the fact that Critical Badger and Mr. Opsal have no problem doing this, I may as well, explain further.

In the story, I really only explicitly refer to allegations made by "Jorge" and so, as it appears on the surface, seems entirely suspect. However, what was not mentioned was that the way I was able to contact Jorge was through another custodial employee, one who is a legal worker, who has worked at the union for a long time (at least 10 years) who detailed the allegations "Jorge" made and added his own dealings with "Jorge's" disability coverage, which at the time, he said Union officials tried to deny him the disability because they had "not received any paperwork." When this custodian heard it, he says went with "Jorge" to a woman Jorge said helped him fill out the initial paperwork and asked her if she did indeed do this. When she said she did, the custodian brought this to Union officials, who allegedly "found" this paperwork and went ahead with his disability check. The reason I did not print these claims is because I didn't get confirmation from "Jorge" as I forgot to ask. A journalist's honest mistake.

Most of the claims I heard about worker mistreatment didn't just come from Jorge, it came also from this anonymous custodial source. This person also put me in contact with another worker at the union who claimed to have been assaulted by co-workers on the job, but when asked for police, they allegedly either were not contacted or a supervisor (the same one in Jorge's story) switched the story, claiming that the allegedly assaulted co-worker was in fact that one doing the attacking. I attempted (and am still attempting) to contact this person to get their side of the story, but when I initiated this contact around three months ago, I got their spouse on the phone, who informed me they were initiating legal action against the union. When I mentioned what I had heard from my source, I was told, "and you know what? It's probably about five times worse than you mentioned. It wasn't one incident, it was a few years of stuff that was going on." So, to clarify, it wasn't just Jorge, it was a few months of talking to my source at the union, trying to get ahold of Jorge and this other union employee.

However, the problem is that my second source, had I detailed as "a long time custodian with years of experience," his employment at the Union would be seriously placed in doubt, as, when I went back to ask some follow up questions, he had been moved from his regular detail, where he encountered lots of people and often had time to chat, to setup detail and carpet cleaning on the fourth floor - he had told me that his supervisor had told him this would happen as they didn't want him talking to so many people. I tried limiting mention of him because if this could be tied to him, it could potentially end his longtime employment. I was trying to protect my source. I understand that it could have been included a little in the story and stated more explicitly, but I have tried to clear this up here.

The reason I did not wait for the other source on this story was because I didn't plan to include it in this story. At the most, I would have included it as a mention of what would be included with a later article - which, if I can get a hold of the other source in the next few days, I plan to write this person's story as well. I wanted to separate this second source from Jorge, as it sounded like they had far different elements involved, but shared the same mistreatment by the same supervisor.

There are other claims on the table that the ramp situation seems untrue. I believe this to be a misconception - there is an incline that they had to push in order to move the machine to the elevator. This could have been more explicitly stated, I admit.

As for statements made by Union officials, I did lay out the accusations, though I was most through with Marc Kennedy in explaining what was being alleged. In each case, they patently denied these claims, said that they have no reason to believe this to be the case and restated that they follow the documentation law to the tee. Marc Kennedy did explain some of the LTE stuff that wasn't explicitly stated, but I did mention that they're trying to move away from this sort of LTE use and that they increased the pay to a living wage in July 2007. This may have been seen as directly relating to Jorge, but it was intended to cover the LTE policy itself.

As for the inaccuracies Erik's anonymous source claims, I would say that the overtime remark is not inaccurate, it's Jorge's misunderstanding of what was owed to him. Even in this case, as I understand it, there is a certain hourly limit for these workers (meaning LTE's) that has to be followed and if it's not, working past these given times could put them over that limit.

These were the claims placed in front of me, the way they were presented and the way I handled them. I feel confidently that, in time, the risk in printing this article will prove the right move when more people come forward. The feedback I have recieved (albiet, off the record) seems encouraging and therefore, I intend to press on, collect more information, and report back with any new information.

I understand the criticism and encourage it, as the truth can't be reached by simply latching on to one side. However, I would say we should be critical not only of my coverage, but of the Union's response as well.

Friday, October 26, 2007

I'm going as Kevin Barrett for Halloween.

I mean, it seems appropriate. The last few years on State Street, I've tried to think of something that people would react to and either get angry with or laugh at. Last year, when I dressed up as "your mom," most people just found it amusing that I dressed in drag, but some obvious homophobes followed me at some length yelling anti-gay slurs. Which just goes to show how confused they were to conflate transvestites with homosexuality, especially on Halloween.

However, I feel Kevin Barrett is a proper approach for this year, with his straggly hair and beard, small glasses, 9/11 for truth t-shirt, all while protesting and shouting seemingly absurd statements through the streets. Will I get hit with something? Probably. Will I actually see Kevin Barrett and feel awkward? Perhaps. However, I can think of no local figure that is more of a character than Mr. Barrett and will see to it that we recognize him for what he has become: a clown.

Which is sad, because he used to be a figure of the academic freedom that certain visitors had tried to remove from this campus (as well as certain legislators). However, with that outburst at Monday's Islamo-Fascist-Awareness-Defense-Explanation-Fight-Week Event, I lost any respect I had for him. He almost ruined the event for all of us, just shifting around while people obviously wanted him to sit down.

My question is: had he followed the rule and asked his question at the mic, would it have even been answered? Would you hear another outcry then?


As for Mr. Horowitz himself, I thought he had some valid points, despite having absolutely no path to his points:

1. The country of Iran, the remnants of the Taliban have used their extreme version of Islamic law to control the populace in every facet they deem necessary. While that may not rise to the level of Fascism as it's based in Theological rule rather than Benito Mussolini's perversion of Mazzini's "Duties of Man," I think the term "Islamo-Fascism" may be an accurate description for these regimes. As for the Al-Qaeda of the Maghreb who apparently originated this phrase, it makes little sense, considering the fact that they operate as a terrorist organization, not a state.

2. Islam, as conceived by these groups, is not true Islam. I think most of the MSA would agree with that.

3. The Jewish state would face some significant pressure (although I think genocide is an absolutely ridiculous extreme, as America, Britain and the states that established it would never truly let it COMPLETELY disarm) if it greatly reduced its military presence and dismantled their nuclear stockpile (and it is there).

However, from there, Mr. Horowitz just got...ridiculous.

1. Yes, everyone cites the "Ottoman Empire founded in 1522" remark. It makes no sense, but few people have actually explained the truth. Quick background:
Until around..1204, the area of Turkey was controlled, with some loosing steam, by the Byzantine Empire. However, due to their shifting power relationship with the Republic of Veince, they were starting to have a contentious relationship. Eventually, during the Fourth Crusade, the Venetians decided they had enough of this subordinate, but preferred trade relationship, and with the help of Frankish crusaders, sacked the city of Constantinople and dismantled the Byzantine Empire. This lasted until the 1260's, when the Byzantines retook the city from nearby Nicea.

However, since the 11th Century, a portion of Anatolia was under the rule of a Seljuk Muslim Sultanate. Eventually, Seljuk dominance wanes and gives way to the Ottoman Turks, who succeed them with their Sultan, Osman I, around 1299. This date, 1299, is really the official establishment of the Ottoman Empire. The more accurate solidifying element of the OE occurs when they kick the Byzantines out of Constantinople, once and for all, in 1453. This is probably the date Horowitz was looking for. 1522 has no specific significance, except that it was in the middle of the Ottoman height of territorial power.

The Ottoman Empire lasts until WWI, when their defeat on the side of the Central Powers leads to their dismantling and the rise of the secular and modern Turkey, under the rule of founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Today, it is still secularized, but there is increasing religious influence in the political scene, especially with Abdullah Gul, who is seen as having a strong Islamist background, winning the Presidency.

However, the establishment of the Ottoman Empire had little to do with Horowitz point - which means there didn't seem to be much of one. Except that Turkey is an Islamic country. Who happen to be targeting Kurds now.

2. His assertion that Israel is surrounded millions of "Arabs ready to kill them." Also, an overstatement. The state of Israel is contentious, but they make it out to be hatred of Judaism in general, especially by Horowitz. The issue has always been where the land is, not with Judaism in general. Yes, both Christians and Muslims have oppressed Jews, but Muslims, at least by way of the tenants of Islam, come out looking a lot better than Christians on their treatment. Because of the fact that Muslims consider themselves part of Abraham's neglected family (meaning Ishmael), they have strong ties to the Judeo-Christian version of events and consider Christians and Jews protected people, to some extent, under Islamic doctrine. The only people that Muslims have really waged war against were those who they felt threatened their religion (such as those during the Crusades) and the pagan religions who were not protected - and even that march into the east that nearly eradicated such religions as Buddhism and the militaristic expansion stemmed from new theological defense created in order to keep the Muslims together who came after Mohammad and it stopped after 100 years or so.

Of course, there has been massive change since the establishment of Islam. Something I'll save for another day. And of course, if any Muslims come upon this and feel there is a profound misunderstanding in this explanation (or really, anyone who understands Islam better than I, which is a LOT of people) please correct me. I'm just trying to provide some interpretation.

Iran may be extremely hostile toward Israel, as well as other Arab states, but we must not expand these comments to think that "Muslims hate Jews," or Christians or any other group that would obviously be a harsh generalization. Otherwise, the misunderstandings will build into mountains.

Overall, I have to say that Mr. Horowitz did a service to free speech, but really destroyed any semblance of civil discourse by chastising his audience as idiots.

However, to our audience, even the ones who didn't really ask questions but just made statements: you did much better than some universities.

Now, there is a lot more in the way of explanations and exceptions that some may cite, but for now, I'll leave it at that.

Now that it's Halloween, let's just think about that for now, eh?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

And finally, the video from Horowitz.

The two videos are split this way:
Video 1 starts with some interviews before the speech, a few opening remarks by Horowitz, and ends with the Barrett freakout.

Video 2 starts and ends with the Q and A session.

There will be another supplementary video with comments from a few students afterward, but for now, this will suffice.

Lesson no. 1: Never trust WSUM equipment.

After thinking that the studio equipment at WSUM would provide good narration possibilities, I find that instead, their computers are complete failures.

After editing a 20 minute video of tonight's Islamo-Fascist adventure, I went to save the movie - when it crashed. I was able to reboot with all my edits in tact and thought it necessary to save the project before something else went wrong. Too late. When I tried to save the project, it crashed once again, this time leaving my timeline completely blank with no process for recovery.

I'm now taking my videos home for re-editing, before this corrupt Dell does any more damage to my night.

Thanks for a waste of 5 hours, I guess.

Expect video at around 9am. Normal recap and reflections earlier than that.

However, right now, my only reflection on the night: Fucking Dell.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Dead? Far from it.

The fact that I haven't updated this blog in nearly a month distressed me greatly, but thankfully, we have the grand spectacle of David Horowitz to provide some content. I'm likely going to post some coverage of the Horowitz protest and speech - both live blogging and video coverage - tonight.

The problem I've been having with this blog is the conflict between this and The Badger Herald blog. What do I post on here that I don't post on Muckrakers? I still haven't quite figured out an answer to that question, but I will try - and this is an honest effort this time - to provide one by next week, with normal updates. I've dropped a class and have a leaner schedule that allows for some flexibility now, so hopefully I can contribute a little more frequently.

This blog is not dead. It was just on holiday.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

A few weekend musings...

They'll be followed by a more lengthy update later tonight, but for now...

-What is the deal with College Library? These beanbags are relaxing - and certainly allowed me to take a brief nap before my History discussion at 8:50 in the morning - but where are the all the chairs and tables?

According to this helpful little "New Tables Soon!" sheet....

New, larger tables with outlets (similar to the one in the center of this room)are being delivered and installed next month...Since we distributed most of the furniture in this room to other places in the library, we haven't actually lost any seats overall. It just looks a little thin right now!

Hmm. It actually feels a lot like high school, Very informal, chilled out. Now if only they could actually ACTIVATE the other outlets that are just useless blocks in the ground.

-Hey Badgers. shape up. It wasn't a pretty victory.
-Hey, Fix your website. I don't want to see a picture slide show of the last week's near disaster when I know you have photos from this week's near disaster. I know you're not that handy with technology and you're still getting ahold of this blogging thing, but you can surely use ONE photo from the game, can't you? Uploaded during halftime, even? Come on. If you can alarm the public about a guy who's not even in this state in a matter of minutes, surely you can take a few more to post one picture of the Spartans and the Badgers smashing into each other. If you can't do that, then don't insist upon photos of last week's game in hopes that you look "savvy." You don't. You look lazy.

-Note to the general public: Don't take ILS 252 if you think you're getting an easy science course out of the deal. Or if you think ILS is a haven for liberals, given the material or public figures who've majored in the field (i.e. Russ Feingold). Tim Allen is far from liberal and he'll explain as much at the onset. And he'll explain a lot more, without any structural framework as he impersonates any manner of mating animals during his "lecture." Interesting class if you're feeling schizophrenic.

-Speaking of liberal bastarizations of education, the Isthmus article on Steve Nass sounds to me like it's ripe for an early opinion piece on this "Student Bill of Rights" business...Monday, maybe?

-I'm still working feaverishly on homework, but I expect to get a post out about this Friday's "Segregated Fee Review Committee," as soon as possible. I was only there for a little less than half of the proceedings (four hours long), but what I saw didn't look too promising. More on that tonight.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Well, that was quick...

Update (1:20 p.m., Sept. 28): The incident involving an armed robbery on the campus border has been resolved.

A suspect is in custody and the area can return to normal operations.

Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.


Another Security Concern?

This just in from UWPD:

An armed robbery occurred in the City of Madison, along the border of the
University. The suspect was seen entering the 21 N. Park Street Administration
building. Smith and Ogg Hall, two residence halls were immediately locked and the
search of 21 North Park Street began.

Students and Staff are asked to remain out of the area. Students in the Ogg and
Smith Halls should find shelter in a safe place. Persons in or around 21 N. Park
should follow the on-scene police instructions.

Tune to local media or visit the homepage for additional

What the fuck is happpening to this city?

Hey, remember that whole Seg Fee Committee?

Well, I guess they're finally going to do something! Sure, it might just be talking, but they're doing it today.
3pm, Van Hise, room 1820.

Of course, you wouldn't know that because they don't publicize these meetings...

Here's my question: is that because it is closed? I sincerely hope not.

Monday, September 24, 2007

If you're a glutton for punishment..l.

check out the live blog of the SSFC meeting tonight at the Badger Herald. We have Polygon, MCSC and...Students for Tenant Resource Center.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Question to any readers:

What should be the direction of the video in the Herald Blog? I don't really have a camera - everything that you watched from the CAN protest was done on a very old Sony Cybershot. However, what is worth covering, what would you like to see done with this?

Every suggestion is welcome.

And the Anti-War machine rolls on...

Just saw this on Wispolitics. I guess CAN is far more organized than I anticipated, if this is them. Which, I'm not clear on whether it is.

Iraq War veteran will return his medals

On September 26, 2007 a demonstration will begin at 2PM in Library Mall. We will march up State Street to the Capitol and return Josh Gaines' military service metals to the Governor. Josh Gaines is an Iraq War Veteran. He will return his Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and National Defense Service Medal to Gov. Jim Doyle.

Protesters will be calling for the de-federalization of the WI National Guard. We believe it is in the best interest of the country that the National Guard remains in the U.S.A. for use in disaster relief and border control. Organizers are asking that other Veterans return Military Service Medals to the Governor along with Gaines.

The demonstration will end with the demand, Mr. Doyle have a public meeting with anti-war students and the public for the de-federalization of the WI National Guard.

Ryan Olander

First off - Defederalization of the National Guard? Wow. Not only is that just way out there, but it's treating this issue like the states are just part of a "coalition of the willing." Sorry guys, but this isn't a volunteering of forces.

Of course, they must realize how unlikely and impossible this is, but it's actually a smart move on their part. First Halliburton, now the Governor's Office. Looking for press to cover you, aren't you? As much as I figured the anti-war movement would pickup pretty quickly, I didn't imagine it would have demands this nuanced. Simply chanting "Get out of Iraq" is one thing, asking for a principled redistribution based on other needs is something I didn't expect. These activists are finally becoming organized.

I think what we could be witnessing is a return to the Vietnam era style protests. Maybe not this year, but perhaps next year if this thing drags on. Now you have Lori Berquam coming out in favor of these protesters (which I'm surprised she still has her job, actually. Perhaps they'll force her out with a scandal if it continues? I hope not, she actually is making a pretty bold move here.)

However, it all scares me a little bit. Not because it could result in a big mistake on the part of certain protesters and force others to use violence. No, it's because this could actually result in the whole campus joining. And other campus joining. It could result in basically every productive unit of academia shutting force and end to this war. And that could mean serious national tension, which at this point has only two ways out: appease or repress.

Ok, maybe I'm getting ahead of the whole thing. However. It is interesting. And I think I might cover it.

Yet, there is a bigger problem with these protests. On the day of the Halliburton protest, there was a rally (or at least there was supposed to be one) against tuition increases at the Capitol. Ok, now maybe that's not the most pertinent local concern considering the fact that our legislature is still acting like a bunch of babies, (Even after the Healthy Wisconsin drop has been offered, Nice stubbornness, Heubsch.)
but it was something that directly effected students. Instead, more students were drawn to the allure of the CAN protests. Bigger, better.

Lori Berquam was right. We need a return to activism on this campus. However, activism doesn't have to mean protesting for nought. It can mean being a guerrilla lobbyist at the capitol and demanding change where it might actually happen.

Oh well. Wishful thinking I guess.

Friday, September 21, 2007

and's done.

And by the way - no sleep. I am getting no sleep.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

In case you're wondering...

I'm blogging today over at the Herald. Check out occasional posts throughout the day and wait for the video footage tonight. As soon as I compile it.

Hyperlinks aren't working for some reason, so just go to and click on Muckrakers.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

And after a nice football game...

...why not follow it up with a nice bar fight? To anyone who was around State Street Brats around 9:00 pm, what were the specifics?

When I came up, there was a huge crowd on both sides of the street, along with about 3 cop cars, an ambulance and a fire engine. Seems like a bit much for one bar fight, but in State Street Brats on a Saturday, I suppose you need to prepare back up in case something gets out of control.

When I passed by, the police just had one man, in a Steelers coat and incredibly trashed, outside in cuffs as police poured a pitcher of water over his head to clean him off. Lovely. Takes me back to the good ol' days in Sellery.

On a slightly related note, a vote on the alcohol license density plan is coming up on the 18th.

Friday, September 14, 2007

A few updates..

First off, in case you haven't seen it, the Herald opinion page has a blog, named after our fallen radio show, Muckrakers. We started live blogging last night, at the Students for Obama kickoff and the arrival of the Venezuelan ambassador. Go check it out.

As for the kickoff itself, it was a little underwhelming. Certainly nice to hear that Obama is coming to Madison, but I expected that to happen anyway. What I really want to hear is their reasoning for why I should vote for him, something that was lacking a compelling argument. Sure, Eli Judge supports him because of his defense of LGBT issues, but that's not a compelling reason in and of itself.

Apparently they were supposed to show a film? What kind of film, Erik?

What I find quite strange about all of this hoopla over Obama is the amount of messianic talk I find in the rhetoric. On the fliers around campus, one of the most noticeable words is "faith." Without looking at the picture in the flier, I thought they was trying to drive up numbers for PrimeTime or a Christian organization. I mean, even that logo invokes the divine.

If not divine at least bombastic.

I suppose it's inspiring that these students are that enthusiastic about throwing their efforts toward change the country. However, hanging your hopes on a charismatic leader has a mixed results. That's why it's good these events are kicking off now - give us time to investigate. I'll probably do some live blogging from Students for Hillary as well. See if that's any more interesting.

Oh, and as for that spitting match comment on Something Verbose: meh. He's got his job, I've got mine. They conflict sometimes. So it goes.

I'll leave you with this - care of another Herald employee. I know we're not supposed to criticize, and I promise this will be the last time (unless something major happens) but...well, take a look.

Look at the staff list. Which of these things just doesn't belong?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

3PM: A Brief History of...Origins of Rock and Roll

Just to let you know, today's show on WSUM 91.7 fm will be an hour long spin through pre-rock and roll. The influences of Blues (Robert Johnson), Jazz (Django Reinhardt) Jump Blues (Fats Domino), Country (Merle Travis) and Gospel (Sam Cooke) will all be on display at 3pm today. Tune in by radio or by webcast.

And as soon as those damned archives start working again, I'll post the previous episode.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Alright, so it's a bit lo-budget in comparison to the Lips...

but it works.

Or, at least it worked before Leslie and the Ly's took the stage. Cher kept replaying as a mute image on the screen. However, after a little help from some new cords, we're back in business.

They just finished "shoot them in the brains" and the audience is crowding the front of the stage.

Leslie Hall is doing well in her gold pants and now a golden..shoulder pad?

"It's very sci-fi."

That it is, you crazy Iowa kids. You know how to bring the beats.

Ponys are up next.

It's 8:30...

and the 1900's are up and running, fairly well, with two pretty attractive female singers. The occasionally infusion of a casio keyboard is a bit unnerving, but their vocal stylings make up for it.

The Pony's have their things set up on the side of the stage and are ready to go.

We're still looking for Leslie Hall, who said she was going to go "walk around." Hopefully she comes here in time to strap on those gold pants of hers. The amount of props she has is always a good sign.

In true radio fashion, the WSUM DJ's are walking around with microphones, interviewing patrons, band members and other such involved people.

Update 4 - Snake on the Lake

DLO was fantastic

Right now, Maps and Atlases are up playing...and the first problem of the day happens as the drummer's top cymbal just...falls off in the middle of their first song. Whoops.

Still not that crowded, but it's getting there. The front of the stage has filled up finally, but the dancing is a bit...bobble-headed. just going back and forth. I guess that's what indie rock does to people. Oh well.

1900's are here and ready to go.

Map and Atlases sounds "like 70's prog rock" according to Marcus. However, Marcus is pretty drunk.

I think they sound really out of tune from a distance, but the shifting tempos might actually lend credence to Marcus' claim.

More as become available. Everything is running smoothly.

The German Art Students are off...

A nice 45 minute set punctuated by Pixies-pop rock and a spoken word finale. Now DLO and Stink Tank are loading up to bring a little hip-hop to the crowd.

No one's been dancing, and with the way the heat's beating down, that's not going to change for awhile. Channel 15 came by and talked to our station manager, so that's some good publicity, although she said, "I probably sounded stupid."

Maps and Atlases have moved into the load in area and we're in some pretty good shape. Let's hope that smooth movement continues through the day.

Randy is talking to his mom and dad at the merch table right now. what a nice family.

So here's a different question - why has the rathskellar not moved out it's beer to the terrace? It's usually out here by now, but I've seen no movement to suggest they're coming out. Guess that's going to mean one looonnnggg line.

on a seperate note, WSUM is far more prepared than WUD usually is with their events. Good stuff.

DLO/Stink Tank in 5. Stay tuned.

First quote...

"Oh yeah, you look like a German Art Student...what do you do? Oh, guitar? Yeah, I dig chicks who play guitar..." - Marcus

Snake on the Lake Fest - 2:30

It's about 30 minutes before the German Art Students and it's already getting too hot for comfort. The terrace isn't exactly packed for a Saturday afternoon, but it's getting there. Let's hope the students can split their time between the game and some music.

Of course, I know that probably won't happen.

Although, I am looking forward to hearing a few of the local bands, such as German Art Students (who were booked easily as Randy Balwahn, our fundraising director, is one of the members). I don't know much about local groups, but this should give a few primers to me and the other uninitiated viewers. Everyone is pretty lax out here now, but I anticipate that changing rather soon.

More updates throughout the day, pictures at the very end.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Correction to my Wednesday column.

the article that talked about Spencer Black should have said "state Rep. Spencer Black." Don't know why I wrote senator. I apologize for the mistake.

Just a reminder...

My new radio show starts today, at 3pm on WSUM 91.7 Fm. "A brief history of..." will be starting with Old-time country music. If you have a fetish for Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys (despite the fact that they sound like women) or just pine for a return to the days when country was called "hillbilly music," tune in by radio or by webcast.

Good one, Cardinal, Good one.

First off, I'm glad to see the Daily Cardinal has not completely atrophied. After taking a look at yesterday's issue of a whopping eight pages, I was afraid they were cutting back on staff, pages and reporters. Thankfully, today's paper shows that is not the case.

Erik Opsal, of the Hippie Perspective, Students for Obama campaign and the Daily Cardinal, wrote an opinion piece on why old Ogg Hall should just be used to house those we turned away. This part from Paul Evans really deserved a scoff:

According to UW-Madison Housing Director Paul Evans, the university did consider saving one of the old Ogg towers, but eventually decided against it.

“It just isn’t a practical option,” Evans said. “The reasons why we wanted to tear down Ogg still exist. We’d still have to spend a lot of money to get that building to be where we want it to be.” However, with a chronic lack of housing for incoming freshman, keeping at least one tower open—which would provide enough housing for those who need it until new dorms are built—seems like common sense.

When he says, "where we want it to be" and "up to code" don't seem to be synonymous here. Yes, Ogg is a poorly designed, ratty sort of building. Yet, when I lived there a mere three years ago, it certainly served it's purpose and was able to continue serving it's purpose for some time to come.

UW-Milwaukee has a similar problem with housing, but it's because of lack of money, it's because of lack of space. They just can't build anywhere. We have two towers of empty...nothing that have been used for practice drills by the Firefighters and police officers. So why couldn't we use it to house paying students?

The Herald Ed Board has already criticized the actions of our Republican lawmakers for attempting to nix the Lakeshore plans from the budget, but UW Housing really deserves the blame on this one. We actually didn't have housing issues last year because Smith added an additional 600 beds while Old Ogg was still up and running. Now, they replace Ogg Hall with a new, smaller building and we just decide to go back to shortages because the building is inefficient?

If we knew what they WANT to replace and what absolutely NEEDS to be replaced, then perhaps we could better evaluate housing's decision. Until then, I'm glad people at the Cardinal, including their Ed Board, are finally tackling important issues rather than shaking fingers at UW athletes and giving the thumbs up to religious dietary options.

Edit: I'd link to those Ed Board opinion, but they don't seem to be on the Cardinal Website...a search for "Daily Cardinal Editorial Board" renders "three results," but only shows today's article. Come on!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

And such a long hiatus, a return!

But I'm back. It's been a hectic last two weeks putting together the Reg Issue of the Badger Herald, but it's out, and it's accompanying second edition, full of Badger's victory over Washington State, will be out on Tuesday. We go back to work on that same day, putting out our first regular issue on Wednesday.

However, some things to talk about before then, seeing I've been practically invisible since the Herald started...

-MU Bash is tonight, and it's about an hour before they start. I'll probably post a little round up of their performance, along with what the feeling was of MU Bash in general. I'm looking at the line-up now of activities now, but it seems quite sparse. Perhaps that will change once the Freshmen pack the hallways, but it does seem like there is a lot less to do here than in previous years...

-On a separate note, we had Trombone Shorty, a New Orleans based funk/jazz artist at the terrace last
night, and it was far better than expected. WUD sort of booked it on a whim, and there was talk of trying to get Band of Horses here instead, as they were available, but I doubt they would have energized the crowd more than Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews did. Although there were a few times I gave my usual musical snob snort -- such as when he played Lenny Kravitz tunes, "Runnin" and his cover of the Guess Who's "American Woman" -- I must admit, the crowd was on par with our Hip-Hop menagerie earlier in the summer. In the end, the crowd was feeling funky and they got down. In a show of how well he knew the crowd, he even inserted a little "Jump Around" to satisfy the sea of red that came over to enjoy a brisk summer night.

He was supposed to play two sets, one hour each. Instead, he played for about 2 and a half hours straight. "I don't think we've ever played a crowd this big, or with this much energy. It just makes me wanna keep going!" And they did. I actually heard the masses in front of the stage yell "encore" at the top of their lungs, the second they started to step off the stage. Now, THAT is impressive.

-Just saw ASM at a table where they gave me a little light-hearted jabbing over the Ed Board opinion on segregated fees. It looks like this will be an interesting year for campus politics, but I'm optimistic. Hopefully we'll be able to work together instead of against each other. After all, we're both, as Art Brut would say, "just talking to the kids," right? Maybe I should stop using kids though. I've been told I use that term a lot. That arrogant Smathers!

- So, another point of contention is this weekend's two competing festivals - SoCo festival with the Flaming Lips (21 and up, only) and WSUM's inaugural Snake on the Lake Fest with the 1900's and the Pony's. I'm torn, but having seen the Lips at Lollapalooza and taking part in their orgasmic visual spectacle, I think I'll catch WSUM's festival, especially since I probably owe a radio station that's given me the opportunity to do a show with all British music. Which leads me to....

-New Radio Show! Although we couldn't continue Muckrakers because of scheduling conflicts, I will have a new show this semester. With my friend musical encyclopedia, John Vanek, we'll be spinning through a different genre of music every week, Thursday's at 3pm at WSUM 91.7 fm. We're starting out with a salute to old Western music, then going through a spin of the origins of Rock N' Roll (circa 1953) the week after that. From there...British Invasion, 60's Psychedelia and forward. If you have any genre suggestions, send me an email at and I'll get on it.

Other than that, we have a busy week ahead of us at the Herald, but would enjoy it if the community voice could contribute with letters to the editor, guest editorials, etc. If you've got a desire to sound off on a local issue, speak on behalf of a community org, or just have a beef with us, send it along. We'll print it.

Send pieces, inquiries, etc to either or and we'll get on the case.

And I promise, I'll try and update much more often.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

US and World News College Ratings - disclaimer

After seeing the slew of articles both hailing and lamenting the position of our lovely university, Mr. Spirn posted this insider report on UW-Madison "tumbling" to no. 38, behind Illinois and Georgia Tech. Cries of calamity and "second-tier" ratings are abound.

So let's take a closer look at the situation, as the official ranking is out and confirms that post.

First off, if we compare this rating to last year's ratings, UW hasn't dropped THAT far. Last year, we were tied for 34 with three other universities. Below that, Georgia Tech was tied for 38 with two other universities, and Illinois was ranked at 41.

They don't even have a ranking of top national universities, they just take four and list them. How comprehensive.

So, here's the question: where does the ranking come from? These are these incredibly complicated catagories, but it basically breaks down as such:
-Retention - 20 percent
-Faculty Resources - 20 percent
-Student selectivity - 15 percent
-Financial Resources -10 percent
-Graduation rate performance - 5 percent
-Alumni giving rate - 5 percent

but the biggest category is the most disputed:

Peer assessment (weighting: 25 percent). The U.S. News ranking formula gives greatest weight to the opinions of those in a position to judge a school's undergraduate academic excellence. The peer assessment survey allows the top academics we consult—presidents, provosts, and deans of admissions—to account for intangibles such as faculty dedication to teaching. Each individual is asked to rate peer schools' academic programs on a scale from 1 (marginal) to 5 (distinguished). Those who don't know enough about a school to evaluate it fairly are asked to mark "don't know." Synovate, an opinion-research firm based near Chicago, collected the data; of the 4,089 people who were sent questionnaires, 58 percent responded.

So an entire quarter of the score is dependant on academics and administrator's scorecard based on whatever can't be quantified? Hmm. If that's so important, I better see MIT take a hit in the rankings (It did, dropped 3 places). In any case, quite a few people find this rating incredibly biased, such as the Education Conservancy, who sent out a letter to college presidents in 2007:

Among other reasons, we believe [...] rankings: imply a false precision and authority that is not warranted by the data they use;obscure important differences in educational mission in aligning institutions on a single scale;say nothing or very little about whether students are actually learning at particular colleges or universities;encourage wasteful spending and gamesmanship in institutions' pursuing improved rankings;overlook the importance of a student in making education happen and overweight the importance of a university's prestige in that process; and degrade for students the educational value of the college search process. We ask you to make the following two commitments: 1. Refuse to fill out the U.S. News and World Report reputational survey. 2. Refuse to use the rankings in any promotional efforts on behalf of your college or university, and more generally, refuse to refer to the rankings as an indication of the quality of your college or university."

These universities eventually signed the letter, but I can't imagine how the impact can be approximated (or if there even IS an impact.). In any case, at least 25 percent of these ratings are pretty subjective.

I would like to give that breakdown, but I don't really feel like paying 15 bucks for the details. As soon as their book comes out, I'll head out to the Barnes and Noble and jot down the figures, but for now, take everything in these ratings with a grain of salt.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Just a notice...

This blog is now open to anonymous comments. So, any critics who would like to tear me apart...deface my blog, not Critical Badger.

You might be a lame duck if...

Hmm. Let's see. The last one of my trusted inner circle has jumped ship and I need someone with loyalty. Someone with integrity! Someone who can rebuild our legitimacy after years of failed proposals, a failed war and a looming trade showdown with China.

Of course! Baseball!

Cal Ripken Jr., who usually avoids the political arena, was named a State Department sports envoy yesterday. He plans to remain politically neutral even as he joins forces with the Bush administration to try to bolster America's image overseas.

The former Orioles superstar said yesterday that he didn't accept the unpaid post to make a political statement but rather to work with children from other nations on baseball...

The State Department's Bureau of Educational Affairs will pay his travel expenses. His first trip will be to China in late October.

What a low. Some are heralding Rove's departure as the end of the Bush presidency, but I think the President's last action of any value was his immigration proposal, even though that ultimately failed as well. Other than that, it's been the same deal across the board: Wait for progress in Iraq, twiddle thumbs on national security, send envoys to whimper at Chinese business leaders.

Sorry, but American retailers are going to make diplomacy decisions on Beijing before this administration does anything.

Well, at least Condi's "sticking around." If anyone else is going to leave, they seem to have until labor day, if we can believe the CNN report. Otherwise, they're in for the long haul.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The dream is over...

Mayor Dave has given up his "trolley" idea. Finally. I'm sure those who voted for Mayor Dave in the April elections probably did so with one thought, "As long as he doesn't actually think that trolley idea is going to work." I give the man credit for finally dumping the idea and admitting defeat. He's not going to pursue it, he's not even going to try and get it on the RTA agenda.

Good job. He may not be admitting he's wrong, but at least he's removed that unsightly growth from his plans.

Now that this nonsense is out of the way, perhaps we can focus on crime a little more?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

No protest yet...

...but they are going into the crowd and handing out a few DVD's of their "9/11 truth" documentary. I had to chase a few off (Union property, can't solicit), but I'm now regretting that I did as one Union employee and 9/11 truth purveyor kept referring to "punk bitches" and said he might be forced to do something he's going to get in trouble for.

Mr. Barrett is lurking...

...around memorial union. There's already an employee walking around with a few other people who have a large banner they're ready to unfurl. Right now there's a blues band on stage, but I wouldn't be surprised if they wait for the break to take advantage of the silence...and fill it with a little action.

More information as it becomes available.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

36.09(5) - Shared Governance or Throwing the dogs a bone?

As you might have read on in the Cap Times or Something Verbose, the Board of Regents voted in favor of Chancellor Wiley on the off-campus rent issue. Basically it means that...
Sex Out Loud!, CFACT and PAVE are relegated to the basement of Memorial Union. The Union is going to pay to renovate their space, as offices are in an old flooded space in the basement. However, according to Alex Gallagher, they have no money for maintenance as that line item was included in Off-Campus Rent. So if they want to keep their basic space running, they'll either need to dip into the reserve board (money left over at the end of each year) or cut other expenditures. Does that mean SOL! will have to hold off on the strap-ons? How will the children know how to properly peg each other?

Wispirg is still shacked up with MCSC and the Jewish Cultural Collective is enjoying a cosy living arrangement with Hillel.

But what about the Roman Catholic Foundation? Yes, they're hanging out with St. Paul's for now, but part of their settlement with the UW stipulates that they have to cut ties with St. Paul's. Does that mean UW has to find space for them as well or do we just wait for another set of lawsuits? Gallagher declined to comment on the UWRCF situation stating, "that's too political, I'm not going to get into that...All I can say is those groups have been able to obtain housing for free." Sounds like I'll have to have another chat with Tim Kruse.

It sets up questions about the future of segregated fees, but the bigger issue on the side of ASM is how this hampers Shared Governance. Alex Gallagher said that having Chancellor Wiley mandate a decision from on high violates shared governance, because he didn't directly consult with ASM.

Board of Regents saw it differently. For them, two years was plenty of time to "consult" with students on the matter and ultimately, Wiley has ultimate authority. Well, I'd definitely agree with the regents about the time element, but "Shared Governance" needs some clarification. Let's take a look at it, shall we?

The students of each institution or campus subject to the responsibilities and powers of the board, the president, the chancellor, and the faculty shall be active participants in the immediate governance of and policy development for such institutions.

Ok, right off the bat, it sets out who's in charge. The president, chancellor, board and faculty come first. Now, this is where the ambiguity starts - "active participants in the immediate governance." I feel the students are reading the last part first and the first part last. Yes, immediate governance is taking place, but you're only kids at the table. You get to speak, but not govern. Active participation is such a weak term for something that's supposed to let ASM have their hand in every student decision and activity. As far as I know, "active participation" could be just as deceiving as when Bill O'Reilly tells his guests "As always, I'll give you the last word."

If this were all there is to it, we'd probably not be having this argument. It's the following part that causes heads to be scratched till bloody and raw:

As such, students shall have the primary responsibilityfor the formulation and review of policies concerning student life, services, and interests. Students in consultation with the chancellor and subject to the final confirmation of the board shall have the responsibility for the disposition of those student fees which constitute substantial support for campus student activities.

Ahh, so this is where SSFC gets the idea from. It goes to them first and they discuss it with Wiley, but the board of regents has the final say. It's not just saying they get to sit at the table, it says they're digging into the food, as well.

However, here's where the caveat comes in. Notice the one word missing from this section: power. The "powers and responsibilities" are in the hands of the administration, whereas the students only have "responsibilities." In this sense, 36.09(5) doesn't guarantee governance, it guarantees a burden. The administration hands over some of their work to the students, but when they muck it up, mom and dad take back control and chastise them.

The only way ASM and SSFC recovers from this decision is if the state statute is revised to specifically lay out the duties and powers of student governance in regards to student fees, policies and activities. Lots of luck on that one.

Until then, we're nothing more than glorified lobbyists. Yet, it's still important to embrace that role. If you think complaining about segregated fees isn't an issue, consider this: tuition will rise by 5.5%, about $330, for the year. Segregated Fees are rising by around 33%, 125 dollars a semester.

One is inevitable and essential. The other is a frills package we don't need. and we CAN stop it. I sincerely believe that.

Edit - Quick correction -- the Chancellor's Office is funding the renovation of the Union, not the Union itself. Thanks Suchita.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Welcome Home!

Man, have I been out of the loop for a week. First Critical Badger is out for a week, and now me.

However, I have returned and brought you a full (well, except for Pearl Jam) review of Lollapalooza. Later tonight I hope to have analysis of the tuition increase and off-campus rent issue, which was decided in favor of Chancellor Wiley. I interviewed Alex Gallagher and Gestina Sewell earlier today, so their side of the story will certainly be presented, along with some opinion on my side, as usual.

Other than that, we put out the Mail Home issue of the Badger Herald! Take a look, won't you?

While you're at it, why not tune in tonight to WSUM 91.7 FM to listen to another addition of Muckrakers? 8pm tonight, you can stream on or listen via radio. Either way, tune in and call in - 608-264-9786.

Hopefully, I'll be able to get back to daily updates from now on. *crosses fingers.*

Lollapalooza: Day Three

Ugh. So tired. I'm not even sure I have the energy to make it here. After taking a trip with my backpack down Michigan Ave. only to find the Virgin Megastore had obviously been shut down, I lurched into Lollapalooza, shuffling my way to the Cribs. Oh, my British devotion has got a work out today, doesn't it? Cribs and Amy Winehouse? Not particular favorites of mine, but still interesting enough.

Still, the poor bastards have to stand on stage and perform for a 12:15 crowd in this blistering heat? Yesterday had been nice because of the light rain and cloudy skies, but mother nature turned up the thermostat today. They took the stage and blew through their newer material off of Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever before dipping into second album fare with "Mirror Kisses" and "Martel." They were a bit too energetic for this early in the morning, and the sound was just so distorted, I can't imagine anyone past the sound tent heard one song properly. Ross Jarman made some ridiculous comment that he had lived in Chicago on Kedzie Ave, but that was the extent of their interaction with the audience. they played "Hey Scenesters!" but by now, the song seems a bit of self parody. I left to rest up and find my friends.

After finding Mary, we went to see Amy Winehouse. Was she drunk? Was she sloshed? Would she be a total shit show for the audience? Not quite. It was more the disappointing drunk who just gets lethargic and forgets where they are. Her voice didn't suffer at all and she put on decent versions of her songs...that is, when she actually played her own material. In the midst of her set, she decided to play two Specials covers (Hey Little Rich Girl and "You're Wondering Now") and a Sam Cooke cover "Cupid" before going into her own material for three songs and finishing off with a Zutons cover "Valerie." Very bizarre. Apparenlty, this is normal fare for Amy, but come on. You've got two albums, although the American public doesn't know that. Play something off of Frank? Why not? I didn't look like the rest of the crowd knew any of the stuff off this album other than "Back to Black" and "Rehab," what's more unknown material?

By that point, Mary and I were dying with those backpacks on. We crawled over to the Annuals and took a nap during their set. Again, I was surprised how many people were packed into the citi stage for a band I thought few people had heard of. They sounded good, but then again, the fact that I was able to sleep to their brand of odd indie rock (odd meaning they had samples of forest noises in between most of their songs) probably isn't a great endorsement. Listen to "Be He Me" and you'll get a pretty good understanding. It's a good album.

Well, Mary stayed behind to see Peter Bjorn and John, a band I didn't have any interest in seeing. So I camped out in front of the AT&T stage to hear cross-field samples of Kings of Leon (yes, I missed Iggy Pop...don't give me that look.) and wait for !!! (Chik Chik Chik.)

Somehow, !!! made it into my top three for the weekend. With a new album of stellar funk songs that are finally good enough to classify as songs rather than 9 minutes freak outs, I was expecting a good show. I didn't get a good show. I got an amazing spectacle of dance, funk showmanship and spectacle. A funkified freakshow, really. Nic Offer took the stage after a little drum solo and started to shake his ass in tight shorts and polo. Sure, his moves aren't that great, but they are hilarious. They started with Myth Takes, went through "All my heroes are weirdos" and Nic Offer completely floored the audience with a blistering rendition of "Pardon My Freedom," which includes a line I always laugh at. The audience seemed agape when they heard it: "You can tell the president to suck my fucking dick/does that sound intelligent or like I'm throwing a fucking fit?" before going into the equally amusing chorus "Like I give fuck, Like I give a shit about that fuck, Like I give a fuck about that motherfucking shit." Nic Offer than proceeded to jump off the stage, throw every bottle of water he could grab into the audience and then jump onto one of the side platforms near the myspace tent where he swiveled like a caged go-go dancer.

After finishing that, Offer invited Shannon Funchess onto stage to help with vocals on "Yadnus" and "Dear Can" among others. If Nic Offer seemed wild, then Funchess was absolutely out of control. At one point, her soulful vocals crescendo into a scream. How to heighten this scream? Ah yes, deep throat the microphone hands free and flail about like an airplane about to crash into a building. Offer was still dancing up a storm and decided to appropriately flash his ass at the Lolla camera crew during a Funchess supported version of "Must Be the Moon." Eventually, after chugging a Budweiser and dumping the rest over her head and ripping off her shirt, Funchess did some salacious dance moves with a woman dressed in a Raccoon suit and left the stage. Offer had a few words for the audience before he finished the set with his insistent screaming vocals on "Intensify":

So, real nice fucking job to whoever put us up against Yo La Tengo. Always wanted to see them. Oh Well. (throws full water bottle into audience) But you know, I was at the first Lollapalooza and I can only say, I hope we can be to you what Nine Inch Nails was to me, because they fucking rocked.

What could top a performance like that? Nothing, really. I ran over to the now soggy, muddy and musty Bud Light stage where Modest Mouse were performing, but left after three songs. Why? ask the sound guys. It astounds me how a band like Modest Mouse can play a semi-headlining slot on the last day and still sound so distant or muddled from just behind the sound tent. Plus, they didn't seem all that into it to be honest.

My Morning Jacket, on the other hand, did. They were dressed in full waiter attire, while supported by the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra. I was pretty burnt out by this point, but they did put on a good show, even it did cut into TV On the Radio, a bit.

Unfortunately, for me, I was not able to see them or Pearl Jam, as Van Galder waits for no one.

So, to cap off the review, some tips for next year:

1. Please, color wrist bands by day or don't give them out at all. I could have easily slipped off my wrist band and handed it to anyone else, but I didn't need to, because one-day ticket holders who made it into the arms of a wristband holder who doesn't care who gets the goods just go a 110 dollar upgrade. Merry Christmas, kids.
2. Fix your goddamn sound. I heard more screeches and whines from the amps this year than the previous two combined. Sure, there were no Kanye style mic problems, but if I were Maya of MIA, I would be pissed.
3. No more head to head matches. As one man said to me during the Black Keys, "Can't the just take the real big headliners and put them up against no-namers?" Certainly !!! didn't sound too happy about the current situation and considering the large amount of fans in transit between Muse and Interpol, neither did they.
4. Lose the minefield stage. Ok, the Green Street part of the festival was a nice touch, but that "fun" stage of yours is just an annoyance. Either make it a pure DJ stage or just total the whole thing.
5. Get rid of that FYE signing tent. Your CD's are overpriced and you couldn't even stock Daft Punk properly. Virgin knew how to run the show and they kept things relatively cheap. Also, that Merch tent near the center of the festival needs some lines. Instead it felt like a flea market. That's fine, as long as there aren't 100,000 people at the flea market.
6. Nice job on the indie acts, but could we have a little more Hip-hop? Roots and MIA were nice, but Lupe Fiasco sounded like kind of a bust. Perhaps you should have one stage dedicated to hip-hop as well?
7. New Rule: Perry Ferrel isn't aloud to talk. If you think the Pitchfork MC is dorky, take a look at "PerFer." The man nearly got his mic cutoff when introducing Muse. Need I say more?

and lastly,

8. Next year's headliner: Radiohead. Come on. You know you have to.

Lollapalooza: Day Two

After the thumping bass blitz last night, it was going to be hard to please this time around. Tapes N' Tapes realized that. "I mean we left our giant tripod at home, so we're just going to keep playing some songs." Sure, no light show, but they still managed to impress. They started off with the one-two hit off of "The Loon" of "Just Drums" and "the Iliad." Great, I thought, but is this just going to be a rehash of that album? Say no more, doubting listener. They followed it up with an older song off of their EP's "Beach Girls" and followed it up with the first of a few new songs, "Demon Apple." Some of the new songs worked with TnT's abrasive/calming tempo switches, but this one stood out by far. And what do you know? I ust happened to tape the whole song.

The rest of the show was a fairly impressive mix of the new and old, finally pleasing the crowd by ending on favorites "Cowbell,"
"Insistor" (which I sang along to fairly loudly until I saw my quickly ballooning afro bobbing out of control on the jumbo-tron) and a stunning finish with "Jakov's Suite." I will say this about the show - Jeremy Hanson really didn't put nearly as much energy into his drumming as he did on the studio recording. Songs like "10 Gallon Ascots" and "In Houston" sounded a little less bombastic because Hanson relied on simple beats rather than his military-style assault one would normally hear on those songs. Yet, if that was the only misstep, consider that show a success.

Here's my only question: Who is this guy in the yellow? He was jumping to every song backstage until he came on and consistently shook his tambourine. If anyone knows who is he, let me know, eh?

There was a little break in the show as neither me nor Mary were particularly interested in Silverchair or Stephen Marley, plus she nearly fainted during Tapes N' Tapes. So we sat for awhile, listening to Silverchair's Australian alternative rehash in the distance before heading over to Cold War Kids at the Citi stage.

Well, we tried to at least. The stage was quite far from our vantage point as we had not anticipated...this.

I was astounded. Enough people here had obvious heard Jeff Buckley and were hoping he'd be reincarnated in the person of Jeff Willet. Well, it took a few songs for them to get into their groove, but that lovely streaming voice hit us all the way back by the food court. Amazing projection considering the smaller stage and speaker size, but songs like "Hang Me Up to Dry" still sounded crystal clear across the street. It was raining, cloudy and incredibly cramped, but I still managed to sway a little.

After Cold War Kids, it was time to make a hard decision. When I ventured over to the Bud Light stage at this time yesterday, I was seriously disappointed by M.I.A. and Maya's struggle to put on a decent show and keep the crowd engaged. This time it was The Roots, whom I had never seen live but was enthralled at the prospect. I know that Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! are already coming to Madison and I doubt they could really push their whiny lo-fi sound to the masses. So, I jogged over to the Roots.

What a pleasant surprise. They started off with some standard fare from Phrenology before allowing Hub to launch into an extended bass solo, followed by Black Thought referencing the "hip hop is dead" mantra before taking the band through a sample medely that probably gave every person in the audience a firm understanding of why hip hop is NOT dead. Unfortunately, this would be the last time the Bud Light stage would perform such auditory feats for me, every other group I saw on that stage was a muddled mess.

I left Roots with 15 minutes left to go catch the Hold Steady. I had attempted to see them last year until my concert partner that year, Isaiah said the music sounded boring and we caught the Frames instead (who weren't that bad, but not as exciting as the show we missed that day.) I passed Matt & Kim (fill in's for CSS, a band I hated anyway.) who seemed pretty drunk as they explained their unbridled joy at being asked to fill in while providing some incoherent commentary on their daily lives. I skipped past those low-budget Mates of State and stood amongst the Minnesota faithful as they awaited their hometown boys.

The night before, I looked over a year old Rolling Stone that called them "the Best Bar Band Ever." I found that title to be a bit underwhelming. It's like saying, "The Hold Steady are the best band to play our of their parents garage!" It's more an insult than a badge of honor. Yet, despite their rising fame, they're still humble. As they made their way onstage, front man Craig Finn wearing a Twins jersey and seeming absolutely delighted to be staring at such an enthusiastic and smiling crowd. They ripped into "Boys and Girls" opener "Stuck Between Stations" and never let up. Every song by the Hold Steady is either one of two things - a fairly clever story or an anthemic head-banging sing-along. I found myself repeating the chorus to Chips Ahoy! and "You Can Make Him Like You" while Craig Finn stepped back from the microphone and repeated his lyrics as if he reacting to his own story. Just before launching into closer "Killer Parties" Finn gave a heartfelt little speech saying that he started the band because he wanted to have a practice once a week where he could drink with his friends and four years later, "we're going to Dublin next week to open for the Stones." This was a dedication to those Twin City fanatics jumping around who had turned lyrically rich alternative rock into a truly unifying experience. Hell, I nearly cried.

Hold Steady finished and Karen O took the stage across the way. As much as I would have liked to hear them, I was far more dedicated to Spoon, and waited while Britt tuned his guitar and Karen O played peek-a-boo with the crowd via a little curtain of streamers she kept placing in front of her face. My friend Chris later went on to say, "The only songs I had heard before that were Maps and a demo of Gold Lion but, after that show...I think I'm in love with Karen O." Certainly, they looked like they were having fun.

Ahh, but Spoon was my treat for the day. They open with some Gimme Fiction material (My Mathematical Mind) and a spin through a few Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga tunes (Don't you Evah and Rthm and Soul) before turning back toward "Fitted Shirt" off of Girls Can Tell. So where was the new stuff? Yes, they could have brought some horns to accompany them on "The Underdog" and it would have been fantastic, or they could have brought a piano out for "Ghost of You Lingers," but it would have put a damper on the already High-Octane Rock and Roll sound they were crafting this night. The last time they came to Lollapalooza, they sort of plodded their way through a very weak piano driven set where Britt looked fairly uninterested. This time, Britt gripped his guitar firmly and made it clear during a performance of "The Beast and Dragon, Adored" that is vastly superior to the brooding studio recording: "It took its time to work it into my soul/ I've got to believe it come from Rock N' Roll." "Don't Make Me a Target" was similarly blistering with Britt taking full advantage of the song's manic bridge to abuse his guitar. The set ended on "Black Like Me" and the crowd couldn't get enough, shouting "one more song". I've seen this before and it didn't turn out that well for Broken Social Scene. I left before they started shouting "Fuck Muse!"

And herein lies the major dilemma of the weekend. Two Bands - one captures the classic rock part of my heart dedicated to Queen and British theatrics and the other has a hold on my the post-punk part of my sensibilities that still pay homage to a fallen Ian Curtis. Muse or Interpol? Well, let's sample both and see whom we stick with. I started with Muse as they scrolled some long quote on the screen about subversion and secrets given by President Kennedy before launching into their overdone and childish Bush bashing via "Take a Bow." Then came a bit of "Hysteria" and "Supermassive Black Hole." Ok, all this new material didn't impress me much, so it was time to rush over to Interpol.

Man, did I come at the wrong time. When I got there, Interpol decided to dedicate about 20 minutes to their new material, "Rest My Chemistry," "Mammoth" (which I actually like) amongst others. I stayed on, waiting to hear my favorite Antics "Evil" then left during "PDA" yes, I loved the songs, but there was no stage presence, as Paul Banks simply peered through the cracks of his shaggy hair-cut and cradled a flying V guitar labeled with a sticker that said "BREASTS." Meanwhile, Carlos D looked like a 20's movie villian with his frizzy beard and cigarillo.

Muse was finishing up their main set when I got there, but was still delighted to hear something off of Origin of Symmetry as they launched into "New Born," a song most of the crowd didn't seem to know, and looked strangely at me as I belted out the chorus in off-key Bellamy style falsetto.

As it turned out, had I switched spots and started with Interpol, left to see Muse and gone back to Interpol, I probably would have recieved a musical prime rib instead of the fatty edges. While I listened to Muse start their set, Interpol started with some old favorites from Turn on the Bright Lights. When I saw Interpol, Muse took a side step and played "Sunburn" off of their first album, Showbiz, and my personal favorite: a cover of Nina Simone's "Feeling Good." Then, while I watched Muse launch into their encore with an absurdly karoke (the lyrics flashing in bold red letters on the light board behind them) version of "Knight of Cydonia," Interpol finished with an encore including "Stella was a Diver" and my personal favorite, "NYC."

I suppose you can't win them all. Still, Muse took it to 10:05 while Interpol ended 10 minutes earlier. So, not that bad. It was close, but this night was only nearly edged out by Friday as the best of the festival. But only slightly.