June 30, 2005

A Girl Named Delicious

A Girl Named Delicious was at the same playground as my daughter and I yesterday. I know that was really her name because her siblings (Daisy Ellen and Daniel Bill, and no I'm not making it up) kept calling her that, and the mom called the names of all three several times.

Parents give their kids all kinds of weird names, but I never really bought into the idea that naming your offspring should be a personal vanity project. So I guess for the same reason, I'm not too keen on boys being named after their dads. Too much originality (there IS such a thing, believe me), or too little.

Still, I guess being Delicious might have an upside. If she can deal with the plethora of taunts and tweaks as she grows older, it'll strengthen her character, and perhaps her sense of humor. On top of which, suppose she turns out to be a talented singer, or actor, TV newsperson or famed podcaster? Then her name will be an asset. Hell, maybe it's an asset already. I can sure see her resume getting a second look.

Things could be a lot worse, anyway.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 05:42 PM | Comments (2)

Civilization On The Brink: Guacamole Flavored Chips

Behold the creamy, toothsome essence of the avocado: one of God's finest creations, although like much else, it is subject to desecration.

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I guess I don't get out enough, or have impossibly high expectations of mankind, or both. Perhaps I've actually noticed this before, but have pushed it to the back of my consciousness, because actually contemplating it is so painful. But today in the grocery store, at an aisle-end display, no less, for the first time in my life, I came unmitigatably face to face with the heinous reality of guacamole flavored tortilla chips.


One-handed food is bad enough, but truly: have we, as a nation, and yes, as consumers, become so addicted to ersatz, short-cut foodstuffs that we cannot take a few minutes to pit, scoop and mash some ripe avocados, then mix in some chopped garlic, cream, lemon, salt and pepper, and chill?

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Chill. Yes, that's the idea here. If you have to get your avocados in powdered form, you have forgotten how to chill.

And apparently, a lot of us are all het up over chips suffused with powdered avocado.

PepsiCo's Frito-Lay....developed a product based on the popularity of guacamole and decided to promote and advertise its guacamole-flavored chips among Mexicans in the Southwest. But a positive response to the product by the general market prompted the company to expand distribution and advertising beyond the region.

Mexicans? Mexicans in the U.S. are eating guacamole flavored chips? Whoaa! I take back some of what I said about assimilation. There really is a dark side.

Here is my rule of thumb. There are some things which should never, never, never, ever be powdered. Close to the top of the list are avocados.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 05:05 PM | Comments (2)

June 29, 2005

Pit Bull Mounts Fourth Attack

A neutered suburban Bay Area pit bull named Blackie, which had attacked other dogs three times according to police records, and which had been classified as "vicious," leapt through the window of its owner's parked motor home to attack other dogs again on Monday.

Police reports show that Blackie attacked separate dogs on Jan. 23, 2002, July 13, 2003, and Feb. 27, 2004. After the first attack, Blackie was given a "vicious" dog rating, Bates said.

Monday's incident allegedly started when Blackie jumped out of a partially open window of (owner Sami) Tawasha's parked motor home and charged at two boxers being walked by their owner in the parking lot of a professional building.

Owner Jim Kelly said his female boxer, Bella, 6, hid behind him, and the pit bull bit into Max's face and neck. Hearing the commotion, Tawasha tried to help Kelly pry the dogs apart.

"He was screaming at me that it was my dog's fault," Kelly said.

Perhaps I'd be more skeptical of this last claim if Blackie hadn't already gone on attack three times before.

Bates said Tawasha will be cited for having a dangerous dog. Blackie was caught nearby and was taken to the city animal shelter where he will held under a 14-day quarantine.

Wow. Tuff conseqeunces. "Cited for having a dangerous dog." What a deterrent! This must be another example of the "due course of the law" which befalls pit bull owners whose dogs attack.

The attack was the latest in a series involving pit bulls. The most serious was on June 3, when a 12-year-old San Francisco boy, Nicholas Faibish, was killed by at least one of his family's two pit bulls.

Last week, an 8-year-old Santa Rosa girl was attacked in her back yard by a 70-pound, unneutered pit bull. A week before that, another pit bull attacked its owner in Rohnert Park.

No wonder California legislators are considering a bill to allow breed-specific local regulations.

If the bill passes, you can expect more proposals like this one in San Mateo County, where as a trial proceeds involving owners of a dog killed by a neighbor's pit bull, the sherriff is proposing a ban on adoptions of pit bulls, and euthanizing abandoned pits.

Sheriff Don Horsley....(said)....."I hear that cocker spaniels bite more people than pit bulls. But cocker spaniels can't crush your femur and take your face off and kill you. A pit bull can..."

Previous Rosenblog posts on pit bulls:

"The Pit Bull Bloodshed Must End;"

"Pit Bull Attacks Raise Questions;"

"One Dog Trainer's Perspective On Pit Bull Attacks."

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 12:19 PM | Comments (8)

New Water Supplies, Conservation Key To Metro Atlanta Growth

Metropolitan regions that want economic growth will have to better plan for water supply expansion and water conservation, to help handle the population influxes linked to new economic activity.

By 2025, fast-growing metro Atlanta could be parched, unless serious regional planning begins now for developing future water supplies, and boosting water conservation, according to a 16-county North Georgia water planning agency. More from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (free reg. req.):

It's been two years since Georgia, Alabama and Florida ended rancorous high-level negotiations over how to divvy up the Chattahoochee River, metro Atlanta's primary water source. Since then, drenching rainfall has washed memories of the searing drought of 1998 to 2002 off the front page and out of the public's mind....But...as metro Atlanta's population doubles in the next 25 years, rising demand and a static supply would equal a serious water shortfall.

According to the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District's 2003 plans, the region would face a water deficit of 284 million gallons a day by 2030 without aggressive conservation measures and new lakes to store water. The potential shortfall is close to the amount used today by everyone in Gwinnett and Fulton counties and the city of Atlanta.

The option is to spend more than $60 billion over the next 30 years to pay for water and sewer improvements and ongoing maintenance, according to the district. But progress so far is hit or miss in the district, which comprises 16 counties and hundreds of communities.

Two reservoirs are under construction, and five more are in the works while other, more basic water-wise polices have hit stumbling blocks. Most local governments are reluctant to impose stormwater fees on property owners to pay for systems to handle urban runoff and reduce water pollution. And some have been unwilling to charge a sliding fee for water that penalizes wasters.

Last year, the real estate industry scuttled the district's No. 1 conservation measure, which was to require home sellers to update their plumbing fixtures to meet today's low-flow standards. All the talking and planning have so far yielded few long-lasting results.

But here's the worst part: Even with all the well-laid plans about how to maximize the water from our rivers and streams, no one knows how much can safely be taken out.

The watersheds contain only so much water that can be used for drinking, cooking, flushing, showering and sprinkling lawns. The rest must stay in the rivers to keep them and their aquatic species healthy. Site-specific, scientific research that includes monitoring stream flows and surveying aquatic species hasn't been done.

....The study of the water supply hasn't been done because it's so expensive, estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars statewide, said Nap Caldwell, a senior water policy adviser with the state Environmental Protection Division who is working on Georgia's first statewide water management plan.

"We fumbled around for years not knowing what the right questions are," Caldwell said. Now that the scientists know what they need to do, "We have to figure out how we're going to pay for it."

The Central Puget Sound region (King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, including the cities of Seattle, Tacoma, Bellevue and Everett) faces a similar challenge. Despite ad hoc, negotiated-by-committee flows on several major rivers, a number of experts here pointedly note that no one really knows how much water needs to be left in stream for salmon, and how much can be safely taken out for residential, commercial and industrial use. Future water supply expansion to meet Central Puget Sound's projected population growth of more than 60 percent by 2050 will depend not only on continuing aggressive conservation messaging, but also on finding ways to define, store and transfer new water supplies drawn from excess winter river flows, our abundant rain, and quite possibly one day from Puget Sound itself, via desalinization. One long-standing method now drawing consideration on a broader scale - here and elsewhere - is water storage in high-capacity aquifers, or natural underground layers of water-bearing permeable rock, fractured rock, gravel, sand, silt, or clay.

Like the Atlanta and Seattle regions, much of Florida is grappling with how to secure adequate water for future population and economic growth. The Orlando Business Journal reported yesterday that Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has signed into law bills updating the state's growth management policies, including measures to link future growth to adequate water supply; and encourage existing regional water planning bodies to develop alternative supply sources such desalinated sea water and reclamation of treated wastewater for irrigation and industrial uses.

As part of the approved package, a $100 million annual trust fund ($200 million in the first year) has been created to fund water quality protection and water resource development projects. Often at odds, environmental, business and local government interests joined together in support of Florida's new water legislation. Naturally, water districts around the state and taxpayers will have to pony up too, for improving the water supply and infrastructure, but regional planning can control costs.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:02 AM | Comments (1)

June 28, 2005

Bush Transcript: Iraq Will Prove Decisive

The Downing Street Memo is more water pistol than smoking gun, as even Michael Kinsley has noted. Debating the U.S. decision to intervene in Iraq in 2003 is plain off-point, after the battle has been joined. And especially now that al Qaeda has swarmed the place.

The flailing hyperbole about the Downing Street Dud is of a piece with the desperate Gitmo Gotcha meme.

All the same, President George W. Bush needed to explain anew to the American people why we're still in Iraq, and under what conditions we're getting out.

Bush gave a strong speech to the nation tonight about why we have to fulfill our commitment in Iraq; about the U.S. role in training Iraqi security forces to better "stand up, so we can stand down;" and why not to set an "artificial deadline" for leaving. I watched, and was impressed. Here's the CNN transcript, which includes Bush's airtight rationale for taking out the bad guys.

The terrorists who attacked us and the terrorists we face, murder in the name of a totalitarian ideology that hates freedom, rejects tolerance and despises all dissent. Their aim is to remake the Middle East in their own grim image of tyranny and oppression by toppling governments, by driving us out of the region and by exporting terror. To achieve these aims, they have continued to kill: in Madrid, Istanbul, Jakarta, Casablanca, Riyadh, Bali and elsewhere.

...After September the 11th, I made a commitment to the American people: This nation will not wait to be attacked again. We will defend our freedom. We will take the fight to the enemy...There is only one course of action against them: to defeat them abroad before they attack us at home.

...Our mission in Iraq is clear: We're hunting down the terrorists. We're helping Iraqis build a free nation that is an ally in the war on terror. We're advancing freedom in the broader Middle East. We are removing a source of violence and instability and laying the foundation of peace for our children and our grandchildren. The work in Iraq is difficult and it is dangerous. Like most Americans, I see the images of violence and bloodshed. Every picture is horrifying, and the suffering is real....It is worth it. And it is vital to the future security of our country. And tonight I will explain the reasons why.

....Our military reports that we have killed or captured hundreds of foreign fighters in Iraq who have come from Saudi Arabia and Syria, Iran, Egypt, Sudan, Yemen, Libya and others. They are making common cause with criminal elements, Iraqi insurgents and remnants of Saddam Hussein's regime who want to restore the old order. They fight because they know that the survival of their hateful ideology is at stake.

They know that as freedom takes root in Iraq, it will inspire millions across the Middle East to claim their liberty as well. And when the Middle East grows in democracy and prosperity and hope, the terrorists will lose their sponsors, lose their recruits and lose their hopes for turning that region into a base for attacks on America and our allies around the world.

Some wonder whether Iraq is a central front in the war on terror. Among the terrorists, there is no debate. Here are the words of Osama bin Laden: "This third world war is raging" in Iraq. "The whole world is watching this war." He says it will end in "victory and glory or misery and humiliation."

If I were Osama, I'd be worried about "humiliation," too. It'll happen sooner once the Syrians get their border under control.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:42 PM | Comments (0)

Gitmo Cookbook: A Can't-Miss Gift Idea

...especially for sanctimonious libs. Yep, getcher Gitmo Cookbook right here. Who could possibly resist?

If you're tired of all the torture allegations, of hearing the media imply that handling a Quran without gloves on is the moral equivalent of beheading someone, and of all the hysteria about enemy combatants, you'll enjoy the Gitmo Cookbook.

It contains the actual recipes and menus for the food served to the Gitmo detainees, along with interesting facts about how American soldiers are working every day to treat prisoners humanely while still getting the information we need to protect ourselves.

Baked Tandouri Chicken Breast, Mustard-Dill Baked Fish, Lyonnaise Rice, and Fish Amandine are just a few of the recipes you'll find in the Gitmo Cookbook. We've tested them, and they are inexpensive, easy to make, and delicious.

Anyone wanna send a copy to Dick Durbin?

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:41 PM | Comments (0)

June 27, 2005

Gay Racism In San Francisco?

Are too many white gay men, and one apparently very white gay bar in San Francisco's famed gay Castro District, racist? San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom last Friday appointed his predecessor Willie Brown to mediate a dispute between the city's human rights commission and the owner of a gay bar named Badlands, where the commission has determined that 13 instances of racial discrimination by the staff occured. While the city commission's finding on Badlands carry no legal weight on their own, the state liquor commission is soon to complete an investigation that could pack some punch. More here from the San Francisco Chronicle.

They are among the most maligned groups in society, but when it comes to discrimination, many say, gays can give as good as they get.

A city investigation of S.F. Badlands, one of the largest and most popular bars in the heart of the Castro neighborhood, has added evidence to that argument. In April, the San Francisco Human Rights Commission found that the bar discriminated against African American customers and job applicants.

That finding, which is vigorously disputed by the bar's owner, is elevating the murmurs of racism in the gay community to a national discussion...Protesters have picketed the bar every week (for tweo months)....(they) are affiliated with a group called And Castro For All, which formed around the issue, and have a stated short-term goal of putting bar owner Les Natali out of business and a long-term aim of "fostering a generally welcome Castro neighborhood ... and exposing actions that undermine inclusion."

....this community built on tolerance and diversity has to answer to members who say those ideals do not match reality. "I was told that Harvey Milk would be rolling in his grave if he knew a black man was running San Francisco's gay pride parade. I was told Martin Luther King would be rolling in his grave. I was told that I was not qualified," said Calvin Gipson, who was president of the parade committee from 1998 to 2000 and on the board of directors for five years. He is the director of human services for Glide Memorial United Methodist Church.

"I have been called 'big, black nigger bitch' while walking on the street in the Castro," said Zwazzi Sowo, a lesbian who has lived in San Francisco for 20 years. "I am 52 years old. Nowhere else in my life have I experienced walking down the street and someone calling me a nigger."....Lesbians who have spoken with And Castro for All consistently say two things, according to John Newsome, who started the group.

"When I asked lesbians if they had experienced or heard of discrimination at Badlands, they generally offered one of two responses: 'My friends and I feel unwelcome almost everywhere in Castro,' or simply, 'I don't even go to the Castro anymore,' " Newsome said.

At some point, a community based on exclusivity or cultural and political homogeniety begins to collapse upon itself. This is as true of The Castro as certain parts of Idaho or Alabama, or Chicago (and I'm talking white, black and Latino neighborhoods with regard to my old hometown, by the way). Overbearingly liberal Seattle is another example.

NOTE: Previous Rosenblog post, "Are Some Gays Intolerant?

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:38 PM | Comments (0)

GE Desalination Project To Expand Algiers Water Supply

General Electric Co. has a growing water treatment unit, which has just announced that it will partner with the Algerian Energy Company to build a major seawater desalination plant. The facility will help supply the country's capital city of Algiers with much-needed additional drinking water. Costs for desalination have dropped significantly, and the method is part of the future solution to global water supply challenges. More here from the Stamford Advocate, via AP.

General Electric Co. plans to help build what would be one of the world's largest water desalination plants, part of a growing interest in projects to address global water shortages. GE...has invested more than $3 billion into its nearly three-year-old water treatment business. The $270 million plant in Algeria is the company's first major drinking-water project.

"I think it pleases the research community that a large corporation has stepped up and has the vision to see out 20 years," said Ron Linsky, executive director of the National Water Research Institute. "Desalination of sea water is an important option that the world has. The recognition of the value of water is increasingly on the radar of people around the world."

Nearly 100 desalination projects are in the development stages in the United States, but environmental permitting and other issues need to be resolved, Linsky said.

With water scarcity a growing global problem, GE says desalination is the wave of the future. "The technology is getting better and the cost is getting lower so it's really becoming a viable solution," said Colin Sabol, chief marketing officer for GE Infrastructure, Water & Process Technologies.....The cost of desalination has dropped from $20 to $3.50 per 1,000 gallons over the past 15 years, Sabol said.

Water desalination has its critics. The California Coastal Commission warned two years ago that allowing desalination plants to proliferate could threaten marine life and turn what has long been considered a common good - the ocean - into a commodity. A pioneering desalination plant in Tampa, Fla., has run into problems, such as salt filters clogging too quickly.

Linsky denied the plants are harmful to marine life. He attributed the problems in Tampa to growing pains. Desalination has not been widely used in the United States even though plants have long operated in the Middle East, he said.

....GE expects to build three or four major desalination projects annually. Desalination is a $5 billion market that is growing about 15 percent annually, company officials said.

Al Bawaba reports the GE-Algerian joint venture will provide 53 million gallons per day of potable water from the sea. Construction is scheduled to start next month, and last two years.

Yankee ingenuity and Yankee capital helping supply badly-needed drinking water to a North African, Muslim country. Yes, I think I like that.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 12:23 PM | Comments (0)

June 26, 2005

San Ysidro School Lets 143 Failing 8th-Graders Graduate

In a Sunday editorial today, the San Diego Union-Tribune has deservedly harsh words for school district officials in San Ysidro who engaged in what's called "social promotion" of 143 failing eighth-graders.. One passage in the editorial seems a dead giveaway that slacking teachers and fear of the teachers union is huge part of the problem. But regrettably, the writer fails to reveal more about that element of the situation.

Who is supposed to shake up and shape up San Ysidro Middle School? (Carolina) Flores, the fourth principal at this middle school in five years, has asked that teachers submit lesson plans and grade students consistently. Some do, some don't. Where are the superintendent and other district administrators to back up this principal? Where are school board members to support her requests? Where is an appalled union representative to demand that its teachers raise their expectations along with their teaching so their students can learn? Where are angry parents to raise cain? Where, as a necessary last resort, is state oversight?

Social promotion is the norm in San Ysidro, San Diego and many other school systems, but many of the students who do manage a 2.0 GPA and a decent attendance record still cannot perform at grade level the next year. Principal Flores made the decision to send the 143 most unprepared students forward into high school, but her cowardice is par for the course. Blaming the teachers is fair, up to a point. And the editorial at least makes a fleeting mention of parents. But the paper really needs to drill down, on the role of parents.

More (though nothing about parents or the all-important place of education in the community's culture) in this Friday article on San Ysidro Middle School from UT reporter Chris Moran:

...the problem is much worse than the promotion statistics indicate. How many students met promotion criteria and how many walk in the ceremony are irrelevant statistics to Hector Espinoza, principal of San Ysidro High, where today's ceremony will take place. They'll all be his students next year.

He just wants to know whether they're ready for ninth grade. He sent a team of teachers out to test middle school students, and they reported back to him that 70 percent of the incoming freshman class at San Ysidro High is not at grade level.

I tip my hat to all the parents who help motivate their kids, and wring the best for them out of public schools that are mediocre at best, and often much worse. Their kids may go far. But I gnash my teeth over the parents who are missing in action when it comes to the education and intellectual growth of their children. I know, "intellectual" is a dirty word. But "intellect" isn't. Ability to think and analyze, and a desire to learn are fairly essential tools these days. There's always somebody from Bangalore or Taipei ready to eat your lunch.

Yes, there there are special remedial courses at scores of high schools for incoming freshmen who never mastered the less-than-challenging middle school curriculum. And when they graduate, there are community colleges (a.k.a. "high schools with ashtrays") to bring them up to grade level for college.

Charter schools are no silver bullet. Some have crashed and burned rather spectacularly. You can end up with dolts and feather-bedders in charge of charter schools. But far less often than in public schools. More often, charters do really allow a culture of excellence and high expectations to thrive. We need more charter schools, more states which permit vouchers, and we need more frequent state-administered student achievement assessment tests within the framework of the No Child Left Behind Act. One for each of the last three years of high-school, for instance, instead of just 10th grade.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 12:39 PM | Comments (2)

June 25, 2005

"College Not Combat" Initiative Headed To Ballot In SF?

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Watchu mean, "we," Kemosabe? You really mean, "they," you patronizing schlemiel. See, minority and low-income youth are so easily brainwashed into joining the U.S. military that young white Leftists must come to their aid. Betcha most folks didn't know that. And so, it looks like the feel-good ballot initiative titled "College Not Combat" may be headed to voters this fall in San Francisco.

Here's the campaign's' site.

The College Not Combat campaign is an exciting effort to get an anti-military recruitment initiative on the ballot in San Francisco.

Yeah, great way to meet "progressive" chicks, AND build the base for nuevo-retro outfits like the San Francisco People's Coalition.

Here's the text. I really like the pay-off, if it passes.

Resolved, that the people of San Francisco oppose U.S. military recruiters using public school, college and university facilities to recruit young people into the armed forces. Furthermore, San Francisco should oppose the military’s "economic draft" by investigating means by which to fund and grant scholarships for college and job training to low-income students so they are not economically compelled to join the military!

Yeh, that'll really shake things up. Never mind that it's illegal to ban military recruiters from most schools getting federal funds. Suppose somehow (and let's pretend here we live in the same dream world the initiative's sponsors do) the intent of the measure was achieved. No recruiters on campus. Guess it'd be time for a draft then. Huh?

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:35 AM | Comments (4)

June 24, 2005

Reaction Strong to "Blue City Conservatives"

My cover story in last week's Seattle Weekly about Seattle's conservatives and Republicans drew many reactions. Here's a partial round-up.

Letters to the Editor in the Weekly.

Commenters also sounded off at story-related posts on Sound Politics, and Rosenblog.

Other bloggers and sites also glommed on to the story. They included:

The Wall Street Journal's Opinion Journal (third item down, "Senseless In Seattle");

The Brothers Judd;

Greg Piper;

Mark Rauterkus;

DJ Entropy;

Mark Nicodemo;

usmcgunny68's AOL Journal;


Ron Hebron;


Lair of the Infinite Dragon;


The Seven Realms;



Some folks liked the piece, others hated it. But they all spelled my name right. The best thing about it, to me: the aftermath got me - and a few like-minded others - thinking about a GOP urban agenda for Seattle.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 12:30 AM | Comments (4)

June 22, 2005

Groovegrass Boyz: Love 'Em Or Hate 'Em

I lean toward the former, as I'm not a purist, and the seemingly weird combination of funk and bluegrass works for me. Twangzine, "covering real American music that doesn't suck," has a great feature about Scott Rouse and Groovegrass, whose full-length CD (recorded in '93 but released in '98) I just listened to again tonight.

In its best parts, "Groovegrass 101" is a hyper-funkalicious bluegrassy treat featuring Nashville producer, engineer, guitarist and vocalist Rouse with James Brown/Parliament-Funkadelic Space Bass exemplar Bootsy Collins;

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plus bluegrass legend Doc Watson.

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And Yo, Homer, it works - for the most part.

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Here's Twangzine:

Try to imagine this. It's late April in North Carolina. You are in Wilkesboro at Merlefest, the big Bluegrass Festival held every year in memory of the late guitar picker Merle Watson. It's 2 am and you've stumbled up to a campfire to hear some hot picking. You look around and see that the pickers are none other than bluegrass music legends Doc Watson, Mac Wiseman, and Del McCoury along with the rest of the Del McCoury Band and they are flat tearing it up! As you sit around the fire listening to the Greats you notice a light in the sky.

And the light is getting closer. The picking stops and everyone stares at the light which has turned into a spaceship of some sort, and it's headed straight for you!!! The space ship lands in the field alongside and a ramp deploys from the side. Are these the little green men? Visitors from another galaxy? The door opens and everyone strains to see who it is coming down the ramp. It's a large black man with a bass shaped like a star.

"Ahhhh, It's Bootsy, baby!'" you hear as he heads down the ramp. This creature walks up to the fire and says: "I was just cruising around in the Mothership and I heard the music. I hope y'all don't mind if I drop in and jam with you for a while."

The music starts up again sounding like bluegrass at first, but then something strange happens. Bootsy begins laying down a funk groove and suddenly it's not bluegrass anymore. And it's not funk. It's a combination of the two. "Ah it's Groovegrass Baby" hollers Bootsy, as they all launch into "Blue Moon of Kentucky."

....Scott Rouse is the brainchild behind Groovegrass. Rouse...was raised on bluegrass. His father, Dr. Jim Rouse got to be friends with flatpicking guitar wizard Arthel "Doc" Watson from the picking parties held by Gallager Guitars in Wartrace, Tennessee. While attending the Berklee School of Music in Boston, Rouse had two roommates who were funk and r&b producers. Through them he gained exposure into producing and r&b...."I started getting all these gigs and was skipping classes....I would do sessions work in Boston and New York...I started getting gigs as a musician and as a co-arranger....I've been doing it for about 15 years.

When I was doing all that session work, I was basically playing bluegrass licks on an electric guitar. I got to really missing bluegrass bad about this time....I was trying to figure out how to get people who have never listened to bluegrass to listen to it? So I got the idea to mix dance stuff on top of it.... I'd take these acetate records I had made and give them to DJs in the dance clubs in Boston and people really dug it! I went into a club one night and the DJ asked me if I had any more of that Groovegrass stuff. The name just stuck."

On a trip back home Rouse was talking to his father and Doc Watson about his future plans. "I was making good money doing this dance and funk stuff, But I really missed the bluegrass. I was trying to decide in which direction to go."

His father told him "Why not do both?"

"Dad and Doc told me to move to Nashville and keep on pursuing the Groovegrass thing. So that's what I did....I wanted to get Bootsy involved because I had always dug what he had been doing, so I sent him a copy of some stuff I had been playing around with and he loved it. Bootsy saw it as an entirely new form of music. An extension of the same thing that he and George Clinton had done. Inventing funk while still respecting and paying homage to r&b and soul."

....In closing Rouse had this to say; "Remember, we're not trying to change bluegrass, we're just trying to get it to a generation that doesn't know it exists."

I'm a big fan of the traditional stuff. But the Groovegrass hybrid sound is pretty arresting, too. Long live bastardized music. If it rocks, that is.

Here's an Amazon buy link to Groovegrass 101, and two CD singles.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:22 PM | Comments (5)

June 21, 2005

Al Qaeda Is Nervous, Nervous, Nervous

What do The American Left and al Qaeda have in common? Both will stand to lose what little credibility they have left on foreign affairs if Middle East nations such as Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine continue on the difficult road toward liberty and political self-determination. Osama bin Laden's top lieutenant, Ayman al-Zawahri, is clearly nervous, and in a newly-released video which aired on al-Jazeera TV, warns Arabs working toward democratic reforms that what they really should want is Holy War against infidel Western imperialists, no doubt intended to move emerging Arab nations back into the dark ages (think Taliban-era Afghanistan).

But al-Zawahri's manifesto for theocratic dysfunction didn't get by the B.S. detector of ABC-TV's Brian Ross.

In the video, Ayman al-Zawahri instructs Muslims not to be lulled into accepting peaceful democratic reforms being pushed by the United States and President Bush.

...."This is his nightmare. Popular democracy, peaceful demonstrations, and al Qaeda would like to intervene in the process," said ABC News analyst Fawaz Gerges, professor of Middle Eastern studies at Sarah Lawrence College.

"Reforms are taking place in the Middle East against al Qaeda's wishes, al Qaeda is being left behind," said Gerges. "Osama bin Laden and Zawahri realize they've lost touch in reality and they would like to have their own say."

In the video, bin Laden's No. 2 man also urges Palestinians to ignore the new democratic initiatives from Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. "I ask them not to abandon their jihad, not to lay down their weapons," he says on the tape.

Meanwhile, the leader of Iraq's al Qaeda group says the country's attempt to institutionalize political self-determination is doomed because it stems from the arrogant intervention of President George W. Bush.

So, taken together, we get this message from al Qaeda: we're scared we're going to be on the losing end of this thing...but oh, ah, wait a minute, no, we're going to win.

Common sense should tell anyone that with all the resources terrorists are spending in Iraq now, al Qaeda is utterly terrified at that something resembling a constitutional democracy will eventually emerge in Iraq, and send a powerful message to the rest of the Arab world.

Cue up the Bob Dylan, for "The Times They Are A-Changin'."

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 05:12 PM | Comments (1)

Return Of The Sage Grouse

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Thanks to spring rains last year, the sage grouse are back in Wyoming. Early indications from the state promise a whole lotta struttin' and hookin' up, on the leks.

Of all bird names, sage grouse may be my favorite. And that's saying quite a lot.

If you go sage grouse hunting, you might like to have this recipe for sage grouse in gravy.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 12:31 PM | Comments (0)

We're From The Government, And......

In seperate incidents over the last 10 months, four toddlers have fallen from apartment building balconies or windows on Oahu, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin reports today. Two deaths, a broken leg, and internal injuries. It's usually male toddlers, and ah, very careless parents. Naturally, the government wants to help.

Yeh. I think some informational pamphlets just might do the trick.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 12:07 PM | Comments (0)

June 20, 2005

Washington State Ferries: The Good Wait

Back in 1991, the Northwest correspondent for the New York Times, Tim Egan, wrote a fine book of essays on the Pacific Northwest, titled "The Good Rain." I highly recommend it.

Over the years, I've come to understand exactly what the title means, at least to me. While it's easy for newcomers, visitors and nattering weatherpersons here to blab on and on, seemingly discouraged, about Western Washington's rain, it's actually a light rain, a nourishing rain, a cooling rain, a quintesentially good rain. Things grow, we chill out a bit - and face it, as my eight-year-old son is very quick to point out, too much sun and heat is not a good thing.

And so I find myself missing the rain, when it's dry for more than a few days in a row here. This galumphing ex-Chicagoan has gone native, I guess.

Apparently, I've gotten caried away. Because I now also thoroughly appreciate what might be called the Good Wait, for the Washington State Ferries. This happens not so much on your first ferry trip of the day, i.e. Fauntleroy to Vashon Island, and then Southworth (assuming you live in West Seattle like we do, and want to enjoy a weekend day-trip on the West Sound); but on the way back, when your arrival time at the dock is often not nearly as well calibrated as at the day's start.

I still remember a day trip by ferry a number of years ago from West Seattle with a visiting in-law from out of town, plus another in-law who lived in South Puget Sound, and that in-law's spouse, to nearby Vashon, the home of the famous bicycle tree once featured in Ripley's Believe It Or Not. When we arrived back at the ferry dock on north Vashon after our outing, the second in-law's spouse had a car-door slamming fit because - get this! - we'd just missed a departing ferry, and had to wait another 30 minutes. It's highly advisable not to ever get on a Washington State Ferry if you, or your schedule, are wound that tight.

You bring a book (always a book), or maybe a magazine, an acoustic guitar, and a cooler full of beverages and snacks in the trunk. And you just chill. Maybe even get out of your car and walk along the dock, enjoying the great water and mountain views. You choose to be IN the moment, not a Jones-ing, cell-phone-toting, I-Pod-disabled nebbish.

This, after all, is why you live in the Pacific Northwest. Unless you were simply transferred here, and are still living in your own porta-cul-de-sac.

So, yeah, I call the wait for the ferry The Good Wait.

I had one of those just yesterday, at the Southworth ferry dock in Kitsap County, on the way back from a great Father's Day outing with my family at Joemma Beach State Park, on Key Peninsula.

There's always the question of whether to drive back around over the Tacoma Narrows Bridge via Route 16, into I-5 and then north to Seattle through a great deal of weekend traffic, or drive to the ferry at Southworth via Route 16 north and then traverse the rolling hills and light weekend traffic on Sedgewick Road east, only to wait 30 to 40 minutes for the next boat. Regardless of the wait, I'm all for Door Number Two, and it was oh so relaxing yesterday. I learned later there was a huge, dead-stop, long traffic jam on I-16 heading back south across the Narrows Bridge, toward I-5. Schadenfreude. I know. I'm a bad person.

Anyway, I highly recommend wasting time at a ferry dock soon, in Western Washington.

The Good Wait awaits you.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:14 PM | Comments (3)

Irish Republican Socialist Flute Band Blows

The Republican Socialist Martyr's Flute Band, Belfast, is conducting an online poll. How can the band be improved? More flutes, drums, songs, what? A more plausible underlying dogma?

The results so far.

In case you were wondering: according to the MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base, The Irish Republican Socialist Party (ISRP) is the political arm of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), which numbers some 50 members, and has at least been adhering to a cease-fire since claiming responsibility for various killings and bombings of non-combatants in 1998 and 1997 (detailed via the MIPT link).

So now they play their flutes and drums, and piddle on about an Irish Marxist Republic. Their North American affiliates appear from time to time, like at this recent event to honor a guy from Eugene, Oregon who set some sport utility vehicles afire to protest global warming. Oh, and the good Irish Socialists would also like us to know that they are all the way down with the "insurgents" in Iraq.

...the IRSP support the resistance fighters presently engaged in liberation struggles against Anglo-American imperialism, because we know that imperialism's interests are directly counter to those of working people everywhere. The Anglo-American axis of imperialism, under the guise of its 'war against terrorism,' is seeking to swiftly erode civil and human rights of people around the world.

Yeh. I think I know what they can do with those flutes.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 06:10 PM | Comments (0)

June 19, 2005

One Dog Trainer's Perspective On Pit Bull Attacks

Dawn, a professional dog trainer, left this comment at one of my earlier posts about attacks by pit bulls. Here is what she has to say:

It's very difficult for me to take the side of banning a breed of dog, I don't like the precedent it sets, I don't like anybody losing their freedoms of choice whether it's pet ownership or anything else, however, unless someone can come up with a viable alternative I don't see that we have any choice in the matter. My own experiences with pits has convinced me that they are an extremely unstable and unsafe animal for the majority of people to own.

I have worked as a professional dog trainer (not the petco variety) for years, in that time I've worked with a huge variety of breeds, some hardheaded, independant and difficult to impossible for their owners to handle, however, pit bulls are the only breed I used to work with that would become violent.

My first negative pit bull incident happened with my friends dog who I'd helped her train since the dog was 8 weeks old at a year old the dog had shredded the garbage, she was corrected by taking her to the garbage, showing it to her and saying "No", she was not bopped, spanked or struck in any way during this correction. Roughly two hours later I was sitting on the floor and as she started to walk past me, she turned and lunged at my face. Luckily she was a small pit and I'd caught the look in her eye a split second before she lunged and was able to grab her and with assistance subdue her. Until that incident she was the sweetest loving dog, great with kids, good around other animals etc. She had never exhibited any type of aggression up to that point. About 6 months later she bit her owner when she was ordered out of the kitchen. The dog was put down.

My invalid mother was sitting in her wheelchair in the front of the house when three loose pits decided to stop and investigate our yard. One of them decided she didn't like my mom and started growling and stalking her in the chair. My mom is unable to talk or respond in any type of aggressive manner and yet the dog became aggressive towards her. I managed to get the dog interested in me instead, until animal control got here. It was a terrifying incident.

Another dog trainer friend of mine was teaching an obedience class and having the owners walk the dogs in a circle around her, the pit owner walked too close to her back and the pit bull bit the trainer in the calf. She no longer allows pit bulls in her classes either.

I now have a large pit bull living in the house behind me, who attempts to claw and leap at the fence anytime the kids are playing in the pool or playing with our dogs. Animal control has not been able to remove the dog yet... until he actually comes over the fence and attacks?

In all of my experience as a trainer I've never had a dog intentionally go after me or anyone else. I personally think of Pit Bulls as loaded guns, they're fine until they slip the safety off. The problem is that no one can anticipate when that might happen or what the result would be. I believe there are very few people who can safely control a pit bull especially if they slip the safety off.

Whether you blame the irresponsible owners or the dogs themselves, it doesn't change the fact that people and animals are not safe around an unrestrained pit bull. Everyone in our neighborhood who doesn't own a pit bull carries a weapon and has animal control speed dialed on their cell phones. All of this so we can safely walk our own dogs or allow our children to play in the neighborhood. So while pit bull owners have the freedom of owning thier dog, we have lost the freedom to feel safe in our own neck of the woods.

To the counter-argument that if you ban pit bulls, another breed will be trained by thugs to behave the same way, I doubt it, but you know what? If that happened, and Presa Canarios or some other strong, violent breed earned the same poor record that dogs the pit bull breed now, I'd support the same position toward them that I have toward pit bulls: responsible pit bull owners must police their own communities, engage in peer education and outreach and push for strong, breed-specific local licensing regulations for pit bull owners, or face the real possibility that as attacks mount in a given locality, pressures will grow for local breed bans on pits.

Simply prosecuting the miscreant owners of attacking pit bulls after the damage is done (maiming, disfigurement, death, emotional trauma) is a hollow remedy. With freedom comes responsibility, and an obligation to mind the greater social good.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:43 AM | Comments (20)

June 18, 2005

A "Repopulation Czar" For Detroit?

Detroit needs a new mayor for sure, to replace the unfocused, ethically-challenged Kwame Kilpatrick. No question about that. This story tells me that one of Kilpatrick's challengers, City Councilwoman Sharon McPhail, is thinking big; as in Big Government.

Detroit City Councilwoman Sharon McPhail said Thursday that if she is elected mayor, she would appoint a population czar to reverse residents' flight from the city.

Standing at the city's southeastern border with Grosse Pointe Park, McPhail and her running mate, former Detroit Police Chief Benny Napoleon, said they would help their czar by making the city safer, eliminating the drug trade, providing a free college education for every Detroit high school graduate and lowering taxes and insurance rates....She also has called for creating a city-owned insurance company to lower rates for Detroiters. She said casinos could provide the money needed to create an endowment that would fund the college tuition program.

Eliminate the drug trade in Detroit? Mmmm Hmm. Yep, I'd sure like to hear more about that. And a city-run insurance operation? The city can barely balance its own budget. High insurance rates in Detroit result from rampant crime, social decay and fractured families. I'd like to hear a Detroit mayoral candidate talking about the importance of two-parent households, teacher merit pay, and urban economic development (but not another "African Town" scheme, please).

Freman Hendrix (a former deputy mayor), Kilpatrick, and state Sen. Hansen Clarke, D-Detroit, also are running for mayor. Voters will eliminate all but two candidates in the Aug. 2 primary.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:57 AM | Comments (2)

June 17, 2005

SF Going To Pot; Seattle Not?

SF Chron columnist Ken Garcia lays it out: "Why San Francisco Has Really Gone to Pot."

...San Francisco's ongoing experiment with pot clubs underscores one of the city's lingering problems, one that negatively affects the overall quality of life and makes it appear that Cheech-and-Chong movies are models for public policy. The town's uber-lefty politics have created a dynamic of such permissiveness that basic standards and oversight don't exist, or are lightly regarded or ignored altogether.

..the city's streets...in too many areas, have the grimy feel of a third-world country. Equating lawlessness with civil liberty has been a hallmark of the left- leaning San Francisco for decades, as has the constant disconnect between the city's weak policies and their effect.

"It's like everyone is concerned with infringing someone's rights,'' said longtime city resident Dennis Cruz. "Meanwhile, the place looks like a dump.''

A host of issues, ranging from prostitution to dog ownership to litter, has had a regrettable impact on life here and the tolerance for it is waning. Sex clubs that are magnets for human traffickers abound -- officials estimate thousands of underage girls are involved. Loose dogs have made some parks off-limits for families. The filthy streets have become an obsession for a succession of mayors.

The town's laissez-faire approach to such problems has been tolerated here, but as Mayors Rudy Giuliani showed in New York and Richard Daley is proving in Chicago, the best way to transform a city is to steer it, soundly, from the center. For Mayor Gavin Newsom to shake up the status quo in San Francisco, he will have to show his centrist resolve.

...There is no ideology involved in providing clean streets, safe parks and neighborhoods free of illicit drug or sex activities. Cracking down on crime is hardly an anti-progressive philosophy, even though in San Francisco it's often closer to a crack-up.

Too much of anything is a bad thing. Including freedom, irresponsibly exercised. I had my own "broken windows" moment the other night. I was on the front deck of my home with my son, and we were looking through his telescope at the moon. Two young men in a tricked-out white pimpmobile screeched up to the curb, and one got out to urinate against the neighbor's landscape rocks right across the street. I found this to be offensive, anti-social behavior, certainly deserving of a calm objection or admonishment on my part.

The driver got out, so I had a look at him for a moment. I realized, much to my own chagrin, that I had better not say a thing, or even look too hard. For all I knew, these could be idiot gang-bangers with guns. I turned away, not wanting to end up on anyone's hit list. They'd sure remember where I lived if I said anything. No. Not smart.

In the larger scheme of things, a random pissing doesn't really add up to much, I suppose. But multiplied many times over, by attempted break-ins in our (nice, but not too fancy) neighborhood, by litter-leaving passers-by, by anemic police staffing levels and slow response times, and by sorry public schools, the middle-class taxpayer gets the shaft.

All the more reason for an urban Republican agenda for Seattle. I shared the idea briefly this morning during my conversation with Kirby Wilber on KVI-AM 570. (I had been invited to discuss my "Blue City Conservatives" piece in the Seattle Weekly).

Here's the thought, admittedly in nascent form: representatives of the GOP (state legislative) district organizations in Seattle, plus GOP-leaning Seattle business people and other interested parties should join together in a formal effort to draw up a Republican Party urban isuses agenda for Seattle.

It should address district elections for city council; school choice (resuscitating the campaign for charter schools, but with more vocal support from minorities); financial reforms, teacher merit pay and higher curriculum standards in Seattle public schools; increased police staffing without additional taxes; small business and economic development concerns; and especially, a coherent regional transportation plan which meets city needs for more transit and an improved Alaskan Way Viaduct, meets suburban needs for better road capacity, and prescribes some creative, bold funding methods to boot.

Such an effort would give the party increased visibility and viability in Seattle, where - goodness knows - there are more Republicans, and unaffiliated moderates and conservatives than folks outside our fair city might possibly imagine. A GOP urban agenda for Seattle would be a great first step toward attracting quality candidates for the city council and Seattle seats in the state legislature.

Here's the question that has to be answered, and compellingly, for Republicans to mount the necessary comeback in Seattle. What does the GOP stand for, to supportive and potentially supportive Seattle-ites? Right now, the answer is: David Irons (candidate for King County Executive), Insert Name Here for U.S. Senate in '06, Dino Rossi (for Governor in '08), and George Bush. Fine folks all, in my book, even Insert Name Here (Safeco Insurance CEO and former Slade Gorton chief of staff Mike McGavick, maybe?).

But GOP politics in Seattle has to get more local, on the issues.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 12:54 PM | Comments (9)

Seattle Body-Piercers Fight "Violent" Label

Extreme body piercers just can't get any respect in Seattle, and now liken thier plight here to that of "Marilyn Manson in the Bible Belt." A few days ago, the Fremont Arts Council decided that a float with two faux pirates hanging from from a fake ship's rafters by hooks attached to their skin could not - repeat, NOT - participate in the famed Fremont Solstice Parade, an annual Seattle event famed for nude bicyclists and a giant inflatable penis. Kids, and even psychologically fragile adults, might be too bugged out by the stretched flesh, the Council decided.

But now, in a body blow to the political identity of the "suspension" practioners (that's what this new trend is callled - "suspension") our local public radio station has aired a report in which an Arts Council member suggested their hobby (or would that be "fetish"?) is violent, AND might be better suited to the local (gay) Pride parade.

This assertion in turn, has sparked SERIOUS DEBATE. City Council member Tom Rasmussen, who is gay, has weighed in:

....I don't think piercings or tattoos are any more unique to the gay community than any other community. Everyone has different ideas of what constitutes gay behavior or fashion and it's as individual as any other community. People ought to stop stereotyping."

Organizers of the annual Pride Parade, which occurs a week after the Solstice Parade, said they'd welcome the group with open arms. But they think there might be a misperception of what their parade is about.

"I'd almost take it personally as more of a compliment that we're open and accepting to people as individuals, rather than being close-minded and snooty because of how somebody looks," said Tammy Zoch, vice president of the Pride Committee. "Everyone can be themselves and feel OK about it and feel they're empowered to be who they are and honest with the world and that they're not marginalized for that. That's what the celebration of pride is about. It's not a big walking orgy down the street.

Not too much, anyway, Tammy. Putting aside the rustic notion that pride comes from within and should not have to be paraded, I think we need another parade in Seattle, and it should be held on May Day, when all the anarchists, anti-globalization and Free Mumia protestors come out of the woodwork. Wiccans, "suspension" practitioners on floats, vegans, animal rights and medical marijuana activists, and any one else with a cause can join in.

The only rules: no blood, no traffic obstruction, no looting, no property crimes, and no violence (beyond the self-inflicted kind, that its).

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 07:58 AM | Comments (0)

June 15, 2005

Seattle Weekly Cover Story: "Blue City Conservatives"

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Here's my cover story in today's Seattle Weekly, "Blue City Conservatives." The standard joke when anyone mentions Seattle Republicans is something along the lines of, "All two of them?" Or, "do they meet in a phone booth?" In fact, Seattle Republicans are somewhat more numerous, and coming out of the closet. My story, I hope, does not sugarcoat the harsh climate for Republicans in Seattle, but neither is it totally downbeat. Probably the most essential point comes at the end.

In a much-noted essay published online in The American Thinker in March, conservative commentator Ed Lasky argued that with suburbs no longer strictly the province of Republicans, and with big-city Democratic mayors becoming more skilled at co-opting Republican big-business interests, " . . . now is precisely the time for Republicans to extend their dominance in areas heretofore considered terra incognita: the nation's cities. . . . This [current] capitulation is wrong. . . . It is based on an outmoded and distorted view of city residents. . . . The Democrats see major cities as cash cows to be milked for favored groups; we should see them as areas . . . that with the right type of Republican activism and resources could be painted red. We should no longer avert our eyes from the city, for we do so at our own peril."

Put another way, as Mercer Island, Bellevue, and Issaquah continue to turn purple, Seattle must begin to do so as well. It's time to make Seattle a two-party town.

To regain some of the many seats Seattle Rs once held in the state legislature, the party must start recruiting stronger candidates for putatively "non-partisan" local offices. Here's an interesting fact that got cut from my Weekly piece due to space considerations. It turns out that in local elections here, turnout is anemic: liberals haven't captured any hearts and minds at all in city politics. Weary of the silliness and stridency, most people have simply tuned out.

A Seattle district elections proposal was last defeated in 2003, by seven percent (with voter turnout in that contest a scant 34.7 percent. Under the at-large elections system, even fewer voters cared about the “hot” council races that year, contests resulting in defeat of three damaged incumbents and the hair’s breadth victory of another. Each of the five ’03 council contests drew weak registered voter turnout ranging from 31 to 34 percent. But if, rather than just registered voters, the total pool of registered and eligible-to-register, 18-and-older Seattle residents were taken into account, all the ’03 council contests would have seen lower turnout still, by at least several percentage points.

When more than two-thirds of Seattle voters ignore city council elections, there is an opening for conservative candidates with the right background and message to get elected. The right background is business and community service; the right message is core city services, infrastructure, economic development and school choice - over pandering to liberal special interests.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:46 AM | Comments (19)

June 14, 2005

"Suspension" Float Stricken In Seattle

Just yesterday, I blogged here about "suspension," the icky next frontier in extreme piercing, straight outta K-zoo.

Today, the Seattle P-I reports a small group of "suspension" practitioners who planned to demonstrate their bizarre fetish in this coming Saturday's famed Fremont Solstice Parade have been disinvited from the proceedings.

They've banned a group that marched last year from making a reappearance in Saturday's parade -- this time dressed up as pirates with two people suspended on a pirate ship float from hooks in their skin.

The debate over the group, People Undergoing Real Experiences, has pitted those concerned about limiting the freedom of expression in a neighborhood that so values its uniqueness it has a giant statue of Lenin against those worried about freaking people out.

Monica Miller, the parade's director, said board members of the Fremont Arts Council, which runs the parade, made the decision in a 7-2 vote during an emergency meeting Saturday after failing to reach a consensus.

She said the majority worried it would disturb children, scare away financial sponsors and could possibly cause injury, not necessarily to the people suspended by piercings but to spectators. "One fear that was brought up was that people might be shocked, pass out and injure themselves, or we'd be liable for psychiatric damage," Miller said.

Sure, I get it. No one could be similarly disturbed by Fremont's monument to the spiritual godfather of at least 50 million 20th Century killings in the name of communism, whereas a few sick dorks hanging from hooks on a pretend pirate ship might not only frighten children (good point) but also engender emotional disequilibrium for adults. Ask not what is the greater evil: Lenin, or the practice of "suspension."

Now that free expression has been stifled in Seattle by the parade organizers, the ACLU cannot be long to the fray.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 06:26 PM | Comments (1)

Pimp Culture, Ghetto Branding: Fa' Shizzle

Writing in Slate today, Fort Worth Star Telegram film critic Christopher Kelley reports that rooms full of rich white people at the tony Sundance Film Festival in the resort town of Park City, Utah loved a new "indie blockbuster" film "Hustle and Flow." And imagine this: It's "..about a Memphis pimp named DJay..who dreams of becoming a hip-hop star." Kelley adds that it, "brought the crowd to its feet at the Park City Racquet Club." Co-producer John Singleton did so much better with "Boyz N' The Hood," but even without a bite on this one from the major studios, he's got sick distribution and marketing buy-in, sure to earn everyone hella hella bling, as Kelley details.

Pimp culture and "ghetto" branding are the coin of the realm. In developed and developing nations, it's an equal opportunity scam targeting the minds and especially the wallets of teens and young adults, or parents with really poor judgement. At blink.org, Shirley Brooks bemoans "The Identity Crisis Of The Ghetto Fabulous."

Experience has made me think about the importance of knowing your own identity and not being wholly shaped by the expectations or requirements of the society around you. The ghetto-fabulous image of commercial hip hop has become a dominant image of black people in the media.

....The global reach of US culture has helped to make such images and stereotypes a generic identity category. There is pressure upon young adolescents to shape their identity around the characteristics that the media guide them towards....What we identify ourselves as is of crucial importance. Once you know who you are you are that much more able to reject the identities external people or situations attempt to place on you.

The modern-day minstrel show of rap mogul Snoop Dogg is a case in point. Here's a Tacoma News Tribune review of a recent Snoop Dogg show in south suburban Seattle.

If they gave out gold bling for every time Snoop Dogg and The Game said a 12-letter word that suggests maternal congress, hip-hop audiences would be rich. That word was used as a noun, a verb, a gerund and possibly even a dangling participle Saturday night at the White River Amphitheatre in Auburn, where Snoop Dogg and The Game spewed potty-mouth patois to a...crowd that lapped it up with full suburban enthusiasm.

....As a purveyor and provocateur who dabbles in parody, porn and pot, Snoop Dogg doesn’t work too hard for his money....Once or twice, he busted a move as he ran through his often-profane tales of women, weed and Tupac tributes. But, mostly, Snoop Dogg was too cool to bust a sweat. And why should he? Big-screen video footage and an onstage posse more than willing to grab the microphone enabled Snoop Dogg to chill in the wings whenever he felt the calling.

Snoop Dogg opened the show with a soft-core porn short, “Corleone’s Revenge.” As the band pumped out a slow ballad, Snoop Dogg was an on-screen gangsta. Snoop Dogg’s character was betrayed. Bullets flew. On stage, curtains parted and the rapper formerly known as Calvin Broadus emerged, backed by his reunited band, Dogg Pound Gangstas.

....Sounds of bullets and balls of fire punctuated The Game’s verbal assaults on his current East Coast nemesis, 50 Cent.

Snoop Dogg is the black man who has probably registered most prominently on the consciousness of the suburban, white youth in attendance. And this stuff plays in the real ghetto, too. So, uh, no, sorry. Call me Church Lady, but I don't really see Snoop's schtik, and the whole cosmos of commercialized pimp and gangsta culture, as harmless dumb fun. Not at all. And I think those who shrug it off, whites especially, condone racist stereotypes.

There's a close connection between enshrinement of pimp and ghetto culture and its pervasiveness among too many youth today - blacks especially, but also Asians and whites. That makes necessary a closer examination of how the modern-day black male "ghetto-fied" behavioral template came to exist. In many of its key particulars, according to writer Thomas Sowell, it traces back to white rednecks. Perhaps - most certainly, some would argue - Sowell's "black rednecks" actually adopted the worst habits and dispositions of southern male white rednecks because their ancestors were robbed of their history and self-identity by slavery.

But I would think just the opposite. For starters, anyone who manages to be born, is, biologically, a winner. Moreover, had my ancestors been taken from their homeland and enslaved, and had my more recent ancestors subsequently won freedom, which I then enjoyed to an even greater degree in this modern age, I would be celebrating life's rich possibilities every day, not pissing about the past and making excuses for those conforming to society's lowest expectations.

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

June 13, 2005

Bill Savage's Thin Thread Of Hope

...is that despite far higher birth rates in Red zones, going to college at places like Northwestern University or, I'd suppose, the University of Washington, will turn Red State progeny into lifelong lefties. Here's what Savage, a lecturer in English at NU, has to say in the current issue of (Seattle's) Stranger.

The children of red states will seek a higher education, and that education will very often happen in blue states or blue islands in red states. For the foreseeable future, loyal dittoheads will continue to drop off their children at the dorms. After a teary-eyed hug, Mom and Dad will drive their SUV off toward the nearest gas station, leaving their beloved progeny behind. And then they are all mine.

...I don't indoctrinate my students. My job, as an English professor, is to teach my students to read deeply, to think for themselves, and then to write their own arguments effectively....They get exposed to the world around them...

And so whatever the demographic models suggest, I'm not worried about the red staters outbreeding blue staters. As long as their kids need a college education, they'll come to a blue town, county, or city, and there they will learn a thing or two about the world in which they live - and vote.

Yes, Lecturer Savage, they will. And after the vagaries and exploration of their college years and young adulthood pass, they will begin to notice what they are paying in income taxes, sales taxes, business taxes, special use taxes, and motor vehicle license excise taxes, and begin to wonder what they are getting in return. Perhaps they will even have personal encounters with government bureaucracy or officialdom that will leave them less than enthused. I've heard that happens sometimes.

They may get married, and even have children. They may even start a business, or become property owners. Paying property taxes is always a wake-up call.

Especially if they become parents, they may seek to find a community in which to live, a community where not only are property taxes sensibly spent and government administered competently and efficiently, but also where random crimes against persons and property are not commonplace, and where the public schools, specifically, are not either an abomination or a monument to mediocrity.

And so, as you say, "they will learn a thing or two about the world in which they live and vote." In other words, they will vote Republican; and fairly often. Sooner, or later.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 12:36 PM | Comments (2)

Suspension of Disbelief In Extreme Piercing

When you believe that individuality is something you can model visually, you've always got to up the ante to stay at the bleeding edge. So here's the latest, straight from Kalamazoo. The next level in "extreme piercing." It's called "suspension," and yep, it's kinda what you might guess from the name. Cringe-worthy, to say the least.

Now, (Kalamazoo tattoo and piercing shop manager James) Rajewski, 27, says he's ready for "the next level." Tonight, he and three others will participate in a "suspension show" at Club Soda at which they will be lifted off the ground by hooks ("like deep-sea fishing hooks without the barbs") through the skin of their shoulders, backs and forearms. It'll be Rajewski's first time and, from what others in the piercing world have said, a first for the city.

The popular novelty act called the Jim Rose Circus Sideshow, which has visited Kalamazoo before, involves performers who use piercings to suspend objects from their bodies, but it does not present full-body suspensions.

Suspension is mostly an underground practice in larger cities. About 15 U.S. and European groups are listed on the Web site www.suspension.org as offering more information about suspension, and several sources interviewed for this story said they have attended private suspensions in Grand Rapids. But in Kalamazoo, many people have not even heard of the practice and may find it shocking and disgusting to contemplate.

"A lot of people think I'm pretty much crazy for doing this," Rajewski said. "... People who don't know much about suspending, they are like, 'Why are you doing this?' A lot of people are like, 'Oh, you enjoy pain.' But it's not really that I enjoy it. I don't enjoy it. I hate pain as much as the next person."

So, why is he subjecting himself to the pain then? "It's more like a test of self-control, self-discipline, to kind of have the mental capacity and control to overcome it, I suppose."

There's a psychotherapist's couch in Kalamazoo with your name written on it in DayGlo Green, James. Don't tarry.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:29 AM | Comments (1)

"Employee Blogs Proliferate"

I've got a new post titled "Employee Blogs Proliferate" up at my business site, Blog Consulting Pro. Take a look.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:33 AM | Comments (0)

June 11, 2005

Tampa Trib: Amnesty International Goofed

The Tampa Tribune gets it:

Amnesty International's leaders hurt its reputation by calling a U.S. prison for suspected terrorists "the gulag of our time." Gulags are Russian camps where millions of political prisoners were worked to death. At the U.S.-run prison at Guantanamo Bay, some 540 men are being detained without formal charges. Guantanamo is an increasing problem, but no gulag. Not even close. Of 28,000 interrogations there, only 10 prisoner complaints are verified.

Remember, these are not prisoners of conscience. They are suspected enemy combatants, and among them are terrorists whose conscience tells them to kill. How can they be released while they still consider themselves at war?

...The world needs the largest human rights group to remain aggressive, but it needs credible aggression. And when dealing with a free society under attack, Amnesty would be wise to show less animosity and a little more amity.

While I appreciate their willingess to call B.S. on Amnesty International's absurd "gulag" claims, I'm not sure the Tribune's editorial is correct that Guantanamo is really an "increasing problem." As Charles Krauhammer has noted, if we close it, allegations of prisoner mistreatment, mostly if not entirely phony, and lodged according to a well-worn Islamicist prisoners' script, will arise at any other holding facility, as well.

The victim rhetoric is calculated to appeal to jelly-kneed America-hating American Democrats, and undermine our nation's ongoing war on terrorists. Most unfortunately, these Islamic extremists want to kill us "Dirty Kuffar" or "non-believers," and our women and children, too, as their brethren have done across Europe, Indonesia, and in Israel. Make no mistake, I'm distinctly not for pissing on Korans. But these fellahs want to do a whole lot more than desecrate a Bible, or Torah, OK?

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:04 PM | Comments (0)

June 10, 2005

Living The Good Life, In Vancouver

Vancouver is an intriguing and thoroughly cosmopolitan city I actually love to visit. As in San Francisco, another Left Coast urbs in horto dear to my heart despite its whack politics, the key word is "visit." Then again, depending on your interests and priorities, perhaps Vancouver is just the place to reside. Consider some of the lifestyle options, as per this week's issue of the local alternative weekly, The Vancouver Courier.

Live in a pricey, 600-square-foot apartment with a magnificent view;

Join the Royal Vancouver Porn Society, where at meetings over tea and pastries, members view especially tasteful films;

Join with neighborhood activists in advocating free meals and showers for the homeless, including the drug addicts crapping all over downtown.

I'll add a few more options, as outlined in previous Rosenblog posts:

get involved in local party politics;

visit with friendly local merchants;

shop for a Canadian-English dictionary.

Other Vancouver lifestyle pursuits, from recent news stories:

lodge a fake hate-crime complaint;

score some crystal meth and then ride with a bus full of Euro-bohos and gonzo Aussies, from Vancouver up to Whistler, where you'll engage in extreme sports and many other stimulating pursuits;

watch out for the fungus.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 05:40 PM | Comments (1)

June 09, 2005

Vancouver's Feces Problem; And Its Social Services Problem

Seattle has been through this; Arcata, California; and Santa Cruz, too. Public defecation. It's even worse in Vancouver, where:

The ripe stench of human excrement is getting stronger in downtown lanes, curling the stomachs of workers who no longer want to relax by the back door for smoke breaks....The 10-block city slum is swollen with up to 5,000 injection drug users who have less control of their bowels. Many are homeless and have nowhere to go to the toilet. Often the drug users roam out of the neighbourhood into alleys linking downtown businesses.

...The Vancouver Coastal Health Authority has gotten involved and is calling for action before disease spreads. "Defecating and urinating in the street is not something that's healthy for individuals," said Richard Taki, public health protection officer for the authority. "A number of diseases are passed through the fecal-oral route. If people are tracking this bacteria into eating establishments and public facilities we're running the risk of a problem with rodents and insects carrying bacteria. Salmonella is the obvious threat and for a lot of the homeless people who are imunocompromised, food poisoning is going to be serious."

So, of course, the next stage of band-aid application is a push for time-limited, self-cleaning public toilets.

Kim Kerr, general manager of the Downtown Eastside Resident's Association, said he is disgusted with the plan.

"This is a ghetto where people are turned out to rot, we're talking about adults with the mental capabilities of 10-year-olds who are addicted to drugs. They have no home, they have no toilet. What do you expect," Kerr said.

"We are worrying about the mess of piss in the street while homeless people are dying. Let's spend the money on toilets on houses. We treat human beings in this city with less concern than we show animals."

I'll be damned. More than a year ago, here, I predicted that Vancouver's ill-advised "safe-injection site" government-sponsored shooting parlor for addicts would heighten expectations for government-funded housing for addicts.

Two problems with that, at least. One, land is scarce and expensive, even in a quasi-socialist city-state such as Vancouver. Two, Kerr's comment gives short-shrift to personal responsibility. Addicts can kick the habit. It happens quite often. And a huge social services network already exists in Vancouver, for the Downtown Eastside's addicts and vagrants.

The touted network of government-funded social services - the counselling, job training, health care, and alcohol and drug treatment services - isn't being utilized enough by prospective "clients" for the intended purpose: getting a hand up, back to stability, employability, self-sufficiency, and paid-for housing. They are more interested in skating by, day-to-day, and maintaining their chosen lifestyle of indigence. They are gaming the system, and ultimately, those who fund it.

In one respect at least, I agree with Kerr. Public toilets are a poor response. The piles of crap in Vancouver actually serve a useful function, reminding observant analysts of what the modern-day social-services bureaucracy amounts to, when all is said and done.

For further reference, read, "How to Increase Your City's Homeless Population," by Lloyd Billingsley.

Vancouver story tip from Rosenblog reader David Jackson.

UPDATE: Reader "Humboldt Hippie" comments: "In Arcata we're facing proposed "Harmony Patrols" to make us like defecators more, and a "Dignity Village" free campground. Combined with free food and showers without casework and an endless supply of college students to fuel panhandlers, we just have one thing to say. Hey Ya'll, come on down to Arcata. The living is good."

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 04:37 PM | Comments (1)

June 08, 2005

Fiona Ma's Reasonable Ordinance

KGO-TV in the San Francisco Bay Area has the scoop on SF Supervisor Fiona Ma's proposed ordinance to outlaw art exhibits featuring corpses who, when still living, did not give documented consent to have their dead bodies put on public display. Since the opening of the cutting-edge "Universe Within" exhibit in San Francisco, featuring plasticized, leaking Chinese corpses in action poses, the city's Chinese community - which rightly has strong feelings based on cultural traditions about respecting the bodies of the dead - has been in an uproar.

While I am no fan of political silliness, especially in San Francisco (see here, here, and here), I cannot find it in myself to object to Ma's proposed ordinance.

In fact, my only beef might be that she seems not to be fast-tracking this. She is talking about getting the state legislature involved, though that could take awhile and ultimately lead nowhere. And in truth, this is not exactly a Bakersfield- or Chico-type problem, now is it? Play your cards close to home Supervisor Ma, and play them with purpose, not just for show.

If art exhibits must feature corpses (and this happens more than you might think, these days) there certainly should be documented permissions to use the bodies chosen. Whomsoever might disagree with this is indeed a cold-hearted bastard.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 06:17 PM | Comments (0)

"Junket Jim" McDermott Outpaces DeLay

Here's why the Tom Delay "ethics" thing never bugged me out. Just like hiring of relatives, Congressional junkets, oops - I mean "fact-finding missions" and "speaking engagements" - are a bi-artisan scam in Congress. And U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Seattle) far outpaces DeLay. The Seattle Weekly's Rick Anderson reports:

It's not just...Texas Rep. Tom DeLay or Republicans who accept special-interest travel funds. (Since 2000), says PoliticalMoneyLine.com, House and Senate Democrats took 3,025 trips and Republicans 2,375 trips, in all worth almost $16 million—most sponsored by groups not required to disclose where the money originated. The No. 1 spender was the educational Aspen Institute ($3.1 million) and No. 1 user was Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis. (19 trips for $176,000). Thirteenth on the list of 618 present and former members is Rep. Jim McDermott, the Seattle Democrat, who reported 39 trips worth $141,000. (For comparison, DeLay, ranked 28th, took 14 trips for $94,000).

McDermott's "fact finding" locales included Asia, Japan, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and even the U.S. (He was guest speaker for punkvoter.com in Portland.) His next closest traveler in the Washington delegation is Demo Rep. Norm Dicks (20 trips for $72,000).

I'd be happy to suppport a total ban on sponsored travel for members of Congress, as suggested in this Seattle Times op-ed not long ago by Tim Burgess, a former Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission chair, and (full disclosure) a recent blog consulting client of mine. (I've blogged Tim's work even before we collaborated, and think he's an excellent writer and a strong community activist, not to mention someone who, IMHO, ought to run for Seattle City Council before too long).

Without a ban on sponsored travel for members of Congress such as that proposed by Burgess, it's fairly pointless to try to wring partisan juice from the practice.

Yet while I readily concede there's no shortage of self-interested or sleazy scroundrels in both political parties, one of the most rank D.C. schemes ever had to be Democrat and then-House Speaker Jim Wright's insider deal to foist bulk purchases of a sub-par memoir he wrote onto special interest groups including the Fertilizer Institute so he could evade speaking fee limits.

That said, I still wish a hardliner like House Majority Leader DeLay wasn't such a prominent face of the GOP. I know we agree on foreign policy and probably a few other things. And like him or not, he has earned his political chits over the years to get where he is. It's just that sometimes he has trouble spending the chits wisely.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 01:59 PM | Comments (1)

June 06, 2005

"Koran Abuse" Scam

Context is all. The indispensable Charles Krauthammer:

The very possibility of mishandling Qurans arose because we gave them to each prisoner. What kind of crazy tolerance is this? Is there any other country that would give a prisoner precisely the religious text that prisoner and those affiliated with him invoke to justify the slaughter of innocents? If the prisoners had to have reading material, I would have given them the book "Portraits 9/11/01" — vignettes of the lives of those massacred Sept. 11.

Why this abjectness on our part? On the very day the braying mob in Pakistan demonstrated over the false Quran report in Newsweek, a suicide bomber blew up an Islamic shrine in Islamabad, destroying not just innocent men, women and children, but undoubtedly many Qurans. Not a word of condemnation. No demonstrations.

....When an American puts a crucifix in a jar of urine and places it in a museum, civil libertarians rise immediately to defend it as free speech. And when someone makes a painting of the Virgin Mary, smears it with elephant dung and adorns it with porn, not only is that free speech, it is art — deserving of taxpayer funding and an ACLU brief supporting the Brooklyn Museum when the mayor freezes its taxpayer subsidy.

Does the Quran deserve special respect? Of course it does. As do the Bibles destroyed by the religious police in Saudi Arabia and the Torahs blown up in various synagogues from Tunisia to Turkey.

Thanks, Dr. K.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:49 AM | Comments (2)

The Pit Bull Bloodshed Must End

The pitbull bloodshed must end, but it hasn't yet. As you'll see below. There is every sign it will be a long, bloody summer. This is not "sensationalism," or "bias," or "yellow journalism," as pit bull owners like to protest.

As the carnage mounts this summer - and it surely will - the pressures will mount for more local bans of the breed. "Exorcist" star Linda Blair and the Seattle-based American Canine Foundation are fighting Denver's ban, recently upheld in court. Some dog experts say there's a better approach to controlling pit bulls.

In this letter to the editor in the Corvallis (Oregon) Times-Gazette, breeder Irma Kapsenberg has this to say:

This breed needs owners who are knowledgeable and realistic about their breed's characteristics, and who will take their dog to a good obedience class. Responsible pit bull owners should also: research the breed before adoption (www.pbrc.net); have a yard with a secure, six foot fence and avoid leaving the dogs alone in the yard; provide their dogs with a tremendous amount of exercise once full grown (such as biking and jogging); consider letting the dog live indoors; spay females to prevent unwanted litters and neuter males for the same reason and to help curb aggression; keep their dogs leashed in public; extensively socialize dogs; realize that dog aggression can surface in the most gentle pets; Never leave a pit bull alone with children; keep doors closed to prevent escaping and avoid taking mature pit bulls to off-leash dog parks. There are exceptions to every rule, but in order to prevent a total ban of the breed, we have to do what it takes to keep these dogs out of the headlines.

And if "we" can't "do what it takes?" The implication is clear, from this pit bull supporter. Breed bans WILL be reasonable if more pit bull owners don't clean up their act; if the meth-heads, fight-breeders, thugs and others who get pits for the wrong reasons don't suffer the wrath of their fellow local pit owners. A responsible pit owner has no standing to wax indignant about public outcry and news reports if other owners, less responsible, continue to allow bloodshed.

Over time, the breed will be allowed to survive only if the kind of sensible, and baseline peer standards Kapsenberg articulates are enforced across the board. Strict local licensing requirements could be a means to achieve this. Local pit bull owner associations and support groups must become far more active in advocating and seeking enforcement of responsible ownership measures. It is not NEARLY enough to crow about your well-behaved pit, and whine about the breed being "misunderstood."

Presently, responsible pit bull ownership is too tall an order, too often. For starters, consider what just happened in San Francisco, when a previously sweet, well-behaved pair of pit bulls were left home alone with a boy in a house full of packed boxes, while the father (the primary master of the dogs) had gone off to the family's new home in Oregon.

Choking back tears, the mother of a 12-year-old boy killed by his family's pit bulls called Friday's fatal mauling an accident involving "happy, friendly pets" that had never acted violently before.

"We never trained them to do any kinds of vicious things. ... This is just a devastating tragedy," said Maureen Faibish, the morning after her son Nicholas was attacked while home alone in their Sunset District apartment.

While Nicholas' family and investigators struggled Saturday to understand what turned two supposedly loving pets into killers, dog experts said a confluence of factors may have created the potential for an attack.

The family was moving to Oregon, with their apartment nearly empty and their belongings boxed up, a change in the environment that can stress animals. Nicholas' father, Steve -- the dogs' primary master -- had already been gone for weeks in Oregon. The dogs reportedly were not neutered, which can cause aggressive behavior, experts said. And the boy was alone with the dogs for at least two hours.

"There's always a trigger. It can happen with any kind of dog," said Robert Arrick of Park Animal Hospital, a veterinarian who had treated the dogs, Rex and Ella. "But with pit bulls, the damage is much worse."

Suppose you pull up to your house, and a loose pit bull greets you, on the hood of your car? The Chicago Sun-Times reports another dog saved the day, after a 12-year-old trying to protect passing school kids was cornered by the angry, loose, pit.

In another incident, a 72-year-old Chicago woman was mauled by a loose pit bull.

"It was very bad. Blood was everywhere. It was very bad and when the owner came out he couldn't control his own dog," said Cessler Q. Jones, neighbor.

An 11-year-old Carmichael, California boy is recovering, with 57 stiches for wounds to his nose, lip and chin after being attacked by a pit bull named "Aryan," whose owner said had never previously shown signs of aggression.

An orchard worker north of Kelowna, British Columbia was badly mauled on his arms by two loose pit bills and may be permanently disabled as a result.

"There's Only One Way: Ban Pit Bulls; Don't Ignore Public Safety," argues the Greely (Colorado) Tribune.

Weld County needs to take the bite out of the pit bull by banning the breed. Evidence certainly supports the danger of the breed. The dogs break chains, smash through fences and attack both animals and people. Just last Sunday in Weld County, two pit bulls attacked a foal near Fort Lupton, injuring it so severely it had to be euthanized.

In January, a pit bull broke its chain and went through a Plexiglas covering on a neighbor's dog run to kill two toy poodles inside a woman's home. She recently decided to sue the pit bull's owner for her loss, saying she can't sleep in her house since coming home to the bloody and gruesome scene.

...In April, Mike McAughey of Greeley, who uses a wheelchair, fended off two pits bulls running loose in his neighborhood when they attacked him in his garage. In May, police arrested David Riley, 37, of Firestone for ownership of a dangerous dog after the pit bull attacked a neighbor's dog. But it wasn't his or his dog's first offense. His probation in an earlier case was revoked and he is in the Weld County Jail. He had served 60 days and got his dogs back in that case.

This time, Firestone police were called to a home on Florence Avenue at 2:40 a.m., where they found Scout, one of Riley's three dogs, fighting another dog, with Riley also in the yard.

Earlier, Riley's three dogs attacked Adam Stutzman, a caretaker at Coal Ridge Animal Hospital in Longmont, where the dogs were being held. Stutzman required more than 200 stitches and was on a respirator for two days after the incident.

These are just some of this year's cases, and whether it's the breed, the owners or both, such incidents must be stopped. We think Denver officials have the right idea. The city resumed its enforcement of the law on May 9, which gives pit-bull owners in Denver 30 days to remove their dogs from the city.

But we don't want it to stop at Denver's borders. Defenders of the breed argue any dog could wreak similar havoc. Statistics prove otherwise. Between 1979 and 1998, pit bulls accounted for almost twice as many deaths as any other breed, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Add to that the strength of their bite -- a pit bull can exert more pounds per square inch during its bite compared to any other breed, according to the humane society -- and it's clearly a dangerous breed. Owners claim they love their dogs and defend them, literally to the dogs' death at times. Yet it's tough to argue against case after case of vicious attacks. Banning pit bulls affords Weld residents the protection they deserve. Let's not risk another attack on an innocent person or pet. We've said it before: Ban pit bulls. It's the right thing for Weld County.

Again, civil comments are more than welcome. Pit bull owners and supporters need to understand the burden is on THEM. The daily drumbeat of horrific incidents is NOT a media conspiracy. Quit the "victim" whining and either organize a massive approach to controlling the breed - along the lines suggested by pit breeder and letter writer Irma Kapsenberg, second link, at top - or get used to more editorials like that from The Greely Tribune, and a continued proliferation of breed bans against pit bulls.

YOU and your loving, sweet pit bulls are not the victims. The people losing blood, skin and loved ones, thanks to inept or malevolent pit bull owners, are the victims.

Simply condemning irresponsible pit bull owners, and parading your sweet pit in front of the media, isn't the solution. Tell us just how you're actually going to get these failing owners to shape up and stop the bloodshed - meaning, how you're going to really get implemented, on a city-by-city, or county-by-county basis, the sort of common-sense but dauntingly challenging safeguards Kapsenberg responsibly suggest. Tell us, and launch a Manhattan Project to get it done very, very, very soon. Or be prepared for further community and government intervention.

The pit bull bloodshed must end.

Related post: Pit Bull Attacks Raise Questions."

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 06:38 AM | Comments (27)

June 03, 2005

Hispanic Dems Torpedo CA Gay Marriage Bill

A same-sex marriage bill, AB 19, failed in the California General Assembly yesterday, falling four votes shy of the necessary 41-vote majority. My own painstaking analysis, based on public records, shows that all seven Assembly members who ultimately sat out the vote, therefore causing its defeat, were Democrats; four Hispanics, two whites, and one black. In addition, five more Democrats (four Hispanic, one white) voted "No." The Assembly is ruled by a Democratic majority, 48 Democrats to 32 Republicans. The fissure between white Democrats and minority Democrats on gay marriage, in California and the nation, is dramatically highlighted by yesterday's vote.

Unfortunately, the San Francisco Chronicle skimmed past the real story, preferring to highlight the unsuccessful lobbying efforts of a lesbian couple.

Go here, then at "Bill Number," enter "AB 19." Click on the third item, titled "AB- 19, Leno, Gender-neutral marriage." Under Votes, click on "Assembly Floor, June 2." Then scroll down to "Absent, Abstaining, or Not Voting." Of the eight listed, all are Democrats, as you can see by matching their names against the Assembly's Democratic Caucus roster. Five are Hispanic, one is black (Jerome Horton), one clearly white (Tom Umberg), another apparently white, or perhaps mixed-race (Mike Gordon). Alberto Torrico, one of the five original Hispanic Democrat holdouts, came around to vote yes in the end, and this is not reflected on the roll call sheet.

The remaining four Hispanic Democrats (Simon Salinas, Rudy Bermudez, Ed Chavez, Gloria Negrete McLeod) did not budge, nor did fellow Democrats Horton, Umberg or Morton, sinking AB 19. While the Chron makes much of Torrico's struggle and ultimate "Yes" vote, and notes his ethnicity and religious background, they would have done their readers a far greater service by 1) acknowledging that four of the remaining seven abstaining Dems were Hispanic, and 2) interviewing some of those four, plus the one black Dem and two white Dems who also sat it out.

Newspapers should always spare no effort in understanding and clearly spelling out why elected Democrats oppose, or fail to support, same sex marriage. And why many of their constituents feel similarly. The answer is they feel it's wrong, against tradition, perhaps against their religion; that marriage should be between a man and woman; that children need a mother and a father. I understand such views can spark passionate disagreement, and so be it. But it remains disturbing that newspapers by and for urban elites tend to downplay, censor or charicature the reasons some very decent people oppose gay marriage. This journalistic bias perpetuates a fantasy world of entitlement and victimization among urban same-sex marriage advocates.

Leading to statements like this one, in the above-linked Chron piece, from AB 19's prime sponsor, Democratic Assemblyman Mark Leno of San Francisco:

"If this body can't pass AB19, it should clarify its position and say we do believe that gay and lesbian couples are second-class citizens," he said. "That is the statement that's been made tonight."

Hell, Mark...now that you've vented, talk to the House members of the California Legislative Latino Caucus, why don'tcha?

Marginalizing opponents of gay marriage as bigots is a dead strategy. It only hardens the opposition. Had any of the Hispanic Democratic legislators who withheld their support of AB 19 been approached by The Chron after yesterday's vote, and been willing to speak frankly, San Franciscans would have understood more clearly just how isolated they are, politically, and how out of tune with mainstream California. Their city's mores don't track with towns like Salinas (Simon Salinas-D), Norwalk (Rudy Bermudez-D), Chino (Gloria Negrette McLeod-D), Santa Ana (Tom Umberg-D), La Puente (Ed Chavez-D), El Segundo (Mike Gordon-D), and even parts of metro L.A., namely Inglewood (Jerome Horton-D).

In addition to the seven Democratic abstentions on AB 19, five Democrats voted "No" outright. They were Juan Arambula (Fresno), Juan Vargas, Barbara Matthews, Joe Baca Jr., and Nicole Parra.

Twelve California House Dems say a resounding "No, thanks" to gay marriage.

California already has strong domestic partner benefits for same-sex couples. With majority Democrats in the Assembly slamming the door on AB 19, perhaps it is really time for same-sex marriage advocates in California to bury this issue once and for all.

Your feelings matter less in the grand scheme of things than you think. Choices have consequences. A consequence of your choice to advocate for gay marriage is that you have energized opponents who have always existed, and you are losing. Did you really think this was not possible? Win some, lose some. Get on with life.

UPDATE: I missed two other Assembly Ds who voted "No" on AB 19, Nicole Parra, and Joe Baca, Jr. I've updated the post accordingly.

UPDATE II: Here is something pretty close to the story the Chron should have had the courage to run; it appeared in The Sacramento Bee. (Free reg. may be required).

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 12:29 PM | Comments (3)

Portland Gets Nickel-And-Dimed

This one gives contracting out a bad name, unfortunately. Four former workers of a suburban Portland firm engaged by Portland to collect coins from parking meters have been indicted in absentia for aggravated theft and conspiracy to committ aggravted theft. The alleged take: $180,000. Their whereabouts: unknown. More from KATU-2 TV.

A Multnomah County grand jury recently indicted four employees of Hillsboro-based Alpha Building Maintenance - owner Geraldo Luna-Benitez, 44, and employees Fidencia Navarro-Peregrina, 25; Valente Moreno-Munoz, 23; and Javier Moreno-Munoz, 22. Deputy District Attorney Kevin Demer said the four - who face charges of aggravated theft and conspiracy to commit aggravated theft - failed to show up for their arraignment, and their whereabouts are unknown.

The Portland Office of Transportation has been shifting to solar-powered, multispace SmartMeters, but the city still uses about 1,000 old-fashioned, single-space meters for parking enforcement.

In January 2004, Alpha Building Maintenance began an 18-month contract to collect coins from city meters....Keith Ehrensing, who oversees the meters for the city, said he thinks the thieves were taking on average $500 per collection cycle. City parking meters bring in almost $10 million each year. "The people responsible for this literally skimmed off the top," Ehrensing said.

...On April 8, investigators arrested the Moreno-Munoz brothers after they finished one collection route. The men had $546.36 - 50 pounds in loose change - stuffed in two pockets of a jacket, Barnard said. Police found an additional $765.49 in change, most of it in another coat, in their home. Four days later, after another surveillance operation, police arrested Navarro-Peregrina with $3,606.41 in coins in her possession, Barnard said.

The city transportation office has canceled its parking deal with Alpha Building Maintenance and temporarily hired Oregon Armored Services.

How much you wanna bet Alpha Building Maintenance got the original contract because it was minority-owned? I have to say, though, if the charges are true, they sure breathed new life into the concept of cultural competence.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:03 AM | Comments (1)

Gay, Tatooed Conservative Holds On To MLA Seat, For Now

The guy I also called Vancouver's Rudy Giuliani writ small, MLA Lorne Mayencourt, has been declared winner in a tight re-election race for the B.C. provincial legislature by a mere 18 votes. Seems he paid a price for his safe streets/safe communities campaign, which offended the sensibilities of his district's sizeable victim class. But because the last count (including the absentee ballots that put him up by 18) was still so close, there's going to be a mandatory judicial recount. Wish we could have somehow had one of those in King County during the tight Washington state Governor's race.

(NOTE: MLA=Member of the Legislative Assembly).

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:37 AM | Comments (0)

June 02, 2005

"Heralds Of A Brighter Black Future" Could Get NAACP A Clue

Heather MacDonald, quite possibly the nation's premiere journalist, strikes again, in City Journal. In this lengthy piece titled "Heralds Of A Brighter Black Future," she interviews black conservatives who advocate, and embody, personal responsibility over stale NAACP-brand victimology. Here's just a taste, from the intro:

(Bill) Cosby’s tough-love campaign foundered in January, when a woman accused him of sexually assaulting her the previous year; he denied the charge, but has not been heard from since. No need to wait for him to find his voice again, however. Dozens of grassroots black conservatives have been delivering the same message of personal responsibility—in as electrifying a fashion—for years without generating a glimmer of interest from the press. Routinely denounced as pariahs and race-traitors, they nevertheless believe that they are speaking for the silent majority of blacks. Now that Cosby has exposed the untapped audience for straight talk, maybe the media will finally pay attention to these unknown iconoclasts.

Great piece; read the whole thing.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:04 PM | Comments (0)

Police: Brazilian Bureaucrats Aided Rape Of Amazon Rainforest

Brazilian environmental bureaucrats have been raping the rainforest in Mato Grosso for 15 years by greasing the skids for a criminal gang engaged in lucrative illegal logging of protected lands, according to police. BBC reports:

This was the biggest ever police operation in the Amazon. It focused on the state of Mato Grosso, which last year accounted for nearly half of all deforestation.

What officers appear to have uncovered is a vast criminal network in which illegal loggers worked in partnership with corrupt officials. Starting in 1990, the loggers extracted nearly two million cubic metres of timber from the rain forest - enough to fill 76,000 lorries.

The bureaucrats who worked for the state branch of the government's environment agency, Ibama, are alleged to have supplied false transport permits so the wood could be sold both in Brazil and abroad. The accused include the executive director of Ibama in Mato Grosso, Hugo Jose Scheuer Werle, and one of the agency's senior directors in Brasilia.

...These operations...suggest a shocking level of corruption. In this case, the alleged criminals include people whose job it was to protect the rain forest.

I'm waiting for Sting to comment.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:40 PM | Comments (0)

June 01, 2005

"Pimp This Industry" (The Consumers Are Johns)

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Seen Lil' Pimp yet? Me neither. The original stories were via Flash animation, online. Then came a movie version in 04 starring Bernie Mac, Lil' Kim, William Shatner, Ludacris and Carmen Electra, which went to DVD earlier this year. Reel.com summarizes the flick thusly:

A foul-mouthed young boy who doesn’t fit in with the other kids at school and can’t relate to his mother, hooks up with a pimp who introduces him to a whole new world.

Amazon.com reviewer Jeff Shannon writes:

Lil' Pimp is the kind of feature-length cartoon that gives Bill Cosby nightmares while gathering a cult following in the hip-hop community. It's the kind of crude, outrageous, and utterly tasteless entertainment that makes conservatives cringe and liberals reconsider the right to free speech....If it had the irreverent intelligence of South Park, this in-yo'-face adult cartoon might've been an urban classic. Instead it's just a juvenile romp with impressive hip-hop street-cred...It's no surprise this went straight-to-video, but it's guaranteed to get some props by its obvious target audience.

Pimping pimping is a good way to make a buck. Hip-hoppers are especially savvy about pimping the "lifestyle,' and it's typically framed as something that has been left behind for more honorable pursuits. Meaning selling CDs about the rapper's, or the crew's former pimp/thug/dealer lifestyles. These recordings supposedly warn against the life of crime and vice, rather than glorify it.

Consider this profile of the rap group Do Or Die, in Allhiphop.com.

Do or Die gave us one of the first anthems that made pimpin’ commercially acceptable and cool, especially if you were Po’.

...AllHipHop.com: How is Do or Die different from what’s currently coming out of Chicago?

Belo: Well, we’re originators. We’re the originators of the Po Pimp style, we are original gangstas, we don’t just rap this s**t, we lived that life. We lived that gutter life, but we also have a strong business sense and we handled our business on this project, so we’re basically a new and improved D.O.D.

...AllHipHop.com: What responsibility do you assume in telling the violent stories in your rhymes to young people?

Belo: Well, we spit how it is, and you can’t be scared of that - you can’t run from that. What you do is…anything from the streets that’s negative - selling drugs, gangbanging, whatever it is, you point out to the younger generation: “Y’all don’t do this, we been through this, there’s consequences to this. If you go shoot someone, someone is gonna shoot your ass back, or you’re going to jail, or if you sell drugs, you’re gonna get caught by the police, or you’re gonna get robbed, you know.” We tell our life story, but we tell the consequences behind that....But we’re not saying go out and pimp these ladies, we saying go out and pimp this industry and get your money.

Except "rappin' about the pimp life/thug life left behind" doesn't really show kids you can escape "the lifestyle" by singing about it. Because to sing about it, as the rappers testify, you have to have LIVED it, first. That whole "street cred," "from the (neighbor)hood" thing.

There's got to be a better message than, "I used to be a hood, but now I just sing about it, and get rich." And there is: "School Is Cool; Study Hard; Go To College; That's Not White; It's What's Right!"

Can't pimp that, tho. To pimp essentially means "to market with flash, glitter and allure." Think about what gets "pimped," or what "pimped out" means. And you can't really pimp "School Is Cool; Go to College; It's Not White; It's What Right," could you? Because core truths and values can't be credibly dressed up, made sexy and glamorous. Pimping is inherently counter-intuitive, an attempt to sell that which no one should buy.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 05:18 PM | Comments (0)

Backlash Brewing Against Apple iPods

Writers for college newspapers are starting to speak out about the socially isolating effects of the Apple iPod portable music player. A Pitt News commentary by U Pittsburgh student Michael Darling also ran yesterday in in Tech News World. Darling uses Duke's fall giveaway of iPods to students as a take-off point.

The willingness of college administrators to embrace this kind of technology so enthusiastically reflects a disturbing trend toward isolation: one in which students are increasingly choosing to block out the things they don't want to see and hear.

....Just the other evening, I was riding the 61C to Oakland when two men in front of me began bickering with each other about politics. Their conversation quickly shifted to whether John F. Kennedy would have been a one or two-term president had he not been assassinated and how crucial qualities like charisma, charm and good looks still are to contemporary politics.

I leaned forward in my seat to eavesdrop in as the girl in front of them, who had also been listening intently, whirled around and injected herself into the conversation. The men were at first slightly taken aback, but within minutes they had incorporated both of us into the discussion.

I looked around the bus at the tired faces nodding along to whichever beat they had chosen for the brief ride and felt thankful for a change that I had left my Discman at home. The batteries had run out the night before, and I was suddenly in no hurry to have them replaced.

At mndaily.com, University of Minnesota student and movie reviewer Steven Synder writes:

It’s a sad, but true, fact that in this iPod-wearing, instant-messaging, cell-phone-screaming country of isolation, we have lost almost all connection to those around us. It is now easier than ever to walk down the street or even ride the bus and be completely removed from those sitting inches away.

The iPod is hardly the first personal technology gadget to be used for enforcing isloation (think Sony Walkman, cell phone) but the cult of the iPod fetish (77 Google entries under the term currently) foretells growing social atomization, and even greater elevation of form over content.

By the way, I like Apple computers, and use my iMac G5 for sharing customized music playlists in real time with numbers of people, whose ears are open to each other and the music, simultaneously.

THERE'S a killer app.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 01:43 PM | Comments (0)