Your hosts in the Hall of Super Justice:

Conservator: The Red-Blooded, Blue-Collared American Hero
Captain Capitalism: Valiant Protector of a Free Market
Libertaria: With her Bureaucratic Shrink Ray
The Dynamic Uno: A Lone Force Against Idiotarian Evil
Senator Stupendous: Mild-Mannered Page by Day

Sunday, August 31, 2003

Hi, I'm James: It's interesting that some research shows that boys are getting the educational shaft. I wonder what the effect of the research itself will have on boys' willingness and drive to learn? If in the future our society reverses years of steryotyping males as intellecutally superior and instead applies that label to girls, will boys still want to succeed in the classroom if it is percieved as a feminine thing to do? Society puts less stigma on women who cross over into traditionally male domains (the corporate world, wearing clothes originally designed for men) than on males who cross to female domains (nursing, wearing women's clothing). But maybe that's because females were for a long time the disenfranchised group. If the power in our society shifts to women, perhaps it will become more acceptable to males to do feminine things, like learning, since it would mean that males are reaching out for the power in society.

Interestingly, some people make the argument that this social stigma is also part of the reason for the racial gap in education. Black people, they say, are afraid of appearing white, by doing such things as suceeding the class room. Although education would empower them to more work place and social equality with whites, they don't want it because they do not want to be associated with whites - their culture puts a stigma on that as well. Since it seems to me that male culture puts a stigma on acting feminine, but not the other way around, this growing gender gap has the potential to really shift power in this nation and world in the coming decades.

Saturday, August 30, 2003

Conservator: USA TODAY says that boys are getting the short end of the stick when it comes to education.

I couldn't agree more. Boys are doing worse in school's because they get no where near the amount of support that girls do. Boys are taught in what I call " a girl way" where things are quite and relaxed, where notes are taken. Boys need hands on work otherwise they get bored and there by get in trouble. But feminists won't let boys be boys. It's a sad state of affairs.

Captain: Now, reasonably, assassinations and ambushes do not mean "combat." Combat on the scale of the skirmishes in Baghdad and Basra have not occurred since the end of the war--all major combat is over. That statement is not a lie.

The Dauntless: Since Dubya has declared the war in Iraq over we have lost more men than we did when we were still at war. Bush said that all "major combat" was over, he lied to us once again. Just like he lied to us for the reasons to going to war. Bush lied to AMERICA!

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Captain: To prove that this blog is just like Raleigh Charter's Social Justice Club, the Fantastic Felder has more two cents:

First, to the Green Queen: you say that the issues when choosing a candidate are "what the candidate stands for, what he hopes to accomplish, and his personal commitment to certain issues." Personally, I give Jimmy Carter high marks on all three, and on personal character as well. But he was a completely ineffective president. If you don't have the skills it takes to plant a flag and rally people around it, the rest doesn't matter. We're electing leaders, not administrators.

Second, on the German issue: most of you guys are under 18. Our country, in its wisdom, therefore declares you ineligible to vote, despite the fact that you know more and think more about issues than most 30-year-olds I know. Doesn't that irk you? I maintain that birth year is just flat the wrong criterion to use to pick voters. (Or drinkers, smokers, drivers, or anything else.)

The answer is, yes, it does irk me. But what other solution is there? I can understand giving drivers' licenses to younger students who prove their ability to drive--but what kind of reliable test can you administer to students to prove that they can handle the responsibility of drinking and smoking? Or do any sort of limits on those two things make any sense at all?

Voting ability is even messier. Any test we could administer to prove someone's ability to vote would reek of Jim Crow literacy tests--as much as any of us might disagree, the American people seem to think that ignorance of candidates and issues is no reason to prevent someone from voting, but that with citizenship should come that right, no matter how smart you are. And to some extent, that makes sense--such tests would inevitably be biased against those living in poor neighborhoods with poor school systems.

Here's one solution: The government may offer a free course (possibly using state university and secondary school facilities) on whatever would be considered the basics of civic duty, and a test could be administered based on completion of this course. But this would inevitably become a political tool for the disenfranchisement of somebody.

So how else but by age can a limit be made?

Kelly: Since my post on children's right to vote has been questioned please look here.... The story is German Family Organization seeks Childs Right to Vote, you can listen to it online at npr.org

The blurb about the article:

In Germany, a nonprofit organization makes a child's right to vote the centerpiece of its agenda. The German Family Association says giving children the right to vote would force politicians to pay more attention to the younger generation and lead to policies that could reverse the country's dropping birth rate. Hear NPR's Emily Harris.

I have been unable to find a website for the German Family Association.

That is for those of you that question the source of my post!!!!!

Helen Rittelmeyer: The first result I got for Googling "infant suffrage" was this editorial from 1913:


Now that it is pretty well assured that women will vote, it is time to arouse public sentiment in favour of Votes for Babies. The awful state of our Government shouts aloud for the infant suffrage ... Let the babies vote! ... For that matter let the cows vote.

Finding that site was almost as comforting as not finding any "Let the German Children Vote!" sites.

The only other "infant suffrage" hit I got wasn't from Germany. It was from Wisconsin. From what I read of it, I'm not worried at all.

The worst thing I can imagine is America following Belgium's example and making voting compulsory. I'm not worried about that either, though. The Low Countries are too close to France.

How about "no taxation without representation?" (Sales tax aside, of course.) If you're old enough to have income, then I say you should be allowed to vote. Unfortunately, child labor laws vary from state to state. In most places it's fourteen.

Fourteen years old. I don't have a problem with that.

Oh, leave it to Texas to confound my plan. They have different minimum employment ages for literate and illiterate children (12 and 14 years old, respectively). A literacy test for voting is just not something modern Americans are comfortable with.

Since the taxation-representation criterion isn't nationally uniform, my impulse is to grant suffrage at fifteen, maybe sixteen.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Captain: I realize that this topic is a little problematic because it's difficult to find a single article which is kosher to link to, but I think it's important to talk about: The Justice Department has filed a lawsuit against pornography producer Robert Zicari from Extreme Associates for breaking federal obscenity laws. This is the first time that a pornographer has been targeted by the Justice Dept. in nearly a decade--and the stakes are high. If convicted, he could face up to fifty years in jail.

The problem with the videos that Extreme Associates has made is that they contain fictitious accounts of rape, murder, and incest. What's wrong with rape, murder, and incest? A lot. What's wrong with faking them? Well, a lot. But what's really illegal about it? Why isn't obscene speech--because these tapes are being brought under charges of obscenity, not inciting rape, or inciting murder, or inciting incest--protected under the first amendment?

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Captain: Calling it a bad idea is a disservice to bad ideas.

But it raises a good question about voting age in America. Adulthood is ambiguated in American culture, because we have too many frames of reference. Why can we drive at 16, smoke and vote at 18, and drink at 21? These legal milemarkers make no sense--if you ask me, the voting and smoking age should both be dropped to 16 and the drinking age made to be 18 or so (for the simple reason that it would make no sense to gain the right to drink and to drive at the same day.

But voting rights at birth? It seems so ridiculous I call the entire story into question. I'll look around (and I encourage the other Friends to do so, as well) and see what I can find.

Conservator: God forbid that they pass that bill. Can you imagine the implications? Too many dumb and uneducated people vote now, based on exaclty what you don't like, appearences or some other arbitrary fact. Do you think kids won't do that? Or be brainwashed by their parents? That has to be the worst idea ever.

Kelly: All of this talk about politics brings me to mention something I heard on NPR this morning.

In Germany, where the elderly population far exceeds the young population there is a movement to expand the right to vote to a birth right, meaning that children as soon as they are born are eligible to vote. This is believed to be a way to have the needs of young people and their families better represented in German politics...... So, I ask you do babies have the capacity to cast their own vote, and if not is it fair to give a parent the right to impose his or her views upon their child in this way??/

What are your thoughts and opinions about this? I have to get back to work, but I will post my own thoughts later.

Kelly: It has been brought to my attention that my points in my earlier posts regarding Senator Kerry and other politicians' needs to project a certain image may have been obscured by language or my inability to articulate my position.

The Fantastic Felder posed the following questions to me:

* People respond to symbols and emotional appeals, and I wish people
weren't like that?

* People respond to symbols and emotional appeals, but candidates should
not take advantage of that?

* Some people respond to symbols and emotional appeals, but I don't?
of why
Or am I not even close?

Alright to respond to your first question.

People do respond to symbols and emotional appeals like this. Standing in front of an aircraft carrier when announcing his candidacy will both speak to Senator Kerry's past as a member of the armed forces and also reflect his commitment to America's military prowess. To many an aircraft carrier is a symbol of achievement, a symbol of power, and perhaps even a symbol of freedom. I understand the fact that people do respond to these symbols, but on some level I do fault them for it. It seems to me that it is of no import where a candidate announces his candidacy. In my opinion, what the candidate stands for, what he hopes to accomplish, and his personal commitment to certain issues are the most important considerations. So I am speaking to my lack of understanding of why people respond to certain things (these symbols), and why, with regards to politics, this emotional response may override some of the more intellectual decision-making processes that I think should surround choosing a candidate for which to vote.

The second question: I think that people do respond to these symbols and I cannot fault a politician for recoginizing this response and utilizing it to his or her advantage. That is human nature. The mark of a good campaigner/politician is recognizing what "the people" respond to and want in a candidate. I would be lying if I did not admit that this thought sickens me on some level. I would love for a candidate to stick to the issues, be him or herself, and disregard those notions that the public respond to. However, that would be impossible and part of the imperfect nature of an election system like ours is the fact that politicians must do whatever it takes to be elected, how else are they supposed to evoke positive change. I believe that in some ways our system forces politicians to rely on symbols like aircraft carriers to make statements about themselves. I think to myself how the Democratic party lambasted President Bush for his show upon the aircraft carrier earlier this year and I wonder what response will the party will have to Senator Kerry's display.

And finally, yes some people, perhaps even most people respond to these symbols and emotional appeals. I do not respond to these appeals. I feel that this sort of emotional response clouds/overshadows the issues with which I concern myself. I want to know that a politician is of good character and reveals a commitment to his issues. I am amazed by people, regardless of their party affiliation, who are able to stick to their issues, have strong opinions about those issues, and not waver even in response to widespread popular opposition. (That is one thing I can say for President Bush, in some cases he has certainly been true to his own opinions)

So to answer your question: its a little bit of all of it.

Monday, August 25, 2003

Kelly: Well Captain, I was referring to the fact that Senator John Kerry is declaring his candidacy in front of an air craft carrier this week!! (for the record)

The point of my post was to speak to the lunacy of such a gesture and to make a statement about what could possibly possess and individual to do something like that--!! Why does Senator Kerry feel that will help his chances? That is the issue with society that I have-- who responds to this sort of gesture and why oh why is that Senator Kerry's target audience.

Captain: Bush didn't declare his candidacy in front of the aircraft carrier.

Furthermore, here is a quote (from May, as we Social Justice Friends scoff at the traditional meaning of "current" events) from James S. Robbins:

Anyway, since the topic is presidents and aircraft carriers, I was reminded of the 1994 commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Normandy landings. President Clinton used the aircraft carrier George Washington to ferry himself, various high-ranking officials, 40 White House aides, and 23 members of the Press Corps across the English Channel. He made remarks on the ship June 5, and the next day he and his entourage went ashore for the ceremonies in France (images of which were later used in campaign commercials). Along with them went dozens of towels and bathrobes lifted from the ship's stores. The Navy investigated and presented the White House a bill for $562. On June 16, 1994, the White House Office of Scheduling and Advance issued a memo to the staff asking that those who took the items please remit payment. No checks were forthcoming, so a member of the office paid the entire bill just to kill the issue. Nevertheless, by then "Towel-hook" had become another data point in the case for the Clinton administration's contempt for the military. And I'm guessing that after President Bush left the Abraham Lincoln no one felt it necessary to count the silver.

Also note where he says FDR once used the USS Houston to go on a fishing trip. What the President really needs is a Sea Force One.

Kelly: Kate O'Beirne of The National Review gushes: "When I heard that he grew up jumping rope with the girls in his neighborhood, I knew everything I needed to know about Bill Clinton. . . . Bill Clinton couldn't credibly wear jogging shorts, and look at George Bush in that flight suit." to get the story in context

Clearly, the decision on who should run our country should be based on who is manlier, and looks better in a flight suit!!! Clearly!!

This is what bothers me about politics in the United States sometimes, some people vote for the person they would rather have at their family barbecue rather than the person who would be able to best run the country..... (and for the record I am not sure I'd want to have our current President at my family barbecue, even if he is the President)

As such, politicians are driven to do things to make them see more manly, more barbecue-worthy, like wearing leather jackets, riding a harley, announcing their candidacy in front of a aircraft carrier!!!!!! I agree with Maureen Dowd, could we please find some REAL men or women for that matter to run our country. I find myself getting more and more agitated as the election approaches. I wish there was somebody, anybody I felt deserved my vote, would represent my views, and understand for once and for all that economic growth and environmental protection can occur in conjuction with one another.

Sunday, August 24, 2003

Conservator: It's been a while but I'm back.

Israel is fighting back. And I'm glad. The Israeli people put up with too much of this crap to have to worry about 'human rights" nonsense. The PLO's call for a cease fire is nonsense as well. The suicide bombings will not stop with a cease fire. In fact I think the time is now for Israel to really clamp down on terrorists groups such as HAMAS and eliminate as many members or supporters as possible. Israel has every right to defend itself from attacks and with as much force as necessary.

Friday, August 22, 2003

Captain: Sacre Bleu! Am I the first to use the phrase, "Jacque fiddles as Paris burns?"

Chirac refuses to break his two-week vacation in Quebec to face the crisis in France. 10,000 people to date have died from this heat wave to date, but where is the national health crisis? Let me remind you that it is terribly difficult to gague the numbers of deaths caused by severe heat, because only "excess" deaths are counted as heat-related. What does this mean? It means that 10,000 more Frenchmen died since the beginning of the heat wave than usual--actual numbers may be much higher.

Captain: The Fantastic Felder contributes this: God and the Constitution: at odds?

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Conservator: To answer the Fantasic Felder's question about whether or not public spending is more per student, I will turn to his field of study. With loads of money coming in (around 20 million) and only a small enrollment, then basic math would state that, per student, Harvey Milk students do would have more money per student. Of couse not all the money is from taxpayers but rather than from private sources, but a good portion of that money is tax payer's.

Captain: First of all, is it really fair to say that schools that focus on dance, math and science, or other such pursuits are comparable to the Milk school? Those schools are clearly created for students to pursue a certain line of study or work--they are built around what a student can be, not what they are.

Secondly, it would be foolish to say that the government is providing us with consumer choice, because, in essence, they are not giving us the choice to be a consumer. The problem with such government services is that they have no obligation to deliver the best product--they get paid either way. If it were really consumer freedom, the institute which is in part funding the Milk school would make it an entirely private affair.

Kelly: I would like to agree with much of what Fantastic Felder said in his post via the Captain.....

The Harvey Milk school is yet another school choice in the vast array that exist for our education pleasure.

Having grown up the beneficiary of school choice, myself, I must say I applaud the efforts of the Harvey Milk School and I am always appeciative of schools that are willing to accomodate the needs of their students. I attended magnet schools throughout my educational career, schools that provided a different environment for me, much like the Harvey Milk school. I attended a Gifted and Talented arts middle school, where I found myself among a community of performers and artists, something that was very comforting to me in "my formative adolescent years." I found friends with similar interests to mine and I also found a community to which I belong. As such, I feel very strongly about being given the opportunity to choose a school that meets your personal needs, whether it be your social needs, artistic needs, or academic needs. I believe that the Harvey Milk school will provide a comfortable environment for students and perhaps that is what they need. Perhaps schools that are designed for dancers, math and science students, artists, etc are also providing comfortable environments for the students that choose to attend them....

Now I realize that much of my argument can be undermined as the magnet schools I have mentioned are based on different curricula, the harvey milk school is not-- and you would be right. However, I do still feel that being given the choice to pick a school that is better suited for your needs is very important-- and this access to school choice reminds me of the capitalist ideals that many of the members of this blog hold so dear. i.e. competition is great, consumer choice is essential, and those that are providing a quality product will succeed. Let students choose the school that gives them the "most bang for the buck," I think we can recognize that the school that meets the Green Queen's educational needs may not be the school at all for others!!!! (the buck here is the tax-payer's dollars) And after my long hiatus from blog writing, I am back with this not so eloquent post. I promise I will do better next time.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Captain: This is from the Fantastic Felder, who has been nice enough to donate his wisdom to us, but for some reason cannot access blogger:

1. Is Harvey Milk a school for gays, or a school with a gay curriculum? These are very different goals. From all I have heard, it is more the former--that is, the goal is to provide a supportive environment for gay teens, not to educate the public about gayitude. So (if I'm right) the conversation has to be in that context, which is quite different from some of the discussion so far.

2. So why have a school for gays? The answer is, presumably, to help them go through the usual adolescent stuff--which includes developing a sexual identity--without having to go through the unusual adolescent stuff of being laughed at (at best) or stoned to death (at worst). In other words, think about how nervous you were the first time you asked out a girl. Now imagine what it would have been like if you were instead asking a guy, with no idea in advance of whether he would react like he had just been propositioned by a milk slug.

Please note that I am have not made any arguments yet. I'm just trying to establish what the school is, and why. Now let's look at some arguments.

3. Argument for: gays need their own school because they are dioscriminated against in normal schools.

Stated that baldly, this argument clearly won't fly. If it did, we would have to return to the days of "separate but equal" education for blacks--not to mention for Latinos, for the physically and mentally handicapped, for Muslims, for fat girls, and for third graders who like math. To convincingly argue that this high school is necessary, you have to show why all the arguments for racial integration don't
apply in this case.

4. Argument against (put forth here by Conservator): these kids will have to deal with the integrated, prejudiced world some day, so why not start now?

The theory, at least, is that if they develop healthy identities and self-esteem during the formative adolescent years, that will better prepare them for the future; if they are traumatized during the adolescent years, that will make things harder in the future. It seems like a plausible theory to me, certainly nothing to laugh off. I would love to see some graduate student do a long-term, controlled
study to see how well it works.

5. Argument against: being gay shouldn't entitle you to special treatment.

This is where the rubber meets the road, I think. It comes down to one key question to which I don't know the answer: is the public spending a lot more money per student in Harvey Milk than in other New York public schools (not counting one-time startup costs)? If so, then this is definitely special treatment, and they have to work a lot harder to justify it. If not, then this is not special treatment. In that case, to me, at least, the whole argument becomes moot--it is just another school choice, and we need more of those, not less.

So, OK, there are some thoughts off the top of my head. I appreciate you letting me contribute.

Thanks, Mr. F!

Monday, August 18, 2003

Captain: Forget Arnold. Elect Brooke Adams! From The Corner.

Captain: This isn't really politics, but I think what it says about our culture and this "postmodern world" is interesting, and definitely says a lot about our politics too. It has come to my attention that there exists a variant of the English language called E-Prime. E-Prime is English that does not use any form of the word "to be."

Why? Because saying "is" and "am" and "are" too closely links two things, when, in truth, (according to its proponents) no two things are exactly alike. From the primer:

E-Prime allows users to minimize many "false to facts" linguistic patterns inherent in ordinary English, and to often move beyond a two-valued Aristotelian orientation which views the world through overly simplistic terms such as "true-or false", "black-or-white", "all-or-none", "right-or-wrong".

Personally, I find it scary that some people consider things like truth vs. falsehood and right vs. wrong as outdated concepts. I was aware of the invasive nature of this philosophy in our politics--but our language?

Sunday, August 17, 2003

Conservator: On a random sidenote, I looked at our standings on our counter recently. The Social Justice Friends are 93 out of over 1500. Our goal I think should be to beat the Food Bank of NC (9th) in the category of politics.

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Captain: From the News and Observer: "Omuteko Gwamaziima charter school in Durham offers an African-centered curriculum that has attracted 87 students, all of whom are black."

Both Omuteko and Milk are public schools. Omuteko is one of North Carolina's 99 charter schools, like RCHS. Taxpayers pay for both, but Milk is partially funded by a private institution, the name of which escapes me but is available at my previous links.

Perhaps "forcing" is the wrong word. I am looking for a word that, in essence, means to push things in a way opposite of what seems natural, like diffusion of water from low concentration to high concentration. Omuteko's curriculum discourages white students from attending--even though legally they may. This is a "strong-arm" tactic, not a legal one, but the effect and the sentiment remain the same.

Conservator: Except for the fact that taxpayers PAY for the school in NY. The Harvey Milk High School is a public high school. I pose this question. If the school apparently doesn't discriminate on sexual orientation, then why create the school? If the idea is just to put more emphasis on a LGBTQ curriculum , why not create those classes at regular high schools? That would in theory appease both sides; allowing students to have the choice to take the curriculum and it would not cost the taxpayers a lot of money.

The reason why they don't do this is because there is a unsaid discrimination in the idea of the school. The creators want to create a school that is a safe haven for LGBTQ students. Admirable however in the end detrimental. If these kids go to a school to be sheltered from the comments of certain people, then how will they learn to deal with it after high school? I think it's an interesting point that people haven't covered yet.

The Dauntless: Captain, first off I was just wondering where you actually got the information from that says the Omuteko school is 100% African-American, I could find that no where. Secondly, Omuteko does have an African perspective on the curriculum, but none the less the curriculum is the same as other schools which are public. They are in no way forcing non-diversity, enrollment is offered to any race.

You talk about schools that are supplying the special needs of students, saying they will not be equipped to enter the world after high school? These schools are merely a safe haven, and a choice for these kids. Neither of the two schools are discriminatory to who may apply and attend. They are just simply geared to a certain people. Which is the schools right, since it is private and may turn down whoever it wishes.

Captain: Brown explicitly states otherwise. The Omuteko school does employ a sort of de facto segregation--enrollment is 100% African-American. Is this the best way to facilitate education? Look at it in the context of Affirmative Action--At the core of belief in Affirmative Action is that natural enrollment of students creates an atmosphere that is inconducive to learning because of a lack of diversity, and measures must be taken to "force" diversity. How is it defensible that schools like Omuteko "force" non-diversity? Is this not opposed to conservative, liberal, and libertarian outlooks on the subject?

And so even more this is relevant to the Milk school. Won't students who attend from ninth to twelfth grades be very ill-equipped to enter a world that does not have LGBTQ colleges, LGBTQ neighborhoods, LGBTQ careers?

So, the Milk school is a very bad idea. From a libertarian point of view, why should taxpayers carry the burden of specialized schools like this?

But it has yet to be proven to me that the Milk school is illegal as I once suspected.

The Dauntless: Being only my second post on this site, cut this donkey some slack. The Omuteko Gwamiziima Charter School in Durham brings up some interesting things. I do not see anything unfair about this school or illegal. Assuming this school is a private school, and knowing you have to fill out an application to be accpeted makes it seem as fair and as legal as any school does. This is not a public school therefore has the choice whether or not to accept students who apply, and although it applies an African-centered perspective, it does allow a child of any race to apply. I see nothing unfair or illegal about this school. Now I just wait to have our lovely conservatives put their two cents in and get some good debate going.

Captain: Okay. What about Omuteko Gwamiziima Charter in Durham?

While our curriculum incorporates the North Carolina Standard Course of Study, it is taught from an African-centered perspective. For example, in teaching Language Arts, we emphasize books with African and African American protagonists. We also incorporate basic ki-Swahili vocabulary into our classes.

African-centered education is taught using the cultural and intellectual traditions and processes of Africans and African Americans. In our educational setting at Omuteko Gwamaziima, the African American child’s own culture is placed at the center of the learning process. For the first time, the children see all people, cultures, and traditions from the context of their own reality, thus making education relevant to them from the perspective of their experiences. As a result, school becomes more interesting as they see how the concepts they are taught relate more immediately to their lives.

Fair or unfair? Legal or illegal?

Helen Rittelmeyer: Courtesy of Eric Alterman:

We'll have time to look at it and determine whether or not our grid needs to be modernized. I happen to think it does, and have said so all along. -- George W. Bush, August 14, 2003

In reality, Bush lobbied against a bill to do just that back in 2001. I don't know if I'm accusing Bush of never doing enough to fix our energy infrastructure, or of just being a politician of fads and fashion. It's a lie either way you look at it, though.

As for education: Harvey Milk High is a bad idea. Raleigh Charter, on the other hand, is fine. Having a "bias" in favor of intelligent and motivated students is fine if you are a school. If education is your business, base admissions on things that affect a child's ability to learn. Motivation and desire to attend an intellectually challenging school fall under that category. Race and sexual orientation do not. This applies to even subtle discrimination, like a school that, while open to everyone, has "an LGBTQ-based curriculum and school mission." I would declare outright that such a curriculum would be discriminatory, but I'm not sure exactly what makes a curriculum "LGBTQ-based. What, do they read Yukio Mishima and Gertrude Stein? Then definitely scrap the whole plan. No child deserves four years of "Elephant beaten with candy and little pops and chews all bolts and reckless reckless rats, this is this." A curriculum biased in favor of smart people, though? If your curriculum isn't biased toward smart and motivated students, then something's wrong.

Of course, this may be a moot point in a few years, when schools designed for the "academically gifted" like Raleigh Charter and Enloe Magnet High might be gutted beyond recognition. Rural Hoke County Public School System sued the state over the fact that suburban/affluent Wake County has money to spend on extras like advanced computer courses and modern dance while Hoke has to scrape together just enough to have remedial programs for failing high schoolers (who, in county like Hoke where only 41% of students in the average freshman class graduate four years later, are a pretty big group).

An "equal starting line" in education is important to capitalism, but this is wealth redistribution, and it completely discounts the value of classes like Calculus III and AP Art History. Unfortunately, Hoke won. This quote is from Judge Howard Manning's court opinion: "The right to the equal opportunity to a sound basic education is only to the sound basic education, not the frills and whistles. The State Constitution does not require that children be provided a prep school education, nor that children be provided the courses and experiences to enable them to go to Yale or Harvard."

Further argument on education in a capitalist society can be found here at the CapitalistChicks.com discussion board.

Also, I'd like to move that we change the title of this blog to Fair and Balanced Social Justice Friends. Everyone else is doing it.

This lawsuit has overtaken this video clip from CSPAN2 to become the number one reason to laugh at Bill O'Reilly (move the clock on the video to 48:00, 'cos that's when the good stuff starts) (Bill O'Reilly starts screaming "Shut up! Shut up!" at about 48:45). This holds steady at number three. It's a great shirt, glad I bought one.

Dynamic Uno: OK, more debate. I agree with Libertaria (in her August 12 post) that that particular example of use of the Patriot Act is a little silly, BUT I still think the Patriot Act, despite the controversy surrounding it, does more good than harm. Here's an excellent column that says that the critics of the Patriot Act are way overreacting and making the war on terror harder to fight. I have to agree. While I think having a debate over what is acceptable or unacceptable in fighting terrorism, I do think that those who misuse the Patriot Act will not be misused in the ways that critics suggest, and if it is misused, the misusers will be punished. I also think that the measures in the Patriot Act are not that radical or new, and they will help us defend ourselves. And Darkwing, if you think the war on terrorism is all about oil, here's someone who disagrees. (And this was written in October 2002, so the author was wisely able to predict that the war in Iraq would not be a catastrophe long before the war happened and came to be pretty successful.) If all Bush wanted was oil, he could have just, well, asked. Saddam would have been more than happy to strike a deal to sell his oil.

Dynamic Uno: Theodore Dalrymple has a perceptive column on Germany and how its lingering guilt over WWII is hurting it. (Okay, I know this article is from a week or two ago, but I liked it and I didn't get a chance to post it till now. Link via Newmark's Door.) As Hans Frank, the Nazi commandant of Poland, said at the 1946 Nuremberg Trials of the Nazi leadership, "A thousand years will pass and the guilt of Germany will not be erased." (I found that quote in a wonderful book, Jewish Wisdom, by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin. I highly recommend it!) Ain't that the truth. See what I mean, and it's not just Germans: check out what my fellow Social Justice Friend, Darkwing Canuck, has to say about the Vatican (on his August 12 post):

"Well, Mr. Conservator, now that you've brought up the pope, and the Vatican, I have a couple choice words for you, my friend. Where was this peace loving, human rights advocating group when the holocaust was going on? Pope Pius XII, the pope at the time, did next to nothing to stand out against the nazis that killed 6,000,000 of MY ancestors. . . .Sure the vatican has issued apology after apology since the end of World War II, but if you ask me, it's too little too late. So before you tell us how great the vatican is, look at the past Popes and tell me again how great it is."

So basically, Darkwing is saying, we shouldn't admire the current pope, for whom there is no evidence of actual anti-Semitism (at least not in Darkwing's post), just because he holds a position that a perpetrator of the Holocaust once held (though some historians don't even think those claims are true). This is collective guilt, just like the kind of collective guilt that is plaguing modern Germany, and just like the kind of collective guilt that is plaguing whites when they argue for slavery reparations, and . . .(dramatic pause) the same kind of collective guilt that for centuries plagued Jews that were accused of being Christ-killers. So, by getting indignant about the Vatican trying to move past its anti-Semitic history and become more tolerant, Darkwing is actually keeping alive a myth that has been responsible for much anti-Semitism in the past. That myth is that the descendants of wrongdoers (or allegedly bad people or scapegoats or whatever)--though having absolutely no hand in any wrongdoing--are somehow responsible for what their ancestors did, and it is appropriate get indignant when someone praises them (the descendants) and scoff when they try to move beyond the things that the wrongdoers did. That's a dangerous proposition, and if we did that, we'd be endlessly blaming people--for things they didn't do--and discouraging them from making the improvements necessary to make their generation better than the last.

So Mr. Felder should like that I'm debating. (Does that earn me extra credit for my calculus grade? Kidding, kidding.)

Oh, and this former Enloe quiz bowler gives a hearty thanks for the hearty welcome from a current Enloe quiz bowler. (see August 12 post.)

Captain: Mr. Felder, Calculus teacher at Raleigh Charter High School has requested of us two things: 1.) More debate (read: petty infighting), and 2.) Discussion about the Harvey Milk High School in New York City. Here is an attempt at both.

The Milk School is a public high school in New York City. Its official site contains very little information--I cannot find there what courses it offers, how many students it will accept and at what grades, what its mascot is, or even what borough it is in, much less whether or not it really does a body good. What the site does say is that the Milk schook is specially deisgned to meet the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning students (gasp... hereby known as LGBTQ).

Needless to say, the lawsuits have already occurred. Certainly the first thing that comes to mind is Brown v. Board of Education. A quote:

(c) Where a State has undertaken to provide an opportunity for an education in its public schools, such an opportunity is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms. P. 493.

(d) Segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race deprives children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities, even though the physical facilities and other "tangible" factors may be equal. Pp. 493-494.

(e) The "separate but equal" doctrine adopted in Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 , has no place in the field of public education. P. 495. [347 U.S. 483, 484]

And now the germane parts of the Fourteenth Amendment:

Section. 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Fair enough, you say, case closed. Because the Milk school denies admission to straight students, it violates Brown, which states that denying any person a place in a public school denies him full protection under the law.

But the Milk school doesn't deny admission to straight students. You can apply online for the Milk school, and if you notice, there is no question on the form about your sexual orientation. As far as I can tell, to be a student at the Milk school, you don't have to be L, G, B, T, or even Q. So does this violate Brown and Amendment XIV?

To answer this, I pose another question: Does an LGBTQ-based curriculum and school mission discriminate against straight students? Try applying this to Brown--if, unpleased with the decision, I found a school that does not discriminate against black students by denying them admission, but is a school based around the advancement of white learning--is it still discrimination? What about vice versa?

And what about at our own high school--our mission statement involves preparation of students for college--does this disciminate against students who are not planning to attend college? Our application includes an essay, which, although I'm sure it would be hard to get the faculty to attest to this, is deisngned in part to keep out students who would not work hard enough to pass. (See the hoop, jump the hoop. Students who cannot bring themselves to write a short application essay are not the kind of students RCHS wishes to attract.) Is a lottery admission system still a lottery if measures are taken to discourage students from applying?

Mr. Felder: we would appreciate your comments on the matter, if you are willing, in a guest blog. Think about it.

Social Justice Friends: Reply!

Thursday, August 14, 2003

The Dauntless: There is no reason why Ray Moore should not remove the statue.

Seperation of church and state? And as Darkwing said he is a state cheif justice refusing to comply with a federal court order.

Maybe to make this issue more clear the Americans United for Seperation of Church and State has some ideas.

Captain: Darkwing: If it's a Biblical support you want, look no further than Matthew 22:21b:

"Give to Caesar that which is Caesar's, and to God that which is God's."

The basic gist of the passage is that we are commanded to pay some deference to the government which controls things here on earth. I think this holds true--the Alabama courthouse belongs to "Caesar," and thus "Caesar" should be allow to do what he finds proper with it.

I would recommend to Mr. Moore to pick his battles. I'm sure there are much bigger fish to fry in the Mobile Bay.

Darkwing: While I could easily "shed some light" on the blackout covering most of the NE part of the US and SE Part of Ontario (Woooo!), I've got more important issues to dicuss with my space here on the blogger.

There's only one thing that's more annoying than a stubborn Chief Justice of a supreme court, and that is the following: a stubborn CONSERVATIVE Chief Justice of a state Supreme Court. Chief Justice of the Alabama State Court, Roy Moore, received a federal court order to remove a 5,300 pound monument of the 10 comandments from the state legislative building.

His response 6 days prior to the deadline?  “I HAVE NO intention of removing the monument, this I cannot and will not do." A state Chief Justice, outright refusing to comply with a federal court order??

Roy "Mandatory christian prayers in public schools is a good thing" Moore, you've got 6 more days to comply my friend.

Whatever happened to the long lost 11th comandment, "Thou shall respect thy Big Brother?" anyways?

Captain: Forget the hubbub about air marshals. The Air Force wants to start using robots to defend their bases.

Alex K. Rubin predicts that by the year 2150 over half the schools in the USA or Western Europe will require classes in defending against robot attacks. I expect this class to contain such useful information about:
  • How much machines hate water

  • The destructive power of magnets
  • How to attack the robot's vulnerable areas, like its plug

Soon enough, we'll need a futuristic hero like Arnold in office--only he knows the true danger robots pose.

Captain: Iain "Extra 'I'" Murray fisks Sen Waxman's (D-CA) report that can be found on politicsandscience.org. Most of it goes beyond me, but I figured it was worth a post considering the Queen's post of the other day.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Captain: John Kerry flauts his European predilection by ordering Swiss cheese on a Philly cheesesteak sandwich. Stolen once again from Ms. N.

Helen Rittelmeyer: With all the hoopla over this California nonsense, it's easy to forget that California is not the first state to engage in circus politics this year. Texas has been running a joke of a legislature since May (even longer, if Molly Ivins is to be believed), with abuse of the Department of Homeland Security in the Ardmore, Oklahoma embarassment that should have been of great interest to those who defend the DHS and the Patriot Act by saying that it will be used responsibly and only to fight terrorism.

Another blow against defenders of that law came Monday when federal air marshals who have spoken to the news media recently were threatened by the Transportation Security Administration with prosecution under the Patriot Act. Even if it is unlikely that any air marshals will be convicted of releasing "classified information," use of this particular law for intimidation is, frankly, disgraceful.

So, to put it in terms of the pop culture allusions Schwarzenegger made on Leno: if Arnold is Saturday Night Live "I want to pump you up!" funny, then this is Network funny.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Captain: Who Wants to Be Governor of California? Yes, that's right--the game show. I wonder if the consolation prize in this game is a home version--you know, the same kind Gray Davis will have to purchase on the 7th of October. Thanks Ms. N.

Helen Rittelmeyer: Chas S. Clifton's Encyclopedia of Heresies and Heretics, a fine book for pleasure-reading, has this to say about Joachim of Floris:

The idea that paradise would arrive on earth through an historical process ran counter to Catholic teaching, although we see it repeated in socialism, Marxism, and other later political and utopian movements.

. . .

Although many people of different social classes embraced Joachim's teachings (the Italian poet Dante placed him in his literary Paradise), the abbot's ideas alarmed the church. His prophecy left the church in a marginal role, and his three-part history could be read as a criticism of the church as it existed. Joachim's followers took the conct of the three ages further, some saying (along with numerous other medieval reformers) that the Catholic church had become corrupt, that baptism and priestly absolution were no longer efficacious, and that personal holiness counted for more than ordination as a priest.

He wasn't as radical as some (well, except for his claim that "the second person of the Trinity - the Holy Spirit - would be incarnated as a woman" to maintain cosmic symmetry), and not, in my opinion, radical enough to be scandalous. But, then again, I've never understood the gay bishop hubbub.

This is worth mentioning: the idea that a priest guilty of sin (which, priests not being fully divine, is all of them) cannot perform sacraments is just as heretical as anything Joachim ever wrote. (Of course, the fact that Robinson is not contrite in the least about his lifestyle tips the scales in favor of his opponents.)

This is why I love Catholicism. I respect any group of people that can get worked up about whether Christ was imbued with holiness after birth, since Mary's status as mortal human rendered her unable to produce a divine being. Or whether Jesus' divine nature meant that he only appeared to suffer when crucified. Or whether Mary knelt before or after the angel Gabriel began to speak. If only everyone cared so much about their beliefs.

Darkwing: Here's a recent article discussing Pius XII during World War Two. From the article : "To assert Pius XII was ‘silent’about Nazi mass murder is a serious error of historical fact."

And if this article is not persuasive enough, remember that Pope John Paul II has a much better record on human rights (esp. war in Iraq and the modern slave trade) than his predecessor.

. . . And a hearty welcome to the former Enloe Quiz Bowler.

Captain: Well, I carefully considered which fray to add my three cents (I get more than two) to today--the Pope-Vatican-Anglican-Gay-Bishop fray, or the Schwarzenegger-Bustamente-Ueberroth-people-with-funny-names-in-Sacramento fray. I am not Catholic, Anglican, or Californian--in fact, these three religions remain a mystery to me.

But, deciding that you can find an excess of information about Total Recall at National Review, and if you like your stories scathing, Slate.

So, on the gay bishop: John Derbyshire has a really interesting article that claims (albeit, how accurately, I don't know--once you hear this from me, it will have passed through four mouths) Bishop Robinson is a follower of the heresy of Joachim, which looks a little bit more like The Communist Manifesto than the Good Book. However, James Lileks said it the best: "This story has irritated me from the start, and it has nothing to do with Rev. Robinson’s sexual orientation. The guy left his wife and kids to go do the hokey-pokey with someone else: that’s what it’s all about, at least for me."

By "the hokey-pokey," dear readers, he means sex.

Darkwing: Well, Mr. Conservator, now that you've brought up the pope, and the Vatican, I have a couple choice words for you, my friend. Where was this peace loving, human rights advocating group when the holocaust was going on? Pope Pius XII, the pope at the time, did next to nothing to stand out against the nazis that killed 6,000,000 of MY ancestors.

Pius never spoke directly in defense of the jewish people. It doesn't take a non Catholic to appreciate the fact that Pius XII potentially could have saved thousands if not hundreds of thousands of jews, but due to his apathy, he let it go. Sure the vatican has issued apology after apology since the end of World War II, but if you ask me, it's too little too late. So before you tell us how great the vatican is, look at the past Popes and tell me again how great it is.

Dynamic Uno: Hi! I'm so glad I was invited to join this blog! Thanks!

I know this is an issue from many posts ago, but I prepared this post earlier and hadn't gotten around to posting it til today. So, I have three things to say about the terrorism futures market (all links via my dad's blog, Newmark's Door):

Firstly, I think it's a good idea grounded in solid economics. Conservator said that you can't hold anything accountable in a futures market, but it forces people to put their money where their mouth is, and that's its mechanism for holding people accountable. A futures market is based on the idea that a market can gather all the dispersed and hidden information that a large group of people has--the group's "collective wisdom," as this article calls it. While investors are betting and gaining and losing money, intelligence agencies may gain some information that will help them figure out what to do in the scenarios that investors are betting on.

If terrorists decide to bet on their plans to gain money, then they're basically telling us what they're going to do, and that's certainly valuable information. If terrorists use the futures market to mislead our intelligence, then in the long run, they'll lose out and people with better information will win more, because markets are cool like that. As this article points out, �terrorist organizations already have lots of channels for disinformation, and the profit motive in these markets provides incentives for those who know the truth to correct such disinformation.� It's especially hard for terrorists to misdirect us or profit from their own acts because, as this article says, the architects of this market were not planning on allowing wagers greater than $100.

Sure, betting on terrorism is a bit tacky, but if it saves lives, that's fine by me.

Secondly, at the very least, it was a "thinking-outside-the-box" idea. It was an experiment that, if it worked, would have been a cheap and effective way of gathering intelligence. This Reason online article quotes Robin Hanson, a George Mason University economics professor who worked on this project. "Look, intelligence is about spending money in order to find out information about gruesome things like war and terrorism." says Hanson. "This is just an alternative institution that tries to aggregate intelligence information... It's a research project and it might not work, but there is a lot of history and data showing how effective markets are at predicting events." He's right; there are plenty of examples (you can read any of the articles I link to, and you'll find examples) where futures markets have been surprisingly accurate.

I agree with Blackavar, who argues that the "outside-the-box" is just what we need; a futures market allows us to "predict the unpredictable," and terrorist events are usually unpredictable. And if the architects of the futures market are fired, as some politicians have called for, then it'll only discourage the type of innovative thinking we need for the war on terrorism.

Lastly, I would really like to see Oprah eat a live goat. Even better, I would like to see a live goat eat Oprah.

Conservator: As long as lead is for bullets, make the threshold as high as you want. But today's beef is not with the Green Queen, but with our resident Canuck, Mr. Darkwing. I'm pretty ticked with Bush at the moment too so thats not what bothers me. It's not that the fact that the website has no reputation or the quotes are taking from gigantic speeches. It's this wonderful little line : This is the view shared by some other countries such as Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Syria, and the Vatican."
Yes the Vatican. Horrible Vatican home of dictators and human rights criminals. As I heard today "f*** the pope." Yes f him indeed. You don't have to be Catholic to appreciate what the current Pope does. You don't have to agree with his stance on homosexuality or abstinence, but he IS one of the world's biggest advocates for human rights and is anti-war. Read his works if you don't believe me.
I asked Mr. Darkwing why this website of his would take this stance and he responded "they're againzed organized religion." What the hell may I ask is an unorganized religion?

Kelly: As a scientist I must say that I value few things above science. Love, is one of those things, but science is probably right below it on my priority list. As such, you can understand why I would be interested in seeing science stay free of political interests. That is why the Bush administration bothers me a little bit, well one of the reasons-- I know captain and conservator the Green Queen is currently stepping on your toes, and all I say to you is feel my wrath. I am one angry little girl..

Now, I can understand many people not believing in global warming. The evidence is inconclusive. But, when the Bush administration ignores the needs of little children, I get a little fed up. You see the current administration recently angered me because they took on and stomped on an issue of great importance to me and my career, lead poisioning and the lead industry. You see they recently were selecting a new person to lead a lead commission and they chose someone associated with the industry rather than one of the world-renowned scientists also being considered. The individual they chose has no previous experience with lead research. I am up in arms because I feel that the commission is now not going to reduce the exposure threshold for poisioning in children in spite of the fact that children experience adverse cognitive and developmental effects at concentrations far below the current threshold.... This is bad for the kids. to read about these and other issues check out Rep. Waxman's website ....


Monday, August 11, 2003

Captain: Ms. Newmark has described us as a high school version of the Corner at National Review. This is probably not completely accurate, as our opinions vary more than the NRO staffers--plus we don't have Milton Friedman.

Uncle Milty points out to Arnold that Colorado seems to have found the solution to state budget crises--a tax-limitation amendment. Such a resolution passed in Colorado, whose finances are sitting pretty, but failed as Proposition 1 under Reagan's California.

But we know the real question here is: Why doesn't Milton Friedman come visit The Social Justice Friends?

Darkwing: Hey all you kids in Political Candy Land, it's your resident teenage liberal Darkwing Canuck, with his first post.

So, before I say anything worthwhile (or not worthwhile, depending on your stance), I want to make something clear, I LOVE AMERICA. I love plenty of things it stands for:

The 5 freedoms, the guaranteed rights given to citizens, "racial equality", and "gender equality" (note the quotation marks, inferring sarcasm)
What I don't love is when the leaders of this beautiful nation lies to it's citizens. False pretenses really tick me off, and there is no example for this better than the "war on terrorism" (note the quotations again.)

I've also got major beef with our best and brightest George W. Bush. Which reminds me of a Wu-Tang song, "Gotta check out The W, got to check out, the W". Anyways I hope your ready for the top 15 reasons why he's a massive tool, cause here they come! And this will make you chuckle, at least 2 or 3 times, whether your liberal, or crazy.


Conservator: I've been waiting for days to make a post on this issue. Penny Arcade finally comes through for me. This sort of attitude is exactly what I try to fight against every day. It has become an increasingly common trend for induviduals (especially parents) to shirk blame of their actions and instead put that blame on corporations or the government. Video games, as a fairly young form of entertainment, seem to draw the most of this "its they're fault" sort of criticism. This is completely unfounded and in fact unfair to the industry. Music and movies certainly draw criticism, but not as much. With the recent arrest of those kids in New Jersey, there is a resurgence in this sort of attitude. Parents, not companies or a video store clerk are responsible for their kids welfare. And until parents realize that they make mistakes too, it's only going to get worse for gamers everywhere.

Sunday, August 10, 2003

Captain: Is Bush a conservative? The Chapel Hill crowd laughs heartily and goes back to their late-night hummus. Andrew Sullivan poses this question with some uncertainty. This article was posted some time ago, but I think that Sullivan is so on the mark that it would be a shame not to share it.

Conservator: Social Security sucks. So do old people doing things.

Indonesia is becoming a crazy place. And this is still allowed to happen after the president said he would crack down on this sort of thing. This guy is a terrorist through and through. People who support him are then terrorists. "Bashir is a true fighter, but he is not a terrorist. Bush is a terrorist," said a guard. Yes because President Bush sets car bombs so innocents die. Bashir bombs churches for pete's sake.

Captain: No one has posted today. Slackers, all of you.

Rarely do teenagers like the crew and myself have a real incentive to pay attention to current events. It's all about Social Security and old people doing things for other old people. It's not "on the rizzy," like you and me, dear reader. But here's a bit of news that carries a great amount of gravity for the mp3 generation:

Worried about the RIAA's recent rash of lawsuits against individual computer users who download music over the internet? Well, this may be good news: Pacific Bell has filed a lawsuit against the RIAA over a score of subpoenas it has issued (yes, apparently the RIAA is a judicial circuit now). They claim that the subpoenas, which would force Pac Bell to turn over the identity of certain "pirate" ISP's, are a violation of their users' privacy.

Bush has backed a similar action by the RIAA against Verizon Internet Services. Verizon, too, has decided not to take this sitting down--this article describes how Verizon's lawyer is calling into question the very constitutionality of the Digital Millennium Copyright act, under which the RIAA has filed the subpoenas.

Link from Volokh.com.

Saturday, August 09, 2003

Captain: In fact, the main argument against a terrorism futures market is not that companies respond to shareholders but events do not respond to them, instead, the problem is quite the opposite--such a futures market can be easily influenced by any shareholder who is not in a coma. Imagine if you bought a hundred thousand shares of "terrorists will blow up the Turner Building in Atlanta" (I can see the Feds being alerted to our site now--watch the hits go up) and then blew up the Turner Building in Atlanta, well, you'd be filthy rich. Of course, you'd leave a considerable paper trail and you'd be caught.

But if the point is to prevent terrorist activity, it's a poor tool. The situation above need not be so foolish--al-Qaeda purportedly is capable of creating (or perhaps still owns?) "sleeper cells" in the United States as well as countries abroad--who is to say that bin-Laden couldn't have any number of people buy shares in the Pentagon futures market before "cashing in," thus dropping below radar?

If it's Oprah and the goat you want, you should skip over to LongBets.org. The way it works is someone makes an assertion--for example, the White Sox will win the World Series by 2100. If you're a sane person, you say, "Not bloody likely," and if you're willing to put your money where your mouth is, you can challenge. Most of the real bets going on are between bigwigs like Freeman J. Dyson and Ray Kurzweil. Then other people can bet anything over $200--but the kicker is, whoever wins, their earnings are donated to a charity of the bettor's choosing.

Friday, August 08, 2003

Conservator: Futures markets are awesome. There are two problems with them though. One, in a futures market, you can't hold anything thing accountable. You can blame say Nokia for making a crappy video game/cell phone and thats why they lose money and then you can call them up and say "change this or I sell my stock". You can't however call up Osama bin Laden and say "Get yourself caught or by god I walk!" The other problem, its basically gambling. Gambling is fun and I for one love it and thats the problem. People would lose millions betting on crazy things like "Aliens will invade Venus before Earth" or "Oprah will eat a live goat on her show by September 2010." Or at least I would.

Hi, I'm James: Good evening. I'm happy to be here and I hope that soon I'll have something intelligent to say. Such as the obvious fact that the over-democratization of our government has had some bad consequences. The less politicians lead and the more they capitulate to the masses, the less people respect their government. We need real leadership! Please, someone, anyone! This is more important to me than any single political issue. Read "The Future of Freedom" by Fareed Zakaria. Liberals, conservatives, everyone. Read it. I also figured out the other day that I believe that politics should be a battle between ideas, not individuals. Respect is very important to me as well. So I'm a hopeless idealist. So there.

Captain: The future of futures markets improves. I know that there might be a lot of our peers reading this, and so to allay confusion, I will define a futures market: A futures market is a lot like the stock market, except whereas the stock market evaluates the shareholders' faith in a company and its products and services, a futures market evaluates the shareholders' faith in events occuring. You know, in the future.

For example, the idea behind Pentagon Futures Market (RIP 2003-2003) was that you could buy shares in the fact that Kofi Annan would be assassinated, or Osama bin-Laden would be found hiding under Chirac's couch cushions, or something, and the more people who thought that event would occur, the more your share was worth. If that event occurred, well, you would get paid out just like if your race horse won at the track.

The above link asserts that the stock market can act as a futures market, too--and a pretty useful one at that. After the early 2003 mishap in which the space shuttle Columbia was destroyed, of the handful of companies that were contracted to help NASA build the spaceship, Morton Thiokol suffered the most, in fact, up to almost four times as badly as other companies involved. Thiokol constructs booster rockets for NASA, and the Columbia disaster has been linked to faulty o-rings in the ship's booster rockets. The company now has to shell out millions in damages--coincedence? Or are futures markets just that reliable?

Not to Thiokol: Perhaps the slogan "As a matter of fact, we are rocket scientists!" is a little haughty. As they say, pride goeth before the fall.

Conservator: Good news. The NAACP has kicked out long time ally Leo Terrell. If you watch Hannity and Colmes, you'll know who Leo Terell is. For those of you who don't, Leo Terell may well be the liberal me. Quick to anger and loud and incredibly opinonated. Recently Leo has put support behind Judge Carolyn Kuhl, a judge who Democrats are trying to prevent from taken place in the 9th Court of Appeals. He says that the NAACP tried to straigh arm him into not supporting her.

No kidding. The NAACP has been straight arming African Americans into supporting candidates for years. I'm glad that Leo Terrell is taking a stand and is not playing partisan politics. He's looking at issues not simply whether theres a D or R next to a name. More people, especially party-line organizations like the NAACP should do more often.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Captain: Yes, and the article notes that McDonald's numbers are up because of the severe deliciousness that is McGriddles. They're almost worth waking up before eleven.

Captain: Mark Steyn agrees with me about the Indonesia bombings being a poor attack on al-Qaeda's easiest and least productive target, and raises another valid point--Islamic Extremists aren't just mad about Western interference, they're just mad at Western culture, and are dedicated to wiping it out wherever they find it--even in the friendliest of Muslim nations. Thanks to Betsy's Page.

Conservator: Eat that. I'm glad to hear that in spite of the retarded lawsuit threats that it has come under, McDonald's is still making money "getting kids fat." Heaven forbid parents be responsible for their children's welfare. That should be the job of the federal government and corporations by golly.

Helen Rittelmeyer: This is a small point, but I think America is ready for an African-American President. General opposition to / bewilderment at Al Sharpton's candidacy has nothing to do with his race and everything to do with the fact that he's a leftist radical. That must be quite a blow to his ego, to hear that his unpopularity is his own fault and not because of racist bias, but if he doesn't know that he's Eugene Debs with worse hair, he's the only one.

Oh, and I'm biased toward white people, too. According to the test results, anyway.

Conservator: Presidential canidate Al Sharpton is my hero. Recently Sharpton has complained that his run for the Presidency has not been covered fairly by the "white run media." Sharpton says that the media, being there racist selfs are calling Howard Dean the "hot canidate" simply because he is a middle aged white male. Perhaps they aren't covering his campaign, because he has no political expirence. Or perhaps its that he offends half of their audience.

Al Sharpton is to liberals as Jerry Falwell is to conservatives. Except Jerry Falwell is not going to split his party right down the middle. Sharpton is loud about race and thats all well and good, but does anyone know his positions on things that don't involve race? Sharpton has to know that he has no chance of winning the white house. Whether or not this is a good thing, America is not ready for a African American as a President. All Sharpton is going to do is cause one of the Democrats largest constiuencys to not vote for one of their stronger candidates. Well more power to him. I may just donate to his campaign.

Conservator: I apparently have a strong connection between African Americans and weapons. The test i took was the exact same as the Captain's except you had the words African American and European American with the word weapon or harmless object. This test though the postions DID change, having either or on either side. But my question is how does this data come together to make the statement that I have this hidden bias. I would like too see the formulas or method of processing data.

Captain: I am automatically biased toward light-skinned people. Or, at least, according to this test at Tolerance.org's Hidden Bias Tests.

The above test (it was the only one I tried) is divided into four parts:

  • A light skinned face appears on the left and a dark skinned face on the right, and as the test presents you with different faces, you are asked to choose which side they should be on.

  • "Good" appears on the left and "bad" on the right, and as the test presents you with different words ("Laughter," "joy," "nasty," "failure"), you are asked to choose which side they should be on.

  • "Good" and a dark skinned face appear on the left, and "bad" and a light skinned face on the right, and as different faces and words appear, you are asked to choose which side they should be on.

  • The faces are switched, but "good" and "bad" remain in the same place and step three is repeated.

I think the obvious flaw here is that "good" and "bad" never change positions, therefore allowing the test-taker to adapt to where they are, but the faces do change positions. If you are a competent computer user, you might learn by the last step that everything bad is on the right and everything good on the left, making it appear as if you associate "good" with the face on the left and "bad" with the face on the right, while the step before it, during which you are having to become accustomed to the format of the game, might cause confusion and error--making it look as if you associate "bad" terms with dark-skinned people and vice versa.

22% scored a strong preference toward light skin, and only 1% a strong preference for dark skin. I encourage Tolerance.org to try switching the order of steps three and four and seeing if the results even out any.

Conservator: I would argue that listening to what the Pope says is far more important than being a citizen of any country. As for Republicans, yes many of them DO support things thay are against the teachings of the Pope. My post was simply pointing out to Catholics to look closely in the coming months about whether or not politicans of both sides are following their own personal moral agenda. That should (but does not mean MUST) include abortion, war, capital punishment etc. On the aspect of disagreeing with the Pope, let's not forget Archbishop Romero who supported violent overthrow of Latin American governments. This usual included killing, which the Pope is not a big fan of. The Catholic Church has a Pope for leadership of the over 1 billion Catholics in the world (small constituency eh?) to handle smaller affairs and make a basic outline of the churche's beliefs, but this by no means does the church outlaw personal analysis of the scriptures.

Captain: I always said Congress needed a homemaker's touch. Nancy Pelosi and I say, "Happy 38th Birthday, Medicare!"

Maybe when it's 65, it'll be recognized for the outdated, shoddy system it is.

Helen Rittelmeyer: This from the man who's alright with polygamy. (Unofficially alright, of course . . . )

As for the Dilemma of the Liberal Catholic:

Democrats support the gay bishop, and a woman's right to choose, and a number of other things expressly condemned by the Pope.

But Republicans support capital punishment, and war in Iraq, and a number of other things expressly condemned by the Pope.

Supreme Court Justice (and devout Roman Catholic) Antonin Scalia : "In my view, the choice for the judge who believes the death penalty to be immoral is resignation rather than simply ignoring duly enacted constitutional laws and sabotaging the death penalty."


The libertarian argument: It shouldn't matter that neither party is totally consistent with Christian teaching. Conservator is asking liberal Catholics to ignore their own moral instincts because of the will of other man.

An individualist would call it self-betrayal, to do something you feel to be wrong because the Pope tells you it is right. Admittedly, an individualist is not likely to be a devout Catholic in the first place, but the point stands: letting governments and religions have absolute authority over you inevitably leads to abuse, from big things like the draft to little things like . . . asking Catholics to switch parties in order to support a cause they don't really believe in. Let John Paul II choose your morals for you? This is why we have atheists, guys. (Well, among other reasons.)

Of course, this argument of personal liberty taken to the extreme condemns the very idea of having a Pope. Or a church, for that matter, unless you can show me a democratically-run church ("Well, none of us liked this whole 'no adultery' thing, so we scrapped it"). What it means for this specific question (“How can a good Catholic vote Democrat?”) doesn't have to be so radical. A liberal Catholic votes with the left because either (a) he disagrees with some of the Pope’s views (which officially makes you a heretic, but with St. Francis of Assissi, Peter Abelard, and Thomas Jefferson, you’ll be in good company), or (b) finds the Democrats the “lesser of two evils,” morally speaking. Both reasons are perfectly justified if you accept that a politician (or a voter) has a greater obligation to personal liberty than the Pope when it comes to his job as an American citizen.

And that’s really what being a libertarian is all about, right?

Conservator: I think Frank Oz would be cool. Then he could have all the different puppets be governor. Yoda against high taxes he is.

Captain: Here is a short list of Californians not running for governor--yet.

Sean "P Diddy" Combs
Shaquille O'Neal
Erin Brockovich
Kareem Abdul-Jabar
Many of the original Jackson Five
Eugene Volokh
MC Hammer
Quentin Tarantino
Billy Bob Thornton
Ahmet, Dweezil, Moon Zappa
Sandra Day O'Connor

Do you think it's time the Zappas got the political power they deserve? Visit Mail Hollywood and tell your favorite celebrity that you support their candidacy.

Conservator: Gray Davis you are terminated. This news is some of the best I think I'll hear for days. Of course Arnold is not the greatest choice I could think of with him being pro-gun control and pro-choice, but he still is going to end the rampant corruption that has plauged Sacramento for years. With his speech tonight during his after showing press confrence, everyone's favorite Barbarian has proven that he can handle himself, and handle himself well. He'll be back.

But as the Captain put it will this change anything in California? Probably not. California will continue to have high crime and high pollution and most likely poor schools. Arianna Huffington would end pollution by "banning SUVs". But not her private jet flights.

In completely different news, one of my favorite legislators, Orrin Hatch (R-UT) has introduced a bill to get rid of the ban on firearms in the city of Washington DC. About damn time. The city is once again a city of murder and law enforcement and law abiding citizens are powerless to stop it. I guarantee you that criminals will stop shooting if victims learn to shoot back.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Kelly: And the plot thickens. Child star Gary Coleman adds himself to the ballot.

The best quote by far, "I thought (the recall) was a joke. They thought it was a joke. And I thought, hey, why not," Coleman, 35, told CNN. "I'm probably the least qualified for the job, but I'll have some great people around me."

Oh the great state of California, what a tangled web you weave. I ask Gary Coleman, "What you talkin 'bout Willis?"

Captain: Er ist zurück. The Sacramento Bee informs the Golden State that Arnold has officially announced his candidacy for governor of California to Jay Leno.

Arnold is a pro-choice, pro-environmental-regulation Republican--but, after all, isn't that the only kind you can find in California? To be sure, Ah-nold is head and shoulders (zing!) above his fellow Republicans, the lugubrious candidate and recall-funder Darrell Issa and Gray Davis fan Richard Riordan, who will not run now out of respect for his good buddy Schwarzenegger.

But will anything change? Even if he is enormously successful and adaptive in the role of governor, reform will be so slow that someone will be calling for Schwarzenegger's recall, too--mark my words. It'll take a maximum of six months. Schwarzenegger's electoral success may ultimately a blemish upon his awe-inspiring Horatio Alger story, unfortunately, too--he has the trappings of a great lawmaker.

Helen Rittelmeyer: This is an article by the inimitable Josh Marshall about why claims of anti-Catholic bias among Democrats are no good to anyone.

This is an explanation of it at Marshall's blog, Talking Points Memo.

Handy Quotation From Article: "Santorum's argument, in essence, is that political opposition to pro-lifers is fine, unless they base their pro-life stance on their Catholicism, in which case any such opposition becomes a form of anti-Catholic bias."

Captain: The Blog world is on a corporate hiatus on the moment--Andrew Sullivan is out until the end of August and National Review Online won't be back until Monday. And so in steps the Super Justice Friends to fill the void.

We wouldn't be discussing the world's most current events if we didn't discuss the Marriott bombing in Jakarta. This recent attack has been linked to al-Qaeda (Do you think they're aware that this is the anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?), which highlights a recent idiosyncrasy in their work: why Indonesia? Their last big project came in October of 2002 with the bombing of the Indonesian island of Bali.

Indonesia, as I'm sure you know, is the world's most populous Muslim nation, but not a fundamentalist one--Perhaps this is what angers al-Qaeda, but as Ralph Peters points out in the NY Post--Can't they do any better?

Perhaps one of the greatest affirmations that this country is safer than it was two years ago is that these bombings occur in Marriott hotels in Jakarta, not Manhattan or Washington or Atlanta.

Conservator: Mon Capitan, you don't seem to understand. I linked you all so that you could all see what I meant by slippery slope. Second of all, I'll make it clear, that Democrats ARE supporting the gay bishop. Also all I was simply stating is that those out there who are Catholics, who as you stated in the past were mainly Democratic voters, should look closely now at their political choices. Perhaps they should look at whether their personal beliefs as Catholics are being represented in the Democratic Party. And they should at least give the Pope some regard into their political thinking.

Captain: First of all, Conservator, the article you linked to says nothing about Democratic support for the Episcopalian bishop. It is easy to get roped in by all the hoopla that the Republicans are making about anti-Catholicism by Democrats in Congress, but most of that is really vengeance exacted on the Democrats for the shoddy way they have muckraked Republicans in the past, especially during judicial confirmations.

But you raise an important point: Democrats often favor non-Catholic (as opposed to anti-Catholic) legislation like abortion. Why? Well, Catholics aren't exactly the largest constituency in the world, and despite non-Catholic stances by the Democrats, many urban Catholics (especially the Hispanic and Southern European ones, like second- or third-generation Italian immigrants) still tend to vote Democratic despite what the pope says.

It is also useful to note that the Pope came out against the war in Iraq. To tell the truth, to many people, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, some things are just more important than what the Pope says.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Conservator: The slippery slope gets slippier. Recently gay rights advocates are having a ball. And now even churches are getting into the act. Now don't get me wrong, I don't hate gays, in fact I have two gay uncles. But this is unnecessary. It's obviously a political move that is part of a growing trend that has been picked up by the left in America. As of late liberals in America have taken it upon themselves to alienate one of their biggest voting groups, Catholics. They back homosexual bishops and abortions, things that the Pope, the world's Catholic leader, has come out against. It begs the question, how can any good Catholic, including the Kennedys, continue to support these actions?

Captain: Andrew Jackson lives on. Not long after Dick Gephardt claims he'll use executive power to overturn any bad decision the Supreme Court makes, Rep. John Hostettler (R-IN) introduces a boneheaded amendment in the House that will deny federal funds to enforce any judicial decision outlawing the use of the words "Under God" and removing the Ten Commandments from the Alabama Supreme Court building. Didn't we put all this nonsense behind us in the 19th century? Story from the Washington Post via Betsy's Page.

Monday, August 04, 2003

Conservator: Welcome to the Social Justice Friends. This blog's purpose is to disscuss current events that pertain mainly to politics. Expect to see different people posting at all different times, all of them having different opinions. Expect petty infighting and most likely insults about appearences and levels of intelligence. However it should still be an interesting experience. I will now introduce you to my alter ego, Conservator: Man of Wonder. From now on I speak as him, as the bastion of conservatisim in this great country. That is all.

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