Monday, March 31, 2008

The Pastor

Ali Abunimah has a useful piece today on Obama and Jeremiah Wright where he shows how Obama understands the history of the relationship between Israel and South Africa and related Jewish/Black conflict in the United States.

An aside: at the beginning, Abunimah recounts how Obama criticizes Wright for having "a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam." I thought Abunimah was surely about to criticize Obama from the left for saying that. But he seemed to have left him off the hook for it; I think he's still rooting for him, sort of.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Where does your senator stand?

National Journal's recent ranking of Senators by their voting record, which put Obama as most liberal, got a fair amount of ink. This was the same magazine that in 2004 ranked Kerry as the most liberal. (Feingold? Boxer? Kennedy? no no no). National Journal's system has been thoroughly debunked. It's more twisted than a Twizzler.

For a real comparison, Jeff Lewis and Keith Poole have a far better system. Here's their ranking of the 110th senate, with links from there to the house and to previous congresses.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

It's Westco, the article

No, not the naked dorm article. The article in the Observer last month. Yup.

Thanks to team Ann Arbor for the tip.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

One outlet makes a case for calling the race

Now I'm not always a big Politico fan, but on Friday they had an interesting and convincing piece saying that the race is really over.

"One big fact has largely been lost in the recent coverage of the Democratic presidential race: Hillary Rodham Clinton has virtually no chance of winning ... The notion of the Democratic contest being a dramatic cliffhanger is a game of make-believe."

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Shiites, Sunnis, meh, whatever

Here's the McCain video from Tuesday.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The trends in men's clothing

When Jeff Lewis had trouble buttoning his trousers recently, he didn't go on a diet or hit the gym. He reached for a new device: "bodyshaping" underwear. Basically, a girdle.

Saturday's WSJ has the story.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Heading up to the farm

It's one of those days when you look at the paper and the words "Wesleyan dropout" find their way in.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


OMG, you have to experience this. You must be in a quiet room, and you must use earphones, not speakers. Then listen to this 5 minute clip.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Disaster Averted in Red Hook!

NYC OKs permit for 6 more years of beloved soccer-field tacos.

Just a couple months we have to wait now...

Monday, March 10, 2008

Oil and patriarchy

New research suggests that women's rights are strongly correlated (negatively) to the oil success of their country. Maybe we already knew that the oil countries tend to be rather oppressive, but these folks lay out a narrative of how specifically it affects women. The Washington Post has the story today.

Monday, March 03, 2008

One last hurrah

Coney Island as we know it is sort of on the brink of death, but it's not quite there. In fact, Astroland and Deno's are both opening for the 2008 season on March 16. (BRRR). Who would have thunk it?

Astroland is the easternmost of the parks that make up Coney Island, and it includes the Cyclone. 2007 looked like it would be the last season for the park (though the Cyclone was not to be destroyed), but in October a deal was reached with Thor Equities (who bought the park in 2006) to keep it open in 2008. Deno's Wonder Wheel park (make sure you have the sound on when you check out their site!), the park just west of Astroland, is also still alive. The parks further west (between Deno's and Stillwell Ave) are but vacant lots now. Last week there was serious talk of bringing back the parachute jump, but don't hold your breath on that one.

Without getting too serious here with death metaphors, I do wonder if this slow, gradual death of Coney Island is really a dignified way for it to go. Is it not sort of just playing with our hearts at this point? Is this going to mess with our memories?

I don't know. But I want to at least consider the possibility of not looking at it as a death. Coney Island has changed a lot over the decades. To the people who saw it in the 1920's, what we've had there in recent decades would surely be a laughable embarrassment. So, maybe it already died. Or maybe it's going to be forever evolving. In 2009 there may not be too much of anything. It will be a low point for Coney Island, but this is a place that has recovered from some awfully terrible times before.

The vague plans for what they'll build a few years from now look awfully glitzy and look to be a break from any sense of Coney Island tradition. But should we have necessarily rooted for it to stay the same when this is a place with a history of change?

I can't see these new designs being good. But I won't rule out the possibility that 50 years from now I'll look back at it and think this was just one of Coney's many transformations. I don't think what we had in the last few years was something that needed to be changed, or fixed -- and certainly I'd be content if Coney hadn't changed since the 1920s at all. But it has. And the most recent incarnation of it, of the past few years, is hardly the holy grail. There's no specific reason that this is exactly what we need to hold on to.

I'm trying to keep an open mind.

Anyhow, on New Year's Eve, I went with Team Vassar to Coney Island, and I took some photos to capture the scene.