About time

The next time a leftists reminds you that you're racist because you aren't a hard leftist yourself, remind him (or her - we aren't sexist here either!) of this.

(h/t Dean)

On having, eating Cake

It's been a hectic week. Tuesday was Beacon layout. Thursday was early-morning distribution.

But what about Wednesday? you ask. Ah, Wednesday. Wednesday was the Cake concert!

Gomez, the opening band, was quite good. They played an incredible range of music, from the extremely friendly indie-pop of Nothing is Wrong ("We're not here to judge you/ We wanna be your friends now/ and we can make you feel like everything is gonna happen for a reason") to some really hard rock. I was glad they were introduced as "your friends".

But Cake. Cake was fantastic. Started with "Sheep Go to Heaven" and just got better. The audience sang along to "Satan is my Motor" (to encourage everyone, John McCrea said, "Come on Christians, sing along - it's a metaphor!" That didn't encourage the conservative Christian in our group to keep singing.), and they even made the execrable "No Phone" sound good. Actually, that was one of the highlights of the show: after starting out the song, McCrea began a monologue: "Now guys, I want you to sing along. For hundreds of years, your ancestors have been evolving to communicate less. But technology has conspired against you! So use your anger! Sing along in a big Viking chorus..." [paraphrased, of course. The intent is there though.] It was quite excellent. Unfortunately, they only played for an hour and a half including the encore.

Anyhow, I didn't sleep after the show, so I crashed after distribution, and haven't been blogging much.


Thunder Road*

I missed the College Republican State Convention to take the FSWE, so I've just recntly found out that I nonetheless managed to win the "Zell Miller Award" for being the most moderate College Republican in the state. I am incredibly happy with this, and would just like to take a minute to thank John Stuart Mill and FA Hayek. But beyond being a general libertarian (with conservative leanings of foreign policy), the long story of how I got here is rather amusing.

I started out high school calling myself a communist. Yeah, youthful indiscretion. Some kids drank or did drugs to rebel, I read Marx. Then again, I didn't exactly run with a cool crowd. We all read Marx, and played chess at lunch, and one of us built a trebuchet that could toss pumpkins a considerable distance. (That thing was cool, lemme tell ya.)

Anyhow, it ended up being good for me in a strange way. I'd travelled a bit before, so when the opportunity to go for a year as an exchange student came up, I jumped. And I chose an adventure. Every exchange student wants the glamorous countries - Western Europe, Australia, whatnot. I went East - to Hungary. I spent a year in Sátoraljaújhely, Hungary. It was fantastic - probably the best year of my life. But one of the things it taught me was that Communism just doesn't work. Period. No if's, and's, or but's. Doesn't work.

I came back to college and eventually got assigned some JS Mill, and was amazed. By this time I had come to believe everything he was saying, but had never seen it articulated, much less as well articulated as Mill did. It was fantastic.

But I was still politically neutral, and so one day a friend of mine convinced me to go to the State College Democrats Convention. This was in mid-2003, if I remember right. I didn't have a bad time at first, and the hospitality suite they had set up was great. But the secod day of the conference - the substantice part - was horrible. One of the featured speakers was Robert Burrows, author of the worst book ever. (Bragging rights - I got a signed copy out of the deal.) The level of rhetoric only got worse. Not one speaker laid out a coherent message, except "boy that Bush guy is really bad". It was absolutely outrageous.

Within a week after we got back, I had signed up with the College Republicans.

I can't keep track of how many debates I've gotten into with members of the club. There is a fantastic variety of views here, and people treat them all seriously. So I'll stay here, I think, and enjoy it.


Back, refreshed, awarded

I've had a day now, but I'm still not sure what to think of the FSWE. I was a little bit underwhelmed: the supposedly-brutal "Job Knowledge Test", which is the test of how well one knows the workings of our government (and to some extent our foreign policy), was only an hour long. It didn't seem as hard as the rumors had suggested, but maybe it killed me and I just don't realize it. I'll find out in July. Other than that, there was the essay, which I was well prepared for - I've had worse essays as final exams. Then it was the personality test, in which I was asked what kind of a leader I was in 10 different ways (answer: really a leader!), and the English usage test (I know where commas and apostrophes go, so I think I passed that). On the whole, not bad at all.


Meanwhile, elsewhere

While I take the FSWE, other folks are blogging the College Republicans State Convention. Sounds like a good time so far!

I will say that I worked for Rick Wiley (the speaker they're blogging as I post this) during the '04 campaign. It's strange seeing him called "Mr." Wiley - everyone on the campaign just called him Wiley.



Mifflin will be April 30 after all.

Which just goes to show you - students may be lazy bums who only really care about drinking and partying (and I can't really exclude myself from this list) - if you get in the way of these goals, we will fight back.


This Saturday, I'm going to take the Foreign Service Written Exam. Should I survive the thing, I will retire to the Pub on State Street to the Norther Pines Band and drown my sorrows. If you read this blog, you're invited! And if I don't know you and you read this blog, I may buy you a drink... depending on how the day goes.

Update: they're only playing on Friday night... not Saturday. So much for that idea... So: new plan - I'll be chillin' at Mondays, say nine-ish.


It's the end of the world as I know it*

What else but the end of the world could explain the Daily Cardinal's editorial page today? This is definitely the last group I'd expect to praise student-government hero Brad Vogel's attempt to keep down segregated fees student taxes:
the resolution would have limited student organizations from requesting more than $1,000 in student segregated fees for officer stipends or wages. Although we characteristically fail to see eye-to-eye with Vogel, in this case we not only agree with his intentions, but also share his disappointment.

Other highlights:
What is most ironic is that some students are paid in segregated fees in order to fight increasing tuition. Figure that one out.
In order to further their goals, student leadership salaries ought to be invested in the actions of the groups-at-large, not a particular individual.

One SSFC member who voted against the resolution did so claiming that a compensation cap would "penalize" a handful of so-called student leaders, opting instead to punish the rest of us.

Meanwhile, the Herald hasn't yet realized that there were two sides to the "walk-out" last week, but they've at least seen fit to take a shot at the walkers-out:
Enough is enough already. Some people really just don’t know when to stop. Last week’s “walk out” against occupation in Iraq was an exercise in futility and stupidity.


Mix tape

Dean has a couple of interesting posts about race. In the first, he posted a picture of Mariah Carey, which reminded me of something. Back in the day, she was much whiter. This isn't a criticism, but it's interesting. I was actually really disconcerted the first time I saw the cover for her new album - I thought she was Beyonce at first.

Which segues nicely into Dean's second post - that many Black people think lighter brown skin is more beautiful than darker. It's true of music videos - I was watching something a while ago where one dancer said that light-skinned girls are the "princess" while dark-skinned girls are the "skank". It's a disgusting double standard that goes back to slavery and Jim Crow America.

So I wonder, does Mariah feel she's popular enough that she can "be Black" now? Or why the change?


Everything old is new again*

Owen at Boots and Sabers posted Steve Loehrke's speech to the Future Wisconsin Conference, which I blogged starting here.

I was very impressed with what he had to say as well - if you're at all intereted in education reform, go read it now!



There are many dangers*

The dangers of WiFi are indeed pervasive. Some professors worry about students not paying attention in class - even the specter of searching for porn while in class has been raised. God knows that I have often turned to the Internet for reprieve from bad classes. But there is one danger that goes yet unrecognized:

falling out of a chair laughing (in public) after having read something very funny on the Internet.

This danger has often befallen me, and many are the wounds my tongue has suffered from being bitten upon to stop my laughter. But nothing has gotten me quite like The Hatemonger's Quarterly. People with WiFi access beware - this is one site you should not visit if you are afraid of bursting out laughing in public. You have been warned!

*Crash Test Dummies

Welcome back

Lane McFadden has returned! He was my uber-favorite blogger before he stopped, and I can't believe I missed his return, but here he is. And check out this post:
One of those hateful, “everyone will burn in hell” preachers showed up on USC’s campus. I couldn’t be prouder of the student body’s response.

First-year print journalism student Grace Bowles said she had also been offended by the tirade, and that USC students had only congregated to mock the speakers.

“Everybody’s yelling at him, and there’ve been several Wendy’s cups thrown at him,” she said.

Undeterred, Duncan accused a man in the audience of murder and drunkenness.

“What are you going to do when you stand before judgment?” he asked.

“Probably drink,” the man replied.

Me too, brother. Amen.

Welcome back, Lane McFadden. I'll be there drinking, too.


Bryan Smith at Sanity in Mad City has a great series of posts on the science behind global warming - click over and just keep scrolling. I haven't read all the links yet, but he doesn't seem too impressed with things as they stand.

I've posted on my Environmental Conservatism class before, but it's always a fun rant. We've got a new professor for the last half semester, and she's just as doctrinaire as the last. I joined this class really hoping there would be some balance, but I was disappointed. Environmentalist types hate the free market, it's that simple. They're often, though not always, condescending to native peoples as well. And that's really something, in my opinion. "Liberalism" nothing, these people are a religion of a different stripe.


Okay, one more on the protests

...and then I think I've beaten this horse to death. For your reading pleasure, here's a quick roundup of coverage for our little demonstration yesterday.

Anne Althouse has two posts on the subject - one on the stupid things some protestors say. I forget how desensitized I get to this kind of stuff, because it happens all the time. The other is about a shared aggravation: drums!

The Cap Times tries to spin the police as the bad guys: "UW police pull the plug on Bascom Hill anti-war protest". Do we expect anything else, really?

The Wisconsin State Journal (WSJ is such a ripoff acronym) does a little bit better, and at least gets some quotes from our side.

The Badger Herald continues is leftward march, not giving any coverage at all to our side. Except for our Protest Warrior, who has a pretty good quote, actually.

The Daily Cardinal at least gets a quote from our side, but the picture makes us look like the bad guys.

What Attitude Problem? forgot how dirty hippies are. He should spend a few hours on campus - he'd remember.

Manual Override reports on the "Nine minutes that rocked the world". I think he's missing a "failed to" in there somewhere. He's also got a roundup of MSM sources, mostly TV. But make sure to check it out for the great blow-by-blow that he has.

Sanity in Mad City (ah! if only there were) found the same quote Althouse despised. It is sick.

Radio personality Charlie Sykes posted a great letter from one of our CRs.

A better alternative

Yesterday I noted that the lefties really like their drums. So I was a bit wary when, sitting in the Union after pulling a nearly-all-nighter just now, I heard drums again. But then I heard horns, and other good things, and looked up. There were a bunch of members of the UW Band rockin' out on the Terrace.

Thanks guys!


Street fighting men (and women!), pt 2

(continued from Part One)

The Meeting: Jungleland
We were excited by now. Cheers of "Why are we here?" "To support the troops!" and the old favorite "USA" were cheered. We read It is the Soldier, and generally formed a protective circle around the recruiting center. We were ready.

I should note here that the recruiting center is in a small mall, and faces out onto a central courtyard which is accessable from all directions. The protestors came in from the other side, and were greeted by the National Anthem. They stopped dead, unsure of what exactly to do. We couldn't see how many of them there were, but they clearly hadn't expected us to be there. When we moved into the Pledge of Allegiance, they made their move, and came toward us pounding on drums and yelling. (Incidentally, what is it with the great unwashed that so attracts them to banging on things. Drums are one thing, but plastic buckets are a bit odd.) They tried to drown out the Pledge. Which is, I suppose, a comment.

Then, of course, the shouting started. It was quite the match, but it was an even one - the really not-so-great mass (just before the Iraq war, they easily got together a few thousand people for a Books not Bombs march) had dwindled to no more than 75. They had better drums, but we would not be shaken. The hippies got right up in our faces almost immediately, and their anger was easily seen. More difficult to see, however, were any attractive females in the audience. There were one or two, maybe, but our protest babes were out in force and not backing down.

There were the ridiculous chants - "You don't serve" was one. The ROTC kids took umbrage to that one, and I'm sure the vets weren't pleased either. I honestly couldn't hear much else, as I was at the front of our crowd and weilding the megaphone.

Then all of a sudden, a big group of them dissapeared. They had run away. I didn't believe it at first. It had only been 30 or 45 minutes (Update: it was only 9 minutes. Nine minutes.) Weren't they supposed to have the edge in sustained shouting matches?

It was dominoes after that. Big groups broke off, until there were only a dozen or so left. We saw them off as we had welcomed them: with song. This time, "Sha na na na, na na na na, hey hey hey, goooooodbye!" And then a huge cheer. And just like a bad storm, the lefties broke and disappeared.

We had a quick lunch, then a short press conference, and called it a day. In my apartment off State St, I heard drums around 4. I guess somebody hadn't gotten the message - look out for those who support the troops! They're a tough bunch!

I did a brief thing on Vicki McKenna's show. I was supposed to be on at 3.20, but they ended up pushing me back to 4. Such is life. I was happy with what we accomplished.

Street fighting men (and women!), pt 1

Okay, this is a long post, so I'm breaking it into two parts. Here's the first:

The Setting: What's Going On?
The chalkings were pretty, I'll give them that. They were indeed the finest-looking chalkings I'd seen this year. The message, though, couldn't keep up: "Walk out for the army out!" Standard leftist rhetoric put out by the usual suspects - the socialists, MEChA, and weirdly, the Madison Warming Center campaign.

So it was the combined might of the leftists versus the College Republicans and what motley crew we could put together. But we had not yet begun to fight...

The Beginnings: Pre-protest
The day began much as any other second Thursday begins for me - Beacon distribution. (Aside - it's a bit lacking this week. It'll be better next time, promise.) Unfortunately, I'd gone to bed at 4 am the night before, and gone to bed hungry at that, so getting up at 6.45 was... difficult. But get up I did, and was eventually rewarded by breakfast at the Kollege Klub, the best frat/underage pub in Mad-town. I'd never been, so the dearth of frat boys at nine a.m. made the experience that much more pleasant. In fact, their breakfasts are great, and cheap. So after a hearty meal and 3 cups of magical revitalizing coffee, I felt human again, and ready to demonstrate.

But no demo is complete without flags, and so it was off to the evil, capitalist, employee-crushing Wal-Mart, a magical place with everything one might need, and two cars in the parkinglot with Bush stickers on them (these things are rare in Mad-town). [Editor: the Bush stickers, that is, not the "everything else one might need".] After a successful flag-purchasing, it was back to campus. I loaded some Rage Against the Machine from my roommate's i-pod onto my computer, because the irony of being able to sing "f*ck you I won't do what you tell me!" was too great to be ignored. It seemed especially salient, since the nutcases on the other side wanted military recruiters off campus.

The Buildup: No Cool Secondary Title
The die-hards began meeting on the footbridge over University Ave about 11.10, and excitement was high. We were ready. I wanted a straight brawl, but I'd also been listening to too much Rage. Calmer heads prevailed, and after a few minutes of gathering, a couple of us decided to walk up Bascom and see what the other side was up to. We got there just in time to see the speakers.

The first speaker up was from Right to Return (don't worry, it doesn't make sense to me either). He had nothing to say except a few generalities about "evil America". But he also claimed that because of military spending, there was not enough money to fund schools, and that's why ROTC and recruiters should be kicked off campus. I wanted to yell out, "Solomon Amendment, you nincompoop!", but did not. The second up was a Vietnam vet, who gave the standard "evil US imperialism" stuff. Ah, well. If they all want to be stuck in the Sixties, hey, go for it. I'm moving on, thanks. In the meantime, the rally on Bascom stood at about 150 or 200, not counting the sunbathers on the lower part of the hill. They were sensibly ignoring the nonsense.

The thing we wanted to find out was when they'd be marching, so that we could get off the bridge and to the recruiting center before they got there. We asked some standers-by (is that the stationary version of a passer-by? For our purposes, we'll say yes.), which proved less than enlightening. It went like this:
Us: Hey, are you guys gonna march to the recruiting center?
Them: Yeeeeah, maaan.
Us: Any idea what time?
Them: Uuuuuh - no.

So it was back to the bridge, where we were getting great reactions from the cars below. It was fantastic. Our group had swelled to about 75 - including students, ROTC students, and veterans. The atmosphere was nothing but positive. I also began to notice that our protest babes were actually... well... babes. But we'll talk about that more later.

After a good while of waving at cars, we got word that the hippies were on the move, so we trooped down to the recruiting center. The hippies were moving slowly, and it wasn't because they were confused, because they had a police escort. [Editor: perhaps to protect them from the dangerous conservatives.] The fun was about to begin.

Update: A hearty welcome to all the folks clicking over from Smash and LGF! Thanks for coming - and stick around, Madison has plenty of adventures.

{on to Part Two}


ASM still looking to up student taxes

The Herald ran an article about the recent success in a referendum to use student segregated fee money to renovate the Unions. Had the referendum passed, it would have increased the amount students pay in segregated fees over the course of a few years, eventually adding a hundred or so dollars to the seg fee burden.

Unfortunately, the Herald can't let it go:
ASM and union administration are already addressing apparent student concern with this year’s referendum and are contemplating a new funding plan to appear on next year’s ASM ballots.

Firstly, we just renovated a huge wing of the Memorial Union. The rest of it looks pretty good to me, and nobody seems willing to say what exactly needs to be renovated there. So that leaves Union South. Granted, the building is ugly as sin. But so are a lot of my favorite buildings on campus. The Humanities Building, for example, looks like a bunker. But that adds as much to the campus as the cool buildings like Science Hall (which is a little spooky itself - I have a class on the second-to-top floor, and I'm always expecting a ghost to show up).

The point is, when the Unions need taking care of, the tradition is to ask the alumni for donations. This has not even been considered so far. Why nobody is mentioning that is beyond me.
“There were a lot of groups opposing it,” Wise said. “It was a small victory. It wasn’t a win, but … we’re still really committed to renovating the union.”

Well, this is either dumb or just disingenuous. This stupid ASM campaign brought together one of the strangest coalitions ever on the UW campus - between College Republicans and the elements of the far left who rally occasionally for better pay for limited-term employees. With that kind of synergy going, I suspect it would be difficult for ASM to do much.
Union Director Mark Guthier said there are many issues to be addressed at the union structurally, and in order to pursue assumed future renovations, students will have to become more involved in renovation plans.

“There is a strong belief that the union needs to be renovated. The question [regarding the referendum] was if people were informed enough to make a vote on it,” Guthier said. “As we go about it next year, we’ll try to provide more details about the [renovations].”

That's great. Provide all the details you want. But don't put this on the backs of students, Mark. I'm sure I'd love wheelchair all the changes you want to make. But not on my dime. That's the point. Ask the alumni first. Prove to me that raising taxes is the only way to do this - but you haven't done that yet.


You got scooped

Again! Dig the stellar reporting from the Beacon!


Economics looking for revenge

Much as I dislike our student government, they may be on the verge of doing something useful. The body is debating the merits of funding the yearly Mifflin Street Block Party. The administration and police have set the date for May 7 - the day before finals. If ASM gets involved, it would move the date up to April 30, the traditional date of the party.

I suspect that this is basic economics taking its revenge for things like the drink special ban and the smoking ban. Supply and demand, baby, supply and demand.

Nail in the coffin for death sticks

I meant to post this yesterday, but Blogger was down. The Madison ban progresses, if that's the right word for it. It will indeed be a sad day when the air above the pool tables are no longer blue and you can't strike up a conversation by offering a light or asking for a smoke. And I don't even smoke...

The Herald's story uses some language that sounds straight out of the mouth of an Ayn Rand villain:
Despite controversy, committee members said they are aware of the possibility of local business opposition but do not expect many challengers to the ordinance.
“There might be a few mavericks who think [the ordinance] is killing their business, but 90 to 95 percent of them are going to be in compliance,” Shapiro said. “It’s a no-brainer. They don’t have a choice.”

It should be noted that Shapiro, quoted here, is the owner of Madison's famed Nitty Gritty bar, so it's sad to see him so resigned.

But then there's this:
“My commitment to the community is to make sure the fire department is business-friendly,” [Fire Chief Debra] Amesqua said.

I think she's already failed at that.

The Daily Cardinal, on the other hand, seems angry that bar owners might try to sneak around the ban:
Madison Fire Chief Debra Amesqua and Fire Marshall Ed Ruckriegal dismissed any plans bar owners may have had to skirt around the July 1 smoking ban at the Smoking Ban Implementation Meeting Wednesday night...
"Bar owners have asked if they could erect tents, construct gazebos or place space heaters outside in order to accommodate their smoking customers," Verveer said. "But the two Madison firefighters said that under the international fire code, which is Madison's official fire code, some of these ideas are illegal."
(emphasis added)

International fire code, eh? A Google search turned up this, which seems to be an organization dedicated to creating as much bureaucracy as possible.

Meanwhile, the Cardinal did manage to find at least one student in Mad-town who understands economics:
"I'm not a big smoker," Schmidt said. "But if I have to stand outside in the cold and wait in line to get back in, I would go to the bar that is more accommodating."


Continuity and change

You know things are strange when the Mendota Beacon and the Daily Cardinal agree on anything. Now the Badger Herald has gotten in on the action, too:
In less than four months, a repressive smoking ban will sweep through city bars, wreaking havoc on taverns’ business, owners’ rights and Madison’s libertarian values as a whole...
We also encourage the new City Council to closely examine how 18-year-olds may patronize bars as a means of reducing house-party traffic. Underage club attendance where alcohol is available only to legal adults is something the last council made progress on and this council must continue to pursue...
Finally, we urge a reconsideration of the inclusionary-zoning and minimum-wage ordinances to whatever extent the city isn’t already in over its head.

It's unfortunate that Kami couldn't beat King, but frankly, he did virtually no campaigning. Hopefully King, who considers even Madison Democrats too weak-kneed, will do something about the issues the Herald mentions. Unfortunately, he's been leading the push for inclusionary zoning, and things aren't looking up on the other issues.


The new samizdat

In the last days of the Soviet Union, samizdat was the word for the dissident literature passed around to close circles of friends. Some of the greatest novels of the USSR were samizdat.

Now there's a new samizdat: the Internet. And it's a good thing, because it's even needed in Canada (via DANEgerus).

Update: ...I haven't linked this before, but it could happen here too.


Bad unions

Are there any good ones? I'm not sure, but this one has lost a king of his craft:
Directors are notoriously driven to make films without the influence of outsiders. In fact, the Directors Guild of America forbids sharing credit.

But Rodriguez
(director of Sin City) wanted to share the behind-the-scenes work with Miller.

"What he was doing in the comic was so much bolder than anything anyone was doing in cinema, I thought we should be emulating him, not taking his material and squeezing it down into a movie," Rodriguez says.

So Rodriguez dropped out of the DGA. That move cost him the opportunity to direct Paramount's sci-fi adventure A Princess of Mars. (The union forbids non-members from signing onto projects already in the works at a member studio.) He can, however, make movies independently and distribute them through a studio. His friendship with Bob and Harvey Weinstein, who headed Miramax but split from Disney this week to start a new company, practically guarantees he will continue to direct movies.

For Sin City, Rodriguez wanted yet another talent on board, his pal Quentin Tarantino, who serves as a "special guest director" on a sequence.

Says Rodriguez: "I really got into this business to do new things and make really cool cinema, not to be part of a club."

The right kind of Robin Hood

Ayn Rand didn't like Robin Hood, but students here probably will - that's the name of a slate of candidates for ASM chairs. They're running largely on a reduced seg-fee platform, which is good for everybody. The current Segregated Fee system is grossly bloated, and is the modern equivalent of taxation without representation.

Go Robin Hood!

Warriors, fighting

The Marquette Warrior blog has latley been taking to task their English department over its overt bias, especially on the school's mascot. They seem like they're on the right track... hope the admin doesn't take too negative a view of their blog!



My dad used to have a game he'd play with us while reading the newspaper at dinner: "Is it true or did I make it up?" Today's April Fool editions of the newspapers are quite the doozy. Unfortunately, they aren't online, but here are a few of the best bits:

The Herald-
A stormy night with the TAA: "We've offered what we can to the TAs. This is our final offer," Timberlake said, adding, "Well we might give them a few more benefits - like an all expenses paid trip to Cancun - but there is no way in hell they are getting free health care."

The Cardinal-
Class dropped mentally in middle of lecture
Mayor: "Mifflin's at my place this year"