Wednesday, January 31, 2007

CU: boys who use soap grow boobs

Luckily, not all soap causes this:
Boston - Lavender and tea tree oils found in some shampoos, soaps and lotions can temporarily leave boys with enlarged breasts in rare cases, apparently by disrupting their hormonal balance, a preliminary study suggests.
Read the story. It's not as bad as it sounds, probably.

Orwell quote of the week!

If I shut my eyes and say ‘school’, it is of course the physical surroundings that first come back to me: the flat playing field with its cricket pavilion and the little shed by the rifle range, the draughty dormitories, the dusty splintery passages, the square of asphalt in front of the gymnasium, the raw-looking pinewood chaplet at the back. And at almost every point some filthy detail obtrudes itself. For example, there were the pewter bowls out of which we had our porridge. They had overhanging rims, and under the rims there were accumulations of sour porridge, which could be flaked off in long strips. The porridge itself, too, contained more lumps, hairs and unexplained black things than one would have thought possible, unless someone were putting them there on purpose. It was never safe to start on that porridge without investigating it first. And there was the slimy water of the plunge bath — it was twelve or fifteen feet long, the whole school was supposed to go into it every morning, and I doubt whether the water was changed at all frequently — and the always-damp towels with their cheesy smell: and, on occasional visits in the winter, the murky sea-water of the local Baths, which came straight in from the beach and on which I once saw floating a human turd. And the sweaty smell of the changing-room with its greasy basins, and, giving on this, the row of filthy, dilapidated lavatories, which had no fastenings of any kind on the doors, so that whenever you were sitting there someone was sure to come crashing in. It is not easy for me to think of my schooldays without seeming to breathe in a whiff of something cold and evil-smelling — a sort of compound of sweaty stockings, dirty towels, faecal smells blowing along corridors, forks with old food between the prongs, neck-of-mutton stew, and the banging doors of the lavatories and the echoing chamber-pots in the dormitories

--from "Such, Such Were the Joys" (1952).

More edumacation theoretorizing

The high school in our neighborhood, North, is the worst in Denver, and fingers have been pointing every which way about it for years. A couple of weeks ago in the Rocky a brand-new teacher at the school responded interestingly (I claim) to a veteran teacher who quit North last year in disgust:
On Jan. 13, the Rocky Mountain News published “North High teachers take fall for inert students, bureaucratic bog,” a guest column by former North High School English teacher W.L. Herrick. To say that Herrick’s attack on students at Denver’s North High School was misguided and inappropriate would be putting it mildly [Herrick described the school as having "a student culture of complete indifference."]

I was hired to teach English at North High School in December — to replace Herrick. I graduated from Metro State in the fall of 2006, so I am a first-year teacher. I completed my student teaching at another Denver Public Schools high school that is similar demographically to North, but during my short time there, I reached out to all of my students, demanded high levels of academic achievement and personal conduct from them, and would never accept anything less than their best efforts. My students responded better than I could have imagined.

Fine, fine. So you were (student-) teaching them--what? Grammar, spelling, the short story, Lord of the Flies, a little Chaucer? The usual, right? Well--

DPS recently implemented an inquiry-based education model, and “What is a Monster?” was the major question for first-semester freshman to ponder and answer.
Inquiry-based education model? What is a Monster? Freshpersons pondering things? Wuh-oh.
During my student teaching experience, my students and I studied the Holocaust and worked our way to the current tragedy taking place in Darfur, Sudan.
With a Jay Bennish-style halt at Chimpy W.M.D. McOilyBurton's Quagostatic Iraq-mire, no doubt.
The relationships I built with my students and the unwavering faith that I had in them, along with a tiny bit of nudging, allowed them to accomplish more than I ever could have hoped for.
Awwww. His unwavering faith did the trick. So what did your students accomplish academically, young Dumbleton?
They conducted a bake sale and a raffle to raise money for the victims in Darfur, and they initiated a campaign to raise awareness throughout the school about that terrible situation.
A bake sale. A raffle. Awareness-raising. Of course, Dumbleton's not teaching English, he's teaching what he learned at Metro, and what prospective teachers learn in schools of education across the country: "social justice."
The students took ownership (aaaaiiiiiiiiiiiii!!!!!!) of the project, and they completed it almost entirely on their own (several volunteered much of their free time after school). Children are capable of anything when given opportunity and encouragement. All they need is an adult to simply believe in them.
Sorry, fresh out of barf bags.
Though I may be inexperienced and idealistic, I know that my students at North — Herrick’s former students — will make me proud with their creativity, effort and continued growth as good young men and women.
They just won't know how to read. Look, I like idealism as much as the next guy, but this is ridiculous. Dumbleton takes issue with Herrick's assertion that North has a culture of "complete" indifference:
Can one ever use the word “complete” with any certainty when discussing people? I doubted the assertion, so I asked my students if any of them were indifferent about their education. Out of five classes, five students answered yes. That’s an average of one per class.
Drunkablog (counts on fingers): He's right!
I don’t care about Herrick’s political views [yeah, sure] or what effect his words will have on the debate regarding the redesign of North. What I absolutely care about is the negative effect his words have had on my students, those whom he worked with every day, those students whose parents entrusted him to educate and uplift them.
As George Orwell once wrote, “Political language ... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” Herrick attempted to make his wind solid.
Christ, Dumbleton, I just ate.
But I’m here to let him and everyone else know — in particular, my students — that his wind stops here.
We're doomed.
John Dumbleton is an English teacher [sic] at North High School.
Update: I'd link to Herrick's Speakout column, but the always screwed up Rocky search function is screwed up.

Update II: Blogger cliche number 3,110, edumacation, officially off the Drunkablog life-list!

Update III: I vote that we (the humyn race) ban the quoting of George Orwell by anyone under any circumstances for 50 years, on pain of itchy death.

Then and now

Keith Windschuttle on the difference between college course work in his day--
At the University of Sydney in 1966, my history course made me read Gibbon, Macaulay, Carlyle, Maitland and Tocqueville. In English literature, our reading list came from Shakespeare, Donne, Marvel, Wordsworth, Hopkins, Austen, Dickens,
Yeats and Beckett. In philosophy it was Socrates, Plato, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Kant and Armstrong plus two demanding sub-courses in scientific method and logic - and all of this was just first year.
--and today:

Those students who are today forced to read the gurus of postmodernism, radical feminism, neo-Marxism, cultural studies and literary theory such as Foucault, Derrida, Benjamin, Eagleton, Bhabha and Fish, or who study recently concocted subjects like gender studies, media studies, ethnic studies, peace studies, genocide studies - indeed anything ending with "studies" - are grossly disadvantaged by comparison.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Trimming Hedges

Eugene Volokh delves bravely into American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America (the Drunkablog feebly (but nastily!) mocked author Chris Hedges last week), and emerges with some more cwazy quotes from the Nation Institute senior fellow:
The radical Christian Right must be forced to include other points of view to counter their hate talk in their own broadcasts, watched by tens of millions of Americans. They must be denied the right to demonize whole segments of American society.
Volokh, wondering whether he is really advocating the suppression of the speech of those he deems "fascists," notes an appearance by Hedges on NPR's Talk of the Nation last week during which he confided to Neal Conan:

I think that -- you know, in a democratic society, people don't have a right to preach the extermination of others, which has been a part of this movement of - certainly in terms of what should be done with homosexuals.

Extermination of others? Then the New Lifers who welcomed former male prostitute Mike Jones to their church Sunday must have been on their very best behavior, especially since it was Jones' meth-and-gay-sex story that led to their pastor's downfall. Hedges continues:

You know, Rushdoony and others have talked about 18 moral crimes for which people should be executed, including apostasy, blasphemy, sodomy, and all - in order for an open society to function, it must function with a mutual respect, with a
respect . . . .

(Wiki on this Rushdoony person.)

. . . for other ways to be and other ways to believe. And I think that the fringes of this movement have denied people that respect, which is why they fight so hard against hate crimes legislation -- such as exist in Canada -- being made law in the United States.

[NEAL] CONAN: But Chris, to be fair, aren't you talking about violating their right to free speech, their right to religion as laid out in the First Amendment?

"But Chris, to be fair . . ." That's it, the only time Conan makes a pretence of challenging the guy. Otherwise he just lets the former NPR reporter (according to Volokh) repeat his Alternet interview, at times almost word for word.

Mr. HEDGES: Well, I think that when you preach -- or when you call for the physical extermination of other people within the society, you know, you've crossed the bounds of free speech. I mean, we're not going to turn a cable channel over to the Ku Klux Klan. Yet the kinds of things that are allowed to be spewed out over much of Christian radio and television essentially preaches sedition. It preaches civil war. It's not a difference of opinion. With that kind of rhetoric, it becomes a fight for
survival . . . .

There he goes with the exterminatin' again, and now we got civil war and the fight for survival to go with it. I think somebody's ready for a teensy-weensy 72-hour involuntary hold, don't you?

Several commenters on Volokh's post claim Hedges represents no more than a fringe on the left, but he's so much like Ward Churchill, both in his arguments (America is a racist, fascist, genocidal suckhole of capitalist evil, and religion is worse) and in his prescribed remedies (the suppression of free speech--Ward, of course, via his much-debunked argument that the Ninth Amendment trumps the First), that people who support Churchill would have a hard time not supporting Hedges--and everybody knows how much the left (the academic part of it, anyway) supports Ward.

(via Instapundit)

Update: Volokh posted his Hedges piece at Huffington Post and writes of the reaction:

[A] bunch seemed to endorse, expressly or implicitly, Hedges' proposal. Naturally, commenters on a blog aren't representative even of the readers of that blog, much less of any broader movement. Yet it seems pretty clear that there are people out there who share Hedges' view.

Nevertheless he doubts Hedges represents "a vast movement," and of course he doesn't. But, as with Churchill, there are sure enough people who agree with the guy to worry a person.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Fun with Tom Tancredo

Dave Barry has some.

(via the Post)

Haggard nemesis visits church

The Post:
As soon as the visitor . . . walked through the church doors Sunday morning, heads turned. Word spread quickly: He was here.
No, not Him.
Just about every person who offered him a handshake said the same thing: Welcome, thank you and God bless.

About 14,000 people pour into New Life Church in Colorado Springs each Sunday, so anonymity is not difficult to achieve.

One exception is when you are Mike Jones, the former male prostitute whose allegations of a three-year sexual liaison with church founder Ted Haggard triggered national scandal and led to Haggard's fall.
What's the "former" male prostitute been doing since he quit, anyway? Junior executive training program of some sort, I imagine. Not that there's anything wr--never mind.

Jones attended services Sunday at New Life Church on a reconnaissance mission for his forthcoming book [now that was unexpected--ed.] and said he was greeted warmly. Haggard, in an apology to the church, had urged members to forgive and thank Jones for exposing deceit.

"I had read a lot about the church, but there's nothing like seeing it for yourself," Jones said. "It wasn't to rub anyone's face in it [sorry--ed.] by any means. I was wanting to get some perspective, to see where they are coming from, what the magnet is."

Jones had been invited to New Life several times by church members since Haggard resigned as president of the National Association of Evangelicals and was fired from the church after admitting in November to "sexual immorality."

Jones was accompanied Sunday by members of a New York-based theater troupe, the Civilians, who are in Colorado Springs researching a project on evangelicals . . . .

Can't tell from this if the church invited them, too. If so, they're gonna be sorry. From a review of another Civilians production in the Boston Globe:

One thing that differentiates the Civilians' work from documentary is that, when the Civilians do interviews, they don't use a tape recorder -- or even a notebook. Instead, they listen closely, observe, interact, then right after the encounter transcribe everything they remember about it.

''It's not like it's the real truth of the person, but another person's interpretation of that truth, turned into performance," Cosson says.

Former New York Times reporter Chris Hedges has been doing that for years!

"A couple of ladies cried when they were touching me," Jones said [What? I didn't say a thing--ed.]. "I was thanked for exposing [not a single word--ed.] the church, for helping Ted Haggard. A couple of them said they hoped I get God into my life. And they all said 'God bless you,' every one of them."

But Jones - who came forward out of anger toward Haggard's political stances against homosexuality - said he wasn't impressed on the whole. If the Gospel message is enough, he said, why the loud music and MTV-quality production?"

"There seems to be something missing, some realism, in my opinion, because it's so vast, like some kind of self-contained city," said Jones, who said he was raised Methodist but is estranged from organized religion . . . .

Estranged? Wonder who got the separation order.

[Associate pastor Rob Brendle told Jones], 'I don't want to impose my religious beliefs on you, but I believe God used you to correct us, and I appreciate that,"' Brendle said.

Wait a minute. Where's the evangelical "rage and yearning for violence" that Harvard Divinity School grad Chris Hedges writes of so vividly? Apparently none of the fascist fundies aimed even a sotto voce "faggot" at ol' Mike. How strange. But what's Ted been up to?

Haggard and his wife, Gayle, have completed a counseling program at an Arizona treatment center and are back in Colorado Springs awaiting direction from a panel overseeing what has been termed Haggard's "restoration," Brendle said.

(credit: Holy Tom is still from Mason Oller)

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Zippity doofus, zippity ace

Remember the zip drive? It and its companion disk were (very briefly) a miraculous medium, letting one store scores of "floppies" on a single disk. (For my younger readers, a "floppy" was a--what are you doing up? Go to bed you little bastards, before I brain you with this beer bottle!).

But when I got a new (now old) computer I quit using the drive ("unlimited space! bwahaha," &tc., thought I, wrongly) and stored the disks--without moving their contents to my hard drive.

I finally got around to doing that this weekend and discovered a veritable cornucopia--mainly pop songs and old-time radio shows (like Jack Webb's hilariously hard-boiled detective Pat Novak: For Hire) I got off Napster when it was the civilization-destroying menace people of a certain age remember so fondly.

There were also a few pictures, like these from Desolation Canyon, a whitewater section of the Green River. They were taken, I believe, by John W. Doyle, who doesn't know I'm posting them (don't worry, he'll get his royalties):

Dusk. This one's like a Marlboro ad or something.

Another dusk. I don't know why.

All right, as you were.

Update: Speaking of old-time radio and "as you were," here's a couple of minutes of "The fleet's lit up," Lieutenant Commander Thomas Woodrooffe's rather unfortunate BBC broadcast during the review of the British fleet in 1937. Constant Tim Blair commenter "Whale Spinor" linked to it on the thread to this post, and it's pretty funny.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Is the Rocky hiding unfavorable opinions--about itself?

The Rocky Mountain News unveiled its redesigned print edition Tuesday. There are all kinds of changes, but the main one seems to be that the paper's page size has been reduced by 20 percent--though, according to editor/publisher John Temple, with no reduction in the size of the "newshole."

But screw the newshole for the moment; there's something funny going on.

Temple wrote four pieces in succession about the new Rocky, including two on January 23, one of which is not very originally titled: "A newspaper for the 21st century." Fine, fine.

But he also posted a blog entry on the makeover. (Temple seems to have adjusted well, by the way, to the five or six blog posts a month he's added to the already manifold duties of his job.)

The entry got about 90 comments, and of the slightly more than 50 that expressed a discernible opinion, something like 37 were unfavorable to 15 or 16 favorable--more than two to one against. Many commenters bitched about the reduction in print size (by only three percent, Temple says), with at least one citing the average age of newspaper readers (55) as something the Rocky might have considered before doing so.

Strangely though, or maybe not, the comments on Temple's "paper for the 21st century" piece (which, as opposed to the blog post, probably appeared in the dead-tree edition) were favorable by a one-and-a-half to one margin.

Interesting. So I clicked back to Temple's blog post to check my figgers and copy down a few of the weirder comments and--it's gone.

Nine or ten hours later it's still gone. Comments and all. The last post showing is from January 15, well over a week ago.

So let's sum up. Temple newspaper piece on Rocky redesign with mostly favorable comments: still pickin' 'n' grinnin'. Temple blog piece on Rocky redesign with overwhelmingly negatory comments: MIA.

This is disturbingly BBC-like.

There was also a poll on the redesign--or at least, the word "poll" is sitting on this page with a box below it that says "vote." But hitting the button does nothing, and this afternoon they briefly posted a message saying they'd had a technical problem. They also had a brief technical problem with the Rocky website as a whole. The latter appears to have been fixed--but the blog post and the poll are still missing.

Anyone can make a mistake, of course, but this reminds me rather too strongly of an earlier incident involving a plagiarizing Rocky editorial writer and Temple's apparent reluctance to provide a link to the offending editorial. Once again it looks like the Rocky is stealthily deep-sixing information that reflects badly on it.

Update: I was able to write down one favorable blog comment before it disappeared:
I especially love the new size as I often take it to work and read it in my vehicle. Saturday and Sunday [when the paper has the Post's broadsheet format] are hard to read over my steering wheel.
Makes driving awkward, too.

Update II: If I get up tomorrow and Temple's post is back up with no explanation--well, I'm gonna be durn mad, that's all.

Update III (1:08 a.m.): Still gone.

News you can use

Brain damage may curb smoking.

Scientist develops caffeinated doughnuts.

N.J. warns: Don't eat squirrel near dump.

Weird Bird Friday

I have narrowly averted certain disaster, not to mention an international incident. I was preparing to post a picture of an ostrich in honor of Australia Day, in spite of the fact that my rigorous research (I looked at one web site) revealed that ostriches are from Africa, not Australia. The same site mentioned that a gaggle of ostriches had escaped from an ostrich farm in Australia and had subsequently gone wild. I thought this was a good enough to make my Australian ostrich post legit. I proudly announced my intentions over at Avatar Briefs and the cry went out! "EMU, EMU, we have EMU!"

And so, at the last moment, I pulled the ostrich post and created a fine emu post in its stead.

Emu, living behind the same pulque factory

Happy Australia Day, all!


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Three coins in a penguin

So who's dumber:

Visitors to the Denver Zoo have been tossing coins into the ponds, believing they are wishing wells.

But two of the ponds are home to the zoo's 26 penguins--13 Humboldts and 13 Africans--who can't pass up a good meal, believing the shiny coins are shiny fish scales.

The penguins have been eating the coins, which can cause a fatal zinc poisoning once the digestion starts.

Penguins. But only a little.

Pennies made after 1978 are especially bad for the penguins because they have zinc cores with copper coatings. Pennies made before 1978 are pure copper.

Veterinarians have been busy removing the coins surgically, and found 71 cents in one particularly hungry penguin.

Probably trying to quit smoking.

They use an endoscope with a small net attached to it to scoop the coins out of the penguins' stomachs. The endoscope also has a camera and a light at the end to help doctors find the coins.

Stories like this are why I support Newspapers in Education!

Swallowing the coins has become such a frequent problem that zookeepers now routinely run the birds through metal detectors looking for ingested coins.

"This is a common problem for the penguins," said veterinarian Dr. Felicia Knightly. "Penguins cannot tell the difference between the shiny metallic coins on the bottom and fish. Ingestion of the coins can result in zinc toxicosis, which can be fatal."

Happy feet, tiny, tiny brains. The only reason I mention the story is that the Post has a penguin surgery slideshow. Everybody loves those.

Update: Teachers! Ask your kids how many different combinations of coins they can come up with to equal the 71 cents Dr. Felicia Knightly pulled out of the deflated penguin!

(credits: Dr. Felicia Knightly (1) from some site that probably left viruses all over my computer; Dr. Felicia Knightly (2) is actually "Nurse, not dated," by Lawrence Carmichael Earle. Don't know why she wouldn't date him; he was quite attractive)

State senator may try to end Columbus Day

Here's a good indication, if one were needed, of how the Ward Churchillian version of history has taken over:
The ongoing battle over the Columbus Day Parade has moved from the street to the state legislature.

Democratic Sen. Suzanne Williams is considering legislation to change the Columbus Day holiday in Colorado.

Colorado was the first state to observe the holiday in 1905. It's now a federal holiday, which will be observed on Oct. 8 this year. American Indians have long protested Denver's parade celebration, saying Columbus did not discover America and was neither a hero nor a role model.
Neither? Nooooooooo!

Williams is a registered member of the Comanche tribe of Oklahoma.

She says the various factions of the American Indian community are "ready to move beyond protesting." Williams said she is talking with government leaders and studying options for legislation.

"One option is to change the Columbus Day holiday in Colorado," she said, which could "possibly" involve changing the name. "All Nations Day" has come up before. Another option is to change the "parade structure" to have an event "of many cultures." She hopes to engage the people of Colorado "as we look at the reality that Christopher Columbus did not discover America."

Why do people like Williams always seem to think we're brainwashed and in need of brave truthtellers like them to shake us out of our racist hegemonist complacency? Oh, yeah.

What I really don't get is how the legislature could change the Columbus Day parade's "structure." It isn't a governmental operation, it's put on by the local Sons of Italy, who have the First Amendment right to put on a parade celebrating Columbus or anyone else any way they want.

So how does Williams think this change might be constitutionally accomplished? Will she claim, as a well-known scholar frequently does, that the Ninth Amendment trumps the First? Or will she just try to pressure Denver into refusing the Sons of Italy a parade permit? The story concludes:
So far, Williams hasn't engaged the Italian-American community, which has been protective of the annual Columbus Day celebration. Pam Wright, state president of the Sons of Italy, said, "It's really sad that people have to rain on somebody's parade. It's a celebration of what our ancestors did."
Engaged. Protective. The piece was written by Julia Martinez, who is not, apparently, a reporter, but a member of the Post's editorial board. Weird. Anyway, she ends with a little history lesson, just in case we forgot:
On Columbus Day, Italian Americans celebrate their heritage and commemorate the day Columbus landed in the new world in 1492.
Update: All Nations Day? What are we, Canadians?

Update II: Took the word "Parade" off the end of the title of this post because Williams is exploring the elimination of Columbus Day as a holiday, not just the parade. I'm a newshound with a nose for the story, all right.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

He's got the track suit

Love the Kremlin Death Watch vibe of this AP story:
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Wednesday that his ailing friend Fidel Castro is recovering and has been up and walking - in fact "almost jogging" - in recent days.
I hear Stalin was out dancing last night, too.
Chavez said he was pleased to hear from Cuban Vice President Carlos Lage that the 80-year-old Cuban leader was making a recovery. Lage, after meeting with Chavez, said: "We will have Fidel and we will have Raul for a lot more time."

Raul? Who gives a shit?

Their hopeful remarks came less than a week after Chavez said Castro was "battling for his life."

"Lage told me that Fidel walked I don't know how many minutes yesterday," Chavez said Wednesday, noting he suspected Castro was watching his speech on television. "He's walking more than me, almost jogging. Maybe he's walking while watching us." . . .

Chavez held up a letter and said, "I'm going to show you something, for those who say that Fidel is dying, that he can't talk, that he can't move."

The TV camera zoomed in on the letter and on Castro's signature in black ink. "Look closely at the strokes of the signature. We are extremely happy, Fidel, about the news of your recuperation."

Drunkablog saved

Everybody's paper of record, The Sun:

TOM Cruise is the new “Christ” of Scientology, according to leaders of the cult-like religion.

The Mission: Impossible star has been told he has been “chosen” to spread the word of his faith throughout the world.

And leader David Miscavige believes that in future, Cruise, 44, will be worshipped like Jesus for his work to raise awareness of the religion.

Shudder. (Photoshop (?) by Mason Oller.)

A source close to the actor, who has risen to one of the church’s top levels, said: “Tom has been told he is Scientology’s Christ-like figure.

“Like Christ, he’s been criticised for his views. But future generations will realise he was right.”

Cruise joined the Church of Scientology in the ’80s. Leader L Ron Hubbard claimed humans bear traces of an ancient alien civilisation.

(via (what are the odds?) Mason Oller)

Update: Earlier Cruise devotionals here, here, and, while we're waiting for the UFO's, here.

We don't need no . . .

Scurrilous soon-to-be-former University of Colorado ethnic studies instructor Ben Whitmer answers Vince Carroll's Rocky piece yesterday, in which Carroll says Whitmer has a "violent imagination" and a "weakness for fantasized violence," with a post titled:

"One Major Difference Being, I Suppose, That My 'Violent Imagination' Never Started No Wars."

Whitmer holds two degrees in English from CU.

Update: Yes, I know Whitmer's just trying to sound like a prole or a blues musician or whatever, but as a middle-class white boy who grew up in the "huge, soulless exurbs" (and was no doubt picked on a lot), he's really pretty bad at it.

Update II: Memphis Slim.

Update III: Of course I'm just assuming Whitmer's a middle-class kid who grew up in the huge soulless etc., but, c'mon.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Look, 1/7/69

Haven't read it yet, but this one looks interesting, and so appropriate (the D-blog prides himself on appropriateness) for the start of Black History Month:

It's sure got some incredible pictures.

Here's the ad:

Arthur Godfrey. I have a tape somewhere of Lenny Bruce's appearance on his Talent Scouts show in the 40s. Bruce's mother got him on the show, and he did impressions. Not very good impressions. He came in second, I think.

The whole issue is basically a love letter to American blacks, and a very nicely done one:

Everybody knows Eldridge Cleaver.

But Roy Harris? He was president of the "White Citizens Councils of America" and apparently quite the gentleman: "Only rarely in his discourse does he slip and say 'nigger.'"

"A Seattle black and two British blokes plug in a high-voltage
hookup that blasts the teenie mind."

The teenie mind?

"For the armies of the impoverished, unknown to themselves, are already divided. Once victorious over the wealthy West--if ever!-- they could only have a new war. It would take place between those forces on their side who are programmatic, scientific, more or less Socialist, and near maniac in their desire to bring technolgocial culture at the fastest posible rate into every backward land, and those more traditional and/or primitive forces in the revolution of the Third World who reject not only the exploitation of the Western world but reject the West as well, in toto, as a philosophy, a culture, a technique, as a way indeed of even attemptig to solve the problems of man himself"--Normie.

I don't know yet 'cause I haven't read the article.

Convention fun!

A group of Colorado activist types, including Ward Churchill pal Glenn Spagnuolo, has latched onto more than half a dozen domain names that the Democratic National Committee would have wanted, if it had thought about it, for its presidential nominating convention in Denver next year.

The domain names, among them "," rather than take visitors to a DNC site, will route them to a site called Recreate68. org. Colorado Confidential says that site will have:
numerous protest-related resources, including a Q&A sheet for engaging in civil disobedience, and a recipe and directions for wheatpasting political fliers to poles. The site will also be used to help streamline protest events and list hotel and shared housing possibilities closer to the convention date, said Spagnuolo.

Wheatpasting. Political flyers. To poles. So how did the DNC manage to screw up so bad? Another rhetorical question: could the group's name be more predictably lame than Recreate68? Anyway:

Asked whether the Recreate ’68 [oh, excuse me, "the" Recreate 68] will bring a repeat of the rioting and violence that gripped Chicago during the ’68 convention, Spagnuolo said: "That will be up to the Denver Police Department. Any violence would be at the hands of the Denver Police Department.". . .


Both national political conventions in 2004, in Boston and New York City, included a massive police presence, with concrete barriers, barbed wire fencing and what one Boston judge described as "a brutish and potentially unsafe place for citizens who wish to exercise their First Amendment rights." Spagnuolo was among an estimated 600,000 protesters at the Republican National Convention that year.

Brutish and potentially unsafe. Like the protesters said at the time, it was Guantanamo on the Hudson. Spags assesses the risks in 2008:
"I don’t think the message will come down to crack skulls," he said of Denver’s ’08 convention. "We’ll try our hardest to negotiate, but we won’t be having protest zones — you can’t cage democracy."
Oh, we won't be having protest zones, won't we? Well tra-la and pip-pip, old bean.
Spagnuolo places early estimates at the number of protesters who could be at the ’08 convention at 100,000.
Triple-threat Glenn "places early estimates," perorates:
"How many more Vietnams, Nicaraguas, El Salvadores [sic], Haitis, Somalias, Afghanistans, Iraqs, Guatemalas and Chiles do we need before we realize that imperialism keeps marching on?" he asked. "You always say vote for the lesser of two evils; we don’t want to vote for the evil anymore."
Glenn. Who Glenn sees in his bathroom mirror. And what do you want to bet he pronounces it "NEE-ka-rah-wah"?

My only problem with all this is becoming independently wealthy so I can hang out at the Convention Center and blog about the whole mess. Oh, and getting accredited. If that happens, maybe the chant will yet rise up from the bloody streets of Denver:

The Drunkablog is watching!

The Drunkablog is watching!

(via PB, whom I am getting sick and tired of getting stories via)

Rocky's Carroll: CU Ethnic Studies department is "intellectual slum"

Rocky Mountain News editorial page editor Vince Carroll, a frequent target of CU instructor Ben Whitmer's formerly anonymous Try-Works blog, weighs in on Whitmer's unmasking:
Would it surprise you to learn that the founder of a viciously abusive Web site is a part-time instructor in CU's ethnic studies department? I didn't think so.
Jeez Vince, you didn't even give me a chance to answer. Okay. No.
Suffice it to say that Benjamin Whitmer, like the academic hero he defends and apes (you know who I mean), has a weakness for fantasized violence. Here, for example, is a post on his site from last year, targeting, as it happens, me: "F--- him with every ghastly medieval torture device known to humankind. . . . Had we our way, we'd stake his lower intestine to the ground and make the motherf----- take a half-mile walk."
Hardly the nastiest thing Whitmer ever wrote, even about Carroll, but it's sure become a favorite.

Whitmer shut down the site (whose name I won't give him the satisfaction of printing) when Ward Churchill critic Grant Crowell exposed his identity in December. But after expunging the offensive content under the excuse of protecting the identities of other contributors, Whitmer resurrected his creation this month.

"We were a satire site," is how he explains the ugly content he pulled down, proving that his honesty may rival that of his idol.

Zing! [small /sarc]

Oddballs with violent imaginations and an inability to engage in serious debate may be a dime a dozen, but most of us like to assume they will not be rewarded with jobs lecturing at public universities. But then most of us never imagined the sort of intellectual slum that CU's Ethnic Studies Department turned out to be, either.

Look, I've called that department lots of things before, but never an "intellectual slum." Carroll should watch the gutter language.

Yes, that's a joke, son.

(via PB)

Update: Lots more Whitmeration, if you can stand it.

Update II: Sorry, Whitmeration link didn't work because I'm an idiot (with computers) (and other living things). Just type Whitmer in the search hole thingy and you shall be rewarded, oh how you shall be rewarded.

Monday, January 22, 2007


Flogging his book American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America at Alternet, Harvard Divinity School grad, ex-New York Times reporter and well-known insane hysterical idiot Chris Hedges (boy, that "no name-calling" resolution didn't last long) tells us--well, you can pretty much guess from his book title what he tells us, but at least here it's mercifully shortened:
The engine that drives the radical Christian Right in the United States, the most dangerous mass movement in American history, is not religiosity, but despair. It is a movement built on the growing personal and economic despair of tens of millions of Americans, who watched helplessly as their communities were plunged into poverty by the flight of manufacturing jobs, their families and neighborhoods torn apart by neglect and indifference, and who eventually lost hope that America was a place where they had a future.

Practically every clause of that paragraph is false, of course, so let's just answer Hedges' central claim that widespread "economic despair" is turning people into Christian radicals by the "tens of millions" with this li'l linkie and move on:

This despair crosses economic boundaries, of course, enveloping many in the middle class who live trapped in huge, soulless exurbs where, lacking any form of community rituals or centers, they also feel deeply isolated, vulnerable and lonely. Those in despair are the most easily manipulated by demagogues, who promise a fantastic utopia, whether it is a worker's paradise, fraternite-egalite-liberte, or the second coming of Jesus Christ. Those in despair search desperately for a solution, the warm embrace of a community to replace the one they lost, a sense of purpose and meaning in life, the assurance they are protected, loved and worthwhile.

Huge, soulless exurbs? Hedges thinks he's a beatnik. You can keep your Madison Avenue rat-race, maaaaan.

During the past two years of work on the book American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America, I kept encountering this deadly despair. Driving down a highway lined with gas stations, fast food restaurants and dollar stores [capitalism sucks!] I often got vertigo, forgetting for a moment if I was in Detroit or Kansas City or Cleveland.

Amazing how the guy can rope so many doddering intellectual cliches together, ain't it?

There are parts of the United States, including whole sections of former manufacturing centers such as Ohio [sic], that resemble the developing world, with boarded up storefronts, dilapidated houses, pot-hole streets and crumbling schools. The end of the world is no longer an abstraction to many Americans . . . .

To Hedges everything is an abstraction, especially Americans.

There has been, along with the creation of an American oligarchy, a steady Weimarization of the American working class. The top one percent of American households have more wealth than the bottom 90 percent combined. This figure alone should terrify all who care about our democracy. As Plutarch reminded us "an imbalance between the rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics."

So, as a veteran carer about democracy, why amn't I terrified? Maybe because things were different in Blutarch's day. People actually starved to death and stuff. Today, as everybody knows, even "poor" people eat too much and own too much crap.

Hedges' use of the term "Weimarization" is odd, too. Weimar's problem wasn't income inequality, but runaway inflation.

Next Hedges gives us several paragraphs about a "typical" fundamentalist Christian he interviewed, Jeniece Learned, making her sound, of course, like a lunatic. Read that part yourself. Hedges' point in profiling her is to highlight the despair that forced her to escape reality through religion:

The stories believers such as Learned told me of their lives before they found Christ were heart breaking. These chronicles were about terrible pain, severe financial difficulties, struggles with addictions or childhood sexual or physical abuse, profound alienation and often thoughts about suicide. They were chronicles without hope. The real world, the world of facts and dispassionate intellectual inquiry, the world where all events, news and information were not filtered through this comforting ideological prism, the world where they were left out to dry, abandoned by a government hostage to corporations and willing to tolerate obscene corporate profits, betrayed them.

Jesus Christ. Read that last sentence again. In the context of the rest of the paragraph it makes absolutely no sense, and hardly makes any on its own.
They hated this world. And they willingly walked out on this world for the mythical world offered by these radical preachers, a world of magic, a world where God had a divine plan for them and intervened on a daily basis to protect them and perform miracles in their lives. The rage many expressed to me towards those who challenge this belief system, to those of us who do not accept that everything in the world came into being during a single week 6,000 years ago because it says so in the Bible, was a rage born of fear, the fear of being plunged back into a reality-based world where these magical props would no longer exist, where they would once again be adrift, abandoned and alone.

For Hedges, most of my wife's family would qualify as Christian fundamentalists (and yes I'm aware of his fake distinction between "dominionists" and "fundamentalists"). But I've been around them for years in all kinds of situations, and not one of them has ever betrayed the slightest sign of the fanatical rage he keeps blathering about (except when I screw up at Mahjong. Christian fascists love Mahjong). Hell, even Hedges' own example, Jeniece Learned, seems notably unrageful, at least in his telling here (maybe he fleshes her out more in the book). Onward:

The danger of this theology of despair is that it says that nothing in the world is worth saving. It rejoices in cataclysmic destruction. It welcomes the frightening advance of global warming, the spiraling wars and violence in the Middle East and the poverty and neglect that have blighted American urban and rural landscapes as encouraging signs that the end of the world is close at hand.
Oh, bullshit. Hedges would probably back this claim by citing the bogus quote attributed to Reagan's much-reviled interior secretary, James Watt, that Bill Moyers embarrassingly fell for last year: "after the last tree is felled, Christ will come back." That example disallowed, I wonder if he has another?
Believers, of course, clinging to this magical belief, which is a bizarre form of spiritual Darwinism, will be raptured upwards while the rest of us will be tormented with horrors by a warrior Christ and finally extinguished. This obsession with apocalyptic violence is an obsession with revenge. It is what the world, and we who still believe it is worth saving, deserve.
Many have noted the ability of the far left to spout twisted untruths while purring with moral self-satisfaction ("we who still believe it is worth saving"). Hedges:
Those who lead the movement give their followers a moral license to direct this rage and yearning for violence against all those who refuse to submit to the movement, from liberals, to "secular humanists," to "nominal Christians," to intellectuals, to gays and lesbians, to Muslims. These radicals, from James Dobson to Pat Robertson, call for a theocratic state that will, if it comes to pass, bear within it many of the traits of classical fascism.
Yeah? Like what? How, for example, has this fascist "rage and yearning for violence" been expressed by the millions of rank-and-file fanatics Dobs 'n' Robs have been cranking out? I mean, attacks on gays and intellectuals and Muslims and secular humanists and "nominal Christians" (that's harsh) must be spiralling out of control, one Kristallnacht after another, right? Yet somehow we never hear about it. Oh wait, maybe that's because it's not happening.

And since Hedges can't point to anything in the present to confirm his paranoid fantasies, like all apocalypticians he eagerly anticipates the evil future lurking just around the corner:

All radical movements need a crisis or a prolonged period of instability to achieve power. And we are not in a period of crisis now. But another catastrophic terrorist attack on American soil, a series of huge environmental disasters or an economic meltdown will hand to these radicals the opening they seek. Manipulating our fear and anxiety, promising to make us safe and secure, giving us the assurance that they can vanquish the forces that mean to do us harm, these radicals, many of whom have achieved powerful positions in the Executive and legislative branches of government, as well as the military, will ask us only to surrender our rights, to pass them the unlimited power they need to battle the forces of darkness.

They will have behind them tens of millions of angry, disenfranchised [sic] Americans longing for revenge and yearning for a mythical utopia, Americans who embraced a theology of despair because we offered them nothing else.

Yeah, sure. (Don't worry, he'll calm down a lot if a Democrat is elected president in 2008.)

Latest poll!

Actually it's probably a week old, and I'm citing only one hunk of it, but who cares? The Rocky:

[Nativist idiot-magnet] Rep. Tom Tancredo pulls just 2 percent in the latest Iowa presidential poll, but his sixth-place showing in a crowded field means he has the potential to influence the debate, pollster John Zogby said this week.

If that's all it takes to influence the debate, my hat's in the ring. How many ginks we got running already, anyway? Fourteen? Sixteen? Have Pat Paulsen and Harold Stassen declared yet? Uninteresting tidbit: Michael Medfred says it's the first presidential race since 1952 in which there's no incumbent president OR vice-president running. Medfred may be wrong, but I'm not going to check. The Crotchy continues:
"An interesting development can also be found in the 2 percent support for conservative Congressman Tom Tancredo of Colorado," Zogby said. "It means that, if nothing else, he and Newt are going to influence the internal debate in the Republican Party."
In Tancredo's case anyway, not very damn much.

Tancredo made his latest scouting trip to Iowa last weekend and on Tuesday morning announced that he is forming an exploratory committee so he can begin fundraising and decide, probably by the summer, whether he will go forward with
a longshot run for president.

Or just settle for influencing the debate.

Sunday, January 21, 2007


This is intolerable. Venezuelan President-for-Life hopeful Hugo Chavez has once again used swear words against the U.S.
President Hugo Chavez told U.S. officials to "Go to hell!" on his weekly radio and TV show Sunday for what he called unacceptable meddling after Washington raised concerns about a measure to grant Venezuela's fiery leftist leader broad lawmaking powers.
Fiery. How original.
The National Assembly, which is controlled by the president's political allies, is expected to give final approval this week to what it calls the "enabling law," which would give Chavez the authority to pass a series of laws by decree during an 18-month period.
Poor Venezuela.
On Friday, U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey said Chavez's plans under the law "have caused us some concern." Chavez rejected Casey's statement in his broadcast, saying: "Go to hell, gringos! Go home!" Chavez, who was re-elected by a wide margin last month, has said he will enact sweeping reforms to remake Venezuela into a socialist state . . . .
Chavez sounds tan, rested, and ready to assume extraordinary revolutionary powers in the name of the people against the landlords, kulaks, and imperialist aggressors! But first, we talk:

In typical style, Chavez spoke for hours Sunday during his first appearance on the weekly program in five months. He sent his best wishes to the ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro, his close ally and friend who has been sidelined since intestinal surgery last summer.

Sidelined? They did the Fidel-Hugo brain transfer weeks ago.

Chavez also remarked on the hanging of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein: "They took out Saddam Hussein and they hanged him, for good or worse. It's not up to me to judge any government, but that gentleman was the president of that country."
Yes, Hugo. Yes he was.

Update: Z-Net socialist Michael Albert gave Chavez a sensual massage ("blowjob" is such an overused term) in that very rag after he made a fact-finding trip to Venezuela last year. I made fun of it here. (Truth-in-blogging-law declaration: the Drunkablog post just linked is way too long, and not very funny.) Check it out!

Thanks for "droppings" in!

Once again Colorado seizes the political spotlight. The Post has the poop:
What Weld County prosecutors see as the misuse of a rancid pile of dog feces, Kathleen Ensz's defense attorneys see as an expression of the First Amendment.
Is there a use of rancid dog feces that isn't an expression of the First Amendment?

Ensz is accused of going into her backyard in May, obtaining a piece of excrement, placing it in an unwanted political mailer and slipping in [sic] under the door of U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave's office.

Ensz's attorneys argue that her conduct was a form of political protest that deserves protection and is as sacrosanct as Thomas Jefferson's railing against the king of England.

Ben Franklin: Whatcha got there, Tommy?
Thomas Jefferson: Nothin'.

They also cited Mr. Hankey, a television character on the adult cartoon show "South Park," as evidence of how commonplace feces is for expressing disdain.

Mr. Hankey is a talking piece of human waste that shows up every Christmas Eve to deliver presents to good boys and girls whose diet has been high in fiber.

I must start watching South Park.

"What she did was probably [sic] crude and boorish," said Patricia Bangert, one of Ensz's attorneys. "But when Thomas Jefferson said there should be no kings and queens and we should be a free nation, that was considered obnoxious and horrible at the time."

There's something wrong with that argument, but I can't quite put my finger in it.
Bangert also cites Mr. Hankey as part of her argument that feces is often used as an angry expression shielded by the Constitution.
"Feces is" again. What shit writing.
"Etiquette and propriety aside, it is commonplace in today's society to equate a distasteful or disliked person, situation or thing to feces," Bangert said.
Ensz, a Democrat, was angered by repeatedly receiving mailings from Musgrave, a Republican whom she does not like [sic]. She decided to vent her frustration by packaging and presenting the feces, according to court filings.

Prosecutors have charged Ensz - a 63-year-old retired French professor at the University of Northern Colorado - with misdemeanor "use of a noxious substance."
A professair of Frainch! Just for the hell of it I checked to see if Ensz had signed the Teachers for a Democratic Society petition supporting Ward Churchill. Nope, but surely only because she's retired. Man, talk about your fake-but-accurate stories.

Ensz' attorneys alleged an anti-feces conspiracy:

Ensz's attorneys say they will probably call both Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck and Musgrave to the witness stand for an April 18 pretrial hearing.

They claim Buck, also a Republican, pursued criminal charges against Ensz, with the backing of Musgrave, because Ensz strongly supported Democrats in last fall's election.

Ensz displayed signs at her house for both Angie Paccione - Musgrave's Democratic opponent - and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill Ritter. Police contacted a staff member in Musgrave's office and asked if Ensz should be prosecuted, according to court papers.

Musgrave and Buck talked, and charges were filed against Ensz, said Bangert. Later, Musgrave sent out news releases claiming Paccione was linked to the incident.
So what?
"It all begins to look like a conspiracy because immediately after she is charged, Marilyn Musgrave immediately goes to the press," Bangert said . . . .
Annnnnnnnnnd? Ensz "presented" her with the poop, right? Seems like an open and (squish) shut case to me.
Musgrave spokesman Aaron Johnson said: "Right now, this issue is between Ms. Ensz and law enforcement officials."
Update: Here's the Post's original story on the "poop prank," which I saw at the time but ignored in an unaccountable fit of good taste.


Now that was Bears football!

You almost feel bad for New Orleans, but not for long.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Anglosphere in action

The Rocky: "Regional fire crews will help fight Australia fires":

Eighteen Forest Service employees from the Rocky Mountain Region are preparing to go to Australia to help firefighters battle about 2.6 million acres in wildland fires now burning throughout the country.
Two-point-six million acres. Colorado folks remember the Hayman Fire, which choked Denver during the worst of the drought in 2002. That was the biggest wildfire in Colorado history, and it burned only 140,000 acres. The News picks up:
They are preparing to join nearly 100 interagency crew members and include two infrared technicians to assist with aerial monitoring, one person for a management role, and 15 crew members to round out a 20-person interagency Type 1 crew.

"We are honored to send some of our best firefighters to assist the Australian government," said Rick Cables, Rocky Mountain Regional Forester. "Their willingness to help another country during extreme conditions demonstrates their professionalism and dedication to the mission . . . ."
Not a massive contingent, but still, pretty cool.
Fires in Australia are fueled by extended drought and hot temperatures and currently are burning east and northwest of Melbourne, the capitol of the state of Victoria.
Update: Howdy, Caz! (Caz lives in Melbourne.)

Update II: And I'm not sucking up to the Aussies all of a sudden. It's just a coinkidink that this story showed up the day after TIM BLAIR linked to the Drunkablog. (Don't worry, it'll never happen again.)

Fatheads, ho!

(moved up)

Age columnist Terry Lane, whom Tim Blair hilariously mocked for swallowing the Jesse Macbeth hoax well after Macbeth had been exposed, notes that Lane has once again neglected to, in the arcane jargon of journalism, check his facts, and gullibly believed a ridiculous claim:
A recent press release from the organisation Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility draws attention to the fact that rangers in the Grand Canyon National Park are forbidden to answer visitors’ questions about the age of the canyon because the truth will upset Bush’s fundamentalist supporters.
Of course, anyone the least bit curious or even conscientious would check this out, but Lane's hysterical anti-Americanism makes him reckless. Again. "Park Ranger X," among others, debunked the claim almost two weeks ago.

This is all just an excuse to post a couple of pics of the Grand Canyon from a trip way back in '88 when we walked from the North Rim down to Cottonwood Campground on the canyon floor.

It's only seven miles down--and, logical thinkers will realize, back up--but over about five miles of that the trail drops 6,000 feet. It's also hotter than hell, and the goddamn muletrains force you over and over to stand on the brink of cliffs thousands of feet high while huge, snorting, pissin' 'n' crappin' animals, all riding mules, pass within six inches of your face. Oh, and you're wearing a big ol' backpack. I was a little traumatized. Pictures!

Complete strangers looking down from (or perhaps, to be fair, across) the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Luckily for their sanity, they never knew of the Drunkablog's Trial by Mulefart.

Ribbon Falls. There was a couple, um, enjoying nature behind the mossy rock. Before you get all het up, though, remember that they probably smelled strongly of mulefarts.

Update: The Age should be rebuked for keeping Lane around, but they redeem themselves somewhat by running important stories like "Sex dispute ends in tractor rampage."

Update II: Park Ranger X has what I'd call a legitimately pseudonymous blog. Unlike, say, Benjamin Whitmer, PRX doesn't hide his identity to slander and threaten, but because he wants a career with the Park Service.

Update III: Not that kind of "ho," you mor--er, loyal Drunkablog readers!

Update IV: The Skeptic has a long, convoluted explanation of why they too fell for PEER's press release. It boils down to the usual case of fulminating BDS.

Update V: Holy shit, I got linked by Tim Blair. In the same post as Jim Treacher. I can die now. But I'm gonna take all of you with me (you know how Americans are).

Update VI: Forgot to say, look around while you're here. The Ward Churchill stuff is always (well, never) good for a laugh, and there's lots of it. In particular check out the link above (now below) about Ben Whitmer, the University of Colorado instructor who used his anonymous blog to defend Churchill with the crudest kind of slander and invective, and got caught.

Update VII: Blair links to a January 3 post at Seattlest--more than a week before Terry Lane's column--mea culpa-ing for swallowing PEER's claim. By way of mitigation the poster includes links to a bunch of other folks who fell for it, including Time back in 2004. Language is so fungible. The Seattlest writer says PEER merely "intimated" that the Park Service wasn't allowed to discuss the scientific age of the Grand Canyon, but then quotes the opening line of their press release: "'Grand Canyon National Park is not permitted to give an official estimate of the geologic age of its principal feature . . . " and calls the flat lie "a disingenuous start."

(credit: Muletrain from

Friday, January 19, 2007

Weird Bird Friday

Sorry I'm so late! It is still Friday here, although I know it's sometime next Tuesday in Australia.

Here is your typical fanned out peacock picture:

Ever wonder what's behind all the glitz and glamour? Well, wonder no more!

Both pictures taken at a little private "zoo" behind a pulque factory in central Mexico. My traveling partners were busy sampling the pulque, while I collected pictures for the as-yet-nonexistent Weird Bird Friday.


Thursday, January 18, 2007

Hamperin' Hank resigns

University of Colorado President Hank Brown has resigned after only 18 months on the job, and already muckety-mucks are jumping off buildings screaming how wonderful Brown was and how terrible it will be to lose him.

But what, exactly, did he accomplish? One state lawmaker said "transparency," but I can't see it. In fact, perhaps coincidentally, the Independence Institute has just issued a report calling for an outside audit of CU's crazed and unaccountable spending on the school's diversity programs.

The Rocky, after noting that "Brown was recruited to lead the University of Colorado in 2005 at a time when CU was reeling from the football recruiting scandal and controversy over Ethnic Studies professor Ward Churchill," adds that "Brown has been widely credited with helping to rebuild public support for CU during the past two years."

But again, what exactly did Brown do about those two problems? Nothing I know of. The football scandal wasn't exactly brought to a satisfactory conclusion, and of course Churchill's still around, though the process of getting rid of him may be gimping toward a conclusion. But then there's Ben Whitmer, and Emma Perez, and
Arturo Aldama . . .

Update: Simpery from various sources on Brown's resignation.

Update II: The "hamperin'" in the title doesn't actually refer to anything, it was just too bad a pun to pass up.

Update III: The Post takes a stab at enumberating Brown's accomplishments:

He immediately slashed $1 million from the system-wide operations by eliminating 11 administrative positions. In response to accusations in the recruiting scandal, he prohibited the purchase of alcohol with state funds. He also streamlined the school's accounting procedures after recommendations from internal audits had been ignored for more than five years.

The D-blog is not known for his accomplishments, but even he would be embarrassed by this pathetic recitation.

Update IV: Brown's resignation doesn't take effect for a year, but since he's completed all the tasks he set for himself, I guess he'll just sit on the porch of the president's residence (tiny, ain't it?) and read the paper.


Lots of folks including Tim Blair have linked to the Independent's "You Ask the Questions" with Martin Amis, but he's really "on," so I will too. Love them Amises, especially old Dad.

Academics remain concerned

Seems the clock has begun ticking on the 30-day period for CU's Privilege & Tenure Committee to make a recommendation to CU President Hank Brown on whether to fire Ward Churchill, according to a somewhat limp "open letter from concerned academics" in Z-net.

(via PB)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Westword's Roberts on CU's Whitmer

Here's the Roberts piece (yes the whole thing), annotated, by God (note comma; article not annotated by God). [update: the piece is teased on Westword's front page under the title "The Hating Game."]

Try Again

A CU instructor admits he's behind a pro-Ward Churchill blog known for bawdy humor and a pronounced nasty streak.

Article Published Jan 18, 2007

"John Moredock," the pseudonymous scribe behind Try-Works, a blog at, never minced words when it came to slamming the media. Consider a November 29, 2006, post that lambasted a piece by the Rocky Mountain News's editorial-page editor. Riffing on the item's subtle title -- "Fuck Vince Carroll" -- Moredock declared, "Fuck him with every ghastly medieval torture device known to humankind.... Had we our way, we'd stake his lower intestine to the ground and make the motherfucker take a half-mile walk."

Moredock, who borrowed his name from the Herman Melville book The Confidence-Man, was just as delicate in a November 10, 2006, reference to Westword editor Patricia Calhoun's column about Mike Jones, the man whose revelations concerning gay sex and meth purchases brought down Colorado Springs evangelist Ted Haggard. After quoting Calhoun's tongue-in-cheek announcement that she'd been "fucked by a male escort" (Jones had told his tale to Westword but then decided against going public, only to do so with other outlets), Moredock wrote, "We only wish it could've been with a wood rasp."

Still, Try-Works' principal mission was to champion University of Colorado-Boulder professor Ward Churchill, who Moredock and other contributors felt was being unfairly excoriated in the mainstream press -- and the site's colorfully profane approach to defending him promptly spawned rumors that Moredock and Churchill were one and the same. When yours truly asked him about this theory in an e-mail circa November 2005 (three months after Try-Works' launch), Moredock shot it down. But he remained in the crosshairs of Churchill critics eager to expose him, and last December, one of them, Illinois resident and fledgling documentarian Grant Crowell, scored a bull's-eye. Following an e-mail exchange with Moredock, Crowell employed the "view source" command in his Microsoft Outlook system to discover that the sender was actually Benjamin Whitmer, an untenured, part-time CU instructor in the very same Ethnic Studies program that had long employed Churchill.
Never was quite sure how Grant made his discovery, even though I was kind of there. Some journalist.
Shortly after his identity was divulged on a pair of Colorado-based Churchill-bashing pages --, run by Jim Paine, who couldn't be reached for comment, and, the domain of John [I emphasized the "G," dammit] Martin -- Whitmer pulled Try-Works down. But it returned on January 4, with Whitmer explaining that he'd removed all previous content in an attempt to prevent his fellow Try-Works bloggers from being outed in much the same way he'd been; with the exception of Erin Rosa, a regular on the Colorado Confidential blog, most of them filed under nom de plumes. However, he'd decided to keep up the online fight under his real name. In his words, "It'll be fun to give you, dear reader, the opportunity to hate me for myself."
Roberts takes Whitmer's word for it that he disappeared Try-Works to keep the identities of his fellow contributors secret. What a stand-up guy. What bullshit. If Whitmer hadn't been outed the blog would have stayed up; the increased scrutiny it got after he panicked and took it down actually upped the chances his contributors would be exposed. Clearly he did so because he feared lawsuits against his own personal self.
Of course, this disclosure also provided ammunition to his enemies, and they wasted little time firing it back at him. Martin doesn't advocate censorship against Whitmer [hell of a guy, ain't I?]: "He should be able to say any damn thing he wants, and we should be free to mock him for it," he believes. But as someone charged with teaching young people, Whitmer "should be held to a higher standard," Martin allows. "Somebody in a position of responsibility shouldn't be so reckless."
Not quite sure how that "higher standard" quote came about. Seems to me Roberts said the actual words, "should be held to a higher standard," to which I assented in some way ("Yes! Exactly!"), but I don't actually agree. Academics like Whitmer and Churchill need to be held to a very basic standard: telling the truth. They aren't. In fact, they lie all the time and get away with it. Roberts continues:
Crowell echoes this last observation. "What does it say about people in academia?" he asks. "And where does responsibility come in academic freedom? Certain jobs come with a sense of authority and trust, and when you feel that trust is betrayed, what kind of reputation does it leave? I'd ask the Ethnic Studies department: Is any kind of conduct on the outside acceptable?"
Good one, Grant!
Absolutely not, replies CU-Boulder spokesman Bronson Hilliard. CU has neither the resources to monitor all outside activities of staffers nor the desire to "play referee over every debate," he says, but when complaints are made against faculty members and so forth, they're investigated on a case-by-case basis. Hilliard, who hasn't received any such grievance related to Whitmer, estimates that "99.9 percent of the time, it's a pure free-speech issue." But he stresses that action can be taken against employees and students if they use a CU server to disseminate libelous, slanderous or threatening posts and e-mails, or if they conduct such activities in ways that imply they're operating under the university's auspices.
Hilliard's lips say "absolutely not," but his eyes say "pure free speech." And is he claiming that an instructor "disseminating libelous, slanderous or threatening" posts from somewere other than a CU server doesn't warrant "action"?
Whitmer asserts by e-mail that he did nothing of the sort. Try-Works isn't on the campus system, and he maintains that in his posts, "I was in no way acting as a representative of CU. Hell, I was anonymous. Obviously, none of my students knew about it -- I was having a little fun in my free time poking back at people I thought were intrinsically full of shit."
Like CU's Committee on Research Misconduct, which is intrinsically full of shit because it found that Churchill was a plagiarist and a liar.
A native of upstate New York, Whitmer has lived in Colorado since 1996, and he earned two English degrees at CU. Beginning in 2005, around the time Churchill came under attack, he was put in charge of what he calls an "Indians in Lit" class, and since then, he's overseen numerous courses in the Ethnic Studies department, only one or two of which were previously on Churchill's schedule. In addition, he's participated in Columbus Day parade protests, and despite having been arrested in both 2000 and 2004, he pledges not to stop until the parade does.
Brave, brave Benji!
Try-Works has demonstrated just as much resolve [sic] when going after perceived enemies, as Rocky writer Charlie Brennan understands. In 2005, after the site spent weeks ripping Brennan's coverage of Churchill, a Try-Worker got hold of sometimes flirtatious, often embarrassing e-mails the reporter sent to a woman he may or may not have thought was an American Indian Movement source and began posting them in serial fashion. Before long, Brennan vanished from the Churchill beat. He refers questions about the move to Rocky editor/publisher/president John Temple, who characterizes it as a mutual decision designed to avoid any perception of bias.
Very tasteful, and as far as I know the first open mention of the Brennan imbroglio anywhere in the Denver meedja.
Like Brennan, Whitmer has now lost a piece of his privacy, as well as one of his website's greatest assets. The presumption that Moredock was Churchill "created a kind of mystique," he notes. And if conjecture that Churchill was behind every word may have made slaps at the media seem like personal vendettas, it generated "this kind of cult following from the anti-Churchill bloc, which took everything we said really seriously."
That paragraph has basically nothing to do with the truth. For one thing, I never thought Moredock was Churchill. In fact, my own long-held theory, that the Try-Works people were Colorado AIM members or supporters, turned out to be (sort of) right. At least, most of them were arrested one time or another at C-AIM's anti-Columbus Day protests. I just didn't see the utter likelihood of a CU connection. Roberts continues:
Granted, some secrets remain. Now that they know Moredock isn't Churchill, both Martin and Crowell think the embattled professor likely writes for the site under a different moniker, "Charley Arthur." Whitmer offers no help pinning down the facts: "I've only communicated with Charley Arthur via e-mail. I've got a couple ideas as to who he is, but Ward Churchill's not tops on my list." Churchill, for his part, didn't respond to several interview requests.
I do think now that Charley might have been Churchill. He's certainly used sock puppets before.
What's gone, however, is Whitmer's ability to smash opponents from behind the veil of anonymity, as he did to Drunkablog's Martin. Following the release of a damning report against Churchill, Martin says, "I mentioned in passing that I imagined Moredock was face down in a puddle of his own vomit -- and he commented back that the only puddle of vomit he'd seen was after 'somebody puked in your wife's cunt and I was eating her out.'"
Gee I wish I hadn't told him that. But you know what? No I don't. I warned the D-a-W, and she'll probably have something to say here, but Westword editor (or "editor-in-cunt" as the "bawdy" Whitmer has repeatedly referred to her) Patty Calhoun had her wood rasp, Vince Carroll had his staked intestines, Charlie Brennan had his Indian Princess--oh man, I'm dead.

By the way, Lisa Jones, formerly of the blog Rockywatch, and I sent Roberts a couple other ultra-nasty Moredock and Friends quotes, these about Jones herself, but apparently too late for Roberts to include in his story. Here they are. Roberts winds up:
Will Whitmer continue using startling [sic] language like this now that everyone knows he teaches at CU? University spokesman Hilliard hopes not. After hearing samples of Moredock's bluer material, he says, "We like not just free speech but better speech, enlightened speech. Much of what you're describing to me is personal vitriol, and that's rather disappointing."
No wonder Whitmer isn't exactly cocky about job security. "Since I'm an adjunct, I have no protection whatsoever," he notes. "They can just choose not to renew my contract, and I'm gone." Still, he refuses to soft-pedal his opinion about CU's treatment of Churchill, who is currently on paid administrative leave. "I love the Ethnic Studies department, I love my students, and I love teaching," he asserts. "But I think the university at large has been the worst kind of cowardly, folding like a yard-sale card table under the slightest media pressure. I don't plan on ever being quiet about that."
Anyone else notice how Roberts keeps quoting Whitmer's self-aggrandizing "I shall be heard" statements without ever questioning whether what Whitmer says is, you know, true?
Even so, the new Try-Works seems more polite than its predecessor. The 2007 posts aren't timid, but neither have they involved torture fantasies -- and Whitmer doesn't know when or if that will change. "I'm not entirely sure," he concedes. "It's probably less nasty at this point -- but then, I haven't had much time to get rolling."
Yeah, whatever. Roberts was more sympathetic to Whitmer than I liked, but I knew he would be. We'll see what happens.

Update: Unbelievable: the URL Westword has for the Drunkablog is freaking WRONG.

Update II: For some reason the picture of Whitmer in Roberts' column didn't show up for me at first. Evocative, ain't it? You can almost hear the wah-wah of the train whistle. All Whitmer needs is a guitar or a harmonica or a set of spoons or whatever and he'll be another voice of the American Heartland like Johnny Cougar.

Update III: Roberts posts on Westword's blog about Grant Crowell's fight with Churchill over the right to film and record Churchill's public speeches, which Churchill and Whitmer ludicrously claim are copyrighted material. Don't know why Roberts bothered, given that this is one of the most stupid claims Churchill has made, but there it is.

At least they've fixed the link to this feeb blog.

Update IV: Okay, now I'm pissed. Whitmer gets a pic, Grant Crowell gets a pic. Me? No pic. I submitted a glamour shot, too. (Yes, I need to expand (heh) my repertoire of "funny" pictures.)

Update V: Can't believe I didn't mock Whitmer's assertion that there was a "mystique" about Try-Works, or that anybody took what was said there seriously--in the sense, of course, of taking an argument seriously. Whitmer's threats, slander and sick fantasies? Didn't take them seriously either, except as yet another (unnecessary) example of the far left's intellectual and moral corruption.

Update VI: Grant Crowell in comments:
In truth, Benji is like a sloppy skinhead version of the far left, and only an anonymous online version at that, and without any guts. Now I guess Churchill Nation is down from 2 to 1, until Ward has a new boy-toy dumb enough to take the fall for him.
Read the whole comment.