Live Blogging the Revolution

Student Government, the new alternative student government here at UW-Madison, now has its own blog - check it out!
In the coming days, we'll be keeping you up to date on the fast-moving revolution. These are exciting times...

Daily Cardinal: "Talk of revolution is in the air, and this editorial board supports such warranted, healthy discussion. "

This is huge.

The Daily Cardinal
is open to the idea of The Student Government:
We are encouraged to find students observing the downfalls of ASM and acting to make real change on campus. We look forward to hearing from the alternative government movement and implore those organizing the effort to engage all students, something ASM has never done.
Another major stride forward.

Here are my thoughts for additional baby steps the new movement can take to consolidate itself:
1. Seek recognition from the Administration; request standards to meet to achieve status as the official student government under state statute

2. Seek official recognition from other student governments across WI, US, the world

3. Get parties from across the campus political spectrum on board (there's already a healthy start based on last night's meeting); plenty of folks on all sides are upset with ASM

4. Get a comprehensive media machine going; website, blog, facebook group, LTEs

5. Get the student body to sign a petition saying they are in support or members

6. Get candidates running in the ASM elections to continue running there, but use the races, positions as a platform to spread message of The Student Government

7. Have fun - break through the clutter by doing things that are humorous enough for students to pay attention - see Ten Fat Tigers, Pail and Shovel, etc.
It's also important to note that this change is the result of more than just the failed election; it's the culmination of a long series of errors, failings, and frustrations.

Do you support Student Government?

It's here. And Steve S is leading the charge. Freedom Fighters have a nice account of last night's momentous events in the Stiftskellar.

See the lastest Slanty Shanty Show podcast, hot off the computer, for more details.

Question: if ASM is dead, when is the funeral?


The level of debate 2: I'm gonna talk about music instead of politics, and you can't do a thing about it, 'cause it's my blog

I rather enjoy Pitchfork Media, and trust it as a pretty good source of what's what musically. Well, I just dug up a really fascinating article that really doesn't have anything to do with the stated goal of giving you a review of a Clap Your Hands Say Yeah show:
At least two weird things found poignant expression at this sold-out show, with its attendant cast of diehard fans, armchair social-anthropologists, and casual gawkers shining a bright light on what happens when indie rock's delicate us-vs.-them equilibrium is destabilized.

Indie shows tend to piss me off, actually, because all the cool kids are too cool to really get into things. If I'm into a band, I want to rock out at their live shows, but at most shows, were I to really rock out, people would look at me like I was the kid who wore the band's t-shirt to their show.

Anyway, as an aside, a band called !!! (yep, the exclamation points. I think it's pronounced like this.) is really worth your time. You should check out a song called "There's no Fucking Rules, Dude." It is my official theme song of the day.

"Is this legal and is this fair?"

Timmyscape asks a very relevant question over at Right Side of the Road with respect to the re-opening of part of ASM's online election:
So we were scheduled to have 1 election but now have 2 elections, today/tomorrow the referendum and next week the ASM candidates. Is this legal and is this fair?
Personally, I believe the least painful means of extricating ASM from this situation would have been a complete re-election in a week or so. I agreed, however, with the Badger Herald's editorial today calling for patience until the root of the problem was determined.

But now ASM has made its decision on how to proceed. Dividing the candidate and referenda components and using portions of data from a system that failed is not good for the electorate. It reinforces the appearance of ineptitude that, regardless of how much DOIT is to blame, now cloaks ASM.

The failure to shut the election down on Tuesday night after many errors had already been reported also raises questions. Yes, certain facts can only be confirmed if the system is shut down, but if a certain number of people from varying campus backgrounds, affiliations, etc. have registered problems, then decisive action should've been taken. I have yet to find out how many errors were apparent as of Tuesday night.

Further, the rapidfire re-opening of the referenda portion raises serious questions about due process. How is this adequate notice to voters? Sure, the dailies covered it, but nobody knew how this was unfolding even 24 hours in advance.

That's not right and that's not fair.

Of course, I can't tell if the election is really back up yet even in part. While I already voted in both portions of the election and shouldn't be able to vote today on the referenda, here's what comes up when I visit the ASM voting site:
ASM Voting: No ASM Elections Going On
There are no elections currently active, please try back later.DBI:Oracle:UWP1
Almost makes a guy feel like joining an alternative student government...

The level of debate

I think it says something important that there has been a deafening silence among the "Buckysphere" regarding the recent act of political terrorism here at the UW.

Props to Jenna and now Casey Hoff for mentioning this (and since Hoff isn't a student, we give him mad props, but won't count him for our purposes just now). Shame on Fearful Symmetries for being idiots.

But we didn't talk about (shame on us, perhaps). Nor did Mac. Nor the Timmyscape. Nor the Freedom Fighters. (*see correction below) Nor Scott.

I don't say these things to attack anyone - and anyhow, I'm just as culpable as anyone in not talking about this. But the simple fact is: the student-blogger population of the UW has been thudding silent regarding terrorism in our own backyards.

And I think there's a lesson here. I know that all of the bloggers I've mentioned know this happened, and I'm quite sure they're all outraged. But this is just "one of those things that happens." It's (sadly) expected. Frankly, it probably didn't even raise many eyebrows. (That may dismay the brick-thrower even more than it saddens me - hopefully.) It certainly didn't elicit much comment.

That is the level of debate on campus today. Welcome to politics at Madison.

Correction: the Freedom Fighters were all over that shit. But they were sneaky and posted it to the old blog (thanks for that, by the way - Madison.com makes me cringe). Good on 'em!


ASM Election Halted by Tech Problem

Oh boy.

Not again.

I hear the SEC is having a meeting at 6 p.m. to discuss how to proceed. Rumors of a simultaneous SLAC protest are also floating around. I'm sure they see a conspiracy.

As someone who was around during the last election misshap, I would not be surprised if this is DOIT error, as they actually run the online election. At least the last flop was only a small fall election.

As the minutes from back in 2003 show, however, I was against online balloting from the get-go. Regardless, this is ridiculous.

I'm sure this is going to fire some people up in a big way.

(HT-Lots of folks)

The Picture that Should've Been in the Papers

Mike Hahn, Iraq war veteran, UW student, College Republican.

We don't need to see staged images of Chris Dols, childish lunatic who can only get his message out by leaching onto others.

Another New Campus Blog

The Conservative Badger Says has opened up shop here at UW:
So I started this blog with the intention of having rational, intelligent conversation about politics. I will post frequently, hopefully everyday, and I will try to promote my blog and hopefully within a few weeks will get a following of readers who are open to intelligent debate.
Brian, who submitted a nice guest column to the Beacon last year, takes a clear stand on the recent immigration tussle facing the nation in one of his inaugural posts:
The U.S. needs to take a stronger position on illegal immigration by taking measures that make it clear to Mexicans that we are enforcing the law and they will have to follow it. That is exactly what Rep. Sensenbrenner is trying to accomplish with this bill and he should be congratulated for it.
Looks like a nice addition to the Buckysphere - welcome!


Hypocrisy on the ASM Referenda

Supporters of mandating a living wage in fee-funded institutions on campus sent out this rather paradoxical e-mail earlier today:
The Living Wage initiative would guarantee a wage of $10.23/hour, which is 110% of the federal poverty line for a family of four, for all UW workers paid for by student fees. Poverty-level wages are currently making it a struggle for many campus workers to raise their families and for student workers to pay their tuition. Please vote YES on the Living Wage initiative to correct this injustice and ensure that all workers at the Wisconsin Union, Rec Sports, and UHS are treated and paid fairly.

The Wisconsin Union renovation referendum will raise your seg fees by almost $200/year for the next 30 years. With the ever-rising cost of tuition, this extra fee is just not worth it. WUFIP will take more student money and put in the hands of UW administrators and their private partners - raising student fees yet again for very little that will actually benefit students. Please vote NO to oppose this unnecessary measure!
Ok, so you're against higher seg. fees with the union referendum, but you want to jack them through the roof with the living wage referendum? I don't quite see how that works out.

The sentence highlighted in green should apply to both referenda and result in a NO vote on both.

The RPW as God

Some liberals are given to complain that the Religious Right claims a monopoly on God. I've tended to agree with them (although they probably go too far), but have never had any proof one way or the other. Well, today I've found some, in the form of the Scott Walker dropout.

From his e-mail, we find that God wanted him to drop out (presumably due to lack of support from the Big Guy):
Early last year, we jumped into the race together after a great deal of prayer. I believe that it was God's will for me to run. After a great deal of prayer during the past week, it is clear that it is God's will for me to step out of the race.

Well, then I popped over to No Runny Eggs, where I found this:
I don’t think I’ve made it much of a secret that I supported Walker in the Republican nomination, and I am sad to see him drop out because of a combination of a lack of money and the RPW (and indeed, the RNC) standard operating procedure to back the least-conservative of multiple candidates at all costs (in the RPW’s case, even pulling the rug out from the conservative should he survive the party bosses’ attempts to rig the primary).

So, it should be clear to anyone who has any ability to reason that God = the Wisconsin Republican Party. QED, yo.

Good stuff

Nick has had some good stuff lately - pop over there and, as they say, just keep scrolling.

I do disagree with him on a couple things, but it's all worth reading.

Mad music

Maybe you noticed that the Madison music festival known as MadisonFest was this past weekend. I caught The New Kentucky Quarter on Friday, but had to miss most of the festival (sadly). Dane101 has a roundup of reviews worth checking out.

I do have a personal plea word of advice: no matter where you decide to hold it next year, do not, I repeat, do not hold it in Union South! That place is miserable - it felt like some weird middle school dance held in the cafeteria (albeit with far better music)!

Vote Today!

If you're a UW-Madison student, you have until Thursday at 8 p.m. to vote in the student government elections online at this site.

Here are a few recommendations for the fiscally responsible voter out there:

Referendum 1 - Vote NO
Referendum 2 - Vote NO

Student Council Candidates - Vote for anyone from The Robinhood Slate depending on which school you're in:

Engineering - Adam Brueggen
Letters and Science - Jake Harris
Letters and Science, SSFC - David Lapidus
Letters and Science - Adam Putzer
CALS - Kyle Ripple
Letters and Science - Angela Wang
Letters and Science - Matt Weil
SSFC - Michael Kelly
Business - Craig Nipple
Engineering - Michael Look
Letters and Science - Amy Reinke
Graduate Student - Katrina A Pfaff
Graduate Student - DJ Henkel
Law - Aaron Werner

SSFC - David Lapidus

Class Officers - Write in Seabass or Scanner Dan

Back from the ether: quick hits

I don't know where I've been the last week, but I'm back now! Here are some things I meant to comment on, but didn't when the time was right:
The Capital Times reveals that the multi-cult crowd really doesn't get it. They still see Paul Barrows as some kind of hero:
French and Flores are on the executive team of the Multicultural Student Center. "He was really good at connecting with his student base, and getting initiatives pushed through. Obviously, without him in that office, we lost an ally, we lost a great resource we can turn to."

"We need a person of Paul's caliber, someone who has stature in the university community, to be a spokesperson," [chairman of the Wisconsin Alumni Association's diversity council]Burrell said. "Someone who's leading the issue forward for diversity issues. I don't see that person now."

Did you notice that even though it wasn't a front-page story, the Daily Cardinal made sure to put Ashok Kumar's face at the top of the website. I wonder if that will give a kick to the sluggishness of the county board race lately.

My awesome brother (well, one of my two awesome brothers) was in town over the weekend. He stopped at the last day of the library book sale and got some fantastic goodies, including 3 full years (1955-'57) of National Geographic magazines. I'm reading Ten Years in Japan right now, which is really fantastic. But I found one funny thing: Grew relates talking to a reporter from the New York Times named, of all things, Byas. Yep.


Slanty Shanty Show Springs to Life

Check out our latest podcast on life in Madison, Wisconsin (the good old Greenbush Neighborhood, specifically).

This show's heavy on content: we talk ASM elections, spring break, County Board politics, Scott Walker's drop, and even a little NCAA bracketology.

Stop on by for some great commentary backed by the likes of The White Stripes, The Kinks, Green Day, White Town, and CCR.

P.S. We invite Dane County Board candidates Ashok Kumar and David Lapidus to stop by for the next show...

Archbishop Dolan Coming to Campus

As a part of St. Paul's Ministry Institute this Friday:
8:00 p.m. Keynote Address "Evangelical Catholic Spirituality" with Archbishop Timothy Dolan
If you can abstain from FAC for a week, feel free to stop by. It should be intriguing to see how Dolan works in the notion of an evangelical spirit without watering the faith down into something uninformed by history and devoid of substance.

Given the calls by Vatican II and JPII to imbue the Church with a greater sense of evangelism, achieving a healthy balance that preserves core Catholic teachings and identity is crucial.

Puppet Show

Brad V Cartoon from The Badger Herald.

Gone Syruping

Some folks spent the weekend making maple syrup.

But syruping isn't confined solely to the traditional maples. Box elders, a "junk tree" considered worthless by most, can also be tapped for sugary sap:
The sap contains a reasonable quantity of sugar and can be used as a refreshing drink or be concentrated into a syrup... The sugar content is inferior to [sugar maple] according to one report whilst another says that it is highly valued as a producer of sweet sap. The sugar from the sap of this tree is said to be whiter than that from other maples. To obtain the sap, bore a hole on the sunny side of the trunk into the sapwood about 1 metre above the ground at anytime from about January 1st until the leaves appear.
The sap is certainly more dilute than that of the sugar maple; it takes a great deal more sap to boil down to a decent amount of syrup. On a whirlwind tour over break, I tapped a few trees on my uncle's farm with my little cousins. The sap was already running in the evening shortly after we drilled the first holes into the sapwood.

They report 5.5 gallons of sap as of last night, having tapped only four trees. We also used homemade sumac spigots, which add an extra pinch of sweetness to the sap as it flows.

We should have about enough for three or four pancakes on Easter :)


The Mandarin Offensive

Wired Magazine features a great story on The Mandarin Offensive, in its latest edition yet to hit the web. The article outlines China's ongoing effort to make Mandarin Chinese the world's lingua franca at the expense of American English:
It's an audacious goal, and the government is backing it by funding - to the tune of nearly $25 million a year - the teaching of Chinese as a foreign language.
Unfortunately, as with China's economic and military rise, most of America seems to take the ascendence of China's soft power in stride. The dissemination of Chinese cultural strength is a subtle yet masterful stroke on the part of America's foremost strategic competitor in its push for global supremacy. It's more of a conscious effort than any earlier nation's push to spread its language:
But this 21st-century push is more global in scope, as befits an emerging world power: "This is the linguistic equivalent of sending a person to the moon, says Oded Shenkar, a professor at the Ohio State University and author of The Chinese Century.
Competition is great - I hope English rallies to the challenge. Here's how Chinese stacks up today in the U.S. today. After Spanish, it's the largest non-English language spoken in America. And there are actually more Chinese speakers in the U.S. than German speakers.

Kudos to Wired for raising the issue. It could have a major impact on the terms of business, geopolitics, and culture in the very near future.

For those of you here at UW, check out a campus speaker on China this week:
Professor Brett Sheehan will be giving a lecture on China in the 21st century next Tuesday in 5243 Humanities at 6:30.

Cabin Fever Cured

What a difference a day makes.

The sun is out, birds are chirping, and, as I learned on my run this morning, Lake Wingra is free of ice.

I was beginning to wonder when winter would cash in its chips.


"and a Eviserated Constituion"

Yes, this Soglin post title could use a little help.

I think he was shooting for "and an Eviscerated Constitution" - but I could be wrong.

Walker Out

This changes everything:

"I believe that it was God’s will for me to run. After a great deal of prayer during the last week, it is clear that it is God’s will for me to step out of the race."

The GOP Convention is going to be a lot less interesting this spring.

I have to give Walker some parting kudos for his efforts to communicate with potential voters through a campaign blog. I think it's a sign of things to come.

Now that's he's left with Milwaukee County Exec. until 2008, what's in store for Scott's political future? U.S. Senate down the road? Sensenbrenner's heir? Wisconsin Secretary of State (to my knowledge, nobody in the GOP's running for it yet)? But that's for another post.

Onward to victory, Mr. Green.


A Vigorous Race for Dane County Board

Things are really heating up in the District 5 County Board race these days:

I was hoping for a more exciting race that could actually get the contest on the radar screen of the student body. Not so much.

I must say, though, I'd still back the frog any day.

*Photos from Wikimedia.


Protesters Dying for a Living Wage

Protesters were out in front of Memorial Union earlier seeking a living wage.

Labor groups like SLAC want a referendum to pass next week in the ASM student government elections that would mandate a living wage at certain student-funded facilities.

Besides being illegal at the student government level, the legislation may be illegal under university policy.

The Badger Herald Editorial Board summed things up nicely today with regards to that referendum, advising a NO vote:
While the imposition of a living wage seems noble in the abstract, its implications need to be considered. Do students scooping Babcock Ice Cream at Memorial Union need a living wage? Does the student swiping IDs at the SERF deserve a wage hike?

Most importantly, should all students be forced to shoulder an even higher segregated fee burden in the wake of massive tuition hikes? They should not.
I talked to Ashok Kumar, candidate for Dane County Board, who said he hoped his side would push the living wage referendum through.

We agreed, however, on the need to defeat the union renovation referendum.

Politics, as they say, makes for strange bedfellows...it's time to renew the alliance from last spring when the far-left and campus conservatives came together to defeat a similar referendum.

As I've mentioned before, VOTE NO TWICE.

Been Spendin' Most Our Lives...

Livin' in a blogger's paradise...

Wireless blooms today in downtown Madison:
Currently, the 10-square mile wireless network will be free of service to anyone who wishes to access the network, according to Galanter.
And while this utopian arrangement smells a bit fishy to me, the city is not paying an arm and a leg for the service. Yet.

Kudos to the city for securing a grace period of free service.

Unsheath the laptops.


I Heart Wisconsin Accents

Lakeshore Laments has a pretty good post up on Wisconsin accents, in so?

As an aficionado of most everything Wisconsin, I like talking accents and regional diction. Arguing with FIBs about the pronunciation of flag, bag, and tag is always fun. So is haggling with anyone from outside "The Great Eddy" of Eastern Wisconsin (what I take as a big arc between Milwaukee and Marinette curving west out to about Wautoma) about soda, bubblers, and noodles in chili.

Like a sort of backwater on a river, The Great Eddy, once the main entry point to the state, seems to have grown more culturally insular as great lakes maritime travel died out. It's geography largely to blame. Nobody needs to travel through the region to get anywhere out of state of any importance. It is even distinctive in geological and glacial history sense. Oddly, it coincides nicely with the native range of American Beech in Wisconsin, too. The area is generally economically healthy, but Lake Michigan and Green Bay further isolate the population and allow the largely Germanic heritage and high Catholic population to stew.

It's the land where fish and brats are fried. The bigger towns have stop-and-go lights. You direct people by referring to landmarks like "where the cheese factory used to be" or "the barn where they store the ice shanties." And you "go over by" your aunt's house to watch the Packer game. When I travel out of state, people are quick to point out my peculiarities of speech.

If you have a chance, stop by the forum at Union South here on campus
10 a.m. to noon April 1 at University of Wisconsin-Madison's Union South, 227 N. Randall Ave., Madison
and let researchers know how the language is in your corner of the state. The UW blogosphere could bring an interesting geographical diversity to bear: Door County, Up North, Greater Milwaukee, and The Great Eddy.

Well, I suppose I should spend a couple-two-three hours on my take home exam now...


This just in: instead of studying for the test he has, Steve finds out silly facts that have nothing to do with anything

Tonight's silly fact: apparently kids these days don't get references to ancient Viking lore. Today's poll question: "Spring has started. Why is it still cold?" (A valid question, by the way.) The answers from which to choose: A.) "Retarded groundhogs." B.) "Out state hates us." C.) "Ragnarok and/or new Ice Age." Ragnarok is losing miserably, with only 10% of the vote.

Apparently, my compatriots have no idea what Ragnarok is, or it would totally be kicking the colletive asses of the other two answers.

Late catch

Psst - hey you. Yeah, you. Did you catch Random10's take on the anti-war referendum? If so, go read it right away!
Capital Times Editor John Nichols writing for The Nation titles his article about the anti-war referendum movement Bringing the War Home, which is exactly the danger this surrender and retreat strategy entails. There are large numbers of people in America who willfully refuse to believe that there is a significant danger to our society. The people and organizations listed above truly don’t believe that violence will follow retreating soldiers back to our shores. They do believe that if violence continues in the middle east it won’t harm us in Wisconsin.


(Incidentally, if you're in Steep 'N Brew right now, and see a weirdo in a fedora bopping his head up and down, I apologise. Prince's Seven is a dang cool song.)

A good decision by the Student Judiciary

Our good friend Tim won an important case tonight before the Student Judiciary. As LIB noted earlier, the Associated Students of Madison opened candidacy spots after their self-imposed deadline had passed. This seemed awfully sneaky to us, and Brad called the ASM on it. Well, Tim and two others (Kyle Ripple and county board candidate David Lapidus) took it to court.

The verdict was passed down today - ASM was acting illegally when it re-opened the candidacies. Those who filed late cannot be considered.

Well done to the SJ for making the right decision. Democracy thrives when elections follow rules, and that is reflected in today's decision.

Update: Kyle Ripple's name fixed. Thank goodness for comments!

Vote Informed, Vote NO Twice

This today from the Wisconsin Union Directorate on the March 28-30 student government elections:
Vote informed.

Student leaders from Wisconsin Union Directorate invite you to four open forums to be held across campus in the next several days.

We will give a short presentation outlining the details of the student-created plans to renovate and restore Memorial Union and build a new, "green" south campus union. The rest of the time will be open for students to share their ideas, express their concerns, and ask questions.
Vote informed, vote no. As we've pointed out here several times before, students were not asked for donations before taxation was put on the table. Union reps realize that very few people on campus know about the ASM election and fewer still will vote.

Some of the restorations at the Memorial Union may actually be legitimate projects, but the worthwhile portions don't require the full amount of funding being requested on the ballot, and greater solicitation of alumni donations probably could've covered it. Instead, students face an almost $200 hike in segregated fees for the next 30 years.

On top of a $666 annual seg. fee tuition surchage annually - and coming on the heels of massive tution hikes, that's just plain ridiculous. Go and tell the Union to back off and pull the referendum off the ballot. Tell students and media at the fora you plan to vote NO:

Please join us at the following times and locations:

Wednesday, 3/22: 7:30 PM, Sellery Main Lounge
Thursday, 3/23: 6 PM, Union South TITU
Sunday, 3/26: 6 PM, Memorial Union TITU
Monday, 3/27: 8:30 PM, Red Gym TITU

A second ballot referendum on imposing a living wage at seg. fee-funded facilities like the union should also get a big fat NO vote. Here's some of the logic that SLAC, the main proponent of the measure, is throwing around:
If you work at the Union, Rec Sports or UHS, vote YES to the Living Wage Initiative and give yourself a raise.
And even more ingenious insight on market economics:
Fortunately, we students next week will be able to determine for ourselves the most important issue of any job: how much our work is valued in dollars.
It's called scarcity, dude. Dig it.

Vote No Twice > March 28-30 online at www.vote.asm.wisc.edu

Where Will Scanner Dan Sit Now?

I just want to be a wannabe

I wonder, sometimes, what it takes to be a "real journalist." Maybe it takes getting on press lists:
First, let me introduce myself. My name is Katie MacGuidwin and I work for the Republican National Committee eCampaign. Some of you I have talked to before, others I haven’t, but I’m excited to work with all of you through the upcoming election season. I really admire the work you all are doing on the blogs; of course it can have a major impact when it comes to election time. I’ll be sending you bits and pieces of information along the way – things the MSM isn’t picking up on. I am also happy to chat with all over AOL instant messenger – my screenname is [withheld]. If there is any specific information I can get for you, just let me know. Of course, if you would rather not receive e-mails, feel free to let me know and I will take you off the list.

I am especially excited to talk to this group – I grew up in Madison and graduated from the University of Wisconsin last spring. So if you ever want to talk state politics too, I would be more than happy to chat.

This is a very savvy move by the GOP. Well done indeed. And good job on getting someone who has lived in Madison and knows the scene. I wish I could say I knew her - we certainly were in school together - but she seems to have her stuff together.

(And for what it's worth, I don't think what Mandy said was quite as out of line as Owen and James seem to think, but she did go a long way to imply that bloggers don't do their own reporting [which is bollocks] and aren't "real journalists" [ditto].)


A New Madison Campus Blog

Get out the cigars (if the smoking ban is revised, that is).

A blog is born. With most of the UW-Madison campus blogs in the lagoon on life support these days, it's great to welcome a new face to the local blogosphere.

Let the word go forth: Mike F, an LIB commenter and friend from the Beacon days is now on the scene over at Dial F for Fay.

He's already got the Slanty Shanty on his blog roll. Good man. Expect a new show soon.

The Price of Being Pro-Life

Well, before today, I had never been called a "bleeding heart liberal."

Now I have.

The death penalty inspires great passion, it seems.

"Jayson Blair, the veritable Milli Vanilli of journalism"

Mark Murphy has a great column in the Badger Herald today, an outgrowth of attending last week's blog summit:
But blogs aren’t only waging war on the “left-wing” media establishment. Just like The Onion, bloggers will unapologetically attack anyone spewing nonsense. Remember, it was bloggers who kept alive the Trent Lott Dixiecrat comments just long enough for traditional media outlets to grab the story.

Incidentally, can you tell he's a blogger just by his writing?
In the pre-blog era, would we have figured out Dan Rather’s bombshell National Guard documents from the “1970s” were actually typed using the default settings in Microsoft Word? (Hat Tip: Little Green Footballs.)

Missing my MAMA

Hopefully, by this time you will have heard of the MAMAs (Madison Area Music Awards). The awards were doled out the other night. Sadly, Dane101 notes that local media coverage was pretty much non-existent:
There are many opinions concerning the implementation of the MAMAs. Some folks feel it is one of the most important yearly events in Madison, highlighting the vibrancy and health of one of the biggest and self-sufficent music scenes in the country. Others feel the event isn't inclusive and reflective of all Madison music and that this year's voting process alienated a large segment of fans. But no matter what side of the fence you sit on - the silence of the city media concerning the event is deafening.

The Wisconsin State Journal would no doubt argue that the event went too late and they couldn't have an article ready by press time. The Captial Times will argue that they don't have a Sunday edition.

Hogwash! What is the point of Madison.com, a daily destination for hundreds of Madisonians, if you can't at least put up a list of winners the next morning? Checking the news and entertainment sections on the Madison.com main site and both papers primary sites reveals nothing. Not one mention.

I'm not even going to remark on the fact that this really proves that establishment media really doesn't get electronic media. That, as they say, is a whole 'nother discussion.

Instead, I'm just going to take a moment to highlight what a fantastic local music scene we have here in Madison. It's incredibly vibrant, with tons of great bands that you may not have heard of, but should have! (And that's not even to mention all the incredible national bands that make stops through town.) So here are my favorites:

**Machiavellian Machine: they play fantastic electronic music (ranging in influence from Peter Gabriel's African period to Air to Massive Attack) every Tuesday night at Maduro's - for free!

**Spin Spin Coupling: happy pop music a la, perhaps, Barenaked Ladies; they say it's "sensitive arena rock."

**Blake Thomas and the Downtown Brown: fantastic alt-country jam band; not averse to having 12 people on stage, and letting each one go on an extended solo.

**The New Kentucky Quarter: another great alt-country band, they sound a lot like Wilco.

**Burr Settles: great folk music, reminicent of Bob Dylan (and I don't say that lightly).

**This House is a Castle: really cool, atmospheric music that sounds a bit like Sigur Ros or Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Also, when I saw them they had the coolest video (which they'd shot) playing behind them - and they played for a half hour straight without stopping once.

**The Bracelets, who either don't have a website or just don't show up on Google, also play awesomely atmospheric Godspeed You! Black Emperor-esque music, except they're only two guys, rather than 10.

**The Hat Party, whom I saw on a whim because I fancied a band that might sympathise with my fedora, are great, but I can't really describe their music.

**Of course, no "best of Madison music" list would be complete without the completely rocking The Kissers, who give any Irish punk band a run for their money.

If you want more, trust me, there's more. Use the comments to discuss your favorite Madison bands (or other bands if you're not from here)!

Sick Leave Meets Davy Jones' Locker

After a shot across the bow and a direct hit below the waterline, the proponents of Madison's sick leave mandate proposal find themselves on a sinking ship, to extend the WI State Journal's apt metaphor:

Those who want to force Madison employers to offer paid sick leave showed their desperation recently by exempting the construction trades, landscapers, commissioned workers, worker co-ops, on-call workers, "student learners" and anyone under 18. And they would let unions opt out.

Gee, if their supposedly pro-worker law is no good for so many types of workers, why are they doing it at all?

Even the Madison/Dane County Board of Health is refusing to man the pumps:

Businesses who want to have productive and satisfied employees have a responsibility to work with their employees towards these goals. Whether a local mandate on paid sick leave is the most appropriate way to achieve those goals is unclear.
Will Captain King stick with his doomed vessel until the bitter end?


Is Sam Okay!?

A major cyclone is pounding the northeast coast of Australia, where Sam, one of my neighbors, is studying abroad.

With winds up to 180 mph at its height, Tropical Cyclone Larry smashed into the coastal community of Innisfail, about 60 miles south of Cairns, a popular jumping-off point for the Great Barrier Reef, sending hundreds of tourists and residents fleeing for higher ground.

Opiate, any word?


Go to the bottom of this page at the SLAC (Madison's Student Labor Action Coalition) website.

Click on the hyperlink for "Welcome to Econ101"

Here's what you get.

Yep, that's right - the page cannot be found.

Should I be surprised? :)

"There were good vibrations..."

I guess that's what happens when over a thousand people get naked in Venezuela:

Occasional cheers and movements in the enthusiastic crowd
made shooting tough at times, Tunick said.

"It was difficult to work because the people were so exuberant, so it took a
little bit longer, but I got what I wanted," he said after the session.

And I thought Chavez's support of Iranian nuclear ambitions was loopy.

A Better Chance for Badgers

Maybe this NCAA tournament will hold more promise for UW-Madison.

The No. 1 seed is encouraging - so was the spanking of the ice gophers yesterday. Really, Frozen Four is almost as cool as Final Four.

Everybody remember to poke the goalie, too!


Dennis Pork Delivers

As promised, here's the picture and e-mail from the late Dennis York, Blogger of the Year.

"Enjoy! And thanks for the kind words - you guys kick a**."

We try to keep this a family friendly blog. The picture, though edifying, was already pushing it.

Just think - he sent the e-mail a mere half hour before the report of his death. To think that he would share his final words with a humble blogger like myself. And that his final word would be "a**."


Meanwhile, Back On the Island

The natives were getting restless:
Toting signs supporting President Bush's impeachment as well as the censure resolution put forth by Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., the protestors marched down Lake Street, Dayton Street in front of the Kohl Center, down Frances Street and West Johnson Street back to State Street and the Orpheum Theatre.
Owen did warn us about stampeding moonbats today...

UPDATE: Military Matters has some great first-person photos.

Our Blogger Summit Coverage

Terrence over at the Milwaukee Federalists dished up this nice round-up of Letters in Bottles' live blog coverage. The nine posts are in chronological order, too, which is handy.

Thank you, sir!

Dennis York Accepts His Award

A pig hand puppet with a cigarette and an altered voice is talking onscreen.

So this is Dennis York...

He accepts his award for Blogger of the Year.

He also advises anyone blogging at a blogger convention to send him an e-mail address. He will send the person a picture of a naked woman.

Well, Dennis, see the address on the sidebar. I'm definitely blogging as you speak (or oink?) I'm eagerly awaiting my gift.

On the conference: "I've never seen a bunch of white people get so excited since a Fleetwood Mac reunion."

The crowd is barely stifling outbursts of laughter. Chortling crackles around the room.

At the end of the vignette, the camera pulls away and we see Jeff Mayers from Wispolitics talking to the pig puppet in a setting that is somebody's basement based on the random pipework.

Audio getting hard to hear.

Why Dennis York for a pseudonym?

"It was dignified."

Wow. Genius as usual.

UPDATE: Here's the text of the acceptance speech. And a faked suicide, it seems.

Who reads the blogs?

"We are seeing the evolution of the media." - Charlie Sykes

Sykes points out, as others have, that it's not necessarily how many people read blogs, but who. Opinion leaders read it.

"Coverage sucked - that's a technical term." - Brian Fraley on the MSM coverage of political coverage after the MJS merger

Rep. Pocan
- plans to use podcasting and blogging in his campaign on the college campus in his district.

Garvey - takes another swing at Sykes - geez - bemused laughter from the crowd.

This seems to be the liveliest of the panels. It's hard to see the panelists from here in the back of the room - a dais would have been a good idea.

The panel concludes with Sykes and Garvey - who, according to Sykes, missed the people's revolution - shaking hands.

What kind of a blogger convention doesn't have lots of power outlets?

My battery is dying. Brad seems to have things well in hand though, so I don't feel too bad signing off. Incidentally, if anyone sees his comment in one of my previous posts, let me know and I'll link it!

Garvey, Hypocritical Piggybacking, NCAA Watch

Should we drop the term MSM?

An interesting point brought up by a guy standing right behind me: what about the few dominant media coroporations that control blogger, talk radio, etc.?

Is all the free wheeling, frontier-style talk of blogger self-reliant mold just a myth?

- Ed Garvey, standing off in the back left corner of the room with Rep. Mark Pocan, just made an annoying guffaw when someone mentioned shutting Charley Sykes down.

Now, Mandy, who got the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's blogs up and running is questioning whether bloggers actually do much reporting. Wigderson disagrees. I do, too. LIB live blogs a number of events and speakers on the UW campus that don't get coverage otherwise.

Now Ed Garvey is going on a screed against all things remotely conservative. He thinks blogs will have no impact on the race because everyone is biased.

Charley Sykes is taking Garvey to town, extolling a key benefit of blogging: "Now I can find out what you're thinking even when the moon isn't full." {laughter}

***I hear UW-M is down in the Florida game...I'm sure my brother, who's down with the Panther Band, has his fingers crossed.

UPDATE: Mandy, the mystery lady, has been linked. Comments - the gift that keeps on giving.

Pics from Wisconsin Blogger Summit

Darn you Mapquest! Good navigating by Opiate gone to waste.

Dennis York isn't here yet.

A panel with Marquette Warrior and Media Matters.

Blogging during a lecture is familiar to me - the academic take on blogging

We begin with a question: how will blogs be viewed?

Mcbride: "a revolution... not only in the state, but nationally." She talks about a recent rally to downsize a county board - Dean was there, but no MSM.

Ken Mayer: "we're in the early stages of a revolution" that will change things "politically and socially". It's impacted speech, political parties, media, and other areas. He compares it to the early stages of television - for a small initial investment, one can impact a huge number of people. "The world is going to look very different than it does today."

The professor: barriers to entry are practically zero. "Self selection is very high. This has the effect of magnifying the importance of a blog." Liveblogging! Also, he says the MSM has become more "blogg-like". Indeed. We are pioneers who will radically decentralize media - we're overrunning the gatekeepers of the established media.

Mayer notes that old TV commercials - especially political ones - look really dated. Future generations will "turn this into the kind of enterprise that will have the sort of reach that radio or television does" - but it might look different.

McBride says that looking back, blogs will play a crucial role in showing how people truly felt about events and people. Blogs also have a real influence politically - Feingold right now, the ethanol mandate, the gas tax revolt, and more. "They are more than predictors, they are players in what's happening."

There's a member of the MSM here, whose name I can't see, says that many of his staff are upset, and see blogging as "talk radio for sociophobes." The McAdams notes that groupthink and the gatekeeper mentality are hurting the MSM. Creating "a network rather than a heirarchical structure" is important. McBride has an interesting position, being a J-school prof. "They're not exactly journalism" but they're important - blogs can break news. Mayer notes that the real debate is what it means to be a journalist - not what it means to be a blogger. Excellent point. McAdams says it's important to remember that the blogger-MSM relationship is symbiotic - and that's true, too.

Another commenter is surprised that the MSM hasn't tried to bring bloggers on as stringers. An idea is that bloggers are not controllable. McBride says that journalists don't trust bloggers' credentials, but the MSM guys disagrees with this. He likes the idea of using dispatches from bloggers. But he's worried about the checks and balances.

Owen is concerned about the blogosphere splintering - that people only read what they agree with. Speaking personally, I'd say it's not a major problem. McAdams says that bloggers don't have major ties to either party - conservative bloggers will attack Bush, liberals will attack Hillary. Mayer thinks the revolution will be "a series of smaller events. We've seen precursors... with the way Dean raised money." But parties do give people a choice.

A few commenters note that peculiarity of calling it the "mainstream" media - is it really? Have bloggers taken over? Certainly their influence has grown - that's the point of all this. One commenter wonders whether talk radio shouldn't be lumped in with the MSM, and if bloggers like McBride can straddle the two. McAdams notes that the MSM is largely a "state of mind - it's not just a big corporation."

Why blog? Why breathe?

Although I wonder if the question needs to be asked (we're all bloggers here!), it's great to see Jay and Owen

Jay talks about his enjoyment of his comments section, and he community that gets built up. Owen works in a quick dig - "focus on the rambles" - and then hits largely the same notes. The conversation is the thing here - it's great to have an intelligent community to talk with. Then they open it up to questions.

The first is about corrections - Owen says that just yesterday he made a correction (corrected by Jay).

Hey - what about those comments? Do I suspect a slight dig at someone? We discuss comments policy.

Also, how obsessed should we be with statistics? Owen only looks at his once a month! Jay notes that the six people who read his blog regularly are the six most important people in the state. We all seem to agree that the referrals page is important - it's great to find new blogs who are linking to you.

How much time do you spend blogging each day? "You can build model airplanes or you can blog - take your pick," says Owen. He notes that most bloggers are news junkies anyway, so to what degree does that factor in? I mention that boring lectures really tend to drive my blogging - although that isn't entirely true...

The panel opens to comments on how people started blogging. One amusing story is from someone who was leaving extremely long comments on someone else's blog. I wonder who that reminds me of?

Liveblogging lately - the blog summit

Due to bad directions (darn you, mapquest!), we got here late. Sadly, we missed Althouse completely, and came in about halfway through the "Legalities of Blogging" bit.

Jennifer Peterson warns us that self-censorship is important - bloggers are liable for defamation and whatnot. What worries me, though, is that big-name people can use their power to intimidate bloggers by threatening lawsuits that, although frivolous, would be costly.

**Hey, this is Brad chiming in. I feel a bit like the kid who wore the band's t-shirt to the live show. Doesn't look like many other people - if any at all - are live-blogging.

Talking comments right now. Also, we learn that insurance companies are developing blogger-related defamation insurance.

As I look around, I'm slightly surprised by the small number of people who have computers out - three including myself, by my count. Dire warnings aside, I'm not meeting anyone during the speeches, so why not blog? Well, we're here! (Don't sue me, Owen!)

The question comes up, naturally, as to whether blogs are or are not subject to the same rules as newspapers. Certainly an interesting question. Jennifer says things will be different for different blogs. Will there be distinctions between "pure opinion" blogs and blogs that try to generate news? The answer seems to be that things will be taken post-by-post, but it could extend to the tone of the blog in general. The point is brought up the character of a blog can change hour-to-hour, making it hard to pin down what the exact nature of blogging is.

She's called out: bloggers need libel insurance. Interesting.

Conundrum of the Day

What does one wear to a Bloggers Summit?

Pocket protector? Laptop strapped to chest? Lederhosen?

One thing's for sure, though: the green dye on my fingers will have to be part of the getup.

"V" for vaguely silly, and not really good

I've just recently returned from watching the midnight showing of "V for Vendetta". It was... well... it was something. I can say it was crazy long - more than 2 hours. And in that two hours, there are maybe - maybe - 3 fights. Two of them are explosions that have extremely little impact (even though you know they're meant to be significant), and one is a really silly fistfight early in the movie. Oh, wait, scratch that - there are four fights. The one toward the end is decent.

So, what do you get for your time? Probably the best review I've seen (in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, of all places) says this:
I didn’t read the graphic novel, but "V for Vendetta" has the synopsis-size feel of a much bigger picture, while its "I am Spartacus" finale feels smaller than life. Its potentially volatile ideas are trapped in a slow-moving and talky Gothic melodrama without the chilling plausibility of "A Handmaid’s Tale" or "Fahrenheit 451." It is neither persuasive filmmaking nor political commentary.

Mostly, the Wachowski (I'm beginning to think that means "wacky" in a language I don't speak) brothers want this to be a film of ideas. Oh, the big ideas they have. Yes indeedy.

Bush's crazy war is going to make the US "an international pariah" and lead to a civil war. Everyone in Guantanamo is not only absolutely innocent, but also a heroic freedom fighter. We shouldn't torture people. Oh, wait, we can, if it makes them tough and willing to blow up Parliament. Then it's okey-dokey. Oh by the way, the religious right is going to round up gays and throw 'em in Gitmo. The US government was behind the September 11 attacks, in order to create the atmosphere of fear that Bush is using to "govern" (ha - as if an evil dictator can govern!). Priests enjoy having sex with underage girls (although, I guess it could have been boys, so maybe I shouldn't complain quite as loudly on this one).

So, that's what you get. It could have been a good "down with the dictator" movie, except for all the underlying anti-Bush craziness. But really, if you want a good "down with the dictator" movie, why not make a movie about Dietrich Bonhoeffer? There was a hero. "V" is not.


The good fight

Zach Brandon has been beating up on wrongheaded anti-business policies lately, and it's fantastic. First, he takes a swing at those who would rather subsidize housing than create jobs:
Why are some of my colleagues and staff so focused on expanding the supply of "affordable" housing, while ignoring a plan to reduce the demand for that housing?

Now, he's going after IZ:
I was discussing IZ and TIF (Tax Incremental Financing) with a very smart man. He argued that these government programs drive up the cost of land. I agreed in the case of TIF that it was probably true. I noted that during the TIF policy discussions last year, I advocated limiting TIF land cost calculations to assessed value.

Basically, you overpay... not the taxpayer's problem.

I disagreed in the case of IZ (the theory, not the current Madison law) and used my density argument, noted above, to defend IZ. He said, "So, IZ works the first time." His counter theory:
The next time that a developer/builder goes to buy land, the market will adjust for the sale for three extra non-IZ homes, thus negating the profit used to subsidize the two IZ homes.

If he is right, the developer/builder could refuse to buy the land, they could disperse the cost over the 18 non-IZ units or they could seek a "financial infeasibility" waiver.

None of these options are good for Madison.


It's nice when others agree

I've noted the importance of language in the current debate swirling around the gay marriage amendment. Anne Althouse apparently agrees:
Sykes cautions advocates on both sides of the question not to be so extreme, lest they alienate voters. [ADDED: I've also written many times -- like here -- that I think gay marriage advocates ought to be more patient with people who don't agree with them.] I've already said that I think the amendment as written is alienating to centrists. Wouldn't it be nice if the political debate on the amendment, instead of stirring up hostility, brought us into civil, rational conversations with each other?

Indeed. By the way, stop over to Sykes's for a roundup of Cheddarsphere reaction to the amendment.

Meat on Friday

As many have pointed out, the Catholic bishops of the state are being lenient with the laity on St. Patrick's Day this year. So far, I've seen newspaper reports to that effect from Archbishop Dolan in the Milwaukee Archdiocese and Bishop Zubik in the Green Bay Diocese. Here in Madison, Bishop Morlino has done the same.

Since it falls on a Friday in Lent, which is traditionally a time to abstain from meat, the bishops are offering dispensations so parishioners of who are of Irish descent or Irish at heart can enjoy some corned beef.

Good call.


On Safari - Review of Hemingway's Green Hills of Africa

Rhinos fall before him. Antelope turn into trophies with the flick of his finger. And the drinking, quintessential Hemingway motif, is in full effect.

A work of non-fiction, Green Hills of Africa records the author's foray into East Africa in the 1930s for a big game safari. While a true account, the characters, events, and setting in the book may seem familiar to readers of several of Ernest Hemingway's finest short stories, including The Snows of Kilimanjaro and The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber. Indeed, the book seems to be the ore from which the latter works are refined.

Hemingway hunts down the drama in life, finding the narrative in real events. Devolving at points into stream of consciousness, he manages to critique America's literary scene all while pursuing the fabled horns of a host of different animals. His interactions with native trackers and Masai tribespeople are fascinating. Yet it is his ongoing and awkward competition with fellow hunter Karl that imparts a fierce tension to the account.

The two men's pursuit of the elusive Kudu antelope is woven into the storyline, assuming a regularity almost as powerful as the author's call for another German beer.

Hemingway's blunt, hard-edged language and terse style also heightens the authenticity of the work. A sort of royalty in Africa, he interacts with a crew of natives, throwing in a smattering of Swahili. The reader's hand is not held as the great hunter plods through the details of pursuing a sable bull or stalking a cape buffalo through claustrophobic tall grass tunnels. The hunt is brought to life, sometimes in agonzing detail, as an intensely physical and mental undertaking, an experience eclipsed by one thing only - writing.

Throughout, the author lionizes writing. He talks of a "fourth and fifth dimension that can be gotten" in the literary realm. Yet Hemingway's pessimism about the status of great writing in the modern era rises to the surface: "A thousand years makes economics silly and a work of art endures forever, but it is very difficult to do and now it is not fashionable."

Hemingway's safari is bittersweet in other regards. It is the chronicle of the final chapters of the great abundance of Africa, the twilight of unfettered big game challenges in the mold of Teddy Roosevelt. At one point, Hemingway touches on the thrill of it all: "None of us had ever seen a wart-hog that would not bolt off, fast-trotting, tail in air. This was a virgin country, an un-hunted pocket in the million miles of bloody Africa. I was ready to stop and make camp anywhere."

Tagging along on the safari that is Green Hills of Africa gives a similar sense of excitement. It is, to the modern reader, a virgin country of its own, a fascinating tale of gritty realism set in an almost mythical landscape. And Hemingway - rifle in hand, flask in pocket, sweat fogging his glasses, curses spewing forth from under the stetson hat - is the perfect guide.

A National Forum on Campus Politics

National Review Online launched a new feature today called "Phi Beta Cons," a blog of sorts devoted to covering the politics of the American college campus:
Today marks the inauguration of National Review Online’s latest blog, Phi Beta Cons, dedicated to keeping an eye on the politics of campus life. You’ll be reading professors, students, analysts, and reporters here who will both link to must-reads and give you content and analysis you’ll get nowhere else. We hope every day among the Phi Beta Cons will be an education.

I’ll stop talking now though because class is beginning…
The blog promises to be "The Right Take on Education" - it looks like a healthy addition to the intensely local, yet nationally relevant debate on college campi.

One of the first tidbits posted was a Harvard debate on the Muhammed cartoons, featuring an old acquaintance of mine, Montana native Travis Kavulla, current editor of the Harvard Salient.

Hopefully they'll link to an interesting blog on college admissions, etc. published in part by my friend Phil the writer.

I have a feeling I may frequent PBC - it's already bookmarked.

So Long, Chef

One of the more wholesome South Park characters is leaving.


For what it's worth

Although it probably won't help matters much, I'll put up a link (as requested):
Jill Carroll, a freelance reporter working for the Christian Science Monitor newspaper, was kidnapped in Baghdad over two months ago. All indications are that she is still alive. The Monitor has started a campaign, using Iraqi television, to distribute a video asking for Iraqis to help find and free Jill.

Commenting on comments

There's been some discussion of the use of comments sections around the blogosphere lately, so I figured I'd jump in.

Elliot says:
I’m to the point where I’m going to create a disruption at Saturday’s Wispolitic’s Blog Summit by yelling…

“If you don’t allow backtalk, it’s not a blog…it’s a bully pulpit!”

I don't entirely believe that. Actually, one of my biggest concerns about the Cheddarshpere in general is that there isn't really enough cross-linking. Part of the strength of the blogosphere is that it allows a conversation to take place through cross-linking and trackbacks. It's the dialogue that blogs foster that makes them so strong. (Although, because neither Casper nor Elliot has trackbacks, I'll depend on you, my loyal readers, to click through to let them know I've linked 'em. How ironically amusing.)

At the same time, I love comments. I think it's a fantastic tool to allow interaction, and increase dialogue even more. Some of my favorite commenters on this blog either don't have a blog or blog very rarely - and it's great to see their comments directly on my site. Indeed, I even get to missing certain gadflies if they don't post a comment in a while.

Maybe Casper sums it up best:
All the facts in the world, all the logic there is, all the quoting of philosophy, is nothing unless you understand how other people react to it. And unless you want to spend your days browsing millions of other blogs to see how someone reacts to what you write, comments allow your readers to provide the most immediate feedback.

So - long live the comments section!


Back to the Future... Wisconsin Conference

We were there last year (boy howdy, were we ever there!), but circumstances prevented either Brad or me from being there this year. Luckily, things were in capable hands!

Jenna provided a nice wrap-up of the event.

Owen has a much longer summary and a caption contest!

I know that at least one Freedom Fighter was there, but apparently he didn't have time to blog the event.

Update: Freedom Fighter James has a post up about the conference - I hadn't realized both freedom fighters were there!

Life Beyond Jensen

And so it concludes, the great unraveling.

The ramifications of the Jensen conviction, however, are only beginning. And its hard to say what they will entail.

As Badger Herald columnist Ryan Masse points out, while Chvala and others involved in the caucus scandals plead out, the Jensen trial forced a parade of GOP figures through the courthouse doors, dragging a number of names through the mud. The major question, when the muck hardens, seems to be this: will a full-blown trial for only one of the two major parties indict it alone in the minds of voters?

In the 2002 election, the state GOP campaigned against the corruption of Chvala. It paid off. While a number of other factors were in play, voters chose Republicans in several difficult races, especially a few uphill State Senate battles. A reverse strategy by the Democrats this time around may achieve traction. The DPW is already doing its darndest to throw scandal manure on Scott Walker and Mark Green.

It's good to finally move beyond the scandal; concrete changes have been made to address shortcomings in the system and the legislature is well aware that the caucus scandal has riveted public scrutiny in its direction. We shouldn't have to hear Brian Blanchard's hypocritical pontificating as much either.

The lessons have been learned. Life must go on.

Alert - ASM Has Its Own Blog

Tie on a bandana and get swinging. ASM, the UW-Madison student government has unveiled its own blog at Madison.com

I'd like to think that the preexisting blogosphere here on campus has beaten up on ASM enough that is being forced to be a little more light on its toes. The debates hashed out in the posts and comments of local student bloggers was probably a sign of a healthy draw to the folks at Madison.com, spurring the request for ASM to blog:
Madison.com approached ASM a few weeks ago, and as a member of the Campus Relations committee I was asked to start this up. So, here I begin, with an invitation to all of you to continue reading our blog. Please voice your questions, comments, concerns, opinions, and anything else that you may have to say.
Fortunately, the first "article" on the blog is supposed to be from Chair Eric Varney, one of the more reasonable individuals in the organization. He's done the right thing in getting ASM to return most of the seg. fee surplus to students and has qualms with the union referendum.

At any rate, this new blog should provide some interesting fodder. Keep your eyes peeled.

Rockin' the Suburbs

"let me tell ya'll what it's like
being male, middle class and white"
Saw Ben Folds last night live at the Orpheum in Madison with some friends.


Our seats allowed us a fantastic view of the man's incredible virtuosity on the keyboard. His hands literally turned into blurs at points, and even his stance seemed like a ferocious attack on the piano throughout the show.

Of course, he actually did attack the piano after Zak and Sarah, Rockin' the Suburbs, Losing Lisa, One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces, Army, and Philosophy among others. I think the stool must've had a release mechanism or something because it broke into about four pieces when it hit the instrument.

Hopefully we'll get some photos up soon courtesty of the bassist from Two Days Til Tomorrow, who was on hand.

Bottom line: great show.


Structures, Madison WI - March 10, 2006

The stunning prow of the new Overture Center complex. Not exactly the Radical Rye anymore.

Beauty in the ruins of St. Raphael's Cathedral.

St. James Parish captured in a puddle.

Madison's Sketchiest - and Classiest - Eateries

The Wisconsin State Journal looked at health code violations around town last year. Here's the break down:

Among the Sketchy (5 or more violations last year)
- Yummy Buffet
- Frida's Mexican Grill
- Vientiane on South Park
- Stillwaters

Among the Classy (5 or more awards from the health dept.)
- Greenbush Bakery
- Buffalo Wild Wings
- Dairy Queen on Mineral Point Rd.

Hmmm...maybe I'll think twice before plopping down my $5 for Mongolian beef and General Tsao's at Yummy Buffet. Must say, I'm impressed that BW3s is such a rock star.

Pel-meni wasn't on either list - anyone know when it's going to re-open? Or what's going in the old Pizza Hut building on State?

Slanty Shanty Show - Spring Break Sign Off

The Slanty Shanty Show is taking off for Spring Break, but we threw out one last brief show for you. A few guests stopped by.

Check it out.

Good catch

Scott Mehring makes a good catch:
I feel that I am unlike many in the cheddarsphere. They taught me in kindergarden that I am, in fact, unique. But it's not that touchy-feely garbage that I am referring to. I am referring to the fact that I am not a journalism/other sort of humanities major. I am a science major, chemistry to be specific.

This is why I think
this story was largely ignored by other bloggers.
Friday, February 24, 2006; State Department officials said yesterday that the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi has granted a visa to a prominent Indian scientist who said he was accused of deception and potential links to chemical weapons production when he applied to a U.S. consulate.

Goverdhan Mehta said he was told two weeks ago that his visa had been "refused" and that his expertise in chemistry could be a threat to U.S. national security.

He has some good observations over there, so click the link!

You can listen online, but you can also ignore a lot more effectively

Well, that was interesting. The Russ Feingold listening session has just concluded. It mostly just felt long - the difference between waiting for a typed response versus getting immediate spoken feedback is quite significant. I jotted down reactions as I went, and present them now:

“Apparently there is much more to this than what was told by the media to the American people.” Re: NSA “spying” -- it's interesting, and probably indicative, that the first question comes from someone who distrusts the MSM.

First question from a Rhode Islander? WTF?

Can I ask questions as he’s typing the answer to the last question? This seems unwieldy… but nobody else seems sure either.

Russ – must push for more hearings, as Intel is trying to block info flow. “That’s why we as Dems must be aggressive in pushing for hearings and especially accountability on this illegal program.”

He’s a slow typer – even to “do you plan to seek our party’s nomination for President?” I suppose it’s a tough one to answer. Says he’s “Still trying to figure out... I am thoroughly enjoying doing my 72 listening sessions in WI but let me assure you that I am absolutely determined to have a Dem President in 2008.”

Ah! Now there are two questions at one time. Mine: “Do you really think an immediate withdrawal from Iraq is the best option? With the instability in the country now, would it not be better to remain in-country?” I wonder if the second question – on health care – is meant to soften the blow from an obvious enemy.

And he answers Maggie’s question first! Will mine be answered?

I see a “Bill from Wisconsin” – is this our own Bill from Madison? Somehow I doubt it, but it’s possible...

No, my question will not be answered! Well played, Russ, well played.

Joke question – is NSA listening to this right now? Russ gives a nice shout-out to the folks at NSA, says he admires those who are working to stop terrorism – this is Bush’s fault, not theirs.

Unless he’s hiding somehow, I don’t see Kevin of Lakeshore Laments – unless he’s the guy on the handle “KevStar”. But that brings up ideas of Ken Starr, and I’d rather not think about that.

Some geek in NM wants Russ to come down there. What are all these out-of-state people doing here? They’re about half the crowd, which makes the whole thing somewhat awkward. Of the 6 questions so far, only 2 have been asked by Wisconsinites, and one of those was me, who apparently doesn’t count.

Ha – somebody is using the handle “unbeliever” – maybe that’s Kevin?

9.50 – I switch from listening to Built to Spill to Fugazi. Seems a bit more fitting.

Russ claims the only “long term answer [to funding elections] is public financing of all campaigns as they have in Maine and Arizona.”

We can “Almost certainly not” hold the administration accountable without winning a majority in either house of Congress. Well, duh – that’s been the lesson of the last 6 years, hasn’t it?

Apparently Dems are slow – we’ve already had a question about Federal financing of elections, but another asshat asks about it now. Is this why they’re losing races? Russ says 100% public funding is “working like a charm in Arizona and Maine.”

Half hour in and I’m pretty bored – this is moving really slowly! How much longer do we have?

More questions about the Patriot Act and NSA. Can we move on to a new topic, please?

And another question about universal health care. I guess we know what’s on the minds of the Dems right now.

Aha – now there’s a question on Iraq! This time from a “retired, disabled veteran” who asks, “when is enough, enough?”

Meh – it’s descended into ass-kissing: “Will you be on the Daily Show?” “Please come back to Vermont!” “Blah, blah, blah” “I want to have your baby.” Okay, I made those last two up, but it’s getting a bit silly.

Finally something interesting: Russ does “absolutely not” support term limits! That’s especially interesting, given that McCain-Feingold is essentially an incumbent-protection scheme that throws up extra barriers to new candidates.

Ironically, my Fugazi playlist ends just after the session itself. Well timed!

I’d say there were probably 150-200 people, but it was hard to gauge, as people were dropping in and out pretty regularly. My feeling is that about half were from Wisconsin, and half from elsewhere – and that the out-of-staters got in more questions than Wisconsinites. That felt a bit weird to me, as the impression I had going in was that this was to be a Wisconsin-centered listening session. Russ claims that he’ll do one for each county of Wisconsin, but the effect should really be likened to an online presidential rally, building support across the board.