May 31, 2005

Big Tobacco Exploits Stupidity Of Women

"Report: Tobacco Companies Studied Ways to Hook Female Smokers."
So reads the headline today. It might just as well say, "Big Tobacco Exploits Stupidity Of Women."

Look, smoking is vile, and frankly, so are smokers. Smokers in Seattle all seem to be overweight, with bad peroxide dye jobs. Or is that just West Seattle? I dunno. But, I've even gone on record supporting an envisioned fall ballot initiative in Washington state to ban indoor public smoking. Some people say, "you can choose not to go into a smoky restaurant or music club." No, actually, I have no choice in the matter at all; I am de facto excluded from such places by the smoke. The indoor ban restores my choice, while still allowing smokers the choice of smoking outside, or on their own property.

But wherever they are allowed to smoke, it is smokers who decide to become smokers; it is not tobacco companies, or even childish peers who pressure or dupe them into their puffery.

Yet the reaction to the study - by Harvard researchers of "smoking gun" tobacco company documents about winning more female converts to the habit - is that government now needs to work harder to prevent women in developing nations from being ensnared by Big Tobacco's propoganda machine.

Worldwide smoking rates among women are expected to increase 20 percent by 2025, "driven by the growth of female markets in developing countries," while men's smoking rates are steadily declining, the Harvard report says.

Jack Henningfield, a professor of behavioral biology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said he hopes the report serves as a "call to action" for government officials to focus their anti-smoking efforts on women, particularly in developing countries.

"It's a time bomb," said Henningfield, director of the Innovators Combating Substance Abuse Program at Johns Hopkins. "They've got to act now to prevent the time bomb from exploding."

The death of free will, or more accurately of the idea of free will, is the raison d'etre of the Social Services State.

In this way, women in developing nations who might smoke cigarettes are thus rendered as worthy of U.S. government protection and moral authority, to just the same degree as the purple ink-stained Iraqi voters struggling toward self-governance amidst the murderous incursions of eighth-century savages bent on civic nihilism.

I think I need a drink. But not a smoke, thanks.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 05:50 PM | Comments (3)

This is Your Brain On Seattle's Politics

(Courtesy of The Seattle Times).

Please add your caption in the comment string.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:59 AM | Comments (6)

May 30, 2005

What Do Seattle Republicans Eat And Drink, And Boogie To?

Here's the News You Can Use....From today's intimate Memorial Day Picnic for about 22 Seattle Republican adults and bloggers, and about 10 kids, at our family's palatial (uh, sorta, in it's own way) West Seattle manse, which - if you're standing in the right room or on the right deck, gazes fondly upon the Olympic Mountains and The Puget Sound, or else, depending on exactly where you're situated, a leafy green expanse adjacent to (a neighbor's simulated) babbling brook. (Pride of ownership, can't help it).

While Rare Groove, World Jams, and Jazz issued forth onto the lower rear deck from customized playlists on my gleaming new, wafer-thin, mega-deep, ultra-sexy Apple iMac G5, a whole bunch of really great folks talked and talked and talked. And FYI, no one was sporting iPod isolation-tank headphones. Topics included politics, food, travel, hiking, child-rearing, families, and the Northeastern liberals who relocate to Seattle and pervert the political discourse with their censorious extremism. For laughs there was the pic in the paper of the Ghost Of Wavy Gravy at Folklife.

We scarfed up:

salad of spinach, feta, zucchini, squash, red bell peppers, red onion, carrots and broccoli;

two different kinds of hummus, with pita;

baked stuffed mushrooms;

a salad of crisp corn kernels and sweet onions;

Granny Smith Apple Slaw, with Merlot-marinated red onions (Brendan, Yo!);

a beguiling picnic-chilled dish of perfectly breaded, just-crispy, bite-sized boneless chicken pieces, faintly drizzled with a provocative sweet-and-sour-sauce (whoa, it all disappeared fast!);

Lean Chinese BBQ Pork, smoked via the indirect method on the Weber Grill - but first marinated 27 hours in equal parts soy and sugar, with contemporaneous infusions of Chinese cooking wine, ginger, garlic, and lemon grass;

thin-pounded chicken breasts marinated in the same heady brew;

Scott's muy speciale teriyaki chix kebabs;

"Thermonuclear Salsa" that turned out to be not quite THAT hot, made from peaches, Rainier cherries, Habanero peppers, fresh mint, lime juice, and salt. Thanks to my marvellous Max-i-Boy for the customized warning sign, as requested....with his own highly evocative depiction of the envisioned before-and-after Thermonuclear Salsa user-experience. My attorney thanks you, Max.....no, wait a minute, these were Republicans, they wouldn't have sued, they would have taken personal responsibility for any Habanero-related distress, just like I did this morning when putting in my contact lenses after handling Habaneros

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:26 PM | Comments (5)

May 27, 2005

Madagascar Cracks Down On Free Press

Madagascar is more than just another revenue stream for Dreamworks. In the island nation off the southeast coast of Africa, the government is cracking down on the free press. Or, you might ask: what free press? The Committee To Protect Journalists smells some rotten eggs. It all goes back to the reign of Didier Ratsiraka, if not further.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:19 PM | Comments (1)

Oozing Corpses On Display In San Francisco

In San Francisco, arts patrons are forking over $10 to $17 a head to see "The Universe Within," an exhibit of plasticized corpses and body parts in action poses. But an investigation is underway into exactly where the bodies came from; whether the subjects - all Asian - really wanted their dead bodies on public display; and whether the ooze presently coming from some of the displayed corpses poses health hazards. Details from the San Francisco Chronicle.

The immediate issue is that some of the corpses -- which have been injected with plastic and dissected to reveal muscles, bone and nerves -- are leaking. Fluid is beading on the surface of some tissues, a possible sign that the bodies were not properly processed.

The city's Department of Public Health has taken samples of the leaking fluid, and "so far, the tests are not showing any pathogenic organisms," said Dr. Rajiv Bhatia, director of occupational and environmental health. But the health department is still awaiting results showing exactly what the fluid is. "If the bodies aren't appropriately preserved, we would be concerned that they are decomposing," Bhatia said. "We need to see what our tests show before speculating."

...The corpses are part of an exhibition called "The Universe Within" at the Masonic Center on Nob Hill, designed to be both provocative and educational. In the words of a brochure, it is meant to leave visitors "with a deeper understanding of the body's form and function and a stronger appreciation for staying fit and healthy."

The "healthiness" message is already somewhat undercut by the questions stemming from the ooze, however. On a purely aesthetic scale, of course, this is fairly disgusting. I suppose now someone will have to buy a Cioppino and Chablis lunch for a newspaper or "alternative weekly" art critic, who will then feel compelled to weigh in with a declaration that the ooze "represents a primordial essence which, like art itself, is supposed to make us think, and feel." The "paradigm of revulsion," we will learn, "bravely confronts the artifice inherent in the present-day social contract."

Only a matter of days, I'm sure. In fact, a San Francisco P.R. firm already represents the Austrian TV producer behind the exhibit. The company declined comment to the Chron - but must be brainstorming along these lines right now.

Myself, I'm uncomfortably reminded of a Glasgow art exhibit which also prompted public health concerns: the centerpiece was blood sausages made from human blood.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 12:06 PM | Comments (6)

Apple iPod Addicts Are Refugees From The Now

Every now and then a clear-eyed cultural commentator steps up to the plate and smacks the ball straight out of the park. Jasmine Johnson, a high school freshman from Arlington, Texas, has a bone to pick with iPod addicts. Here's part of her guest commentary, that was published in The Kansas City Star (free reg. req.).

This creepy “iPod obsession” has gone too far. Here are five reasons why I hate iPods:

1. They cause addiction. Warning: When you’re at school and you daydream about getting home to download a new song on your iPod, you are, in fact, addicted to it.

2. iPod crazies become iPod hermits. If people give up hanging out with friends to play with or listen to their iPod, they’re obsessed, and it’s a sign they need to get out more. Obsession is not good. In fact, it’s actually quite weird and slightly psychotic.

3. Imaginary iPod friends. When a person names the iPod and starts referring to it by that name, it’s time to switch to the radio for a while. At least we all know there are real DJs on the other end of the box.

4. iPod envy. Forget designer clothes separating the haves and have-nots. People with iPods can be wearing secondhand jeans, and they’re still considered “A-list.” Those of us without iPods are made to feel like the red-headed stepchildren of cool.

5. There’s no known treatment for iPod-crazy, except to give it up...Quit for a while before you, too, become an iPod zombie.

Teach, Jasmine. The Pod People are everywhere, and they are refugees from the now.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:47 AM | Comments (17)

Big Pig Kill On Santa Cruz Island Sparks Lawsuit

Big Pig Kill On Santa Cruz Island Sparks Lawsuit

There is a 96-square-mile island off the Santa Barbara, California coast, called Santa Cruz Island, not to be confused with the town of Santa Cruz, some distance to the north. Santa Cruz Island is home to about 3,000 wild pigs, the progeny of porkers brought there in the 19th century for ranches now long gone. The National Park Service and The Nature Conservancy have agreed the pigs must be eradicated because they threaten an endangered species on the island, the Santa Cruz fox. They have hired a company from New Zealand to kill the 3,000 pigs for $5 million, and porcine bounty hunters began work several weeks ago.

Normally, all this would fairly warm the cockles of my heart, not so much because I automatically support draconian actions to preserve "endangered" species; in fact, I think a fair amount more scammery occurs under this sacred banner than some folks like to admit. Rather, there are simply times when animals must be put in their place, and that can mean being put down, if their impingement upon the human or natural environment becomes too substantial. This has been the case with kangaroos, and should perhaps be the case with grackles.

This one's a bit more complicated. An opponent of the big pig kill who's filing suit asserts the pig eradication plan is flawed.

A Santa Barbara man sued the federal government and an environmental group Wednesday for approving the killing of thousands of pigs on Santa Cruz Island as part of an effort to save the endangered foxes that also live there.....Experts say eliminating the pigs will save the fox by forcing golden eagles to search elsewhere for food. The golden eagles have been feasting on foxes and piglets. (Santa Barbara resident Richard) Feldman, who is acting as his own attorney, said that logic makes no sense.

I'm no naturalist, not even a naturist. But the logic here is that it's the piglets that really draw the golden eagles to the island, an unfortunate side effect being that along with tasty raw pork, the eagles also like to snack on the little foxes, which are more like domesticated cats in size and appearance. According to another report, some Golden Eagles are being relocated to the Sierra Nevada to help protect the foxes, as well.

Perhaps the most pressing question of all: what will happen with the 3,000 dead pigs? I'd hate to see all that free-range BBQ go to waste.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 07:00 AM | Comments (2)

May 26, 2005

City Of Detroit Airs Attack Video Aimed At TV Reporter

The Detroit Free Press has more news on the scattered, and amateurish reign of Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick..

I don't know if WXYZ-TV reporter Steve Wilson is good, or bad; aggressive and professional, or biased and manipulative. I do know that Kilpatrick, who has already fiddled around while his city melts down, looks even more desperate than before, by backing the airing of a city cable TV program dedicated to attacking reporter Wilson. The 12-minute video, produced by Kilpatrick's former press secretary and now executive producer for the Detroit Cable Commission, Jamaine Wilson, is titled, "Steve Wilson the Creative Reporter." It focuses on two seperate confrontations involving Wilson, one with a suburban mayor, one with a Detroit police official. Wilson is heard muttering profanity in each case.

The chairman of the Detroit Cable Commission, Jeffrey Hunt, says he asked the city-produced program be removed from rotation on government channel 10, fearing possible FCC sanctions, but he was overruled by Mayor Kilpatrick.

Whether or not the program would provoke the wrath of the FCC isn't even really the point, in my view. Airing a city-produced attack on a TV reporter makes city government, and the mayor especially, look thin-skinned, distracted and immature. The mayor could have nixed this silly, grade-school payback scheme. But instead, he's promoting it. Detroit needs a grown-up for mayor.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 06:22 PM | Comments (1)

Republican Moderates Show Strength

Knight-Ridder's Steven Thomma writes that the recent compromise brokered by moderate Republicans in the U.S. Senate on judicial nominations represents but one of several issues on which non-ideologue GOP members are prepared to flex muscle. Stricter federal spending controls, and support for federal financing for stem-cell research using human embryos are among other priorities for Republican moderates, Thomma says. The battle for the '08 GOP presidential nomination could come down to a revealing contest for the party's soul, between hardliner and U.S. Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tennessee) or moderate U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona).

If the filibuster shoe were on the other foot, and the GOP was in the minority, trying to block a Democratic president's appointees, conservatives would be howling to preserve the filibuster, and not sacrifice it even to let three detested nominees through the turnstile, as Senate Democrats did. The Schiavo thing was utter and total overkill, right-wing posturing run amok. As far as federal funding for stem-cell research, it may be tantamount to supporting abortion in the minds of some pro-lifers, but to many others it amounts to a legitimate investment in medical research that could eventually help cure diseases and save lives. The inflamed arguments from The Right on these issues may be heart-felt, but they are alienating to many swing voters.

Politics is the art of the possible; you have to leave a few things out of your shopping cart at check-out time. You've only got so much political capital to spend, even as a majority party. Republican moderates, willing to buck the party's intemperate, politically greedy right wing, are my kind of Republicans.

I will define whether I am a Republican or not; and I am one. (Why? Keep reading). Some party hack isn't going to tell me I don't make the team because I'm not outraged over federal funding for stem-cell research, because I'm pro-choice, or because I don't lie up nights plotting Arlen Specter's demise. I think Republicans need to reach out to those who simply call themselves "conservatives," and be ready to talk to self-declared, unaffiliated "moderates" as well. "Leaving The Left" doesn't necessarily mean Embracing The Right.

It turns out Petaluma, California writer Keith Thompson, who wrote the excellent and much-noticed essay "Leaving The Left" in this past Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle, has his own blog. It's called "Sane Nation." And, inspired by some of the reactions from readers of his Chron op-ed, Thompson has a recent post taking apart the "either-or" political paradigm, titled, "Free To Leap."

Is leaving the left synonymous with moving right? By strict binary logic, the answer would seem to be yes. But not so fast—all choices in the real world aren't limited to sets of mutually exclusive twos. Contrary to popular belief, politics need not be a game in which the only way to move from the left is to head squarely in the opposite direction, or vice versa. There is another alternative, one that people on both sides of the continuum are getting hip to: We are free at any time to leap off the left-right line altogether and begin making political choices liberated from the gravity of the ideological continuum, whose pull turns out to be surprisingly escapable.

Republicans, with whom I am allied on many issues - including strong suppport for President Bush, the war in Iraq and the war against terrorists, and hostility to "identity politics" and "victim politics" - nonetheless need to understand that their own "litmus tests" are a form of political correctness, no less odious than much of the thought-policing that comes from The Left.

The truth is that just as there are Democrats who support school choice, plus our country's direction in foreign policy and, oh, say, forest management; there are Republicans who are pro-choice, alarmed at the federal deficit, and appalled by mindless American consumerism and workaholism.

Or, let's frame things in terms of certain Puget Sound and Washington state policy debates. You can support urban density and the overall thrust of state growth management legislation at the same time you may also oppose overbearing county regulation of rural landowners' properties. You can strongly support serious performance audits for state, regional and local governments, and cuts in programs, yet still grow incredibly weary of the "Always Say No" anti-tax contingent who attempt to hijack the discussion on regional road and transit funding at each and every opportunity.

Everything is not a zero sum game in policy and politics, though for some, it is easier to argue from such a premise.

It is very often the people in the middle, not hard-line party zealots, who decide elections. A group which understands this is the Republican Main Street Partnership, and they are mentioned in Thomma's above-linked Knight-Ridder piece about the GOP's increasingly relevant moderate wing.

"This is a big-tent party," said Sarah Chamberlain Resnick, the excutive director of the partnership. "Without us in the tent, they don't have a majority."

I'll cater the banquet inside the tent one of these months, here in Puget Sound. On the menu: Nine-Flavor Beef, Crab Claws, and Crispy Tofu With Vegetables.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:24 AM | Comments (5)

May 25, 2005

It's Hard Being J.J. Putz

There was a teaser on the very top of the front page of today's Seattle Post-Intelligencer that said Putz had given up a key home run yesterday for the Mariners. Seattle being an irony-deficient, guiltily white-bread town, tragically short of Italians, Irish, Jews, and Yiddish afficionados, nobody probably blinked an eye. Even my Gentile wife didn't get it, at first. Despite the first-level vulgar meaning of "putz" in Yiddish (see last link below) it basically, in common usage, means about the same thing as "shmendrick" (scroll down alphabetically, here, for the definition). OK? Good. Glad we've cleared that up.

Now, on to the story.

Seattle Mariners "closer," relief pitcher J.J. Putz, gave up a game-winning homer yesterday in Baltimore, the fourth round-tripper he's surrendered in his last six appearances.

Is J.J. Putz earning his $360,000 per year? I'd say not, at least lately.

And when your last name means what his does, you'd better make sure not to be living up to it. Not even close.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 07:30 PM | Comments (0)

"Respect A Chicken" Recipe Contest Winner Chosen!

As loyal Rosenblog readers will recall - and perhaps some occasional visitors too - earlier this month I announced a chicken recipe contest to show my appreciation for "International Respect for Chicken Day," a holiday declared by a poultry rights organization that seems to greatly misunderstand just exactly why it is that God The Almighty put chickens on earth. For the sake of easy reference, and future marketing schemes not yet quite devised, I have decided to call this the first annual Rosenblog "Respect A Chicken" Recipe Contest.

Doubtless thanks in part to my pledge of a special First Prize, a cassette tape from my extensive music collection, titled "Songs About Chicken," the responses really rolled in. Actually, I think that was thanks to a link from Michelle Malkin, AND links from many other supportive and friendly bloggers. A huge CLUCK out to you guys, and ANOTHER HUGE CLUCK out to the contest entrants. This is corny, I know, but when you share a family recipe, you share a piece of yourself. It was just simply outstanding to hear from all of you.

So then, enough emotive gushing. Let's get down to business. I am going to announce the winner now, and give a nod to a number of "Honorable Mention" recipes, as well. At the risk of sounding like a Dodge Ball instructor schooled at UC Berkeley, let me say that there were many fine recipes submitted, and just because yours isn't mentioned here doesn't mean I didn't think it was good. OK?

The recipes are all in the comments string to my original post. That's where you want to go. If you like chicken, and like to cook, I suggest you bookmark that post.

Without further ado, THE WINNER IS..........Archangel, for "Jambalaya - Chicken and Sausage." This was simply a Creole tour de force, what can I say? While I sought, and happily received, recipes both formal and informal, this detailed preparation is a delicious and evocative piece of Americana, and one which certainly pays homage to the best and highest use of a chicken. To actually make this, following the instructions carefully, is a great, but NOT at all intimidating lesson in good home cookin.' MY ADVICE: Go to the above-linked post, scroll the comments for Archangel's name in red, copy and paste, and then...whip this baby up.

Getcha some Dixie Beer on ice, the Wild Magnolias debut album (#26 on Robert Christgau's list of top picks for 1974) on the stereo - and get all down in it; up on it; or all over it. As the case may be.

HONORABLE MENTION(S): Again, you'll find these by the author's names (in bold red), in the comment string to the original post (link above).

CG Hill - Polynesian Chicken Salad. (A highly respectful treat).

Jason - Cinnamon-Garlic Chicken (I might cut back a bit on the salt, tho).

Busted Flat - Pecan Smoked Chicken. (Wow! Yeah! And I love the indirect smoking method on the grill, BTW).

Luann - Chicken in Coconut Milk. (Filipino Style).

Michelle M. - Easy Chicken Adobo. (A timeless Filipino classic).

Christine G. - Chicken N' Rice. (A scrumptious White Trash feast).

Susan - Curried Chicken. (Great dish from loyal Rosenblog reader, and ex-Puget Sounder, now living in South Africa!).

Mauser - Spicy Fried Chicken, and Soup.

navah m - Healthy Chicken Nuggets for Kids and Adults.

Knothead - Southern Style Chicken and Pastry. (A historical, and politically relevant recipe).

A special "No Thanks, Pal," to commenter "Vegan," who e-mailed, "Try substituting tofu, tempeh, or wheat gluten for chicken. It is very easy to make dishes that are both tasty and cruelty free." (What, no seitan?).

IN CLOSING: Thanks Everybody, for making the contest such a success. Let's do all we can this summer to respect chickens as often, and in as many different ways, as possible. Remember, they outnumber us by about 4-to-1. We must not tarry.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:33 AM | Comments (3)

May 24, 2005

NAOMI Heroin Not A Hit In Vancouver Yet

NAOMI Heroin Not A Hit In Vancouver Yet

Modelled after European programs, the North American Opiate Medication Initiative (NAOMI) is the Canadian government's $8 million heroin addiction treatment study, to supply heroin for two years to selected hard-core addicts, and methadone to other addicts. Could it actually be a colossal waste of time and money? Yes, and it probably was right from the outset; because giving heroin for two years to hard-core addicts is not likely to cure their addiction as purportedly intended, now is it? There's another problem, though. Unless current, anemic enrollment levels rise, the dubious hypothesis can't even be tested in Canada, as planned.

CBC reports today:

VANCOUVER - A drug treatment program in Vancouver that will provide daily heroin hits to some addicts is struggling to attract participants. Jim Boothroyd of the North American Opiate Medication Initiative (NAOMI) said he initially thought the phones would be ringing off the hook. Instead, the program has attracted only 21 people in two months. The Vancouver part of the $8-million federally funded program, a first in North America, was planning on dealing with 157 hard-core heroin users by November.

Researchers want to know whether drug users can resume control over their lives if they're given heroin on a daily basis. Those who are accepted into the study will be required to stick to the program for six months. Some will get heroin up to three times a day under the supervision of clinical staff. A second group will receive methadone, the most popular heroin addiction treatment available.

A partial explanation could be that the conditions for acceptance into the program may be deterring enrollees. CBC notes they:

Must be older than 25. Must have been hard-core users for five years. Must have used daily for the past year. Must live within one kilometre of the project's Downtown Eastside location. Must consent to making their medical histories available. Cannot be facing criminal charges.

Lotta stumbling blocks there. Finally, could it also be that addicts are leery of a free and easy three-times-a-day doses of government heroin? Strange as it sounds, that could be a real factor here. After all, plenty of addicts want to kick; it may well be they don't see government heroin handouts as a solution to their problem. A radical thought, I realize.

Previous Rosenblog post: "NAOMI Is Coming To Town."

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 01:44 PM | Comments (2)

Pit Bull Attacks Raise Questions

Pit Bull Attacks Raise Questions

UPDATE: New, additional pit bull post, here.

Breed bans on pit bulls, while fairly widespread, remain controversial. Denver's ban has been upheld in court, however, and the Australian state of New South Wales has decided to ban pit bulls, as well.

Ban opponents passionately argue that many, even most, pit bulls are friendly, well-trained, well-behaved, and non-violent, and that the breed gets a hugely unfair bum rap because of a few bad actors. To me, a large part of the problem seems to be that poor breeding and irresponsible owners continue to cause violence and deaths by pit bulls. Even conceding there are many responsible pit bull owners out there, there are nonetheless far too many pit bulls that are bred poorly, treated poorly, and let to run loose. In other cases, owners are clearly aware of risks, seeks to limit risks, and yet pit bulls still sometimes get loose, or snap; with bloody, or even deadly results.

Here are some recent news stories worthy of consideration. Please note that except for the fatalities, in nearly all cases the victims have recovered, or are expected to recover. Not that that diminishes the problem very much, though.


Nearly all of the incidents compiled here are within the last 35 days.


An 82-year-old Spotsylvania, Virginia woman was mauled to death by her neighbor's three loose pit bulls.

A two-year-old Huntington, West Virginia girl was buried yesterday, killed in a mauling by a neighbor's pit bull that was supposed to have been quarantined eight days earlier. The animal's owner shares responsibility with the child's mother, who had been instructed not to let the young girl into the house (they had been visiting, on the porch). The owner said he orginally bought the dog to protect his wife while he lived in Texas and was sometimes away, serving in the military. I think he should have bought her a gun instead.

A St. Charles County, Missouri man who owned two pit bull mixes was killed in his home by one or both of them, due to crushing injuries to his neck from dog bites. Neighbors said he loved his dogs and had talked about how well-behaved they were.


In another St. Charles County, Missouri incident, a man and his 13-year-old stepson were attacked viciously by a relative's pit bull in their home.

In Charlotte, North Carolina an eight-year-old girl waiting in a family friend's house to get her hair braided was attacked by a resident pit bull, and suffered an armpit puncture wound, a missing chunk from a calf, and a blood clot threatening a main leg artery.

A 23-month-old Portland, Oregon boy was in critical condition after being attacked by tethered pit bull owned by his family, in his own back yard, with an adult present.

In Albuquerque, a two-year-old girl was mauled by her family's three pit bulls, and was in critical condition with multiple bites and massive upper torso trauma.

A six-year-old Florida girl underwent surgery to have her left eyelid re-attached after it was bitten off by the pit bull of a family friend on a Mother's Day outing. She had approached the dog carefully, to pet it, when it snapped. The dog's distraught owner said it had never shown aggressive behavior before, and would be destroyed.

A Tennesee grandmother was shocked after her previously well-behaved pit bull mauled two of her grandchildren.


A two-year-old San Marcos, California girl suffered puncture wounds to her head and forehead in a pit bull attack after the dog came out of a house her parents had come to in order to test drive a used car for sale.

In Toledo, Ohio, a loose pit bull bit off part of the lip of a 10-year-old boy who had been walking down an alley.

A 10-year old boy with cerebral palsy, from Old Bridge, New Jersey suffered bites on the head, arm, underarm, and hand from a neighbor's pit bull, and subsequent emotional trauma. The owner said the dog had never caused problems before. The pit bull was driven off by the child's older brother, with a plastic toy sword.

A Jacksonville, Florida man's nose was bitten off by a pit bull.

A 79-year-old Grand Mound, Washington woman was hospitalized after being attacked, unprovoked, while walking on a city street, and bitten by a pit bull and a pit bull-Rottweiler mix.

A 79-year-old Winfield, Kansas woman was hospitalized with a severe dog bite after attempting to feed a pit bull that had been chained and left without water or food. Yes, she probably just should have called animal control. But the dog's treatment speaks to an ongoing problem: there is a sizeable sub-group of pit bull owners - callous and irresponsible - who either like their pits hungry, mean and mad, or who tire of caring for them.

Two Indianapolis pit bulls were impounded after attacking an air conditioning repairman in a neighbor's yard.

A pregnant woman in Houston, Texas, and her dog were attacked by pit bull that had broken free of its chains. A neighbor chased it off with a baseball bat, another neighbor says he had regularly used a golf club to scare away aggressive pit bulls.

A 74-year-old Beaverton, Oregon man got bites on his hands and arms when he walked out of his house and a pit bull leaped out from behind some shrubs to attack him.

A pair of loose pit bulls in New Orleans bit four people before being caught.

A three-year-old Chicago girl had to have an ear re-attached after a pit bull attack.

There were "deep, significant injuries to leg and groin area" for a four-year-old in Danville, Virginia attacked by a pit bull.

In Columbus, Ohio, a seven-month-old baby was hospitalized after being attacked by a pit bull in a house.

A 12-year-old Toldeo boy required 80 stitches after being bitten by the pit bull of a 15-year-old, who, angered at being teased by the younger boy and some friends, sicced his dog on them.


It is popular now for pit bull owners to sometimes claim excessive force or over-reaction when police feel forced to shoot attacking pit bulls. This is disingenuous. It is incumbent upon owners, to begin with, to ensure that their pit bulls do not escape, violently charge, or otherwise exhibit aggressive behavior toward police or other individuals.

In Melbourne, Florida, a stray pit bull with no tags jumped inside a police car and attacked a police dog. A stun gun failed to subdue the pit bull, who was then shot dead by police.

In Warren, Ohio, a home alarm went off; police and a police dog came; and a neighbor's three pit bulls came out to investigate. The neighbor's pit bulls attacked the police officer and police dog, with one of the neighbor's pit bulls locking its jaws onto the police dog. That attacking pit bull and another of the neighbor's pit bulls were killed by police in response.

In Lancaster County, Nebraska, a deputy responding to a domestic call was attacked by a pit bull that exited a nearby vehicle. The pit bull latched onto the deputy's shooting arm; the deputy passed out and was hospitalized with puncture wounds.

Rampaging pit bulls were shot by police in Danville, Virginia.

In Petersberg, Virginia, a loose pit bull roaming a city block chased people, bit a man twice, trapped another, bit off a broom handle proffered in defense, then attacked a police officer and was killed.

A sherrif's deputy in Savannah, Georgia serving a subpeona was charged by a pit bull, and killed it.

Police officers in Tacoma, Washington responding to a call were met by a charging pit bull, which one of them shot dead.


In Auberry, California two loose pit bulls killed nine sheep.

In Toldeo, two pit bulls were impounded after killing a Yorkshire terrier and a cat, and attacking a repairman.

A pit bull leaped from a parked car in a San Francisco transit station parking lot, into another car, to attack a service dog in-training, causing severe injuries to the service dog's face.

A Texas woman's Shih Tzu-Chihuahua mix was killed by a neighbor's pit bull.

A miniature horse in a barn near Eugene, Oregon was attacked and seriously injured by two stray pit bulls, before they were driven off with a rake.


A Bayview, New Jersey teen was hailed as a hero, after saving three younger kids from a pit bull attack, although one child had a toe bitten off.

An 11-year-old Bartlesville, Oklahoma boy turned himself into human shield to protect his two younger siblings from a pit bull attack. He required surgery to re-attach muscles to his calf.


In Albany, Georgia police busted up an illegal pit bull fight, and confiscated two dogs as the crowd quickly scattered.

Six pit bulls were stolen from an animal shelter in Rockford, Illinois less than 24 hours after they'd been siezed in a raid by federal authorities on what's described as a large-scale, illegal pit bull breeding and fighting operation.

Pit bulls were siezed in a suspected fighting ring in Wilkes County, North Carolina.

Authorities siezed 19 pit bulls from the house of a Durham, North Carolina drug convict. A number of the adult dogs and puppies showed recent facial scars, a sign of having been used in fights.

A Vancouver, Washington man was charged with 16 counts of animal fighting after 16 pit bulls were found on his property, with training equipment for fighting pit bulls, and rabbits police believe were also used in the training.

Nine pit bulls were impounded in Toldeo in connection with an illegal breeding and fighting operation.

A Virginia man was sentenced to three years for selling mail order videos of pit bull fights.


Clearly, there is a serious problem here, and all the exhortations regarding responsible pit bull breeding and ownership aren't enough. One contributor to a newspaper reader comment forum appended to this above-linked Texas article asserts:

The term "responsible pit bull owner" is fast becoming an oxymoron....The breed is being ruined by the nuts out there who call themselves breeders, who aren't breeding for good, stable temperments. Anyone who has ever flipped through any of the major dog magazines, like Dog Fancy, cannot with a straight face claim that pit bulls are being bred as loving family pets. I have never met a group of dog owners who know less about their breed, or dogs in general, than pit bull owners. They insist that "it's all how you raise them" and completely ignore the genetic component of dog behavior.

Human affection won't make my bird dog ignore birds; and love and kisses won't make a fighting breed safe to be around other animals....only years and years of constant training and socialization will temper that genetic drive. Animal aggresion in pits is real, and very dangerous, as many people have been mauled trying to save their pet from a neighbor's pit who "just got loose once". Its called re-directed aggression, and it happens.

And the pit who attacks other small animals who has not been socialized with small children may mistake a toddler for an animal...it's called prey drive....the news is full of such accounts.

...When you combine the pit's massive jaw strength, and genetic trait known as "gameness"...the ability to hang on and keep attacking and not back down, that prized trait of fighting dogs.....unless this animal is very carefully bred for temperment you have a very dangerous dog.

No doubt a pit bull carefully bred by a responsible breeder for a non-aggressive temperment, owned by a responsible owner who spends lots of time training and socializing the dog, can make a wonderful pet. Even so, responsible owners of fighting breeds know that they cannot take their animals to dog parks or let them off leash in public EVER.

They don't set their dogs up to fail. The problem with pit bulls is the owners, and you will never solve the problem of forcing the types of people who are attracted to this breed to do the right thing. That's why people want them banned.


So......any reactions? You can use the comment form to this post to add your views. Please keep it fairly brief, and exceedingly civil.

Dog owners who care, can find
pet insurance such as dog insurance
here. You can compare pet insurance,
and buy pet insurance at Pet's Best.com.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:39 AM | Comments (32)

May 23, 2005

Public Nipple-Stroking Ban Raises Hackles In NYC

The administration of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has moral values, too.

You can kiss, you can hold hands, and you can hug, but fondling your partner’s nipples is prohibited in city parks.

“I think the most important thing is that it is the policy of the city of New York to allow people to express themselves in an affectionate manner holding hands, kissing, hugging, whatever that may be, so long as it doesn’t cross the line and become sexual activity prohibited by parks’ rules,” said Anthony W. Crowell, special counsel to Republican Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

In one recent controversial case, a Parks Enforcement Patrol officer broke up some gay action in a West Village park.

Crowell said a woman with a child saw two men, one shirtless and sitting, the second kneeling, “fondling the nipples” of the shirtless man. She reported this to a PEP officer. “The officer observed it,” Crowell said. “He thought it fell within the prohibition for disorderly behavior and, after observing it, he just asked them to refrain from doing so.”

Parks department rules state: “It shall be a violation of these rules to engage in disorderly behavior in a park. A person in any park shall be guilty of disorderly behavior who... engages in any form of sexual activity” though the rules do not define “sexual activity.”

Now, a working definition appears to be evolving. Nipple-stroking is all well and good, but NOT in a park. So naturally, then, we get this, from Clarence Patton, acting executive director at the New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project.

This is behavior that straight people engage in all the time. It only becomes a problem, and this is something we are all aware of, is if it is happening between same-sex couples. It really does raise some serious flags.

Yes, Clarence. The most serious flag, to begin with, is your inference that hetero couples engage in nipple-stroking in parks regularly, in view of children. The second serious flag, would be your contention gays should be allowed to engage in nipple-stroking in public parks. The third serious flag would be that cavils like this are increasingly the lifeblood of the U.S. Urban Left, now so desperately, pathetically, and humorlessly scratching around for new stuff to whine about.

If consenting adults want to get seriously busy, that's their business.

Repeat: Their business, not the public's.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 06:17 PM | Comments (1)

Dismaying News

Dismaying News.....

Convicted sex offenders are getting Viagra at taxpayer expense.

Three men were hospitalized after a brawl that started outside Chicago's Wrigley Field because someone had the temerity to wear some Boston Red Sox gear.

A dead Klansman's robes sell for $6K at a Michigan auction.

Uganda needs to earn a better image internationally, which has been hard, after nearly two decades of clamping down on political parties. Instead, the national government has hired a big PR firm, Hill and Knowlton, to start spinning, er, tell their story.

An Ashland, Oregon business consultant says only 4 percent of dissatisfied customers ever voice a complaint. This is precisely why so much is wrong with the world today. People are scared of confrontation.

Worst of all, Israeli researchers report that comprehending sarcasm requires empathy. Damn! Just when I thought being a cold-hearted bastard had no downside.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 12:50 PM | Comments (1)

Monday Blogburst

Serving in the legislature can be hard on a marriage.

Bill Hobbs with some musings on "How to Blog From Darfur," or other places where power and Internet access are iffy. The good news: there are solutions. The bad news: they ain't cheap.

World Magazine's excellent blog has "Springtime in Arab Lands," based on this Opinion Journal piece from Fouad Ajami.

Tony, at I Am Always Right, is boycotting baseball. His reasons have more to do with front-office issues. Myself, I'd simply rather take a walk, or a hike, or play my guitar than watch a snoozefest on the tube. Besides, the '69 Cubs ruined it for me.

A Koran in a toilet at a California college. And a report of a Koran bought used, from amazon.com, with some nasty words added. Mmm hmm. Hube's Cube has more.

At What Attitude Problem, Greg Wallace writes about the things he's never done.

Brian Maloney delves into the discomfiture caused by CNN's tart-tongued host Nancy Grace. If I had premium cable, I'd sure check her out.

I just wanted to be absolutely clear about this. I too oppose billboards in space.

Confirm Justice Janice Rogers Brown to the federal appellate court, writes black conservative actor and commentator Joseph C. Phillips. Via Booker Rising.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:57 AM | Comments (1)

May 22, 2005

Ted Nugent, George W. Bush's Loudest Fan

Not a lotta rock n' rollers are proud NRA members, cross-bow hunters, high-profile carnivores, and big fans of George W. Bush. Ted Nugent is one, tho, and the famed "Motor City Madman" now lives in, ah, Crawford, Texas, as luck would have it. That doesn't mean he's down with W's immigration policy, however.

Young folks will have to forgive me here, but before he became a stadium-act hard rock guitar slinger, Ted Nugent (& the Amboy Dukes) purveyed some mighty fine 60s psychedelic rock.

Some day, if ya haven't yet, maybe you'll hear "Journey To The Center Of The Mind" ("Come along if you can.."...doot....doot-doot..doot-DOOOO) on some oldies station. But I betcha they'll never be playin' anything on commercial radio, or even alternative stations, from Ted's bizarre experimental album, "Marriage On The Rocks: Rock Bottom" (Polydor, 1969). Too bad, because there's some great, if often inchoate moments, for instance involving crazy jazz sax on "Inexhaustible Quest For The Cosmic Cabbage," faux Beach Boys shtick.....and a whole lot more, as you'll see in this detailed review. (If I was an idle Web slacker, I'd promise a podcast. Heh...some year, mebbe).

Anyway, Ted's been stickin' to more basic high-voltage rock n' roll for a few decades now. And he's done it well, by and large, even if admittedly I tuned him out after a great, 1979 concert at a racetrack in Rockford, Illinois marred only by his extremely coarse, woman-objectifying stage banter.

It's nice to know this red-meat Republican rocker is still live and kickin', and shootin' his rifle and cross-bow. For a big nutty yahoo, Ted's kinda nuanced. An alleged Vietnam draft dodger, he talks really tough on crime; hates PETA and hippies; yet raised $3 mill for PBS affiliates by sponsoring a special series of outdoors programs.

Nuge, what's past is past, and all in all, I'm glad - I think - that you're in my man W's corner.

But one suggestion, if I may: time for some shred-salsa fusion. Or some hard, border-rock, now that you're a Texan.

Shake it up again, hombre.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:34 PM | Comments (2)

Waxahachie's "Black Girl" Honor Student

Editors of the high school yearbook in Waxahachie, Texas, unfortunately played into the Dumb, Bigoted, Southerner stereotype, in which illiberal, intolerant white dweebs and "never forget the pain" black race hustlers playing "progressive" towns like Seattle revel. The Waxahachie yearbook editors did this by publishing a photo of local National Honor Society students with all the white kids nicely listed by name....and the only black student in the picture labelled as, "Black Girl."

Details from The Houston Chronicle here.

Honky dorks. Deserve a good whuppin'.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:29 PM | Comments (3)

Keith Thompson On Leaving The Left

Today's must-read is Keith Thompson's "Leaving The Left," a lengthy op-ed in the Sunday SF Chronicle. Read the whole thing, every last word; it's powerful stuff. Thompson is a Petaluma writer and book author, a long-time, though now former, "progressive," who once served as an aide to U.S. Howard Metzenbaum, D-Ohio. Here are some excerpts:

My estrangement hasn't happened overnight. Out of the corner of my eye I watched what was coming for more than three decades, yet refused to truly see. Now it's all too obvious. Leading voices in America's "peace" movement are actually cheering against self-determination for a long-suffering Third World country because they hate George W. Bush more than they love freedom.

...A turning point came at a dinner party on the day Ronald Reagan famously described the Soviet Union as the pre-eminent source of evil in the modern world. The general tenor of the evening was that Reagan's use of the word "evil" had moved the world closer to annihilation. There was a palpable sense that we might not make it to dessert.

When I casually offered that the surviving relatives of the more than 20 million people murdered on orders of Joseph Stalin might not find "evil'" too strong a word, the room took on a collective bemused smile of the sort you might expect if someone had casually mentioned taking up child molestation for sport. My progressive companions had a point. It was rude to bring a word like "gulag" to the dinner table.

...Two decades later, I watched with astonishment as leading left intellectuals launched a telethon- like body count of civilian deaths caused by American soldiers in Afghanistan. Their premise was straightforward, almost giddily so: When the number of civilian Afghani deaths surpassed the carnage of Sept. 11, the war would be unjust, irrespective of other considerations.

Stated simply: The force wielded by democracies in self-defense was declared morally equivalent to the nihilistic aggression perpetuated by Muslim fanatics.

...At the heart of authentic liberalism lies the recognition, in the words of John Gardner, "that the ever renewing society will be a free society (whose] capacity for renewal depends on the individuals who make it up."

...This past January, my liberalism was in full throttle when I bid the cultural left goodbye to escape a new version of that oppressiveness. I departed with new clarity about the brilliance of liberal democracy and the value system it entails; the quest for freedom as an intrinsically human affair; and the dangers of demands for conformity and adherence to any point of view through silence, fear, or coercion.

....Leftists who no longer speak of the duties of citizens, but only of the rights of clients, cannot be expected to grasp the importance (not least to our survival) of fostering in the Middle East the crucial developmental advances that gave rise to our own capacity for pluralism, self-reflection, and equality. A left averse to making common cause with competent, self- determining individuals -- people who guide their lives on the basis of received values, everyday moral understandings, traditional wisdom, and plain common sense -- is a faction that deserves the marginalization it has pursued with such tenacity for so many years.

All of which is why I have come to believe...that the single most important thing a genuinely liberal person can do now is walk away from the house the left has built.

Good morning San Francisco!

Related Rosenblog posts:

"Freedom, Baby: Taste It."

"Deeds, Not Words."

"The Ghost Of Lieutenant Son."

"Virgin Nails It."

"Pro-Democracy Emigres Raise Their Profile."

"Freedom: You Can Just Taste It."

"U.S. Deaths In Iraq: A Historical Perspective," (by James J. Na).

"Baroud: Arab World Must Shape Up."

"Iraqi, Pissed and Determined."

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:53 AM | Comments (1)

May 21, 2005

Madison Botches School Vote Absentee Ballots

Some 2,200 absentee ballots already sent out to voters for Tuesday's school funding referendums in Mad-town, er, Madison, Wisconsin, are in error. Grave error.

...more than 2,200 absentee ballots that have already been issued could be challenged in court, district officials said. Assistant Superintendent Roger Price said he discovered the errors Friday while he was proofreading an election notice to be published in local newspapers. Two of the three referendum questions did not include changes the School Board adopted March 28, he said.

...One incorrect ballot item asks voters to authorize permanently raising the operating budget in increments of $7.4 million in each of the next three years. The correct proposal calls for one permanent increase of $7.4 million starting next year.

On a maintenance referendum question, the wording fails to mention that part of the requested money could be spent on technology and instructional equipment.

State Elections Board executive director Kevin Kennedy said a judge could ultimately be asked to rule on the intent of the absentee voters if the election is decided by fewer than 2,200 votes.

I'll look forward to the school district's identification of the individual(s) responsible for the error, and appropriate disciplinary action.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 02:24 PM | Comments (3)

May 19, 2005

The Organic Food Scam

The Organic Food Scam - read all about it.

Lord Taverne of Pimlico (is) the sober, polymathic and persuasive author of "The March of Unreason" (Oxford University Press). Although not a scientist himself, Taverne, a Queen's Counsel (an especially learned barrister appointed to advise Her Britannic Majesty), former member of the British Parliament and currently member of the House of Lords...argues that "in the practice of medicine, popular approaches to farming and food...there is an undercurrent of irrationality...."

....Remorselessly, Lord Taverne skewers the mania for organic food, the popularity of astrology and other forms of mysticism, and the widespread but baseless bias that "nature knows best." Lord Taverne characterizes as "a monument to irrationality" the trend toward consumers buying overpriced organic food, promoted by advocates whose "principles are founded on a scientific howler; it is governed by rules that have no rhyme or reason.."

In the United States, for example, the rules that define organic products are, literally, nonsensical, in that organic standards are process-based and have little to do with the actual characteristics of the product. Certifiers attest to the ability of organic operations to follow a set of production standards and practices that meet the requirements of highly arbitrary regulations. Paradoxically, the presence of a detectable residue of a banned chemical alone does not constitute a violation of these regulations, as long as an organic operation has not used excluded methods. That's rather like saying that as long as your barber uses certain prescribed tools and lotions, your haircut is automatically of high quality.

Yeah, and I've always been really cheesed that the Puget Consumers Cooperative store in West Seattle carries virtually no Asian produce (i.e. baby bok choi, gai lan). Must be because they can't find any that's grown "organic." But I want my baby bok choi, and my gai lan, dammit, so I go to the Cambodian market in White Center for it, and get some crispy, juicy roasted pork flesh while I'm at it. Buying organic may or may not get you produce that tastes better, but for many here, the decision, like so many others, is really about self-affirmation.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 04:50 PM | Comments (6)

Kwame; Muzzle Dad, OK?

When I read this yesterday, I knew this was coming soon.

More here.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 03:38 PM | Comments (1)

Kerry Packer Stymied In Kangaroo V. Jet Dispute

...for the moment at least. The Snowy River Shire Council says it will NOT pay the $400,000 demand in redress by Australia's richest man, media magnate Kerry Packer, after his private jet was damaged by a kangaroo on the runway at a rural resort-area airport. There are some days when it doesn't pay to get out of bed, even if you're worth $7 billion (Aussie).

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:59 AM | Comments (0)

May 18, 2005

Grackles Must Be Democrats

Grackles are a type of blackbird, aggressive and loud and sometimes distinctly stupid and hostile. As in Houston, where they've been dive-bombing pedestrians because one of their own fell from a nest.

Grackles must be Democrats, playing the victim card that way, and failing to take responsibility for their own mistakes.

Grackles are also all over the place in Fort Worth, but wait, get this: it's probably Wal-Mart's fault.

Even if so, they're irredeemable louts. Purdue University tells us that grackles...

....when they flock together and roost in trees near homes, parks or other public facilities...can often pose a public health hazard or nuisance. Several diseases, particularly the respiratory ailment histoplasmosis, are indirectly transmissible from birds to humans. Many of these diseases are spread from the accumulation of bird droppings under the roost site. The droppings also will damage the finish on cars and kill grass and other ornamental plants. Grackles are noisy birds, often making a disturbing and obnoxious racket. Grackles may consume or destroy farm crops such as citrus, tomatoes, watermelons, cabbage, lettuce, grain, corn, peaches, figs and cantaloupes.

Here, we learn that grackles are no treat to hear. Their sound is:

Obnoxious, repeated, liquidy, nasal screeching and squealing...

In addition, the grackle:

...will crown other birds away from feeders. (Will) Also eat baby birds from nests.

Wow! Grackles are not just responsibility-averse Democrats; they're cannibalistic, plundering socialists. Myself, I'm about ready to endorse a government-funded grackle eradication program.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:49 PM | Comments (2)

Mitch Albom: Another Lazy Journalist

Detroit Free Press star columnist Mitch Albom not only used unchecked, fictitious material in a recent piece, he's been using quotes from other news reports without attribution, and sometimes enlivening quotes from other sources, as well. More here from AP. Albom is also the author of the bestselling books, "Tuesdays With Morrie," and "The Five People You Meet In Heaven."

The Free Press' competitor, The Detroit News, reports some Freepers were dissatisfied with their paper's coverage of the internal investigation of Albom. Here's the Freep's report, in which Albom says lifting quotes without attribution is standard practice, and was approved by his editors; and that his enlivened lifted quotes were still "essentially accurate."

Albom is one more celebrated, lazy journalist. New York Times star reporter and Pulitzer Prize winner Rick Bragg resigned after being outed for using quotes and reporting by freelancers as his own. It was common, he argued - and some Times stringers confirmed - for a reporter to quickly visit a town to get the dateline, and then rely on the uncredited fieldwork of freelancers for much of the story.

More recently, former 10-year NYT veteran and Boston Globe correspondent Barbara Stewart was caught making up a bloody lead to a story on a Canadian seal hunt.

USA Today's Jack Kelley was nailed last year for plagiarism and fabrication.

In Puget Sound, the Seattle Times' Stephen Dunphy (plagiarism) and the Tacoma News Tribune's Bart Ripp (fabulism, restaurant review ethics transgressions) left their papers in disgrace.

Under dishonest, as opposed to lazy, came the news last month that a NYT reporter wrote about a Columbia University inquiry into alleged anti-Semitism by professors there, under a special deal. The school released an internal report to the Times only on the condition that students alleging anti-Semitism not be interviewed for the article. The piece ran under the agreed terms, suspicions were aroused, and The Times subsequently fessed up.

The Mainstream Media: where there's smoke (see above), there's fire.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 12:44 PM | Comments (1)

May 17, 2005

"Not This Time Vets" Santa Cruz Parade To Honor U.S. Soldiers

A Santa Cruz County group named "Not This Time Vets" is expecting a crowd of at least 700 for their parade in the City of Santa Cruz this Saturday May 21 to honor U.S. military veterans who live in the county. The group's name stems from previous occasions when the community turned a cold shoulder to the military. More here from today's Santa Cruz Sentinel:

The parade is designed to honor the estimated 18,000 war veterans in Santa Cruz County and show appreciation for the men and women currently serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and other parts of the world....The military parade, organized by Not This Time Vets, is a first for the city. It stems from conflict after First Night Santa Cruz denied the group from participating in the New Year’s Eve parade.

...The parade is also a chance to break the stereotype that Santa Cruz is unbalanced politically, supporters say. It’s an opportunity to prove that Santa Cruz residents appreciate the hard work of the people who fight for the country, said Mark Nitzberg, a Not This Time Vets supporter. Nitzberg sees the parade a step toward correcting the city’s decision 15 years ago to turn away a Navy ship trying visiting the area.

"We’re an American city, but there is a certain disbelief that Santa Cruz is just one way and the town is skewed to left-wing politics," the retired UC Santa Cruz physician said. "I think the parade is a chance to give a little breath of fresh air and self respect to the people."

Mayor Mike Rotkin, who recently proclaimed a day in honor of a former Army reservist who went AWOL to avoid combat in Iraq, said he will attend Saturday’s parade. "This group has done a very good job in making it clear that they don’t want this to be a political event," Rotkin said. "Honoring the men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan ... is something I have always supported and will continue to support.

"I don’t support our country’s foreign policy and I don’t see any contradiction about that at all."

Actually, Mr. Mayor, honoring an AWOL reservist with a city proclamation strikes me as little TOO political for a unit of local government, albeit one fully suffused with a grandiose - some might say delusional - sense of purpose. But anyway, I'm glad to see that Santa Cruz, the second runner-up Leftist Moonbat Capital of Northern California (behind San Francisco and Arcata), is hosting the event. Let's hope everyone who shows up understands this is about honoring the men and women who serve; it is not a debate on Iraq or U.S. foreign policy.

The parade starts at 11:30 a.m. on Pacific Street in downtown Santa Cruz this Saturday, May 21. A bluegrass festival follows, at San Lorenzo Park. (I think some blues acts would have been a good addition, personally).

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 05:11 PM | Comments (0)

Crystal Meth, The Internet, And AIDS

The risk of HIV and AIDS grows when urban gay men use crystal meth and cruise the Internet to arrange quick sex hook-ups, writes Michael Spector in The New Yorker.

Jeffrey Klausner, who is the director of the Sexually Transmitted Diseases Prevention and Control Services of the San Francisco Department of Public Health, told me. “It was in the spring of ’99, and we were starting to see a small increase in the number of syphilis cases in gay men: ten in 1998, and by the next spring there were already another ten.

I asked this one guy how many sexual partners he had had in the past two months, which is something we always ask. And he said fourteen. And then I asked him how many he had had in the past year. And he said fourteen. “That was a little odd,” Klausner continued. “I said, ‘Well, what happened two months ago?’ The man replied, ‘I got online.’ ”

...“It turned out that crystal methamphetamine and the Internet were the perfect complements for high-risk sex,” Klausner said. “Crystal washes away your inhibitions. Makes you feel good and want sex. And the Internet is there to respond to your whims. It’s fast, it’s easy, and it’s always available.” Klausner and others embarked on studies that concentrated on the use of the Internet, on attitudes about AIDS, and on the role of methamphetamine in gay life. The results were hard to misinterpret: the Internet has turned out to be a higher-risk environment than any bar or bathhouse—men who meet online are more likely to use the drug, more likely to be infected with H.I.V., and less likely to use condoms.

Spector also reports:

In one recent study, twenty-five per cent of those men who reported methamphetamine use in the previous month were infected with H.I.V. The drug appears to double the risk of infection (because it erases inhibitions but also, it seems, because of physiological changes that make the virus easier to transmit), and the risk climbs the more one uses it. Over the past several years, nearly every indicator of risky sexual activity has risen in the gay community.

Perhaps for the first time since the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, the number of men who say they use condoms regularly is below fifty per cent; after many years of decline, the number of new H.I.V. diagnoses among gay men increased every year between 2000 and 2003, while remaining stable in the rest of the population.

This Gay.com page offers resources for fighting crystal meth addiction and sex addiction. Gay.com introduces the resource links with these words:

Social pressure, loneliness, low self-esteem, stress and other factors can weigh heavy on anyone, and cause some serious psychological breakdowns, substance problems or unhealthy sexual behaviors. GLBT people seem especially vulnerable, and often the community itself can seem cold, competitive and less-than-welcoming.

If you feel that you're losing control, or just need someone to talk to, here's a list of helpful links, resource directories and national hotlines to help you stay the radiant, beautiful GLBT person you are. We want our community to stay healthy, be happy and have fun!

The last sentence badly needs re-writing. It should say, "We want our community to be focused on committed, loving, long-term, monogamous relationships."

But I guess that would be too judgemental.


"AIDS And The Self."
"Behavior, Not Condoms, Key In India AIDS Prevention."

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 01:38 PM | Comments (0)

Brazil Confuses Human Rights With Political Correctness

Administration of "Short, Fat Communist" Wants Speech Code

There are 96 words marked for extinction in Brazil, by the government. Or, there were, until bestselling author Joao Ubaldo Ribieiro last month sparked an outcry against the 87-page document titled "Political Correctness and Human Rights," in which authorities made the case for phasing out words which translate as a "clown," drunk," and "fatty," among others. The government was concerned such terms carry an inappropriate stigma.

Time has more:

The administration of Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva would prefer his fellow citizens to describe him as a vertically challenged, well-nourished supporter of liberal causes—and not as a short, fat communist. In an 87-page document drawn up by the Special Ministry for Human Rights and distributed to members of Congress, police chiefs, newspaper editors and other opinion leaders, the Lula administration lists 96 terms it wants to hear less of.

Many are obvious: Don’t call the physically handicapped cripples or the mentally handicapped mongoloids, and when describing Afro-Brazilians, steer clear of the Portuguese equivalent of the N word. But the list...goes on to advise against using drunks, because even alcoholics deserve respect; Africans, because the term diminishes individual nationalities; old people, because elderly doesn’t carry as much stigma; and street children, because many of those young people have homes. The list also urges Brazilians to stop calling foreigners gringos, radical politicians Shi‘ites, and communists, well, communists.

The Christian Science Monitor reports today that Brazilian officials have stopped distributing the report, and will meet next month with experts on racism and language, and representatives of minority groups to discuss what to do next.

Here's my suggestion: send the speech police to Carnival in Rio next February, for a demonstration project. If it works there, we're in business.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 12:52 PM | Comments (0)

May 16, 2005

Detroit Is In Full Meltdown Mode

The City of Detroit is in full meltdown mode.

There've been big layoffs of police and fire personnel, thanks to a $300 million budget deficit. The city's bond rating has been downgraded.

Casino revenues aren't keeping pace with projections, and your next Big Mac Attack in the city that the magazine Men's Health dubbed the U.S.'s fattest for 2004 might cost more if an envisioned fast-food tax is enacted. Meanwhile, comes news the official, legal, mayoral slush fund - long a Detroit tradition - was used to supplement the now ex-police chief's salary, and teach table manners to the city's First Lady.

Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is embroiled in scandal, thanks to his abuse of a city credit card and taste for pricey liquor at taxpayer expense.

In this editorial today, the Toledo Blade sums up Detroit's dysfunction:

It would be hard to exaggerate how dreadful times are in Detroit. The population has been plummeting for decades, the city is hovering on the brink of bankruptcy, the schools are worse, and the mayor, 34-year-old Kwame Kilpatrick, acts all too often like an overgrown frat boy whose parents have foolishly given him a credit card.

Last week, shortly after Detroit announced it would have to lay off more than a thousand workers, including badly needed members of the police and fire departments, it was revealed that the mayor had put more than $210,000 on his city-issued credit card in less than three years on the job.

The charges included expensive champagne and cigars and lobster dinners at swanky out-of-town restaurants. An aide said lamely that his honor had been trying to drum up new business for the city. But while Detroit's mayor is easy to lampoon, his city's biggest problems started before he was born...

...the coming of the freeways opened the way to cheap land in the suburbs. When people and industry left, there was no mechanism for sharing the tax revenue. Soon, a vicious circle developed in which a cash-starved municipality had to increase taxes on those who were left, further emptying out the city.

....Detroit's real problem is that the city and the suburbs have failed to realize that they are one region, and need to share not just the common benefits but the burdens as well. For three decades, white politicians in the suburbs bashed the city and refused to pool resources, and black racists in Detroit did much the same.

The result was that everyone lost. Today, even Detroit's black middle class is in flight. Experts think it is likely that within a year or two, the city will fall into receivership, in which case it will be run by the state, a development that Joe Harris, the city's auditor general, scathingly said "will be preferable to the dysfunctional government to which our citizens are being subjected."

How to fix Detroit? Some good ideas in this '01 series by the Detroit News, titled, "Broken Detroit: Building Blocks." But I didn't see promoting black economic separatism on their menu.

The Detroit Metro Times opined that some form of metro, or regional government is crucial, but that prickly race relations between city and suburbs make that impossible.

In the meantime, things may get worse before they get better.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:19 PM | Comments (2)

Newsweek's Retraction And Misplaced Priorities

Newsweek's Retraction And Misplaced Priorities.

NBC News reports that Newsweek has retracted the May 9 story about Gitmo interrogators flushing a Koran down the toilet, going beyond today's earlier, somewhat tepid apology by Editor Mark Whitaker for possible mistakes in the brief piece, which later helped touch off deadly riots in Afghanistan that killed 15.

Tom Bevan at Real Clear Politics makes an important point about the whole thing: there is no excuse for the deaths caused by the rioters.

There's been a lot of well deserved outrage over Newsweek's semi-apology for its story alleging the desecration of a Koran at Guantanamo Bay. The details are still murky and the truth of the allegation remains in doubt. It may well be that Newsweek and its reporters delivered a terrible blow to their credibility and provided yet another example of the mainstream media rushing a poorly-sourced story to print with serious - in fact deadly - ramifications.

One thing I haven't seen, however, is any condemnation of the rioters themselves. The dismissive tone of most of the press reports I've read convey the impression that the rioting is understandable. Almost as if the alleged affront to the Koran somehow justifies the death of 15 people and the wounding of many more. As un-politically correct as it might be to say, let's stay focused on the truth: Newsweek's story did not kill people. Muslim mobs killed people.

Roger Kimball, of The New Criterion's blog, finds it disturbing people will kill over the reported desecration of a book, and wonders why the liberal MSM axis must always presume U.S. guilt when reports such as Newsweek's surface.

Nota bene: Newsweek got burned going after another "gotcha" story, alleging (incorrectly in this case, it turns out) gross insensitivity by U.S. keepers of POWs. But the greater issue by far, and the reason there are Islamic extremists being held as POWs by the U.S., is something we increasingly take for granted - Islamic extremists continue to plot and carry out a "holy war" against the "dirty kuffar," or "unbelievers" of the West.

Life is never going to be very pleasant for "holy warriors" in U.S. custody, even without their holy book being placed on toilet seats, or flushed away. "Gotcha" stories like this Newsweek piece gone wrong are fair game if properly sourced, but the "gotcha" obsession tends to obscure our nation's pressing battle against the forces of evil. Let there be no moral relativism here: We are for liberty and free enterprise; Islamic fundamentalists are for state theocracy, educational and economic stagnation, and subjugation of women.

They are evil, and we are a force for good, if certainly imperfect as a nation. The 21st Century is a better place to be today than the 8th Century. The Newsweek flap illustrates an American MSM teetering on the edge of irrelevance, not just for botching another anti-Bush Administration story, but because its priorities are so misplaced.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 04:32 PM | Comments (4)

Israel 21C: Blog Goes Beyond The Conflict

I've got a new post up at my business blog, Blog Consulting Pro, on Israel 21C; it's titled, "Blog Highlights 'Israel Beyond The Conflict.'" This is a great new non-profit blog, showing there's much more to Israel than meets the eye and ear.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:03 AM | Comments (0)

Killing Journalists For Profit In The Philippines

Philippines President Gloria Arroyo has announced the creation of a $5 million Press Freedom Fund to solve the murders of Filipino journalists, which have continued to occur at an alarming rate, due to corrupt local government officials and organized crime.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists has called the Philippines the "most dangerous" country in the world for those working in the media, noting there have been 18 killings of reporters since January 2000. The Philippines even surpassed war-torn Iraq, drug cartel-ravaged Colombia, Russia and Bangladesh.

Philip Agustin, the publisher-editor of a community newspaper in northeastern Luzon, was shot dead last week at his house — making him the fifth Filipino journalist to be killed this year. At least four other journalists have survived attacks. Mrs. Arroyo said the fund would be used to buy information to apprehend killers of reporters, protect witnesses to ensure prosecution of suspects, and provide financial aid for children of slain journalists.

While (Inday, of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines) Varona thanked (the government) for "finally acknowledging the crisis that faces the media profession" in the Philippines, she said the fund is not the solution to the country’s press freedom crisis. "It is the human factor — political will — that will spell the difference," she said.

..."We hope it will continue and that the message gets to the provinces, cities and municipalities."...Varona noted that the murder of journalists and the abject condition of Philippine media "does not exist in a vacuum. What happens to our sector is a reflection of the state of the nation." She pointed out that many of the 68 journalists killed since 1986 were believed killed by powerful, rich individuals and groups involved in crime and corruption. Twenty-four people in the media were killed in the last two years and five months alone.

..Varona...added...that the only genuine deterrent is to show clear proof that murder — whether of journalists, human rights activists or advocates against illegal gambling, illegal drugs, illegal logging and corruption — does not pay.

But, Filipino blogger Manilenya (aka Casual Savant) commenting at this related Rosenblog post, suggests that the criminal activities which the killers of journalists are trying to protect DO pay better than the straight life.

You must remember that 32-37% of our national budget goes to servicing the interests of debts that were incurred during the time of Ferdinand Marcos. It was also during his term that he first promoted the concept of migrant labor.

This is the story of my country: Because we cannot invest our money in the education of our populace and the infrastrucutre projects we require, we cannot contribute to the global market except in terms of providing raw materials. Because we compete on an advantage that is easily duplicated by other nations, we must keep costs and wages low. Because we pay our people a pittance, the only choice for them is to migrate.

Today the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism estimates that we ship out 2,700 people a day. 65% of them women: domestic helpers, nannies, nurses. We fracture families to survive because our country does not have the budget to pay it's people a decent wage. We ship our best and our brightest. In Silicon Valley, 1 in 7 scientists is a Filipino. We export our wealth and guarantee poverty, which only fuels the vicious cycle that ultimately ends in blood and tears.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:50 AM | Comments (5)

May 15, 2005

The Unbearable Lightness Of Fake Pigs

San Luis Obispo has fiberglass "Trout About Town" as part of a public art drive to raise funds for charity. But things keep happening to them trout.

Call it the unbearable lightness of public art. You see a simulated cow on the street, a man-fashioned pig, a manufactured moose, and even without a few beers in ya, ya just gotta mess with it.

Seems to happen again and again: pigs in Seattle; moose in Toronto; and cows in Chicago and South Carolina.

Myself, I hold the trout sacred, and prefer the real deal to the fiberglass replica.

As in Trout Bacquet, a la Eddie's restaurant in N'Awlins: trout laced with melted butter and baked briefly at a high temperature with a layer of crabmeat atop.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:40 PM | Comments (0)

It's Pronounced OR-uh-gun

For several months, I've had no working needle on my record player. With more than 1,400 albums, this is a serious state of affairs. Yesterday, finally, I took care of this, and what a treat it is....again...to play vinyl.

Tonight's featured LP was "Oregon - Live" (1975).

And, so...to reprise the saying of my circa-1970 6th grade classmates at the University of Chicago Laboratory School, Paul Street and Marcus Deranian, "Oooh Chah!

BTW, that's pronuonced OR-uh-gun; NOT Or-Ah-GON, as the respectful but clueless MC on the disc said.

That mistake is like a $800 Burberry raincoat in Seattle; it screams "outsider." I say this as a former NW outsider, who was once severely mocked by a greatly insecure, loudmouthed female Oregonian at a West Seattle wedding (bridegroom Adam W., are you still out there?) for pronouncing Philomath (a small Oregon town on the way to Waldport, on the coast) as PHILO-Math. In fact, it's - somewhat perversely - Phi-LO-Muth.

Other tips to NW visitors and relocatees....Puyallup, SE of Seattle, is "Pew-AL-lup," AND Sequim, on the Olympic Peninsula, is Sk-WIM."

Don't say you weren't warned.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:51 PM | Comments (3)

May 13, 2005

Gay, Tatooed Conservative Seeks Re-Election In B.C.

Vancouver's own Rudy Giuliani writ small is trying to get re-elected to the British Columbia Legislative Assembly, from the Vancouver-Burrard riding (that's what they called legislative districts up there). Lorne Mayencourt is the openly gay, openly tatooed incumbent Liberal conservative, as the Vancouver Courier explains in this lengthy and quite entertaining campaign trail profile.

Mayencourt's platform might be capsulized as social-services-focused, but with a "hand-up, not a hand-out;" plus safe streets and communities. He sponsored the Safe Streets Act in the legislature. It became law, successfully targeting aggressive panhandling by the homeless and squegee-wielding youth who - unsolicited - clean windows of cars stopped in traffic, and then aggressively demand payment. Apparently, this measure was tantamount to facism for some Vancouver "progressives," including his opponent Tim Stevenson, the New Democratic Party (NDP) MLA (member of the legislative assembly) he defeated in 2001. Stevenson is also openly gay, and currently a city council member.

Mayencourt also earns my respect for opposing Vancouver's "safe injection site" for heroin addicts, another pet cause in a town increasingly known for government-funded enabling of heroin addiction.

You get a further sense of the local politics from the answers of the various candidates for Mayencourt's seat to this question posed by the Vancouver Westender: "How would you help create an urban sanctuary?" Mayencourt and Stevenson both give pretty good answers. The Green Party candidate wants a a $12 daily "congestion fee" charged to single-occupant cars going into the urban core; and the BC Sex Party candidate John Ince, says:

The Sex Party would favour a series of public spaces in Vancouver Burrard dedicated exclusively to nudists. If you enjoy the sensual pleasures of full-body suntanning on a summer's day in Vancouver, you have only one place to go: Wreck Beach. That is way too far away for the thousands of office workers and residents in Vancouver-Burrard who enjoy naked recreation.

To which my reply would be: "Go Lorne!"

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:15 AM | Comments (0)

May 12, 2005

The Deconstructionist Dung-Peddlers Of Academe

Instructors at elite universities, fixated on "isms", have made poetry appreciation a minefield, says Camile Paglia, who is promoting her new poetry anthology, "Break, Blow, Burn." She tells a Chicago weekly, New City:

Thanks to twenty-five years of post-structuralism in our elite colleges, we have this idea now that you are supposed to use your pseudo-sociological critical eye to look down on the work and find everything that's wrong with it. The racism, sexism, homophobia, imperialism. This style of teaching just nips students' enthusiasm in the bud.

The anthololgy includes Paul Blackburn's, "The Once Over," which:

...describes a subway car traveling downtown, its passengers enraptured by the image of a beautiful woman. "It has been condemned for sexism, as you can imagine," Paglia says, once again treading across controversy's high wire. "But this to me is a classic poem of my time. There's a mysterious girl in a beautiful dress, and everyone is staring at her. That's it. That's the entire thing. It's so wonderful, the way he captures that moment, and that's the purpose of reading poetry--which is that it teaches you to notice what other people don't notice. To find significance in the insignificant."

Why is Paglia skittishly described by the writer as "once again treading across controversy's high wire," for calling bullshit on the deconstructionist dung-peddlers of academe, who can't even read a poem about a beautiful woman without summoning up formulaic fears of an oppressive, objectifying, phallo-centric patriarchy? Paglia's right on target. Sad that it's so terribly controversial to call out the censorious thought police of the academy for what they really are.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 12:18 PM | Comments (1)

The Streets Of Santa Cruz Are Crumbling

Like so much else in town....the streets of Santa Cruz are going to hell.

Driving around, it seems there’s hardly a street without pocks, uneven pavement, cracks or gaping holes, all of which have grown in size and number during the past few years.

...The problem is likely to get worse before it gets better, because of the city’s perennial budget shortfalls. In fact, there’s no money for street repairs in next year’s budget from the city’s general fund.

Streets have become a low priority for the City Council because of ongoing money problems caused by dwindling revenue to the city and increasing workers’ compensation costs, expensive employee health benefits and retirement pensions for city workers.

Public employee unions get ever greater benefits, while taxpayers are left without basic infrastructure maintenance. Here, Lotus-Land is no different from grimy big cities Back East.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:14 AM | Comments (1)

Library Latex Ban Invites Harrassment

Spooked by a threatened lawsuit, the Bellingham, Ma. library board has banned latex from its facility. But the library latex ban invites harrassment from other allergy "victims."

Patrick Callahan, whose 9-year-old son Andrew has severe latex allergy, said he is relieved. He has been fighting for three months to get the facility latex-free.

...Trouble brewed in February after a children's program in the library left balloon sculptures displayed in the building....According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Web site, latex allergy symptoms can range from itchy skin to trouble breathing and was first recognized in the 1970s. However, there are no OSHA guidelines for latex exposure.

...Callahan said a public library is something to which his son should have access. "When they refused to institute a policy, we recognized it as discrimination right away," he said, citing the Americans with Disabilities Act...

Library Director Charlotte Rabbitt, who received the litigation papers yesterday, said she understands latex is a problem for people with allergies. She does not understand one parent filing a lawsuit against them while officials have been trying to come up with a policy to accommodate him.

I'm with Charlotte Rabbitt. The boy could simply steer clear of balloons in the library, couldn't he? Aided by a standard policy of "latex presence alerts" posted in the library's entrance lobby. But noooo...........

Given the circumstances of the library's latex ban, we can now expect that someone's going to come forward with a certified allergic reaction to the carpet fibers in the Bellingham, Ma. Library. They will also file a suit, perhaps citing the ADA and their "civil rights." And if the library does not rip out all its carpeting and replace it with new carpet made of some specified, non-allergic-reaction-inducing material, the plaintiff will seek a five-figure settlement. The plaintiff may or may not be be related to a local supplier of hypo-allergenic carpeting.

It's a slippery slope, Bellingham, Ma. library board. Hate to pop yer balloon, but there it is.

UPDATE: More on latex allergies, from the Mayo Clinic:

Manufacturers produce two types of products from natural latex sources: Hardened rubber is found in products such as athletic shoes, tires and rubber balls. Hardened rubber doesn't cause allergies in most people. Dipped latex found in some products that are "stretchy," such as rubber gloves, balloons, rubber bands and condoms. Most allergic reactions to latex occur with products made of dipped latex because they're often used directly against the skin. And dipped latex products aren't as extensively processed as products made of hardened rubber.

From Infection Control Today:

Individuals can become sensitized to NRL by constant exposure through the use of various NRL products including: gloves, condoms, balloons, pacifiers, and rubber toys. Exposure to NRL proteins often occurs through cutaneous or percutaneous contact; aerosolized contact (respiratory exposure), mucosal contact (exposure to eyes, nose, mouth, vagina, rectum); intraoperative exposure; and hematogenous exposure through stopcocks, rubber stoppers, and intravenous contact.

Blowing up balloons and snapping latex gloves off are what trigger potentially fatal airborne particulates for some latex allery sufferers.

So, avoid direct contact and constant exposure to latex in libraries; don't blow up balloons in libraries, avoid people with latex gloves in libraries (not many of them, I'd imagine). The library latex ban still looks foolish. Random airborn particulates from the mere presence of balloons is not indicated as a risk. Direct contact and repeated exposure would be the risk factors with respect to balloons, which were what prompted this ban in the first place.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:22 AM | Comments (3)

May 11, 2005

Severed Goat Heads Not Work Of Satanists, After All

Those severed goat heads found at a school in Chilliwack, B.C.? Just a little mix-up, it turns out.


Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:45 PM | Comments (0)

San Francisco, The Ephemeral City

In a SF Chron op-ed, demographer and author Joel Kotkin describes how San Francisco has become an "ephemeral city" where the monied and the "restless young" pursue "urban lifestyle" dreams, while the middle-class and families with children continue to head for the hills, coming back only for bread and circuses.

The ephemeral city differs dramatically from traditional urban centers. No longer populated mainly by middle class families and a diverse set of industries, it is dominated by a wealthy elite, part-time sojourners, hordes of tourists and those that serve them.....The wealth increasingly comes not from being an economic powerhouse -- San Francisco has barely 1 in 10 of the Bay Area's 500 largest companies -- but by being the preferred residence of those who can choose where they live.

...Stylish living is its major expert....Some high-end businesses, such as law, accounting and financial services still thrive downtown and employ many top-notch professionals....Most mid-level tasks - - the grunt and grind of management -- have shifted into the suburban rings, to other parts of the country or abroad.

.....Even the job losses in elite sectors such as advertising and financial and business services seem to be no big deal to many San Franciscans. Amid high office vacancies, a net population loss of more than 4 percent since 2000 and job losses, the city's political class finds time to obsess instead about such critical issues as imposing fees on plastic bags, promoting gay marriage and cracking down on marijuana dispensaries.

This indifference to old-fashioned reality might explain how Gavin Newsom, the mayor presiding over this spectacular economic and demographic drubbing, can be mentioned among the nation's best mayors by the geniuses at Time magazine. In the old days, mayors got kudos for creating jobs and building a middle class. Today, they evidently get them for good looks, personal charm and wanton acts of political correctness.

Tell it, Joel. I had a similar take on Newsom, here, several months ago.

Kotkin identifies a few other "ephemeral" cities.

San Francisco is not alone in building an ephemeral economy. Montreal, Berlin, Boston and Portland, Ore., all display signs of constructing an urbanity based on hipness, art and culture.

Seattle, to its credit, while suffering from many of the same aspirations and delusions as ephemeral San Francisco, retains an industrial and manufacturing core. Besides, we're not nearly as hip, arty and cultured as we think, when you get right down to it. And that's maybe a good thing.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 03:44 PM | Comments (3)

"Sustainable Shrimp," My Ass

Questions, questions, questions for the eco-correct and health-conscious fish and seafood consumer. Too many questions, actually. "Sustainable shrimp," my ass.

Lexus liberals in Berkeley can pay dollars per pound more for "eco-friendly" "trap caught" shrimp if they want. I'll get what's tasted good before, for a good price. Whether it's from Asia (bad, bad, bad Asians "threaten habitats" around coastal shrimp farms) or Louisiana (bad, bad, bad redneck shrimpers may "threaten habitats" around shrimp farms, but probably not as bad as the bad, bad, bad Asians).

My ethical guide to buying fish and seafood:

If it tastes good and the price is fair, I'm there. I have a moral obligation to get the best deal for myself and my family.

Health issues: don't harvest seafood at Red Tide. Don't eat catch from Duwamish River, Chicago River, East River.

Other salient observations:

Farmed salmon tastes lousy, I always prefer wild.

Farmed catfish and trout taste good.

Best seafood ever: some oysters gathered on the shores of Hood Canal and later oven roasted at 450 degrees on a cookie sheet, just about 10 minutes, until the shells opened. Lemon, tabasco.

Or the West Indies crab cocktail, which I first had in Mobile, Alabama. Some high quality, cooked fresh crab meat gets chilled, then doused with fresh lime juice. That's it.

As long as we're on the subject of seafood, tell me what rocks your boat.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:43 AM | Comments (5)

May 10, 2005

Tipping Point: Arcata Council Opposes Iraq War

Consolidating its position as the nation's local government body most influential on matters of peace and social justice, the Arcata, California City Council, after months of deliberation and most recently, three hours of citizen testimony, has passed a resolution opposing the Iraq War.

White House speechwriters are hard at work, and a nationally-televised response by President George W. Bush is said to be planned for next week. Said to be of particular concern to the Bush Administration are the national implications of certain provisions of the ordinance, namely:

...the resolution...allocates $1,000 per year for a number of activities, including giving information on local services to returning troops, informing Arcata residents about access to free legal advice and counsel if they refuse to go to war and working with local school boards and Humboldt State University to limit military recruiters on campus and asking schools to provide equal time to alternative positions. That task now falls to the soon-to-be renamed Nuclear Weapons Free Zone and Peace Commission.

A pensive nation awaits your response, Mr. President.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 12:38 PM | Comments (5)

Terror, Corruption and Impunity Reign In The Philippines

Another week gone by in the Philippines, and the scorecard shows one mayor, one bodyguard and one more radio commentator assassinated. Pervasive institutional corruption in this nation of island archipelagos is tied to organized crime and local government officials. It provides fertile grounds for Islamic terrorist groups such as Abu Sayyaf, and Jeemah Islamiyah, the latter of which envisions a transnational Southeast Asian Islamic state. Unless flailing President Gloria Arroyo can find a way to unify terrified citizens against the cancer of local corruption, the Philippines will continue to serve as a spawning ground for global terorrism.

To be allied with even putative reformists such as Arroyo, or to speak out against corruption is to put your life at risk.

The mayor of a town just outside Manila, Santa Rosa City, Leon Arcillas, was gunned down yesterday along with a bodyguard, moments after officiating a mass wedding. Law enforcement sources say the hit was similar to those perpetrated before by the New People's Army (NPA), an armed militia of the Communist Party of the Philippines. The NPA wounded Arcillas in an assassination attempt nearly two years ago, and has issued death threats to him since then. Arcillas was an ally of Arroyo, and Philippines National Police had recently begun a stepped-up campaign against loose firearms and hired killers.

BBC notes the Maoist NPA is branded a terrorist group by the U.S.; has assassinated public officialas before; has as many as 8,000 members, and has been fighting a guerilla battle for three decades.

Meanwhile, the Philippines retains its title as assassination central for journalists. A recent report by the Committee To Protect Journalists puts the nation at the top of the list, with 18 killings of journalists since 2000.

However, The Guardian reports that according to the National Union of Journalists of The Philippines (NUJP), the toll is actually 23 since 2000, the most recent being last Wednesday's killing of Klein Cantoneros, an outspoken radio critic of local government corruption.

A spokesperson for the Philippines Center For Investigative Journalism tells The Guardian that radio is a huge medium in the country, and a number of the journalists assassinated are fiery, anti-corruption commentators like Cantoneros, known as "blocktimers," who purchase time blocks to say whatever they want. Blocktimers may sometimes go overboard in their commentary, but hardly deserve to be killed. That they draw large audiences suggests many Phillipinos share their concerns, but live in silent fear, nonetheless.

Institutional corruption in The Phillipines is able to flourish partly because of the nation's dispersed, island geography; and runs straight to organized crime, law enforcement and the halls of local government. The Guardian:

Inday Espina-Varona, the chairwoman of the NUJP...(said)... "It's all to do with the consolidation of criminal and political power," she said, adding that in some areas, politicians and law enforcement officials appear to act with impunity. So when people find the way to local justice is blocked they naturally run to the media to air their grievances and in the local areas radio is king."

Any allegations of police complicity are unfounded, according to Supt. (Pedro, head of Task Force Newsmen, a special team investigating deaths of Philippine journalists) Tango. "The accusations are widespread but they are not accurate," he said. However he added: "We're not denying that some military and police personnel have been involved in some cases."

He also admitted that the national police chief took control of the Cantoneros investigation away from the Dipolog commander at the weekend after claims by the victims' relatives that local officers may have been linked to the crime. "The investigation is now being conducted by a regional level task force," Supt. Tango said.

Police corruption is not confined to individual officers. In March, all 529 officers of the North Abra provincial force were transferred amidst reports of corruption and links to organised crime....Espina-Varona said.."..there's a worrying pattern prevailing. It's not just journalists getting killed. It's many civic community leaders, environmental campaigners, human rights activists and anti-corruption activists. There won't be fundamental change until the culture of impunity ends."

In this lawless society, the two biggest Islamic terrorist threats - Abu Sayyaf and Jeemah Islamiyah - remain highly viable.

Presently,the Australian Foreign Ministry is warning of a high risk of a terrorist bombing in the Philippines targeting tourists or ex-pats.

A travel advisory from the Aussies stated:

Recent reports suggest that terrorists are in the final stages of planning an attack. Attacks could occur at any time, anywhere in the Phillipines.

The advisory identifies as possible targets coastal resorts, embassies, ex-pat housing complexes, malls, clubs, hotels, restaurants, bars, schools, places of worship, outdoor rec areas, tourist areas, and especially ferries.

The culture of cowardice and corruption which underpins the Phillipines' perpertual state of emergency will not be soon rectified, if Manilenya is right.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:46 AM | Comments (3)

May 09, 2005

No Excuses For Sung Koo Kim, The Oregon Panty Bandit

We have previously blogged here about the dark saga of Sung Koo Kim, The Oregon Panty Bandit. His is a tale involving allegations not only of thousands of women's panties stolen from laundry rooms of college dorms, but a cache of sick and violent child porn, as well.

Now comes news that with his first trial a month off, his lawyer is considering a diminshed capacity defense. I dunno, seems to me a guy with his attention to detail was in full control, and should bear full responsibility for his actions if convicted. Detail? Yes, detail.

Kim is facing 11 felony counts of first-degree burglary and seven misdemeanor counts of second-degree theft in Yamhill County, which broke the case and continues to take the lead in its prosecution. He faces a similar array of charges in the other three counties, as well as 16 counts of child pornography in his home county of Washington.

He is of accused of stealing thousands of pairs of women's underwear from college dormitories in Benton, Multnomah, Washington and Yamhill counties and meticulously cataloguing them in the Tigard home where he lives with his parents. He also is accused of possessing thousands of images of sexual torture and mutilation on his home computer, some of them involving children

Quite the cataloguer and downloader, if the charges are borne out. I could sure never do that. Seems to me such obsessions would require enhanced capacity, not diminished capacity.

Via Mike, a Rosenblog reader and concerned Tigard-area neighbor of Kim's, comes this tip from the current Willamette Week (7th item down, here). Perhaps connected to his lawyer's musings about a diminished capacity defense......

Suspected serial panty-thief Sung Koo Kim went on suicide watch for one day at his own request after Multnomah County sheriff's deputies discovered sinister smut in his jail cell. Sheriff's spokesman Lt. Michael Shults says a routine search last Thursday yielded a stack of newspaper photos with handwritten inscriptions. Another source says the photos, including shots of scantily clad women, were labeled with the names of Kim's alleged underwear victims. Among the phrases: "Heather's a bitch," "Rape me," and "I love sperm." Portland police detectives seized Kim's collection.

I must be lacking in compassion, for were Kim to be convicted, I would be perfectly happy to see him spend the rest of his days behind bars. Fat chance, tho.

If found guilty and sentenced for the full array of burglary, theft and child porn charges, how long do you think Kim would actually serve? And what is the way to rehabilitate someone with a nasty panty fetish seemingly linked to violent pornographic imagery? Any suggestions? Or can rehabilitation even really occur?

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 12:59 PM | Comments (5)

"Respect For Chickens Day" Recipe Contest Ends Thursday Eve

An update to my loyal readers and others who submitted entries in the first annual Rosenblog "Respect For Chickens Day" recipe contest. You're awesome, especially because, I've now got the required minimum of 25 entries, give or take. However, I'd like to see more entries still from anyone who hasn't joined in yet. You've got till 11:59 p.m. PST this Thursday May 12, to submit your killer chicken recipe, in the comment string to this post, which explains it all. (There is a very nifty prize for the winner, as you'll see).

So thanks to the entrants so far, AND a big Hey Ya also to all the fine bloggers who linked to my contest post. These include the awesome Michelle Malkin, Michael McClellan of Port McClellan, Chaz of Dustbury, Mike at het2blog, Hube at Hube's Cube, and Brian Maloney of Radio Equalizer.

Again, if you haven't entered yet, click here, read through the post, and enter your recipe in the comment string. One note: to get to the comment submission box, you'll have to scroll ALL the way down, past all the other entries.

And remember, despite what some folks say, the best way to respect a chicken is to eat it. We must chew up the radical animal rights agenda one bite at a time.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:38 AM | Comments (2)

Landlords Are Cash Cows To Berkeley Rent Board

It's not just that the the People's Republic of Berkeley is raising landlord fees. It's that the city's Rent Stablization Board - which regulates rents and advocates for renters, and is funded at $3.2 million per year entirely by landlords - even exists at all.

More from the Berkeley Daily Planet.

After Berkeley’s Rent Stabilization Board decided to raise landlord fees by 13 percent, the city’s leading landlord association is threatening to once again file suit. “We’re strongly considering litigation based on this act,” said Michael Wilson, president of the Berkeley Property Owners Association (BPOA).

...For the past eight years, the rent board has angered landlords by decisions considered pro-tenant, and the BPOA has initiated several lawsuits against it. The rent board runs a roughly $3.2 million operation with about 20 employees, all paid for by landlord fees.

...Wilson questioned why the Rent Board would raise fees when it maintains reserves of roughly $300,000—about 10 percent of its total budget. The city maintains 6 percent reserves.

Additionally, Wilson questioned why the Rent Board required a budget of approximately $3 million to regulate 18,600 rental units when San Francisco spent $4.3 million to regulate 179,000 units. Wilson also took aim at the Rent Board’s allocation of nearly $215,000 for community agencies. For years the program that has most infuriated landlords is an annual poetry slam, where competitors perform tenant-landlord themed spoken word poems for a cash prize.

Whew. In this Stalinist city-state, property owners are the enemy, and authorities make them pay for their own regulation by bureaucrats, for community agencies, and agit-prop against them.

In a word, unreal.

READER EXTRA: More from the Rosenblog archives on Berkeley and Berkeley-ites, here, here, here, and here.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:18 AM | Comments (1)

May 06, 2005

Did Jim West Compromise His Office?

That's the title of my post at Sound Politics about the Jim West affair.

Here's the lead:

The allegations he sexually abused two youths as Boy Scouts years ago are unproven, but Republican Jim West, Mayor of Spokane and former State Senate majority leader, admits he's had adult gay sex and that he sought partners online. As one part of a three-year investigation into long-standing rumors about West, The Spokane Spokesman Review had an undercover investigator pose as a 17-year-old, (supposedly turning 18 last March), and online, longtime GOP player West offered him an internship and gifts, apparently seeking a relationship and - most crucially - showing a vulnerability to blackmail by making it clear his sexual proclivities toward men must not be overtly disclosed. THIS is what's key, right now.

Read the whole thing.

And at the always-must-read, Radio Equalizer, Brian Maloney has his own take on media coverage of the story, plus links to commentary on it from other bloggers.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:35 PM | Comments (5)

Russell Simmons Reveals New Initiative On Seattle Visit: Only Yogis Vote, We All Die

Look, I agree yoga is cool, OK? Call me a Yoga Repubican. I can twist my body, meditate, chew anise seeds, and deep breathe with the best of 'em. But Russell Simmons is off his frickin' nut. The famed hip-hop mogul was just in Seattle flogging his lines of sneakers, clothing, music, TV content, energy soda, financial planning, and uh, yoga. Simmons tells the Seattle Times:

If only yogis were the only people in America who could vote...this country would be so compassionate and so giving and so loved...

And so under the seige of terrorists. If only yogis voted they would vote for candidates who embodied the values articulated in the Bhagavad Gita's Chapter Six, as translated by Sir Edwin Arnold.

He is the Yogi....dwelling apart upon a peak...being of equal grace to comrades, friends, chance-comers, strangers, lovers, enemies, aliens and kinsmen; loving all alike, evil or good.

In other words, Simmons' ideal voter is an isolated moral relativist Democrat who's soft on "enemies," "aliens" and "evil." And the King County Elections Department.

Funny thing is, last fall, Simmons co-sponsored the "Vote Or Die" campaign, trying to get urban Dems, especially younger blacks, to the polls. Didn't help all that much, tho - plus hip-hoppers and Lefty organizers had real differences.

Perhaps Russ has gotten a little wiser since November's disaster for Ds in the federal elections. If you can't build the base enough to win the White House and Congress, why then, how about we take the vote away from everybody but a privileged few, like yogis - chosen for their special outlook on things. Yeah, real interesting to hear that coming from a black man. Even as stream-of consciousness bullshit.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 06:46 PM | Comments (0)

Hot For A Jew?

Sorry, I'm taken. But there are days when you've just got to love Google. I'm scrolling through my Site Meter logs, taking a look at what has brought visitors to Rosenblog today. And I find, Lo and Behold, that one visitor has arrived via a Google search of the phrase, "hot for a jew."

Not only that, it turns out this Rosenblog post is top ranked under the search phrase used. At least today, it was.

Well, it does have to do with Jews and heat.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:03 AM | Comments (0)

May 05, 2005

Did You Observe "International Respect For Chickens Day"?

United Poultry Concerns is a non-profit that is "dedicated to the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl." Fair enough, up to a point. But how much compassion do chickens deserve? Frankly Holmes, I've only got so much compassion to spare. Right now, for instance, my compassion is just about fully allocated to the people of Southern Sudan, Iraq, Lebanon, Iran and North Korea.

Yet UPC rails about:

...the billions of birds who are slaughtered for "food" each year.

Uh, sorry guys: chickens are not "food." They're food.

For UPC, though, the best and highest use of chickens is as a kind of tin badge of "decency" and "caring":

United Poultry Concerns operates a unique sanctuary for chickens and other domestic fowl in Machipongo, Virginia. We invite the public to visit us and see what a chicken can be when a chicken is free!
Underutilized, in a word.

In furtherance of its Freedom For Chickens agenda, United Poultry Concerns declared that yesterday was "International Respect For Chickens Day." (Hat tip: Tongue Tied).

And so the insidious plot thickens. Chickens already outnumber humans by a factor of four, but now we're supposed to stop eating them, and start respecting them.

I'm going to pass on UPC's "Turkeys Are Too Neat Too Eat" poster. But in honor of Respect For Chickens Day, I'm going to prepare a special supper tonight. I'll let you guess what's on the menu.

EXTRA-SPECIAL READER PARTICIPATION GIMMICK: Please share your favorite chicken recipes in the comment section of this post. Here's one of mine. Summary descriptions of your favorite chicken dishes - with essential ingredients and cooking methods - will do just fine. THE PRIZE: If I get over 25 entries (again, submitted here as comments, one only per reader), I will select the most arresting "recipe" and award the winner a copy of my extra-special super-funky high-quality cassette tape (YES, cassette tape) entitled, "Songs About Chicken." It features classic r&b, blues, rock, and jazz. You and your friends best get busy. Come on now, lay it on me.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 05:38 PM | Comments (30)

May 04, 2005

Secrets Of Government Agency Blogging Revealed

There's a new post up at my business site, Blog Consulting Pro: it's titled "Secrets Of Government Agency Blogging Revealed."

Public agency and department heads, and board chairpersons, are going to be doing more and more blogging. But they need to know how to strike the right tone. Old-school P.R. flacks relatively unfamiliar with blogging are NOT whom you want to turn to, here. Beware the hucksters who talk a good game, but have just dipped their toes into the blogosphere. Ask them: do you blog? For how long? Visit their sites. Ask them, what are your favorite government, officeholder, non-profit and business blogs? And why?

Read the whole thing (RTWT), and peruse my blogroll at Blog Consulting Pro's main page, to get a flavor of who's doing what these days in the above-referenced professional corners of the blogosphere.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 06:11 PM | Comments (0)

Dana Gioia For San Francisco Poet Laureate

The City of San Francisco is seeking a new Poet Laureate. I hereby nominate the estimable poet, Dana Gioia. Of course, he happens to be Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, right now. On the upside, he is a native Californian with deep Bay Area roots, and he knows the value of a buck.

Alternatively, there is Thomas Newton. Or maybe Matt Gonzalez can find time.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 04:40 PM | Comments (3)

Shame, Shame, Shame On The Air Force Academy

I hate it when liberals bash Christians. As a proud cultural Jew, who doesn't even go to synagogue, I am hardly a religious zealot of any sort. Yet I have, for several years, found it increasingly hard to swallow the Liberal Left's knee-jerk vilification of people of faith, especially conservative Christians. So many of them are decent, good people, who are infinitely more nuanced and diverse in their viewpoints and perspectives than Liberal Reductionists make them out to be.

That said, I'm about to go WAY off the rez here. Even as a supporter of President George W. Bush, and a "moral values" moderate conservative who's appalled by much of the laxity and decay infecting popular culture, I have nonetheless too often been creeped out by Christian zealots and the blatantly homogenous social atmospherics in Flyover Country.

The overwhelmingly Christian, totally White Bread straight conformist vibe in places like Idaho and Colorado can be daunting to outsiders, and ought not be advanced by locals. I still remember, with some disgust, picking up the daily paper in lovely Coeur D'Alene, Idaho one summer afternoon in 2000, on the way back to Seattle from a family vacation in Spirit Lake, and seeing that the color, cover photo on the county fair special section pull-out had two blond-haired, blue-eyed Aryan model kids frolicking about.

This in a place near notorious Hayden Lake, where white supremicists led by Aryan Nations Supreme Creep-oid Richard Butler had ruled the roost for years, and at that very time were facing trial related to hate crimes. Political, intentional pandering to Aryans in the local paper, around a community festival, in a place then already deservedly under fire for the actions of blatant race-haters (now thankfully gone). Utterly tone-deaf. Never had I so wanted to see a dreadlocked black woman in a picture, and I usually hate that tokenist tendency on the media's part.

In Colorado Springs in 2002 for a family wedding, going all about the town and region, the same White, wear-it-on-your-sleeve Christian feel was everywhere. Colorado Springs is home to more than 100 Christian evangelical organizations, according to this Los Angeles Times article on the scandal involving religious intolerance and anti-Semitism at the Air Force Academy (about which more below).

Even the fairly appealing downtown of Colorado Springs seemed cleansed of vibrancy and any signs of real cultural diversity. The town as a whole is kind of a vast cultural wasteland, as this "lighter side" collection of reader reminiscenses in the local paper reveals (and that's taking into account the NYT-reading cowboy). As for religion - fine, Goddamit - I'm all for it, all brands; it just doesn't need to be overly advertised, and painstakingly woven into every last strand of a region's identity. That betrays spiritual and intellectual poverty.

Case in point: There's a little country town northeast of Seattle, called Darrington, where, last time I passed through I saw skinheads walking on the road, and all the workmen's roadside signs said something just like, "Bob Smith Plumbing: Praise The Lord," and so forth. If you wanted customers, apparently you had to signify. But "Rosenberg Consulting Services - Praise The Lord" just wouldn't play there, now would it?

Idaho, Colorado Springs, and Darrington remind me uncomfortably of far western North Carolina, a lovely, mountainous region that's home to many fine people and a few too many race-haters. My wife and I briefly considered moving there in the early 1990s, from our then-home in Chicago. But I wondered what it would be like to live in such a place with my very Jewish last name, a place where even then, a known White Supremacist was holed up. Not to mention what life would be like there for my kids, then not yet born. For the same reason, Eastern Washington and Eastern Oregon are locations I feel I can only visit, not live, even if I might wish to relocate, with my family, to either.

And so, I am not surprised, but am greatly sickened by the reports of serious religious intolerance and discrimination at the Air Force Academy, in Colorado Springs, practiced by evangelical Christian cadets, instructors and institutional leaders against cadets of other religious faiths, or no religious faith.

The Air Force has already essentially admitted culpability and instituted supposed reforms.

From the second-linked (L.A. Times) item in this post:

School officials say that they have received 55 complaints over the last few months and are requiring students - and eventually all employees - to attend courses on religious tolerance.

"Some complaints had to do with people... saying bad things about persons of other religions or proselytizing in inappropriate places," academy spokesman Johnny Whitaker said. "There have been cases of maliciousness, mean-spiritedness, and attacking or baiting someone over religion."

About 90 percent of the 4,300 cadets at the academy identify themselves as Christians; the school's commander, Brig. Gen. Johnny Weida, describes himself as born again.

Mikey Weinstein, an academy graduate and lawyer in Albuquerque, N.M., said his son Curtis - who is in his second year at the academy - was called a "filthy Jew. When I visited my son, he told me he wanted us to go off base because he had something to tell me," Weinstein said. "He said, 'They are calling me a [expletive] Jew and that I am responsible for killing Christ.' My son told me that he was going to hit the next one who called him something."

Revealingly, even the arch-conservative Washington Times currently finds itself unable to offer more than a muted, somewhat scrubbed factual report, sans refutation, or snark, of any sort.

Shame on the Air Force Academy for allowing a climate of religious bigotry. Shame, shame, shame.

I visited the Academy with my family in '02, and was tremendously inspired by the place - the sense of mission, the training program, and importance of this elite, highly-skilled branch of our nation's military. I recall also being impressed by the architectually distinctive chapel, as well. Yet now, I wonder if the chapel looms entirely too large on the campus. Perhaps they should tear it down, and have services in a mess-hall basement.

The Lord cares not about the size and splendor of your shrine, after all. You honor him with your humility, and love of your fellow man - no matter where, or how, or even whether at all, your fellow man worships God. And in a government-funded institution, or a public place, you do NOT love your agnostic, or Jewish, or Buddhist, or Muslim brother by praying for him as a "sinner" who hasn't come to Jesus.

If the Air Force Chapel is not bulldozed, as it ought to be, then let them also build a synogogue, a Buddhist temple and a mosque.

I know all too well the arrogance of the proselytizer, like those at the Academy; he who says I will burn in Hell if I don't worship his God, his way, and starting right now. I've unfortunately met a few, including one at the Washington Monument, when I was living in Arlington, Virginia, and working on Capitol Hill for a moderate Republican congressman from Illinois, in 1983. How far removed is such a zealot from an Islamicist suicide bomber? Only by a scant degree, and then barely at all, if he pulls an Eric Rudolph on us.

Let us note, too, that the recent unpleasantness at the Academy is not the only scandal there in recent years; sexual harassment has been rampant as well, though reforms are now in place.

Seems cadets can't keep their Johnsons or their religion under control. The history of sexual harassment and the more recent religious harassment at The Academy do unpleasantly dovetail. True, false accusations of white male privilege and arrogance are to be abhorred. But so too is the real thing.

Air Force Cadets, and commanders, get your business fully in order; and soon. A staining minority of you have been a disgrace to the proud and mighty U.S. Air Force. You have been a disgrace as well to the founding principles of the country you purport to protect and defend. Are you auditioning for the Saudi religious police?

And listen, if "the Jews killed Jesus," as some of your "Christian" cadets have allegedly told other (Jewish) cadets, then "the Americans" killed John F. Kennedy. Keep your religion, and your misguided beliefs, to yourselves.

President Bush - it will soon be time to cleanse the upper management levels of the Air Force Academy, in Colorado Springs. Time to gather all the facts, list names, take action, and clean house. End of story.

One hopes, at least.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 12:07 AM | Comments (6)

May 02, 2005

1 Dead Hasil Adkins Beats 20 Live Bruce Springsteens, Any 'Ol Day

Rosalita, yeh, yeh, yeh. So done it's char-broiled. E-Street Shuffle, yeh, the same. About all the rest of it all? Feh! Bruce Springsteen largely bites, and always did. His faux working-class Jersey shitck has for decades enthralled millions of undiscriminating, underexposed rubes, but just about always left me right on the verge of puking, or nodding off. The actual MUSIC?

SO Nowheresville, baby!

Some folk know all this, yet manage to catch a faint glimmer why - his insane mass appeal. More at Sunbreak City.

As for a REAL original, how 'bout the proto-hillbilly rocker Hasil Adkins? Except, well, The Haze, damn it, is freshly dead. Spike at Spikeco has the story on this underground rockabilly legend, out of WestByGodVirginia - who first started performing in the Eisenhower era. Was still a head of his time, right up 'til the Finnish.

Hasil was always an antidote to the corporate musical suckage heinously embodied by The Boss.

So y'all, g'wan: Do The Hunch now. Hasil was a good man, even if a weird loner without a major label deal. May his soul rest in peace.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:47 PM | Comments (8)

No Sea Change Yet In Top Cliches

Cliches are a clear and present danger. Everybody's up in arms. The British fear their pols are on auto-pilot phrase-wise, as BBC reports. Top-offending turns of phrase include:

Black hole - Sounds scary doesn't it? Imagine having one in your public finances...

...Doorstep, the - A quasi mythical land where subjects mysteriously "come up" - unless they are subjects that might cause embarrassment to your party ("Well it's not coming up on the doorstep, Jeremy...").

Hard-working families - Probably the most over-used phrase of the 2005 election. It's the lazy families we feel sorry for...

Investment - Formerly known as "public spending", this is now "pouring in".

...Metropolitan elite - This group has gradually replaced the "chattering classes" as hate figures of politicians who wish to strike a populist note.

...Top down - The biggest sin in modern politics is to have a policy that is "top down" - power must be seen to be in local people's hands.

Timing - As in "you have to question the timing of this announcement".

The business world is where cliches breed like rabbits. St. Petersburg Times business columnist Robert Trigaux tells it like it is:

At the end of the day, there is nothing like a classic business cliche....To be perfectly candid, business cliches are a robust, user-friendly and value-added solution for associates that can take corporate communications to the next level of thinking outside the box.

This guy's got his mojo workin,' alright.

Trigaux surveyed executives for some least favorite business cliches. Among those cited: "out of the box thinking," "user friendly," "value added," "branding," "boom, boom, boom," "team," "multitasking," "taking it to the next level," and - this gets my vote for worst of the worst - "Solutions." As in, all of a sudden, your lawn and shrub guy's truck reads, "Integrated Landscape Design Solutions."

In the marketplace of ideas, re-packaging cliches is a way to demonstrate originality. After all, it's not the steak, it's the sizzle. Here's your one-stop shop for cliches, the ClicheSite.com. And a real contender: The Sports Cliche List. Naturally, somebody had to catalog Film Sound Cliches.

Not to mention movie cliches.

The section on women is LOL. A few examples:

Women will always have shaved legs and armpits, even in caveman movies. Women will be worrying about their nails or dresses while people are trying to kill them. Women stand wide-eyed, hand to mouth, while hero battles villain. Women never thinks to clonk villain with handy object. Counterpoint: If woman does clonk, she always hits hero instead. Women always fight other movie women by pulling hair, falling to ground together, rolling over twice. High-powered female executives always wear miniskirts and five-inch heels to work.

Beautiful women will always fawn over an action hero, no matter what sexist remarks he makes to them. A female lead with feminist leanings will always despise a macho hero--until the first time he rescues her from certain death. She will then become totally conventional and dependent. Once she does this, the hero will become vulnerable and tell her about some tragic loss that will explain his belligerent attitude. Women wear make-up to bed, and wake up with hair and face completely intact....If a woman is pregnant, she will deliver before the movie ends....Women always stuff their fist(s) in their mouths when terrified. Women always have to be rescued by the hero, even if they're champion/expert this or that.

Sound familiar?

What are your most despised cliches - in business, politics, sports or entertainment? What's about to become a cliche, but isn't quite yet? What cliches have I used at Rosenblog that irritate the living bejeezus out of you?

I'm all ears.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 05:22 PM | Comments (3)

The Wrongs Of Animal Rights Leftists

The FBI is checking out reports that members of the wacked-out Animal Liberation Front have perpetrated crimes against the pharmaceutical company, Forest Laboratories, because of Forest's ties to a British company that ALF alleges kills animals during testing. Forest makes drugs to treat depression, anxiety, Alzheimer's and hypertension. Newsday reports:

Jerry Vlasak, who operates a Web site in California that posts "communiques" from ALF, confirmed Thursday that the group has made claims in recent weeks that some of its members followed a Forest executive's wife to her job, entered her car, stole a credit card and bought $20,000 in traveler's checks that it then donated to four charities.

....Vlasak, who stated that he is not an ALF member - although he supports many animal welfare initiatives - said the group has also claimed responsibility for vandalizing a Forest plant in Inwood, on Long Island, last June.

It also claims it used a bullhorn at night for a week last October to harass a Forest Laboratories executive; glued the locks on the homes of other company executives in Nassau and Suffolk counties, and spray-painted their homes and cars with graffiti such as "puppy killer" and "murderer."

A recent internal Homeland Security document lists the Animal Liberation Front among groups that could potentially support al-Qaida as domestic terrorism threats.

Seems all too plausible. Meanwhile, ALF ally Vlasak has recently been under fire from a fellow member of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society for 2003 remarks he made, advocating the murders of vivisectionists.

Threats play big for the ALF. From England comes news of an ALF activist whose 14-year sentence for sabotage acts against the meat industry had been reduced. After his release, he was busted in raid on a laboratory, where he liberated hundreds of mice. His trial ended last week with a sentence for community service; but on the way out of the courtroom he threatened a lab employee's life. Court promptly reconvened, and he got six months in jail.

Animal rights activists suffer from debilitating moral equivalency. Animals were put on earth to serve humans. Mice are not men. Nor are seals, dogs, cats, or cattle, or...you name it. You'll have to excuse me now: Time to rustle up some steak and eggs.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 07:48 AM | Comments (1)

May 01, 2005

"Grills" Not "Ghetto" Any More

Have you ever seen those hubcaps that spin while a car is stopped at a light?

Well, here's another sign of our leisure society in decay. Removable gold covers for your teeth, also known as "grills." Kind of a like a shiny Cadillac grill for your mouth. Formerly the province of rappers and thugs, they're now increasingly popular with teenage girls. Naturally, the San Francisco Chronicle has an almost entirely upbeat report, which ends with a jokey dismissal of serious dental concerns.

No longer just for rappers and street toughs, gold teeth have gone to the girls....Today, grills are a multimillion-dollar business...While most dentists shudder at the thought of all that bacteria growing behind the bling, jewelers who make the teeth are counting their gold.

A resurgence of interest from females is a lifesaver for gold tooth "master" James Cho of JC Jewelry in Oakland, who had been considering moving out of the Bay Area to where the market is less saturated by gold teeth.

"At first, all my customers were young black men, and once they bought their teeth, they really don't need to buy more," he said. "Now, all kinds of people come in, college students from UC Berkeley, grandparents ... but lately I've been getting a lot of teenage girls -- of all races." Gold teeth are also peeking out of the mouths of the Hollywood mainstream: Movie star Johnny Depp wore gold teeth to the Oscars, and Madonna also gave it a try.

This IS Amurika, so of course, there are LOTS of options.....

The choices are endless: two, four, six teeth -- or the entire smile -- can be covered with one piece. The snap-on grills are sometimes solid, covering each tooth, or "open-face" with square cut-outs to expose the natural teeth. Fangs are popular, and so is the "iced out" look -- a grill encrusted in tiny diamonds. Customers can also etch words or symbols into their caps, and have asked for their initials, stars, their gang affiliation and even their cell phone numbers carved into their teeth.

Here's the big selling point: they're a "fad." Oh, and they're sexy.

Naisha Williams was one of the first girls to put gold in her mouth at Skyline High in Oakland. Grills no longer say ghetto, she said, and have become another teen fad like Air Jordan shoes or FUBU jackets. "Girls are getting grills just to have them like the boys," she said. So far, the guys are pleased. Errol Gaines, an eighth-grader at Frick Middle School in Oakland, is on his second set of gold teeth. "When I first got them, the girls said I was cute," he said. Now Gaines has the same compliment: "Grills make the girls look a little prettier."

The health risks are substantial.

..the trend isn't sitting pretty with dentists, who say grills can offset a person's bite and create a breeding ground for bacteria. "Teenagers aren't good about taking them out and cleaning them," said Oakland dentist Caroline Peterson. One 16-year-old patient took off his six-tooth grill in her chair and revealed four teeth ravaged by cavities....Gold teeth are at the top of her list of dental don'ts, but if teenagers insist, she advises them to treat grills as costume jewelry -- to be worn only for special, dress-up occasions. Never while sleeping, eating or as permanent fashion.

Yeah right, says 18-year-old Desire Richardson of Skyline High, whose gold teeth with diamonds and fangs are all part of her carefully crafted look: magenta braids, plastic dice hair beads, dangling orange triangle earrings and a white flower made of feathers behind her ear.

"Girls are not going to stop wearing gold teeth -- I see them wearing them more and more," she said, admiring the toothy display at JC Jewelry in Oakland. "Girls wear them in the park, shopping, at parties, in school, wherever. You get more attention when you wear them."

Turning heads was all part of Mika Castro's plan. When she goes to her senior prom on May 14, she also plans to carry a diamond-encrusted "pimp cup" goblet with her. A dressmaker is stitching her burgundy and gold dress.

"I always wanted to get gold teeth, so me and my friends decided prom would be a good reason to do it," she said. "It makes you stand out. I'm going to wear them after prom, too. I told my mom, and she just laughed."

Way to go, Mom! The biggest problem here isn't dental. It's the idea that individuality comes from conformist costuming.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:30 AM | Comments (12)