Saturday, February 28, 2004
Just to give you some idea of how McSweeney's approaches the tutoring arm, 826 Valencia is apparently (in addition to being a great asset for the community) the only independent (not sure exactly what this means in this context) purveyor of pirate garb in San Fransisco. How did that come about? Simple,
In San Francisco, our landlord required us to maintain a retail space. We hadn't thought of maintaining a retail space, and scrambled to come up with an appropriate theme. We knew there were no other independent pirate supply stores in San Francisco, and thus we had no choice.
So what will the retail arm of the 826 NYC do...
In Brooklyn, the storefront will sell superhero supplies.
In any case, this is a worthy cause and these guys are nothing if not clever. Stop by Symphony Space if you're in NYC on March 2nd and surely think about volunteering.
Since we know electability deals, more than any single other candidate attribute I can think of, with political process we can, perhaps, gain some insight into these questions by moving into the realm of the sociologist. Duncan Watts (sociologist/physicist at Columbia) argues that the pheomenon of electability is much like any other social fad. Therefore, it follows, that elecability might be understood like any other fad, as springing from the difficulty that individuals have in making good decisions (and hence our tendency to defer decision making to our perception of the collective will).
So now we know (or at least have some insight into the process). Unfortunately, I find this does little to make me much happier about candidate Kerry.
Friday, February 27, 2004
Flag football has a noble tradition of academic disloyalty. Take the squad that calls itself "Widespread Panic." In 2001, the team played for the University of New Orleans. In 2003, Widespread Panic made the tourney final as students at Nunez Community College.
These days, Nunez reigns as flag's all-powerful overlord. The 2000-student Chalmette, La., school has won three championships in five years under the stewardship of Andrew Sercovich, a 38-year-old former player who now teaches a one-credit athletic conditioning course at the school...
...In last year's flag championship game, the Nunez Pelicans and their 30-year-old quarterback David "Duke" Rousse scored a 26-7 victory over Â… the Nunez Widespread Panic. That's right: When flag football's most prestigious title was on the line, Nunez played Nunez for all the marbles. Even so, Sercovich bristles at the charge that he's running a flag football factory. He's particularly galled by accusations that his 28 players qualify by registering for a single courseÂ—Sercovich's own athletic conditioning class, which includes heavy doses of flag football theory and technique.
Wednesday, February 18, 2004
Also not watching, though wishing I were, St. Joe's still undefeated and now #2 in the country in college ball. For sentimental reasons, I always pick whichever Jesuit schools make the tournament to go far -- though last year I think I picked St. Joe's in the final four instead of Marquette's entertaining run. Maybe I was a year too soon with the Hawks??
For those that might like to use my own unorthodox picking methodology, the Jesuit schools that seem to make, or have made, the tournament are: St. Joe's, Marquette, Creighton, Georgetown, Boston College, Loyola Marymount, Gonzaga, St. Louis U., Santa Clara U. Have I missed any? I think Bill Russell may have won several championships while attending University of San Francisco, but that's a while ago.
In a study recently released in the Royal Society's Biology Letters Maryanne Fisher reports an experiement in which one group of women were asked to evaluate the attractiveness of a group of photographs of other women. Fisher found that women tend to find other women least attractive at times during their menstrual cycle that correlate with greatest fertility. She speculates that this disparaging might help increase the odds that a given woman would be most likely to reproduce.
Men showed no such cyclicity in their evaluation of the looks of other women.
His latest effort is a nice representative of the just wrong class. As David Adesnik points out over at OxBlog the article seems to over estimate the moral content of Reagenite foreign policy (good democracy promotion, lousy human rights) and just misconstrue the Carter legacy (Brooks argues, basically, that Carter employed a lot of mush about root causes without a cogent plan).
To me the Carter error seems much more egregious (Reagen comes out OK in the assessment after all). As David points out, Carter, more than any other president in the last 35 years, injected morality into foreign policy. More than anything else, this moral dimension was at the core of what he did as President and of the life he's lived since. I miss it.
Sunday, February 08, 2004
If you used to imagine yourself hitting the World Series winning home run, or skiing the fastest downhill or nailing the dismount in gymnastics, or even if you had some entirely different dream, the movie Miracle is great. If you think you used to do these things but just don't remember, see the movie and you'll start to remember a little bit of what it felt like and maybe dream again.
Friday, February 06, 2004
One of the key figures in Bolivian politics is Evo Morales, the indigenous leader of the coca growers trying to form a coalition of the long-disenfranchised indigenous. Among other things, cocaleros constitute the poorest of the poor in Bolivia. Their profession has been targeted by US efforts at staunching narco-terrorism. This has included US military and DEA presence, aid to the ongoing Bolivian militarization of coca-growing regions, and alternative development funds for farmers to plant crops such as bananas, pineapple and the like. By and large, farmers are still impoverished, with many having lost access to the only cash crop -- coca -- that sustained them. As Slate reports, they have found the market for alternative crops saturated, meaning prices have fallen, and no rich countries have stepped up to create the requisite favorable export conditions that could make these crops economically viable. This deterioration in standard of living has added to the country's instability.
Compounding the situation are austerity measures that the current government must enact to remain solvent, service international debt and attract the foreign investment that could eventually spur a recovery. Any additional taxes or cuts in domestic spending that impact the poor are likely to kindle further rounds of violence and protest within this disastrous country.
All of which is a complete and total shame, because Bolivia is one of the most precious places on Earth, and the people are the kindest and most open I've encountered in my travels. It is a country of 8.5 million now, with perhaps another 4 million Bolivians in the diaspora.
Wednesday, February 04, 2004
Among many other observations, watching this film (and to a less visual extent, reading the book) gives one a distinct appreciation for foot care. I've never seen such large blisters.
Apropos plants detecting land mines, that would have come in handy for Badwater finisher Chris Moon, who lost most of his right leg and arm while working for an NGO clearing landmines in Mozambique. He was running to raise money for a charity working with mine survivors.
Monday, February 02, 2004
Within my lifetime, Republicanism has generally proffered a negative domestic message: that the government is not "us" and that less of it is better because it is in our way, takes what is rightfully ours, etc. (Reagan, W) Democrats have surmounted this stigma, however, when they have sold the inspiring qualities of social investment and social equity that good policy can yield. (Clinton, Kennedy).
In that light, Democrats might consider worrying less about finding a candidate with a heroic military record than about finding a candidate able to communicate well with constituents, especially around invoking a positive vision for social development and a robust sense of fairness.
Republicans were aided politically by 9/11, because they controlled the executive, but I would imagine that some of this will be mitigated by the struggles in Iraq and Afghanistan, the persistance of terror threats, bin Laden at large, and the fact of a diminished American standing in the world (all the worse squandered after 9/11's goodwill-fest). A savvy Democrat could point to all of those and respectfully wonder if we can afford any more of this kind of "success". It's not who could have protected the country that is the fundamental issue (yet-to-be-released 9/11 report notwithstanding, an open society cannot evade these risks); it's what has been done in the interim.
Any election for Democrats will come down to convincing people that we really deserve better from (an ostensibly democratic) government by, for, and of the people. Implicit is the case that we have been hoodwinked into thinking that this was as good as we could hope it to be, that it has therefore become as bad as we allowed (at least, on the view of the Paul Krugman's of the world to which, truthfully, I'm not immune). The question is who delivers that message best and motivates people to tune in and maybe turn out.
A hint: it's not Kerry, Clark, Lieberman, or Dean. Reserving the right to retract, of course, I think it's Edwards.....