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Archive for December, 2005

HAPPY FESTIVUS

Friday, December 23rd, 2005

That is all, carry on.

Purple Stained Fingers

Friday, December 16th, 2005

Complete with clever voter fraud and tactical voting, the election in Iraq was a success. At least, with the exception of the occasional insurgent attack, it can’t be any worse than what we have in the U.S. (which, while having its quirks, isn’t so bad compared to countries where elections tend to start civil wars).

Some random quotes from one article of many on the subject of the Iraqi election:

The polls opened at 7 a.m. to the boom of a mortar explosion inside the fortified Green Zone in central Baghdad that injured three people, including a U.S. Marine.

“This the best election yet,” said Ibrahim Mohammed Ali, 53, a shopkeeper …

“It’s great, it’s wonderful, it’s exciting. You can’t describe it in any other words,” said Saif Thamer, 22, a Sunni student voting in Jamiaa, another Baghdad neighborhood known for its insurgent sympathies.

“This election is going to change everything, because everyone realizes now that the only way to take power is through the ballot box,” said Abdullah Mohammed, 32 …

“This is a real election,” said Ammar Sami, 27, a player for Iraq’s national basketball team who voted for the first time in the Yarmouk neighborhood. “The first one didn’t mean anything, but this one will decide the fate of the country.”

“The election is important but it will not stop the attacks,” said Mohammed Ahmed Hassen, 37, who voted for the Iraqi Consensus Front. “I think all this trouble would be less if there wasn’t this presence of U.S. troops.”

Then, there’s Idriss, the tactical and fraudulent voter that proves the Iraqi voting system is truly modeled after ours:

Schoolteacher Lamis Idriss, 30, a Sunni Arab voting for the third time, said she hoped the former U.S.-backed interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi would win enough seats to lead the next government. But because she also fears the violence will worsen if Sunni politicians aren’t sufficiently represented in the new legislature, she decided to vote for the main Sunni coalition, the Iraqi Consensus Front.

“Allawi has a lot of supporters, so I want to create a balance,” she explained.

Idriss had also figured out how to vote twice; by coating her finger in Vaseline before dipping it in the indelible ink designed to deter double voting, she was able to remove the ink and vote again. “It’s for the sake of the country,” she said.

(okay, okay, the voter fraud article I linked was just one of many involving every part of the political spectrum, but when I saw one about Daschle, how could I not?)

In Order To Form A More Perfect Blog

Monday, December 12th, 2005

I have taken the following measures:

Turned off anonymous comments. If you don’t want to put in an email, put in a fake one. That’s fine…this should, at least, help stem the tide of comment spam.

Turned off HTML in comments Same deal.

I’m sorry, but the blacklist isn’t going to work because it is larger than the max packet size on our shared server, and thusly cannot be updated. I’m going to try to trim it over the weekend to see if I can reduce duplication of sub-domains and thusly free up some space. Until then, anonymous comments, comment HTML, and trackbacks will all be off by default. Thanks.

UPDATED: I have turned anonymous comments back on, and taken a very drastic step to curb the comment and ping spam. I added .com, .info and .net to the blacklist. Therefore posting any URL, at all, to comments will be impossible. Yes, this sucks. I’m sorry, but until I have time to really trim the blacklist down and try to make it work right, hopefully this weekend, it’s the only thing that’ll keep spammers from sucking all of our bandwidth.

From The International Sports Desk

Monday, December 5th, 2005

My biggest double-take of the year: the other night I was perched at a table in a labyrinthine downtown bar, when I spotted an eerily familiar face at the 5 for the Sydney Kings. My subsequent spraying of beer across the table and frantic attempts to explain how awesome this was were greeted with, at best, bemusement.

Needless to say, now I have to get tickets. Doesn’t everybody love a happy ending? (His height is listed at 210cm on the team page. I’ll be keeping an eye on it.)

Foreigner Refuses To Shut Up About Immigration

Monday, December 5th, 2005

OK, fair’s fair. Having laid into Ms. Brock a few posts below, I should say that this response, by grad student Tami Hill, is annoying for different reasons, a few of which I’ll address here.

In regards to history, it is an acknowledged fact that the U.S. illegally took a large part of Mexicos territory in The Treaty of Guadalupe. The U.S. government is not above acting illegally.

This sort of rhetoric is a pet hate of mine: it’s about on a level with shouting “Yeah? Well, this whole court‘s out of order!” during your arraignment for public drunkenness. Even if the above statement is true in every particular, so what? The US, along with every other damn country in the world, was founded on a vigorous program of armed conquest, land seizure and other very bad things. The existence of laws – even, sometimes, laws that Tami Hill disagrees with – is not some unjust reward for historical pillage: it’s the way we try to mediate the pillaging of the future. (We may complain a lot about eminent domain abuse, but at least people aren’t being executed over it.)

Second, if you know anything about U.S. immigration policy, you know that we have changed our policies over the years for our own convenience, depending on labor needs…

The most damning indictment of all, that one.

Third, part of the reason Mexicos lack of infrastructure exists is not its own problem, but rather a result of how the U.S. has exploited this less powerful country over time.

And this is a symptom of the weird kind of egocentric guilt complex exhibited by many Americans on the subject of the lands beyond their borders. Poor countries are poor because America made them poor, and recover economically through American (or UN) munificence. If this is actually Hill’s contention, she should be supporting a closed border for the good of Mexico, one would think – but apparently not. While I’m at it, the scare-quoting in this column is absolutely epic: “journalism”, “illegal”, “criminal”, and, bizarrely, “Mexican”.

Building a big fence along the (“Mexican”) border is no kind of solution at all. Dealing with Castro to keep Cuban refugees out of the US is despicable. Having a group hug and giving visas to everybody isn’t a solution either. Why not? Because, as Glenn Garvin points out in that essay I linked to earlier, these (for example) backbreaking, insecure agricultural jobs simply would not exist if the pay was set to what most of us consider a living wage. Before that point is reached, it becomes cheaper to mechanize production or to just import the stuff from a different country, where it is being grown and harvested by people working in similarly awful conditions. I’m not sure that anything can be done to fix this – farm work has always been thoroughly nasty, and that’s why industrialization is generally regarded as positive progress. Still, the jobs are there, for now. And where there is opportunity, people will come. That’s America. I think part of the reason for the defense illegal farm workers get from people like me is that their stories – entrepreneurial vigor, determination, hard work at a thankless job bucking a remorseless bureaucracy – are pretty much classic American immigrant narratives. It might also have something to do with the fact that I’m reading this right now, which makes a similar point about a different country.

(So, before I do finally give this one a rest, I might as well take the opportunity to preemptively instruct all further ODE columnists tackling this subject to bite me, also. Oh, and I say this as a time-serving graduate student myself: informing your audience in the very first clause that you’ve been one for ten years will not necessarily get you a better reception.)

Public Service Announcement

Monday, December 5th, 2005

Because MT Blacklist has mysteriously stopped working again and I cannot figure out how to make it function, I have turned off HTML in comments. I apologize, but it’s really the only way to combat comment spam on this old version of MT without Blacklist.

Oregon Not In BCS Bowl

Saturday, December 3rd, 2005

With LSU and Virginia Tech losing today, Oregon will likely move up to the #5 spot in the BCS rankings. We’re still screwed, though. Notre Dame will move up to the #6 spot (despite their two losses, including one to 5-6 Michigan State) which, as a team that is not in a major conference, gives them an automatic BCS bid. Ohio State, at #4, also qualifies for an automatic bid.

In other words, Oregon gets screwed. Thanks BCS!

UPDATE: Pissed off? This is the sonofabitch you should be blaming.

“It May Seem Ridiculous To Talk About Mexican Terrorists – But…”

Thursday, December 1st, 2005

Just when I think I’m out, ODE columnists keep pulling me back in. What subject is almost guaranteed to trigger an angry blog post from your humble correspondent? That’s right, immigrant-bashing. Kirsten Brock’s focus, as I’m sure she would point out, is illegal immigration, but count me as one non-citizen who isn’t terribly reassured by what she does here: take a crucial national security problem and treat it as if it applied only to one particularly vulnerable segment of the population.

And then there is this spectacular money quote:

While increasing security is a step, we must remove the incentives for crossing the border.

This is, to say the least, a novel approach to the issue: removing the incentives for crossing the border. Yes, if only the US economy (not to mention US salaries) were on a par with Mexico’s, if only people didn’t want to come to the US to build a better life for themselves and their families – in short, if only the United States could somehow be made to suck more, we wouldn’t be drowning in all these goddamned foreigners.

Brock deploys every related fallacy in the book – immigration as antisocial behavior, immigrants as drain on public resources rather than as the engine driving a substantial part of the economy, etc – with enough space left over to call ‘em all terrorists. After all, she points out, they’ve already broken one law, simply by being here! Why, these fiends will stop at nothing! The moral distinction drawn here between good-guy legal immigrants and nefarious illegals is, to put it politely, nonsense: to pick one obvious example, Mohammed Atta actually received the student visa he’d applied for, six months after September 11. This points to a massive systemic problem, to be sure, but it’s one that can be conveniently disregarded the moment an easier populist target comes along, such as the work visa scheme Brock is busy decrying.

Bite me, Kirsten Brock. And when you’re done biting me, read this.

Liveblogging the programs council meeting

Thursday, December 1st, 2005

Since noone else could fill in, I have to skip a final review in one of my classes to attend a mandatry programs council meeting. Fun!

Since I expect nothing important or relevant to be discussed, I figured this would be the perfect thing to blog.

4:10 – ussa guy: blahblah don’t sell westmoreland blah. 18mil $’s? “Access” to the university isbeing sold, according to him.

4:14 – OMG Amazon was sold ten years ago! savewestmoreland.com being hyped. 6 min about nothing relevant so far
…Goward intros new staffer from CALIFORNIA (oooooooh)

4:18 leadership resource office guy starts wasting our time…
…hands out fourth set of fliers thus far.

4:21 -13min down the shitter… still not talking about actual things that affect normal students.

4:24 – Announces new “leader of the week award.” We in this room “role model the way for [our] peers,” he says. Makes me feel so good. Announces new “leadership library” and “retreat supply closet” for things like chalk and bandanas. I’m not joking.

4:28 – Finally done. Now actual information from a controller and Goward.

4:32 – Now A. Walsh time. No hat. Wearing UCLA sweatshirt.

4:35 – Now J. Axelrod. Mariners hat… good man.

4:40 – JA describes budget hearing process. Neglects to mention coke-fueled melodramatic grandstanding ending to meetings. “We’re not going to accept late budgets,” bu that’s appealable. Keeps it short and simple though, so kudos to him. Now it’s Goward-time.

4:40 – batteries running low… Goward gives “van training” dates… sounds fun.

4:48 – Postscript – Batteries ran out. Nothing else was said. Total meeting time: 38 minutes. Total minutes of relevant/interesting information: 5 minutes. Total time wasted and not spent working on new issue or study: 33 minutes.