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February03 (Feb. 18-22)



Saturday, January 31, 2004

Here's a comment posted below under my post about the Daily's jeopardy issue:

"I wasn't offended either; I can stand a lot of un-PCness in the name of humor, but it was just really vapid; not even a little intelligence or humor.

What has happened to the Daily, in general, BTW? It used to win awards, the staff used to go on to win things like Pulitzer prizes and work at places like the NYT and Washington Post. It was generally a well-regarded campus newspaper.

Has it won a single award for anything in the last few years? When I was an undergrad it swept Columbia U.'s awards. Is the poor writing a failure of leadership? The result of a general downturn in the intelligence of the student body? Does it mean that writing for the paper isn't a cool thing to do anymore and the talent on campus is doing something else? I'm really curious about how it got so bad so quickly."

The sense that the Daily's quality is slipping recently, the last two years in particular, is common. I have documented my thoughts on the matter here. However, the feedback post got me thinking, and I did a quick analysis of the Columbia School of Journalism's "Gold Circle" awards won by the Daily (the largest competition in collegiate journalism). The awards are given out for everything from writing to layout, so it seems a good judge of overall quality. Here's what I found, taken from their archives:

1984 1
1985 7
1986 5
1987 1
1988 9
1989 2
1990 4
1991 1
1992 6
1993 8
1994 10
1995 17
1996 23
1997 19
1998 17
1999 18
2000 18
2001 13
2002 8
2003 11

It seems that mainstream journalism seems to think the Daily is a pretty good newspaper, if someone wants to compare the Daily to other papers with the same data feel free. The competition also depends on submissions, so these results might be effected by how submissions writers at the Daily compile year to year - which would depend on the priorities of different editors.

Posted by Rob at 5:32 PM

Friday, January 30, 2004

The U-M chapter of the national marijuana legalization organization NORML is planning a meeting of campus organizations to begin planning for this year's hash bash on Wednesday, February 4 at 7:00 PM in 3rd-Room B of the Michigan League. Here's the campus chapter's website.

Posted by Rob at 3:06 PM

Some activists are organizing a mass meeting for people concerned with the SAPAC re-organization and student services funding cuts more generally. The group, calling themselves "Our Voices Count," has called the meeting for 8:15 PM Monday night in MSA chambers on the third floor of the Union.

Posted by Rob at 2:01 PM

Citizens For a United Michigan has upgraded their website.

Posted by Rob at 12:54 PM

If you have a Comcast cable modem and use a lot of bandwidth, you might surpised to find out the "unlimited" service isn't actually - Comcast has recently begun sending letters to heavy users telling them to cut their use or face termination. The only problem? The limit is secret.

"SAN JOSE, Calif. - By all accounts, George Nussbaum demands a lot from his Internet connection. He streams video and transfers large files from his office. His family downloads movie trailers and his stepson listens to and buys music online.

Nussbaum subscribes to his cable TV provider's high-speed Internet service, which, he thought, was built for such high-bandwidth activities. Then, in November, he got a letter from the provider, Comcast Corp., ordering him to dial down his usage or face service termination.

Until last summer, the service was advertised as "unlimited." ... "

> From AP: "Comcast targets Internet 'abusers' but won't reveal limits"

Posted by Rob at 12:44 PM

Leading the charge to keep the AATA's The Link service alive: the city's elderly citizens:

... "The parking's so terrible, I drive back to Birmingham and do my clothes shopping," said Thomas, 64.

That's about to change. Thomas was one of nine members of the Viva Club, a social group of active people over 50, who decided to ride The Link Wednesday after learning ridership is low ... "

Posted by Rob at 12:27 PM

The Michigan Daily's "jeopardy" or annual joke edition was today, the last day the old editors are involved before handing the operations off to a new set of editors. The tradition grew out of the practice of graduating seniors slipping small jokes into an otherwise normal paper, and has now grown into an entire paper produced by all seniors on the staff. As for the humor, you'll have to judge its quality for yourself. Highlights: "White girl discovers 'secret' benefits of affirmative action," "Three 'snobs' slain outside Rick's" "Field hockey SID fired after in-game masturbation"

Posted by Rob at 12:10 PM

Thursday, January 29, 2004

The word on the street: Prof. Matthew Lassiter was wearing a Howard Dean button in class today.

Posted by Rob at 9:09 PM

"... Let's stop the hysteria and honestly ask ourselves what is sprawl? "Sprawl" is the unfortunate pejorative title government planners give to economic development that takes place in areas they can't control. In reality, "sprawl" is new
houses, new school buildings, new plants, and new office and retail facilities. "Sprawl" is new jobs, new hope and the fulfillment of lifelong dreams. It's the American Dream unfolding before your eyes. ... "

> Says Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson in an article on the county webpage titled Sprawl, Schmall... Give Me More Development If only what he says were actually true, and sprawl was a function of pure preference, not the product of government policy biases making it cheaper for people to live in the suburbs than rent an apartment, whether or not they "wanted" to or not. Can you say "majoritarianism"? I think there was a federalist paper about that ...

Posted by Rob at 5:02 PM

A Letter From the Editor

A few months ago, a friend of mine was telling me that although they liked my website, they rarely posted comments because of the "machismo." I was troubled - they were an involved, political, well-informed person, and I certainly wanted them to feel they could participate. Part of my goal of this website was to encourage an ongoing dialogue among interested parties about issues of public concern: something I struggled to do both through student government and the Michigan Daily.

I think that to some degree I have been successful, but I have been constantly aware of the fact that many people who might have interesting ideas, information, or opinions almost never post them. I think part of the reason why is that those with strong views who never hesitate to air them chill speech - why bother posting anything if you or your idea will be childishly ridiculed or savagely attacked? I realize I myself participate in this process, and that's why what opinion you see here is carefully metered: most of my posts are simply informational. Regular visitors to this site will know that I, myself, tried my best to stay out of the lengthy pissing matches that seemed to develop in the comments. My visitors in general know my "take" and I'm posting the information to get theirs - not to enter into personal spats or post uninformed rants, (which my friends know I'm certainly capable of). So this said, I pose the question to you, readers: what do you think? Remember: you can post anonymous comments easily, just enter a dash instead of your name and email address.

- Rob Goodspeed

Posted by Rob at 2:52 PM

The Greeks Fight Back

Things are certainly heating up when it comes to the University's administration's dealings with undergraduates. The Greek community, upset by a plan concocted with little or no input from them which would institute a number of changes including delaying fall rush, making houses substance-free, and requiring live-in advisors, has organized a petition drive to protest the plan. (See the proposed changes in the Detroit News, and as I broke the story on this website, and VP for Student Affairs E. Royster Harper trying to spin it as a "brainstorm" carrying little weight)

In an email circulated among members of the Interfraternity Council by IFC Executive Vice President Jared Stasik, he urges members of the Greek community on campus to sign the petition in person, if possible, and direct people out of town to sign on online version:

"We want to get as many hand-written signatures as possible, simply because it's a more tangible way to show the University. ... EMAIL THE LINK TO YOUR NATIONALS, PARENTS, FRIENDS, AND ANYBODY ELSE OUTSIDE OF ANN ARBOR. It takes one minute to do, and could impact the Greek community here in a huge way. Put it in your away messages and profiles for everybody to see. Just get signatures!

Same as before: Remember the main points if you are explaining this to somebody: We are a student group trying to protect against DISCRIMINATION, and we are trying to protect our RIGHT TO FREELY ASSOCIATE when, where, and with whom. Don't explain the petition without stressing those two major points."

The forcefully worded petition, posted online here, states their opposition to the University's plans to push back rush, require live-in advisors, and making the houses substance free, saying "However, a recent submission to the University Regents puts forth a plan that, if enacted, would infringe upon the basic freedom of association of students in the Greek community, as well as those seeking membership in it. As elected officials of the Interfraternity Council, it is our duty to protect the rights of our constituents from this potential alienation. [...] If any actions are to emanate from the University's recommendations, the respective Greek councils should execute them on a collaborative, voluntary basis."

I find the constitutional rhetoric interesting: freedom of association, democratic decision-making. Let's remember that President Bush has been hacking away at those very same constitutional rights by detaining citizens indefinitely, nominating judges with no respect for women's reproductive rights, and eroding our privacy rights through legislation like the U.S. Patriot Act. (For more info, try the ACLU's website, the nation's "Most conservative consitutional organization")

Posted by Rob at 2:08 PM

Did somebody say, "Student Activism and Social Change"?

"As the sexual freedom of the 1960s and 1970s gave way to campuswide concern about women's physical safety, sexual harassment and rape became major student issues. The old in loco parentis rules had become unenforceable, which provided both an opportunity for greater exploitation of women and genuine opportunity to acknowledge the exploitation. In 1986 an anti-rape sit-in took place in Vice President Henry Johnson's office, and a list of demands - including better lighting on campus walkways, emergency telephones throughout the campus, "Nite Owl" bus services, and a rape and sexual assault counseling facility -was presented to university officials. All the demands were eventually met, and the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center (SAPAC) was created."

> From p. 95 of Ruth Bordin's "Women at Michigan: The "Dangerous Experiment," 1870s to the Present." Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1999.
> Also, for a good online history of women at the University, go to the Michigan Women's Handbook and click on "University History"

Posted by Rob at 1:53 PM

He's given no evidence that "it" ever existed ...

"President" Bush's 2003 State of the Union address. In addition to the notorious "Uranium from Africa line" (proven a lie) this segment in particular is rife with distortions and outright lies:

"... The United Nations concluded in 1999 that Saddam Hussein had biological weapons sufficient to produce over 25,000 liters of anthrax -- enough doses to kill several million people. He hasn't accounted for that material. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed it.

The United Nations concluded that Saddam Hussein had materials sufficient to produce more than 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin -- enough to subject millions of people to death by respiratory failure. He hadn't accounted for that material. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed it.

Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent. In such quantities, these chemical agents could also kill untold thousands. He's not accounted for these materials. He has given no evidence that he has destroyed them.

U.S. intelligence indicates that Saddam Hussein had upwards of 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents. Inspectors recently turned up 16 of them -- despite Iraq's recent declaration denying their existence. Saddam Hussein has not accounted for the remaining 29,984 of these prohibited munitions. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed them.

From three Iraqi defectors we know that Iraq, in the late 1990s, had several mobile biological weapons labs. These are designed to produce germ warfare agents, and can be moved from place to a place to evade inspectors. Saddam Hussein has not disclosed these facilities. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed them.

The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed in the 1990s that Saddam Hussein had an advanced nuclear weapons development program, had a design for a nuclear weapon and was working on five different methods of enriching uranium for a bomb. The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production. Saddam Hussein has not credibly explained these activities. He clearly has much to hide. ... "

Posted by Rob at 10:37 AM

Something I thought I'd never see: some MSA executives showing a little spine and stirring things up a bit, here in an open letter to Mary Sue Coleman:

" ... We know the current budget crisis affects the allocation of University resources and that you, President Coleman, are committed to ensuring University students the best education possible. However, a necessary part of a quality educational experience depends upon a community space that is safe and comfortable for all students. Everyday, we talk with students and work to address the needs of multiple communities across campus. We know the threat to SAPAC is not an isolated incident; it demonstrates a disturbing trend in the administration’s attitude towards student affairs.

In the last few years, the Division of Student Affairs, under the leadership of E. Royster Harper, has seen its funding cut by $700,000, as reported in the Daily. This year Student Activities and Leadership faced a 27 percent budget cut, resulting in a reduction of the number of student leadership retreats they are able to sponsor. The Offices of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Affairs and Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs have also dealt with a serious reduction of funds. Additionally, the Division of Student Affairs has attempted to re-organize Greek life. All of these changes have been made without student input. Cutting and reorganizing student services are alarming on their own; however, consistently reorganizing student services without any student voice in the process is completely unacceptable.

The resources and support provided by programs in the Division of Student Affairs need to remain accessible to students and informed by the needs of the students, not mandated by the budget and arbitrarily altered without dialogue involving all of the campus community. President Coleman, we call for an end to the rollback of student services. Keep the SAPAC Crisis-line on campus and counseling services available through SAPAC. Take steps to rectify the damages that inhibit the best student services our campus can offer. We believe that we can begin a fruitful process of working together to create an effective institutional space for student voices within the Division of Student Affairs. As the executives of the elected central student assembly, we urged you to contact us in order to begin this process."

> "Viewpoint: An open letter to President Coleman on SAPAC"
> See also, Daily: "SAPAC planning to reorganize counseling"

My guess? On Monday, the University says that some of the details of the Viewpoint aren't true (they can undo and change decisions, after all) to distract from the central message: budget cutting happens without student input and is seriously hurting important student services.

Posted by Rob at 2:01 AM

SAPAC Re-Organized

I've heard that the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center is facing a dramatic re-organization, perhaps connected with a number of rumblings I've heard about cuts in a number of student services offices - including the Office of Multicultural Initiatives, LBGT Affiars, the Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs, Student Activities and Leadership, and the Trotter House. Although the details are sketchy, it appears as if the counselors will be moved to Counceling and Psychological Services, the the crisis hotline they maintain and staff with student volunteers will be discontinued entirely - students will be asked to call the hotline of the Ann Arbor domestic assault shelter SAFE house (located nearly 25 minutes from campus by bus, apparently).

I've also heard the funding for the "prevention" work of SAPAC - workshops and peer educators- will be increased. All in all something is not adding up, since the number of callers apparently increases after education events. The elimination of the on-campus hotline also means it will be much more difficult to keep track of incidents of sexual assault and rape which happen on campus or within the campus community.

Tomorrow's Daily will contain an open letter to President Mary Sue Coleman from the MSA executives about this re-organization, as well as cuts to a number of other offices and programs. As far as I know, there has been very little or no student input into this process. And I don't mean "consulting" a bunch of hand-picked nonpolitical student "leaders," I mean having the courage to engage in an ongoing dialogue among students, faculty, and staff about the cuts. There also seems to be a sense that when cuts are made nobody is hearing about them - I think that's precisely the wrong move to make. If there are structural changes being made to save money, and the decisions have been made, the campus community has a right to know.

In the 1970s the University went through a relatively severe budget crisis, and decisions about which programs and services to cut were made by a special committee, which included student input. If such a committee exists today, we should know about it, and it certainly have more than one student representative, including someone from the Michigan Student Assembly. If tough decisions have to be made, they should be made as openly and honestly as possible. And we should all send a letter to our senators and representatives suggesting some of the $300+ Billion we spend on the capability to wage war, and the untold billions spend locking up nearly 2 million people in prisons, should go towards higher education. But I wouldn't want to make this too political.

Posted by Rob at 12:30 AM

Prof. Lassiter's Golden Apple Lecture

In a crowded Mendelssohn Theater the audience attending the lecture of this year's Golden Apple winner Matthew Lassiter chuckled as U-M president Mary Sue Coleman twice referred to Prof. Lassiter as "Mark Lassiter," saying she "can't wait to hear your last lecture."

Prof. Lassiter began his lecture quipping that not only had he "never won an aware that required I give an hour lecture," that "I'm not bilingual, and I've never made a protein," referring to the introductions of Hillel Director Michael Brooks who incorporated Hebrew into his remarks and President Coleman's story about how an undergraduate helped her in the laboratory.

The lecture, titled "Alienation, Apathy, and Activism: American Culture and the Depoliticization of Youth" argued that youth are indeed political, but are often silenced by the mass media, and silenced with false nostalgia for the "1960s," another period which was widely believed to have "apathetic" youth until the youth themselves proved otherwise beginning in 1965. He used three events from 1999 to give his analysis: the coverage of the Columbine High School shootings, the Woodstock riots, and the Seattle protests during the 1999 WTO meeting. Saying that the stereotype of young people as a "generation of conformists and consumers" has been largely imposed on college students, and that there was more activism among youth today than before 1965, he pointed to these three examples where the political views of youth had been ignored, misrepresented, or repressed. He began with an overview of campus activism of the late 1990s, saying "They're living proof that student activism is a vibrant force today," continuing: "Charges of alienation and apathy are overstated ... or based on a misunderstanding of the cultural forces at work today."

"Nobody came to the nonprofit tent to burn it down," said a young man in a video clip he showed about the rioting that occurred at the 1999 Woodstock where young people looted corporate vendors many felt were exploiting the captive audience with $4 bottles of water. Lassiter argued the stereotype of "Generation X" as a generation of slackers and dropouts largely ignores the successful activism of the 1980s, whether it be the nuclear freeze movement, anti-sweatshop activism, anti-apartheid activism, (And, I would add, civil rights activism such as BAM III and the United Coalition Against Racism strikes at the U of M that created the Martin Luther King day symposium and arguably formed the origins of the University's affirmative action policies challenged in the 1990s)

He argued the obsession of the media on columbine elevated an unusual event (youth are statistically safer in school than at home and school violence did not increase in the late 1990s) had the effect of criminalizing political youth in general. In closing, Prof. Lassiter commented, "The bad job market is the best thing thing that could happen to the people in this room ... Today, as in the 1960s, the belief that history has ended is a lie."

Hopefully, he's right. And I believe a good way to think about activism today is to break down the nostalgia and myths about activism of the past, and where better to start than right here at the U of M.

See also: The Daily's endorsement - "Lassiter a great choice for Golden Apple"

Posted by Rob at 12:20 AM

My friend Dan says he found some odd flyers around Mason Hall today. One has a picture of Stalin and says "Communism: The Opiate of the University" and the text "Feb 5th 7:30PM, Michigan Union, Pendleton Room." The other says " What Killed Over 100 Million People and STILL EXISTS TODAY?" and has a picture of hammer and sickle and the same date and place.

A quick check of the University Union's online reservation system reveals the campus Young Americans for Freedom chaper are planning a talk by Larry Reed, the president of the "free market" Michigan-based think tank the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. I suppose he'll speak on the evils of communism, but I don't think there's many communists left these days - then again I wouldn't expect much in the way of keeping with the times from an organization whose members have pledged " THAT we will be free only so long as the national sovereignty of the United States is secure; that history shows periods of freedom are rare, and can exist only when free citizens concertedly defend their rights against all enemies… THAT the forces of international Communism are, at present, the greatest single threat to these liberties ... THAT the United States should stress victory over, rather than coexistence with this menace ... "

Posted by Rob at 12:15 AM

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

So remember Dean's wierd speech after Iowa? Here's the whole thing.

Posted by Rob at 12:50 PM

" ... The president used the word quota five or six times on the evening news to talk about the University of Michigan affirmative action program. Not only did the most conservative Supreme Court since the Dred Scott decision disagree with him on that one, but the word quota, every politician and every pollster in America knows, is a race coded word deliberately designed to appeal to people's fears that they may lose their job or their place in university to a member of a community of color. In other words, the president played the race card, and that alone entitles him to a one-way bus ticket back to Crawford, Tex. ... "

> From Howard Dean's speech to supporters in New Hampshire

Posted by Rob at 11:05 AM

Finally, a letter writer with some common sense on the editorial page of the Michigan Daily:

" ... Bush, however, has done nothing to earn the respect these students say he is entitled to. In fact, he has disrespected the American public, our way of life and the world around us. Even though he is the leader of a country that allows people to express opinions freely in this newspaper, our basic rights are fading fast under Bush's "leadership." ... "

And columnist Ari Paul is dishing out an endorsement in his column "My President was Born to Run":

"... Edwards is the only candidate adequately focusing on this growing gap between rich and poor America. He is also the only candidate with a realistic chance of success who has actually lived through the American nightmare of working-class isolation. .. "

Also, next week MSA will be voting on whether or not to put a $2 fee increase on the student government election ballot to fund renovations of Trotter House. I wonder if this will go the way of the $1 fee increase for the Ann Arbor Tenants Union students voted on two years ago - passed by the student body, but never passed on to the regents on the advice of VP E. Royster Harper and the administration.

Posted by Rob at 10:27 AM

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

New Hampshire Primary Results

All the big media orgs have called it for Kerry, with Dean a strong second. With 94 percent of the precincts reporting:

Kerry 39%
Dean 26%
Edwards 13%
Clark 12%
Lieberman 9%
Kucinich 1%
Sharpton 0%

>'s results page
> NY Times' Page - Complete with all write-ins

"Hillary Rodham Clinton (Write-in) 1 0.0%"

Posted by Rob at 8:21 PM

Former Michigan football player Tom Brady, identified during the State of the Union speech last week, never voted in Ann Arbor. (Via AAIO)

Posted by Rob at 5:31 PM

I've updated the website for my course.

Posted by Rob at 5:04 PM

What's that filling your email inbox? That's right, it's the MyDoom email virus. Here's a couple resources:

> The U-M "Virus Busters" Information Page
> ITCS: "MyDoom Virus Moves Fast, but ITCS Virus Filters Stop its Spread to U-M"

"Unlike other mass-mailing worms, Mydoom does not attempt to trick victims by promising nude pictures of celebrities or mimicking personal notes. Instead, one of its messages reads: "The message contains Unicode characters and has been sent as a binary attachment.''

"Because that sounds like a technical thing, people may be more apt to think it's legitimate and click on it,'' said Steve Trilling, senior director of research at the computer security company Symantec. ... "

> From NYTimes: "E-Mail Worm Clogging Network Traffic"

Posted by Rob at 1:16 PM

Here's part of the minutes of the most recent meeting of the "Michigan Roundtable," a hand-picked group of student "leaders" that Vice President for Student Affairs E. Royster Harper meets with on a monthly basis. Think about the leaders of the largest corporatist student organizations (with titles like Vice President for External Relations) sitting around with administrators eating free food. Yes, through some unexplained fluke, I'm a member, although I suspect it's because they think I'm still the "chair" of the ACLU (I'm not).

"Budget Discussion:

We were joined by Provost Paul Courant and Frank Cianciola, who did a wonderful job outlining how the University approaches the budget. Paul outlined that, unfortunately for students, tuition prices have to go up. These increases in tuition secure that the university will continue to grow and remain a driving force in higher education.

Of the General Fund, 54% of that budget comes from student tuition, 33% from state appropriations, and 13% from indirect cost recovery (money provided from research grants which are used to cover normal utility and maintenance bills for university space). The State Legislature has cut 54 million from the appropriations, which equals about $1400/student currently enrolled at the University.

Fun Fact:
1.Michigan has the highest out-of-state tuition rates than any other public institution in the country.

Without going into details about where/what was cut from each department, Frank was sure to point out that when looking at budget cuts, we cannot assume that a cut implies valuing one service over another. In many cases, valuable services must have their budgets reduced in order to balance the University budget; it is not necessarily that “this department is better than that department.”

Questions were raised concerning MESA, the Safe-walk with DPS, tuition rises versus inflation, and the endowment fund.

Meeting Wrap-up

If you would like to work with Sarah Koeze and Frank Cianciola in developing a model for a campus-wide room reservation system, please sign-up or email Sarah at ("

God forbid he go into details! Our pretty little heads might explode.

Posted by Rob at 11:04 AM

A Crisis of "Cool"?

The only other U-M student on Ann Arbor's Cool Cities Task Force, Toronto native (and victim of a little online sniping) Eugene Chan, has resigned. Although I have my theories about why he might resign, I'll let his letter of resignation speak for itself, which he has given me permission to post. The Task Force is planning a Town Hall Meeting to be held at the Ann Arbor Brewing Company in March, I'll let you know exactly when as soon as the date is confirmed. Suffice it to say I'm hoping that meeting is an interesting one.

"Hello all,

I regret to inform you that I have decided to leave my position as a member on the Ann Arbor Cool Cities Task Force. As a result, I will not be attending next Tuesday's session at the Ann Arbor brewery.

While I still am devoted to making Ann Arbor a "cool" city, however you define cool, I find that our current progress, which firstly I find a lack of, is focusing on the economic aspects of improving the city. By this, I mean that recent discussions have primarily focused on job development, housing and taxation issues. I, personally, find this to be irrelevant at all.

I understand these financial matters are quite important to young people, but this would be best left to an economic development committee, and not us. Our job is to attract young people. I agree, jobs will attract, but that should not be our focus. In Governor Granholm's report, she does not put primary focus on jobs and economy; rather, she focuses on improving "nightlife," cultural events and how young professionals connect with their community. This should be our focus as well.

As such, I feel that I can not positively- and productively- contribute to our discussions. You can see that in our first two meetings I have been the most quiet one. This is based on part of my introverted nature, but is also due to my lack of interest in economic development.

I no way "disagree" with your economic proposals; I do not know enough of economics to say so. I am sure your ideas will be effective to a degree. It is just my belief that our focus should be on something else, not economics. I do wish you the best in making Ann Arbor a "cool" place, and know you will make it a cool place. But I do hope that you will take some time to focus on the issue at hand, and not those in which we are not experts.

Wishing you all the best of luck and progress,

Eugene Chan"

Posted by Rob at 10:54 AM

BAM-N Update

A former member of the ostensibly pro-affirmative action group BAM-N has contacted me, the third or forth to do so since I launched This has reminded me exactly how important it is to reiterate the nature of this divisive organization. First, I should explain that I became interested in BAM-N because I support affirmative action and was frustrated by this organization: not only did they publicize a narrowly conceived message, they do not work with the vast majority of student organizations on campus, and in student government use unnecessary and hostile tactics to generate conflict at virtually every opportunity. (Since then the influence of BAM-N and their political wing DAAP has shrunk significantly after the concerted effort of a number of concerned students.) It should be noted that in response to the U-M admissions lawsuits reaching the Supreme Court last year, I was lucky enough to be involved in an amazing multiethnic coalition of students called Students Supporting Affirmative Action who came together to bring students to Washington, D.C., conduct education work on campus, and also coordinate the student response when the decision was announced. A quick investigation revealed the reason why the organization was so undemocratic and dogmatic was because it was run by a small cadre of militant Trotskyists. (Meaning followers of the Russian socialist Leon Trotsky, as opposed to Marxists, Stalinists, or Maoists, among others.)

Ok, I'll rewind a bit. Contrary to popular belief, there actually is a left wing politics in America. This handy chart will help you navigate the myriad of organizations populating the fringes of the political spectrum. Basically, what's important to note is that ever since the Russian revolution in 1917, many leftist organizations have splintered again and again, the Revolutionary Workers League (the people behind BAM-N) believe there will come a mass militant revolution at some point in the future, and they are working towards this outcome through various and sundry issues. Sound like they don't quite get it? You're exactly right: these people not only have (in my view) warped political views, but their organizations often more closely resemble religious cults than democratic organizations. From this point of view, here's an interesting description of them I found on the web:

"Revolutionary Workers League: Formed in 1976 as a split from the Spartacist League, the RWL is a dogmatic and intensely militant Trotskyist group based in Detroit. Little is seen of them outside of Michigan and California state, and (like the Spartacist League) they demand the devotion of all their members. They have set up a network of puppet organizations: the National Women's Rights Organizing Committee (NWROC, founded 1980's), the Committee to Defend Affirmative Action By Any Means Necessary (BAMN, founded 1995), and others. These front groups are where the RWL's primary activism takes place. They often practice entryism — entering larger organizations and trying to bend them toward their own ideology. The most recent case of this occurred in Oakland, California (far from their home base), where BAMN supporters tried to take over the local teachers' union, the OEA. A group that split with the RWL during the Gulf War, the Trotskyist League, would break from the RWL's traditional entryism and work with Solidarity and other groups, though maintaining their ultra-left stance. No matter what group they enter, RWL will never win many converts to their extreme tactics."

And so, what does this have to do with BAM-N, you ask? First, all the key organizers are members of this odd Detroit-based political organization. Their names might seem familiar: Luke Massie, Caroline Wong, Miranda Massie, George Washington, Lee Felarca, Shanta Driver, etc. None of these people are now or have ever been U-M students, and none (to my knowledge) live in Ann Arbor. Yes, the truth is stranger than fiction - you'll see them quoted representing various causes, but they all make the work of the RWL their primary activity. On campus, these people hold meetings attended by students and sometimes even recruit student members, but the decisions are always being made by Luke Massie, Caroline Wong, and the leadership of BAM-N. This is why goes to more non-student email addresses than student email addresses.

Finally, the person who wrote to me is a former member and former student. This is what they write:

"I was a member of BAMN. They did teach me a lot about affirmative action. However, I became weary of their refusal to join with any student run organizations, their refusal to compromise, and the general feeling that BAMN was really nothing more than an RWL recruiting organization. Affirmative action wasn't the real concern...a future revolution was. I felt I was being used to promote their cause, not the cause I signed on to. And because I believe in social democracy, I was limited in my role within the organization. They kept me on because I was good spin."

The letter writer continues:
"The reason BAMN member's speeches all sound the same is that the speaker is hand selected by Luke, Caroline, and the RWL Also, the topics of the speakers are selected by Luke, Caroline and the RWL. Finally, the speeches are reviewed and changes are made by Luke, Caroline, and the RWL.
2. Members are encouraged to "vote" on issues but dissention is frowned upon. The dissentor is then argued with until his mind can be changed (brainwashed/ forced.)
3. People are selected based on how marginalized they feel on campus (lesbians, single parents, students of color.) They are reeled into the cause (women's issues, affirmative action, poverty...) and then if the member of whatever front organization he may have joined shows promise Caroline or other RWL members start holding "one on one sessions," at which time said person is given communist lessons. Later the person is asked what he thinks of joining the RWL.
4. If the person declines the invitation to join the RWL, his role within the front organization falls dramatically. ... "

Finally, why BAM-N? The Black Action Movement (BAM) was a series of protests and strikes organized by black students at the University of Michigan in 1970, 1975, and 1987 - and count among the most important and well organized student protests in recent U.S. History. The BAM strikes won a number of important concessions from the University administration, including multicultural lounges, the Center for African and African-American Studies (CAAS), affirmative action in admissions, and support for all types of students. What do they have to do with a small group of dogmatic Trotskyists from Detroit? Nothing - that's why I type and say BAM-N (pronounced "BAM" and "N") - to indicate the difference between these organizations.

Also, there's no connection between the Revolutionary Workers League (RWL) and the League of Revolutionary Black Workers. You should go to the event Wednesday to learn more about them.

> See my post about RWL/BAM-N activities in London

Posted by Rob at 12:41 AM

Monday, January 26, 2004

ArborBlogs has moved to its own domain name:

Posted by Rob at 12:06 PM

"File sharing is not a problem."

Fellow ArborBlogger George H has launched a website called SongBuddy. A cross between an MP3 site and Friendster, it lets you find legal MP3s online, build a list of music you like, and explore others' tastes.

The timing of SongBuddy couldn't be better: it comes less than one week after the RIAA filed another round of lawsuits against the users of file sharing software programs like Kazaa, this time including at least 7 U-M students. SongBuddy promises to centralize and organize the wide variety of legal MP3s available online, as many artists have chosen to distribute sample tracks for free.

"RIAA uses Webcrawling software that spreads out across the Internet to identify computers where inappropriate file sharing is occurring. One of the biggest problems with downloading music is that many of the programs used to capture songs from the Internet have a function that automatically turns the individual's computer into a file-sharing (uploading) server, says Assistant General Counsel Jack Bernard. It is this uploading function of the programs that allows the Webcrawler to find offenders. ...

Bernard says the legal tactics employed by RIAA may change behavior temporarily, but they are not enough.

"If you scare people away from using the technology, they'll come back later to what is attractive," he says. "We would rather educate them so that they can make good decisions.

"Peer to peer technology is not a bad thing; it's a great thing to share ideas and resources. File sharing is not a problem. It is what you are sharing that is the problem." ... "

> From U Record: "RIAA extends crackdown on copyright violators to U-M"

Posted by Rob at 11:24 AM

The proposed changes to the U-M greek system (that I first posted about on January 4), including permanently moving rush to winter term, made it into the Detroit News today, in a story distributed by the Associated Press. (See my link to the Daily's story about this) Here are the proposed changes, as reported by the Detroit News: "Moving recruitment activities and pledging from the fall to the winter semester, Revising the hazing policy and adopting practices to prevent hazing, Partnering with state legislators to establish anti-hazing legislation, Requiring a live-in supervisor in fraternity houses. Sororities already have them."

> Detroit News: "U-M seeks revised policy on Greeks"
> AP: "Changes at Michigan fraternities and sororities draw student ire"

Also, the U-M library has unveiled a program, where the full text of 20,000 of their books are avaliable for searching online, called the "Digital General Collection".
> Daily: "Digital library collection lets students research from home"
> U Record: "U-M expands access to its collections via the Internet"

Posted by Rob at 10:19 AM

Sunday, January 25, 2004

CBS has censored the winner of's advertisement competition: it won't appear during the Superbowl, even though MoveOn was able to raise enough money to pay.

Posted by Rob at 8:01 PM

The city of Ann Arbor is planning to conduct a comprehensive study of non-motorized transit in the city, with the goal of "friendlier streets for bicycles and pedestrians." I'm excited about the study, and I'm glad they're involving the public instead of hiring an expensive consulting firm: who better to give the city feedback than current residents.

"Given the city's budget constraints, the plan will present realistic goals that "try to do a lot that doesn't cost a whole lot," Cox said. The project will include an assessment of roads and other non-motorized facilities in the city, public input sessions and production of the plan. Public input is important to the plan, Cox said.

"If someone bikes or walks a place every day, they may see things that a consultant does not see," he said."

> AANews: "Foot and bicycle traffic studied"

Also, the founder of Blimpy Burger, "Crazy Jim" has died at age 79.

Posted by Rob at 2:45 PM

Saturday, January 24, 2004

The Daily Jolt phenomena comes to Michigan with the first truly robust web portal targeting students: Begun at Amherst and Brown, the websites feature an events listing, a forum, food reviews, a rideboard, and a number of other online services and amenities in one coherent package at a number of campuses around the country. I think it's interesting it took this long for a Daily Jolt to come to Michigan - a testament perhaps to our highly fragmented campus community.

Posted by Rob at 5:04 AM

Friday, January 23, 2004

Are you going to an event you think I should add to my "events calendar," or you think other Ann Arbor residents would also be interested in? Enter it on the events website, and it'll be automatically listed on my page on the right hand side as the event date nears, and you can discuss the event before and after on the upcoming site.

Posted by Rob at 11:52 PM

I thought this was interesting:

Presidential Contributions by Metro Area for Ann Arbor
(2000 Election Cycle)*

Candidate Name / Amount

Bush, George W $314,025
Bradley, Bill $59,625
Gore, Al $30,400
Bauer, Gary $14,695
Hagelin, John S $8,645
Buchanan, Pat $6,750
Keyes, Alan L $6,635
Larouche, Lyndon H Jr $5,550
Quayle, Dan $3,325
Nader, Ralph $2,300
Alexander, Lamar $2,000
Browne, Harry $1,800
Dole, Elizabeth $1,000
Forbes, Steve $500

Posted by Rob at 2:22 PM

"Forty members of the current U.S. Senate are millionaires; less than one percent of the American people are millionaires."

> From an article by Charles Lewis on Greg Palast's blog that has something juicy on every current presidential candidate.

Posted by Rob at 2:19 PM

Although this column is a little old, I think it's worth posting. (Thanks to AAIO's vigilance.) Although I think the problem lies not with the Regents, but with Vice President for Student Affairs Royster Harper, who refused to bring the $1 fee to the Regents for consideration.

" ... Until last April, students had an ally. The Ann Arbor Tenants Union was a group that fought for our rights, demanding that landlords provide adequate information about our rights and care for our residences throughout our tenure. Due to both the University Board of Regents' refusal to increase tuition by $1 to support MSA-funded programs and the MSA Budget Priorities Committee's superfluous allocation of funds, this program ended. The BPC stealthily stopped funding AATU between semesters, using trickery usually reserved for Jimmy John's price hikes. ... "

> "Sravya Chirumamilla: Trading spaces"

Posted by Rob at 1:59 PM

Thursday, January 22, 2004

"Why should pedestrians always be inconvenienced and never motorists?"

An Ann Arbor News letter to the editor: (Via Brandon)

"Pedestrian-activated light needed on road

Ever since Teh Nannie Roshema Rolsan and Norhananim Zainol were killed crossing Plymouth Road in front of the Islamic Center, people have been writing letters addressing the issue of whether there should be a traffic light in that area. Some people feel that no light is needed because pedestrians should use the "nearby" crosswalk.

The nearest traffic light is three tenths of a mile away. For a pedestrian to walk to the light, cross the street, and walk back on the other side adds six tenths of a mile to his or her trip. The typical pedestrian walking speed is 3-4 mph. At 3 mph, adding 0.6 mile to one's trip adds 12 minutes. Why would anyone choose to add 12 minutes to one's trip when trying to cross the street? Do motorists look for ways to add 12 minutes to each trip they make?

If large numbers of people cross Plymouth Road at the Islamic Center, there should be a traffic light there. Since the pedestrian traffic volume is large at some times and small at others, I think a pedestrian-activated signal is a good solution. Motorists would only have to wait when a pedestrian is present.

It is not unfair to expect motorists to wait while a pedestrian crosses the street. This is far less time than the 12 minutes that certain motorists expect pedestrians to add to every trip. Why should pedestrians always be inconvenienced and never motorists?

Riin Gill, Ann Arbor"

Posted by Rob at 11:41 PM

The Pierpont Commons McDonalds was held up the other day, but don't worry: they caught the culprit:

"Police catch robber after cash snatched

A robber who snatched cash from a fast food restaurant on the University of Michigan's North Campus on Wednesday was caught later that night, campus police reported.

A man walked into the McDonald's at Pierpont Commons off Bonisteel Road at 3:14 p.m. and announced he was robbing the business, Lt. Chris Spork said. The robber jumped over the counter, grabbed money from the register and ran from the restaurant, Spork said. No weapon was seen or implied.

Officers arrested a man in connection with the incident later Wednesday, Spork said. Police declined to give any additional details on how the man was identified until after his arraignment this afternoon."
(AANews Police Beat)

It seems the New Life Church is running into some NIMBYism over their plans to purchase and expand a property on Washtenaw Avenue: neighbors are worried constructing a 600-seat auditorium will cause parking problems. However, there's something of a slight disconnect: New Life is selecting the site because it's within walking distance to campus - if there isn't enough parking, won't people park farther away - or decide not to drive at all - and walk? See "New Life Church seeks bigger site on Washtenaw"

Also of note: "City rule on clear walks criticized"

Posted by Rob at 9:52 PM

Does the Michigan Daily have a "White Supremacy Culture"?

I was sent this article by a friend of mine, and was immediately struck by how accurately it described my experiences at the Michigan Daily. I tried to analyze that organization in mostly journalistic terms last fall, but this cultural analysis seems to fit nicely with my thoughts. To be fair, I'm sure it also applies to any number of other campus organizations.

"White Supremacy Culture
From Dismantling Racism: A Workbook for Social Change Groups, by Kenneth Jones and Tema Okun, ChangeWork, 2001

This is a list of characteristics of white supremacy culture which show up in our organizations. Culture is powerful precisely because it is so present and at the same time so very difficult to name or identify. The characteristics listed below are damaging because they are used as norms and standards without being pro-actively named or chosen by the group. They are damaging because they promote white supremacy thinking. They are damaging to both people of color and to white people. Organizations that are people of color led or a majority people of color can also demonstrate many damaging characteristics of white supremacy culture. ... "
(the rest)

The characteristics: Perfectionism, Sense of Urgency, Defensiveness ("because of either/or thinking (see below), criticism of those with power is viewed as threatening and inappropriate (or rude)" IE: Editor Jon Schwartz firing me because he needed to "defend the flag of the Daily"), Quantity Over Quality, Worship of the Written Word, Paternalism ("those with power think they are capable of making decisions for and in the interests of those without power" IE: editors deny they need to consult staff over paper-wide decisions), Either/Or Thinking ("things are either/or ó good/bad, right/wrong, with us/against us" IE: during the Boycott, lots of rhetoric about who's "for" or "against" "us"), Power Hoarding, Fear of Open Conflict ("people in power are scared of conflict and try to ignore it or run from it" IE: editors firing people over email), Individualism, Progress is Bigger, More, Objectivity (see my note on objectivity), Right to Comfort."

Posted by Rob at 5:15 PM

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

You like numbers? You got numbers. (Via WCW)

Posted by Rob at 10:27 PM

The Detroit Revolutionary Union Movement is a fascinating, understudied period in U.S. history, and this event sponsored by SOLE looks exceptional:

"Students Organizing for Labor & Economic Equality (SOLE) presents, as part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium:

Reflections on the League of Revolutionary Black Workers
Wednesday January 28th, 7:00 p.m.
Angell Hall Auditorium D
email for more information

* * * * * *

"[The League of Revolutionary Black Workers]... was one of the most important radical movements of our century- a movement led by black revolutionsits whose vision of emancipation for all is sorely needed today." --Professor Robin D.G. Kelley, New York University

This event will feature a screening of the film "FINALLY GOT THE NEWS" (1970) a film about the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, produced by Stewart Bird, Rene Lichtman and Peter Gessner, in association with the League of Revolutionary Black Workers.

The film will be followed by a discussion with prominent Detroit activists and former leaders of the League:"

The panel includes General Gordon Baker, the founder of the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement and founder of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, Marion Kramer, a human rights activist, the co-chair of the National Welfare Rights Organization, and also a member of the LRBW, and Elena Herrada, a labor and social activist as well as co-producer of a documentary about the forced repatriation of tens of thousands of Mexican American Detroit residents between 1929 and 1939.

A really good book about all of this is "Detroit, I do Mind Dying: A Study in Urban Revolution."

Posted by Rob at 3:25 PM

It appears as if the RIAA is preparing to sue seven U-M undergrads living in residence halls for illegally sharing digital music files.

"A national recording industry organization has notified the University of Michigan of its intent to issue subpoenas to find out the names of seven students the group believes are violating copyright laws by illegally downloading music.

U-M students were notified via e-mail on Tuesday from E. Royster Harper, vice president for students affairs, that the Recording Industry Association of America has sent several notices of its intentions to the U-M over the past few weeks.

"At least seven of these are U-M undergraduate students living in the residence halls," Royster Harper wrote. "Normally, such notices from RIAA are in preparation for a lawsuit against the individuals for violation of copyright."

Since last fall, the RIAA has filed numerous lawsuits across the country against individuals the group alleges have traded copyrighted music over the Internet by illegally downloading and uploading music through file-sharing programs. The RIAA discovers the individuals' identity by issuing subpoenas to the Internet service providers.

The university's policy is not to identify students unless the RIAA follows the correct, legal steps, said university spokeswoman Julie Peterson. She said the general notice to the student body was sent for education purposes.

... Royster Harper wrote in her message that students involved in the RIAA notices have been contacted by U-M, but the university will not identify them unless required by law. ... "

> AANews: "Recording industry eyeing U-M students"

This is from the Daily's coverage: "U students accused of file-sharing"

" ... There are "no immediate plans" to institute formal and absolute restrictions on Internet traffic at this time, Peterson said. Restricting Internet traffic could adversely affect "legitimate research and scholarly activity."

Though the University has received complaints of copyright infringement before, these have not usually pertained to file-sharing.

These incidents were usually settled between the University, the student and, if necessary, the aggrieved party. Bernard said there have been virtually no problems in the past with student compliance in these areas.

Peterson and Bernard advised students to consult the educational resources provided by the University —including websites, symposia and lectures. RIAA could possibly come to campus to speak about file-sharing. ... "

After a recent district court ruling against the record labels, many internet service providers are refusing to turn over the names of the "guilty" until the RIAA goes to court filing legal documents of a full subpoenaa - the University should do the same:

"In Friday's ruling, the federal appeals court said that Internet providers, such as Verizon, EarthLink and America Online, do not have to turn over the names of their customers unless music companies go to court and submit to the regular process of obtaining a subpoena. The industry had been relying on fast subpoenas, under the auspices of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, to find out the names of those they suspect of online music piracy." (From this December Wired story)

Let's not forget that most musical artists are ambivalent about the lawsuits: only the really big acts like Metallica stand to lose money from fewer record sales. As I understand it, many small-scale artists actually support file trading, since they make most of their money from concerts anyhow, and their serious fan base will buy cds regardless if the material is avaliable online.

Also of note from the Ann Arbor News: "President's speech splits U-M campus" and police think they've caught the man responsible for the recent purse-snatching on State Street.

Posted by Rob at 3:01 PM

The Democrats issued yesterday for the first time a response to the State of the Union address in Spanish:

"ATLANTA (CNN) -- Por primera vez en la historia, el Partido Democrata respondio el lunes al mensaje sobre el estado de la union del presidente George W. Bush con un discurso en espanol a cargo del gobernador de Nuevo Mexico Bill Richardson.

(Roughly) "For the first time in history, the Democratic party responded Monday with a message about the State of the Union address of President George W. Bush with a response in spanish given by the governor of New Mexico, Bill Richardson."

> From CNNenEspanol: "Democratas responden a discurso de Bush con mensaje en espanol"
> AP: "Translated Text of Gov. Richardson's Spanish-Language Response to Bush"

Posted by Rob at 11:24 AM

Sam Woll has posted some responses to Bush's State of the Union address.

Posted by Rob at 9:23 AM

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

The State of the Union:

Here's what you missed: "God Bless the Patriot Act". And Faith Based Initiatives - too bad the director he recruited to run that office resigned and wrote Esquire a letter saying the administration was doing nothing to implement its rhetoric. Not to mention many other defections, including intelligence official Rand Beers and former treasury secretary Paul O'Neil. Here's the full text, in case you missed it.

My favorite part of the speech? Ted Kennedy.

Here's part of the Democrats' response:

"The president led us into the Iraq war on the basis of unproven assertions without evidence; he embraced a radical doctrine of pre-emptive war unprecedented in our history; and he failed to build a true international coalition.

Therefore, American taxpayers are bearing almost all the cost, a colossal $120 billion and rising. More importantly, American troops are enduring almost all the casualties -- tragically, 500 killed and thousands more wounded"

Here's former Arborblog Ben the Dread Pirate King's take:

" ... He didn't mention Osama once. If he's going to make this 'national security' thing a big deal, I'm going to lean towards Clark in the primaries. Although Kerry did surprise me a bit tonight with his, er, vigor. ... "

Posted by Rob at 10:07 PM

The Daily printed today a letter written in response to a column by Ari Paul about the anti-affirmative action ballot initiative led and bankrolled by Ward Connerly. Paul has written a response, which appears exclusively here, following the letter from the campaign manager of the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative.

"To the Daily:

A letter recently appeared on your pages (Waiting for Connerly (A play in three acts), 01/14/04) that elevated complete disregard for even the most basic facts to new heights.

It began by claiming that “The drama continued on Monday, when Ward Connerly, the leader of the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, announced the beginning of the campaign to get a proposal on a statewide ballot in November to end affirmative action in higher education.” The only thing the author got right was that the proposal would go on a statewide ballot this November.

The Michigan Civil Rights Initiative says nothing whatever about affirmative action. It would merely end the practice by state and local government of segregating people according to their physical characteristics — race, sex, color, ethnicity, national origin — and then treating them differently on that basis.

Further, the proposed constitutional amendment would apply not only to University admissions, but also to employment and promotions, and awarding of contracts.

Nor is Ward Connerly the leader of the petition drive. It is in fact being co-chaired by two state representatives from the Michigan House. Further, it's executive director, campaign manager and treasurer are all Michiganders. As is the entire steering committee.

Had the author actually bothered to attend the Jan. 12 press conference he might have noticed that Ward Connerly was not even there, let alone making any kind of announcement about anything. I don’t keep his schedule, but I assume that Connerly was at home in California at the time, although he certainly would have been welcome to attend our event.

Indeed, the only Californians present were from BAMN — an organization of thugs and hooligans that actually boasts of its contempt for the entire democratic process as though that were a virtue. It was in fact also BAMN members who attempted to disrupt the July announcement on campus, before finally being removed by security. One shouting that she would continue “until people like (Connerly) are no longer allowed to speak on a public forum” (a perfect example of BAMN’s disregard for civilized discourse).

And these were only the beginning of an unbroken string of misstatements, distortions, and complete disregard for facts in this piece. I don't think the author has much of a future in journalism.

Tim O'Brien
Campaign manager,
Michigan Civil Rights Initiative"

And Ari's response:

"Reply to Tim O’Brien,
By: Ari Paul

Mr. O’Brien makes several attempts to undermine, distort and misrepresent my statements on the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative.

He tries to assert that the MCRI does not seek to end affirmative action, but rather race conscious admissions practices. He almost has a good point here, however, whether he likes it or not, in the contemporary campus discourse, affirmative action and the race conscious admission policies of the University are synonymous. While the words affirmative action may not appear on the ballot question, its passage would abolish our system of affirmative action.

He also makes the claim that Ward Connerly is not the leader of the MCRI. While he may believe this, it is recognized by most metropolitan daily papers that he does have a leadership position, a fact that can be verified once one peruses the MCRI official website. There is another news source that represents Connerly as the backbone of the petition drive to end race conscious admissions: The Michigan Review, hardly a source of liberal distortion.

Mr. O’Brien also weakly tries to associate me with BAMN. If he does a search on the Daily’s website for my name plus BAMN, he would find that I have always been highly critical of their tactics.

And lastly, Mr. O’Brien ends his rant with an ad hominem attack, which in political dialogues, is always a sign of someone running out of arguments. He says he doesn’t believe that I have a future in journalism. Fine, let him think that. I also challenge him to tell his opinion to the three editors for whom I’ve freelanced and the three editors with whom I have interviews this semester.

Mr. O’Brien is very angry that I represented Connerly exactly how the mainstream media has. He is angry that I see past his semantic follies. He is so angry that he has been reduced to ad hominem attacks.

I wish him luck in his career as a political activist."

Posted by Rob at 7:09 PM

Lower Town Project

It's easy to get discouraged with national trends of auto-based suburban sprawl if even Ann Arbor is forgetting how to build pleasant urban spaces. Especially if, like me, you agree that certain diverse, mixed-use, mixed-age are most conducive to the type of urban communities attractive to the Creative Class. However, Ann Arbor residents can take heart at least a bit: there's a large project scheduled to break ground sometime this spring and be open within two years that I think is a step in the right direction. Local developer Peter Allen's $120 million Lower Town project includes seven buildings, ground-level retail space, an open square with performance stages (which will be free to rent), office space, and retail. All of this in 3 to 7 story buildings. Although I've heard about the difficulties, as hard as it may be to believe, but this thing has passed the city's Planning Commission - all that remains is finding tenants and building.

The company describes the project this way: "Located in the heart of Ann Arbor, this innovative revival of a historic commercial center combines the best architecture and site planning to create a sustainable commercial and residential environment where people can live, work & play" Yes, this is a New Urbanism wet dream: it's replacing a strip mall and parking lot, and exemplifies to me the type of development that leads to the type of city I'd like to live in. Sure, the project is not without it's flaws (I prefer to see finer-grained development, but I think the only way to get brownfield redevelopment funding from the state for the entire site is if it is being developed by one corporation) and it includes the inevitable parking garage (tentatively slated at 640 spaces), but the parking garage is "wrapped" with a building filled with housing units and retail. This is something I have advocated ad nauseam: building mixed-use parking garages - there's no need for them to destroy the vitality of our streets.

Where exactly is all this happening? Just about exactly 1 mile from State Street, and 1.5 miles (on streets) from Bursley Residence Hall. Here's a mapquest map of the location of the project.

Sound interesting? Maybe you or someone you know can be part of it - I've been told they're currently looking for tenants for the project interested in retail spaces ranging from 500 to 12,000 square feet.

Posted by Rob at 6:56 PM

The folks at Frontline, a program that airs documentaries on PBS stations nationwide, has launched a "Presidential Market" where participants can buy and sell "shares" in the current major presidential candidates. The two "winners" will win an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C. for the inauguration of our next president. I suggest potential players get started early: each candidate was given 20,000 shares worth $10 for their Initial Public Offering, and once they're gone the price of the front runners will certainly go up significantly.

Posted by Rob at 5:43 PM

A liberal Drudge?

As much as I loath the comparison, I've been compared at times to none other than Matt Drudge. While I would hope this website is something more enlightened than that conservative sensationalist, there's certainly reason to make that comparison. More to the point, I thought it interesting to compare traffic data. Although recently traffic to his website seems to have increased, according to data he posts on his website, in the past year he averages just over 5.5 million hits per day. On my website, I receive about 77% the number unique visitors as raw hits, and so using that formula, Drudge would get about 4,264,081 unique visitors per day. That is about 1.458% of the U.S. population (discounting foreign visitors - which might be significant). If I can reasonably expect a similar proportion of visitors from the entire student body (37,864) then I should expect about 552 unique visitors each day. According to my hosting company's built in statistics software, so far this month I have received an average of 481 unique hits per day (including the break period), suggesting I'm nearing my "Drudge limit." However, if one treats the entire city of Ann Arbor as my audience, then I've got a ways to go: I should average over 1,600 hits each day.

Posted by Rob at 2:03 PM

Interested to know exactly how journalists do their work? The Daily's story about John Kerry's victory does you a favor: it's apparently followed by some of the reporter's notes.

Posted by Rob at 10:43 AM

If Ari Paul was fishing for a response with his column "Waiting for Connerly (A Play in Three Acts)," where he suggest the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative will have to pander to racist whites to get enough signatures to get their anti-affirmative action proposal on the ballot, ("Without assistance from the state GOP and financial support from corporate donors, the MCRI will have to pander to the worst aspects of white conservatism and elitism if it wants to get its proposal on the ballot.") he certainly got it: the "Campaign Manager" for the MCRI writes a letter to the editor in today's Daily denying Connerly is involved, and saying about Paul "I don't think the author has much of a future in journalism." However, it's difficult for me to understand why Paul wouldn't have a future in journalism: in his column he was just saying things mainstream journalists say all the time:

> Detroit New Columnist Luther Keith: "The Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, led by California businessman Ward Connerly, is trying to collect 317,000 valid signatures by July 6 to place the issue before Michigan voters on the November ballot. ... "

> The Christian Science Monitor: "MCRI's campaign is bankrolled and advised by Ward Connerly, a familiar figure in affirmative action cases nationwide. ... The language of the Michigan petition is nearly identical to these efforts. [In California] ... "

> The Detroit Free Press: "Granholm later joined Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and other city and county leaders at Greater Grace Temple on Detroit's west side to rally opposition to the Ward Connerly-led anti-affirmative action ballot initiative. ... "

> More

Posted by Rob at 10:30 AM

To get an idea of some of the forces at work in Iowa, go to this website and click on a link beneath the old people. Here's a transcript:




Husband: GOT IT? "

Posted by Rob at 10:14 AM

There's a few upcoming events of note:

> At 6:30 today, there will be a screening of the documentary "Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin" at the Ann Arbor District Library. Bayard Rustin was an openly gay civil rights organizer who was the main organizer of the 1963 march on Washington. A group will be walking to the library together from the cube at 6:00 PM.

> At 8:45 in room 126 of East Quad there is an event called "The True State of the Union" organized by a group of U-M professors and community leaders. Also, the College Republicans will be watching the State of the Union in the basement of the Michigan League, if that's your thing.

> At 6:30 Wednesday, activist Tim Wise will present a lecture in Rackham Auditorium titled "Beyond Diversity: Challenging Racism in an Age of Backlash." If you can't make the Wednesday time, at 4:00 PM Friday he'll be giving a presentation titled "Race & Racism in Higher Education ... life after the Supreme Court" in room 100 of Hutchins Hall at the Law School.

Posted by Rob at 10:12 AM

Two U-M students died in a car accident over the weekend:

"Members of the University community are mourning two students who died in a car accident while returning home from a ski trip Sunday afternoon in Ontario.

Business School senior Joseph Hadeed and LSA junior Erin Tierney died in the accident and LSA junior Kathryn Tetreault was hospitalized with a broken collarbone after their car skid into oncoming traffic and was hit by a truck."

> Daily: "Two students die in weekend car accident"

Posted by Rob at 10:01 AM

Monday, January 19, 2004

It looks like Kerry in Iowa, and Gephardt has dropped out.

Posted by Rob at 10:13 PM

I recently added a "Jobs" section on the right hand side, scoll down a bit. Am I missing anything?

Posted by Rob at 6:13 PM

Yet another:

"500 block of Catherine Street, 6:30 p.m. Saturday. Entry gained through unlocked front door; a laptop computer, digital camera and jewelry taken. Total value: $1,880."

Also, a women was victim of a purse-snatching on State Street last Saturday, and a robbery on East U was thwarted by a sleeping student, both in the police beat.

Posted by Rob at 6:04 PM

The University Record included coverage of Dr. Lani Guinier's MLK keynote in their edition published today: Guinier: Focus not just on race, but also poverty

Also of note from the Record:
> Jobs at U-M to be featured on new website
> "U-M to build on research strengths"

Posted by Rob at 5:40 PM

As if Friendster weren't already enough, somone has started the slick-looking, a dating service for "alumni, students, staff and friends" at the University of Michigan. It'll be interesting to see if the website takes off - although it's free, the avaliability of an already popular alternative may undermine its potential:

" is about bringing people together. Not just people who happen to be single, but people who already have something in common: their affiliation with or affinity for the University of Michigan. So whether you're looking for a new relationship or just seeking new friendships, now you can find it in an environment populated with people like you."

Posted by Rob at 1:36 PM

"Whenever the issue of compensatory treatment for the Negro is raised, some of our friends recoil in horror. The Negro should be granted equality, they agree; but he should ask nothing more. On the surface, this appears reasonable, but it is not realistic." - Dr. Martin Luther King (source)

And this:

"The median household income of black families is about two-thirds that of white families.
There really just have not been any gains," said Kurt Metzger, research director for Wayne State University’s Center for Urban Studies. "It points out that African-Americans have not, for a number of reasons, been able to make any strides."

> From DetNews: "Despite King's dream, economic inequality persists"
> AP: "Michiganians mark King Day by volunteering, rallying"
> Freep: "Michigan split over the path to equality"

Posted by Rob at 9:29 AM

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Select MLK Day Events

10:00 AM - Keynote Lecture - Lani Guinier, Harvard Law Professor - Hill Auditorium

11:45 AM - "Health Disparities: Still Separate? Still Unequal?: A Conversation with Dr. Camara Jones, MD, MPH, PhD" - Towsley Center Dow Auditorium, Medical School

12:10 PM - "Lunch with Honors" with Lynn Rivers - 1330 Mason Hall

12:30 PM - "The Right to Vote: Whether Voter Disenfranchisement Laws Impact Communities of Color" featuring U.S. Rep. John Conyers, Juan Cartagena, and Marc Mauer, Assistant Director of The Sentencing Project, Washington, D.C. - 250 Hutchins Hall

2:00 PM - "MLK Memorial Update with James Chaffers" - 4701 Haven Hall

2:00 PM - "50 Years Since Brown v. Board of Education: Christopher Edley Jr., Professor, Harvard Law School" - Michigan Union Ballroom

7:30 - "Jazz Divas Summit: Dianne Reeves, Dee Dee Bridgewater, and Regina Carter"- Hill Auditorium ($40 / $10 rush tickets)

(See more)

Posted by Rob at 10:44 PM

Saturday, January 17, 2004

In general, I'm skeptical about the mainstream in the field of economics. However, once in a while I think they have something interesting to say, like this award-winning economics professor from Princeton:

"Our political leaders are doing everything they can to fortify class inequality, while denouncing anyone who complains--or even points out what is happening--as a practitioner of "class warfare.""

> From Paul Krugman: "The Death of Horatio Alger"

Posted by Rob at 2:29 PM

Trying to keep up with these:

"800 block of Oakland, Thursday. Entry through unlocked door; laptop computer, two digital cameras, and athletic shoes stolen. Total value: $2,050.

800 block of Packard, Thursday. Entry through an unlocked window; laptop computer valued at $2,100 and more than $300 cash stolen. "

Posted by Rob at 1:11 PM

I just posted an excerpt from Rise of the Creative Class over at ArborBlogs, where a meetup is being planned for one week from yesterday.

Posted by Rob at 3:33 AM

Its come to my attention that Current Magazine's "Best of Washtenaw County 2004" has under the "everything" category "Best blog," which is a new category this year. There is a ballot online, although the link appears broken at the time of this posting. For its first year, there certainly are plenty of blogs to choose from!

Posted by Rob at 3:15 AM

Friday, January 16, 2004

Just what Ann Arbor needs: another Starbucks!

Posted by Rob at 7:12 PM

The University has installed wireless internet in the Michigan Union lounges and basement.

Also, the Daily interviews some students about the Democratic primary: "Dems prepare for close race"

Posted by Rob at 7:01 PM

Here's a couple break-ins:

"Woman reports stolen items

An Ann Arbor homeowner reported that someone entered her house while she slept Wednesday night and stole several
items, police reports said.

The victim said she awoke at about 10 a.m. Thursday at her home in the 500 block of South Fourth Avenue to find her laptop, two digital cameras, a purse and her wallet missing.

She told police she noticed footprints in the snow on her porch and around the side of the house.

Entry was through an unlocked front door.

Total value of the stolen items exceeded $3,200, reports said."

"100 block of South Fourth Avenue, occurred between 8:20 p.m. Tuesday and 8 a.m. Wednesday. Dead bolt pried off side door of business; computer equipment, a computer scanner, digital camera and batteries taken. Total value: $7,200.

2500 block of Meade Court, 9 a.m. Wednesday. Front door forced open; cash, digital camera and necklace taken. Total value: $1,045.

800 block of East University Avenue, 2:30 p.m. Monday. No signs of forced entry; watch valued at $600 taken.

200 block of North Ingalls Street, 2:30 a.m. Monday. Unknown method of entry; two laptop computers, Sony PlayStation II, cash and credit cards taken. Total value: $2,480."

Posted by Rob at 6:37 PM

Presidential stuff:

> Carol Moseley Braun has dropped out of the race and endorsed Howard Dean
> U.S. Rep. Caroyln Cheeks Kilpatrick has endorsed Howard Dean
> Michael Moore has endorsed Wesley Clark

Also, think those ads were a bit over the line? Luckily, there's enough inappropriate Nazi references to go around.

Posted by Rob at 6:11 PM

Thursday, January 15, 2004

T.J. has given me permisison to post this bit he wrote to the Peace and Justice commission. It's interesting history, but I'm not sure nuclear energy will become a major energy source in the future. Then again, former president Duderstadt was very involved in the U.S.'s nuclear rocket program, and if that's what Bush is thinking of (see below) then Nuclear Engineers might suddenly come into high demand.

"Pierce and P&J,

I saw on Goodspeedupdate that you were going to have a meeting about the budget cuts. Give the administrators hell.

Anyway, as fodder for your fight, I wanted to point out something to you that you might not have known.

Under James Duderstadt, the University of Michigan built the best Nuclear Engineering program in the world. Yes, the world. Yes, better than MIT and Cal Tech. Yes, both undergrad and graduate.

Duderstadt, a renaissance man that never gets the credit he deserves, not only ran the University and published books on college athletics, but he is also a nuclear engineer and author of several nuclear engineering textbooks used in colleges around the country. When he stepped down from his post as president, he returned to his role as professor of nuclear engineering.

Well, a little over a year ago, the University decided to decommission the reactor. The reactor is the core of any nuclear engineering program, and to shut down the reactor is to effectively castrate the program.

As a result, professors have fled left and right. Student enrollment has dwindled, and the quality of teaching has dropped, as all the young bright minds in the faculty are now more concerned with finding positions at other schools with functioning reactors. Most importantly, the program is no longer getting the research grants and corporate sponsorship that they once were.

Worse, the students that *are* still in the program are now forced to travel to Midland, MI to do their required reactor lab work. Not only do they have to find their own transportation (which is harder than you would think, considering that many in the program are international students who have no car), but the trips fall on Tuesdays and/or Thursdays only. The length of the lab and the hour and a half drive each way means that students can only take the reactor lab on Tuesdays and Thursdays, meaning that their Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are packed solid. A lot of people are taking 16-18
credits or more, and when 13-15 of those are falling on Mondays and Wednesdays, that is insane.

Obviously, the program is dropping in the rankings. In the two sets of rankings since the reactor was decommissioned, UM has dropped both times. UM is now #3 in their graduate program, and in a tie for #5 in undergrad. With the exodus of faculty, dwindling enrollment, and lack of research money, the program is going down the tubes.

Most schools would do anything to have a program ranked #1 overall. It would be the crown jewel of their institution. UM had one, more importantly, it was in a field that has a profound impact on our future, especially as oil reserves begin to dry up.

But the administrators at UofM decided to throw it away.

The worst part is, it's not really reversible. I was going to author a resolution last fall that would have called on the University to turn the reactor back on, but it's not that simple. A reactor cannot be just turned back on, once it is decommissioned, it's done. From what I am told, it would be twenty years or more before it could be "recommissioned," the only other option at this point would be to build a new one.

With the budget cuts being the way they are, I don't see building a new nuclear reactor as being at all likely. So basically, this e-mail is intended to let you know about a situation that happened right under our noses within the past two years, and nobody knew about it. It can and will happen again if students are not given a say in the process.

Best of luck to you in this fight, and if I can be of any assistance to you, do not hesitate to e-mail.


Posted by Rob at 12:02 AM

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

President Bush wants to establish a permanent moon colony, and perhaps send people to Mars. I wonder if the colony will recycle their waste, and be designed according to sound new urbanist principals? Does this new rocket he is talking about mean re-starting the U.S.'s nuclear rocket program? Will the economic development of the moon mean it must be made attractive to the "creative class"? Questions, questions.

> CNN: "Bush unveils vision for moon colony"
> MSNBC: "Bush sets 'new course' for moon colony"
> NYTimes: "Bush calls for a return to space exploration"

Posted by Rob at 11:57 PM

The new director of housing will be one of these people:

"The Director of Housing-Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Search Advisory Committee is pleased to announce that four candidate finalists have been invited to on-campus interviews and will be making public presentations January 26-January 29, 2004, from 2:00-3:00pm in the Michigan Union.

The schedule is as follows:

January 26, 2004
Carole Henry, Executive Director for Housing and Food Services, University of
Location: Pond Room, Michigan Union

January 27, 2004
Frankie Minor, Director of Residential Life, University of Missouri-Columbia
Location: Wolverine Room, Michigan Union

January 28, 2004
Michael Coakley, Executive Director, Student Housing and Dining Services,
Clinical Faculty, Northern Illinois University
Location: Pond Room, Michigan Union

January 29, 2004
Fred Fotis, Director of Housing and Conferences, The University of British

Background information on each candidate can be reviewed by visiting the Housing website at

Candidates have been asked to speak to the University community on the following topic, "If you had the authority and resources to rehabilitate the various facets of University Housing, please share your vision of what would be needed to take housing forward. In order to achieve these aspirations, what is required of a Housing organization?"

All Housing staff is invited to attend and offer comments on the candidates before a final hiring decision is made. Attendees at the presentations will be given instructions on submitting comments directly to the search advisory committee."

Posted by Rob at 11:30 PM

U-M planning student and fellow blogger Murph was pleasantly surprised by what he found at a local Washtenaw County Planning meeting targeting professionals: there appears to be a professional consensus that well-built, vibrant urban neighborhoods are desired in the area:

" ... The third major theme, and here's where it gets interesting, was advocacy. In order to create and promote the vision of new and better forms of development and set up the collaborative climate that we want, we need to get out there and get us some converts. ...

So, Revolutionaries, we have support. They want vibrant urban neighborhoods (or "urban" neighborhoods, since we are discussing Ann Arbor and Ypsi here), villages with distinct character, and functioning farmland. They are desperate to have people ask them to change things so that they have an excuse to do it, because they're currently trapped by the political demands of the status quo. They want grassroots citizens' groups to agitate for change. I told them to give me a week and I'd have a group for them to meet with. I don't think they took me quite seriously, but the grassroots that they're looking for is what the local blog-agglomeration is, and now I know people to call up for air support when we've got an idea to press."

Posted by Rob at 10:55 PM

U-M Law alumni David Boyle has written a ballot initiative which would prohibit the use of alumni preferences in the state's public educational institutions - if he can get the over 300,000 signatures needed to put it on the ballot. T.J. Wharry, a frequent commenter on this website, has asked that I link to a post on his blog about this, where although he says alumni preferences are "just as wrong as race preferences," he supports two exceptions: for siblings of current students, and the offspring of the super-rich.

Posted by Rob at 3:00 PM

It's budget cuts season! Last time, that meant the closing of the Residential Hall libraries (remember those?), the closing of the woodshop, the elimination of the Major Events Office, among many other cuts. Something tells me this round might be similar in its scope and impact on students. Here's an idea: why doesn't Mary Sue Coleman and the other administrators take a voluntary pay cut, like Governor Granholm and other state leaders have?

"Hey everyone,

As you are aware the University is begining a round of serious Budget Cuts. In the past few years nearly $750,000 has been cut from Student Affairs and it looks like Student Affairs will take a significant hit again. This affects the essential programs that service students outside of the classroom.

What's worse is that just like the Greek stuff going on right now students are no where in the process...

Pierce and I are going to facilitate a meeting THURSDAY to talk about a response to these cuts and to the fact that no students are being allowed to participate in the process.

Hope many of you can make it - this is the real meat of our jobs!!

P&J office"
(The Peace and Justice Commission office is inside the offices of the Michigan Student Assembly)

Posted by Rob at 12:38 PM

From the Ann Arbor News' police beat:

"Prowler reported at 2 Ann Arbor homes

Two women in the same neighborhood noticed a man peering into their windows early Monday, Ann Arbor Police reported.

A 28-year-old woman said she was working at her computer at 8 a.m. in her home in the 800 block of East Ann Street when she saw a man outside, reports said. She said he had to climb stairs outside to get a view in the window, and he ran down the staircase when she spotted him, reports said.

A few minutes later, a 23-year-old woman who lives in the 600 block of Lawrence Street said a man was looking into her bathroom window, police said. She gave police the same basic description as the first woman, reports said.

Officers saw a man running in the area, but a police tracking dog was unable to find him, police said. A 37-year-old Milan man driving in the area was identified and released, police said. He also was suspected in a prowling incident in the same neighborhood last year, police said. "

Posted by Rob at 12:31 PM

"Cool Cities" Update

Today, the Daily writes a story about the Michigan Cool Cities survey website that Governor Granholm will be emailing every college student about tomorrow. Here in Ann Arbor, the mayor's Cool Cities Task Force is planning to print postcards soliciting advice about how to improve Ann Arbor to distribute around town, and also hold a public meeting in March (tentatively to be held at a downtown pub) to talk to interested parties about what the city government can do. I've also been asked to solicit more advice from you, my loyal readers, to inject into city government. I've printed out the comments I received when I asked the same thing back in December, as well as Brandon X's diatribe in response. Does anyone have a good idea about how to create an ongoing discussion about this online?

Posted by Rob at 12:23 PM

" ... Without assistance from the state GOP and financial support from corporate donors, the MCRI will have to pander to the worst aspects of white conservatism and elitism if it wants to get its proposal on the ballot. Connerly could very well have his way; he could get enough signatures and win the question on the ballot, thus claiming a democratic victory. But there will be no question where his support will be coming from. Connerly insists that his goals champion equality, but if he wins we will have a white, conservative electorate telling the minority, urban poor of Michigan what is in their best interests. ... "

> From Ari Paul's column in the Daily: "Waiting for Connerly (A play in three acts)"

Posted by Rob at 12:12 PM

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

"Blog it Forward"

The idea is simple: pick one blog you read and briefly recommend them. That person then does the same. Started, apparently, by this person:

"The rules are really simple. For those of you who are new to this, all you have to do is pick someone from your blogroll and post (on your site) just what makes them blogworthy. Whassat? Ok, you can pick two people. What? Ok fine, three if you must! Be sure to track back to this post so that we can all find out who you chose and can discover some new sites."

First, a little history. Michigan native swirlspice sent it to Hillary and Steve over in Ypsilanti, saying "they both just seem like really nice people. I enjoy keeping up with the local goings on through their eyes, which is a perspective I never really had before." Steve bounced it to Murph's "Common Monkeyflower," praising his blog where "The threads of urbanism, civil libertarianism, and activism come together in an enthusiastic yet metered voice." Murph sent it to Dread Pirate King, "another person who the planning world can look forward to," (who has yet to pass it on) and Brandon's "Past the College Grounds," who sent it to me, calling this site "blogworthy for its sheer exhaustiveness" But wait a minute, let's not forget Hillary Blough at The Bunker who bounced hers to Mark Maynard, another resident of Ypsilanti who you may have read about in this month's Current magazine, describing him and his wife Linette Lao this way: "I can't think of nicer people I'd like to bump into while shopping over the coming 50 years." How's that for being invested in your community!

Thus, we get to the point where I have to suggest someone. After deciding sending it to Arborblogs would cause a postmodern rupture in the time-space continuum, I have decided to tap none other than the Cadillac of Ann Arbor blogs - Ann Arbor is Overrated. (Or, as the historically minded know, Ann Arbor Sucks) This anonymous blogger has been skewering just about everything about this "city" since May 2002, where all the fun began with the following post: "After living here about nine months, I feel that I'm ideally qualified to report on the lameness of Ann Arbor (or A^2, if you're one of those locals who insists on this cutesy, gag-inducing nickname. That's pronounced "A squared.") Why? I've been around just long enough to absorb the soulless, yuppified, no-fun atmosphere, but not long enough to forget why these things are wrong." AAIO helps me remember some of the myriad of reasons why between 1990 and 2000, Ann Arbor lost 20,340, or 10.7%, of its adults aged 25 to 34 (To compare to Lansing's 54%, East Lansings 27%, and Ypsilanti's 16.8%) and why exactly I'm doing this Cool Cities Task Force anyway. The blog's design is minimalist, the wit is sharp, and the comment discourse is always interesting. Good work!

Posted by Rob at 10:35 PM

A Village Voice feature argues the Bush administration has given up on its stated goals of establishing a functing capitalist economy and democratic government and decided instead to withdraw in time for next November's election:

"The American occupation would end July 1, 2004, and there wouldn't be any constitution, just a bare-bones, nonspecific "basic law." The original timetable for self-rule in Iraq was late 2004 or early 2005. It's not that things are ahead of schedule. It is that we have lopped off half the game clock, and moved the end zone to our present stalemate point, the 50-yard line. Touchdown! Game over! Everyone into the locker room! ...

The American death toll in Iraq approaches 500; the number of medical evacuations, as of mid December, is 10,854, most not reflected on the Pentagon's website. ...

"This is a plan that is entirely geared to create political peace in the United States from June to November," Blumenthal observes. "Whether it has any relations to the facts on the ground is another question."

Posted by Rob at 9:24 PM

The developer recruited by the city to re-open the majestic downtown Detroit Book-Cadillac Hotel has pulled out of the project, although "Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick said he was confident the city would have a deal with another developer by next week." I fear the project won't happen: the city will spend millions conducting "interior demolition" and secretly negotiating with developers, and then will act surprised when no developer wants to touch the project, and the building, stripped of any historic architectural features, will finally be razed for "Luxor: Detroit" which will actually be a "temporary" casino adjacent to a 3,000-space parking garage connected directly to the lodge with a multi-million dollar tunnel paid for by state and federal tax dollars.

Also, here's an excerpt from a story about the creation of "Citizens for a United Michigan," whose website is

"It is critical that the leaders of tomorrow have an opportunity to learn to work together, to appreciate each other and to better understand the tapestry of race, culture and gender," he said. "If the ballot proposal is successful, it will be far more difficult for our young people to gain the experience and understanding of diversity at our great universities."

> AP: "Opponents of a petition drive to ban racial preferences announce efforts"

Posted by Rob at 8:08 PM

Even though this event is scheduled for next Tuesday, I think it is important enough to post about now:

"THE TRUE STATE OF THE UNION: A Panel of community leaders, social activists, and scholars responds to President Bush's State of the Union address.

Tuesday January 20
8:45 pm
Room 126 East Quad, 701 E. University (between S. University and Hill St.) on the University of Michigan campus.
Co-sponsored by Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace and U-M Residential College.

The public and press are invited to a public viewing of President Bush's televised State of the Union address. Before the speech, a representative of the Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace will welcome attendees and give brief introductory remarks. At the speech's conclusion, a panel of community leaders, scholars, and social activists will offer responses on topics including the war in Iraq, the economy, environmental issues, education, and domestic social

The panelists include:
- Rev. Mark Lyons, Pastor of Second Baptist Church in Ann Arbor (African American)
- Dr. Rosemary Sarri, U-M professor emeritus, U-M School of Social Work
- Dr. Tom Weisskopf, Director of U-M Residential College and Professor of
- Joe Dulin, Principal of Roberto Clemente High School, Ann Arbor (Alternative High School)
- Megan Owens, Field Director of Public Interest Research Group in Michigan
- Speaker on the war in Iraq (yet to be confirmed). "

Posted by Rob at 4:26 PM

"Those twenty people survived not only 53 days of bitter cold, gale force winds and pouring rain...long nights and short days...they survived 15 months of pounding by Borders since the start of the drive...the terror early on of losing their jobs or being discovered, the insecurity of not knowing how their vote would go, 12 months of fruitless negotiations and uncertainty, fighting despair, frustration...holding the drive together with sheer will while their co-workers dropped like flies. ...

Never once did they fail a customer, hurt the store or ignore the needs of their brothers and sisters. They fought not just BINC, but the temptation to fight among themselves, abandon each other, seek an easier simpler path. They heard themselves characterized here and elsewhere as elitists, slackers, lazy "just retail workers" with a selfish sense of entitlement. They endured Shiffman baiting them, calling them too stupid to get better jobs. They endured the worst of union busting and stood together tall. ...

They set aside all of their "real" life..they ran on faith and courage and guts alone...and they won. They won.

They will have a contract. They and a handful of executives out of 32,000 will work under a binding contract that protects their benefits and pay, that protects them from being fired at will, that guarantees their fair treatment. And they will pay for that security...with dues, and with hard work. They have EARNED their security and their fair treatment. ..."

> From "What REALLY happend in Ann Arbor"

Posted by Rob at 11:27 AM

The entertainment channel Fox News is reporting Dick Gephardt has a less than perfect record on what they term "minority issues," according to this story I was sent by a friend involved with the Kerry campaign:

"Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Dick Gephardt told Fox News on Sunday that it was a mistake to have attended a picnic in 1980 sponsored by a white rights group with loose ties to the Ku Klux Klan but that he did not know their true politics.

In 1971 when Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., was a conservative pro-life Democratic alderman from St. Louis he was a leader in the fight against busing to integrate St. Louis schools. Throughout the early '70s public records and published reports obtained by Fox News indicate that Gephardt also opposed a low-income minority housing development in downtown St. Louis and several other initiatives designed to advance minority issues. ... "

> From Fox News: "Gephardt Admits Mistake on Race Issues in '70s"

Posted by Rob at 10:48 AM

"The concern was that people were hesitant to join certain kinds of groups because they didn’t want to be publicly associated with them," said Wesley Craig, project leader and ITCS senior technologist. "By making the groups optionally private, people will be more free to associate."

> From the Daily's coverage of the changes to the U-M directory: "Privacy option hides e-mail group members"

Also, the Daily covers the impact of mad cow disease on campus: "'U' meal services unaffected by mad cow disease"

Posted by Rob at 10:45 AM

My friend Mike Grass, on the DC Edge City of Bethesda, MD:

"... It was as if I were back in Michigan, driving after midnight, with nowhere to go. The slow depressingly comfortable lyrics guided me through the darkened forested exurbs. Using the Hillandale Road shortcut, I emerged at the south end of downtown Bethesda. The illuminated tops of its neo-art deco mid-1990s office towers shone through the barren tree branches. ...

A friend and I once came up with a description of Bethesda that stuck in my head for awhile but it has since escaped me. It went something like this: a failed suburban experiment in urban life, trapped in between too many non-descript office and condo towers and speckled with so many mediocre restaurants and chain stores that all it really does successfully is create a watered-down sense of urban space. ... "

Posted by Rob at 12:08 AM

Monday, January 12, 2004

Here's the website of Connerly's anti-affirmative action proposal: Michigan Civil Rights Initiative. The coalition opposing the proposal is called "Citizens for a United Michigan," and I haven't been able to find their website, but there is some information here.

Posted by Rob at 11:56 PM

"Liberal Academe"?

Thanks to a vigilant reader, who pointed out in today's print edition of the Ann Arbor News, the "Talk About Town" column playfully points out that the staff at the University of Michigan are among the most generous in higher education in their giving to George W. Bush's re-election campaign:

"Indeed, U-M faculty members' campaign contributions to Bush during the first three quarters of the last year made Michigan one of the top 10 Bush-supporting campuses.

U-M did not, on the other hand, break into the top 10 givers to the Dean camp."

The article continues to point out the results are affected by the large field of Democratic candidates, and the fact that " ... a relatively small number of Bush contributors can - and did - donate the $9,000 that made the Michigan faculty No. 7 on the Times' list of Bush supporters." But concluding "But as an exercise in stereotype-busting, this is all good fun."

To readers of this website, these findings should come as no surprise: my analysis of the 2000 election revealed U-M affiliates gave Bush over $4,000, while Al Gore only received $1,400. Want to know whose giving to whom? The political giving front has plenty of info, although I haven't updated it with presidential primary data.

Posted by Rob at 8:45 PM

The president of the League of Conservation Voters, Deb Callahan, will speak on campus this Thursday from 4:30 to 6:30 PM in the SNRE auditorium.:

Many believe the Bush Administration has no time to think about our environment because the situation in Iraq. Yet the Administration continues to systematically dismantle key environment protections, such as the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act.

On January 13, Deb Callahan - president of the League of Conservation Voters* - will be at U of M to talk about the Administration's dismal record and to mobilize students to TAKE ACTION!"

Posted by Rob at 12:18 PM

The Michigan Student Assembly has begun promoting their online book selling website,

> Daily: "Online book buying saves bucks for cash-conscious students"

Posted by Rob at 11:31 AM

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Mark your calendars:

Each year, the U-M MLK Symposium hosts a number of events surrounding the Martin Luther King holiday. The day off classes, as well as the symposium, were both born out of student activism in the early 1990s. Here are some of the events that have caught my eye to be held on Monday the 19th:

"MLK Memorial Lecture: Lani Guinier, Harvard Law Professor
10:00:00 AM
Location: Hill Auditorium
Free Event

The 17th Annual Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Keynote Lecture, held on Monday, January 19, at 10:00 AM in Hill Auditorium, will be given by Professor Lani Guinier of Harvard Law School. Professor Guinier, the first African American woman to be appointed to a tenured professorship at Harvard Law School, will discuss the interplay between legal and political solutions to social justice challenges, with special attention to the relationship between then director counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (later Supreme Court Justice) Thurgood Marshall and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Professor Guinier will also discuss the role that education plays in our democracy and the way in which the recent Supreme Court decisions in the Michigan affirmative action cases continue conversation between lawyers, public policy officials and grassroots activists.

Lunch with Honors
12:10:00 PM
Location: Mason Hall
Room Name/Number: 1330
Free Event

Lunch with Honors will feature Lyn Rivers, former U.S. Representative for Ann Arbor, who was also President of the Ann Arbor School Board during a period when the Board was struggling with segregation issues in the Ann Arbor schools

MLK Memorial Update with James Chaffers
2:00:00 PM
Location: Haven Hall
Room Name/Number: 4701
Free Event

James Chaffers, (CAAS/Architecture and Design), the first Ph.D. in Architecture and a member of the MLK Memorial Selection Committee, will deliver and update on the National Memorial for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to be constructed in the mall on Washington, D.C. "

> Many more events from January 19th

Posted by Rob at 2:36 PM

Here's some information about an event to be held tomorrow, featuring the sisters named in the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case:

"- What: An interactive panel talk with the sisters whose father was the lead plaintiff in the historic Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court case that outlawed segregation in the nation's public schools 50 years ago.

- Who: Linda Brown Thompson and Cheryl Brown Henderson

- When: 6 p.m. Monday in Rackham Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

- Students involved: The six U-M undergraduates on the panel are Boatemaa Ntiri, Troy; Rachel Robbins, Philadelphia; Alexander Robinson, Detroit; Paul Spurgeon, Royal Oak; Priya Sehgal, Cincinnati; and Myrna Vaca, Miami.

- Format: There will be a two-minute video of what Ann Arbor and U-M were like in 1954 and how the case affected it. After the Brown sisters speak, they will interact with the panelists.

Other related events:

- Lani Guinier, the first African-American woman appointed to a tenured professorship at Harvard Law School, will deliver the Martin Luther King Symposium keynote address at 10 a.m. Jan. 19 in Hill Auditorium.

- Harvard law professor Christopher Edley Jr. will discuss '50 Years Since Brown v. Board of Education' at 2 p.m. on Jan. 19 in the Michigan Union Ballroom."

> See also: "U-M to revisit Brown vs. Board of Education"
> The University's Brown v. Board of Education Commemoration website.
> See the MLK Symposium website for many more upcoming events

Posted by Rob at 2:25 PM

"All in all, I think it's significant to say that we got the first starting wage increase in nearly a decade. If Borders decides to raise it a tad for everyone else and pretend they were always going to do that, I think what we've done is well worth it.

Every year at this time they take benefits away and the raises aren't enough to compensate for the takeaways and inflation. I hope that what we've done helps everyone in some way. Someone's got to plug the holes in the dam."

> From a discussion of the Borders' employees contract

Posted by Rob at 2:12 PM

Saturday, January 10, 2004

Here's an article in Crain's Detroit Business about the end of the Borders strike: "Borders union ratifies deal settling Ann Arbor strike"

Posted by Rob at 12:26 PM

"Fight Like Hell for Michigan and Michigamua!"*

And remember to wear your headdress! An observant reader points out this quote, on the front of the Michigan Union 100th Anniversary website:

"At the end of my junior year at Michigan I was inducted into Michigamua, the Senior honorary society. Part of the induction ceremony took place in the middle of the diag where the senior class performed the induction ceremony which included a certain amount of good nature "hazing" of the new inductees. At the conclusion of the cermonies in the middle of the diag, the new inductees were lead by rope, duck walking to the Michigan Union where we continued "duck walking" (squatting while walking) up the stairs to the Michigamua room. The memory of that walk (and the burning of the quads) will forever remain with me as an integral part of the Michigamua experience.

Peter M. Cornell, 1969"

It might be history, but I think another quote on the front page might be more appropriate since Michigamua's past role at the University is offensive to some students and departments.

On campus, who's a member of Michigamua? I'm glad you asked - here's the "Pride" of 2003. Email addresses are

Eric Bukstein ebukstei
Sara Gall gallc
Janessa Grieco jgrieco
Steph Johnson sljz
Brian Netter bnetter
Monica Rose roseml
John Shouneyia houneyi
Pat Owen patowen
Lavelle Blanchard
Tyler Atkins tatkins
Tom Church tchurch
Anita Gupta apgupta
Petra Juzwishin petramj
Rebecca Kramer rkramer
Jed Ortmeyer jortmeye
John Spytek jspytek

(* A Michigamua saying, used to sign correspondence)

Posted by Rob at 3:28 AM

Friday, January 09, 2004

The Michigan Union is celebrating its 100th anniversary this term. They've set up a special website, and the celebration will start next week with a kickoff event Wednesday, January 14 from 3-5pm on the first floor of the union featuring free birthday cake, historical tours of the union, and music.

Posted by Rob at 10:54 AM

The executive director of the U-M Hillel, Michael Brooks, has written an op-ed for Jewish Week called "End The Preoccupation" about Israel/Palestine activism on campus. (Via Sam Woll)

Posted by Rob at 10:49 AM

Borders Strike Officially Over

The striking Borders employees have approved the contract negotiated between the Union and Borders, Inc. Although the contract doesn't institute a living wage, it increases the starting wage, removes the disliked pay cap for longtime employees, and provides for some employee input in the operations of the store, all significant concessions:

"The agreement raises starting wages for hourly employees by twenty-five cents. Previously, sellers earned $7.00 per hour and beginning cashiers were paid $6.75 per hour.

The contract also removes a wage cap from veteran employees. The cap on wages had halted pay raises for senior employees after they had served a certain amount of time at the bookstore. Now, wages will increase by 3 percent or more for hourly workers.

Fifteen of the 43 non-salaried employees went on strike after negotiations failed Nov. 8.

Both sides reached a tentative agreement and 20 out of 32 employees voted to ratify it.

In addition to addressing pay issues, the approved agreement also creates a management labor committee.

The committee will provide a forum for hourly workers and members of Borders to discuss ways to improve the store."

With this agreement the Ann Arbor Downtown Borders becomes the first unionized Borders in the country to negotiate a contract with management: congratulations!

> Daily: "Workers vote to accept new Borders deal"

Posted by Rob at 10:35 AM

Thursday, January 08, 2004

"... He could be intemperate and impulsive ... the image of wrath -- his forefinger pointing, his fist pounding his palm, his eyes ablaze." Sean Hannity on Howard Dean? No, Theodore White on Bobby Kennedy in "The Making of the President 1968."

It's the same ludicrous charge of being "too angry" that's being constantly leveled at Dean. Have his Democratic opponents -- and the notoriously decorous Washington press corps -- suddenly morphed into Miss Manners? Personally, I could never trust a man who does not occasionally get hot under the collar. ..."

> Says Arianna Huffington, who concludes in a column that "Dean is electable precisely because he's making a decisive break with the spinelessness and pussyfooting that have become the hallmark of the Democratic Party."

Posted by Rob at 11:42 PM

The administration has admitted authoring the document obtained by leaders in the Greek community which suggests they intend to move rush to Winter as soon as the 2005 academic year, however Royster Harper is denying it is anything more than a "brainstorm.":

"Harper recognized the document as her own personal brainstorm, but said she had no knowledge of how it landed in IFCÂ?s hands.

"I understand (IFC's) anger because they are reading this out of context, without any conversation. What I don't understand is how that happened," Harper said. "I do take full responsibility for it, but I didn't send it."

The administration said there are no official plans for any modifications to the Greek system and added that the next step calls for a dialogue with students.

"We are still developing a process and schedule for discussion, feedback and sharing," said University spokeswoman Julie Peterson. ..."

> From "IFC members upset over supposed 'U' Proposals"

And the Daily's editorial board takes the opportunity to weigh in, encouraging Greeks themselves to consider delaying rush: "While it is beyond the responsibility of the University to suggest and promote specific housing proposals for the Greek system, not all the policies should be disregarded. The Greek system should thoroughly consider moving Rush back to the winter semester."

I think the flow of information in this story is interesting. Somehow, IFC obtained the administration document revealing them doing something they do all the time - secretly planning what will happen before getting any student "input." (Generally input from people already closely connected with the administration - people who intern in Fleming, serve on Royster's "roundtable," and generally are inducted into secret societies) After I posted about the proposed changes (tipped off by a friend in the Greek system), and the information was circulated via e-mail among Greeks, members of MSA, many who read this website, dedicated much of their meeting this week to discussing it. Throughout this process, the Daily has played a typically reactionary role - they have dutifully covered the discussion, but never once taking the lead and aggressively trying to figure out what actually happened or actually disseminating the relevant information to the student body. Today's Daily story comes the closest to doing this, but even it was written under the pretext of covering the IFC meeting - and at this point, most people who might be interested have already heard about the proposal (the truth, or the rumors) through private channels.

Posted by Rob at 1:17 PM

"a kind of Midwestern Carnegie Hall"

"ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Throughout its 90-year history, the Hill Auditorium at the University of Michigan has served as a kind of Midwestern Carnegie Hall. Boasting superb acoustics, its stage has accommodated performers from Arthur Rubinstein to Emmylou Harris, the Berlin Philharmonic to Garrison Keillor.

Built by the architect Albert Kahn in 1913, the auditorium underwent one restoration in 1949 and another to its notable pipe organ in 1990. But by the late 1990's, patrons were complaining that it had too few restrooms, narrow aisles and cramped seats, some with dismal views. ..."

> NYTimes: "Michigan's Gem of an Auditorium Glitters Again"
> See also Hill Auditorium Reopening Webpage

Posted by Rob at 10:23 AM

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Articles of note in the Michigan Daily today:

> "MSA discusses alleged Greek system changes"
> "Website woes result in first-day scheduling gaffes, missed classes"

Posted by Rob at 12:33 PM

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Is it just me, or does this seem like too many rules?

"... The proposed changes would give preference to those speakers who want to comment on an agenda item. And every agenda item would be limited to two speakers. Additional speakers on that topic would go on a waiting list.

On the day of a meeting, residents would call the clerk's office to request one of the 10 speaking slots. From 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., only speakers on an agenda item could reserve a spot. After 1 p.m., anyone could fill in any remaining slots, if there were any remaining. The current system is first-come, first-serve.

City Council Member Kim Groome opposed any changes.

"I know it is burdensome to sit through these meetings, but it is our responsibility to do so," the 1st Ward Democrat said. ..."

> AANews: "Rule changes on public commentary are delayed"

Also, some break-ins:

"400 block of South Division Street, occurred between Dec. 19 and today. Door kicked in; CD player and radio taken.

1000 block of Hill Street, 4:14 p.m. Sunday. Entry through unlocked window; DVD player and DVDs taken. Total value: $475.

500 block of South Forest Avenue, occurred between Dec. 18 and Monday. Unknown method of entry; laptop computer valued at $2,265 taken.

900 block of South Division Street, occurred between 3 a.m. Sunday and 8 p.m. Monday. Entry through rear patio door; laptop computer valued at $1,800 taken.

1300 block of Forest Court, occurred between Dec. 17 and Monday. No signs of forced entry; laptop computer and computer printer taken. Total value: $2,650. "

Posted by Rob at 7:36 PM

As you likely know, Wolverine Access has been down since sometime yesterday. This email seems to indicate the problem won't be resolved anytime soon:

"This message has been sent to Wolverine Access Teaching Support users.

As you may be aware, Wolverine Access is experiencing technical difficulties that are resulting in extremely slow response time and/or unavailability. MAIS is investigating the problem and working to solve it, but as of 4:00 p.m. January 6, 2004, there is not an estimated resolution time. All Wolverine Access Users, which include faculty, staff and students, may find it difficult to use the system to complete their work.

The beginning of a term is always a time of heavy system usage; the peak period during which students drop and add classes is underway. We ask that you help by refraining from non-essential Wolverine Access work until the system difficulties are resolved. ... "

Posted by Rob at 4:27 PM

" ... Most foreign travelers interviewed today at American airports said they understood the need for the new security measures. "I think its the best sure thing to identify all persons," said Franco Pieraccioni who was transferring planes in Atlanta on his way from a vacation in Panama to his home in Florence, Italy. "I think its necessary to extend it to all persons and all countries." But a few travelers said the new measures were an annoyance and vaguely insulting.

"It's uncomfortable," said Dong Ju Kim, 30, a Korean anthropology student at the University of Michigan, who was interviewed today at Chicago's O'Hare Airport after being fingerprinted and photographed. "It feels like you already did something wrong and they already suspect you for something."

As for the inconveniences endured by travelers, a State Department spokesman, Adam Ereli, called the program "an important measure to protect our borders and our homeland." He said the State Department would work with other agencies "to help implement these programs with the minimum of disruptions to our foreign friends and travelers."

When he was asked about the extra security checks that Brazilian authorities have imposed on American travelers, apparently in retaliation for American security measures, Mr. Ereli said the United States would not second-guess what other countries do. ... "

> From NYTimes: "U.S. Begins Fingerprinting Foreigners at Airports"

Posted by Rob at 1:55 PM

"... Alright, I’ll buy that anger alone doesn’t win an election. But what wins the election is honesty and passion. And right now if other candidates aren’t angry and pissed off about the direction of the nation they should be. Either the other candidates are actually angry and hiding it behind slippery phrases or they aren’t really that angry — either choice is unsatisfactory. ... "

> Says Daily columnist Jess Piskor in his column today, "The media award Dr. Dean an honorary Ph.D."

Posted by Rob at 1:46 AM

U-M researchers have determined that older people use drugs, too:

"... The proportion of 35-year-olds who abuse alcohol and use illicit drugs is higher than might be expected, a University of Michigan study shows.

More than 32 percent of men report heavy drinking—defined as having five or more drinks in a row—at least once in the past two weeks. Nearly 13 percent of men and 7 percent of women report using marijuana in the past month, and 7 percent of men and 8 percent of women report misusing prescription drugs in the past year. [...]

"We found that substance use was surprisingly prevalent at the start of midlife," said Alicia Merline, an ISR researcher who is the lead author of the article. "And we also found that it is not restricted to stereotypical drug users with low socioeconomic status."

After controlling for gender, education and income, the researchers found that professionals are equally as likely to use marijuana as those in other job classifications. Nearly 10 percent of the 35-year-old males with professional jobs report having used marijuana in the past month, for example. ... "

> UMPR: "Substance use still common at age 35, study finds"

Posted by Rob at 1:38 AM

The striking Borders employees will be voting to ratify the agreement reached over break this week, but if the Workers World is to be believed, Borders may have settled because of the impact of the community boycott on their sales:

"According to the strikers, Borders' sales at the flagship store in Ann Arbor, Mich., have plummeted 75 percent since the strike began on Nov. 8."

Posted by Rob at 1:33 AM

The deadline for Arts at Michigan's Winter 04 Arts Adventure Series is tomorrow, January 7th.

Posted by Rob at 1:23 AM

Welcome Back

In case you haven't visited this website recently, here are a few handy links to my largest posts from over break:

> Perhaps the biggest story from break - the Borders Strike has ended

> I've written up some ideas about the city: 5 Easy, Inexpensive Things Ann Arbor Could Do to Build a Better City

> and 6 Slightly Harder Things Ann Arbor Could Do to Build a Better City

> Finally, a discussion of the success of Airbus: Let's Talk Airport Transit

Also, now seems a good time to note that I have a number of textbook-related links a little way down the right-hand column of the page. Also, Shaman Drum has a handy listing of all the books they carry on their textbook website.

Posted by Rob at 1:19 AM

U-M Directory group owners will now be able to make their members private:

"Privacy Feature for Directory Groups
You will be able to make U-M Online Directory group entries private, hiding the group's membership list from public view. If the group owner chooses to make the group private (by modifying the group entry and clicking the True radio button under the new Private Group heading) only the group's owners and members will be able to view the membership list.

Note that this does NOT prevent non-members from sending e-mail to the group. ITCS is working on that feature and will implement it at a later date."

And to be fair, I'm not the first U-M blogger to post about the change!

Posted by Rob at 1:16 AM

Monday, January 05, 2004

"MOYERS: What's the moral assignment now?

DAVIS: Well, I don't know.

And I suspect a lot of us don't know, but it's up to us to recognize that there is one and that we need access to it, and we need to align all our small objectives, in line with the moral assignment of the times and of the age.

There is a saying in the book, "Where there is no vision, the people perish." Right now, we are sort of short on the vision thing, as some politicians have mentioned.

MOYERS: Some of my audience is young enough to know what the book is.

DAVIS: The book is the Bible. A lot of us depended on that, Bill. There are those of us committed to destiny or biology or whatever, to concern ourselves with the moral assignment.

We communicators, we storytellers, we poets, we artists, what is our function really but to remind ourselves that in the human endeavor, our humanity is never complete unless it has a strong moral component.

And we cannot afford to be too small in our objectives because what is required even to survive is that we take the larger view of ourselves and our possibilities.

And somebody has got to say that, somebody's got to ring that bell, somebody's got to write that poem, sing that song, dance that dance that says to us all, "Rise, you're larger than that. It's up to you to define the final meaning of America." We're not there yet, but we're on the way."

Posted by Rob at 8:53 PM

Larry Kestenbaum, author of the blog Polygon, the Dancing Bear has announced he'll be running for the Washtenaw County Clerk/Register of Deeds next November, if he wins the Democratic primary for that position on August 3rd.

Posted by Rob at 8:17 PM

... "Often those who cloak themselves in a cape of religiosity happen to be some who are the biggest cutters," Granholm said. "Now, some of that can balance out. But when you get to cutting the services for the least of these -- in the 25th chapter of Matthew in the 37th verse the Lord says, 'Whatsoever you do to the least of these, so also you do unto me' -- that's when I question whether somebody is really living out the faith that they profess."

Skubick responded by saying he thought Granholm would be criticized for the remark, but she said she simply hoped that everyone in Lansing would "keep those values in mind . . . through the budget process."

Granholm's critics were quick to pounce.

"It is quite arrogant for the governor to cloak her views on balancing the budget in religious terms in order to demonize her political opponents," said Betsy DeVos, chairman of the Michigan Republican Party.

"The governor may not know it, but there are quite a few folks in Michigan who give regularly to charities and churches and view this as an excellent and efficient way to help the poor and the less fortunate," DeVos said. "Apparently, she thinks that only government can do that." ... "

> Freep: "On cuts, Granholm cites bible, draws wrath" (Thanks to a tip from George)

Posted by Rob at 7:34 PM

Vanessa Kerry, John Kerry's daughter, is coming to campus this week:


This is Vanessa Kerry, John Kerry's youngest daughter. My stepbrother Chris and I are coming to you at University of Michigan this Thursday night at the Union.

Want to know how to afford your education? Want to know how we can help the environment? Want a job after college? Please come talk about how the current presidential election affects you and these questions.

Please join us in Room 2105B of the Union at 8:00pm this Thursday, January 8th. We're bringing some pizza with us, just in case you're getting tired of dorm food.

Whomever your candidate, we hope you will join us in a conversation about our country and this election.

Chris and I have spent the last several months traveling around the country talking about the importance of this election. We need to nominate a strong candidate to go toe to toe with Bush this fall. And we need someone who will stand firm on the issues that we care about.

My Dad has got 100% ratings from the NAACP, Planned Parenthood, NARAL, Human Rights Campaign and other groups whose values we share. I want to tell you about why he is the guy who fights for what is right AND can beat Bush -- so please come out to talk to Chris and I about what we can do to not just take our country back but move our country forward!

Chris and I are looking forward to meeting you!

Vanessa Kerry (and Chris Heinz)"

Posted by Rob at 7:30 PM

"Out is the traditional enclosed mall; in is the so-called lifestyle center with free-standing stores clustered around an open-air plaza, a new study shows.

The rising cost of land in Metro Detroit and changing shoppers’ preferences are reshaping the next generation of stores as they follow people to the outlying suburbs, according to a report by Bieri & Associates Inc., a Detroit-based retail consulting firm.

Retailers such as Banana Republic, Williams-Sonoma and Ann Taylor often prefer to be in outdoor settings where lines of shops and eateries are set along a winding Main Street, said Jim Bieri, president of the company that published the study. ... "

> See DetNews: "Retailers bypass malls for 'lifestyle centers'"
> See my post from December 7 on lifestyle centers

Posted by Rob at 6:45 PM

Who's behind the recent proposal to restrict speech at city council meetings? Yes, that's right, 2nd Ward Republican Mike Reid, the lead opponent to approving accessory apartments in the city. However, the proposal seems to have broad support on the city council, and I suspect it is simply a move to censor Blaine Coleman, who frequently addresses the council. As another example, if the rule had already been in place, members of the city's Muslim community would not be allowed to come and ask for a crosswalk on Plymouth (something the city has been ignoring for years) unless the proposal was on the agenda. Clearly, restricting speech to "what's on the agenda" is uncalled for censorship: while Blaine and others may be annoying, there might be a time when the council is ignoring or ignorant of something important.

"Less talk. More speakers.

That's what City Council Member Mike Reid would like to see at the bimonthly Ann Arbor City Council meetings. The 2nd Ward Republican is sponsoring a resolution that would shorten the amount of time for public comment, add one more speaking slot to the reserved time and limit the topic to what is on that week's agenda."

> From AANews: "Comment rules may tighten"

Also, this is part of what the Washtenaw County ACLU had to say in a recent member alert: "Citizen input is valuable and should be maintained. Many agenda items do not make it to the Council table until members of the public bring an issue to the attention of Council through public commentary. It took years of city residents speaking about homelessness during public commentary before the issue of affordable housing made its way to a City Council agenda. Affordable housing is now recognized by the City as a top-priority concern affecting the quality of life of all Ann Arbor residents."

Posted by Rob at 2:12 PM

Sunday, January 04, 2004

Nathan Newman and Matthew Yglesias, two national bloggers, have both recently posted on the connection between allowing for urban density and controlling the cost of housing. I think Yglesias comes close to a usable approach to understanding gentrification:

"... As a neighborhood becomes a "hotter," more desirable place to live, the logical market response is to demolish low-rise structures and replace them with apartment buildings that can accommodate more residents as well as retail outlets on the ground floor. Land prices rise enormously, but rents do not as we fit more stuff into the same quantity of land. Someone had the foresight years ago to invent steel for just this purpose. In practice, however, relatively well-heeled homeowners conspire with misguided anti-gentrification elements to impede real estate development, land prices rise by somewhat less than they would under the high-rise scenario, but housing becomes exorbitantly expensive, thus causing the waves of gentrification to emanate from the "hot" neighborhood pushing residents to-and-fro. ..."

What seems missing, however, is a recognition that the oldest buildings will have the cheap rents, and the new buildings will be relatively expensive (since the developer must recoup the cost of construction). Thwarting gentrification involves not only allowing for reasonable density, but also ensuring a fine-grained mix of age and size buildings. It should be easy to build up, and difficult to combine lots for giant mega-projects.

What does this mean in Ann Arbor? Certainly, allowing for higher density downtown, something the city is beginning to do, however I wouldn't go so far as to embracing "creative destruction" as completely as Newman. Despite raising the maximum height, both the Collegian and Corner House Lofts were somewhat controversial - ostensibly for aesthetic reasons - even though both are near giant ugly parking garages of similar height. The Corner House Lofts building was scaled back after an initial plan was rejected by the Planning Commission, and the Collegian was scaled back because the million-dollar condos didn't sell.

Here's an excerpt from my post on why the Corner House Lofts won't cause gentrification (Although perhaps is a response to it), which seems particularly relevent since I read in this month's Observer that rental vacancies downtown are running as high as 14 to 20% according to some estimates.

"Construction in general doesn't cause gentrification, developers like Spoon Equities do. If the Daily is serious about cutting rents, they should be agitating about the Ann Arbor Tenant's Union, which may not exist next year, thanks to the good work done by the current MSA executives."

Posted by Rob at 5:45 PM

The End of Fall Rush?

It looks as if a long-discussed change to the University's Greek system may finally happen, although in the usual administration manner - in secret, with little student input. I've heard that Vice President of Student Affairs E. Royster Harper has presented a plan at an informal Regents meeting (where they are able to conduct their business without the annoyance of any members of the public or pesky reporters) that would establish as goals for the Greek system live-in advisors in the houses, alcohol-free housing, a total ban on hazing, and pushing back recruitment by prohibiting freshman living in the dorms from joining any campus group that has a "pledge-term" period. The changes come after a Sigma Chi pledge suffered kidney failure during a hazing ritual last September. (See "IFC expels frat for hazing" and "Sigma Chi vacates residence in light of hazing incident."

All these changes may happen as soon as Fall 2005, if approved by the Regents. The last one seems a stroke of genius: the University houses virtually all freshman in their dorms, and could easily introduce into their Community Living Standards a rule prohibiting freshman from joining the Greek system - or risk being ejected from the dorms, or other punishments. The issue of University control over the Greek System is somewhat nebulous since they are technically independent organizations, however the University retains many levers of control, particularly through their Office of Greek Life.

Although naysayers have long complained a delayed rush would cause housing problems, I suspect they're just worried they might have trouble recruiting members if they didn't have access to freshman at their most vulnerable moments at the beginning of freshman year. This is an issue the Daily editorializes about each year, most recently last September: "Why Rush? Greek Rush should move to winter semester"

It seems worth noting that leaders in the Greek community have been moving towards alcohol-free houses for some time: former IFC executive board member Marc Hustvedt proposed exactly that in a 2001 Viewpoint titled "A Challenge to the Community" saying that "... the idea of treading water, waiting to see if the idea of moving the parties out of the fraternity houses can work, is ridiculous. Now"s the time we need to back up our claim that Michigan is home to the "leaders and best" and get out there an make the effort to make this work."

Posted by Rob at 3:15 PM

"Tax and Spend Jesus"

"And so it is with great sadness that I write this letter urging you to vote against Jesus Christ for President.

Just six months after His re-rebirth, it has become startlingly clear that Jesus has lost touch with America. Far from being a prudent Savior, Jesus has proven to be no more than a foolhardy liberal. Aligning Himself with the far-left minority, Jesus has adopted the lofty and politically correct delusions that have come to define the liberal elite. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Jesus' irresponsible welfare proposals and pleas for universal healthcare. [...]

"Tax-And-Spend Jesus" wants us to believe that our hard-earned money should be pumped into godless public schools and the sinful homes of single-mother welfare queens.

The reckless liberalism of Jesus Christ cannot be allowed to take hold of the Christian values this great country has fought so hard to preserve. Jesus' immorality becomes more heinous by the day, and what kind of example is He setting for our children by openly associating with prostitutes? Jesus' environmental advocacy resembles that of your common, everyday hippy: He has criticized our reliance on fossil fuels and insists that businesses adopt unfair and impractical pollution prevention measures. He also goes barefoot to public events and has yet to shower or shave as far as I can tell. Messiah or not, there is no room for grungy tree-huggers in the White House.

Today's America should not cater to the bleeding-heart politics of men like Howard Dean and Jesus. ... "

(From Nathan Mcintire's piece on McSweeney's, via fellow Arborblogger 90% Crud)

Posted by Rob at 12:19 PM

Who knew that the physical layout of a city had anything to do with health? Apparently Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who told reporters his theory about why Detroit had been named America's fattest city by Men's Health: "We're not a walking city," Kilpatrick said, adding that this was because Detroit is "the automotive capital of the world." More:

"Our city is the automotive capital of the world," he told television station WXYZ. "The culture here is you walk out of your house, you get in your car or you take a bus and you go where you're going."

Kilpatrick, a former college offensive lineman with about 300 pounds on his 6-foot-4 frame, said he "will lead by example" to encourage city residents to lose weight. He plans to run a marathon in the coming year. ..."

> From USA Today: "Detroit eclipses Houston as fattest city"
> See also DetNews: "Detroiters defy makover mania, eat their way to broader horizons"
> Freep: "Detroit is No. 1 on fattest city list"

Also, travelers beware: "Region prepares for 8-12 inches of snow"

Posted by Rob at 10:11 AM

The Ann Arbor City Council is considering changing the format of their public comments time, restricting the subject matter and length of time available for each speaker:

"The Ann Arbor City Council is considering changes in how it runs its meetings, including the way it allocates opportunities for public comment.

Some of the changes would be for the portion of council meetings called "Public Commentary - Reserved Time" that traditionally opens council meetings. The council wants to limit the topics speakers can comment on to what is on that meeting's agenda. They also want to reduce the amount of time per speaker from four minutes to three minutes, but the council would expand the number of speakers per meeting from eight to nine.

The council holds a second public commentary at the end of its meetings, but that session is seldom used except by a few regulars, because it comes late into the evening, usually about 11 p.m.

The meeting is Monday at 7:30 p.m. in Council Chambers on the second floor of city hall, 100 N. Fifth Ave."

Posted by Rob at 9:58 AM

Saturday, January 03, 2004

"the cooperative worked a lot longer than I'd have expected"

"As the sun lighted the stained-glass "Del Rio" sign above the door to the bar at Ashley and Washington Wednesday afternoon, people began drinking their last respects.

"Is this the end of the Del Rio?" asked a longtime patron as he walked into the downtown Ann Arbor tavern and restaurant that existed as an informal cooperative for most of its years since its founding in 1970. "Can I still get a drink?"

The answer was yes, in both instances.

Some of those eating on the bar's final day had worked there. They had pizza or nachos, two dishes the Del Rio was known for, as well as the Detburger, of course. Some had been married there, and some had just hung out for years, often at the coveted round table next to the front door of the casual, brick and pine-paneled room with red and gold glass chandeliers over the tables, a pressed-tin ceiling, a long bar, and rows and rows of cassette tapes. ..."

> From AANews: "Sun sets over Del Rio bar"

Posted by Rob at 8:14 PM

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