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February03 (Feb. 18-22)



Sunday, August 31, 2003

In the spirit of constructive criticism that forms a cornerstone of American journalism, today begins my one-week series on the Michigan Daily. I hope my efforts prove fruitful by sparking a community-wide discussion of that newspaper's strengths and weaknesses, and perhaps even stimulate a little change. In that spirit, each entry I post is followed by a comments feature, and I'll be updating a "letters" page with correspondence I receive.

Posted thus far:

> Introduction
> Part 1: Symptoms
> Letters

Posted by Rob at 11:51 PM

I plan on posting part one of my Inside the Daily series around midnight tonight.

Posted by Rob at 8:02 PM

Keep your eye out for Ann Arbor's latest publication - something called the "Ann Arbor Paper." They bill themselves as "the new alternative weekly covering Ann Arbor's art, culture and society ..." We'll be watching.

Posted by Rob at 7:43 PM

Saturday, August 30, 2003

A U-M grad and friend of mine wrote to me about my suggestion that the University incorporate private commercial space and perhaps even housing in their new buildings in the medical campus:

"You have hit on something that a group of students is working on for North Campus that could really benefit the UM community. This group is working on getting the U to allow a private company to open a pub/bar on North Campus. I think your point on mixed-use buildings really fits into this. The new Arthur Miller Theatre will now be built on the current Pierpont Commons parking lot. To counter the horrible parking problem that would be created, a parking structure is part of the plan. This structure's first floor should be reserved for private occupation. I really think getting the horrible U bureaucracy out of the equation is key here. Put the retail space in the plans, build it, and then lease it. When the U controls things (a.k.a., Pierpont Commons, which I served on the board for last year) prices skyrocket, quality stinks (McDonald's), and change is horribly slow ... "

Although building space to rent might cost more in up front construction costs, ultimately the University would be able to profit off the space, and provide needed services to students to boot!

Posted by Rob at 1:35 PM

"Ricardo Valle, a 21-year-old senior majoring in Latino Studies and History, went to high school in a predominantly Mexican community on the Southside of Chicago. During his years there, he didn't know what diversity was or how to relate his experience as a Latino youth, he said.

"It wasn't until I came to the University of Michigan that my little homogeneous bubble burst," Valle said Thursday, shortly after the new policy was released. "It wasn't until I was exposed to people of different backgrounds that I began to understand why experiences in my life took place in certain ways. I feel that high school students could not have developed a sense of identity to provide what the university asks."

Jackie Bray, a 20-year-old U-M senior majoring in history, said members of [SSAA] are most worried about students of color who've grown up in segregated environments, but they have similar concerns about white students who have attended homogeneous schools."

> From AANews:"U-M's new application wins mostly high marks"

Posted by Rob at 1:24 PM

Officials in Ypsilanti were suprised by the large turnout of applicants for Section 8 rent vouchers issued to people who meet certain criteria as the working poor in Washtenaw County. Rent vouchers are an often overlooked way for the government to help provide low and middle income housing in places like Ann Arbor, where anti-student, anti-growth city officials block new housing construction, and have voted against reasonable ordinances that would increase the density of the downtown area. Of course there's a catch: most suburban towns and cities zone out apartments completely, and also opt out of participating in the federal government's Section 8 program.

Posted by Rob at 1:03 PM

Thursday, August 28, 2003

The Ann Arbor News published their mammoth annual "M" Edition today to correspond with the new school year. A complete listing of the articles in this years' is avaliable here. Some highlights? The number of applications to the University increased 3% this year, setting an all-time record, however university officials aren't saying it has to do with the amount of media coverage surrounding the admissions lawsuits.

Also, the bridge across Washtenaw Avenue near the Power Plant will open September 15. This from the same article:
The university's architectural principles, said Gott, call for "connectivity" among buildings, designs that are pedestrian friendly ("walkable, bikable") and environmental safeguards, such as storm water detention ponds, the planner said.

Can someone explain to me how tearing down conveniently located apartment buildings to build inhumanly scaled laboratories or parking structures increase the "walkability" of the campus?

Posted by Rob at 6:56 PM

Preservation Magazine, the award-winning publication of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, has written a short article about the Planada Apartment building, which the University plans to destroy this fall, most likely to make way for new construction. While I don't oppose growth, a human-scaled mixed-use neighborhood has largely been eradicated in the Medical Campus to be replaced with parking structures and massive new buildings. The University could easily grow and also maintain a healthy neighborhood in the medical campus by incorporating commercial and residential space in the gigantic buildings now under construction. While the students in the Hill Dorms used to have a party store very near the Planada Building, the University purchased the property and tore it down. The University could incorporate space on the ground floor of whatever building or parking garage they build for stores and restaurants, which were clearly utilized by Hill Dorm students.

Professors and students at the Taubman School of Architecture and Urban Planning suggested exactly that when asked by B. Joseph White to brainstorm ways to improve north campus - their designs included a walkable layout of mixed-use buildings, and even a "street" of businesses and apartments not unlike the one that is nearly destroyed on the medical campus!

> Preservation: "University of Michigan to Demolish 1929 Building"
> Goodspeed Update Planada Website

Posted by Rob at 2:21 PM

The University announced a new admissions policy today, one that involves hiring 16 additional people to review applications. The new policy is expected to cost $2 million for the first year, and involves a short essay about diversity. Also, there is no minimum GPA or test scores, and, according to the University, no points for anything. From the Detroit News article: "Students are ecstatic they're continuing to use race," said student Monique Perry, who is from Detroit, black, and who was awarded 20 points for race when she applied to U-M. "We're hoping it will work effectively."

> Freep: "Diversity still important in U-M admissions process"
> DetNews: "U-M to ask applicants about diversity and finances"
> Official U-M New dmissions Policy Site

Posted by Rob at 12:20 PM

The company that hosts comments is having technical problems, they will be unavaliable until further notice.

Posted by Rob at 12:14 PM

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

The first day of freshman move-in went smoothly, if the 'News is to be believed: "U-M residence halls welcome first wave of newcomers"

Freshmen quips: "If the school year runs as smoothly as this, I'll be impressed."
"I like to mingle," she said, adding that she liked having home an hour away - not too close and not too far. "Any time I get homesick or feel like getting yelled at, I'll just go home," she joked.

And a family from Texas wanted to find a "good Mexican restaurant." Good luck, and let me know where you find it. Tios is ok, but not really Mexican, I'm not sure what Sabor Latino is aside from cheap. Banditos and the Prickly Pear are both excellent in my opinion, but "California-style Mexican" and "Southwestern" respectively.

Posted by Rob at 12:09 PM

Student Ghetto Break-ins 2.0

While these aren't technically within the bounds of the traditional 'ghetto' - roughly bound by Hill St., Packard, and South Forest, I hope we can be flexible:

"Intruder fondles sleeping woman

A 21-year-old Ann Arbor woman said she was sleeping in her home with her boyfriend early Saturday morning when someone reached through a window and fondled her, city police reported.

The incident was not reported until Tuesday, and police have no suspects.

The woman said she awoke to find someone fondling her in the bed of her home in the 900 block of Greenwood Avenue at 6 a.m. Saturday, reports said. The man, who fled when the woman awoke, slid up a screen window and reached his arm inside, reports said."


1300 block of Forest Court, 10:41 p.m. Monday. No signs of forced entry; towels, sheets, a blanket, TV/VCR combo and computer printer taken. Total value: $390.

1300 block of West Huron Street, 7 p.m. Monday. No signs of forced entry; a bicycle valued at $100 taken from garage.

300 block of North State Street, 5 p.m. Monday. Entry gained through unlocked door; a digital camera, cash, earrings and concert tickets taken. Total value: $587.

1600 block of Cambridge Road, 3:16 p.m. Monday. Entry gained through unlocked apartment door; cash, checks, passport and cell phone taken. Total value: $400.

100 block of Lake Village Drive, 2:45 p.m. Monday. Unknown method of entry; video games, a Sony PlayStation, Game Cube and Xbox taken. Total value: $1,230. "

> From today's AA News Crime Beat

Posted by Rob at 11:59 AM

I think it bears repeating, or at least consideration: Powerpoint is evil.

Posted by Rob at 11:42 AM

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Think Ann Arbor might be high on the list of Michigan cities with the lowest car ownership? Think again - Ann Arbor is 108th, with only 9.5% claiming no vehicles. Then again, the statistic might be slightly off because it polls "households" ...

Posted by Rob at 7:10 PM

"Ward Connerly envisions a perfect world, where there's equal access to education and hate crimes don't exist. Ward Connerly lives in a dream world, but we live in California."
- CA state Assemblyman Mark Leno

Although Mr. Leno was talking about Ward Connerly's Proposition 54 in California, I think the comment could also apply to Michigan, where he's pushing a ban that would prohibit the government from using affirmative action. As a reminder Michigan is also unlike his dream world, just this summer Benton Harbor was scarred by rioting and the otherwise conservative Detroit News has joined liberals to support affirmative action because racial division happens to make poor business sense. In California, Connerly already passed Prop. 209 that banned affirmative action by the government of that state or at their public universities. Prop. 54 is a racial information ban that would forbid government from asking anyone about their race, on the ballot in November. From

"We have said the initiative and language is deceitful and misleading," said Paul Turner, a steering committee member. "It is a mockery of the civil rights movement. It's intended to appeal to mainstream white voters that this is something they can support and feel good about, without any guilt or responsibility to be inclusive on racial matters."

Turner says Proposition 54's backers have been able to use the language, imagery and icons of the civil rights movement because they have become part of American culture. He said many people -- especially white Americans who have little contact with minorities -- want to believe that racial progress is happening and old wounds have healed.

"Once people read this [ballot measure], they don't bother to educate themselves," he said. "People want to believe it, but it's not true."

Posted by Rob at 6:06 PM

Howard Dean is planning a $1 million in TV ads to air in six states. In the ad, which has not yet been shot, Dean will tell Americans:

"I opposed the war with Iraq, when too many Democrats supported it, because I want a foreign policy consistent with American values," the script says. "As governor, I created jobs, balanced budgets and made sure every child in my state had health insurance. As president I'll make sure every American does too.

"Visit my Web site, join my campaign," he will say, with the Web address and toll-free number displayed prominently on screen. "Together we can take our country back."

I suppose America has been ruled by right-wing wealthy white men for so long that the minute a moderate says "I won't kill your children in an imperialist war to benefit my friends in the oil industry, and I won't deprive the most vulnurable members of our society healthcare" frustrated liberals open up their checkbooks and dance in the streets. Meanwhile, what's wrong with a single-payer system of healthcare like the one proposed by Clinton in 1992? Why isn't Dean talking about campaign finance reform - in my mind, still badly needed? Why isn't Dean talking about gun control? Oh, that's right - the NRA gives him an 'A' rating. Luckily the Wall Street Journal thinks he'll be "pulling a George McGovern" mostly because they're hand-wringing over his claims he would repeal the Bush-era tax cuts. Maybe somebody should remind them that for most voters - even the upper-middle class - the tax cut was something of a joke, a few hundred dollars at most. Maybe the Journal should look harder, I'm sure they'd be able to find something to celebrate:

From last September:
"I'm much more conservative than President Bush is when it comes to money," Dean said by phone last week. He added that in his campaigns for governor, he has always enjoyed the support of the National Rifle Association.

Posted by Rob at 5:28 PM

'Michigan is at the center of it all'

The Detroit News ran a lengthy piece today about the anticipation leading up to the admissions policy the University is expected to release, if the newspaper is to be believed, this week. The university plans to apply the new policy for the class entering January 2004. However, were there's smoke, opportunistic Trotskyite organizers aren't far behind:

"Luke Massie, a national leader for Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), said groups like his, which have organized students in support of affirmative action, will be closely monitoring the new system.

"The legal basis of affirmative action was strengthened by the Supreme Court," Massie said. "What the new civil rights movement will be demanding of U-M and other institutions is that there be no drop in the number of minority students."

Officials said they strive to enroll a student body that is academically excellent and diverse, something that will not change. But enrollment of specific groups varies from year to year depending on the characteristics of the applicant pool.

Meanwhile, the article interviews one person who seems to have put their finger on an important issue. The points system was a secret until a FOIA request by Carl Cohen forced the University to make it public, and the result of the supreme court striking it down is that the University can create a new, secret policy. One positive outcome of the lawsuit is that everybody knew exactly what the policy was, although I find it hard to believe the FOIA requests won't quickly follow the announcement of a new policy:

""For critics of affirmative action, this might be worse," said Samuel Issacharoff, a Columbia University law professor who represented the University of Texas in a case that temporarily banned the use of affirmative action in Texas.

"One of the odd things about the two decisions is that they reward nontransparency," Issacharoff said. "The undergraduate admissions program had transparency. This is a consequence ... they now won't be able to easily ascertain what they're doing."

> From Det. News: "U-M readies new policy"

Posted by Rob at 12:31 PM

I've recieved the first feedback to my 'Inside the Daily' series:

"just wanted to let you know that i'm looking forward to your daily manifesto. i wrote for arts from [late 1990s] and while arts is certainly a different beast than news, edit and sports (who, of course, segregated and made it a different beast), the politics within the section and endemic to the paper at large often bothered me. that, and the utter lack of control, and worse, lack of teaching and nurturing practiced by editors there. (have they brought back a copy desk? they should. valuable skill that i wish i had.) but i often wonder if the daily is really any different than any other university paper, and the truth is i don't know; politics are everywhere, but quality can exist independent of internal catfights.

ignoring the rest of the paper, i believe that the arts section has been comprised of utter horseshit and poor writing for years, including the time i spent there. it's probably equal parts lack of writing talent and lack of encouragement on the part of management, whose job it is to bring up the next wave. i suppose i have a little bit of guilt for never editing when i know i could have spread at least some bit of knowledge around, but i was so disgruntled by most of what i saw that i was content to pump out my stories, babysit them so the editors didn't screw them up, and get the fuck out. arts was pretty much a joke anyway, which is too bad. i took pride in the things that i did.

it's a university-level problem too; where's the journalism department? oh, it got trashed almost a decade ago. (a professor of mine once intimated that there was some sort of scandal independent of the party line that the program just wasn't competitive and didn't deserve any further encouragement, but i don't nkow any of the details.) with regards to that, i do think it's impressive that the daily isn't even worse, and that its reporters have gone on to good positions large and small. but without a journalism program supported by the university, the daily should and *needs* to be a learning environment. and in my experience, it's failed miserably at that.

keep em coming.

[name withheld at request of author]"

Posted by Rob at 1:02 AM

Monday, August 25, 2003

Long-time Detroit News Columnist George Cantor has been fired after nearly 40 years of service under unclear circumstances. In 1998, Cantor's daughter Courtney died after falling out of a window in Mary Markley Hall, and an autopsy revealed the date-rape drug GHB in her blood stream. Cantor made a $100,000 settlement in a lawsuit with the University, and also sued the fraternity Phi Delta Theta, where he alleged she had been drugged. The frat was shut down at Michigan but is now attempting to re-start their chapter here.

Posted by Rob at 2:46 PM

ITCS has announced they are now blocking the Sobig.f virus sent to any "" email address, and "ITCS is very close to implementing a full antivirus blocking capability for the mail-relay hosts. We will inform the campus as soon as we have this capability in place." They are also warning people who purchased services from them that a server containing credit card information was broken into, although they don't believe the information was accessed.

Articles of note:
> "It's move-in time again"
> Local Mars Viewing Information
> "Patriot act stirs vigorously held opinion"

Posted by Rob at 1:39 PM

Sunday, August 24, 2003

I've spent most of today putting the finishing touches on what will hopefully prove the last word for me about the Michigan Daily: a special week-long series titled "Inside the Daily." I've posted an introduction and a listing of what to expect - I'll be posting it in five sections the week of September 1 through the 5th.

> Read the introduction to "Inside the Daily" here

Posted by Rob at 10:06 PM

Saturday, August 23, 2003

"Summers was an impressive candidate from the outset. ... But Summers's temperament was troubling to some members of the corporation. The word from Washington was that he could be peremptory, condescending, impatient with lesser mortals. He had, as Robert Rubin, Summers's mentor and predecessor as treasury secretary, delicately put it, ''a rough-edges issue.'' Rubin says that he spoke to members of the committee on four or five occasions. He assured them that Summers had matured a great deal in his years with Treasury. Still, the committee was torn until the final weeks -- even days -- between Summers and Lee Bollinger, then president of the University of Michigan, a candidate who seemed more polished and politic than Summers. (Bollinger is now president of Columbia.) In the end, the wish for boldness won out over apprehensions of abrasiveness.""

> From this ridiculously long profile in the N.Y. Times of Harvard's President Lawrence Summers

Posted by Rob at 10:06 PM

"John Kerr, owner of Wazoo Records of 33612 State St., said he has been told the two-way traffic would increase business because cars would travel slower and notice businesses more often.

"I'm real curious to see if it has the desired effect," Kerr said. "It will be a lot easier to give directions and a lot easier for people who are not familiar with Ann Arbor."

Although causing some minor confusion with delivery trucks and pedestrians, the first day since the streets in the State Street Area were made two-way went relatively smoothly. See AANews: "Street switch goes without a glitch"

Posted by Rob at 3:03 PM

... "The University of Illinois has canceled 1,000 classes on hundreds of subjects this year. Up to 1,000 students at the University of North Carolina will be shut out of beginning Spanish. The University of Colorado has eliminated academic programs in journalism, business and engineering. The University of California has put off opening an entire campus.

Virginia Tech is scrapping an education major and suspending mandatory history classes because it does not have enough professors to lead them. The University of Nebraska is canceling Portuguese, closing agricultural research laboratories and off-site classrooms, shedding exercise science, paring down Russian and museum studies. Rutgers is pruning the arts and sciences.

The University of Missouri has reduced the number of class time slots across the board, cut its teacher training program in half, eliminated a nursing degree and trimmed international studies. The University of Michigan will nearly double the size of some classes, shorten library hours and offer fewer freshman seminars. At the California State University, up to 30,000 students will be turned away come spring." ...

> From NYTimes: "As state colleges trim classes, students struggle to finish" Although, as usual it's a mixed bag - the library just announced they will be upgrading the photocopiers in every U-M Library.

Posted by Rob at 2:41 PM

Friday, August 22, 2003

The Ann Arbor Police are excited about their new Tasers, devices that shoots two small darts up to 20 feet, penetrating the skin by "no more than one-fourth of an inch" that then zap people with enough electricity to make them collapse and curl into a ball involuntarily. In the Ann Arbor News article, Chief Oates and Co. insist over and over that they are "humane" and have no side effects, since "once it's over, the pain is gone, and you can immediately return to normal function." I suppose I'll take their word for it, but one website I found bragged that their Tasers could incapacitate people for up to 15 minutes. I also still doubt it's a good thing to experience what one officer described as "Waves of electricity [that] just take over your body." One Taser I found on the web bragged it was "specifically designed to stop even the most elite, aggressive, focused combatants." Some British police departments, in addition to over 70 in the U.S., are now using the Taser. (BBC: Taser Gun used in second arrest)

Stun gun devices like Tasers are either banned or restricted in the U.S. states of Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin, and the countries of Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, and Amnesty International wants more research on Taser's effects before more police buy them.

Posted by Rob at 3:45 PM

May 2003:
"American imperial adventures are usually rehearsed at Bilderberg meetings. Europe's elite were opposed to an American invasion of Iraq since the 2002 Bilderberg meeting in Chantilly, Virginia. Rumsfeld himself had promised them it wouldn't happen. Last week, everybody struck back at Rumsfeld, asking about the infamous "weapons of mass destruction". Most of Europe's elite do not believe American promises that Iraq's oil will "benefit the Iraqi people". They know that revenues from Iraqi oil will be used to rebuild what America has bombed. And the debate is still raging on what kind of contracts which rewarded Bechtel and Halliburton will "benefit" Western Europe.

Europe's elite, according to those close to Bilderberg, are suspicious that the US does not need or even want a stable, legitimate central government in Iraq. When that happens, there will be no reason for the US to remain in the country. Europe's elite see the US establishing "facts on the ground": establishing a long-term military presence and getting the oil flowing again under American control. This could go on for years, as long as the Americans can guarantee enough essential services to prevent the Iraqi people from engaging in a war of national liberation.

> This from an Asia Times article "The Masters of the Universe" about a secretive organization named the Bilderberg Club, which "does not invite - or accept - Asians, Middle Easterners, Latin Americans or Africans. [to meetings]"

Posted by Rob at 12:37 AM

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Things are heating up ... at marching band practice, for the privilege of performing at U-M football games.
> Freep: "Making the cut at training camp"

Posted by Rob at 8:24 PM

Let's see ... Borders' Books is reporting large profits, but are still blocking efforts by employees to unionize their stores in Ann Arbor and Minneapolis MN, a man was attacked on his porch in the student ghetto, Republican state legislators want to amend the state constitution so 2/3 of the state legislature can veto any class offered by a public university, John Ashcroft is insisting the Patriot Act was needed, even though it hasn't been used to catch any actual terrorists, and Ted Nugent is denying he used racial slurs. Yet another fine day in Michigan, U.S.A.!

"About 50 people demonstrated outside the building, chanting: "Ashcroft go home. Down with the Patriot Act." Tim Beck, of Detroit, said he believes Ashcroft and President Bush are taking advantage of people's fears to promote invasive legislation.

"It seems it's an excuse to trash the Constitution and take away our civil liberties," he said of the attacks. The act "just doesn't feel right on a gut level. It has too many scary historical parallels.",

Posted by Rob at 8:19 PM

Wednesday, August 20, 2003


Since he's quoted in this Free Press article, I assume Luke Massie, a sectarian Trotskyist organizer with the Revolutionary Workers' League/ BAM-N has returned from his summer trip to London. And we were getting our hopes up. On two politicians involved with Ward Connely's ballot initiative:

"Drolet and Brandenburg ought to be put on notice," BAMN national organizer Luke Massie said. "This is a mistake. They are awakening a giant.

"Our intention is to do everything possible to maximize the public's opposition to this ballot initiative long before they begin gathering signatures for it."

Posted by Rob at 2:54 PM

Here's the Princeton Review's list of the top 20 party schools in the nation, based on "a combination of survey questions concerning the use of alcohol and drugs, hours of study each day, and the popularity of the Greek system."

1. University of Colorado, Boulder
2. University of Wisconsin-Madison
3. Indiana University - Bloomington
4. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
5. Washington and Lee University
6. The University of Texas at Austin
7. The University of the South
8. DePauw University
9. St. Bonaventure University
10. University of Florida
11. University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa
12. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
13. University of Mississippi
14. SUNY at Albany
15. University of Georgia
16. Clemson University
17. Louisiana State University
18. New York University
19. Penn State University Park
20. University of California at Santa Barbara

Although the Ann Arbor News conveniently leaves it out, you may be wondering: "How did Ann Arbor fare in the rankings of 'great college towns'?" Answer: they didn't make the top 20. Which were: 1 New York University, 2 Tulane University, 3 Georgetown University, 4 DePaul University, 5 University of Miami, 6 American University, 7 Boston University, 8 Columbia University, Columbia College, 9 McGill University, 10 The George Washington University, 11 University of San Francisco, 12 Cooper Union, 13 Boston College, 14 The University of Texas at Austin, 15 Southern Methodist University, 16 Barnard College, 17 University of Wisconsin-Madison, 18 Harvard College, 19 Indiana University - Bloomington, 20 Simmons College.

Michigan also didn't make the top 20 list for "great college newspaper," but for most people that goes without saying. Check back on this site the first week of September for a bit more than my $.02 about why that is.

Posted by Rob at 2:32 PM

The Princeton Review, the company that administers the SAT and also test prep courses, has released their annual survey of college students about top colleges in a number of categories. As usual, the U-M ranked highly for both its partying and academics. Although Julie Peterson is telling the media they don't take 'such surveys seriously', I would hope they're a little worried about the first one. Here's the U-M ranking in catagories they made the top 20:

#13 Teaching Assistants Teach Too Many Upper-Level Courses Academics
#14 Best Academic Bang For Your Buck
#10 Lots of Hard Liquor
#6 Major Frat and Sorority Scene
#12 Party Schools

> See the Princeton Review's Profile of U-M

Meanwhile, the only students Ann Arbor News Reporter Geoff Larcom can scratch up is a couple former MSA presidents. Maybe he had their cell phone numbers already programmed in his:

"It's a Big Ten school with a whole atmosphere of festive spirit, but its not a party school in a negative way that it rules everybody's life," said Sarah Boot, a recent graduate who served last year as president of the Michigan Student Assembly.
Matt Nolan, who preceded Boot as MSA president, said he would rank U-M even higher than 14th for best bang for the academic buck, and that its high Greek life rankings stem from the fact that nearly 20 percent of undergraduates are involved with a fraternity or sorority.

"The doesn't necessarily mean it's the wildest scene or out of control," he said. "What it means is that if you want to be involved in Greek life, you can be, because there are so many houses."

And U-M's party scene?

"I always had a good time here," Nolan said."

> From AANews: "Student poll ranks U-M 12th-best party school", see also "University of Michigan: A Party School?"

Posted by Rob at 2:28 PM

"The steady steam of befuddled visitors who have turned the wrong way onto a one-way street will now be correct, quipped Adrian Iraola, Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority project manager. "I don't expect (the change) will be chaotic. A lot of people are already driving as if it's two-way."
There have been few objections to the plan. The change will be better for business and bicyclists, said Jeff More, owner of Ashley's restaurant on State Street. "We don't want to make it so fast people can zip through town," he said."

> AANews: "Liberty/State area shifts to 2-way traffic Friday"
> AANews: "AATA 'link' ready to roll downtown"

Other articles of note:
>AANews: "Global e-mail virus spreads"
> U-M 'Virus Busters' Sobig.f information page
> AANews: "City will collect fines for parking on the internet"

Posted by Rob at 2:15 PM

A U-M researcher thinks that European Americans' "blunt, say-it-like-it-is approach" in the business environment might be hurting U.S. corporations in multicultural business environments. He calls the belief that personal relationships and emotions are secondary to the job at hand in a work environment Protestant Relational Ideology, "an affliction related to the Protestant work ethic, characterized by the expectation that one should be more impersonal and emotionally detached at work than in social situations."

> See UMPR: "Friendly at work? It's a good thing."

Posted by Rob at 3:04 AM

If your email box is anything like mine, you may have recieved some strange emails with subject lines like "Re: Details," "Re: Approved," or "Re: Your application." Delete these emails as their attachments have the W32/Sobig.f computer virus. For more information, see McAfee's page on the virus.

Posted by Rob at 2:32 AM

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Ann Arbor police have increased to $700 their reward for information about the graffiti found on the Hillel building on Hill Streeet after similar graffiti was found on the Memorial Christian Church on Tappan Street, and the St. Mary Student Parish on Thompson Street. While the Hillel graffiti included a swastika, the other buildings were simply defaced with "demonic and obscene symbols."

> AANEWS: "Vandals deface more religious institutions"

Posted by Rob at 6:05 PM

Oakhurst Dairy, a small Maine dairy, was sued earlier this summer by the Monsanto Corporation because they dared to put a label on their milk cartons reading: "No Artificial Growth Hormones." According to Oakhurst, a trial date has been set for January 5, 2004, and they have won a small victory: the judge refused Monsanto's request for an injunction forcing Oakhurst to remove the labels until then. The dairy also submitted a request the trial be moved to Maine, where they do most of their business. Monsanto holds the copyright to the artificial growth hormone, rGBH, and plans to argue in court Oakhurst should remove the warning label since they think it implies their milk is healthier. Although the USFDA approved the use of the growth hormone by examining research provided them by Monsanto, both Canada and the European Union have banned it. Oakhurst says that they label their milk because the growth hormone is unproven and they want to provide Maine consumers a choice.

Don't be surprised if you haven't heard about the dangers of rGBH, Monsanto successfully got two Pulitzer-prize winning journalists fired after they tried to report on a Canadian study that concluded Monsanto's synthetic hormone needed more testing because some lab rats developed thyroid cysts and infiltration in the prostate, and milk produced by cows given BGH contained high levels of IGF-1, a compound that has been linked to increased risk of breast, colon and prostate cancers.

Posted by Rob at 1:02 PM

Honors Director and Prof. Stephen Darwall has been thinking about the honors program, which, he proposes really ought to be called the "Really Intrinsically Valuable Program" since the honors program should be more about being 'worthy' of honor, not simply receiving honor. He gives a number of examples of "what I think this program is all about--learning interesting things from one another by being part of a community who all share the desire to learn and grow intellectually." I think all these things are certainly true, now if he can just address that little white elephant named elitism.

Posted by Rob at 12:44 PM

Monday, August 18, 2003


While the students are away, it's common practice for the University to tidy up a bit, which unfortunately this summer included closing the student woodshop and firing all of the residence hall librarians. It's also apparently time for many U-M administrators, and also students and staff to open up the checkbook and give some money to their favorite political candidates. A quick check of the database over at reveals quite a few people in Ann Arbor have found time to contribute to the American political process. Both Joe Knollenberg and John Dingell have received plenty of support from Ann Arbor, and a number of others have participated in the impressive internet fund-raising of candidate for president Howard Dean.

Some highlights:

* President Mary Sue Coleman's husband Ken Coleman, who has a long history of giving to liberal democrats including Paul Wellstone, Bill Clinton, and Bill Bradley, gave $1,000 to Howard Dean's campaign - in March!

* Marvin Krislov, who came on under Bollinger and has led the admissions lawsuits for the University as general council, gave $250 to the Joe Lieberman for President Committee in June. Krislov was also a supporter of both Al Gore and Jennifer Granholm's campaigns.

*Got extra $2,000 lying around? Apparently Regent Andrea Fisher Newman did - she gave that amount to George W. Bush's re-election campaign in June. In the past 13 years, Newman has given well over $29,000 that I was able to track down to a variety of republican candidates, and the Northwest Airlines PAC (She is a VP there). Only Regent and Domino's Pizza President David Brandon has given more than her to federal elections.

* Way back in March, U employee and fellow blogger Bob Goodsell put his money where his mouth is and gave the Kucinich for President campaign $250.

* V-P for Academic Affairs and professor Paul Courant, State Senator Liz Brater, and City Councilwoman Jean Carlberg, among many others all gave John Dingell's campaign $250.

* Finally, classics professor and long-time teacher of Great Books classes H.D. Cameron gave $400 to the Democratic National Committee, more than his annual gifts have been in the past.

> View the 'Summertime Giving' page here
> Go to Political Giving at U-M page

Posted by Rob at 11:21 PM

It seems the only thing holding back the U-M athletic department from a $100 Million orgy of new and upgraded facilities on the athletic campus is a lack of cash, and an unwillingness to go into serious debt like rival Ohio State University. The result? Teams and coaches are increasingly expected to fundraise and recruit donors for facilities improvements as University bean counters jealously guard its hard-earned bond rating: U-M holds a triple-A bond rating and "stable" outlook from Moody's. It is one of only 19 universities - and one of only three public universities -holding this highest possible rating, which draws investors and ensures the university of getting the lowest possible interest rate on its borrowings."

> A2 'Business Direct Weekly': "U-M's punt on debt may be wise", "U-M coaches build teams of donors"

Posted by Rob at 2:03 PM

The events calendar (see right) has been updated ... feel free to send more suggestions.

Posted by Rob at 1:50 PM

"It shows that the economics of the suburbs are out of phase with the original purpose of the suburbs," said Robert Fishman, a professor of urban planning at the University of Michigan and the author of "Bourgeois Utopias" (Basic Books, 1989), a history of suburban growth.

That purpose was to take women and children out of the "morally corrupt environment" of rough industrial cities, Professor Fishman said. "It's still to an amazing degree the cultural assumption that this green, open environment is a better place to raise children."

> From the NYTimes article "Great haven for families, but don't bring children" about a town trying to restrict the number of new families through zoning.

Posted by Rob at 10:52 AM

REUTERS: "U.S. Troops Shoot Dead Reuters Cameraman in Iraq"

"BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.S. troops shot dead an award-winning Reuters cameraman while he was filming on Sunday near a U.S.-run prison on the outskirts of Baghdad. Eyewitnesses said soldiers on an American tank shot at Mazen Dana, 43, as he filmed outside Abu Ghraib prison in western Baghdad which had earlier come under a mortar attack. Dana's last pictures show a U.S. tank driving toward him outside the prison walls. Several shots ring out from the tank, and Dana's camera falls to the ground. The U.S. military acknowledged on Sunday that its troops had "engaged" a Reuters cameraman, saying they had thought his camera was a rocket propelled grenade launcher.
"Army soldiers engaged an individual they thought was aiming an RPG at them. It turned out to be a Reuters cameraman," Navy Captain Frank Thorp, a spokesman for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Reuters in Washington.
"They saw us and they knew about our identities and our mission," Shyoukhi said. The incident happened in the afternoon in daylight. The soldier agreed to their request to film an overview of the prison from a bridge nearby.
"After we filmed we went into the car and prepared to go when a convoy led by a tank arrived and Mazen stepped out of the car to film. I followed him and Mazen walked three to four meters (yards). We were noted and seen clearly," Shyoukhi said.
"A soldier on the tank shot at us. I lay on the ground. I heard Mazen and I saw him scream and touching his chest.
"I cried at the soldier, telling him you killed a journalist. They shouted at me and asked me to step back and I said 'I will step back, but please help, please help and stop the bleed'."

Posted by Rob at 3:24 AM

Who's to blame for the power outage? Greg Palast thinks it might have something to do with deregulation. Oddly, nobody in the media seemed to notice that the energy "markets" that Enron (failed at) manipulating didn't exist before deregulation, either.

Posted by Rob at 3:10 AM

Although Matt Drudge's website currently has a link titled "'How to be Gay' course draws fire at Michigan; Professor calls it a class on culture...", the link doesn't lead anywhere. Nonetheless, I thought it my duty as an American to snip this one at the bud. Some visitors to this website will remember the first brouhaha in Fall 2000, when U-M english professor David Halperin created a class with the snappy title "How to Be Gay: Homosexuality and Initiation," which he describes as "... about how people who are already gay learn to craft an identity for themselves." A right-wing outfit named the American Family Association got wind of the course, gathered 15,000 signatures protesting the study of part of American culture, and the state House of Representatives came within 4 votes of passing a bill that would have cut funding to the U by 10 percent if they stopped doing anything to "promote homosexual behavior." Not only is that something the University has never done, even if the University did it and the law passed, it would most likely have been overturned because of the constitutional independence of the Regents in the Michigan State Constitution. Fortunately, saner minds prevailed, the class was not cancelled, and the religious fundamentalists went back to their usual business of trying to pass off mythology as science in high school classrooms, helping get Bush elected, and terrorizing patrons of medical clinics.

Fast forward to 2003, and the same thing is happening. The conservative group is furiously sending out press releases, trying to drum up some interest, and a few people have bit: The Michigan State News ("Gay course at U-M scrutinized by group"), and the Washington Times ("'How to be Gay' course draws fire at Michigan"). (Quick reminder: the Washington Times was started in 1982 by a wealthy religious cult, and as far as I know, never made a profit) And Prof. Halperin and the University are still insisting that it's a class about gay culture, and not some sort of liberal conspiracy to brainwash innocent students into being gay. If you don't believe me, read the course description.

> From the Washington "Times" article:
" University officials have been "inundated" with AFA-distributed postcards objecting to the course, says university spokeswoman Julie Peterson. But she does not expect the postcards to affect the university's support for Mr. Halperin. "He is a very popular professor," Ms. Peterson says, "and there is always a long waiting list for his courses. The list gets longer when stories like this happen."

Posted by Rob at 2:16 AM


Convicted mail-bomber and U-M grad Ted Kaczynski has filed a request asking the federal government turn over his belongings to the University's Labadie Collection, which already holds over 6 linear feet of material related to him: "The papers include Kaczynski's correspondence from over 400 people since his arrest in April 1996, some of his carbon-copied replies as well as some legal documents, publications, and clippings." Since he has been convicted to life without parole and the evidence no longer needed, I don't think that his request is unreasonable. However, the Associated Press doesn't seem to think it will be approved.

Also, according to a recently published biography I was thumbing through at a bookstore last spring, Kaczynski's mental health deteriorated rapidly from 1962 to 1967, years he lived in Ann Arbor as a mathematics graduate student. During this time he was living in an apartment at 524 South Forest, where the biography says he was increasingly tormented by the sounds of his next-door neighbor having sex. I suppose the truth is stranger than fiction. And yes, he really did win an award from the Mathematics Department his senior year: check out the year 1967 on this plaque in a display case in East Hall.

Posted by Rob at 1:08 AM

Sunday, August 17, 2003

The University has created this website with information about the impact of the blackout, saying on Saturday that: "The Central Power Plant has been providing limited cooling and electricity to our highest priority buildings since the regional power outage began."

The AAPD is offering $500 for information about "A large spray-painted swastika symbol, obscene phrases and painted pictures, and other graffiti" discovered on the Hillel building.
> "Hillel building is vandalized"

Also, Howard Dean made an appearance in Ypsilanti over the weekend.

Posted by Rob at 3:33 PM

Parts of five streets in the State Street Area will become two-way this Friday: Thompson, S. State, N. University, and Liberty. City and University planners are expecting that eliminating the confusing traffic pattern of the area will reduce traffic, and make it easier for visitors to find their way around. Also, the AATA plans to introduce a downtown circulator the same day: "The Link will connect Ann Arbor's four major shopping and dining areas—Kerrytown, State Street, Main Street, and South University and Central Campus. The buses will run every eight minutes, and 13 of 24 stops are on campus." Here's an idea for the AATA: a free airport shuttle.

> U. Record: "State of traffic in Ann Arbor: Parts of five streets go two-way Aug. 22"

Did you know that each one of the 16,000 trees on campus is part of a computer database?

Posted by Rob at 3:15 PM

REUTERS: "The US government said today it had neither an exact count nor all the names of hundreds of people captured in Afghanistan over a year ago and now detained at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba. ... "

Posted by Rob at 2:24 PM

"How do you keep the populace reassured about government services in an emergency?" asked Daniel J. Oates, the police chief in Ann Arbor, Mich. "You saturate the community with police presence. You have police cars drive around with their lights on. We tripled the number of cops on the street last night. It cost me $10,000 in overtime."
Chief Oates did point to one incident that he said probably would not have happened on an ordinary night. Someone spray-painted anti-Semitic obscenities and a swastika on a Jewish student center at the University of Michigan, the first such incident in the chief's two years there."

> From NYTimes: "Midwest Police Face Trouble with Traffic, Not Looting"

Posted by Rob at 2:16 PM

Friday, August 15, 2003

The largest electrical blackout in U.S. history has left me temporarily stranded in Washington, until things get straightened out in New York City a bit. As far as I can tell, much of Michigan, including Ann Arbor, is without power, and Southeast Michigan is without water service. Although Ann Arbor-based seems down, the university website is up, although not updated with any blackout information, and the Free Press has extensive reporting online.

In local news the University has announced they won't be releasing their consumer confidence index until Tuesday due to the blackout, and the Chinese student accused of hacking the U-M system has been expelled.

Posted by Rob at 11:04 AM

Monday, August 11, 2003

The August archive page, complete with all entries to date from that month is avaliable here. All months, including August, can be found in the "Archive" section on the bottom left. The page includes my entry on Luke Massie in London: "RWL/BAM-N ... In the U.K."

Posted by Rob at 1:10 AM

" ... Besides, it is not at all clear that far-left ideology was the cause of past Democratic defeats — or that ideology plays a truly decisive role in presidential elections. While political strategists and pundits tend think in terms of sharply delineated issues, most voters do not. "The American Voter," the landmark study by University of Michigan researchers published in 1960 and still a very useful guide to its subject, found that only one-fourth of the electorate held a clear opinion on most issues and identified those positions with one party or the other. A mere 2 percent could be classified as holding a consistently "ideological" position on overall policy. ..."

> From Sam Tanenhaus in the NYTimes: "How the 'Radicals' can save the Democrats"

Posted by Rob at 1:07 AM

Sunday, August 10, 2003

I'll be on a trip to New York City and Washington, D.C. until Friday, and I don't plan on any website updates until then.

Posted by Rob at 8:04 PM

Saturday, August 09, 2003

Yes, the giant nail will be removed from the giant Uniroyal tire in I-94 as part of a $1 million upgrade. The tire was built from a Ferris wheel from the 1964-65 New York World's Fair.

> Freep: "Uniroyal to pump up the look of I-94's giant tire"

Posted by Rob at 3:47 AM

Billionaire George Soros has pledged $10 Million to a progressive PAC that seeks to "elect progressive officials at every level in 2004." However, the PAC's goal of $75 M pales in comparison to the $200 M Bush is expected to raise.

> See AP: Billionaire Commits $10M to Defeat Bush

Posted by Rob at 3:11 AM

Dean No Progressive

As I have said before, Howard Dean may just give Bush a run for his money - because of how moderate he truly is. The man may talk like Wellstone, but on some issues he sounds like the New Democrats. Although this linup was created by a Kucinich man, it's provocative: "Why I'm voting for Kucinich over Dean".

Meanwhile, what's wrong with Carol Moseley Braun? Sure she has had a minor financial scandal in her past, but that type of thing didn't seem to slow down Clinton, Gore, or Bush. If we elected a reformed alcoholic and probable cocaine user, we can certainly give the first black women ever to be elected to the U.S. Senate a shot at president!

Posted by Rob at 2:34 AM

The city of Ann Arbor announced today it will ask voters to approve a plan that would preserve farms and open space around the city. This long-overdue idea - using taxpayers' money to buy the development rights to land that might otherwise end up as strip malls and the like - helps preserve open space, and a unique sense of place. Similar programs, some using privately raised money, is helping perserve family farms in New England, and prevent the ugly blight of sprawl that has forever ruined so much land in the U.S.

Aside from mayor Hieftje, a vocal supporter in the Ann Arbor News article is city councilperson Bob Johnson, D-1st Ward: "If we get surrounded by subdivisions and strip malls, a lot of the features that make this a special place to live will disappear." Johnson, a democrat, will face two challengers in November, independent and U-M student Rick Lax, and Green Party Candidate Rob Haug, and I can't help but think the timing of the announcement somehow related to the filing deadline that just passed for the city council elections.

While I like the idea, I do think something said by the local representative of the pro-sprawl Homebuilders Association, Jeff Fisher, who said that the organization would "vehemently oppose it":

Fisher said the city should look at its own policies and practices if it wants to prevent sprawl. He said the city doesn't like high-density projects or tall buildings, both of which fight sprawl by making use of urban land.

Think the Ann Arbor city council has students' best interests in mind? Think again. In 2002, led by anti-student council members like Mike Reid (R - 2nd Ward), the city council unanimously struck down a very mild proposal that would allow homeowners in the city to create small apartments in outbuildings and above garages. Legal in many areas, these so-called "granny flats" relieve the pressure on the Ann Arbor rental market, providing students and couples looking for apartments more options and perhaps reducing rents. When it was announced, several neighborhood associations circulated a flyer alleging the apartments would cause all sorts of evils, most notably declining property values. This campaign of fear flooded the city planning commission and city council with letters opposing the initiative, and Mike Reid led the council in stopping the plan before even the planning commission had approved it. Read this article I wrote for the Michigan Daily about it in February 2002. In this case, I think the city council could have taken a cue from Jeff Fisher.

> See article: AANews - "City eyes townships' land"

Student Ghetto Break-ins
... 1000 block of Vaughn Street, 4:15 p.m. Thursday. Unknown method of entry; CDs, cologne, sweaters, a CD player and calculator taken. Total value: $600.(source)

Posted by Rob at 1:24 AM

Friday, August 08, 2003

In case you didn't heard about the strange case of the Ann Arbor man who was accused of murdering two people last year, this AP article seems to squeeze in the grisly details admirably well. He was recently sentenced to life in prison.

> AP: "Man sentenced in 2 deaths, ex-girlfriend's dismemberment"

Posted by Rob at 12:50 AM

Well, since it's official, I'll say now the person I know running for Ann Arbor City Council is Scott Trudeau, a recent grad from the University, and former candidate for U-M Regent with the Green Party. I am excited about his candidacy, and I think he would provide a different, and needed perspective on a number of local issues on the council. As a Green Party candidate for U-M regent in 2000, he received 109,192 votes in the statewide election, 8,084 in Washtenaw County.

Previously unbeknownst to me, another acquaintance is also running in Ward 4; U-M student Dan Sheill is running as a libertarian. However, Ann Arbor News Reporter Tom Gantert gives Mr. Sheil short shrift in his story about the candidate filings, mentioning him only once and getting his first name wrong: "Libertarian Scott Sheill is also running in the 4th Ward." Perhaps he had trouble to contacting Dan, but the least he could have done was get the name right. Dan Sheill has been active on campus with the student chapter of the Libertarian Party and Students for a Sensible Drug Policy, and I have had the pleasure to organize events with him in my capacity as chair of the student ACLU chapter. He also has been instrumental in organizing Hash Bash the last couple years, and I can only wish that he and Scott were running in different Wards! Luckily, I'll be living in Ward 1 so I won't be forced to choose whom to vote for!

I was surprised to discover West Bloomfield native and U-M student Rick Lax is running for a seat in the first ward. I don't know much about Mr. Lax, but I'll be watching his campaign closely since student involvement in city politics is so unusual.

Want to know which ward you live in? The best map I have been able to find online is this one from the webpage of the Ann Arbor democratic party. Basically, the wards are shaped like pie-wedges with the center at State St. and Packard. To the north is Ward 1 (Where Rick Lax is running), to the East Ward 2, to the southeast Ward 3, to the southwest Ward 4 (Where Scott Trudeau and Dan Sheil are running) and to the west is Ward 5, but check the map since my description is very rough. Here's excerpts from Tom Gantert's article:

" [...] Scott Trudeau, a Green Party candidate in the 4th Ward, said he decided to run when he learned Republican incumbent Marcia Higgins was unopposed by a major party candidate. Libertarian Scott Sheill is also running in the 4th Ward.

"Every race should be a contested race," Trudeau said. "That is essential to democracy. It is to create a race and bring up the issues."

Trudeau, 25, is the technology manager for Michigan Poverty Law Program, a nonprofit organization affiliated with the University of Michigan Law School.

Among his concerns are the Pall Life Sciences cleanup of groundwater contaminated in the 1980s with 1,4 dioxane.
Democrat Leigh Greden and Libertarian Rich Birkett also will go after Herrell's seat. Rick Lax, a U-M student, was among the candidates to file in the 1st Ward as an independent. In the 1st Ward, incumbent Democrat Bob Johnson will face Lax and the Green Party's Rob Haug.

Via e-mail, Lax said he thinks the student voice needs to be heard.

"I'm running because I'm a student, and there hasn't been a student on the council for a while even though about one-third of us here in Ann Arbor are students," Lax wrote. "I know that running as an independent will be tough, but I think that with enough hard work and hard campaigning, I can win."

> From AANews: "Independents create races"

Here's the list of everyone running for city council in the fall, from the News:

1st Ward
*Bob Johnson (Democrat)
Rick Lax (Independent)
Rob Haug (Green Party)

2nd Ward
*Mike Reid (Republican)
Amy Seetoo (Democrat)

3rd Ward
Leigh Greden (Democrat)
Rich Birkett (Libertarian)
Donna Rose (Independent)

4th Ward
*Marcia Higgins (Republican)
Dan Sheill (Libertarian)
Scott Trudeau (Green Party)

5th Ward
*Wendy Woods (Democrat)
Jason Kantz (Libertarian)
Adrianna Buonarroti (Green Party)

* Incumbent

Posted by Rob at 12:31 AM

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

The webmaster of an anarchist website, Sherman Austin, has been sentenced to one year in federal prison because he linked to information about how to build a bomb on the website, "". Bomb building instructions are not illegal unless intent can be proven. Think it's only crazy anarchists? I remind you this story of a bearded twenty-something who was interrogated by the FBI because an anonymous tipster thought he looked suspicious at a coffee shop: "Careful, the FB-eye may be watching"

> "Man jailed for linking to bomb sites"
> LA Times: "Man Gets 1 Year for How-To on Explosives"
> Sherman Austin's narrative

Posted by Rob at 10:30 PM

U-M Football player Marlin Jackson has plead innocent today to the charges he hit a man with a bottle at a party.

Posted by Rob at 4:46 PM

According to a recent poll of Michigan Democrats, Dean gained while Lieberman lost percentage points. The right hand column reflects change since a late-May poll. The margin of error is 6 percentage points.

Joseph Lieberman 19% -8
Richard Gephardt 19% 0
John Kerry 14% -1
Howard Dean 13% +9
John Edwards 6% +4
Al Sharpton 5% +1
Carol Moseley Braun 5% +4
Bob Graham 3% -4
Dennis Kucinich 2% 0
Undecided 15% -5

> See also AP: "Poll: Lieberman down, Dean up in Democratic presidential race," poll data

Posted by Rob at 4:44 PM

The Michigan Land Use Council, appointed by Governor Granholm to investigate ways to preserve open space and prevent suburban sprawl in the state, is preparing to release their report August 15. The Ann Arbor news reports: "A local builders group representative gave the recommendations mixed reviews, while a local land preservation leader generally was positive about the report."

> AANews: "Recommendations ready for land use"
> Freep editorial: "Land Use Council: Emphasis on planning will protect Michigan's assets

Also, a church in the small Michigan town of Greenville has held a book-burning, burning a Harry Potter book, copies of the Shania Twain album "The Woman in Me," the movie "Coneheads," and the Book of Mormon:

"It's important for children to know that Harry Potter is witchcraft," Jill Turner, the bishop's wife, told the Daily News. "It really afflicts their minds."

The church is far from the first to burn copies of Harry Potter. The book has been burned for years by fundamentalist Christian groups.

In 2001, a church in New Mexico burned copies of the book along with Eminem CDs and copies of the movie "Snow White." The same year, a church in suburban Pittsburgh burned Potter books, too.

> From Freep: "Church group burns Harry Potter books, Shania Twain CDs"

Posted by Rob at 4:06 PM

More details are emerging about the graduate student accused of stealing 60 people's UMICH passwords. According to legal documents, he obtained most of the passwords through a physicial keystroke logger - a device that plugs in between a keyboard and computer. He also got passwords: "by creating a bogus log-in screen that appeared to be the official U-M log-in screen, surreptitiously observing computer users while they logged in, and using a computer software program that recorded users' keystrokes." None of the technologies he used were particularly sophisticated.
> AANews: "Keystroke logger used to swipe user passwords"

Posted by Rob at 3:52 PM

After having a nice discussion about my Dean comments with a GU visitor, I thought I would add a bit to my Dean bashing. First, I have nothing against Mr. Dean personally; he seems altogether a decent moderate with independent leanings. I'm happy he is doing so well because I loathe the Bush administration and what they have done so much. However, my only point is that in our society, it's hard for people who aren't extremely privileged and wealthy to succeed in politics. This is why I am a supporter of campaign finance reforms - whether forcing the media to give all candidates a certain number of free ads, limiting large donations, or limiting campaign seasons, all of which have been instituted to great success in a variety of other countries.

I also recognize that to a certain degree, these things must change slowly - for whatever reason, a lot of people still won't vote for a black man for their senator (for example), but I think that things are improving. I think that there are an over surplus of people who would do a good job as president, I only wish they all had an equal shot at it, regardless of their race, class, career, and where they went to school. Just because people have privilege doesn't mean they can be very qualified, decent, people whom I would support - as long as they are honest with themselves and the country about these problems. I think the Democratic candidates are, and perhaps some moderate republicans like John McCain.

I am thinking on two planes: personally, and societally. Societally, I wish our nation was at a place where the Lynn Rivers of the world would be able to compete with the John Dingells, but we're not. Politics on the right and the left are run by mostly rich white people who went to ivy league schools. Personally, I think Dr. Dean is a qualified, intelligent moderate, whom I probubly will support if he is nominated by the Democrats.

Also, I think Dean will probably threaten Bush more than Karl Rove thinks, since when you get right down to it, he's nowhere as liberal as a Mondale or Dukakis. Also, people who are too embedded in party politics to see the real picture quickly forget that in each election, only about half the electorate votes, and in 1992, Ross Perot won 19% of the popular vote. Clearly, there are a lot of people who would vote for someone who had an independent streak, regardless of party, and if a candidate can motivate a lot of people to vote for him or her, they can skew what both Democrats and Republican wonks think will happen. The more I read about Dean on the issues, the more he sounds like a calculating moderate playing to the left. For example, the NRA likes him because he has said he thinks gun restrictions should be decided on a state level. I disagree - what is legal in some states will be accessable in every state, and I believe it can be argued the federal government can and should regulate guns.

Posted by Rob at 3:41 PM

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Don't get me wrong, I think Dean is wonderful and everything, but I guess some part of me was hoping it wouldn't have to be a rich, WASP-y white guy from the Right Family who went to an elite prep school, Yale, dodged the draft, and partied it up before decided to get serious and find a real career by radically re-defining himself as the situation warrants. At least Dean was a doctor, while Bush didn't really do anything in his life until becoming governor. Then again, part of me doesn't mind how rich and pampered you are if you have just policies (FDR) - although I wish we'd cut the crap and face the facts about this whole ruling class thing.

Posted by Rob at 7:04 PM

I've long been a fan of 'fairly traded' coffee, and I just found this website operated by a religiously-affiliated coffee growing cooperative in the southern part of Mexico. The best part is perhaps the reasonable prices - they're offering roasted beans for $8 a pound, and unroasted beans for $4!

Posted by Rob at 6:45 PM

We can all let out our collective breath - they've found the missing bust! It turns out, it wasn't really missing ...

Posted by Rob at 5:08 PM

Monday, August 04, 2003

I've just learned a friend of mine plans on running for Ann Arbor City Council in Ward 4 with the Green Party. I'll withhold their identity until the paperwork is properly filed tomorrow. The ward is currently represented by a Democrat, Margie Teall, and a Republican who will be seeking re-election in November, Marcia Higgins. The Democrats are not challenging Marcia Higgins, so I think the Green Party stands a real chance, especially if the students in the ward register and turn out and to vote.

> To see how the student population is possibly illegally gerrymandered in City Council races, see this page
> Ann Arbor Democratic Party City Ward Map
> Ann Arbor City Council Elections Page

Posted by Rob at 10:49 PM

"A serious retail hole is about to be filled in the upscale Detroit suburb of Rochester Hills, Mich. A gap of some 30 miles currently exists between major malls and brand-name retailers in the area, forcing affluent residents to take road trips to nearby Troy and Sterling Heights to purchase high-end goods. But that will change in September 2002 when locally based developer Robert B. Aikens & Associates completes its latest project, The Village of Rochester Hills."

That from an article in something called "Retail Traffic Magazine" Gawd, I don't know what I would do if I lived 30 miles from the nearest "high-end" goods! God forbid that happen ... luckily something new is here to save the day. That something is an odd development called a "lifestyle center." You see, after a certain point just another mall sounds boring to your average American suburban consumer, who has had just about enough muzak and orange juliases to last a lifetime. The answer, at least for people who read "Retail Traffic," is to build something as close as a CBD (central business district, for the uninitiated) as possible, without of course public space, churches, community organizations, political pamphlets, apartments, poor people, or the homeless. Yes, it's a lifestyle center. Like a mall, these retail developments feature high-end, uber-expensive retail outlets, but unlike a mall they have streets, are open-air, and are designed to include more restaurants, theatres, and the like than traditional malls. Well, it turns out that people really do like the urban environments their parents fled from way back in the misty past circa 1950, flocking to these antiseptic shopping paradises to escape the tedium of the local mall:

"The average retail mall makes about $211 in annual sales per square foot," said Terry McEwen, of Memphis, Tenn.-based retail developers Poag & McEwen. "The average lifestyle center makes about $500 in annual sales per square foot." (From this 2001 Freep article: Shopping mall alternatives)

If people are just yearning for something more authentic, and more interesting than a few hundred chain stores in the same climate-controlled mall, you can't blame them. Luckily, I think the "Retail Traffic" crowd, the general public, and urban planners and government officials are coming closer to meeting than ever before. How else to explain the success of towns who built themselves a downtown (Southfield and Birmingham, perhaps) and the enduing popularity of downtown Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, and that wierd island where all the republicans go to slap each other on the back every year because Detroit reveals exactly how successful their urban and social policies are. Lest you think my geography limited to Michigan, something called "New Urbanism" is all the rage, causing urban planning students to flock to places like Seaside, Florida to drool all over something they could probably find in their hometown. The dean of the Taubman School of Architecture and Urban Planning, Douglass Kelbaugh, is something of a leader in the movement. (All his books at the Ann Arbor Borders are signed!)

Luckily I am from a place that never really forgot how nice real cities are (Hello Atlanta!) and near a city with enough quaint, folksy, authentic charm to awe a suburban Michigander, not to mention our beautiful New England-y towns that attract reality-starved residents of Massachusetts' sprawl like moths to a light.

To read more about all of this this, Kenneth Jackson's Crabgrass Frontier is indispensable to understand the cliche 'How We Got Here'. For a great discription of the problem, James Howard Kunstler's The Geography of Nowhere is good, although dated since it is nearly ten years old. To read somebody who tries real hard to argue we can have a true city and still drive everywhere, but also understands exactly why sprawl happens from a business point-of-view, try Joel Garreau's eye-opening Edge City. For a book about the nitty-gritty issues that either make or break modern urban planning, Andres Duany's "Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream" is excellent. Also, for a definitive work by the grandmother of American urbanism, see Jane Jacob's supurb The Death and Life of Great American Cities.

Posted by Rob at 8:48 PM

U-M football player Marlin Jackson has been charged with assault for hitting a man in the face with a bottle at a party at 827 E. University on June 1.
> See Freep: "Michigan's Jackson charged"

Posted by Rob at 12:21 PM

A group of high school students is working on a mural on South University near Jimmy John's and the Safe Sex Shop.

"South University Jimmy John's Manager Dan Romm said that even though he is not directly part of the project, he has enjoyed the presence of the mural.

"I see it everyday, I like it. I'm not an artist or anything but its a whole lot nicer than it used to be, that is for sure," Romm added."

Posted by Rob at 12:17 PM

A bronze bust of former former U-M physics professor and 1999 Nobel Prize winner Martinus Veltman was stolen from the walkway between West Hall and the Randall Laboratory on July 11, just two months after its installation. Today, the university announced it is offering a $500 reward for information that leads to its recovery. President Coleman has taken the unusual step of sending the retired scientist a message notifying him of the theft.

"The sculpture is an excellent one, but its value as art at a local cash sale is surely quite modest. They've probably had their kicks out of it by now, and it would be wonderful if we could get it back."

The office of U-M President Mary Sue Coleman sent Veltman, 72, a message informing him of the theft.

"He was obviously disappointed, but not as enraged as I thought he would be," Zorn said.

> AANews: "Reward offered for return of bronze bust"

Posted by Rob at 12:14 PM

According to the Detroit News, there's been an invasion in the posh Detroit suburb of Birmingham - of teenagers. Apparently the mall has become passe - who knew? Merchants don't seem to mind the crowds, but it occurs to me they might be able to make some more money if they stayed open later than 6 p.m. Now, it's a shame there's no place in Detroit they could go ...

"Despite the crowds, police say there has been no appreciable increase in the crime rate since May, when people first began complaining about the crowds."

[ . . . ] The crowds on the streets don't automatically translate into cash in the register for Birmingham businesses. Many of them shut their doors by 6 p.m., before the streets start jumping. But retailers say that even if the young visitors aren't helping their business, at least they do no harm."

> From Detroit News: "Teen invasion rattles Birmingham"

Posted by Rob at 11:47 AM

Sunday, August 03, 2003

[...] If and when Saddam is killed the question becomes, "Why should American troops continue to die if the dictator is dead?" If the ritual symbolizes victory, why shouldn't the American troops come home and leave the rest to the Iraqis? Why shouldn't Paul Bremer III declare victory, set a date for a national Iraqi election and a parallel American troop withdrawal? Or are American troops dying for purposes other than overthrowing the dictatorship?

> From U-M alum Tom Hayden's "Killing Saddam: A Summer Blockbuster"

Posted by Rob at 11:08 PM

Worried about the RIAA hunting you down? Don't be, the latest version of Kazaa Lite offers IP blocking to keep the record labels at bay, in addition to being free from spyware and ads. Other swapping software companies have also announced similar measurers. To be fair, the counter-measures remain unproven, but according to the article below could make the RIAA's job much harder.

> Official Kazaa Website
> "Programs try to hide IDs of file-swappers"
> "Music file-swapping suits could backfire"

Posted by Rob at 10:15 PM

While the people over at the Dean campaign are gloating about getting on the covers of all of the major news weeklies next week, it appears Kerry has tricks of his own: after launching a petition to protest an obscure move by the Bush administration to cut overtime pay to millions on his website, the Dean people quickly had one of their own online. Meanwhile, Gephardt is collecting union endorsements, hoping to add the AFL-CIO to the list of unions to endorse him. I suppose the three democratic front runners seem to have appeared!

> See Freep: "Dispute on overtime rules flares anew"
> AP: "Kerry plans e-protest of work rules"

Posted by Rob at 9:54 PM

The lead singer of the punk band T.S.O.L has announced he will run for governor in California during the Gray Davis recall vote. His platform includes health-care reform, legalizing and taxing both marijuana and prostitution, and full amnesty for undocumented aliens.

"For years I was always, 'F--- the government. F--- the government. F--- the government.' I was always bitching and not doing a thing about it," he explained. "And the other day I said, 'Now I am.' I just got tired of seeing people hurt, that was the biggest thing. I got three sisters who are teachers, two brothers who are police officers, a bunch of friends who are labor workers, dock workers. I work with undocumented alien immigrants all the time and I got tired seeing what they go through and no one caring. And they put this new budget out and the first thing they slash is health care and the first thing they start screwing is the people."

Posted by Rob at 9:32 PM

" On July 8, a briefing team from the military's Joint Staff provided a report to senators on Liberia. With the Senate preparing to recess for the summer and some senators, including him, readying for a visit to several African nations later this month, Senator Warner requested a follow-up briefing.
But Senator Warner said the briefing was abruptly canceled today.

The committee's ranking Democrat, Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, agreed, saying in a statement: "I was really disappointed and surprised at the abrupt and unexplained cancellation of the briefing. The checks and balance in the Constitution must have been designed with this administration in mind."

> From NYTimes: "G.O.P. Senator criticizes Bush on Liberia case"

Posted by Rob at 9:28 PM

While the number of black students at Michigan State University has increased 24% in the past ten years, the number of black professors hasn't changed, something some say is holding back that University's efforts to diversify.
> See Lansing State Journal: "Minority Report - After a decade, black faculty numbers remain unchanged"

Posted by Rob at 2:03 PM

Saturday, August 02, 2003

I finally got around to adding the "Campus Hall of Shame" to the Onsite navigation menu on the right side of this page, and I thought it worthy to bring up again. On an unrelated note, I'm reading Upton Sinclair's The Brass Check, and it's inspiring me to write a kiss-and-tell about my tempestuous relationship with the Michigan Daily. (From which I was fired last academic year - twice - by two different editors-in-chief - mostly for disagreeing with them) I'm thinking about serializing it on this website, perhaps spreading it out over two week's time. It would be about what's wrong with that ailing paper, and how it can be improved. What do you think?

Also, a co-op where I used to live has started a blog, which I added to Director of the LSA Honors Program Prof. Stephen Darwall as the latest unexpected place where the ubiquitous web technology has popped up at the U of M. At this rate, President Coleman will be next!

Posted by Rob at 11:33 PM

Friday, August 01, 2003

U.S. News and World Report is reporting that the Howard Dean for President campaign is airing television commercials attacking Bush in Texas. The Dean campaign, aknowledging the story on their website, has pledged to place the ad online.
> USNews: "Dean campaign to run T.V. ads - in Texas"
> Official Dean Blog - 'Blog for America'

Posted by Rob at 11:57 PM

Around three hundred people, some perhaps innocent of any crime other than being in the wrong time at the wrong place, remain detained at Camp X-Ray indefinitely, as suicide attempts have increased in recent months. Interestingly, a quick google news search reveals the matter has largely dropped out of the mainstream U.S. media, minus a few left-leaning websites.

> London's Evening Standard: 'Free Camp X-Ray London businessmen'
> The U.K.'s Mirror: "Camp X-Ray Brit tries to hang himself"
> CS Monitor: Grim maze of razor wire, and some humane efforts
> Newsweek: Guantanamo Justice?
> See also, photos here, and here

"The new general in charge of this offshore prison project says he considers each of his captives ''killers'' even before any military justice that Washington may mete out.

Speaking in a get-acquainted interview with The Herald and The Associated Press, Brig. Gen. Rick Baccus said it was ''not really'' of concern to him that Pentagon guidelines for any upcoming Military Commissions consider the captives innocent until proven guilty.

> From a FL newspaper: Base's new chief calls captives `killers'

Posted by Rob at 10:36 PM

According to an announcement made by ITCS yesterday, the changes planned for next year include wireless networking in the Michigan Union, Michigan League, and Pierpont Commons, an increase in the per-page cost of printing above 400 pages per semester to $.08 from $.05, fewer disk drives in computer labs, and the promise the U-M directory will soon offer "more secure group mail list option," perhaps making e-stalking more difficult.

Posted by Rob at 9:41 PM

A chinese graduate student has been accused by the University of using key-logging software to log into nearly 60 students' and professors' email and private IFS space to send fradulant emails and look at final exams. The 24-year old student, Ning Ma, faces up to 5 years in prison for the violations. Key-loggers, once installed on a computer, secretly record all keystrokes typed on the keyboard, which are either stored or sent electronically to the hacker.

> See AP: Student accused of hacking into Michigan computer system

Posted by Rob at 9:35 PM

More from the UK:

"I think that Jodie Masley and Luke Massie have basically taken control of Alex Owolade, a local activist, and driven the process of the LCAS Inquiry in a way which will end up inflaming racial tension rather than finding genuine solutions. I can see a very unpleasant few months unfolding and, possibly, the end of the career of a dedicated public servant as a result. There is every possibility that this will greatly strengthen Alex's position within the local community and the fight for equality will end up going down violent and confrontational lines rather than others which, frankly, I would prefer.

I'm deeply tired by the whole thing - I used to work for Lambeth Council [...] "

> 'LCAS Inquiry' website

Posted by Rob at 9:05 PM


I have been notified by a friend in the U.K. that two members of the Revolutionary Workers' League / BAM-N - Jodi-Marie Masley and Luke Massie - have been active in a controversial legal case in the U.K. The people behind the RWL have been rightfully discredited for their behaviour in Berkeley and Ann Arbor, and seem to be continuing the same tactics of violence and intimidation. My friend writes: "In my view BAM-N are deploying profoundly cyncial tactics, including the manipulation of a local mouthpiece, to incite racial tension and to raise the profile of racial inequality. Racial inequality is a terrible thing which should be eliminated. The methods being deployed are not good." Here is an excerpt from a local news article:

"At the hearing, Ms Boardman also claimed she had been threatened by Luke Massie, one of Mr Owolade's legal team.
She said: "He said they would target me and my family until I went or Alex Owolade was let back in. His approach felt very threatening - he physically pinned me in a corner near the entrance door."

Mr. Massie denied either pinning her to the wall or mentioning her family."

> From this article in a South London paper
> See also this excellent column about BAMN's tactics by Nathan Newman, a blogger and journalist in the U.S.: Hijacking of the Affirmative Action Movement
> If you are new to this website, see my domain for background information

Posted by Rob at 2:36 PM

I had thought that the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative webpage was too similar to Chetly Zarko's page "The Czar's Court" to be mere coincidence. A quick check of the HTML source reveals both websites have the same meta tag for content: "freelance writer, technology, educationpolicy, consulting, investigative reporting, university research, researchoverhead, Merit Network, Univeristy of Michigan, Ziarko, Ziarnko." Zarko has had a long history as a U-M gadfly, as this story I wrote about him in the Michigan Daily last fall suggests.

Posted by Rob at 12:17 PM

Since Bush supporters and Clear Channel rocked them, the Dixie Chicks are rocking the vote in return, announcing a campaign with the nonpartisan Rock the Vote: Chicks Rock, Chicks Vote:

"Contrary to what has been portrayed in the media, we never had intentions of becoming a political band, but like it or not, we have been placed on a unique political platform in the pas months, and we feel it would be irresponsible not to try to make something positive come of that. We believe that this partnership with Rock the Vote is the answer."

RECAP: (From
In a March 10 concert in London, England, Maines told the crowd: "Just so you know, we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas." The group also hails from the Lone Star State.

Maines apologized for her comments later that week, but the damage was done: A number of country music radio stations stopped playing the group's songs, and some organizations sponsored bonfires in which the group's CDs were destroyed.

Maines and the trio's other members -- sisters Emily Robison and Martie Maguire -- also tell Sawyer the fallout was too harsh for the offense and they've always supported U.S. troops, even though they questioned the war.

"It's the people who have gone overboard and done such irrational things that take you back to the days of book burning. That is a concern for me," Maguire said."

Posted by Rob at 12:19 AM

How many people have died in the Iraq War?
> Iraq Coalition Casualty Count: 248
> Coalition Casualties: 293
> Iraq Body Count: Civilian Deaths in Iraq: at least 6,000

Also, the Iraq War Cost: $71 BIL and counting.

Posted by Rob at 12:08 AM

"For many political experts, the Teamsters' endorsement was a foregone conclusion because the union's president, James P. Hoffa, has long been close to Mr. Gephardt. They were classmates at the University of Michigan Law School."
> From NYTimes: "Teamsters set plans to back Gephardt"

Posted by Rob at 12:02 AM

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