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Saturday, April 30, 2005

Democrats to Push Forward Their Agenda for America!

But only, apparently, if the Republican leadership in the Senate insists on pushing ahead with the so-called "nuclear option." In a press release guffaw, Democratic Minority Leader Harry Reid is quoted as saying,
If Republicans proceed to pull the trigger on the nuclear option, Democrats will respond by employing existing Senate rules to push forward our agenda for America.
"That's right Republicans! If you dare push your right wing judges on us we will be forced to respond with...a Democratic Agenda!" And we thought this whole time that Democrats were already fighting for that. Am I the only one that finds this amusing? (more in expanded post)

Apparently, Reid is referring to relatively obscure Senate rules that allows him to place bills on the Senate calendar; he points specifically to "Rule XIV" in his press release. Of course, such a rule allows little more than a moral victory since Democratic sponsored bills probably won't even come up for a vote.

Joking aside though, Reid does attempt to articulate an agenda in his press release. While the agenda isn't exactly new, the funny quote brings up an interesting question. When will the Democrats begin to wage a fight against the Republicans based on something other than responding to Republican initiatives? I don't mean this in a condescending sense - of course Democrats have core principles that they always do fight to uphold - but at what point will they coalesce around a clearly articulated vision and present it to the American people?

It doesn't necessarily need to take the form of the Republicans' 1994 Contract with America, which Reid's agenda resembles in style, but I think that it will need to occur at some point in order to show Americans, especially those in "purple" states that are trending Republican, that there is more to being a Democrat than opposing Republicans. When Howard Dean says that he wants his country back, he needs to be able to point to clear policy proposals that would not only return it where he would like to see it, but that would move beyond that point - a real Democratic Agenda.

I don't know what the agenda should consist of in order to be effective, I'd love to hear your thoughts, but I do know that it shouldn't take Republican actions to force the Democrats to provide a unified vision. One would hope that the political necessity of the moment, being the minority party, would be a compelling enough reason.

British Election Ads

From Andrew Sullivan, election ad spoofs for the three major British parties can be found here.


Friday, April 29, 2005

by the way...

See you all tomorrow at Springfest and then at the Afterparty! Here's to hoping the rain stays away...

FM and Springfest...

Before I check out for the weekend, I'd be remised if I didn't mention the excellent cover article in this week's FM. Combined last week's tremendously interesting and well done piece on the emergence of the Black Men's Forum, this story on the history and struggles of Spring Fest makes me think that FM is looking to take on the position of not just an entertainment weekend magazine on the culture of Harvard, but a place for broader stories about Harvard politics to come into focus. While it's hard to generalize what FM has or hasn't done in the past (I've only been here so long and haven't always paid so much attention), it's a welcome move.

In any event, the great thing about this story is that it makes unavoidably clear one simple truth: the Harvard administration is not willing to invest the kind of time and money into student life that would be necessary to really make this place fun. (more in expanded post)

I think the conclusion of the article summed it up well (although I highly recommend you read the whole thing if you haven't already):
“The President’s Office doesn’t have to be accountable to students because they don’t need to draw people in—they have the Harvard name,” he says. To effect change, he cites his experience with Senior Gift Plus: “Create a petition, educate people, arouse some anger over the situation, get the press involved, and Harvard will realize it can no longer afford to marginalize undergraduates when it comes to events like Springfest.”

Longbrake says that the President’s Office is “very interested in supporting” undergraduate social life, but he did not say whether the office would increase funds to Springfest’s after-party in future years.

But if Mahan is right, the Office won’t address the need until students make it clear that a need exists. After all, Longbrake contends that Harvard’s Springfest is just as fun as Yale’s.

Hard as they may try, the UC alone can’t incite the kind of cultural change necessary to make Harvard’s Springfest look like Penn’s, Yale’s, or Brown’s. That would take more than just another $20,000 or a permanent liquor license. Maybe the President’s Office isn’t so wrong to emphasize community—they just have the wrong community in mind.
Now, I'm not interesting in Harvard being "fun" just so we can all revel in our wealth and opportunities. There's a much more substantive reality: a college community where students don't get together to enjoy themselves, to meet each other and to relax is not a community at all. In the day in and day out of Harvard, it is rare that we have a chance to appreciate our lives and appreciate each other. THAT is why that administration should care, because community is part of what defines our experience at this school, and therefore our persons for the rest of our lives.

Happy Arbor Day!

Today is Arbor Day! The best non-holiday of the year - dedicaed to planting trees. Every state has its own Arbor Day, since the optimal time for planting trees varies by region, but the last Friday in April is always Arbor Day Across America. Check it out here. Hug and kiss a tree today!

friday joke...

Q: How many Bush Administration officials does it take to change a light bulb?

A: None. There is nothing wrong with the light bulb; its condition is improving every day. Any reports of its lack of incandescence are just spin from the liberal media. Illuminating rooms is hard work. That light bulb has served honorably, and anything you say undermines the lighting effort. Why do you hate freedom?

Thursday, April 28, 2005

the return of family guy

The New Republic has a great article on the return of one of the funniest television shows of the last ten years: Family Guy. I'm sure most CC readers know the show (we're in college, could you avoid it if you tried?). What's great is that this TNR article places it in our political climate brilliantly:
The current climate has understandably made Fox executives skittish about the return of the Griffins. In repeats aired in recent months, Fox blurred out shots of Peter's and Stewie's cartoon buttocks, even though the episodes had been broadcast without incident years earlier.

But the chill in the air is also the reason the show's return couldn't be more timely. Less assaultive but brainier than "South Park," "Family Guy" isn't just indecent--it all but proclaims indecency as its subject. The show enjoys needling the American viewer's pretensions to propriety.
(more in expanded post)
In one episode, a disapproving neighbor nosing in on the Griffins' business gets yelled at by her husband: "Gladys, it took me two hours to work up the courage to rent this porno. Now are you gonna watch it with me or not?" In another episode, Peter and Lois bemoan the decline of their community's values, even as they put on their S&M regalia for the evening. ("The safety word is 'banana.'")
So what's the lesson? Whether or not you like the family guy, turn it on this Sunday to make a statement that you're sick of the moralizing censorship of television. Also, it's really funny.

wow, 1000

Well, since "going public" on Monday, the site just broke 1000 individual visits. Partially I'm excited because I'm glad people care enough about campus issues to read the idiotic ramblings of myself and my co-writers. More importantly, however, this is exciting because it speaks to the possibility for the conversation that could happen on this site. Every day, hundreds of people have read the site without contributing their thoughts. That's really too bad. Why? Because my opinions are no more relevant than yours, in fact, in the cases of many things where we here at CC are commenting on other communities etc., our opinions are much less relevant.

One of the best things about what Cambridge Common could be, is a place where students from all across campus can share their thoughts with a broader reach than email lists and a more interactive discourse than other publications. So, if you're one of the 1000 visitors from this week, join the conversation...

who's responsible for combating racism?

A friend of mine asked me a question last night at the town hall meeting on race and Harvard organizations that got me thinking: "when was the last time you saw a group of white people working together to end racism? I honestly didn't know. But why is that? Shouldn't all of us be just as concerned, me as someone who benifits from a racist system and someone of color who is hurt by it? Shouldn't white people care? I recommend this OpEd from yesterday and I'd love to hear what you think (whether you're a whitie like me or not...)


This is kind of petty (but maybe speaking to a larger hypocrisy), but really funny. Via Time:
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. And sometimes, according to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, a cigar is an economic prop to a brutal totalitarian regime. Arguing against loosening sanctions against Cuba last year, DeLay warned that Fidel Castro "will take the money. Every dime that finds its way into Cuba first finds its way into Fidel Castro's blood-thirsty hands.... American consumers will get their fine cigars and their cheap sugar, but at the cost of our national honor."
DeLay has long been one of Congress' most vocal critics of what he calls Castro's "thugocracy," which is why some sharp-eyed TIME readers were surprised last week to see a photo of the Majority Leader smoking one of Cuba's best—a Hoyo de Monterrey double corona... (more in expanded post)
... which generally costs about $25 when purchased overseas and is not available in this country. The cigar's label clearly states that it was made in "Habana." The photo was taken in Jerusalem on July 28, 2003, during a meeting between DeLay and the Republican Jewish Coalition at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

the WORST thing about Harvard

Is that I can't watch the single most important, intelligent and fucking HILARIOUS TV show in America. I'm not going to try to sum up what was said, because I won't do it justice, but ladies and gents, the Daily Show is genius, pure genius. Watch the video.

update: Sorry, I know I'm obsessed, but this clip about "Justice Sunday" is also hilarious. The Daily Show makes me so, so happy.

UC concerts: change the rules, change UHall's bad attitude

(see UC disclaimer below...)
A good OpEd in the Crimson today about the spring concert that basically says two things: 1) the UC needs to change its bylaws so that it can set aside money for future semesters to plan events and 2) the administration (i.e. University Hall) needs to do more to help the UC. I think they're right on both counts. The primary reason that we're not having a concert this spring is that, because UC bylaws prohibit money from being set aside in advance of a semester, the planning for this concert couldn't start until a few months ago. When the Boston Police Department freaked out and demanded more security, the show fell through because the UC couldn't afford it and the administration refused to help out. So, while I don't think you can blame these rules on the current UC members, setting money aside for future UC's (as I think they're going to try to do now to start planning a good concert for the fall), will allow concerts more time to be developed. (more in expanded post)

But, as the OpEd points out, I think it's also important to look at the administration. Other schools have multiple concerts per year because their administrations are willing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to bring them. I think Brown has Ben Folds, Talib Kweli and the Shins ALL THIS YEAR. No matter how much in advance the UC were to plan, without significantly more cash from the administration, we're going to be trailing other schools in this for a long time...

disclaimer: I cannot claim any level of unbiased opinion on this. UC Pres. Glazer is my roommate and best friend. I tell you that so you can assess honestly what I'm saying and either take it or not depending on whether you think I'm being unfair. Other writers on this blog have the same problem: they are on, or are close friends with people who are on, the Undergraduate Council.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Is there something wrong with ethnic groups?

Well, maybe. I think the self-segregation can be problematic inasmuch as it isolates people from each other. That being said, I don't think we should act like everyone is or assume that everyone should be the same with some mixed culture, race and/or community. But what the hell do I know?

The BSA is sponsoring a Town Hall discussion tomorrow night in Lev JCR at 9 to discuss diversity and ethnic groups. While it annoys me that this seems to have been initiated by a truly unthoughtful piece of writing, it's a really important and interesting conversation, so I'm going to go and try to learn something.

Anyone have any thoughts on the matter?

NEA and No Child Left Behind

The NEA (one of the nation's largest teachers unions) filed suit against the federal government this week over the No Child Left Behind Act. Eduwonk, an education policy blog run by the Progressive Policy Institute, is a site that CC readers interested in education should become familiar with. They had this to say about the action and its various possible consequences. Moneyquote
"Besides, the core of the lawsuit boils down to the contention that No Child Left Behind is forcing school districts (and by extension states) to spend too much on education. This is, to put it mildly, a novel argument from the NEA."
In related news, education blogger Jenny D. thinks RFK would have supported NCLB and brings out the transcripts to back it up.

today's column

My Crimson column came out today on how we can revise the Harvard Social Forum and the building at 45 Mt. Auburn St. into the Harvard Progressive Alliance:
Imagine a miniature Phillips Brooks House for progressive activism: meeting rooms, a lounge, a library, a computer lab, a café, and offices to be used by all the members of the coalition. Students coming and going all day, having conversations in the lounge about Dewey and DuBois, going to a training session on organizing in one of the meeting rooms, working in their office on the logistics for their coming event, cooking a meal in the kitchen. It may sound utopian, but the only things that stand in our way are effort and money, both of which can be organized quite effectively here at Harvard. We have the people, we have the house; the question is simply whether or not we have the will.
(more in expanded post)
In addition to that general vision I offer a structure and 4 guiding principles. We NEED to have the conversation about what we want to do with the building and the coalition NOW, so I'd love to here anyone's thoughts on the column and on the decision in general. Feel free to criticize, offer a completely different vision, whatever, let's just get talking!

Of No Name Bands and Charles River Respites Part 1

The Undergraduate Council, as anyone who has followed the organization knows, has a hard time saying no to ideas geared at improving student life, whatever that may mean, broadly construed. A quick glance at UC legislation from the past few years conspicuously contains very few pieces of failed legislation. Unlike the Crimson, which would have you believe that the UC is often made up of bumbling and inept fools content only to pad their resumes, I hold the UC in high esteem having numerous personal friends (read informants) within the organization. Indeed, the few failed bills likely represent the strength of the UC's committee system and the high caliber of its members and their work.

That being said, the UC has in recent weeks made a number of decisions that leaves one wondering if the UC's zealous pursuit of its primary mission, "improving student life," isn't also at times its greatest weakness. I'll be covering this subject in a series of posts over the coming weeks. For the first installment, continue reading. (more in expanded post)

Last week the UC made the decision to use funds not spent in the failed attempt to bring Snoop Dogg to Harvard (which can be laid squarely at the feet of the Boston Police Department) to fund an undergraduates only post-Springfest Springfest in the MAC Quad on April 30.

At first glance, the decision appears to be a solid one. Springfest, once the solely the responsibility of the UC, has been funded by President Summers' office for a number of years now. The President's office opened doors and provided funding on a level well beyond the UC's reach, rumored to exceed over $125,000 each year. Seizing on an opportunity to throw a truly University-wide event for students, faculty, and staff, the President's office admirably put on a show each year featuring good (and free!) food, music, rides, and events. After the initial success, the event became an annual affair. Naturally, students soon began to clamor for a retaking of Springfest (even though most students, it seems, actually enjoy Springfest in its current form). The Crimson even complained, not completely without reason, that the event was "more Barney than Bacchus."

The problem came when the details of the post-Springfest Springfest actually came to light. The UC's plan for an undergraduate only event, rather than a reclaiming, represents a rehashing. From accounts received by my informants it appears that the vaunted event will in reality be nothing more than the President's version of Springfest, only in the evening and limited to undergrads. Oh, and with upwards of $20,000 spent on beer and a performing artist who has yet to be named. No, not that one. (Maybe the UC can pass legislation giving this unnamed artist their own symbol! ed. Hmm...good idea. You should contact your UC rep on that one.)

Let it be known that Jamal Sprucewood is not a prude. But one wonders what type of artist the UC can swing for $10,000. Ever heard of Mr. Lif? How about the Easy Star Allstars? Well, those are the artists listed on a handout provided to the UC by the Harvard Concert Commission tasked with overseeing the musical selection. (Do they have symbols? ed. Probably not - chances are they're not formerly known as anything, let alone their current names). Ironically, the undergraduate only event will not feature undergraduate bands. For far less than $10,000 the UC could have brought in a local (or Harvard) cover band to play familiar songs all night long. To be fair, other artists were on the list such as Grand Master Flash and Pharrell, but it's very unlikely that artists of this caliber are possible to get at such short notice.

Unfortunately, the UC has been unable to provide services that the campus has come see as the UC's bread and butter. The UC's Committee Fund, from which all student events and services are funded out of (not to be confused with the much larger Grants Fund which funds student groups, HoCos, and the widely loved Party Fund) has recently been described as having hit hard times. Allegedly the Committee Fund was so pressed for cash this semester that $1 Movie Nights, once offered on a regular three week basis, hardly ever occur. The co-sponsorship of the Movie Nights by Harvard Student Agencies (HSA), once meant to augment the UC's funding and make the events more frequent, now serves as the sole source of funding for the event (when it happens). Where the UC once sent two shuttles to NYC for Spring Break, this year only one made the trip. The UC Boxes program, which has expanded every year since its inception, was cut by 1/3 this year even though last year's supply sold out in days.

Given the above, it seems that the UC should have said "no" to spending $10,000 on a band that even sponsors of the event admitted was not intended to draw students to the post-Springfest Springfest, but to enhance the event. Given the quality of Harvard and local bands, I'm not at all convinced that this $10,000 had to be spent on a D-list band. Given the UC's failure to put on its bread and butter events, this seems a dubious use of the Council's funds. At an even greater level, the UC, which has of late become skilled at conducting telephone polls, should have at least sought out whether there actually existed a strong student demand for an alternative Springfest before committing over $20,000 in funding for an event which could easily flop due to adverse weather.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Ah, the filibuster

Majority Leader Frist describes the filibuster as "unprecedented." Mr. Sprucewood, who makes an otherwise interesting and convincing argument, claims that such nominations to the Supreme Court have been stopped in the past "without the filibuster (a la Abe Fortas)." Now, I am not one to argue precedent, and I am swayed by Mr. Sprucewood's call to democratic sanity in many ways, however, let's be clear: this is neither "unprecedented" or always done differently in the past:

Via CrooksandLiars, a video clip of CBS News discussing the filibuster of President Johnson's nominee to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in 1968: Abe Fortas.

By the way, it's looking increasingly likely that there will be a compromise.

Chuck Hagel at the IOP

So I just went to go see Chuck Hagel at the IOP. I'm always a fan of those IOP speeches as a general concept, since they represent a great opportunity for us to be involved with actual issues and talk about them, which I dig, and which I suppose is the animating idea behind this blog. So I went to hear Hagel. (Lest anyone be confused, I made a point of wearing my "Kiss me I'm Liberal" t-shirt to the speech) (more in expanded post)
As it turns out, it was an absurdly boring speech on a very interesting topic: Hagel's belief that what we need is an all-volunteer armed forces. A very interesting idea with huge public policy and cultural implications. It's too bad that he didn't really address any of those, except to say that our current armed forces are stretched too thin. Also, he did not engage in any real critique of Bush's Iraq policy, or the execution of that policy, as I had expected, except in the most oblique way (saying we were stretched too thin).

What was interesting were two side notes that he made. The first was when he traced the origin of the idea of the all-volunteer army back to Richard Nixon. Ok, fine. But what does it say about the state of our public discourse when we have prominent politicians claiming the mantle of Nixon? And it's not that everything Nixon did was categorically bad (detente, and the EPA, for example, I think were good), but I just don't think that when most people think of Nixon they think of dentente; I think they think "watergate, crook." So maybe this is a non-deal, but for someone interested in rhetoric (me), it seems a perplexing choice for someone to favorably mention Nixon when he doesn't have to. Does anyone have any thoughts on this? Maybe Schwartzenegger started all of this at his convention speech?

The second interesting thing was when he was musing about the '08 presidential election. Hagel said that it is bound to be historic insofar as neither major party has an heir (spoken like a true non-heir), and so both parties will have a great opportnity to have a debate within themselves to determine the priorities and message and etc of the party. I hope so. But I am not optimistic about the Republicans' ability to emerge with anything new as a headlining act. I am optimistic, however, about the consequences of their inability to do that: the disintegration of their current regime, and the marginalization of their attempts to dismantle the Welfare State. (There's my way-too-early prediction. Anybody else have one?)

IOP picks Jeanne Shaheen

The IOP has selected its new director, former NH Governor Jeanne Shaheen. You can read the mini story here from the Globe. Shaheen was Governor of NH for two terms and lost when she ran for the Senate in 2002 to John Sununu. She then became the nation chairperson for the Kerry Campaign in the summer of 2003 (after a long and public courtship), rallied support for him in New Hampshire and then became the National Chair for his general election run.

I think Shaheen's a good choice. She's a nice woman (I've met her a few times) and a very moderate Democrat, which will keep the IOP happily innocuous and non-partisan. She seems to be legitimately interested in young people, not in a condescending "aren't you cute!" sort of way. Anyone have any other thoughts?

HUPD Police Log 4.25.05

And now it's time for your weekly installment of genuine, HUPD-approved humor. Let the hilarity ensue!

This week's highlights... (see expanded post)
April 16:

8:14 p.m.-An officer reported to Matthews Hall in response to a complaint from an individual who was nearly struck with a bottle. After checking the area, the responding officer determined that no suspicious person had been found lingering.
Holy Shit! "Nearly struck with a bottle!" Someone call the authorities! (apparently, someone did....) And why does it seem that the two sentences of this report have nothing to do with each other?
April 20:

5:51 p.m.-An officer was flagged down and notified of a person "inappropriately touching" himself or herself while peering up people's clothes on Mass. Ave and Dunster Street. The HUPD officer found the alleged self-fondler and turned him over to CPD.
Ahhh! This is - by far - the greatest report ever! Where to begin, oh, where to begin?!

First of all, this image is hilarious - How, exactly, was this person fondling himself while peering UP people's clothes?? Was he sprawled out on the sidewalk waiting for people to unsuspectingly walk over his head? Maybe he's just very, very small. Or maybe he's just "peering" up at really tall people. The possibilities are endless! (Actually, Police Blog could only think of those three...)

Police Blog also loves the mysterious gender identification of the peeping Tom - or peeping Tina - at the beginning of the post. 'Officer, officer, come quick! I don't know what in the hell that person is, but his (or her) hands are in the no-no zone!'

And finally, there's the title of our androgynous friend. Police Blog has seen many a descriptive title given to identify the perpetrators of HUPD's pages, but never has a title inspired such awe over the explanatory skill of the HUPD Police Log writing staff. "Alleged self-fondler." Need I say more?

(Even though the Police Log provides us with a hilarious insight into the dark underworld of Harvard crime, here at Police Blog we always appreciate the work and dedication of the HUPD officers)

why Cambridge Common? (a note from the Editor)

Seeing as how many email lists have been bombarded today with advertisements for our fine little online community today, I thought I’'d step out of my commentary role and into my big floppy editor hat to say hello and explain a little about what’s going on here. I started on this train of thought last week when the four of us (myself and three Associate Editors) started writing daily. In that post, I noted that I wanted the blog to straddle a middle ground between email list conversations and the aspiring professionalism of the Crimson. I want to expand on those thoughts for a moment, to talk about what we're hoping to do here in the context of campus dialogue.

Let's be honest, campus-wide dialogue is essentially a monologue. No campus publication has the readership or the legitimacy to make any sort of challenge to the hegemony that the Crimson currently has over campus political discourse. Now, I'm not saying that Cambridge Common will do that. It won't. There's no way we could build up that kind of readership and institutional credibility. Not to mention the fact that the Crimson usually does a pretty good job. BUT, there are a few things we can do.(more in expanded post)

First, we can offer a space in which the very issues that the Crimson and the rest of us talk about can be discussed all across campus. If there were some sort of email list for this, maybe this wouldn't be necessary. But at this point, those email lists are limited to specific communities, so the perspectives are not varied or representative on any one list. Hopefully, Cambridge Common will get a more varied readership and set of perspectives. The reason this is important is that, at this point, the campus conversation is only happening in isolated communities or in the Ed Board office. Eight people deciding what the rest of us will know and think is not democratic, even if they are eight good people (which they are).

Second, I hope to provide a different take on campus politics. The internal politics of so many of our communities, whether it's the UC, the progressive community, the conservative community, whatever, are not known or understood. The forces that shape our school are summed up in a post election article (with the exception of the UC). There is a lot going on that people don't know about, that people deserve to know about. We can't get you that perspective on everything, we can only do what we know. But we hope this will cue others to do the same for things they know about.

Finally, we need a deeper conversation on campus. Part of our problem is the opinion aristocracy that I mentioned. Part of the problem is the disconnected dialogue that happens in each community separately. But part of the problem is a simple unwillingness to engage in some campus issues more intensely. The Curricular Review is going to redefine Harvard College and universities all over the world. Where's student opinion on this? Where's student dialogue other than "I hate the core" and "finals before Christmas"? We're smarter than that. We need to discuss forms of education, whether or not Harvard should have a fundamental philosophy of pedagogy, endorse a set of knowledge that it expects every graduate to have, restructure tenure and teaching requirements. This is important stuff that requires a conversation, not a declaration of truth from the Administration, the Crimson OR the UC.

I understand that a lot of people don't think that campus politics is relevant to them. They'll be leaving in a few years, what do they care how the curriculum is redesigned? They're not activists, what do they care what's going on with HSF and the Dems? Without being too self-important, we can't forget where we are. Harvard matters, the forms of our communities shape important people. The educational experience speaks to fundamental American values of education. That's why things like Larrygate get so much press: because Harvard matters. We can think that's obnoxious and elitist (it kind of is), but it's true.

Anyway, this Common won't always be that earnest. Sometimes things will just be funny or interesting (or unfunny and unintesting, I'm crossing my fingers). Sometimes we'll just fight about national politics. In any event, I hope you'll come back, join the conversation, throw in your comments and think about some of this.

Have a great Monday,

The Editor

um, the Harvard Crimson thinks...

that "Matherites are dirty, dirty people who refuse to shower and are looking to spread their rashes among the Harvard student body"? Uh, ok. This may be the weirdest staff ed I've ever read:
Of course, the big question is whether the outbreak of rashes was due to the foam at the party or to activities undertaken after everyone blacked out. A quick survey of Fifteen Minutes’ party report confirmed our suspicions, as every picture featured incestuous, Mather-like debauchery that could only reasonably culminate with the transfer of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). And where did those STD’s come from? That’s right. They came from Matherites.
(more in expanded post)
Yes, it is mildly funny, but isn't that what comments are for, or that weird bullseye thing? Does the fact that it's a staff ed mean the entire editorial board voted on this?

I mean, don't get me wrong, I think that it's an important issue to bring to the table: are Matherites more or less prone to sexually transmitted diseases and what does this tell us about Mather Lather AND, should this cause us to want to replace the monkeys in William James with people from Mather? All of this is terribly important. Terribly. But can't you just put the author's name on it? He deserves credit for his bizarro, funny in the way a drunk uncle at Christmas is funny, writing.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

happy saturday night

This is hilarious. Watch it.

A Call for Sanity in Discussing the Judiciary

Former Solicitor General Ted Olson made a persuasive case for both parties to tone down the rhetoric regarding the judiciary this week in this Wall Street Journal article. Email address registration is required. Definitely worth a read.

Single-Sex group recognition?

The College -- in a subcommittee of the student-faculty Committee on College Life -- is actually considering recognizing single-sex groups on campus. I should say that none of this is even close to a done deal, and the student reps on the committee seem to be divided as to whether this has any chance of actually happening. But the current proposal/thinking seems to be that single-sex organizations would have the option of being recognized, bringing them under the umbrella of the College and allowing them some limited access to campus resources. Obviously this isn't very specific yet.(more in expanded post)

This of course has huge implications. Women's groups in particular could benefit from this, if it is done right. Final clubs may choose to be recognized, which would put them under the jurisdiction of HUPD instead of the Cambridge Police. The Crimson Ed Board came out behind the proposal. But the group that can have a much bigger impact on whether this happens -- the UC -- doesn't yet have a positon, though its Student Affairs Committee has discussed it and may bring legislation about it. I think that it's hard to get behind something that doesn't have any specific anything. But I think that this is a very fruitful line of discussion, in particular for women's groups, that the campus should continue. Anybody have any thoughts? Good idea? Why two tiers at all? What about funding?

Friday, April 22, 2005

Lackluster Judicial Quality a Shortcut to Senate Confirmation?

That seems to be the case, according to a study by Jon Lott at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). While many CC readers will approach AEI studies with some reluctance, Lott's findings shouldn't be so easily dismissed - the results seem to be consistent across administrations from both parties.

A summary of the study can be found in this Christian Science Monitor article and the study itself can be read in full here. (more in expanded post)

Paragraph moneyquote:
"The most troubling results strongly indicate that Circuit Court judges who turn out to be the most successful judges, as measured by Choi and Gulati or Landes et al., faced the most difficult confirmation battles and the effect was large with a one percent increase in judicial quality increasing the length of the confirmation process by between 1 and 3 percent. Similarly, nominees who attended the best schools or served as clerks for the Supreme Court also faced very difficult nominations to the Circuit Court. One is tempted to tell bright young people desiring to make it to the Circuit Court to hide how bright they are." (Bold mine).
Of course, intellectual ability has never been a prerequisite to membership in the body that approves these nominees. Hey, maybe it just goes to prove something social psychologists have long said - people are more likely to look favorably on those with whom they share similarities.


Every Friday, starting today, I will post this open thread for a little weekend competition: what was the most inane thing you read in the Crimson, Indy, Salient, etc. this week? It can be anything, a news piece, an OpEd, a feature, anything.

I know, this is kind of mean. The people at all of those fine publications work harder and for longer than any coffee drinking, underwear wearing blogger, but still, inane is inane. So, we at Cambridge Common love you campus publications. We love you enough to mock you mercilessly.

So let's get to it, what was the most inane thing you read this week?

Have a good weekend!

a crack in the armor?

For the first time in, well, I don't know how long, the big political story is the divisions in the Republican party. Thank God (pun intended)!

We've got:
- Colin Powell working against the Bolton nomination and swaying GOP Senators.
- Tom Delay continuing to be a corrupt dude, and rumblings of all out mutiny (I doubt it will happen, but the stress of holding things together won't help).
- What the Note describes as a "gaggle of GOP skeptics" on Social Security (and no progress in sight).
- GOP leaking internal polls that show little support for their efforts to end the filibuster, as Santorum speaks cautiously and McCain openly opposes.

It's going to be a nutty week in Washington next week. I recommend watching the Sunday talk shows, not going out at all this weekend and instead doing your homework so you can tune into C-Span and read a lot of news next week, lengthening your blog roll, etc. Wait, no, that's just me.

AIDS Conference

Just wanted to recommend to everyone that's in Cambridge this weekend that you sign-up for the United Against AIDS conference. It's going to be a tremendous event, I know the organizing groups have been working on it for years, and the panels/issues look fascinating. AIDS is one of those things that I think many of us become desensitized to. At a certain point, we just intellectually acknowledge its destruction without really emotionally or morally connecting with those numbers, the deaths and all of those people. Let's try to reengage, see it for the first time and understand out moral imperative.

dormaid on daily show

Have you heard about DormAid? The Crimson came out against it (it'll create class divisions amongst the student body), there was a mini-controversy, blah blah. Luckily, the Daily Show came to the rescue and made the whole thing entertaining. Go here and click "Bed Snobs and Broomsticks," and enjoy the fun!

Thursday, April 21, 2005

elitist anti-elitests

It's funny, the Crimson OpEd page is really hit or miss. Sometimes, you'll get a totally inane column like this one (that argues that ethnic groups on campus shouldn't exist), and sometimes you'll get a wise something that is actually smart, reasonable, and non-obnoxious. Sometimes you even have to read things that I write (apologies all around).

I just wanted to point out this column from yesterday, about conceptualizing protests on campus, why they're done, how they're done and what effect they should have. It's a well-reasoned piece (mostly because I agree with it) and I highly recommend it. I've hinted at this in some of my column in the past (my frustration with the self-serving, unstrategic nature of some of the protesting left), and I think this argument captured my feeling (and likely others') well. I also wanted to build on a central point. Those who aren't strategic in how they protest are, despite their anti-elitist liberal ideologies, the worst elitists. (more in expanded post)

Ms. Strayhorn hints at this with her final line:
Quite simply, in a protest, the protestors are not the issue—and never should they be.
Quite right. What angers me (and yes, it is anger and not simply frustration) is those who do not prioritize the results of the protest, but are simply pleased to do so. I can handle the protestor who does something I think is unstrategic in their methods, but prioritize strategy and results for their protest. The people that infuriate me are those who are simply pleased with the action itself, with how clever it is, with how good it feels to vent their opinion, with the general high of being a part of a movement or cause. If those things are a motivator for people, I guess that's fine. It would be ridiculous to say that it was no part of what drives my passion for change etc. (hell, obviously I love venting).

BUT, when those things are primary, and impede change, that is when you are the worst kind of elitist. You are a self-serving, hypocritical liberal who hurts the people you claim to care about. Those people anger me.

what democracy?

Brian Goldsmith's column today was important to read, but not for the obvious reason. He wrote about the fact that Republicans have entered the new age of politics as marketing, focus grouping and demographically targeting and splicing every little thing into advertising tactics. He argued that the democrats, on the other hand, are still living in a world of impressions:
If you were a liberal, but a realist, and, having finished both lunches with the party chairmen, you stopped to think about the contrast: Warren Buffett for the Republicans and Al Roker for the Democrats, wouldn’t you be worried too?
I think it's a fair point and, as someone who doesn't like losing and doesn't believe in Republican ideology, I take Brian's point. But isn't there something fundamentally wrong with this? Is this democracy? (more in expanded post)

Walter Lippmann wrote in Public Opinion the early 20s that we needed an elite class of political scientists to determine truth in our politics, because people were too easily manipulated without them:
But what is propaganda, if not the effort to alter the picture to which men respond, to substitute one social pattern for another?
Lippmann was writing because he'd seen the way in which people were manipulated by the government during WWI, because he knew that the power of elites to change the way people perceived the world and therefore control them was powerful. That is not democracy (see Daily Show video below). I'm not sure another elite class of political scientists will do the trick. It used to be that we looked to the media for that sort of thing. In any event, we've got to figure out a way to fix American politics.

I'm all for Democrats learning how to win. I also am not of the camp that thinks that because this politics gone marketing is awful we shouldn't do it; that's just a formula for becoming the permanent minority. But we have to start having a conversation in this country, in both parties, about how long we're willing to allow this to go on before we decide that we really can't call ourselves a democracy anymore.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

thought for the day

I was watching Curb Your Enthusiasm earlier, and I really appreciated this little exchange between Cheryl and Larry, and felt like sharing it. I think it will make sense even if you don't watch the show, but if it doesn't / isn't funny, I'm sorry. It's not that it's an especially good joke, exactly; it's more of thought of the day material :) Anyway, it goes:
Cheryl David: Larry...Larry!
Larry David: Huh?
Cheryl: What are you doing?
Larry: Stepping on some packing bubbles.
Cheryl: I know but why - why are you doing that?
Larry: Because it makes a fun kind of popping noise. It's fun.

The Daily Show is...

BRILLIANT. Watch this right now. Now. NOW!

a new voting system for the uc

On Sunday night, the UC passed an important bill that probably seems very boring. It was way buried in the Crimson article that ran on Monday, but I think it really has the potential to positively change the way the UC handles business. The legislation, which was sponsored by Freshmen Rep. Matt Greenfield, was entitled: “23S-35: The Instant Roll Call Voting Act”!
It’s actually pretty awesome stuff. What it is is a set of voting clickers that each representative will have during the meetings that send vote information up to a big board for display in the front of the room. It’s way better than it sounds. From a simple UC perspective, it will save a mad amount of time, because counting votes takes a while, and people are always calling for recounts and stuff, and this will just make things more efficient. (more in expanded post)

But it also addresses one of the most important structural difficulties the UC faces: nobody knows how their representatives vote. This system will make it so that every vote will necessarily record how each representative voted (unless the UC votes to make a vote in secret, but there will be pressure against doing that with this new system). And it’s not that everybody will be rushing to see how their representatives voted. But some people will care about some issues. And they should be able to know how their representatives are voting; it’s a pretty fundamental thing to do if we actually care about representation. Under the current method, there is a great deal of pressure against taking roll-call votes, because they take time and force people to go on the record. This new system will remove both obstacles, and it will be a huge first step toward making the UC more responsible, open, and its representatives accountable for their work, on the basis of actual issues.


Brian Williams, anchor and blogger?

Tuesday, April 19, 2005


A few links for your procrastination enjoyment:

First, the single greatest piece of legislation even produced by the State of Idaho.

Second, a weird non-scientific survery that tells us what we already know: Democrats care most about education and health care! (the survey is over 30 members of the Harvard College Dems)

Finally, proof that conservatives actually do have a sense of humor. Seriously, I had no idea that such profound irony could be a part of a moralizing ideology.

ladies and gentlemen, we have a frame!

Finally, for what is likely the first time ever in the history of time, the Democrats have a frame with which to attack the Republican party. What is a frame you ask? It's essentially a caricature that every screw-up can be placed to support. The best example would be what the GOP did to Gore and Kerry, or, as they've been framed, the notorious liar and the weak flip-flopper.

The frame is this (and extra points to anyone who can point out instances of its use): Republicans are corrupt, over-reaching and abusing their power. It's one of what Robert Reich describes as the four essential American stories: Rot at the Top. (By the way, if you have not read the Reich story from the New Republic last month about narrative and American politics, drop everything your doing and read it immediately. If you can't get access to TNR, email me and I'll send you the story).

Reich's story essentially outlines for the four American stories that make up our national mythology: The Triumphant Individual, The Benevolent Community, The Mob at the Gates and the Rot at the Top. Like I said before, read Reich for a full explanation. Reich describes the Rot at the Top in this way:
The Rot at the Top. The last story concerns the malevolence of powerful elites. It's a tale of corruption, decadence, and irresponsibility in high places--of conspiracy against the common citizen. It started with King George III, and, to this day, it shapes the way we view government--mostly with distrust. The great bullies of American fiction have often symbolized Rot at the Top: William Faulkner's Flem Snopes, Willie Stark as the Huey Long-like character in All the King's Men, Lionel Barrymore's demonic Mr. Potter in It's a Wonderful Life, and the antagonists that hound the Joad family in The Grapes of Wrath. Suspicions about Rot at the Top have inspired what historian Richard Hofstadter called the paranoid style in U.S. politics--from the pre-Civil War Know-Nothings and Anti-Masonic movements through the Ku Klux Klan and Senator Joseph McCarthy's witch hunts. The myth has also given force to the great populist movements of U.S. history, from Andrew Jackson's attack on the Bank of the United States in the 1830s through William Jennings Bryan's prairie populism of the 1890s.
Sound at all familiar? Democrats are using this frame on everyone: Delay over corruption charges, Frist over trying to end the filibuster, Arnold over attacking the unions, etc., etc. It's a good frame for a party that is so thoroughly out of power. In fact, it's exactly the frame that brought Republicans TO power in 1994 with the Republican Revolution. I find myself thinking, for the first time in months, maybe we aren't so stupid after all...

new leadership...

....was elected in the black community yesterday for its two single-sex organizations. Black Men's Forum and Association of Black Harvard Women both elected new boards. BSA's elections aren't until May. I know almost nothing about the politics of the black community, so if anyone knows anything I'd be fascinated to hear about it.

update: I was wrong about BSA, they elected their new leadership last Saturday, and Nneka Eze is the new BSA President. She's great, she was my FUPpie.

a funny thing happened: the meaning of "forum"

From yesterday's Crimson:
"The HSF has a history of extreme action and because they are not officially recognized as a student group, they gain what officiality they have through association with clubs like the Dems," Downer said. "They are able to continue their extreme agenda by using clubs like the College Dems as a front."
Mr. Downer is shrewd to try to split campus progressives down the middle here, not least by falsely characterizing the HSF as a kind of splinter group. Harvard Social Forum, as I understand it, is meant to be a base and a tool and an umbrella for all sorts of progressive discussion and action on campus. Their association with the Harvard Democrats is not out of a desire to officialize (I don't quite get this claim--HSF does not technically become "official" in Harvard terms through its association with other groups), nor out of a desire to be legitimate: the point is to create precisely a forum where issues of social justice can be discussed and addressed on and around campus by a variety of groups on campus whose structure and enterprises don't often allow for the pooling of resources and the sharing of ideas...

After all, the "Forum" began as a productive weekend-long conference on socially-minded topics before it bloomed into the group it is now, and that model for dialogue and comradeship, which in theory is still the bedrock of HSF, is a much-welcome antidote to the identity and partisan politics that insidiously divide this campus and prevent it from productive and cooperative action. Yes, the Forum is heavily focused on progressive, liberal issues and activism, but its "unofficial" mandate is to encourage interaction across all sorts of lines. It is important to remember that as a forum ("a public meeting place for open discussion" says the dictionary)--and one with considerably more potential for student dialogue than Harvard's other Forum, over at the IOP--HSF invites all sorts of participants into its meetings at 45 Mt. Auburn St. Here's who's in--excuse the length!...

Asian American Association * Association of Black Harvard Women * BGLTSA * Black
Student Association * Burma Action Movement * Coalition for an Anti-Sexist
Harvard * Coalition Against Sexual Violence * College Democrats * Democracy
Matters * Darfur Action Group * Diversity and Distinction * Democracy Matters *
Environmental Action Committee * First-Year Urban Program * Fuerza Latina *
Harvard AIDS Coalition * Harvard Fair Trade Initiative * Harvard International
Development Organization * Harvard Initiative for Peace & Justice * Harvard
Progressive Advocacy Group * Harvard Remixed * H-Bomb Magazine * Latinas Unidas
* Movement for a Democratic Harvard * Perspective * Present! * Progressive
Jewish Alliance * Progressive Student Labor Movement * Race, Culture, Diversity
Initiative * Radcliffe Union of Students * SASSI-WOOFCLUBS * Socialist
Alternative * Society of Arab Students * Spoken Word Society * Students for

On paper at least, politics for HSF is clearly less about partisanship than it is about addressing social and political ills through collective action of all sorts, from ethnic and cultural approaches to artistic ones. Even the Harvard Republicans are invited "to contribute to the decision making process of HSF," if they're daring enough to test the Forum on its principles (in good faith of course). And if, as Mr. Gollis and others claim, the HSF needs some reform, it is precisely the venue where discussions about campus activism, and certainly the organization's own development, can be discussed by diverse campus actors.

This Wednesday at 9 PM in fact, the Forum will host its general open meeting, where I hear there'll be discussion on its role in recent events, and its future role in campus activism. A group as proudly democratic as this needs dissent and differing points-of-view to fulfill its mission, and hopefully people will be willing to speak up if they disagree--and some will. And if all the blaring and flag-waving can die down (on all sides) for the sake of better social progress and campus understanding, perhaps the Republican Club (and what some might call its own "extreme" friends at Harvard) will come too. It may be too much to hope that such participation would be the beginning of a better understanding at Harvard. In the meantime we can at least hope for an end to the partisan ploys and concerns and mindsets that often make our political system its own impediment to change. Right?

Monday, April 18, 2005

HUPD Police Log 4.18.05

Each week, the Harvard Crimson posts the Police Log from the Harvard University Police Department. While many Crimson readers may skip over this seemingly mundane record of the goings on of the HUPD force, the Police Log is actually a gold mine for comedy.... uh.... gold.

This week's highlights...(see expanded post)

April 13:

12:04 a.m.—Officers were sent to Harvard Yard because of a report alleging that someone was acting strangely. The responding officers were unable to find the strange perpetrator.

Wouldn't you love to know the exact criteria they were using when searching for the "strange perpetrator"?

April 13:

1:07 p.m.—An officer observed a package lying suspiciously by Memorial Church. Upon further investigation, the officer determined the package was, in fact, filled with soda cans.
Best part of this post: "in fact" -- Are they confirming their suspicion that it was soda cans all along? 'Aha! Soda cans! I knew it all along' Don't get snippy with us, Police Log.

(Even though the Police Log provides us with a hilarious insight into the dark underworld of Harvard crime, here at Police Blog we always appreciate the work and dedication of the HUPD officers)

Hello, my name is Jamal Sprucewood

Welcome to all those who have found their way to this blog. Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Jamal Sprucewood, and I've been asked by the creator of Cambridge Common to serve as an Associate Editor. My primary interests on the blog will be the Undergraduate Council (UC), national politics, campus politics, music, movies, and whatever else I care to write about. There will of course be the occasional argument with the other Editors and criticism of the campus journalism monopoly - the Crimson (sorry, Indy).

"What kind of name is Jamal Sprucewood?" It's not a real name - it's a pseudonym. "Why a fake name?" Well, first of all, there is a factual basis for the name. Second, because I think it's funny. For those who really care, I think that my writing will soon give away my true identity (not to mention word of mouth), but until then, Jamal Sprucewood will remain, as a good friend of mine says, "an enigma wrapped in a conundrum shrouded by a veil hidden in a riddle obfuscated by a mystery."

The Dems, HSF and the HRC

Wouldn't you know that on the day we kick this bad boy off, I'd be quoted in the newspaper on one of my favorite topics: the progressive community. I used to be a leader of one of the major organizations of Harvard's progressive community, HPAG, I'm a FUP leader (the unofficial center of the radical/activist/progressive community) and I'm an occasional member of the College Dems, so I've had a lot of interesting experiences that have lead me to some strong beliefs.

I also got kind of hosed in the paper today. For those of you who haven't been following it (which I assume is most people who are not intense readers of Dems-Talk), a debate has been raging on the more moderate corners of the progressive community (a little on the HPAG list, a lot on the Dems list) about whether or not last week's puke protest was over the line and whether or not Harvard Social Forum (who held a concurrent protest outside the event) was responsible. My blockmate who, I have to warn you is a republican, wrote this OpEd. (more in expanded post)

The Harvard Republican Club, under the leadership of the far-too-talented for my taste in republican leadership Matt Downer, sent a letter to the Dems calling on them to leave the coalition that is the Social Forum. I'll post that letter and various responses later. The Dems, like idiots, started fighting about it not realizing or caring that they were being manipulated by the HRC. The result was this article in today's Crimson. Because of my emails to Dems-Talk, the reporter asked me for a comment:

But some members of the Dems have objected to the HRC’s suggestions. Andrew H. Golis ’06 said the Dems should not allow the letter from HRC to cause a schism in the progressive community.

“"I think that the letter that the republicans sent was an amateurish and transparent ploy to separate progressives.," Golis said. “"I think that the Dems need to stay in the HSF but I think that HSF needs to be reformed—. HSF right now is a small group of people who choose to do things on their own without consulting the other members of what is supposed to be a coalition of progressives.”"

But Michael A. Gould-Wartofsky ’07, a member of the HSF coordinating committee, said that actions sponsored by the HSF, such as Tuesday’s protest, are not intended to imply endorsement by all member groups.

Ok, first of all, I sound like kind of an idiot. I don't think that I said "I think" three times in two sentences. Even so, the placement of the quote is ridiculous, because it hints at, but doesn't follow through on a serious debate. Putting GW's quote after mine as if it discounts it gives him the final word when, well, he's just flat out wrong.

HSF claims to be this big coalition of people all working together hunky dory. It's not. It's 10 people who show up to weekly meetings. Once a semester, it's more than that, but essentially there are a core of people who get together to decide what they're going to protest that week. Unlike in the fall, they no longer do significant work on developing the space at 45 Mt. Auburn, they no longer do almost any work trying to politicize their member and other groups on campus. They did hold their second annual Social Forum, in which they got lots of people together for discussions and workshops, a few weeks ago. However, on a week to week basis, and in the experience of most students, they are simply that group of people who can be seen protesting EVERYTHING: Doug Feith at the IOP, Larry Summers, Final Clubs (although here they take on different names), the CIA/DHS, etc, and the list goes on.

My point in the quote was simply this: the Harvard Social Forum has not been given permission to protest all of these things by ITS MEMBERSHIP. It is the most anti-democratic thing in the world to claim to be a coalition and then do things without consulting them. Leaders of HSF (yes, they claim to "not have leaders" because they're anti-authoritarian like that. Don't be fooled, there are leaders) claim that such protests are done in the context of "the Anti-War Caucus" not HSF as a whole. Well who made the Anti-War caucus this autonomous organization that is allowed to still claim HSF's name? Why does that change a damn thing?

HSF needs to be reformed. It needs to stick to what the progressive community needs right now: a center (both physically and institutionally) that will allow the community to come together to share information and leadership, to develop our ideologies and understandings, to have trainings, open mics. They do a lot of that well and should do more. If they're going to go protesting everything, they need to either leave HSF's name out or bring their coalition partners in.

welcome from the Editor

So, you find yourself here at Cambridge Common and you're thinking: "wtf? What is this piece of crap? Who are these people? Where are my pants?" Ok, here's the deal.

Cambridge Common is an attempt by four students at Harvard to deepen and broaden the campus conversation by giving it somewhere to occur that is between the organized professionalism of the Crimson and the obnoxious rantiness of email lists. It builds off of the lessons learned from the blog I personally ran for 2 months, welcoming new writers and encouraging more readers and reader contribution. The four of us currently writing on this project have varied interests (progressive politics, undergraduate council, music, activism, etc.) and we plan on writing about it all. In doing so, we hope you'll feel free to hit the comment button and share your thoughts, tell us we're idiots if we're being idiots (and even if we're not!) and generally engage in the campus discussion.

As you've probably noticed, the graphics on this page are kind of strange (more in expanded post)

Well, we're working with a graphic designer on something new, but we decided not to delay the start of writing just because things isn't purdy. Quite frankly, this is not supposed to be super professional. It's supposed to be a catalyst for honest conversation and thinking, and the graphic only helps that inasmuch as it makes people think we're smarter because it looks professional. So, it won't kill us to write before it's done.

Alright, I'll stop explaining pointless stuff to you. The Associate Editors will introduce themselves to you throughout the day and the rest of the week, and I hope you'll feel free to hit the comment button and join the conversation.


The Editor

Sunday, April 17, 2005

my goals for cambridge common

I think the most valuable thing about Cambridge Common is the possibility of getting campus issues into people's conversations. There is a ton of stuff going on around this campus that affects us whether we're engaged with it or not. As a community, we should be. This includes but also goes beyond the UC (one of my goals is to blog about the UC, in order to raise awareness and hopefully diminish the misunderstanding which often surrounds that admittedly flawed but mostly good institution). I am particularly interested in things like the Curricular Review, and the initiatives of student groups, like the recent resurgance of CHI on campus and the United Front for Divestment's ongoing campaign. Mostly, though, I look forward to seeing which way the wind blows and discussing campus politics and issues as they happen.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Kick-Off: Monday!

Hello, if you've found yourself here you are very special, because this blog will not be going public until Monday. Feel free to have a look around, but expect some things to change in the next week. We are still working with our designer on a new graphic, fixing some of the site's code, and coming up with a less lame description of what the Common is all about. Thanks for coming by, enjoy the sunny day!

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Tao of Blogging

What's are good things to start posting before the blog is public? Via DailyKos, a snarky take on the basics of blogging (I've included only my favorites, Kos has more):

As a public service to the mainstream media, I'd like to present some handy talking points, clever similes, and general whatnots suitable for inclusion in your mainstream media pieces about the astounding and wondrous wondrousness of blogs. Here we go:

* Blogs are as numerous as pebbles on a beach. If a blogger is particularly sharp, their blog might embed itself into your consciousness. If a pebble is particularly sharp, it might embed itself into the sole of your foot. Then magic dolphins will come to save you, and you will learn lessons about stuff.

* Some prostitutes pretend to be journalists. Some journalists pretend to be prostitutes. Some bloggers laugh their asses off watching the general media trying to figure out the difference.

* Having a blog without comments is like operating a chainsaw while wearing proper eye protection. Sure, you can do it, but it makes you a sissy.

* A blog is like a friendly neighborhood bar where everybody knows your name. Except they only know your fake name, not your real one. So it's like a singles bar. Except nobody knows what sex you are, unless you tell them. And you might be lying. Then Cliff gets drunk and kills a guy.

* Political blogging requires only two things: finding interesting stories, and having opinions about those stories. If your name is Glenn Reynolds, however, you can frequently outsource both parts.

* If Mark Twain was living today, he'd be a blogger. If Henry David Thoreau was living today, he'd be a blogger. If Jesus was living today, he'd have the best Internet connectivity of anyone, and his site wouldn't have any popup ads for mortgage refinancing.