Friday, March 28

The modern world, which prides itself on being a repudiation of the irrationalities of a culture that could give rise to an Inquisition, was in fact forged in the fires of those irrationalities, and we can still feel their heat.
This sentence from James Carroll's Constantine's Sword is extraordinarily insightful and can be generalized to many problems of modern life: Racism, the fight against scientific rationality, cultural hegemony, religious conflict, the list goes on... In fact, with a slight re-wording I think it becomes even more relevant:
The modern world, which prides itself on being a repudiation of the 'irrationalities of culture', was in fact forged in the fires of those irrationalities.
How long before rational thought runs the world?

Thursday, March 27

The case of Deborah Shank vs. Wal-Mart.

Alternet: "Wal-Mart Sues Brain-Damaged Employee".

Wall Street Journal: "Wal-Mart Prevails in Case to Recover Health Costs".

However you spin it, it's tragic when 'policies' prevent corporate drones from doing the right thing. You can only alienate so many people... You can only bankrupt so many suppliers... You can only shutter so many competing stores... Before the general tide of public opinion turns against you. (Thanks, Rose.)

Wednesday, March 26

A star architect is not always the best architect for the job.

Thursday, March 20

Ted Atkinson at Daily Kos, commenting on the fact the Obama wrote his recent speech on race and America himself:
Here is a chair. Regardless of who you support, or what you think of Obama, I want you to sit here, right here on this chair and consider something wonderful. To wit:

It is possible that we will have a President who not only will speak in full, complete sentences, but who will do so in a manner that is eloquent, and who will also be articulate and eloquent in delivering words he is intelligent enough to know, understand, and use in a speech he is capable of writing himself.
The Mayor of Seattle has signed an executive order that will stop the city from purchasing bottled water, citing its detrimental effect on the environment. Good leadership by example; thank you Seattle.

Tuesday, March 18

Yesterday I was ready to post a nasty anti-St. Patrick's Day entry, and then I started thinking about the day's heritage as a binding of Irish community in the face of adversity in the 19th Century United States. Felt bad; couldn't do it.

Then I walked around downtown after our city's parade and saw all the stupid drunken idiots, and I reconsidered. St. Patrick's Day is stupid.
"We stand by our president..." (via Digg)

Thursday, March 13

Could it be? The fulfillment of my career-long dream...the beginning of the end of the McMansion.
Kiss the Gas-Guzzling NASCAR Era Good-Bye.
Slum Visits: Tourism or Voyeurism? (Answer: Voyeurism.)
If the prosecutor is obliged to choose his cases, it follows that he can choose his defendants. Therein is the most dangerous power of the prosecutor: that he will pick people that he thinks he should get, rather than pick cases that need to be prosecuted. With the law books filled with a great assortment of crimes, a prosecutor stands a fair chance of finding at least a technical violation of some act on the part of almost anyone. In such a case, it is not a question of discovering the commission of a crime and then looking for the man who has committed it, it is a question of picking the man and then searching the law books, or putting investigators to work, to pin some offense on him.
- Robert Jackson. On Spitzer and prosecutor discretion...

Wednesday, March 12

At the beginning of the 21st Century, Americans' primary contribution to global society became clear: shopping. Now what happens when we begin to bumble our special talent?

Tuesday, March 11

President Bush used Saddam's alleged relationship with al Qaida, along with Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction, as arguments for invading Iraq after the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks. ... An exhaustive review of more than 600,000 Iraqi documents that were captured after the 2003 U.S. invasion has found no evidence that Saddam Hussein's regime had any operational links with Osama bin Laden's al Qaida terrorist network.

Monday, March 10

Dave McNeely in the Edmond (Oklahoma) Sun:
The Oklahoma House of Representatives Education Committee has just approved House Bill 2211. ... The bill requires public schools to guarantee students the right to express their religious viewpoints in a public forum, in class, in homework and in other ways without being penalized. If a student’s religious beliefs were in conflict with scientific theory, and the student chose to express those beliefs rather than explain the theory in response to an exam question, the student’s incorrect response would be deemed satisfactory, according to this bill.

The school would be required to reward the student with a good grade, or be considered in violation of the law. Even simple, factual information such as the age of the earth (4.65 billion years) would be subject to the student’s belief, and if the student answered 6,000 years based on his or her religious belief, the school would have to credit it as correct.

Thursday, March 6

The apparently inevitable and ugly face of urban growth: The Bridge to Nowhere (Anchorage, Alaska; more here); and, A Stoic Little Town Faces Tomorrow (Los Angeles, California).

Wednesday, March 5

The report from the Pew Center on the States, referenced by John on 2/29, says that from 1987 to 2007, average state general fund expenditures on corrections (prisons, etc.) increased 127%, while during the same period expenditures on education rose only 21%.
Bottled water hate.

Tuesday, March 4

As an Ohio citizen, today I cast my vote in the primary election, which I am, uh, pretty sure will be counted correctly, and, um, democracy will be served?

Monday, March 3

Everyone knows that the U.S. imports a massive amount of products from China. But do you know that our highest dollar-value export to China is...trash?