Friday, February 27, 2009

D-blog gets results

Get out your cameras! Get out your mini-digi tape recorders! E-mail received from Bronson Hilliard, CU's Director of Media Stuff:
John: I’m pleased to report to you that after working with the organizers of the Ayers visit, they are waiving all prohibitions against audio and video recording by bloggers, mainstream media, regular citizens and other attendees. They will welcome bloggers and independent journalists, though they ask them to sign in at the media table (which my office will assist in maintaining), and the mainstream media in equal measure. The only thing they ask is that no one disrupt the proceedings by shouting out provocative things at the speakers or disrupting the presentations in any way [we're lookin' at you, Ward Lucas]. I have assured Aaron Smith, the lead organizer, that we will work with folks to try to ensure that, and he, in turn, has assured me that no journalists, bloggers or attendees will be blocked from attending.
Thanks for the personal press release, Bronson! And let me give you my assurance that I, for one, will not shout rude things (except, of course, and only after due consideration, in response to harassment or threats).

Anyway, this all happened just today, after I called Hilliard early to see what reaction, if any, there'd been to the e-mail I wrote to CU Wednesday, detailing Ward's minions' systematic efforts, at earlier Churchill-related events and contrary to CU policy, to shut down recording by those they don't like; and how the March 5 Ayers/Churchill/TBA confab was shaping up to be just more of the same old dissent-crushing.

On the phone, Hilliard provided the unsurprising news that Ayers' contract with the student groups includes an "artist clause," specifically prohibiting recording by anyone, "big" media included, inside the venue. (CU reserves the right to record anything it wants to, for their archives.)

Oh, well. Like I say, not surprising. I asked him a few more questions and started writing the post, when I got an e-mail from Hilliard, saying he was "working on the media policy for the event and trying to make some changes," and asking me to "hold off publishing until I know more."

Sure, what the hell. And, by God, apparently he (and probably others higher up on the Great Chain of Being, CU Subchain) got some changes.

Funny thing is, this must have gone through Ayers, mustn't it? He's the one with the contract. Hard to believe, but maybe I've got a new bestest bud! Billy, hug mah naik!

(An aside: contrary to what Reich-wingers would have you believe, the Weatherpersyns absolutely did not intend to harm anyone with their bimbs.)

Anyway, I also asked Hilliard about David Lane's threatened suit if CU didn't waive the $3,000 security fee the school (as standard practice) charges organizers of such events. He say: "[I]t is our expectation that the fee for security will be paid by the student organizations bringing the event to CU-Boulder."

Well, I feel better. Wonder what the terms are, though? No money down, we know that, but what, zero APR, 100 years to pay? [Update: David Lane: "We aren't paying any bill."]

But wait, there's more! During our phone conversation, "Then Came" Bronson said that he and other relevant CUians (didn't catch whether he said "would" or "might") "revisit" CU's media policy this summer, and that he personally would like to "redraw" some of its provisions. (The ludicrous clause that allows "presiding officers" to determine in all instances what constitutes "obtrusive" recording would be a good place to start.)

All that aside, and despite Hilliard's distinct--let's call it ambivalence--toward bloggers and all their works, he really went to bat for the mom's-basement brigades, didn't he?

So I say again: Get out your cameras! Get out your mini-digi tape recorders!

Update: I asked Bronson Hilliard a few follow-up questions via e-mail:
Did you say changes in CU's media policy "would" or "might" be discussed this summer?

Former CU instructor Ben Whitmer claims the decision to open the event to recording was made "beforehand" by event organizers; in other words, he calls your e-mail, in which you told me that negotiations yesterday led to the changes, a lie. (This is ridiculous on its face, I think, else why didn't they announce it?)

But what in fact was the process that led to the changes? How high up, on both sides, did the discussion go? In particular, was Ayers involved? The assumption here is that he had to have been, being the one with the contract and all.

Was any pressure applied to get the students and principals to agree to the open-recording policy?

Didn't Derrick Jensen have an exclusionary contract as well? Was he involved in the decision?
Bronson wouldn't answer (checking notes here) any of them:
I would prefer not to go down the road of answering process questions at the moment, either regarding what led to the media policy for next week’s event, nor what might lead to media policy changes for the University at some future point. Particularly, I would not care to address Mr. Whitmer’s account. . . .
His perogatoid, of course. Probably couldn't have kept himself from swearing.

Benjie, again, give us your account of how it happened, since apparently you know all about it.


The pirate with the tubercular parrot ("Ahoy, matey! Ahoy, matey! Ahoy, maaaaaccccckkkkkk! (spit)") has read Ward's contribution to a book, I forget the name (intentionally), in which Ward tells the same old lies but, more interestingly, attacks Pirate Ballerina specifically. In doing so the Master of Rigor in Footnoting several times cites Ben Whitmer's filthy Try-Works blog--you know, the one Whitmer has (twice) disappeared? The posts Churchill cites, therefore, don't even exist.

"Whether you agree with it or not, [Churchill's writing has] always been praised for academic rigor. He has 400 footnotes per chapter"--Arturo Aldama, CU ethnic studies prof.

Update: Yes, I know you could probably find them on Wayback or somewhere, but not where Wart says they are.

Update: That quote from Arturo Aldama is one of my faves of the whole Churchill brouhaha (so far).

Update II: Might help if I included the link to PB's post (I've done so now). Snapple's right: I never check my work.

Update III: Yes, I punched up the parrot joke a little.

Check out the Rocky's front page

Spooky. Sad.

Update: The Columbia Journalism Review notes the Rocky's passing. Check out the first comment they plucked from readers' reactions. Then check out the name on the second comment. Talk about spooky.

Check's in the mail

The Post:
An attorney for a University of Colorado at Boulder student group says the students will refuse to pay $3,000 in security fees for an event featuring former professor Ward Churchill and '60s radical turned educator William Ayers. . . .

Attorney David Lane accused the university of charging the security fees to prevent the cash-strapped students from having the speakers come to campus. He said police for security are funded by taxpayers.

Lane has threatened legal action if the university tries to force the students to pay the fee before the event in an effort to cancel it.

"We aren't paying any bill," Lane said.

CU lawyer Patrick O'Rourke said the fee is not unprecedented and has been assessed when speakers such as conservative author Ann Coulter and former Attorney General John Ashcroft appeared on campus.

"This is not a right versus left issue," O'Rourke said. "Whenever they have a big publicity event, there is additional security put in place to make sure the campus is a safe place."

Late Thursday, O'Rourke informed Lane that the university was not going to prevent the event from happening and would simply bill the students for the security fee.

"The event will proceed, and we will bill them," O'Rourke said. "Nobody is trying to prevent them from speaking." . . .
Special rules for special people.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Didn't I just send a letter to the University of Colorado detailing the obnoxious and threatening behavior of Wartolytes at past CU events as they sought to stifle the free speech of others, and urging CU to at long last make these jokers abide by the the school's own policies (such as they are) for the upcoming Ayers/Churchill meet 'n' agiteet?

That's one long rhetorical question right there, but, yes, I did. Now David "Tin Cup" Lane, Ward Churchill's lawyer, is threatening to sue if CU doesn't waive its $3,000 security fee for the upcoming jerkapalooza. The (sigh) Rocky:
[Lane] said Thursday the fee is exorbitant and an unconstitutional restraint on free speech. . . .
Fu-fu-fu-fu? Spe-ee-ee-ee? Raises a couple of questions, though. Can Wardo's defense be so strapped for cash they can't afford the fee? Or maybe Billy, or even depressed third (organic) banana Derrick Jensen, is suddenly demanding a bigger cut. Heck, maybe they just want a free hand to harass (yet again) those they don't like.

One thing's for sure: it's not about free speech.

CU-Boulder spokesman Bronson Hilliard said it's standard to charge student groups fees to recoup security costs for large events. He said the $3,000 charge is toward the lower end of what the school charges.
And as usual, the Wartzengrupen want special treatment while retaining that magical ability of theirs to ignore or twist CU policy at their convenience.

(h/t, Heidi!)

Update: I'm going to start cutting myself, I swear. The Lancaster New Era:

Anti-terror unit asked to protect Ayers

[Millersville University] asks regional security task force, created after Sept. 11, to guard ex-radical during visit in March. College cites threats. Local officials upset.

Speaking on their behalf, Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman said law enforcement must provide security if the university requests it, "regardless of how we feel about an unrepentant terrorist."

However, he called MU's decision to invite Ayers "a remarkably irresponsible choice" and urged the university to consider alternatives, such as remote video, "which would provide a forum without the public safety risks or costs."
Remote video! CU, take note (and the remoter the better). Lawmakers angry:

State Rep. John Bear, who was informed of the security plan by a local police officer, also teed off on the university. He said he shared the plan with the Lancaster County House Republicans and they also were "appalled."

"The fact that they even asked the anti-terrorism task force to be involved shows you they think this is going to be controversial, maybe even dangerous," he said. "Why would they even hold the event in the first place?" . . .
To transgress?
The university has explained that Ayers' appearance here on March 19 is part of an initiative by the School of Education to revitalize its urban education program for future teachers. Ayers is a recognized authority in the field of urban education. . . .
Oh, lord. Lord, lord, lord. Recognized by Gramscians, faux revolutionaries and clueless do-gooders the world over.
Bear and Stedman criticized MU for thinking about using a public agency and public funds to protect Ayers.

"I just think that it's absolutely wrong for the university to use public funds," said Bear. "The guy's a known terrorist. Using anti-terrorism funds to protect a known terrorist is irresponsible." . . .
Not quite sure that tracks, Mr. Bear.
If MU does pay for the security, she added, the money will come from private funds, as is the $3,000 being used to pay Ayers for his talk.
That number again. Heavy.

(via Don Surber)

Update II: An editorial in the same paper on some knucklehead legislators [Mr. Bear no doubt among them] calling on MU to cancel Ayers because he "offends people in the military." The columnist is a knucklehead too, though, of the free-speech, "let's hear the guy out. Maybe he's got something to say" variety.

Rocky Mountain News to close tomorrow

What a bummer. So much good (and bad) journalism. So much history. The Rocky:
The Rocky Mountain News publishes its last paper tomorrow.

Rich Boehne, chief executive officer of Scripps, broke the news to the Rocky staff at noon today, ending nearly three months of speculation over the paper's future. He called the paper a victim of a terrible economy and an upheaval in the newspaper industry.

"Denver can't support two newspapers anymore," Boehne told staffers, some of whom cried at the news.
Short course:
The Rocky was founded in 1859 by William Byers, one of the most influential figures in Colorado history. Scripps bought the paper in 1926 and right away entered into a newspaper war with The Post. That fight ebbed and flowed over the course of the rest of the 20th century, culminating in penny-a-day subscriptions in the late '90s. Perhaps the most critical step for the Rocky occurred in 1942. The paper was struggling and facing death when then-Editor Jack Foster switched its format from the more common broadsheet to the tabloid style it has been known for ever since. Readers loved the change and circulation took off.

In the past decade, the Rocky has won four Pulitzer Prizes, more than all but a handful of American papers. Its sports section was named one of the 10 best in the nation this week. Its business section was cited by the Society of American Business Editors and Writers as one of the best in the country last year. And its photo staff is regularly listed among the best in the nation when the top 10 photo newspapers are judged.
Kinda feel like crying myself. Shit.

Update: The Post announces some of the few it plucked out of the water:

The Denver Post will hire Rocky Mountain News columnists, reporters and a photographer in order to attract the closing newspaper's readers.

Among those coming to The Post are some of the tabloid's most high-profile writers, including columnists Mike Littwin, Tina Griego and Bill Johnson . . .
A veritable Murderers' Row of wimp-wristed wiberals. Then a smart hire:

The Rocky Mountain News' editorial-page editor, Vincent Carroll, will join The Post's editorial board and write an op-ed column
But will he be able to stand the loneliness?

(h/t El Presidente, ruler of all he surveys, which, since he's not a surveyor, isn't much)

Update II: The News' big round-up story and lots 'o' links; the left sidebar of the Post's main story has a link to the Rocky's live Twitter feed "as word of the closure came down": "It's strange to cover your own funeral"; "One reporter joked quietly about throwing a shoe at Scripps execs." Wrenching.

Your daily dose of doom-mongering

Guest column in the Post:
Imagine that an international commission of astronomers discovers that a massive asteroid is hurtling directly towards us, and is certain to destroy the earth in ten years.

With an immediate and coordinated international effort, however, the scientists say there is a decent chance that we can develop the technology to redirect or explode the asteroid before it destroys us.

Given that doing nothing means sure annihilation, the peoples of the world drop their religious and political quarrels, and agree to throw all of their resources and energy together to find a way for the human race to survive.

We need to develop this kind of mindset with respect to the impending world water crisis, and no where more than right here in Colorado. There simply is no substance more critical to life than water - we cannot live without it for more than a
few days. . . .
What? Why did nobody inform us of this before? A conspiracy by Big Water, no doubt.

You tell 'em, Archie

Denver's outspoken archbishop goes after the True Believers (in The One):
Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput told a Canadian audience this week that some Catholics are treating President Barack Obama with a "spirit of adulation bordering on servility."

"In democracies, we elect public servants, not messiahs," he said.

Chaput also warned that an overly deferential attitude toward Obama makes the political situation "very hard for Catholics in the United States.". . .

He was in Toronto to promote his book, Render Unto Caesar, which discusses how Catholics should bring their faith into public life.

In the presidential election, 54 percent of Catholics voted for Obama, who is pro-choice on abortion, which is condemned by the Catholic Church.

"President Obama is a man of intelligence and some remarkable gifts. He has a great ability to inspire, as we saw from his very popular visit to Canada just this past week. But whatever his strengths, there's no way to reinvent his record on abortion and related issues with rosy marketing about unity, hope and change," the Catholic News Agency quoted Chaput as saying.

"Americans, including many Catholics, elected a gifted man to fix an economic crisis. That's the mandate. They gave nobody a mandate to retool American culture on the issues of marriage and the family, sexuality, bioethics, religion in public life and abortion," he said.

How, one might ask, does Chaput know that?

Worcester (UK) may 'twin' with Gaza City

Same thing as "Sister Cities" here and elsewhere. The Mail:
One is a picturesque cathedral city in the heart of England, famed for its china and the tangy sauce that shares its name.

The other is a grief-stricken war zone in the Middle East run by a group listed as a terrorist organisation by both the EU and the U.S.

They may not seem best suited as twins, but Worcester, birthplace of Sir Edward Elgar, could become the first British city to be twinned with Gaza City.

A motion calling for the twinning association to consider the link was passed by 29 votes to nil, with six abstentions, at a meeting of the Tory-run council.

Labour councillor Alan Amos, who first suggested the twinning, said: 'Like many I have watched the plight of the people of Gaza, seeing them get bombed and bombed by Israelis with advanced military weapons.". . .
From a quick look it appears that no American city has gone sister cities with any Gazan counterpart, though the Madison, Wisconsin city council narrowly defeated such an arrangement with Rafah in 2004. The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project is still around; it's about what you'd expect.

(via B-BBC)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Letter to CU

I sent this to CU president Bruce Benson, Chancellor Phil DiStefano, and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Julie Wong:

I am a Denver blogger who has followed the Ward Churchill controversy from its beginning in early 2005. I've been present at every significant event put on by Churchill's supporters at CU, except for the rogue, non-credit "classes" he held on campus for a brief period.

At every event (except one outdoor rally), Churchill's supporters have sought to shut down recording and/or filming by those they deem enemies.

The relevant passages at the CU policy page read:
V. Open Meetings

Those who qualify to schedule the use of University facilities may set their own policies concerning opening or closing their scheduled activity to the public and news media, and such policies shall be stated at the time of scheduling. If such scheduled activities are closed to the public, they may be open or closed to the news media at the discretion of the sponsoring user. If such scheduled activities are open to the public, they are open to the news media. Unobtrusive use of still and motion picture cameras and recording devices is permitted during any open meeting. The presiding officer shall be the judge of whether such use is obtrusive and may, at his/her discretion, request persons to stop using their cameras or recording devices in a fashion which he/she deems to be obtrusive.
That last sentence is a prescription for abuse. If the presiding officer can decide what's "obtrusive," s/he can shut down anyone s/he wants to.

When an entertainer(s) and/or performing artist(s) or an agent thereof requests that a contract for performance preclude the use of still or motion picture cameras or recording devices because of third-party obligations, including union regulations or publishers' rights and/or interests, or performance or copyright restrictions, the University and/or the sponsoring user may so contract and must limit such uses during a performance. However, the University of Colorado, Boulder, Office of Public Relations may record and photograph entertainers, after contract negotiations, for internal, educational, and information use (i.e., archives) only, thus not violating the performer's right to third-party obligations.
VI. Protection of Free Speech

The University is committed to protecting the free speech rights of its students, faculty and staff. Assuming responsibility for the use of University facilities includes protecting the rights of speakers to be heard, the rights of the University community to hear speakers, and the reputation of the University as a center for free speech and scholarly inquiry. On certain occasions, the Committee on the Use of University Facilities or its chairperson may request the Executive Committee of the Boulder Faculty Assembly to appoint a chairperson to preside at the event and he/she will be empowered to take necessary steps to see that participants are treated with courtesy and to ensure the reasonable conduct of the event.

I apologize for the length of the following timeline, but context, as usual, is essential.

On March 6, 2007, I attended a "teach-in" on the Churchill case in a CU classroom. Also attending was a videographer named Peter Fotopoulos. Although no media policy had been announced, including on the flyer for the event, and Fotopoulos was being in no way "obtrusive" (he had his camera set up in the back of the room aimed at the podium, while he sat silently in a seat next to it) then-CU ethnic studies instructor Ben Whitmer called the police, who ordered Fotopoulos to shut his camera down (which he had already done, knowing the cops were on the way).

On April 12, 2007, a "colloquium" on the Churchill case featuring Cornell professor Eric Cheyfitz was held in another CU classroom. A fellow blogger and I attended, with audio recorders. Again, even though no prior media policy had been announced, and we were utterly unobtrusive, we were ordered to shut down our recorders by student "security," who, when we refused to take our equipment back to the car, called the police. The cops told us to leave (though they claimed in their report that we left "voluntarily"). The students also claimed that Prof. Cheyfitz personally had requested that no recording be allowed, except by those whom he, apparently, chose to recognize as legitimate media (a single story eventually appeared, in the Post).

Was he "presiding officer?" Who knows?

On April 28, 2007, a "National Emergency Forum" in support of Churchill was held in Muenzinger Auditorium, and, once again, at the "time of scheduling," no media policy was announced. This time, however, the organizers managed, apparently the night before the event, to put out a flyer (never posted on the internet) announcing a media policy that prohibited recording by anyone but members of "recognized" media, none of whom, apparently, attended, since no stories subsequently appeared in any local media.

Finally, on October 2, 2007, Boulder Daily Camera reporter Heath Urie was physically prevented by then-CU instructor Ben Whitmer and CU student Josh Dillabaugh from attending one of the classes Churchill held at CU after his firing. Urie filed assault charges (later dropped). Again, no media policy had been announced for the classes.

The point: On March 5, 2009, Bill Ayers, Derrick Jensen and Ward Churchill will speak at an event on the CU campus sponsored by several student groups. One of the sponsoring groups is Students for TRUE Academic Freedom, which also sponsored, under a slightly different name ("and Faculty"), the last two events described above.

Here's the flyer for the upcoming event. Notice that, once again, no media policy is announced. None of the sponsoring organizations has anything on their respective websites, either.

No media policy announced at the "time of scheduling," and apparently no "contractual obligations" potentially violated (of course, you may know something I don't), which leaves only the "presiding officer's" absolute discretion to define "obtrusive."

Given, however, the spirit of the University of Colorado's policy, if not perhaps its letter (which, at least in who gets to say what is "obtrusive," is ridiculous), CU should make it clear that since event organizers (once again) failed to follow CU policy on when event media policy "shall" be announced, and in the absence of "contract obligations," "unobtrusive" recording will be allowed (at least audio) at the March 5 event. Alternatively, CU should state clearly their reasons for allowing veteran dissent-crushers to once again try to "control the message."

At the very least, the executive committee of the faculty assembly should indeed appoint "a chairperson to preside at the event and he/she will be empowered to take necessary steps to see that participants are treated with courtesy and to ensure the reasonable conduct of the event."

If CU truly is "committed to protecting free speech rights," it should include in those rights the right of those who disagree with particular speakers at public events to record (unobtrusively) those speakers in order to have an accurate record, which they are then free to use in any non-libelous way they see fit.

Thank you for your attention. I posted this e-mail on my blog, and will likewise post any replies.

John G. Martin

Important question II

But not nearly as important as the one below. What ever happened to all those lawsuits David Lane (Ward Churchill's attorney, of course) and the ACLU were going to file on behalf of arrested and otherwise inconvenienced protestors at the Democratic National Convention last summer?

Important question

Who came up with the tabloid-perfect name, "Octo-Mom"? They should get a medal, or a chunk of the stimulus, or something.

Ayers: Churchill case is "political witch hunt"

That was unexpected. Colorado Daily:
When it comes to being an academic under fire, ex-Weatherman Bill Ayers can empathize with fired University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill.

Currently a professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago, Ayers’ 22 years of teaching did little to prepare him for the media firestorm that enveloped him during last year’s presidential election. . . .

Ayers, who’s coming to CU next week to appear with Churchill at an academic-freedom rally, still finds himself explaining his radical past — although he stops short of apologizing for his actions.
Regrets, I've had a few . . .
“I did break the law,” Ayers said in an interview with the Colorado Daily on Tuesday. “I did take account for breaking the law. I was punished in the ways that the law found
appropriate." . . .
Guilty as hell, free as a bird.
Yet for some vocal critics, it’s far from over.

Many continue to label Ayers an “unrepentant terrorist” because of the Weather Underground’s bombing campaigns in the '60s and '70s — accusations the onetime fugitive dismissed, saying they merely reveal his critics’ own political agendas. . . .
On Chutch:
“I don’t think anybody can raise a question that Ward Churchill was singled out and gone after because of his comments after 9/11 — because of his politics,” Ayers said. “It was a political witch hunt. That’s what happened to him.”
Cue up Ayers tape 107:
“The university is a particular space in a society like ours where we have to not only entertain, but expect the widest diversity of ideas that go way outside what’s conventional,” Ayers said. “Without teachers who are willing to raise alternative views, investigate other possibilities, think beyond the box of convention ... we’re doomed as a society and we’re going backwards rapidly without (them).”

The pattern of repressing such free thought in the university creates a ripple effect throughout the rest of academia, Ayers said.

“If Ward Churchill can be brought down from his accomplishments and successes, what chance do I have if I’m a teacher in Denver?” Ayers said.
Brought down from his what now? (like the mighty water buffalo).
In the end, Ayers defends not just Churchill’s writings and ideas, but the very notion of dissent.
Cue Ayers tape 212--"He's a rebel":
“I’ve lived a kind of life of dissent my whole adult life,” Ayers said. “I think dissent is essential to democracy and I think that in order to be an active citizen, you have to move beyond the stance of, ‘Whatever my country does is fine,’ and you have to move into a direction of saying, ‘I want my country to live up to the best ideals of its history and its values.’

“And that requires us to dissent again and again and again."
(h/t "Hank")

Update: Churchill bitter-ender Maximilian Forte responds (if that's the word) to Pirate Ballerina's assessment of his recent arguments in defense of Wart. The Straw Man Army marches in, and the invective flows. Read it yourself, but just one point. Pirate Ballerina yesterday:
Astonishingly, Forte later equates Churchill’s invention of people who never existed in order to bolster his historical fabrication to Brown’s use (in one of his refutations of Churchill’s defense) of an imaginary college student to demonstrate the immorality of Churchill’s historical misdeeds.
Forte replies:
Astonishingly, nowhere in the CU Investigative Committee’s report is there any charge of Churchill making up historical characters, and then making up their dialogues. These people attack “fabrication,” by engaging in outright fabrication. And when you need to advance your cause by spewing lies, what does it say about your cause?
Of course, as is clear from the quote, the pirate with the astonished parrot never said the investigative committee's report accused Churchill of "making up historical characters." Thomas Brown did. Can't wait to see PB's reply.

Update II: Oops, as Leah points out in comments to PB's post, the investigative committee did indeed find that Churchill invented at least one character: the "post surgeon" at Fort Clark who supposedly told smallpox-infected Mandan to "scatter," thus spreading the disease. It's covered in pages 70-73 of the committee's report. The point above stands, though.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Gore pulls graph (and not, for once, out of his *ss)

Former Vice President Al Gore is pulling a dramatic slide from his ever-evolving global warming presentation. When Mr. Gore addressed a packed, cheering hall at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago earlier this month, his climate slide show contained a startling graph showing a ceiling-high spike in disasters in recent years. The data came from the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (also called CRED) at the Catholic University of Louvain in Brussels.

The graph, which was added to his talk last year, came just after a sequence of images of people from Iowa to South Australia struggling with drought, wildfire, flooding and other weather-related calamities. Mr. Gore described the pattern as a manifestation of human-driven climate change. “This is creating weather-related disasters that are completely unprecedented,” he said. (The preceding link is to a video clip of that portion of the talk; go to 7th minute.)

Now Mr. Gore is dropping the graph, his office said today. Here’s why.

Two days after the talk, Mr. Gore was sharply criticized for using the data to make a point about global warming by Roger A. Pielke, Jr., a political scientist focused on disaster trends and climate policy at the University of Colorado. Mr. Pielke noted that the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters stressed in reports that a host of factors unrelated to climate caused the enormous rise in reported disasters (details below).
Every once in a while we're reminded that CU is not utterly worthless--not even the poly-sci department.
Dr. Pielke quoted the Belgian center: “Indeed, justifying the upward trend in hydro-meteorological disaster occurrence and impacts essentially through climate change would be misleading. Climate change is probably an actor in this increase but not the major one — even if its impact on the figures will likely become more evident in the future.” . . .
Read how Gore's spokesgerbil tries to weasel (or gerbil) out of it.

(Via Teem Blair)

Facebook zombies

The Guardian:
Social network sites risk infantilising the mid-21st century mind, leaving it characterised by short attention spans, sensationalism, inability to empathise and a shaky sense of identity, according to a leading neuroscientist.

The startling warning from Lady Greenfield, professor of synaptic pharmacology at Lincoln college, Oxford, and director of the Royal Institution, has led members of the government to admit their work on internet regulation has not extended to broader issues, such as the psychological impact on children. . . .

Arguing that social network sites are putting attention span in jeopardy, she said: "If the young brain is exposed from the outset to a world of fast action and reaction, of instant new screen images flashing up with the press of a key, such rapid interchange might accustom the brain to operate over such timescales. Perhaps when in the real world such responses are not immediately forthcoming, we will see such behaviours and call them attention-deficit disorder. . . .

She said she found it strange we are "enthusiastically embracing" the possible erosion of our identity through social networking sites, since those that use such sites can lose a sense of where they themselves "finish and the outside world begins".
I had that problem long before Facebook, he said to "himself."

Churchill defenders rouse selves from Veg-O-Matic slumbers

In two posts at his website Open Anthropology, Concordia University associate professor Maximilian Forte attempts to debunk the academic fraud findings by CU against Ward Churchill, and specifically the comments of Churchill lie-exposer Thomas Brown on this piece by Marc Bousquet in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

The first post concerns the the alleged motivations for the Churchill investigation and the plagiarism charges against Chutch, and takes its arguments straight from the fecund imagination of Marxist CU prof Tommy Mayer, the nine professors who made charges of research misconduct against CU in its investigation, and Churchill himself.

Snapple is mentioned. The second concerns the Wampanoag and Mandan smallpox epidemics, and specifically takes aim at Brown. This is going to be a very interesting trial.

Speaking of which, a little boidie (not his parrot) tells PB that Churchill's suit against CU will be presided over by Second District Court Chief Judge Larry Naves.

Update: PB has more and better.

Monday, February 23, 2009

RMN: Churchill not plagiarist; Ayers not terrorist

Well, that might be how the Ward Churchill Solidarity Network will spin it, anyway. Actually, in an editorial today the News restates the obvious:
Perfect. One historical fiction writer and fantasist, Bill Ayers, is coming to the defense of another, Ward Churchill. See it in person on the University of Colorado campus at 7 p.m. on March 5.

The event, breathlessly titled “Forbidden Education and the Rise of Neo-McCarthyism,” is the idea of student groups who believe professor Churchill was fired for his political views and not because he committed “multiple acts of plagiarism, fabrication and falsification,” to quote CU’s privilege and tenure committee from two years ago.

The university’s Standing Committee on Research Misconduct had previously concluded that Churchill engaged in “repeated, intentional misrepresentation.”

No matter. The student groups want this fraud and falsifier back in the classroom and they’ve recruited a former member of a domestic terrorist group to make the case for him — a radical who of late has taken to promoting historical falsehoods that, if anything, are even more breathtaking than Churchill’s. . . .

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sunday Night at the Radio!

Since it's Oscar night (no, I'm not liveblogging not watching it), how about Academy Award Theater: "The Maltese Falcon" (3 July 1946). Original cast, except for Peter Lorre and Elisha Cook (Wilmer).

Think I've played this one before, but tough titwillows. Jack Benny: "Jack loses Ronald Colman's Oscar" (28 March 1948).

Information Please: "Dean C. Mildred Thompson of Vassar College" (3 October 1939). Sound's a little muddy.

Dragnet: "Big Drifter" (23 February 1950).

Who's hosting the Oscars this year? Hugh Jassman?

Update: Okay, I'm watching a little bit. Glad, too, because I didn't miss the (first) glitch: "Open it, Steve!"

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Where's Wardo?

Another absolutely real pic from Mason:

Fits right in, doesn't he?

Earth Hour approacheth

Just received an e-mail from the "Earth Hour Team":
Dear John,

Where will you be when the lights go out?
Nosy bastards. Wherever I am, the lights will be on.
Here are some highlights of what's going on around Earth Hour 2009 as we countdown the days. . .
I'll spare you, except for this:
NOBEL PEACE PRIZE WINNER ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU ANNOUNCES HIS SUPPORT: "Climate change is the greatest human induced crisis facing the world today. It is totally indiscriminate of race, culture and religion. It affects every human being on the planet. Earth Hour is an opportunity for every man, woman and child from all corners of the globe to come together with a united voice and make a loud and powerful statement on the issue of climate change."
What a hoor Tutu is.

Here's the Earth Hour US website. It's clunky as hell, so explore at your own risk. Notice at the bottom of the homepage the companies sponsoring the event, including Coke and Hewlett-Packard. Capitalist, meet rope.

The most interesting sections are the one designed for the kiddies (warning: sappy music starts immediately) and the teacher's guides designed to hype the event and spread gimpel wimping propaganda to yoof. From the kiddie page:
I am a _ _ _ _ _ _ _ butterfly. I migrate south up to 2000 miles and winter in the mountains in Mexico. The weather is changing in the Mexican mountains and becoming too cold and wet for me to survive.

I am a beautiful marine animal and I live in a colony called a _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _. I have an external skeleton. I am an animal but I look like a stone. Thousands of animals in the ocean live around me. The oceans are warming and becoming too acidic and I am dying.
From the K-2 teacher's guide:

Earth Hour Activity Sheet 1 – Earth Hour Around the Planet. What Is Earth Hour?

While you are reading What Is Earth Hour? to your students stand by the light switch and turn out the lights. Each day assign a student the responsibility to turn out the lights after everyone leaves the classroom. This reinforces and gives responsibility to this important action.

Earth Hour Activity Sheets 2 and 3 – Save Energy and Save the Planet.

Directions: This worksheet offers pictures of some of the things that use energy in our daily lives. Have the children cut along the dotted lines. Call out the object and have them paste one picture at a time onto activity sheet 3. Read how they can conserve with this object. Example: "Everyone pick the picture of the television. How can you save? Turn it off when you are not watching it."

Here are some open-ended questions to ask while students are doing this activity sheet:

•Has anyone ever eaten too much candy or cake and gotten a stomachache or not felt so good? So too much of something you like can be unhealthy, right?

•Did you know that when we drive too much or use too much electricity it can be unhealthy for our planet?

•Is climate change bad? Due to climate change we are seeing stronger hurricanes and more storms. Some farmers may not get enough rain to grow their crops: that is called a drought. Animals like the polar bear may find it hard to find food.

Earth Hour Activity Sheet 4 – At Home, If You Leave Lights On, Can It Melt Ice in the Arctic? Do the maze and read about the polar bears and the melting sea ice. This again illustrates how our actions at home can have an effect on the places far away.

Earth Hour Activity Sheet 6 - Homelink – At Home, What Can You Do?

Have the kids take this page home and do it as a family activity. Attach activity sheet 1 so they can tell their parents about participating in Earth Hour.

Grades 9-12:
The USA produces more greenhouse gases per person than any other country in the world.

It’s simple. When you burn fossil fuels you create man-made greenhouse gases. Did you know that most electric power plants, cars, trucks and airplanes burn fossil fuels? When burned, fossil fuels release CO2 into the troposphere.

In the last 100 years we’ve seen an exponential [sic] increase in the levels of CO2 in the troposphere, which has caused an increase in the global average temperature and is dramatically disrupting the climate. . . .
Mind-boggling. A few more linkies:

Right at the top of the World Wildlife Fund's page: "Almost a quarter of the world's mammals face a high risk of extinction within the next 30 years."

"Ten things for families to do when the lights are out." Never leave a burning candle unattended!

Thus far it appears that Denver is not participating. Way to go, Denvereens!

Some downloadables: Throw a party for the Earth! (Don't they know that by having three kids they're killing the planet?)

Vote Earth!

Polar Bear tracker.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Night at the Radio!

I Was a Communist for the FBIiiiii! "Home Improvements" (26 November 1952).

Information Please: "Alfred Hitchcock" (27 June 1941). Hitch is pretty inert.

Bill Stern Sports Newsreel: "Pinch Hitting for Bill Stern: Ronald Reagan" (29 September 1947). Dig the organ. Diiiiiggggggg it. They do the Gipper thing, too, of course.

Abstract of the Week!

WSQ: Women's Studies Quarterly:
More Lessons from a Starfish: Prefixial Flesh and Transspeciated Selves

Mr. Muscle forcing bursting Stingy thingy into little me, me, me But just "ripple" said the cripple As my jaw dropped to the ground Smile smile It's true I always wanted love to be Hurtful And it's true I always wanted love to be Filled with pain And bruises Yes, so Cripple-Pig was happy Screamed "I just completely love you! And there's no rhyme or reason I'm changing like the seasons Watch! I'll even cut off my finger It will grow back like a Starfish! It will grow back like a Starfish! It will grow back like a Starfish!" Mr. Muscle, gazing boredly And he checking time did punch me And I sighed and bleeded like a windfall Happy bleedy, happy bruisy I am very happy So please hit me I am very happy So please hurt me I am very happy So please hit me I am very very happy So come on hurt me I'll grow back like a Starfish I'll grow back like a Starfish I'll grow back like a Starfish I'll grow back like a Starfish I'll grow back like a Starfish I'll grow back . . .

Rocky notices Ayers/Jensen/Churchill appearance at CU

No new info, but what caught my eye was that in 102 comments on the piece (so far) there isn't a single one that's outright supportive of Ward.

Maybe David Lane should ask for a change of venue--to Venezuela.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Churchill to take questions at Ayers/Jensen confab

I did not know that. Be interesting to see if (how) they keep anti-Wardites out of the queue. Here's the flyer:

He has such lovely crinkly hair (Jensen, not Ayers). (Click for largo.)

Accompanying text at the 180 Degree site:
Students for TRUE Academic Freedom, the 180 Degree Shift at the 11th Hour, and the Student Environmental Action Coaliton [sic] are hosting an event in conjunction with Ward Churchill's landmark academic freedom lawsuit against the University of Colorado. Churchill's legal suit for violating his first amendment rights begins March 9th. Therefore, we are bringing well known activist-scholars Derrick Jensen and Bill Ayers to voice their strong support for Churchill and political dissent in academia. Their presentations will unveil the mask [sic] of liberal academia and link Churchill's fight with other scholars who have been attacked for their strong beliefs. If we want our universities to embody [sic] institutions of critical inquiry, then we must not only support scholars such as Ward Churchill, but also view these attacks in context. Come and hear the shocking truths behind the right-wing attacks on Churchill. Hear what they don't want you to know!

Event is FREE for CU Students, Community Members $5 in advance, $6-10 Sliding Scale at the Door tickets available at UMC Connection, King Soopers, and
Aw shit, they're charging for this kreppenfest? Heartening, though, to see that the flyer says nothing about any of the money going to the costs of Ward's defense.

180 Degree Shift at the Last Hour (180DSatLH) is a typical student-rad trainee group with the usual infighting:
180*11 Is the descendent [sic] of a long history of Activism at CU, specifically since the late 1990s.
Long history--to an 18-year-old.
Beginning with the WAAKE-UP! Coalition, 180*11 emerged as part of a new Coalition after the beginning of the 2003 Iraq War, called RISEUP.
WAAKE-UP: World Awareness and Action Koalition of Equal United Progressives. These guys have a way with acronyms.
However, because of the intensely organized and hierarchical nature of the group which created massive burnout, in addition to the defacto leader's insistence on becoming a paid non-student organizer and his scandals over multiple romantic relationships with other organizers and students, the coalition fell apart, as almost did 180*11. However, 180*11 rose from the ashes and went on to work with other groups and host many events and provide many services. Highlights not listed bellow [sic] include partnering with Student Worker to bring M1 from Dead Prez to CU with nearly 400 students in attendence [ditto], allying with the Coalition Against Sweatshop Abuses in a successful 14 day hunger strike . . .
Students for TRUE Academic Freedom appears to be completely ad wart, while the Student Environmental Action coalition (SEAC, pronounced "seek," natch) is pretty much what you'd expect.

Update: In the previous post commenter "Heidi" notes today's Boulder Daily Gamera story on the event (jeez, I had it weeks ago), and particularly former CU ethnic studies instructor Ben Whitmer's comment (3:48 p.m.) to some anti-Chutchites (though the one who made the "boot party" comment (2:46 p.m.) was actually a Chutch supporter):
Hey, captainendeavor and jester1c, I’ll be at the event, and I know some other people who’ll be there too. Please, come on down and try to throw you [sic] “boot party”. We’d be happy to feed you your testicles.
Nice. Can't understand why CU got rid of the guy.

Update II: So can one assume, then, that Benjie deplores the Bush shoe-throwing incident?

Can't wait for the trial

As the pirate with the chicken-fried parrot points out, over at the Chronicle of Higher Education Ward Churchill cheerleader Marc Bousquet maintains that:
Churchill’s campus process was wrongly decided in the fallout of a political witch hunt, featuring a faculty committee that generated spurious charges of “plagiarism” and “research misconduct” that will not bear the scrutiny of history (nor, one hopes, the district court).
Prof. Thomas Brown (pdfs) replies in comments to Bousquet's liatribe, while a commenter at PB notes the disappearance of several Snapple comments to the same piece. It's all about freedom of speech.

Not far out

Rocky Mountain News owner E.W. Scripps Co. said today that a decision on the struggling newspaper's future is "not too far out."

Scripps reported in an earnings release that the News lost $16 million last year and that Scripps has written down the value of its Colorado newspaper operations by $10.9 million. . . .

Cincinnati-based Scripps has not disclosed if any credible offers to buy the News have been received, nor has it said how it would plan to exit from the joint operating agreement in which it shares business operations with The Denver Post. The two newspapers jointly hold about $130 million in debt.

Scripps owns newspapers and television stations across the country. It reported today a fourth-quarter loss of $19.4 million compared to a gain of $44.7 million in the same period last year, largely because of weakness in newspaper advertising.

"It became apparent toward the end of the year there's nowhere left to hide from the national economic crisis," Boehne said. "We're feeling the pain as the recession rolls its way through our local markets and media businesses."

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

One little observation


Wednesday Night at the Radio!

Information Please! (told you I was gonna play more of these): "John P. Marquand" (17 January 1944). Does anyone read The Late George Apley anymore? Hell, I read it only because my mom made me. Read it. As far as the show: dee-lightful.

Citchers and patchers have reported, so how 'bout The Adventures of Babe Ruth! Kidnapped (25 June 1934). Don't think I've ever played any of these before, but it's quite bizarre; even bizarrer are the long commercials for the between-the-wars Naval Reserve at either end. Fun fact: the Sultan of Twat (as he is known among baseball aficionados) was still playing in 1934 (.288 with 22 homers).

Where's Wardo?

Commenter Mason sends along this certified unphotoshopped photo:

Well, it's more convincing than this:

See him back there?

(see comments to this PB post)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Peculiar, not ha-ha. Five stories in the Post on the stimulus-bill signing, eight in the Rocky (including video, comment threads and slide shows), and only one covers the anti-stim protest at the Capitol. It's in the Post, of all places.

Bloogers, of course, have much more, including the People's Press Collective, Slapstickium, and Michelle Malkin. Videos apparently will be up soon. Just keep checking.

Update: Hot Air's Allah on the protest; the dilly-dallying dictator of North Denver (he hardly executes anybody) with the moom piturs (the pot-belly nearly upstages a couple of speakers); Westword . . .

Couldn't find any local TV coverage--not even Fox. WTG, in the parlance of today.

Update: An e-mailer informs me the acronym should read "WTF."

Update II: El Marco--tanned, rested and rumpled after a month in some furrin' place--gets up close to people, pigs 'n' signage. MM looks gorgeosetous.

Update III: Ooh, the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist People's Press Collective and the Maoist-Leninist-Marxist Slapstick Politics (he's single, girls) get Instalanched.

'Conservative' but clueless prof: Churchill case a travesty

David Deming, associate prof at the University of Oklahoma, in the Colorado Daily:
In July 2007, Ward Churchill was fired from his position as a tenured professor at the University of Colorado.

The pretext given for his dismissal was academic misconduct. But the real reason was that Professor Churchill wrote some things that offended people.

His termination was a violation of the academic freedom guaranteed to faculty by CU and the U.S. Constitution. . . .
The usual delusional free speech arguments follow.
The human race has a track record of murdering its greatest benefactors simply because they said things that offended people.
Well, it was a little excessive for CU to execute Wart like they did.
The investigation into Professor Churchill's alleged academic misconduct was a disingenuous and utterly transparent excuse for punishing him.
If you don't look at all the actual misconduct it found. Deming, apparently, didn't.
I have never met Professor Churchill, and it is likely that we would disagree on many things.
He doesn't know?
I approach issues from the opposite end of the political spectrum. I'm an outspoken conservative, member of the National Rifle Association and advocate of pure 19th-century laissez faire capitalism.
Idiocy knows no political bounds.
But I'm not afraid to hear viewpoints that I disagree with, and I don't seek to punish people who think differently. I listen to them because I might learn something.
As opposed to all of us sheep . . .
Truth can only be found when there is a vigorous dialectic. . . .
Dialectic, eh?
It was Professor Churchill's duty to be controversial and offensive. He should not have been fired for doing his job. . . .
Not to teach, but to be controversial and offensive. He had that down.

Update: The demented Keebler elves at the Ward Churchill Solidarity Network have a trial blog up.

Monday, February 16, 2009

24 live blog!

8:04 p.m. Not watching 24.

8:12: Still not watching.

8:17: Nope.

8:24: TV's not even on.

8:31: You know what I'd like right now? A glass of OJ.

8:36: OJ accomplished. Why do we always get the kind with pulp?

8:39: Pulp: That's kind of gross word.

8:42: Pulp, pulp, pulp, pulp pulp!

8:50: TV on. What's on TCM? Oh, man, not Some Like it Hot again. Never been able to figure out how anyone would buy into Lemmon and Curtis as women.

8:52: TV off.

8:55: Actually I haven't watched any of 24 this season.

8:57: Or last season.

8:59: We're running out of time!

9:00: Maybe I'll go read a book.

Update: Not many 24 fans left, huh?

Update II: Yep, jumped the shark, it did.

Update III: Right? Huh?

Update IV: Fuck.

Colorado conservatives to riot over signing of "stimulus" bill

Obama will be in town to sign the thing, they're gonna be in the streets to protest, and there's not a thing the pigs can do about it. It'll be just like the DNC!

Well, maybe not. But there's going to be a bunch of people signing giant (fake, I think) checks, a $30,000-a-plate pig roast, and lots of state political bigwigs, not to mention Michelle Malkin (swoon).

The dirigiste dictator of North Denver, El Presidente, has much more, but the event takes place on the west steps of the Capitol from noon to two p.m. Be there or be heavily in debt (I know, too late).

Update: Bleeeeeeeeeeecchhhhhhh: "Denver teen practices for presidential moment":
Jose Juan Cruz, a 16-year-old sophomore at Bruce Randolph School, was the only student in school on Presidents Day. He was practicing for the president.

Microphone in hand, he turned and faced the American flag. Placing his right hand over his heart, he spoke carefully: "I pledge allegiance, to the flag, of the United States of
America . . . ."

When President Barack Obama signs the stimulus package today at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Cruz will start the ceremonies by reciting the pledge.

"I am a little nervous," he said. "I mean, the president will be right in front of me."
Use a TelePrompter!
It was Kristin Waters, Bruce Randolph School's principal, who selected Cruz to read the pledge. . . .

"He was just a natural fit for this very special event," Waters said.

There will be time for some last-minute practice, but Monday was Cruz's chance to nail the routine free of pressure.

On his final drill Monday, Cruz followed the same routine as before, turning to his right and holding his hand to his heart.

He made it through without hesitation.
GOD bless America.

Front page

Of the Post: "Ritter: Obama signing in Denver is a 'honor'"

A honor indeed.

Update: Fixed. Not the bill, the ungrammaticality.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Listen to these whiners:

No mailboxes! Only 32 thou a year! I have to work three jobs to do what I love--fill children with race-class-gender propaganda!

(via, sort of, commenter Leah at PB, who notes some interesting photo manipulation in the big double-issue of Works and Days on "academic freedom" and Ward Churchill.

Miss Waldron's monkey (in sour cream)

Nicole Rosmarino of WildE!art!h Guar!dians on Valentine's Day, biophilia, and prairie dog "lovemaking":
Every Valentine's Day, I stretch the definition of love to include those most in need of it: endangered species. The term "biophilia," meaning love of life, captures this thought. According to the biophilia hypothesis, because we have spent more than 99 percent of our species' history being shaped by nature, an innate love of life has been hard-wired into us and extends beyond our own kind.

Biophilia was coined by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and eminent ecologist E.O. Wilson, who previously made his mark explaining to the rest of us how rapidly human actions were peeling off layers of life by driving our fellow creatures and plants extinct. Biophilia and human-caused mass extinction appear to contradict each other, but perhaps a reminder that we are all really biophiliacs at heart can help us find a path out of the extinction crisis.

There are many ways to measure human love for species: the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is enormously popular, with 85 percent or more of the American public supporting this law. Protection of species habitat also usually polls high. But that love may run too shallow, as we make choices every day that deliver blows to species and their habitat: we drive gas-guzzling cars, we have too many children, we buy too much, we consume rich foods that the planet can't sustain.
I put sour cream on lima beans.
Perhaps we can deepen our love and reconcile biophilia and the extinction crisis by reflecting on the variety of intriguing ways love shows up in the endangered species context. A source of urgency for many endangered species is that humans get in the way of species' love lives. In the southern Great Plains, oil and gas pumpjacks and compressors make so much noise that lady lesser prairie-chickens can't hear the ardent booming noises of their male counterparts, thus thwarting reproduction. Those booms used to be audible over miles of pristine prairie. But that love story has turned into a tragedy, as this species continues to await, as it has for more than a decade, ESA protection.

For some endangered species, human misperceptions about the results of animals' love lives get in the way of protection. Prairie dogs are a good example. Their lovemaking is usually possible for a few hours on only one day in a year.
Just like me!
They have small litters [just like--never mind] — averaging only three or four pups, half of which won't live out their first year. Because of a slew of human threats, including poisoning and shooting, prairie dogs declined by over 90 percent over the course of the 20th century. Yet, a false perception of plenty and continued mistreatment of these valuable species as nuisances stand in the way of granting several types of prairie dogs ESA protection.

Other species' "love" transcends kingdoms. Members of the animal and plant kingdoms are sometimes delicately intertwined. The pinyon jay needs pinyon pine and vice versa. Pinyon jays feed on pinyon pine seeds, caching the seeds for future consumption. Researcher Ronald Lanner describes the pinyon jay as a "feathered cultivator," given its role in planting new pinyon pine forests. But recent, extensive die-offs of pinyon pine cast a shadow on the future of both the jay and pine.

Love gives us strength, and it makes us fragile. Endangered species' specialized approaches to love may make them especially vulnerable to the rapid changes caused by people's actions, but without love, there will be no future generations.

The question we should each chew on alongside our Valentine's chocolates is what we can do to better match our biophilia (love of life) with an ethic of responsibility and stewardship for the plant and animal species with whom we share this planet.
Update: Mmmmmm, raccoon in sour cream sauce.

Update II: Somebody forgot Hansen's muzzle again: "Coal-fired power stations are death factories. Close them":
A year ago, I wrote to Gordon Brown asking him to place a moratorium on new coal-fired power plants in Britain. I have asked the same of Angela Merkel, Barack Obama, Kevin Rudd and other leaders. The reason is this - coal is the single greatest threat to civilisation and all life on our planet. . . .

The greatest danger hanging over our children and grandchildren is initiation of changes that will be irreversible on any time scale that humans can imagine. If coastal ice shelves buttressing the west Antarctic ice sheet continue to disintegrate, the sheet could disgorge into the ocean, raising sea levels by several metres in a century. Such rates of sea level change have occurred many times in Earth's history in response to global warming rates no higher than those of the past 30 years. Almost half of the world's great cities are located on coastlines.

The most threatening change, from my perspective, is extermination of species. Several times in Earth's history, rapid global warming occurred, apparently spurred by amplifying feedbacks. In each case, more than half of plant and animal species became extinct. New species came into being over tens and hundreds of thousands of years. But these are time scales and generations that we cannot imagine. If we drive our fellow species to extinction, we will leave a far more desolate planet for our descendants than the world we inherited from our elders.

Clearly, if we burn all fossil fuels, we will destroy the planet we know. Carbon dioxide would increase to 500 ppm or more. We would set the planet on a course to the ice-free state, with sea level 75 metres higher. Climatic disasters would occur continually. The tragedy of the situation, if we do not wake up in time, is that the changes that must be made to stabilise the atmosphere and climate make sense for other reasons. They would produce a healthier atmosphere, improved agricultural productivity, clean water and an ocean providing fish that are safe to eat. . . .

The trains carrying coal to power plants are death trains. Coal-fired power plants are factories of death. When I testified against the proposed Kingsnorth power plant, I estimated that in its lifetime it would be responsible for the extermination of about 400 species - its proportionate contribution to the number that would be committed to extinction if carbon dioxide rose another 100 ppm.
Watts Up With That? answers. This guy is beyond an embarrassment.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

RMN update

Still publishing (here's the proof), though as far as any outsider knows, nobody's interested in buying it.

But what the hell happened to Bridget Johnson's blog? She hasn't posted since the Investiture. I liked that blog.

Exterminate the brutes

Giles Coren in the Times:

Enough whining. Ban all stinking dogs. Now.

The death of Jaden Joseph Mack, mauled to death by two domestic dogs in his grandmother's home near Caerphilly last Saturday, caused a ripple of anxiety in some quarters, muted calls for stricter licensing of dangerous breeds, and that was about it. Move along now. Nothing to see here.

Nothing, except a human infant shredded to burger meat by domestic pets. My God, the fuss they made over Baby P. Over Maddie. Over Sarah Payne. Over James Bulger. When the boneheaded popular press can use a toddler's death to hammer such traditional bogeymen as paedophiles, social workers, “evil” young boys and invisible foreign ne'er-do-wells, it goes at it with a drooling, wide-eyed, sociopathic bloodlust, calling for hangings, sackings and ridiculous legislative upheavals. But when it's done by a Staffordshire bull terrier, the very breed of dog most likely to have been tied up outside the shop while its owner goes in to buy a “red top” tabloid, they have nothing to say.

And government is no better, to be honest. It is astonishing to think that when a fox is torn apart by dogs in a cold field on a foggy morning, Parliament devotes 700 hours of debate to stamping it out. But when a human child is torn apart by dogs in his or her nan's front room (it's always the grandmother - usually not much more than 30 herself), Parliament does nothing. Nothing.

Now, I'm never going to stop the right-wing media from wildly overreacting to child deaths as a way to excoriate the same old demons, but I can at least beg them, on my knees, to overreact for once to something I care about. And to call for dogs to be banned. All dogs. Now. . . .

They've got to go. Dogs have just got to go. All dogs. Just to be safe. I'm not saying a spaniel represents a mortal danger to toddlers (indeed, if you shoot a toddler yourself then your spaniel will merely go over and point at it, and then your golden retriever will bring it back, and your dalmatian will bury it and then forget where it left it) but the problem is that owners will always get round breed-specific laws by crossing their murderous animals with others, as a disguise.

Germany, where the import of staffies is illegal, has shown us some of the way, and Israel has gone one better, making the breed illegal altogether - and I doubt there are many who flout that little law. You don't go breeding dogs to scare your neighbours when you know that one false snarl and a helicopter gunship's going to whoop into view, flatten your house, your nan's house and your local school, and then blame it on the dog.

Jeez, this guy's on fire.
And don't think for a minute that I would consider such a response disproportionate. I hate dogs. I am currently in the process of moving house purely and simply because my beautiful, leafy Camden street is the most turd-bespaffed thoroughfare in England. This is because I live down the road from a housing estate surveyed by CCTV cameras where the inhabitants know that if they let their little fighting dog uncurl a bronze they will be filmed and fined. So they come down the nice, middle-class streets purely to unload faeces. It seems almost a matter of honour.
Turd bespaffed. Uncurl a bronze. Crazy Giles may be, but he can turn a phrase.
These dogs get walked each day only for as long as it takes to smoke two Royals and gob a greeny at a tree. They don't even get as far as Hampstead Heath, only two minutes up the road (or perhaps they choose not to go there - the bien pensant middle classes with their wellies and labs having made of the Heath such a stinking dog toilet you'd be mad to cross it without an anthrax suit).

Every morning, on my three-minute stroll to buy a paper, I encounter at least three brand new turds, on my side of the street alone, glistening in the sun. When the snow was falling, and the street-cleaning guy couldn't get through, there were layers of turd interleaved with the layers of frozen snow like some terrible millefeuille of merde. And the thaw brought hourly uncoverings of newly revealed hound crap, kept fresh by the sub-zero temperatures, the goodness sealed in, the scent released gradually over the days.
Just like an Airwick!
Kill all the dogs. Kill all of them. I'll do it if you can't face it, and toss the rigid corpses on the fatty flames with a pitchfork. . . .

Some dogs may be innocent of killing [well, that's big of you]. But all are guilty of crapping. When we were young, and one kid wouldn't own up to his crime, they kept the whole class in after school, regardless of individual guilt. My plan is like that, only with dogs. Except then you kill them.

I have felt this for a long time but always kept quiet out of respect for my many dog-owning friends. But the story of Jaden's death was so awful, so grim and primal and nightmarish - like a modern Little Red Riding Hood where the gran survives at the expense of the child - that I cannot tolerate delay.

And yet it will never happen. And poor Jaden will be forgotten. His little face will never stare up at you from the newspaper rack, above a headline telling you that the campaign starts here, and that he didn't die in vain.

And that is because unlike paedos and lefty social workers, dogs, through their feckless, simpering owners, really do rule the world.

Kill! Kill! Kiiiiiillllll!

Friday, February 13, 2009

AHA: Don't kill coyotes

The Post:
Two leading animal rights groups are converned [sic] about the way Greenwood Village has decided to deal with its coyote population.

One of those groups — the American Humane Association — sent a letter today to Greenwood Village Mayor Nancy Sharpe and city council members. The letter, written by the vice president of the Animal Protection Division, Debrah Schnackenberg, adamantly disagreed with the city's plan to shoot and trap the coyotes without researching the problem extensively, as the Colorado Division of Wildlife recommended Thursday. . . .

The city says its plan is in response to numerous complaints by residents about overly aggressive coyotes. So far this year, Greenwood Village has received 71 reports about coyotes, compared with 186 in all of 2008 and 111 in 2004. . . .

The AHA suggests Greenwood Village use long-term tactics to prevent direct human enounters with coyotes.

"The most effective long-term strategy is prevention, and that is only going to be achieved through education on how to effectively live with coyotes by keeping food that attracts them picked up, keeping cats [and small children--ed.] indoors, etc.," said the letter.

The House of Lords speech Geert Wilders would have given

If he hadn't been kicked out of the UK as a security risk:
In 1982 President Reagan came to the House of Commons, where he did a speech very few people liked. Reagan called upon the West to reject communism and defend freedom. He introduced a phrase: ‘evil empire’. Reagan’s speech stands out as a clarion call to preserve our liberties. I quote: If history teaches anything, it teaches self-delusion in the face of unpleasant facts is folly.

What Reagan meant is that you cannot run away from history, you cannot escape the dangers of ideologies that are out to destroy you. Denial is no option.

Communism was indeed left on the ash heap of history, just as Reagan predicted in his speech in the House of Commons. He lived to see the Berlin Wall coming down, just as Churchill witnessed the implosion of national-socialism.

Today, I come before you to warn of another great threat. It is called Islam. It poses as a religion, but its goals are very worldly: world domination, holy war, sharia law, the end of the separation of church and state, the end of democracy. It is not a religion, it is a political ideology. It demands you respect, but has no respect for you.
Read whole thing.

(via a commenter at B-BBC)

Scuba gear for all

Classic piece of AGW hysteria in the Guardian today:
Ministers should prepare the British people to "adapt" in the longer term to a landscape devastated by climate change, including the possible abandonment of parts of London and East Anglia, a leading industry body warns today.

Action to curb carbon emissions is failing, so the UK should immediately change the way it designs buildings, transport and energy infrastructure in preparation for a world potentially characterised by extreme heat and high sea levels, argues the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) in a new report. . . .

IMechE said that sea levels are predicted to rise by 2m by 2250 and 7m by the end of that century.

"A seven-metre rise in sea levels would impact on vast areas of the UK, including parts of London which border the Thames,[such as] Canary Wharf, Chelsea and Westminster, all of which would need to be abandoned," the report argues.

Although they were long-term predictions, the authors say Britain should be preparing for change today and they questioned whether Britain should be considering new nuclear power stations at places such as Sizewell on the Suffolk coast.

Tim Fox, head of environment and climate change at the IMechE and one of the authors of the publication, denied the institute was being alarmist or seeking to undermine actions against greenhouse gases. They were merely trying to be "pragmatic" engineers who needed to prepare for extreme scenarios, he said.

The action the members of IMechE want includes:

• Building new railways because many of the existing routes use valleys that could be flooded

• Building reservoirs underground to prevent evaporation

• Spending heavily on researching new forms of energy such as fusion

Environmentalists said the report was prescient. "If we don't take action quickly to reduce carbon emissiosns we could be facing catastrophic change. This could have long-term implications but the action needs to take place in the next few years, " said Robin Webster, energy and climate change campaigner at Friends of the Earth. . . .

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy Birthday, often-honest Abe!

Here's our hero christening the town of Lincoln, Illinois, the only town named for him before he became president, in 1853:

Yes, he used watermelon juice.

Update: City Journal: "Lincoln and the Moral Imagination."

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Remember the Johnstown Flood

Of crap. The Johnstown (PA) Tribune-Democrat:
A controversial professor who equated 9/11 victims with Nazis has been invited to speak at IUP.
That's the Indiana University of Pennsylvania. You figure it out.
[Disgusting Gutmanesque ex-professor Ward] Churchill will appear as part of “Six O’clock Series: Fourteen Threats to Academic Freedom.” The event, which begins at 6 p.m. Feb. 23 in the university’s Eberly Auditorium, will open with a speech by Cary Nelson, president of the American Association of University Professors. Churchill will be part of a symposium following the lecture at 7:30 p.m. It is free and open to the public.
No doubt. And no explanation of the other 13 threats. But hey, Cary fuckin' Nelson, man.
Michelle Fryling, director of media relations at IUP, defended the decision and said an English professor organized the event.
Oh, well, an English professor.
“While the university would not necessarily agree with every speaker’s point of view or perspective, we believe in a civil exchange of ideas and the opportunity to express all sorts of ideas,” Fryling said.
Never heard that one before.
“This is what a university is about. An exchange of ideas. We don’t have to agree ... but the mission of a university is to promote dialogue.”
If one weren't me, one might begin to despair. One takes heart however, from the fact that Chutch is reduced to participating on a panel at (The) Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

What do you get from that, Wart? Carton of cigs?


Anybody else notice the sci-fi story in the New English Review this month? A spaceship has mechanical problems and needs to land. Unfortunately, the only place available is an embargoed planet, embargoed because, well:
“About a thousand years after our Company was founded, just at the time that we had started to build planets and adjust the stars around which they revolve, the Standing Committee of the Free Governments of Earth, SCOTFGOE, had a major problem. Earth, and some of the few of the settled planets at that time, had a major problem with one particular group of humans who insisted on believing in an ancient religion which preached hatred and violence, and the need, as they viewed things, for a supremacist, religious tyranny, based upon their beliefs, to rule over all mankind. They were called Mewslimes or Mihslams or some such, according to the records, and they indulged in daily acts of the most atrocious violence in order to advance their cause. The problem with the Mihslams, or Mewslimes, had become so severe at the time of which I am speaking that SCOTGOE simply had to act in order to save our civilisations from their murderous, and I mean that quite literally, depredations.”

“SCOTFGOE resolved at a specially convened meeting that the Mihslams had to go. The Company, our Company, was commissioned to build a planet, and a Sol type star for it to revolve around, to which they could all be banished. We were instructed to spare no effort or expense and that the finished planet should have every luxury and necessity upon its surface which was known to mankind at the time. That we did. We fulfilled the commission not only to the letter but in the spirit of the contract also. We built the most luxurious planetary environment ever seen. It was replete with technology – the most advanced hospitals, the finest communications, the most advanced transport systems, the most wonderful houses... I’m sure you get the picture. It was, in short, a paradise. Oh, don’t get me wrong. We charged SCOTFGOE an arm and a leg for that build, but they paid up quite willingly. Then we transported every Mewslime they rounded up in a series of military operations to it, and charged SCOTFGOE for doing that, too. Those operations went on for over a hundred years. It was a most profitable contract for our Company and it solved the problem for everybody.”

“However, nobody was ever able to identify why those people believed as they did. Nobody was ever able to identify why their beliefs so often led to violence, irrationality and murder. It was suspected at the time that it was some sort of viral contagion and so it was decided that an absolute embargo should be placed upon the system we now find ourselves in. Nobody is going to risk venturing into this system to rescue us because no one, least of all our Company, would ever take the risk of letting such a disease, if a disease it is, spread through the populations of all our worlds again.”
Look, far be it from me to go all PC, but isn't this a little much? Predictably, and as you can tell from what I've quoted, the story is also boring and clumsily written. Pure axe-grinding. Nice illustrations, though.

Petticoat Junction

The Rocky's Mary Voelz Chandler:
Imagine a color field painting reborn into a three-dimensional piece of art. That's what Boulder-based artist Ana Maria Hernando envisioned when she created an installation now on view at MCA Denver into April.

Instead of paint, Hernando has heaped more than 100 crocheted petticoats into a towering work aptly named La Montana. . . .

"I arranged them like a painting," Hernando said. "I wanted them to be like moving clouds of color. I wanted the piece to have air, to be expansive, not oppressive."
Nothing worse than oppressive art.
Hernando works in several mediums, but textiles might be closest to her heart. As a child in Buenos Aires, where she was born in 1959, she was taken by the fact the women created elaborate embroidered tablecloths. They were used as a matter of course, painstakingly beautiful objects destined to be covered with
spills. . . .

In the case of La Montana, Hernando turned to the women of Mollamarca, in Peru. About five hours from Cuzco, high in the Andes, the village is home to about 500, including women who weave ponchos for sale. They also make their own petticoats - brightly colored, crocheted underskirts that flare up and out during the dances that are a part of village life.

"It is another model of woman," said Hernando, who moved to the United States from Argentina in the mid-1980s. . . .

"It is an homage to them and to all women. These are such strong women. They move in this community. They all help each other. I wanted to have one from each woman ... a community of petticoats." . . .

Hernando brought the petticoats home, dipped them in resin and, depending on their size, draped them over different types of balls, from basketball to exercise ball [sic]. The result appears to be a mound of mushroom caps, augmented by video projected around the gallery, showing the women of Mollamarca
dancing. . . .
Former MCA executive director Cydney Payton, who curated the installation, said she was interested in Hernando "because of the collaborative nature of her work. It gave another dimension to the artist-in-residence program" in which artists must interact with students and groups of people of all ages.

But the cultural aspects also were important, Payton said.

"She is a voyeur to another culture. This is a respectful and poetic take on Peruvian women and her interest in women's work. She kept a careful artistic distance, something that people should learn about."
Oh, I know enough to keep a careful artistic distance from this, don't worry.
The invisible nature of women's work reverberates with Hernando, drawn from memories of home and the practicalities of being a mother.

"You are caring for others," she said. "In many ways what you do seems transparent. The world is what it is because of millions and millions of women, and men. . . .
Well, thanks for that.

Remind you of anything?


A South African TV station mistakenly broadcast that former US President George Bush had died during one of its news bulletins.

For three seconds ETV News ran a moving banner headline across the screen saying "George Bush is dead".

The "misbroadcast" happened when a technician pressed the "broadcast live for transmission" button instead of the one for a test-run.

The station said test banners would now be done in "gobbledegook".

The mistake happened when a senior staff member wanted to see how a rolling banner headline looked.
(via B-BBC commenter Jason)

Caz on the Australian fires

Our friend Caz in Melbourne has been blogging the devastating fires in Australia for days, here and here. Apologies to her for not linking sooner.

Not your mother's crime beat!

From the sh*thole formerly known as the Workers' Paradise (aka sh*thole). The Moscow Times:
Drastically improving the country's decrepit health care services was one of the four so-called "National Projects" spearheaded by Dmitry Medvedev before he received Vladimir Putin's blessing in December 2007 to become Russia's next president.

The National Projects gave Medvedev a populist platform to improve his national visibility as First Deputy Prime Minister, and in the run-up to the March 2008 presidential election, there was no shortage of fawning reports on state-controlled television showing Putin's handpicked successor visiting brand spanking new medical facilities throughout the country.

Ward No. 2 at the Serpukhov Children's Hospital in the Moscow region town of Serpukhov was, presumably, not one of the places Medvedev visited.

It was here, after all, that two babies last week received numerous wounds after being attacked by a rat running amok in their hospital room, the Investigative Committee said in a statement Friday. . . .

At around 4 p.m. on Jan. 28, the two infant girls were attacked by a rat in their room, investigators said. Alexandra suffered bite wounds on her nose and both hands, while Anastasia was bitten on both arms. Neither was seriously injured.

The incident happened "as a result of the careless attitude of the hospital's management toward its immediate responsibilities to maintain sanitary and hygienic norms and supervise the children," the Investigative Committee alleged in the statement.

Prosecutors have classified the incident as a case of negligence, punishable by a fine of up to 120,000 rubles ($3,300) or three months in jail. . . .
Housing shortage:

I was skeptical yesterday when I read a report on the yellow web site that authorities in the Moscow region had arrested a female serial killer who browsed the social networking site Odnoklassniki (a Russian version of Facebook) for victims who looked just like her.

The web site, after all, is dedicated to sensationalism and typically skimpy on sourcing. So I rang up Yulia Zhukova, a spokeswoman for the Moscow region branch of the Investigative Committee, to see if there was anything to the story.

Indeed, Ms. Zhukova said, investigators have plenty of evidence that 46-year-old Yulia Pecheneva knifed a woman to death (stabbing her more than 40 times) in December, hacked off her limbs and stashed the remains on the balcony of the victim's apartment. Pecheneva, Zhukova said, wanted to get the deed to the woman's flat and sell it or rent it out for her own financial gain.

A person who kills for property deeds is known in Russian as a "chyorny rieltor," or "black realtor." . . .

Curiously, this wasn't the first case of a murder victim being discovered by a tenant on an apartment balcony. Last April in Yekaterniburg, police arrested a local man who bashed his mother's head in with a hammer, placed her corpse on the balcony and then rented the place out to the tenant who eventually found the body.
The balcony. Amateurs. Excuse me, gotta put down some more quicklime in the crawlspace.

Back! Another housing shortage story:
Just an all-around brutal story today out of the prosecutor's office in the northern capital. The St. Petersburg City Court found St. Petersburg metro cop Alexei Varfolomeyev guilty of using acid to dissolve the corpses of two alcoholics that he and a fellow officer murdered in order obtain their apartment.

According to investigators, Varfolomeyev and fellow St. Pete cop Alan Dzalayev in April 2007 conspired to kill, as prosecutors so succinctly put it, "individuals leading an antisocial lifestyle and abusing alcoholic beverages" and illegally take over the deeds to the victims' apartments.

A month later, they zeroed in on a pair of alcoholics — a mother and her son – living in a two-room apartment on Ulitsa Vavilovykh who had a huge outstanding bill for gas, water and electricity.

At about 3 a.m. on June 5, 2007, the mother and the son were both drunk when Dzalayev attacked them with a knife, bashing his head in with a sledgehammer (nine blows altogether) and stabbing him in the neck (once) and the left side of his chest (five times).

He then went into the mother's room and carried out a similar attack (three sledgehammer blows to the head, one stab wound to the neck, 10 stab wounds to the back).

According to prosecutors, the two cops hauled the bodies in the bathroom, where Dzalayev then sawed off the man's head with a knife. The next day, Dzalayev brought in 30 kilograms of chemicals capable of dissolving the corpses. They applied the substance to the bodies over the course of the next week, finishing the job on June 12, 2007.

Investigators say the two cops wanted to either rent out or sell the apartment, which may explain their next move after dissolving the bodies. To quote from the prosecutors' statement: "Over the course of a month Varfolomeyev cleaned up the apartment and carried out cosmetic repairs." . . .
And one story in its entirety:
Man Killed By Grenade Detonated In Pocket

A Moscow man was killed last week in a drunken scuffle when a grenade exploded in his pocket.