Wednesday, June 29, 2005

What a long, strange trip it's been...

After months of controversy, a terribly embarrassing one week change to "Gold", and a two-stage voting process, Marquette shall remain the "Golden Eagles" (until the PC police decide animals are no longer appropriate mascots either).
JS Online: Golden Eagles, it shall be.
That was the sentiment of eligible Marquette University voters who decided in a two-stage voting process that Golden Eagles should be the nickname of the school's athletic teams, after all.

The university made the official announcement this morning, ending weeks of controversy and criticism for the way the school's Board of Trustees handled the nickname issue.

According to Marquette, 23,097 participated in the second and final round of voting, a fraction of the more than 100,000 alumni, students, employees, faculty and donors who were eligible to vote. Of that amount, 12,562 or 54% voted for Golden Eagles, and 10,535 or 46% voted for Hilltoppers.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

All Marquette, all the time

First, congrats to Travis Diener. He was the 8th pick of the second round of the NBA draft this evening, and will be heading south to the Orlando Magic, which places him just a few hundred miles from his former teammate (and current NBA superstar, Dwyane Wade). He may be the last "Golden Eagle" ever drafted into the NBA.

Second, and the point to this post, is the impending athletic nickname announcement. My vote went to the Hilltoppers (the ORIGINAL Marquette nickname) and I'm hoping that enough people agree. Regardless, at least this time there was a transparent selection process and not a dictate from the top of the ivory tower (which was basically how the "Golden Eagle" name was picked in the first place).

I'll have another post for you readers tomorrow after the official announcement is made.

JS Online: "Marquette University on Wednesday plans to announce its new team nickname, or go back to its old one.

There were two choices left to a binding, largely online vote: Golden Eagles, the nickname the school adopted in 1994 and dropped this year, or Hilltoppers. The voting ended Friday.
Golden Eagles and Hilltoppers were selected from 10 possible nicknames the school had offered alumni, students, faculty, staff, donors and season-ticket holders.
The school's Board of Trustees had voted to switch to Gold, but dropped it a week later after widespread criticism. The trustees then adopted a two-stage voting system that put the final nickname decision in the hands of the voters.
School officials are also expected to release additional details of the breakdown from the first round of voting.
On Friday, the school will officially join the Big East Conference."

T minus 12 (depending on how Friday's announcement goes).

Monday, June 27, 2005

Be very afraid.

16 to 25? Pentagon Has Your Number, and More - New York Times: "The Defense Department and a private contractor have been building an extensive database of 30 million 16-to-25-year-olds, combining names with Social Security numbers, grade-point averages, e-mail addresses and phone numbers.
The department began building the database three years ago, but military officials filed a notice announcing plans for it only last month. That is apparently a violation of the federal Privacy Act, which requires that government agencies accept public comment before new records systems are created.
David S. C. Chu, the under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, acknowledged yesterday that the database had been in the works since 2002. Pentagon officials said they discovered in May 2004 that no Privacy Act notice had been filed. The filing last month was an effort to correct that, officials said.
Mr. Chu said the database was just a tool to send out general material from the Pentagon to those most likely to enlist.
'Congress wants to ensure the success of the volunteer force,' he said at a reporters' roundtable in Washington. 'Congress does not want conscription, the country does not want conscription. If we don't want conscription, you have to give the Department of Defense, the military services, an avenue to contact young people to tell them what is being offered. It would be naïve to believe that in any enterprise, that you are going to do well just by waiting for people to call you.'"

My current after work project!

Writing a Resignation Letter - Career Guide: How To Handle Your Resignation

Resigning form a position is one of the most difficult aspects of the job search process and one that often gets the least amount of attention. The first time I needed to resign, I stood up and sat back down about five times before I had the courage to walk into the managers office and give my two weeks notice. In order to help you avoid the same overpowering anxiety involved in your first resignation, I've compiled the following tips to guide you through the process.
Be Prepared: The anxiety involved in resigning can be mitigated with proper preparation. The first step is to prepare a short resignation letter to offer to your manager at the conclusion of the meeting. The key to an effective letter is to keep it on point and to express your appreciation for the opportunity that you had with the company. This is not the place to document all that was wrong with the position. The following links will provide you with some general examples of effective resignation letter."

Thursday, June 23, 2005

When Pavements Attack...a new FOX Special

Now...I'm just being a bit picky here, but it's concrete, not cement. For those SAT analogy lovers, cement is to concrete as flour is to cake.

NBC15 | Sweltering Cement:
Not only are the days of extreme heat on the rise but that extreme heat is causing the concrete to rise. On Tuesday, concrete buckled on the beltline causing traffic delays near Mineral Point Road.

During this time of year with the recent extreme heat, pavement temperatures get between 95 and 115 degrees which causes the concrete to expand. Highway Superintendent Steve Haag says, 'It starts moving on its base and what happens is when it gets to a point that's real weak. The concrete will actually buckle and heave up into the air and ride up over itself.'
Highway patrol says motorists need to watch out for buckling concrete since it can be very dangerous. Usually when the pavement rises up the traffic goes over it, but drivers need to be careful because it can cave in.
When concrete heaves it is not only costly, but roads need to be temporarily closed in order to fix the buckle."

Party time, excellent...

Well this a relief...not that anyone ever paid attention to the law anyway.

NBC15 | Party Time in Packer Parking Lot:
It's official.
Green Bay Packers fans can now legally enjoy a brew with their brats and their football.

The city council last night finally overturned an overlooked ordinance that banned drinking alcohol while tailgating at Lambeau Field, even though it's been done for decades.
Police were aware of the ordinance but made an exception for Packers fans around game time.
Now, it's officially not a crime to drink on the parking lot before the game, as long as you can brave the weather."

Monday, June 20, 2005

Dances With Wolves of Death

Another update over on the old sidebar. A Little Light Reading moved quickly through another book this past week as Dance of Death (by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child) has been dispatched to the completed pile. It's quite interesting how much longer a non-fiction book takes to read. As I was reminded, Dance of Death is the second book in a trilogy, with the third, and final, book due out in about 8 months.

Since I don't write reviews, here's one from Publisher's Weekly (via
The always reliable team of Preston and Child revisit Special FBI Agent Aloysius Pendergast, last seen in 2004's Brimstone, and others from past bestsellers (Relic; The Cabinet of Curiosities) in this intriguing thriller set in and around New York City and the halls of the Museum of Natural History. Born a misanthropic loner but driven insane by seeing his parents burned alive when he was a teen, Aloysius's madman brother, Diogenes, has begun murdering Aloysius's friends. Aloysius begs old friend Lt. Vincent D'Agosta to help him defeat his brother, and Vincent does his best while the brothers spar and others die. There are a number of subplots, one involving an ATM robber and flasher known as the Dangler and another focusing on the museum's exhibition of sacred masks, but these fade away as the deadly duel between the brothers takes center stage. Think Sherlock Holmes locked in a death struggle with his smarter brother, Mycroft. Like Brimstone, this novel doesn't end so much as simply pause while the authors work on the next installment.

T minus 18.5

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Toy #3

This is too damn cool...hopefully it will come to the US soon.

BT combines land lines, cell phones: Tech News
Jun 16, 2005, 15:00 GMT

LONDON, England (UPI) -- Britain`s BT Group PLC has introduced a handset that can switch imperceptibly between cell phone transmitters and land lines. Known as BT Fusion, the phone is being tested with British customers in 400 households.

Fusion switches automatically from cell phone mode to land line mode when a user enters his or her residence or even, in some cases, someone else`s residence.

The Fusion handset uses a Bluetooth wireless connection to relay the call to a broadband hub in the home. This hub can also be used as a wireless router for home computer Wi-Fi networks.

BT, which is pricing Fusion calls made at customers` homes at domestic land line rates, plans a national launch in Britain in September.

Free health care for all

A great idea that will never go anywhere. Especially since businesses will be tricked into thinking this is a tax...even though they already pay it to insurance companies as a premium co-pay.

If this idea moves forward, just watch the insurance and hospital lobbyists spin into high gear to kill it hard and fast.

The Capital Times: Health plan would cover all in state
Proposal gets rare bipartisan support
By David Callender
June 15, 2005

In a rare show of bipartisanship, two state lawmakers and a former top aide to Gov. Jim Doyle are proposing a $13.5 billion-a-year plan that would guarantee health insurance coverage for all Wisconsin residents.
The proposal was unveiled this morning during a hearing before the Assembly Medicaid Reform Committee.
The proposal is co-sponsored by the committee's chairman, Rep. Curt Gielow, R-Mequon, as well as Rep. John Richards, D-Milwaukee.
The plan is the brainchild of David Riemer, Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle's former state budget director and now head of the Wisconsin Health Project, and Lisa Ellinger, another former Doyle aide. Joe Leean, a former Republican state senator and former secretary of the state Department of Health and Family Services, has also been working with Riemer.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

losing myself in a white trash hell

From my friend Kelly...this was too good not to post:
FOREST PARK -- Clayton County police were investigating after a man
suffered a wound to the neck during what appears to have been a freak
accident involving a bullet, authorities said.

Rescue workers were called shortly before 11:30 a.m. to a strip
shopping center on Ga. 42 just outside the gates of Fort Gillem.

The victim, whose identity was pending, was rushed for medical
treatment to Grady Memorial Hospital. His condition was not
immediately available.

An unidentified woman who was with the man told police that the man
was trying to repair a faulty speaker wire and was using a .22-caliber
bullet to do so.

At some point, the man ended up with a piece of the wire in his neck.

The couple tried to drive to the hospital but experienced problems
with their vehicle, which is what prompted them to stop near the fort
and call 911.

Free Goo Hat Katie Culture

Finally an update to "A Bit of Light Reading" over in the sidebar. I finished off Free Culture by Lawrence Lessig and immediately promoted Dance of Death to the current read slot...I reserve that right for certain authors.

Free Culture offers an excellent explanation of the current copyright system, and how it came to be in it's current form. Since I'm not into reviewing books (just reading them), I offer the following excerpted review which I borrowed from Publishers Weekly via
Copyright law in the digital age has become a hot topic, thanks to millions of music downloaders and the controversial, high-profile legal efforts of the music industry to stop them. Here Lessig argues that copyright as designed by the Framers has become dangerously unbalanced, favoring the interests of corporate giants over the interests of citizens and would-be innovators. In clear, well-paced prose, Lessig illustrates how corporations attempt to stifle innovations, from FM radio and the instant camera to peer-to-peer technology. He debunks the myth that draconian new copyright enforcement is needed to combat the entertainment industry's expanded definition of piracy, and chillingly assesses the direct and collateral damage of the copyright war. Information technology student Jesse Jordan, for example, was forced to hand over his life savings to settle a lawsuit brought by the music industry—for merely fixing a glitch in an Internet search engine. Lessig also offers a very personal look into his failed Supreme Court bid to overturn the Copyright Term Extension Act, a law that added 20 years to copyright protections largely to protect Mickey Mouse from the public domain. In addition to offering a brilliant argument, Lessig also suggests a few solutions, including the Creative Commons licensing venture (an online licensing venture that streamlines the rights process for creators), as well as legislative solutions.

T minus 20.5

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Top Ten Ways George Bush Can Regain His Popularity

CBS | Late Show Top Ten Archive: June 08, 2005:

Top Ten Ways George Bush Can Regain His Popularity

10. Dip into social security fund to give every American free HBO
9. Use diplomacy to bring peace to Brad, Jen and Angelina
8. Try fixing Iraq, creating some jobs, reducing the deficit and maybe capturing Osama
7. Figure out a way for the Yankees to win a game
6. Replace his 'country simpleton' persona with more lovable 'hillbilly idiot' image
5. Use weekly radio address to give Americans a Van Halen twofer
4. Get Saddam to switch to boxers
3. Ditch the librarian and make Eva Longoria First Lady
2. Resign
1. Jump on Oprah's couch while professing his love for Katie Holmes"

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Well, you know, we all want to change the world

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of one of the greatest politicians this country has ever seen. That he comes from Wisconsin is not a surprise to Wisconsinites. Our proud tradition of progressivism and independent thinking still runs deep today, despite the current actions of our state legislature.
Fighting Bob fights on

By John Nichols
The Capital Times
June 14, 2005

On March 25, 1921, at the age of 65, Robert M. La Follette Sr. took the greatest risk of his long political career.

Four years after he chose to lead the congressional opposition to World War I, La Follette was still condemned in Washington and in his native state of Wisconsin as a traitor or - at best - an old man whose political instincts had finally failed him. But La Follette was not ready to surrender the U.S. Senate seat he had held since leaving Wisconsin's governorship in 1906. He wanted to return to Washington to do battle once more against what he perceived to be the twin evils of the still young century: corporate monopoly at home and imperialism abroad.

The re-election campaign that loomed just a year off would be difficult, he was told, perhaps even impossible. Old alliances had been strained by La Follette's lonely refusal to join in the war cries of 1917 and 1918. To rebuild them, the senator's aides warned, he would have to abandon his continued calls for investigations of war profiteers and his passionate defense of socialist Eugene Victor Debs and others who had been jailed in the postwar Red Scare.

The place to begin backpedaling, La Follette was told, would be in a speech before the crowded Wisconsin Assembly chamber in Madison. Moments before the white-haired senator climbed to the podium on that cold March day, he was warned one last time by his aides to deliver a moderate address, to apply balm to the still-open wounds of the previous years, and, above all, to avoid mention of the war and his opposition to it.

La Follette began his speech with the formalities of the day, acknowledging old supporters and recognizing that this was a pivotal moment for him politically. Then, suddenly, the senator pounded the lectern.

"I am going to be a candidate for re-election to the United States Senate," he declared, as the room shook with the thunder of a mighty orator reaching full force. Stretching a clenched fist into the air, La Follette bellowed: "I do not want the vote of a single citizen under any misapprehension of where I stand: I would not change my record on the war for that of any man, living or dead."

The crowd sat in stunned silence for a moment before erupting into thunderous applause. Even his critics could not resist the courage of the man; indeed, one of his bitterest foes stood at the back of the hall, with tears streaming down his cheeks, and told a reporter: "I hate the son of a bitch. But, my God, what guts he's got."

This was the La Follette that the senator's friend, Emma Goldman, referred to lovingly as "the finest, most inconsistent anarchist" of his time. This was the man so fierce in his convictions that he would risk consignment to political oblivion rather than abandon an unpopular position. La Follette genuinely believed that the inheritors of America's revolutionary tradition would, if given the truth, opt not for moderation but for the most radical of solutions.

It was this militant faith in the people that enabled him to win re-election to the Senate in 1922 by an overwhelming margin. And this faith guided the Midwestern populist as he embarked on the most successful left-wing presidential campaign in American history.

Running with the support of the Socialist Party, African-Americans, women, organized labor, and farmers, La Follette terrified the established economic, political, and media order, which warned that his election would bring chaos. And La Follette gave them reason to fear. His Progressive Party platform called for public management and conservation of natural resources, government takeover of the railroads, elimination of private utilities, easier credit for farmers, the outlawing of child labor, the right of workers to organize unions, increased protection of civil liberties, an end to U.S. imperialism in Latin America, and a plebiscite before any president could again lead the nation into war.

Campaigning for the presidency on a pledge to "break the combined power of the private monopoly system over the political and economic life of the American people" and denouncing, in the heyday of the Ku Klux Klan's resurgence, "any discrimination between races, classes, and creeds," La Follette told his followers: "Free men of every generation must combat renewed efforts of organized force and greed to destroy liberty."

La Follette's 1924 crusade won almost 5 million votes - more than five times the highest previous total for a candidate endorsed by the Socialists. He carried Wisconsin, ran second in 11 Western states, and swept working-class Jewish and Italian wards of New York and other major cities - proving that a rural-urban populist coalition could, indeed, be forged.

La Follette declared in a post-campaign article for the national publication he edited, La Follette's Weekly, which would soon be renamed The Progressive, that, while threats and intimidation had weakened the 1924 drive, "the Progressives will close ranks for the next battle."

Though he did not live to see it, La Follette would within a decade be proven right.
What is it about La Follette that has made him such an enduring figure? It comes down to a single idea: America, La Follette argued throughout his political life, cannot live up to its ideals as long as militarism and corporate power warp our democracy.

Steeped in the ideals of Jefferson and Lincoln, La Follette developed his revulsion for corporate capital as a young man - taking his cue from Edward Ryan, a fiery Irish radical who rose to the position of chief justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court during the great populist upsurge of the 1870s.

When Ryan spoke to University of Wisconsin students in 1873, young Robert M. La Follette heard the jurist declare: "There is looming up a dark new power. ... The enterprises of the country are aggregating vast corporate combinations of unexampled capital, boldly marking, not for economic conquest only, but for political power. For the first time in our politics, money is taking the field of organized power. The question will arise, and arise in your day though perhaps not fully in mine: 'Which shall rule - wealth or man? Which shall lead - money or intellect? Who shall fill public stations - educated and patriotic free men, or the feudal serfs of corporate wealth?' "

Those words served as La Follette's mantra as he embarked on a career that began with his election as Dane County district attorney and would take him to Congress, the governorship of Wisconsin, and the U.S. Senate. La Follette's election as governor came after a decade-long crusade against the timber barons and railroad interests that dominated his own Republican Party. When he took office, he pledged to end the rule of "corporation agents and representatives of the machine," who had "moved upon the Capitol."

Declaring that "the spirit of democracy is abroad in the land," La Follette successfully pushed the Legislature to double taxes on the railroads, to break up monopolies, to preserve the state's forests, to protect labor rights, to defend the interests of small farmers, to regulate lobbying, to end patronage politics, and to weaken the grip of political bosses by creating an open primary system.

By the time he was elevated to the U.S. Senate in 1906, La Follette was already a national figure. He soon emerged as a leader of the Senate's burgeoning progressive caucus and by 1912 was a serious contender for the Republican Party's presidential nomination. The fight for the nomination exposed divisions within the progressive camp, however, as La Follette's more radical followers battled supporters of a centrist reformer who also claimed the progressive mantle: former President Teddy Roosevelt.

The Roosevelt/La Follette split grew more pronounced five years later, when the nation was preparing to enter World War I. While Roosevelt urged U.S. participation in the war - the position supported by the nation's political establishment - La Follette emerged as the leading foe of a war he described as a scheme to line the pockets of the corporations he had fought so bitterly as a governor and senator.

La Follette personally held up Woodrow Wilson's rush to war by successfully filibustering President Wilson's proposal to arm American merchant ships. Anticipating the contemporary grumbling of President Bush and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist regarding votes on judicial nomination, Wilson complained, "A little group of willful men, representing no opinion but their own, have rendered the great government of the United States helpless and contemptible."

Wilson and his Senate allies engineered a procedural move to abolish the century-old rule that debate could be cut off only with unanimous consent, and adopted a rule permitting debate to be terminated if two-thirds of the Senate voted to invoke cloture.

Burton K. Wheeler, the progressive Democratic senator from Montana who was La Follette's running mate in the 1924 presidential campaign, recalled that La Follette's most passionate advice to him as a young senator was to always support the right of fellow senators to filibuster. "Never vote for cloture," La Follette warned. Even on an issue where a progressive senator disagreed with colleagues who were filibustering, La Follette argued that it was always wrong to stifle debate on important issues and nominations.

Despite the machinations of Wilson and the Senate leaders, La Follette was still able to register his objections to sending young Americans to die on behalf of the king of England's fight with the German kaiser.

From the Senate floor, La Follette argued: "We should not seek (to) inflame the mind of our people by half truths into the frenzy of war." He painted the impending conflict as a war that would benefit the wealthy of the world but not the workers, who would have to fight it. And he warned: "The poor, ... who are always the ones called upon to rot in the trenches, have no organized power. ... But oh, Mr. President, at some time they will be heard. ... There will come an awakening. They will have their day, and they will be heard."

Those words sounded treasonous to some, and La Follette's constant efforts to expose war profiteers only heightened the attacks upon him. He was targeted for censure by the Senate, portrayed in Life magazine as a stooge of the German kaiser, and denounced by virtually the entire media establishment of the nation - including the Boston Evening Transcript, which announced, "Henceforth he is the Man without a Country."

As mounting domestic oppression sent more and more anti-war activists to jail, La Follette emerged as their defender, berating his colleagues with the charge that "never in all my many years' experience in the House and in the Senate have I heard so much democracy preached and so little practiced as during the last few months."

No critic of the war in Iraq, nor of the Bush administration's "Patriot Act," has known attacks as savage as those directed at La Follette.

The political pundits of his day declared that the Wisconsin senator would never again be a viable contender for public office.

And yet, less than four years after the armistice, running on a platform that explicitly recounted his opposition to the war and his opposition to imperialism, La Follette won re-election with more than 70 percent of the vote in Wisconsin. And two years later, he earned one out of every six votes cast for the presidency of the United States.

The 1924 presidential campaign was the last for La Follette. Within a year, he was dead.

Not long after the senator's passing, my great-grandfather and the other members of the Blue River, Wis., Village Board renamed one of the handful of streets in their tiny community "La Follette." I make it a point to walk that street every year. I go not merely to honor the most courageous political leader this nation has ever produced, nor even to recognize the movement that my great-grandfather and so many like him saw as the way to reclaim democracy for the people. As one who has reported for too many years on too many political compromises, I go because I know that, more than any other leader in American history, La Follette understood this country's promise. And I go because I know that, as long as we keep his vision alive, that promise may yet be kept.

John Nichols is the associate editor of The Capital Times. He has written extensively about La Follette and the Progressive movement for a number of publications, including The Progressive, where an earlier version of this article appeared.

Monday, June 13, 2005

please take me along when you slide on down

Regrettably, this doesn't surprise me in the least. If the repugs can't force us to all think like they do, they're at least going to destroy education in this state so no one is capable of thinking at all. Domestic partner benefits do not promote a homosexual lifestyle...far from it. It also doesn't "give away" health care to anyone. Currently, university system employees are required to copay their premiums, and for married couples, or single parents with children, the repugs have no issue with benefits. So what if a heterosexual couple has been living together for years but has made the conscious decision to NOT get married. Would you deny this "common law" couple health benefits? Or are they to be coerced by a heteronormative society into marriage simply to get these benefits?
Equal means equal...regardless of skin color, nationality, religion (if any), gender, sexual orientation, etc. Just because you don't agree with someone's lifestyle doesn't give you the right to discriminate against them.
I have a strong feeling that this is only the first of many excellent university system employees who will be lost in the coming years due to this ignorant, bigoted, disgusting policy perpetrated by the ideologues who have hijacked the state legislature.
Breaking news | Wisconsin's 'lack of commitment' to higher education prompts UW-Madison dean of students to quit

UW-Madison dean of students Luoluo Hong is leaving after less than three years on the job, blaming too-tight budgets and what she called Wisconsin's 'lack of commitment' to higher education despite the nearly 14 percent raise she has received since Nov. 2002.
'In my years here, I have seen a complete turnaround from what I thought higher education was all about in this state,' Hong said in an interview Monday. 'Instead of focusing on the really important issues of how we can support students, we spend a lot more time talking about how do we make cuts.'
Hong, 36, was hired at $100,000 a year and now makes $113,834. She will begin her new job on Aug. 1, earning $127,500 as dean of student affairs at the West Campus of Arizona State University.
Hong's raises at UW-Madison came during a time when the university was facing a $100 million budget cut. Most state employees - including many university leaders, faculty members and staff - saw base raises of only zero and 1 percent annually over the past two years.
Hong on Monday said she got more money largely because of a reorganization that gave her more responsibility, prompted by the sudden departure of former vice chancellor of student affairs Paul Barrows in November 2004. Barrows' duties were assigned to other supervisors, including Hong.
But personal salary aside, Hong said the state's budget cuts at the university, prompted by a $3.2 billion state deficit, have caused a struggle for resources in her 50-member office. It also has been difficult to recruit and retain employees, she said, because of a state law that forbids the University of Wisconsin System and all other state agencies from offering domestic-partner benefits.

UW-Madison earlier this year became the only university among its Big 10 peers that does not provide those benefits chiefly health insurance - for the partners of its gay and unmarried heterosexual employees.

"From afar, Wisconsin had a really outstanding record for its progressiveness on issues such as diversity and it has historically supported its higher education system," Hong said. "That's not been reflected while I've been here. We are spending a lot of time trying to react to cuts when really our needs to students are increasing."

...and mother always told me be careful of who you love...

Nothing really to comment on the Michael Jackson decision. I didn't pay attention to the trial or any of the multitudinous host of talking heads blathering on and on and on about it every night on television. He's not guilty, so be it. May be he did it, maybe he didn't, but what is apparent is that the prosecution didn't do their job. Either they had a very weak case and should have declined to prosecute, or they should have won. Regardless, it's their responsibility.

Now that he's free to go, I think Michael Jackson is only suited for one career...but I'm just not sure that there are any openings for priests in his neighborhood.

Friday, June 10, 2005

sleek as a shriek spinning round and round

Now why can't programs like this happen here in the US?

British Taxpayers Fund Free iPods: "The London Times reported that Bournemouth and Poole College is offering students iPods valued at 170 pounds ($310), along with 100 pounds ($182) in cash if they sign up for its 'Step up 4 summer' program. 'ONCE the prospect of a certificate and a handshake from the headmaster was all the incentive a student needed. Today it takes an iPod and �100 in cash to persuade unemployed teenagers to sign up for a course intended to improve their job prospects. A further education college in Bournemouth has been inundated with inquiries from prospective students since it announced the reward scheme on Saturday,' the Times wrote. 'The bill for the rewards, which could total �119,000 [~$217,000] for the iPods and around �750,000 [~$1.37 million] including the other benefits, will be met by the taxpayer.'"

The 14-week course, the Times said, shows students how to apply for jobs, gives them interview tips and teaches them how to prepare resumes.

The BBC quoted a spokeswoman from the college who seems to have pursued a degree in fine distinctions: "They don't perceive themselves as wanting to engage in learning or training so I see it as an incentive to get them back in to learning. They do have to be treated differently. I personally do not see it as a bribe. I see it as an incentive."

The iPod "incentive" plan first sprang up in Scotland, where school officials in Glasgow touted the players among other things as a reward for students who choose to eat healthier meals.

The Herald quoted a Glasgow City Council spokeswoman as saying that the program is proving popular so far: "After a successful pilot scheme the project was rolled out to all 29 secondary schools in the area. So far, we have given out 90 iPods, 156 Xboxes, 104 Amazon vouchers and 252 cinema tickets." That's a good thing, especially considering that ABC News sent a TV crew to St. Thomas Aquinas secondary school to do a story that presumably will be tied to our own obesity problem here in the states, the Herald reported.

We welcome you to Crackerbox Palace

I guess all it will take is a senator or congressman to have their identity stolen (and have to go through the hassle that the average citizen faces) to get the legislation moving in a positive direction.

The Scramble to Protect Personal Information - New York Times: "A 2003 California law is widely credited with what Bruce Schneier, a highly recognized data security expert whose books include 'Secrets and Lies: Digital Security in a Networked World,' calls the 'public shaming' method of security enhancement. The law, which requires that the state's consumers be notified of security breaches involving data on them, has prompted a string of previously unheard-of corporate confessions - from big data brokers like ChoicePoint and LexisNexis, and from other financial and investment companies, like Wachovia and Ameritrade.
That is a start, Mr. Schneier said, but he said the fact that highly sensitive data was still being shipped by courier - on unencrypted tapes, as in the CitiFinancial case and in a loss of Time Warner employee data in transit earlier this year - is evidence that data aggregators of all stripes, acting rationally, have no particular incentive to speed the adoption of new and expensive methods of handling data.
'This is a capitalist society,' Mr. Schneier said, suggesting that no company can be expected to spend money to improve things simply 'for the public good.'
Rather, 'I believe we need actual liability or penalties associated with doing this,' Mr. Schneier said. 'It doesn't matter if it's made public or not. There must be a penalty. If you could say you have to pay the government $1,000 per name lost, the risk of the loss triggers the increased security.'
Just such a bill, along with dozens of others, are pending at the national level.
Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, has proposed the creation of an Office of Identity Theft under the auspices of the F.T.C., which would establish minimum security standards for any entity handling sensitive personal data, including Social Security and driver's license numbers, medical information and credit and bank account information. Failure to meet such "reasonable standards," according to Mr. Schumer's proposal, could result in fines of up to $1,000 per consumer affected.

Hard lobbying is almost certain to pull some of the teeth out of any such proposal - if shipping by U.P.S. were considered unreasonable, Citigroup might have faced a fine of about $4 billion - but the mission is clear.

"The world has changed and this kind of information is as valuable as cash and any institution dealing with it ought to treat it that way," Mr. Schumer said. "The old systems just aren't good enough."

At least 22 bills dealing specifically with the problem of identity theft have been proposed since January - from both sides of the aisle. Taking a stand against identity theft is, after all, an easy position. Betting sorts have suggested that the legislation most likely to win approval is a national law emulating California's notification law. But as the number of consumers affected by each loss, each theft, each compromise creeps upward through the millions, the odds of getting more comprehensive legislation improve.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

some times are good, some times are bad, it's all a part of life


Citigroup Reports Lost Tapes Contain Data On 3.9 Million Customers > June 6, 2005:
Citigroup Inc. on Monday disclosed that tapes containing information on 3.9 million customers were lost last month by UPS Inc. while in transit to a credit bureau in Texas. The tapes contained information, including social security numbers, about CitiFinancial branch network customers in the United States as well as customers with closed accounts from CitiFinancial Retail Services.
CitiFinancial provides personal, auto, and home equity loans; CitiFinancial Retail Services provides private-label credit cards for retailers.
Citigroup said there was no reason to think the information had been used inappropriately, nor has it received reports of unauthorized activity. 'There is little risk of the accounts being compromised because customers have already received their loans,' said Kevin Kessinger, executive VP of Citigroup's global consumer group, in a statement.
Beginning in July, such data will be sent electronically in encrypted form.

Is UPS really the best way to send data like this? Considering the potential liability risk of this data being lost (which it was), wouldn't a private courier have been a wiser option? This looks like nice fresh ground for class-action lawsuits.

'I want that bill to come to the floor like I want a heart attack.'

-- Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) speaking to reporters yesterday about a bill to limit asbestos settlements.

"There has never been an administration, I don't believe in our history, more intent upon consolidating and abusing power to further their own agenda. I know it's frustrating for many of you, it's frustrating for me. Why can't the Democrats do more to stop them? I can tell you this: It's very hard to stop people who have no shame about what they're doing. It is very hard to tell people that they are making decisions that will undermine our checks and balances and constitutional system of government who don't care. It is very hard to stop people who have never been acquainted with the truth."

-- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) speaking at a fundraiser in New York yesterday.

time to hesitate is through, no time to wallow in the mire

Round 1 of the voting is now complete in the great Marquette University Mascot Runoff elections of 2005. The two candidates to survive the primary fight were:
- Golden Eagles (the recently deposed incumbent, showing a surge of popularity despite the earlier impeachment by the Board of Trustees)
- Hilltoppers (the old-school candidate...coming out of retirement in an effort to restore unity to a divided campus)

Voting is open in the final round of this historic (and rather comedic) election from now until June 24th. Click here for more details.

Monday, June 06, 2005

throwing out your frown and just smiling at the sound

Monday updates:

1) The Garmin Forerunner 201 mentioned in this post has been ordered, and is sitting at the local UPS office as I type. Unfortunately, they wouldn't deliver without a signature, so I have to go pick it up tomorrow, along with this item (but in black):

2) I pre-ordered the following books today, and upon arrival will be added to the growing pile of summer reading materials.
           - Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
           - Dance of Death by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

3) To join those ordered books (when they arrive) I also bought these two books:
           - 1776 by David McCullough
           - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris

4) I found a reasonably-priced, one bedroom apartment (that accepts cats and is close to the law school) in Madison for the fall, so that's one more task crossed off the ever growing list.

5) Technical coordination of my friend's wedding is progressing, albeit slowly right now. The slide show is becoming a major undertaking, but I hope to complete it this week, and start burning the CDs very soon.

T minus 28.

so we cheated and we lied and we tested

The legal challenges in the Washington State governor's race may finally be drawing to a close...if only Dino Rossi could ever accept defeat. He lost, we all knew it, the judge agreed. Of course, this will only fuel the right's belief that the judiciary hates America and is out to destroy it.

From Politics:

GOP's selective interest in election reform

Washington state Republicans who hoped to have the results of the 2004 governor's race overturned got some bad news on Monday, when a state Superior Court judge upheld Democrat Christine Gregoire's election as governor. Two weeks ago, Judge John Bridges ruled that the GOP could not claim voter fraud in its challenge of the election results. With fraud out of the picture, the Republican challengers had to try to prove that Gregoire unfairly benefited from illegal votes or action, and apparently they couldn't. Bridges tossed out the challenge altogether on Monday, saying, 'The burden of proof is not met.'
No one disputes that the state's election suffered from some run-of-the-mill voting irregularities, but Republicans' attempts to characterize those errors as 'sinister' didn't persuade Bridges, who added, 'This court is not in a position to correct those ... deficiencies.'
According to Reuters, Bridges dismissed the case with prejudice, which means that the GOP cannot refile the suit. Still, the party's sudden keen interest in election law is unlikely to end here; Republican candidate Dino Rossi is expected to appeal.
-- Page Rockwell

Friday, June 03, 2005

can money pay for all the days I lived awake but half asleep?

I have a lot more to say on this subject, but let's get started with an excellent op-ed from the temperate wasteland. From the Wausau Daily Herald:

Deep Throat conversation worth having
Tuesday's revelation that former FBI No. 2 man W. Mark Felt was the news source known as "Deep Throat" sparked predictable yammering on talk radio and in TV pundit-land.

And as expected, much of the talk was banal - the incessant chatter of hosts more concerned with self promotion than any meaningful discussion of how Felt changed the world of politics and journalism.

G. Gordon Liddy, the Nixon operative who engineered the 1972 break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate building and was sent to prison for it, told CNN on Wednesday that Felt "violated the ethics of the law enforcement profession."
Leonard Garment, Nixon's chief legal counselor from 1969 to 1973, said the question was "when government persons, having private, secret, confidential information, are justified to become the whistle-blower and defy or ignore their sworn obligation to maintain security and go to the press with it."
Chuck Colson, the White House special counsel who did prison time for his role in the scandal and now is an evangelical Christian broadcaster, said Felt should be held responsible for sparking a political crisis that divided the country.

"Mark Felt could have stopped Watergate," Colson said. "He was in a position of that kind of influence. Instead, he goes out and basically undermines the administration."
And former Nixon speechwriter Pat Buchanan bluntly told MSNBC that he believed Felt is a "traitor."
The blame of all these Nixon apologists is misplaced.

Felt didn't bring the Nixon administration down. Nor did the Washington Post, reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein or any other single institution.

Nixon resigned after a series of events, including news stories and congressional hearings, made it clear that the highest levels of government were involved in spying on and retaliating against a host of perceived enemies.

Felt was a key figure in the saga, and he was anything but a traitor. He recognized that his primary obligation wasn't to Nixon or the FBI or even the Justice Department. It was to the U.S. Constitution.

But a more pertinent question than whether Felt should be commended or condemned for the role he played is whether his actions even would be possible today.

About 30 American reporters and editors are facing jail time for refusing to reveal the identities of confidential sources. Two already have been sentenced in connection with the investigation into who leaked the name of a CIA agent - though neither reporter was involved in the leak itself.

And as we've seen in recent weeks, when a confidential source recants or is proven wrong, it's not the source who is blamed. It's the reporter who relied upon the source and who then was castigated by those same smug pundits who now are attacking the 91-year-old Felt.

The chilling effect is incontrovertible. It takes courageous reporters and editors to ignore the possibility of imprisonment and public condemnation to report on tough stories of import.

A group of attorneys general from 34 states and the District of Columbia have asked the Supreme Court to step in and clarify rules on "shield laws" that protect reporters from prosecution for refusing to identify sources.

The court should step in - and strengthen those laws. The First Amendment's protection of press freedom is meaningless if the gathering of news itself isn't given equal protection.

Felt's actions a generation ago ultimately led to the resignation of a corrupt president, the indictment of 40 government officials, an overhaul of the nation's campaign finance rules and laws to protect federal whistle-blowers.

But the witch hunts being held today make it increasingly unlikely that whistle-blowers like Felt will come forward or that reporters and editors will have the fortitude to print controversial stories - stories that need to be published.

That's the conversation that the Deep Throat revelation should inspire.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

we never failed to fail, it was the easiest thing to do

While I really do love living in Wisconsin, it never ceases to amaze me just how idiotic some of the politicians are. Earlier, I commented on the record pace that Mr. Sensenbrenner (and others) are spending other people's money on travel.

Now, it's State Assembly Speaker John Gard (who apparently is the epitome of right-wing nutjob). What did Mr. Gard do, you might be tempted to ask? Well, he decided that Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager wasn't to be trusted to do her job in defending Wisconsin in a lawsuit regarding domestic partner benefits.

So, in the infinite wisdom that apparently only John Gard possesses, he hired the Alliance Defense Fund to defend the Great State of Wisconsin. From The Capital Times:
Unwilling to trust Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager and the state Department of Justice to do their job, Gard brought in the Alliance Defense Fund, an Arizona legal firm that is closely tied to far-right religious and political groups, to oppose a lawsuit that seeks health insurance for domestic partners. Gard, who seems to have become obsessed with denying protections to gays and lesbians, is concerned that the lawsuit might force the state to stop discriminating. And, apparently because its principals share his homophobia, Gard believes the Alliance Defense Fund team will do a better job of promoting his agenda than Wisconsin lawyers would.
While it is not completely out of the realm of reality that outside counsel may be of value when a state faces a lawsuit, the Alliance Defense Fund is particularly a bad choice.
Unfortunately, the Alliance Defense Fund has been associated with some of the wackier instances of anti-gay extremism to surface in recent years. The fund's co-founder has devoted inordinate amounts of time to arguing that the cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants is gay. He has also called for a "second civil war" - over cultural issues - in the United States.
Thanks to John Gard's rash actions, Wisconsin is quickly becoming a national embarrassment.
As Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, correctly noted after the controversy heated up last week: "If bringing in fringe extremists who think cartoon characters are gay is the only way to fight providing health care benefits to Wisconsin families, it is a sad day in Wisconsin."

Just how sad is rapidly becoming evident.

Gard's decision to make Wisconsin the first state in the country to align with the extremists at the Alliance Defense Fund is drawing negative attention far beyond the state's borders.

Noting the legal firm's history of fierce opposition to equal treatment for all citizens, Joe Solmonese, the president of the Washington-based Human Rights Campaign, condemned Gard's move. "This group is far from unbiased and the people of Wisconsin did not elect it to speak for them," Solmonese said. "Wisconsinites did elect the attorney general, who should be the one seeing this case through. The Legislature has seriously overstepped its bounds."

Solmonese, who heads the nation's largest lesbian and gay political organization, explained that "Wisconsin's interest is best served with an unbiased, thoughtful assessment regarding equal employment benefits. Employees with same-sex partners are now doing equal work for less compensation. Domestic partner benefits make good business sense. They enhance an employer's overall compensation package with negligible cost to the company and are a hallmark of whether a company values diversity. If the Legislature is hearing from the Alliance Defense Fund, I urge legislators to also hear from companies in the state that have already learned these lessons."

More than 60 major corporations in Wisconsin offer domestic partner benefits to their employees. They include Miller Brewing Co., American Family Insurance Group, Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance, and SC Johnson & Son Inc. In addition, 11 states - California, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington - provide these benefits. In Massachusetts, where same-sex couples are allowed to marry, equal access to benefits is also assured.
Hopefully the people of the 89th Assembly District will come to their senses and vote this clown out of office for the shame he's brought on Wisconsin.