Monday, January 31, 2005

Sullivan on the Summers Controversey
Recall that Summers, the president of Harvard suggested that differences between men and women in the professions could be the result of men having higher variances in intelligence than women. In other words, there would be more very very stupid and very very smart men than women. Of course, this line of logic made some feminists "physically ill" and they immediatly complained to the media. Andrew Sullivan has some thoughts on this sudden attack of nausea:

It's a hard fact to absorb that some people will never be as intelligent as some others, or as musically gifted, or as mathematically skilled. Americans in particular hate the notion that there is some natural limit on what people can and cannot achieve. But there is a distinction between moral and political equality for all - the fundament of a liberal society - and unavoidable natural inequalities between human beings and, in a few narrow areas, even between social groups. This cannot and shouldn't mean that any individual should be prejudged, or denied any viable opportunity. But it does mean that some imbalances in certain professions might not be entirely a function of prejudice or bigotry.

Read the whole thing.
I Had a Dream
So I'm walking in the mountains and God comes to debate me. "Beautiful Day." Yep it is beautiful. "Elliot, why don't you believe in me when you see beauty such as this?" Because I can't be convinced that this is something other than an accident. "But would an accident be so beautiful?" Yes, if species are genetically conditioned to regard beauty as their surroundings. "True, evolutionary theory leads to that conclusion. Instead you will find proof of me in evidence of humankind that evolutionary theory would predict could not happen." Cool, is it time for me to wake up? "Yes, and I love you" Then please go easy on me if I am wrong in the future. "Sorry, can't promise anything."

Saturday, January 29, 2005

What's Wrong With Being a Likudnik?
David Bernstien takes apart proclaimed Middle East Expert Juan Cole:
Having a Likudnik as the number three man in the Pentagon is a nightmare for American national security, since Feith could never be trusted to put US interests over those of Ariel Sharon.

Feith does seem to be sympathetic to the Likud's positions, so I won't object to this use of the term "Likudnik." But "could never be trusted to put US interests over those of Ariel Sharon?" On what basis does Cole make what is essentially a charge of treason?
One is tempted to think that it's simply because Feith is Jewish, and that Cole is an anti-Semite. But Cole explicitly disclaims anti-Semitism later in his rant, and I'm inclined to believe him, or at least give him the benefit of the doubt.
Instead, reading between the lines, it seems that Cole's problem is that he thinks Ariel Sharon and associated political elements in Israel so evil, and sympathy with them so transparently immoral and stupid, that the only plausible explanation for a bright man like Feith to sympathize with Likud is out of a misguided ethnic loyalty. The very idea that a reasonable person could think that the Likud had a more realistic and practical view of the Palestinian Authority under Arafat than did more dovish forces (as the vast majority of Israelis, who have had to live with the consequences of Oslo, do), gets Cole unhinged.

Read the whole thing.
I guess the PC police is already out for them.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Don't Download "Spyware Nuker" or "NoPop!" !
Details here.
What (yawn) happened?
I started reading something online at 5:30 or so, and then the next thing I know it is 11:00 at night. I passed out for about 5 hours. Great, just great.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Yet Another New Democrat Group
Campaign for a National Majority has been started. I keep hoping that the Dems will regain their sanity that they had at the end of Clinton's admin, but then I read the CNM's value page. :-(
Paul Findley at Stanford
Tuesday night I had the "opportunity" to hear former Congressman Paul Findley describe the secret AIPAC consipracy to influence American Middle East Policy. How this differs from the secret Chinese conspiracy to influence us on Taiwan, the secret Russian conspiracy to influence on Chechna, the secret Pakistani conspiracy to influence us on Kashmir, or the secret Turkish policy to influence us on Kurdistan remained unclear. Nor was it clear why this nefarious pro-israel bias is such a bad thing in reality. Anyways, I digress. The point is that there were many memorable lines in the speech, and a friend of a friend was gracious enough to take notes. Enjoy!

Last night I sent out an event for tonight at Stanford: Coalition for Justice in the Middle East Presents The Peril of America's Middle East Policies with 22-year Republican U.S. congressman Paul Findley,Tuesday, Jan 25th, 7:00 PM, Stanford University, Bldg. 420-040 (Psychology Building- Jordan Hall). Tonight, I went to listen and I took notes. Here they are . . .
Tonight's event was attended by +/- 120 students and community members, around half were Middle-Easerners. One of the leaders of Stanford's Coalition for Justice in the Middle East introduced Findley as the founder of the Council For National Interest,(a think tank) and a onetime Holyland Foundation Man of the Year, this "foundation " was shut down as a supporter terrorism after September 11).

Findley began by proclaiming that Iraq was never a threat to the United States. He claims to be pro-troops yet calls the troops "misguided and deluded". He calls the U.S. an imperialist nation. He cited without naming a 2002 document that President Bush allegedly follows that"decides the U.S. is a world policeman, that creates war,,that strives to maintain its military, that strives to control the military of other nations, and that this document destroys the Treaty of Westphalia". Findley claims President Bush asserts the "self-right" to imprison anyone he chooses and views as a threat to security". Findley claims "We rushed to war amidst jingoism and slogans. He claimed the decision to invade Iraq was made prior to 9/11 and per (neo-con aka Jewish Conservative) Paul Wolfowitz, WMD's was the only excuse the President's cabal could agree upon. Then Findley followed by blaming the Iraq war on AIPAC and brings up the Seymour Hersh article in the New Yorker,(Findley loves Seymour Hersh and views him as an Oracle). Findley continued saying the United States is a threat to every other country in the world but he did say the United Kingdom, a bastion of imperialism, is our only ally. Findley referred to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as "hostile actions" and subsequently demonized the "bunker buster bomb". He described Iran's nuclear program as something the Iranians "are creating because they may desparately need this nuclear program in the future". Findley then slithered into saying US-Middle-East policy is controlled and made not by the US government but "..two major religious communities": AIPAC/religious, fanatic Jews and the Fundamentalist Christian lobby. Findley accused soon to be Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice of saying ,"... the U.S. has an Israel-centric foreign policy." (again, not quoted in context). He continued claiming the 2 aforementioned communities support a "greater,expanding,Israel" and that "Christian support goes to pay for settlement". Findley continued by claiming there has been Israeli destruction of Muslim society,(yet said nothing about Palestinian homicide bombings against Israeli civilians, destruction of Jewish Holy sites such as Joseph's tomb,desecration by Palestinian terrorists of the Church of the Nativity). Again, he blamed the war in Iraq on Israel, places blame (again) on "neo-cons/Jews". The second reason the US invaded Iraq per Findley is, OIL!!! He promotes Jewish conspiracy theories as the reason McCloskey, McKinney,Hilliard, were booted out of office yet he is delighted that McKinney won re-election in Georgia. Findley then went on about the horrible Christians that support Israel and Israel itself.

Findley reiterated the following:
* 9/11 would not have happened if the u.S. did not support Israel
* 9/11 would not have occurred without Congressional support for Israel
*Expressed in a very heartfelt manner that "we should explore the grievances of terrorists. ...they did it because they are disenfranchised ).

Findley proclaimed the U.S. should suspend aid to Israel,(huge round of applause by his supporters. and the Palestinian terrorists) that Israel is apartheid, that the Iraqi's do not trust the U.S. because of Israel, and once again criticized President's Bush "power to imprison".



One attendee asked about the millions of dollars Findley's Council for the National Interest received from the Saudi's; Findley danced around the question then said they only paid for a fun little junket to Florida. A second Stanford student and very involved in the Stanford Students for Justice in Palestine asked, why president's [sic] (- hmmmm, who could he mean?) cannot be brought before the International World Court.
Then, blessedly, it was over.
Funny Stuff
And a bit scary to, at the end. Protest Warrior goes international.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Hawks Are Going Green
Makes sense - if you want to maximize geopolitical power, minimize fuel dependency.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Harvard Prez Says Men Might Be More Likely To Be Exceptional Than Women
His argument? That while men and women may on average be of the same intelligence, there might be greater variance for men than women on intelligence. Translation: Men are more likely to be very stupid or very smart. Women or more likely to cluster around being average. I have never really noticed a difference between the intelligence distribution of men and women, so I can't say much on this.

But William Saletan has alot to say on the subject. You should read his article. I never knew that the genetic difference between men and women is 1%. That is huge. I remember reading that we share 90% of our genes with fruit flies (although that could be off......)


Thursday, January 20, 2005

Law Tuition Up 589% in past 10 years
At North Carolina. Hawaii is a close second. The Meme is that schools must charge to build endowments to attract quality faculty so that they are competitive. My problem is with "quality faculty." What does it mean for a faculty to be "qualified?" Is a "qualified faculty" any different from an "unqualified faculty?" How so?

Call me skeptical.
Palestine Supporters Gone Wild
Forget Girls Gone Wild - Here in the Bay Area, there is a different sort of sport. Click here for some great pictures of the "event".

My favorites are the pictures of the little kids holding signs calling the Jews/Israelies "Organ Thieves" in reference to the hush-hush, secret-secret, don't-tell-don't-tell practice of stealing people's organs for "sacramental purposes"

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

A Reality Show Worth Seeing?
An idea that I had recently that has caused a lot of laughs:
Take 50 out of work Hollywood models who are quite stuck on themselves. Give them the chance to win a $5 million prize - winner take all. Each week, the one farthest behind in the race gets eliminated. After three months, the winner of the race collects the prize, the losers get nothing.

The catch? The race is who can gain the most weight.

The second catch? The motivational effects will be interesting to behold. Say you've gained 40 pounds after the first two months. You won't see a dime for your efforts unless you win outright. Nor will your competitors. So as the reality of this sinks in, two things will take hold. A good portion may drop out. A good portion, motivated by the cash will stay in, ever accelerating their weight gain.

Why would Americans watch? Because as much as they love pretty people, they love seeing pretty people destroy themselves in futile efforts more. Especially when the pretty people aren't so nice.

If you know any network executives who would be interested, don't hesitate to forward their names over to me.

Update: As Professor Tung-Yin pointed out on his blog, this reality show would be a take off of the infamous dollar auction.
Give'm Hell Kos
Couldn't agree more. Except about the need for a progressive revolution. You all know I don't agree with that.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Curious What We Look Like?
Pictures of Tyler Doyle, DC Rybicki, and yours truly are available here.
If You Celebrate This Man You Must Celebrate His Legacy?
I have been seeing this argument arise more frequently during past MLK days:
Martin Luther King Jr. passionately fought throughout his life for economic justice . . . a nationally reknowned author told a Cleveland audience Sunday.
"If you celebrate this man, you must embrace his legacy," said Julianne Malveaux, an economist and commentator.

Let's be frank here - we don't celebrate Martin Luther King for all his ideals. Nor do we want to. Nor should we want to. We celebrate King because of one thing, and one thing only: his courage to argue for a color-blind society. That is all this holiday is about. If you think it should be about something more, about "economic justice," than try to get a Eugene Debs day.
Blogging to Sunrise
Just as I finished my last post, the sunrise began over the mountains which I can see from my room window. There is not better place to go to grad school than Stanford. Period.
We Are Going to Track You Down Like a Chicken and Kill You
(Allegedly) :
Man defends Coptic Christianity on online board. Fundamentalist Muslims come to house, and butcher his family. But they were especially vicious to the daughter. Read the whole thing, if you dare.

The married father of two had recently been threatened by Muslim members of the Web site, said a fellow Copt and store clerk who uses the chat room. "You'd better stop this bull---- or we are going to track you down like a chicken and kill you," was the threat, said the clerk, who was online at the time and saw the exchange. But Armanious refused to back down, according to two sources who use the Web site. Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy would neither confirm nor deny that cops and prosecutors were looking into the religion motive, saying only that "nothing is being ruled out." But a relative of the mayor who answered the phone at Healy's home said there was information the murders were "religion-related."......

A family member who viewed photos of the bloodbath said Sylvia [the sixteen-year-old daughter] seemed to have taken the most savage punishment. "When we saw the pictures, you could tell that they were hurt really, really bad in the face; especially Sylvia," said Milad Garas, the high-school sophomore's great-uncle. The heartless killer not only slit Sylvia's throat, but also sliced a huge gash in her chest and stabbed her in the wrist, where she had a tattoo of a Coptic cross. Also found murdered were the wife, Amal Garas, and the parents' other daughter, Monica.

Fred Ayed, the deacon at St. George and St. Shenouda Church, where the deeply religious family attended services, said he's worried that the murders could have a ripple effect. "I am concerned for the safety of our community," said Ayed, who knew Hossam for 30 years. "People are scared because one family was slain like cows," said Moheb Ghabour, publisher of a local newspaper for the Coptic community.

Two things. First, not all of the facts are known. Second, if the facts that are learned point to what appears true on first glance, that this is the work of muslim extremists to silence debate, than we must deal with the following argument: People say the problem is fundamentalism - but have you ever heard of an ultra-orthodox jew act with such vicousness except on egyptian TV propoganda shows? Have fundamentalist Catholic or Protestant condoned such things in the last 250 years? Do fundamentalist Buddhists or Hindus go on a rampages because of a religious spats? Is it really fundamentalism that is the problem, or might it be something else?

Sunday, January 16, 2005

"I made an Indian girl cry, you can do it too!"
So much for protectionism caring about the welfare of foreign workers. So if protectionists don't care about foreign workers, don't care about consumers, who does that leave for them to care about? Themselves? Surprise!
Teach for America?
A bit of background - back in the heady days of the summer between 9th and 10th grade, I met a girl at camp. I liked her a lot - one of my first crushes. Of course, I was too chicken to do anything about it, so I didn't find out that she had a crush on me as well until after camp was over. Filled with regret (and testosterone) I kept in touch with her for a bit, but as she lived in the Chicago suburbs while I lived on the fringes of the greater cleveland area, this seemed an impossible distance to a high schooler who couldn't drive. I've always been curious about the "what-ifs" though - in the sense that we always are about the first few people we like before our first loves.

In trying to find out what this girl was up to, I learned she worked for teach for america a few years back. And that she is quite political. Both good things. But what was noteworthy was this quote from her posted on the web:

My experiences at U-M (and particularly in Women’s Studies) helped mold my philosophy that our society has gone far too deep into its racism, sexism, and classism to change its ways, and that we should be actively breaking that down to form a new, more egalitarian society. Now I am a part of pursuing that by empowering my students for social change. It is not by coincidence that one of my girls who prior to 8th grade only cared about revenge for her brother in jail through her gang has now taken on a letter-writing pursuit to help bring more medical resources to her area and the school. It is not by sheer luck that a girl who told me right away that her goal in life is to find a boyfriend and have his first child by age 16 is now reading up about college scholarships for Latinas for her older sister and herself too. It is not completely random that in a field littered with ongoing gang fights, roughly 50 students (who contacted the local news in advance) held an anti-war rally during recess, saying if Bush wants war, he should recruit a more diverse military so that not just working class kids become soldiers and die in war.

Now, one may agree or disagree with this girl who was one of my first crushes on some of her points. But that is not why I am writing - my question is whether the political views that this girl taught to her students is what is typically taught by volunteers for teach for america. For if it is, I would have suddenly conflicted views about the organization - as opposed to it being a do-good organization that is trying to make a difference in individual lives, it would become a do-good organization that is trying to make a difference but in the process is teaching politicized views to impressionable youngsters. Of course, one could then counter by questioning the harm of that, as impressionable youngsters are already getting views from partisan career teachers. Even if not, the benefit of having a few lives altered dramatically for the better is worth (in my opinion) the cost of youngsters being led to one side of the political aisle, but that is a seperate discussion. The point is that Teach for America may not necessarily be the completely good organization that I have pictured it in the past - it could in some sense be akin to religious groups that show up after major accidents, help the victims, and then give out information on coming in for free stress testing. If I refrain from criticizing Teach for America here, wouldn't that require me, out of consistency, to refrain from criticizing those religous groups? Why not?

Saturday, January 15, 2005

There is No Impending Population Bomb For Israel
Read Here. This is big stuff if you care about the Middle East Political Map.
Today's Agenda
1) Work on Ashcroft v. Raich paper
2) Watch football at CoHo
3) Watch Cavs-Jazz game at Old Pro
3) Cook Potatoes Before They Start to Sprout
4) Laundry
5) Bed
Is the West Rushing Towards Collapse?
I think this women's opinions appear more to show that we are rushing towards a negative utopia as opposed to collapse. We work hard to consume, but we do not consume to become fulfilled - the consumption has become its own end. This is a blasphmazation of capitalism, and shows once again the lie of the rational actor.

Oh yeah, after spending a summer at Harvard, three years at Northwestern, and close to three years at Stanford Law, I agree partially with this statement:
Higher education: "Credentialling, not educating, has become the primary business of North American universities." More and more people are being churned through corporatised credential factories.

Personally though, I think my summer at Harvard, my first year at Northwestern and first semester at Stanford were highly educational. The rest though has been a complete waste in terms of education of complex, interesting ideas. And I didn't even take sociology, which would have made it worse.

Friday, January 14, 2005

The title says it all: A basketball legend's soulless retirement caps his soulless career. If this guy thinks that Jordan's career was soulless, he must have not turned on the old Bulls-Pistons, Bulls-Cavs, Bulls-Knicks, Bulls-Suns games. He must have missed the last shot over Ehlo, the last shot over the Jazz in the NBA finals, the dunk contest in '88. He must have missed alot. Jordan was a lot of things, some of them good, some of them bad. But a soulless basketball player? Please.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Wallmart Supporters League
Proud member here. A piece for y'all.
Bill Cosby for President
Hey - Reagan did it in his late seventies, so why not? Read.
Something that has been on my mind for awhile
There is no such thing as a safe drug - a good portion of the regulatory decisions of the FDA involve choosing whether the benefits of the drug outweigh the risks. Why shouldn't this be decision that educated practioners or knowledgable consumers make for themselves? Read more here.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Paper Complete!
I just finished my 58 page paper on Calculating Interest on Slave Reparations (in the event we choose to pay them). Next steps - turning it in for the grade, finding faculty/high level grad readers to make comments on it, and hopefully, with luck and and an abscence of bias against the controversial - publication.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

,Reality and Psuedonames
Update: Now I'm embarrased - it turns out that E is not me. I had a talk with Phoebe two nights ago and E is a guy she usually calls N (N being nickname initial, E being his real name initial). Also, it wasn't literary according to her - this schmuck really did grab her. Jerk.

Reading Phoebe's last post it is clear that I am meant to be E, just as another past boyfriend of hers is clearly V. The trouble is that "Phoebe's" details about what happened when she told me about her latest fling are off. I never "bitched her out" let alone called her a "cold-hard bitch." While she may have been in a bubbly meth haze (I honestly don't know, but with Phoebe anything is possible), I didn't grab her left loin to make her hurt because

(a) She doesn't have one;
(b) Even if she had a left loin, I am not a masocist and as such wouldn't have grabbed it to make her hurt;
(c) Even if I were a masocist and she had a left loin, I couldn't have grabbed it because she was in San Francisco and I was speaking to her by telephone from Ohio and since I am not a Jedi I don't have the ability to manipulate objects at great distances;
(d) Even if I were a masocist Jedi and Phoebe had a left loin, I would have done something cooler to hurt her, like make her spin suspended in the air while doing Jedi mind tricks so that she would think she is a glass of Orange Juice that is in danger of being spilt - all from three thousand miles away.

What I did do was make fun of her for being promiscuous, but only because she had made fun of me for dating too much a few weeks prior. I guess she still has issues with dishing it out, but not being able to take it.

I shouldn't be too hard on Phoebes though. She is going through a lot. She just transfered from Stanford to UPenn for her final semester so she can be with her cancer-stricken mother in the final months of her mother's life. If going from the beauty of California to the gloom of philly's winter along with dealing with your remaining parent's demise wasn't enough, she is stuck in a house filled with memories of an abused childhood by the same mother who can never be convinced that her daughter loves or has forgiven her. Oh yeah, she also has an off/on relationship with not one, but two ex-boyfriends that she has never quite sorted her feelings out for. So I guess I should probably cut Phoebes some slack. She has a lot on her plate. And despite shameless attempts at character assassination, I still care about her deeply.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

out with the new... and in with the old


satire, art, politics, reconstructionist feminist theory, crass humor, stanford law students... this post will be none of the above. so if that's what you're after, please ignore the following.

this is phoebe. writing to you from somewhere at or near the eastern seaboard. still bruised, battered (emotionally and somehow deservedly) and recovering from a truly pathetic case of guilt, catholic and otherwise.

my last days in san francisco were much more and much less than i expected. there were a few people i never got to say goodbye to. i regret that. there are a few i regret saying goodbye to. but really that's not what i wanted to talk about.

i wanted to talk about how it felt lying in bed under the uncovered white duvet woven too tightly and too shiny for comfort looking at e. whom i know so well, who knows me so well... having him tell me thru a bubbly meth haze that i am a cold hard bitch, bitching me out for being a bitch, having him pissed off at me for having slept with another boy, thinking i know he's only pissed at me because i told him what i did so consensually last weekend..... feeling e grab my left loin and squeeze hard so that i could know he wanted it to hurt, punishing me for having "given it up" and not to him.... i said there wasn't going to be any feminist theory in here... so i should stop now before the quote marks above blossom into neofeminist sadistic bromide...

k was a freak but not like me. but he did like me. that was the surprise, and i told him so but only because i was hammered enough and just threw up over all these people at a bar and was so surprised nobody noticed or seemed to care. i was wearing this tight sweater that was dusty rose but it used to be metallic. v got it for me when we were both 19 and catholic. it was part of an outfit he got me so i could look up to par when i met his parents for the first time, but i didn't wear that outfit to meet his parents. maybe that's why i did so "badly" that day and now hang out in biker bars and fall asleep on the couch when i get too wasty to walk.

my mom... just came in here and it was the first time i saw her bald head without the ugly gray cloth she normally ties around it. the fact that my mom's got a bald head which is not totally bad, cause she used to have these huge bushy eyebrows that would embarrass me because she never looked enough like a barbie doll and i wanted my mom to be pretty in a totally generic way when i was a kid and she never was because she had these eyebrows and wore birkenstock sandals with socks on even in the winter and never wore a skirt (even to parties) and i felt totally unfeminine having a mom like that. so now that her eyebrows have mostly fallen out from the chemo she looks kind of cool like a hairless cat, and i think she's so much more beautiful this way than before.

but now she's coughing this awful drawn-out hacking cough in the other room and it makes me feel bad but i don't like how it sounds and it makes me wonder about compassion and how i could have so little of it as to be annoyed by this cough when i know it's just a little fleghm getting coughed up from cancerous lungs...

and i imagine myself squatting on this beach with all these fluorescent clouds melting and prancing across the horizon and i am looking at them, and then i turn around and i see these people swarming lethargically around this fire rubbing their hands together... but they're all too chilly and soon their cheeks start sinking into their jaws and they all look hollowed out like so many aids patients and crack whores and they just keep circling ceremoniously around this fire until they dance their grotesque bony feet into the hot coals and the flames lick at their nappy leg hairs before smoking and swirling round bruised and bony thighs...

together we construct our pyre and then intoxicated, we celebrate its kindling. when the yellow flame is high and snatches at our golden robe-hems, each cell blazes its final burst in solitude, the fatal popping sound of its incineration lost in a cacophonous symphony of identical others.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Cute Little Debate
Orin Kerr and Cass Sunstein are arguing over whether the phrase "Restoring the Lost Constitution" (refering, broadly, to constitutional theory with greater respect for the schema of enumerated powers that was scraped during the New Deal) is one that is (a) used by conservatives to describe their goal to return the constitution to its pre-New Deal form; (b) if not actually used as a phrase, than at least describes their goal.

It started when Sunstein wrote this piece.
Kerr responded with this piece.

Kerr's fun point so far focuses on minimizing argument (b) (he can find no evidence for argument (a) ). Basically - so what if several legal conservatives want to restore a "lost constitution" - there is a lost constitution that several legal liberals want to restore to - its called the legacy of the Warren Court.

It will be interesting to see Prof. Sunstein's response.