Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Internet: File Under Awesome

Two students were photographed having sex against their high rise window at the University of Pennsylvania and now there is a big to-do about the whole thing. The photographer posted the photos on his university owned website and now they've found their way to a popular website College Humor(just a link to the website and not the offending photos). Then, in a brazen move to bolster circulation(my view, not official), the student newspaper The Daily Pennsylvanian put the photos on the front page! Of course they comically "concealed" the identities of the amorous parties. One more strange detail of the case, and this makes no sense to me
Psychology graduate student Andrew Geier is serving as the photographer's advisor throughout the disciplinary process. He maintains that because the pair was visible in the window, the photos were taken in public and are completely legal.
Not the legal position, but what is a Psychology graduate student doing giving legal advice on behalf of the student body!?!? huh?

UPDATE: Looks like they got a professional now.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Democratic Talking Points: 2006 Edition

In a series of speeches the past 10 days democrats have unleashed their campaign talking points and plan for Iraq. Much to the chagrin of the Dailykos community, their plan is essentially the Bush doctrine. The theme will center around three points (you can read Joe Biden's speech or an article on Barrack Obama's speech. (curious thing, the original headline to Obama's article was Obama: Bush should admit mistakes in Iraq, but has since been changed to Obama: Pull GIs from Iraq gradually click here for the actual speech). So, the three pronged dem plan for Iraq is as follows

  • Stabilize Iraq and avoid civil war
  • Extinguish the insurgency
  • bring the troops home

  • and more or less in that order. So what distinguishes this from what Bush has been saying all along? Here is what they are saying.

  • Stablization is a more pragmatic goal than Bush's abstraction about democracy and human spirit
  • Democrats have more credibility on the issue because they never lied about intelligence
  • a timetable will prevent the US propped government from dragging its feet on opening up the political process

  • I really wish I had blogged about this earlier, but I have said many times in conversations that I knew the democrats would jump right on board with Iraq policy right before it became clear that it would be largely successful. Since I am unusually precient about the political future (which may be just because I am conservative and they've been doing well recently) I will make the following predictions for the next year.

  • The December elections in Iraq will be a huge success
  • Zarqawi will be captured or killed
  • troops will be brought home just in time for 2006 campaign
  • democrats will try and take credit for all of this
  • Monday, November 21, 2005

    A game I like to play

    Very often in the sports [section] of the newspaper, reporters [clean up] the quotes from players, who are often too exhausted or excited to [use proper grammer]. This quote appeared in Rick Morrissey's column about the Bear's win over Carolina on Sunday.
    Somebody asked cornerback Nathan Vasher how, if given the opportunity and a laptop computer, he would write the story of the Bears' 13-3 victory over the Panthers on Sunday.

    "Bears win," said Vasher, clearly not the kind of writer who gets paid by the word.

    Earlier in a postgame scrum with reporters, he had said the Bears were "the real deal," and so I asked him whether this victory might finally have erased some of the doubts about his much-doubted team.

    "I don't know," he said. "How do you feel about it?"

    That's the question I'd been asking myself each of the last six Sundays. And mostly what I had felt about the Bears was acute uncertainty.

    But Sunday rolled around, and the Bears went out and put a defensive beating on the Panthers, who have been picked as a possible Super Bowl team. And I paused a second before answering Vasher, as if I had to hear the words in my head before I uttered them to him.

    "I think you're pretty good," I finally told Vasher.

    "There you go," he said. "Here we are. We're just trying to erase one [doubter] at a time."
    I like to guess what the missing words are. I really hope he said "hater".

    Friday, November 18, 2005

    Partisanship end at the coasts

    At least, I've heard it used to be that way. Former CIA director Stansfield Turner smears Bush in Briton. And in other news former President Bill Clinton blasts war while speaking in Dubai. What, exactly, are they hoping to accomplish?

    Wednesday, November 16, 2005

    Obama on pork

    Barrack Obama recently had a piece in the Chicago Tribune on how to cut pork. His motivation is to ease the burden of rebuilding New Orleans, but lots of people think pork should be cut anyway. It is an interesting read because he gets gets quite specific about what he would do and where his priorities are.

  • To cut $50 billion ... put a two-year moratorium on all pet projects and other local spending.
  • defer projects such as the $10 billion mission to Mars
  • eliminate unnecessary business subsidies.
  • drop funding that gives private companies extra incentives to participate in the new Medicare drug program
  • increasing the rebates that brand-name drug manufacturers owe [Medicare].
  • Others ... have pointed to Alaska's "Bridge to Nowhere" as a wasteful project ... it's wrong to single out one state's pork project ... let's eliminate all pork projects in all states.
  • we could postpone a planned tax break for millionaires
  • roll back one of the tax cuts for those who make an income of more than $2 million per year.
  • Monday, November 14, 2005

    Second Deadly Sin: Envy

    I read a passage from this piece by Sebastian Mallaby. I think the way you read it says a lot about how you see the world
    [I]n 1980, the top fifth of families earned 7.7 times as much as the bottom fifth; by 2001, that ratio had risen to 11.4. So even though the bottom fifth of households made modest gains, the inequality ratio jumped by almost 50 percent.

    Wednesday, November 09, 2005

    The Nerds are Pissed

    Here's something that will surely divide the Yin Yang camp: Graduate Students on Strike!

    The group that represents all of the TA's/GA's at NYU began their strike this morning.

    One of the central issues seems to be that the university refuses to recognize them as a proper union anymore, and won't negotiate a new contract with them. For some reason, (which I don't understand) the laws governing unions for Private schools is different than for Public schools.

    The old argument is that GA's/TA's are primarily students, and thus, are not workers. Which doesn't make sense simply because they are getting paid by the university.

    Not to blow this out of proportion, but I really believe that this strike could be defining moments for higher education in America. If the University finally caves in and does recognize the union, it opens the door for grad students at other private schools to organize. There actually was a huge showing of grad students from Columbia, Yale, and Harvard to support their brothers and sisters.

    I'll be honest though, the enture protest seemed kind of tame. I think the union needs to get some sit-ins going on, burn a few NYU flags, or storm a few offices. At the very least.

    Critical Thinking

    I meant to blog about this yesterday, but oh well. Two nights ago I heard Danial Barenboim interviewed on WFMT 98.7, the program "critical thinking". I didn't have my audio recorder handy, so these aren't direct quotes, but they're pretty close and I think accurately reflect his opinions. In regards to music managent
    I don't understand why administrators say they are "making music". Nothing is more insulting to the orchestra and artists. Managing a symphony is like managing which distributors you want to sell Coca-Cola to.
    On the increasing number of popular songs being played in symphony halls
    This is only treating the symptom and not the disease. The only thing you get from playing popular music is a few people who otherwise would not have been there. The problem is music education in schools. 95-98% of people reach the age of 25 without any direct contact with music. If you drag such a person to a Beethoven symphony they will get nothing from it.
    On biographies of famous composers
    The problem with these biographers is that most of them are not musicians. Who cares what Bach preferred for breakfast or how his wife washed his clothes? It's not as if he composed from 9-5 and just then started living. He lived in the music

    Tuesday, November 08, 2005

    You gotta read this

    Top 10 software bugs of all time. I thought it was going to be funny stories about how a lot of people's computers crashed. No. People died.

    Monday, November 07, 2005

    Saddam's defense

    Edited and excerpted from Rush Limbaugh. You only have 24 hours to hear the audio.

    As I listen to the elected senators, Democrats of the United States Senate, as they pursue this honorable investigation of George W. Bush, I say to myself, "This is what I said to the UN. This is what I said to the weapons inspectors." This is what I said to the world when I was confronted with what everybody now knows (thanks to the Senate Democrats) are bogus, fake and trumped-up charges.

    Sunday, November 06, 2005


    Hey all, just got back from my (semi)annual trip to my Alma Mater. A very good time was had. Most the usual suspects from my fraternity showed up, but non-frat turnout was a little low. I didn't really put in the effort to find out who would be there before I showed up, and that is more or less what I expected.

    A travel sidenote and some background. I am obsessed with efficiency. One of my earliest school memories is arguing with my first grade teacher that we should be moving more efficiently while we are in a single file line. Specifically, if everyone started walking at the same time instead of waiting for the person in front of you, then the line would be more efficient. I remember feeling disgusted every time I saw the line expand like some sort of accordian. Why am I bringing this up?

    United Airlines has this new thing, where they check your bag at the gate if it is too big. Anyone who has flown recently knows that people are going a little bit too far with how much luggage they bring on the plane. Not only do they run out of room, but very often these people aren't strong and/or coordinated enough to maneuver their luggage down the aisle and into the overhead bin. This makes getting on and off very inefficient. But now, getting off and on goes much more smoothly. Kudos to UA for a great flying experience. Not only that, but when I arrived back to Ohare, we got off the plane on the ground level instead of some accordian like tunnel. When it comes to flying, getting off on the ground is one of my all-time favorite things to do.

    Wednesday, November 02, 2005

    Rowand Snubbed for Gold Glove

    Aaron Rowand got passed up for Torii Hunter for the center field gold glove. This strikes me as a reputation award, since Torii only played 98 games this year (compared to Rowand's 157) and made 3 errors (compared to Rowands 3 errors in 1.5 as many games). Furthermore, Rowand led in all ESPN's head scratching statistics like "zone rating" and "range factor". Oh well.