29 April 2008

MSM: So Bad it's Beyond Satirizable

Three examples to demonstrate the absence of even a hint of perspicuity in the mainstream media's news reporting:

1) The Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Nobody cared about him before he mouthed off and nobody cares about him now. The story here is not what impact he has on the election; the story is that the MSM hasn't a clue about what to report and how to report it. All it can do is leech onto sensationalism and desperately and incessantly manufacture the visage of relevance. At first it was annoying, then frustrating, and now it is just plain pathetic, like a mid-life douchebag donning torn jeans and riding a Harley, hoping that people will take him seriously for what he is not. I shake my head and laugh at the Sunday morning roundtables of political punditry, so out of touch that they actually think their confabulatory cacophony lends legitimacy to non-issues.

2) Mortgage crisis. This is a perfect example of "unreporting." Unlike the Rev. Wright story, which doesn't matter, this one matters but is simply not reported in a substantive manner. We hear about families that can barley afford their payments or have lost their homes. We see their kids at the table. We see statistics about how many foreclosures there were this quarter, given to us in big letters and big arrows. The media offers us emotion and numbers.

But it doesn't offer answers. No interviews with the executives or boards of financial institutions. No questions to elected officials about their role. No news stories about bad business or bad government. What could have prevented it? What will prevent another crisis? Are terms like "more regulation" and "increased transparency" still faux pas in polite conversation among the gentlemen of streets Wall and K?

3) Miley Cyrus. As the difference between the MSM and "The View" diminishes daily we get stories like this, the topic du jour: How to talk to your kids about Miley Cyrus' racy photo. Maybe the parents can use the same talk they got about that Farrah Fawcett poster, or nothing coming between Brooke Shields and her Calvins, or Demi Moore's big naked pregnant belly on Rolling Stone, or Britney's beaver on every cell phone at school.

What's next? News stories about kids and their crazy music?

25 April 2008

Research Establishes Link Between Dinosaurs & Birds

4 out of 5 dentists agree that birds evolved from dinosaurs. The way to prove this is with DNA but unfortunately dinosaur DNA is pretty hard to come by.

Apparently, there is another way as shown by this research: protein analysis. The scientists analyzed protein from a T. Rex and compared it to modern birds. The result:

...molecular analysis of a shred of 68-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex protein – along with that of 21 modern species – confirms that dinosaurs share common ancestry with chickens, ostriches, and to a lesser extent, alligators.

And furthermore...

The scientists also report that similar analysis of 160,000- to 600,000-year-old collagen protein sequences derived from mastodon bone establishes a close phylogenetic relationship between that extinct species and modern elephants.

Two questions: Does T. Rex taste like chicken, and is there a link between Ken Hamm and modern humans?

24 April 2008

Plans to Abate Year-End Trash at UD

Back when I was fit enough to run around all evening, I used to play tennis at the UC courts regularly. It was a sad day for me and my pocketed-shorts posse when UC replaced those courts with freshman dorms. The courts were not replaced and as a result the tennis team was nixed.

Next to the courts were some other dorms, and next to them was a big dumpster. One day after playing near the end of spring semester my erstwhile tennis partner/lady companion noticed the overflowing dumpster. We dumpster-dove and eagerly perused the contents. I remember finding a steel mesh wastebasket, a baking pan and a Bearcat t-shirt with the tag still on it. There was lots of carpet, too.

There's a lot of good stuff if you're willing to walk around in a dumpster. And as I mentioned, it is not necessarily a turn-off for the ladies. From the college's perspective, however, it's not so fun:

At the end of each year, over 100 tons of unwanted items are left on campus when students move out. This large amount of trash has a negative environmental impact and costs the university a large amount in dumpster and landfill fees.

So UD is trying a new plan:

In order to minimize UD’s impact on the environment and cut these costs, the university has made changes that will provide students the opportunity to donate unwanted items as opposed to throwing them away...

Students with unwanted clothing, non-perishable food items, and household items are encouraged to donate it through the many choices UD has made available. From April 28 to May 5, students living in residence halls will be able to donate non-perishable food and clothing in lobbies. The food will be donated to the University of Dayton Summer Appalachia Program (UDSAP) and the clothing will be donated to St. Vincent De Paul.

22 April 2008

Art, Shvart

Have you heard the story of Yale art student Aliza Shvarts? I'm sure the corporate newsreaders are loving this one, but I don't know because I don't watch.

Anyway, here's the basic story:

Art major Aliza Shvarts ’08 wants to make a statement.

Beginning next Tuesday, Shvarts will be displaying her senior art project, a documentation of a nine-month process during which she artificially inseminated herself “as often as possible” while periodically taking abortifacient drugs to induce miscarriages. Her exhibition will feature video recordings of these forced miscarriages as well as preserved collections of the blood from the process.

The goal in creating the art exhibition, Shvarts said, was to spark conversation and debate on the relationship between art and the human body.

Be sure to read the rest. What kind of faculty advisor would approve this project? This kind.

I've seen stuff like this before. Nonsensical and narcissistic, meant to exalt the artist more than anything else, despite the pseudophilosophical psychobabble meant to qualify it as serious, profound and significant.

Shvart's sophomoric foray into art is not art at all-- and I don't mean in the sense that it doesn't qualify as art; I mean in the sense that it's something else, an unwitting reflection of American zeitgeist disguised as performance art. Accidentally using oneself to illustrate the social psychology of narcissism and gender identity issues is an immature revelation of ineptitude, not a work of art.

And you don't have to take my word for it; Laurie Fendrich has street cred and here's what she wrote:

For those of us in the contemporary-art business, the Yale squabble isn’t all that interesting. Ms Shvarts’s undergraduate project sounds so, well, so undergraduate...

The dispiriting part about Shvarts’s tempestuous teapot isn’t really the art — whether it’s morally offensive, or not, or good, or bad — but the fact that putatively edgy art projects are really guided to completion by faculty advisers who inexorably turn what was once upon a time a fierce counter-voice to culture into soft, risk-free, pseudo-avant-garde exercises in calculated offensiveness.

Artist of the Day

He's not local (not even close) but Naoto Hattori's work is worth a look during your downtime.

Sort of a sci-fi Dali meets Bosch. Check out gallery #2 for his variations on the Mona Lisa theme.

19 April 2008

Three Great Beers

Three great beers I've had recently:

Westmalle Dubbel

My sister is in town with her bf, and his favorite beer is Duvel. I bought some for the occasion and as it turned out my parents did the same thing. So we had some good cheers last night. We had a good laugh at my dad's awful pour considering the bottle actually has pouring instructions on the label.

Today I bought some Moerlein OTR so he can sample our "local" brew while we grill some lamb, chicken, and pork. But that's assuming they get back from the Freedom Center before the rain comes.

18 April 2008


In a few years I might buy Jean-Robert's new restaurant and rename it "Labomatic" to reflect the new menu.

...researchers in the Netherlands and the U.S. expect to perfect a scalable process to produce cost-effective, in vitro (lab-grown), processed meats within five years.

If suitable growing media are perfected, Matheny says factory-grown meat could compete with meat from animals. After all, farm animals, due to maintenance requirements, convert little of what they're fed into what we ultimately eat. In vitro meat would have no waste, bones or offal to dispose.

“We've managed to make meat production much more efficient in terms of labor, but it wouldn't be as efficient as just one person pushing a button on an enormous incubator,” Matheny says. “There are also inefficiencies caused by meat production's unpredictable nature — the problems caused by biology and weather. It would be much more efficient economically if we found a way to decrease all that variability and bring the whole thing into a controlled setting.”

“Control is the main advantage,” Matheny says. “While we've gotten pretty good at controlling marbling in live animals, it could be done much more accurately in vitro. We could precisely control how much fat there is, its location, even the ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acids.

Quake "Rocks" Clark Street

"Rocks." That's how WCPO described it. TV news is so funny. I can't wait to see how the evening news makes a big deal out of this.

Anyway, I felt it immediately. I heard some shelved items rattle and clink. I listened for wind because strong winds produce a similar rumbling effect sometimes. But no wind. I went to the window and looked outside but there was nothing there. I knew right away it was an earthquake because the same thing happened when I was a kid, and this felt the same. The clock said 5:41.

It felt like an offensive line was having a dance party somewhere in the house.

I talked with my parents later and they were pretty scared when it happened because they were awakened by their bedroom door shaking and rattling.

15 April 2008

"Body Acceptance Week" Misses the Point

It's "Body Acceptance Week" at UC, reports the student newspaper.

The paper quotes one Susan Carlson, who is the director of field education and field service associate professor in the School of Social Work. I have never heard of that before, but her words make as little sense as her job title:

"For women, power can come from being thin; socially, we have a connotation of fatness being lazy or weak."

I'm not sure "power" is the right word here. I think it's quite the opposite, in fact: isn't it more about the desire to fit in with the cultural stereotypes of physical appearance? The compulsion to conform is hardly "powerful."

"A lot of it has to do with [women's] relationships with their moms: how they gained power and their effectiveness, whether they played a subservient role," Carlson said. "It also extends to the way young women compete with each other."

"Physically, women can feel that by restricting eating, they're doing the right thing - exercising self-control," Carlson said.

I'm not sure about the mom-daughter power thing (is anyone else wondering whether Ms. Carlson has her own issues there?). As far as the "self-control," once again I think it's the opposite: isn't the extensive influence of an individual's behavior by external societal factors the opposite of self-control?

Fortunately, the article follows Carlson's psychobabble with more sensible information from an actual health professional:

Brehm said it's definitely possible to be overweight and still be healthy.

"You can be very physically fit and still be overweight or obese," Brehm said. "You can be a 'normal' weight and not be healthy."

And that's the key thing: it's not about size and weight, it's about diet and health.

Rather than use the opportunity to educate students that they can control their health, "Body Acceptance Week" will send the message that they are not in control, they are victims of external forces, and that they need psychological validation more than physical health.

14 April 2008

What Would a Clinton Presidency Look Like?

Carl Bernstein's speculation on the possibility:

...high-minded ideals, lowered execution, half truths, outright lies (and imaginary flights), take-no prisoners politics, some very good policy ideas, a presidential spouse given to wallowing in anger and self-pity, and a succession of aides and surrogates pushed under the bus when things don’t go right. Which is to say, often.

And endless psychodrama: the essential Clintonian experience that mesmerizes the press, confuses the citizenry, confounds members of both parties...

As an aide put it (quoted in my book, A Woman In Charge: the Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton):

“She doesn’t look at her life as a series of crises but rather a series of
battles. I think of her viewing herself in more heroic terms, an epic
character like in The Iliad, fighting battle after battle. Yes, she succumbs
to victimization sometimes, in that when the truth becomes
too painful, when she is faced with the repercussions of her own
mistakes or flaws, she falls into victimhood. But that’s a last resort
and when she does allow the wallowing it’s only in the warm glow
of martyrdom—as a laudable victim—a martyr in the tradition of
Joan of Arc, a martyr in the religious sense. She would much
rather play the woman warrior—whether it’s against the bimbos,
the press, the other party, the other candidate, the right-wing.
She’s happiest when she’s fighting, when she has identified the
enemy and goes into attack mode. . . . That’s what she thrives on
more than anything—the battle.”

And, yes, a sense of entitlement that veritably shouts, “Look, because I believe in good things, and because of all I’ve been through, I deserve to win this.”


Braunschweiger is a city in (where else) Germany. It is also the name of a German sausage concoction, presumable because it was invented in the city.

I had never heard of Braunschweiger until I saw it on the sandwich menu at Silverglade's. Their "Findlay Market" sandwich comes with smoked braunschweiger, mustard and onion on pumpernickel bread. No cheese.

I was in the store and decided to try it. I didn't ask what it was; it wouldn't have made any difference. I was in the mood to to try it. I figured it was some kind of liverwurst and I could look it up after I ate. It is, in fact, a kind of liverwurst and according to this German sausage overview it is "the most well known of the liverwurst sausages."

One of my gustatory goals this year is to try blood sausage. I'm not totally grossed out by it, but there is something a little weird about eating congealed blood and fat. It's also quite unhealthy according to NutritionData's analysis. I'll try the head cheese first.

09 April 2008

People Like Cleaner Cities

That's the shocking conclusion from a recent Forbes study. It turns out there are advantages to clean cities. Who'd a thunk it?

Beyond health, cleanliness appears to have an important economic impact. While nine of our 10 cleanest cities showed population increases between 2000 and 2006, major metro areas losing residents over that period tend to rank near the bottom of the cleanliness list; they include Philadelphia, Chicago, Buffalo, N.Y., and Detroit. Many factors, notably economic ones, go into a person's choice to move, of course. But a reputation for clean air, water and streets seems to count as well.

But... but... it costs TAX DOLLARS!! Surely Cincinnati can do better things than make short-term investments for long-term gain (i.e. anti-free market liberal communist left-wing socialism).

Besides, aren't we doing just fine?

08 April 2008

Children of the Porn

Naomi Wolf on the effects of porn:

…I saw Andrea Dworkin, the anti-porn activist most famous in the eighties for her conviction that opening the floodgates of pornography would lead men to see real women in sexually debased ways… In a kind of domino theory, she predicted, rape and other kinds of sexual mayhem would surely follow.

But the effect is not making men into raving beasts. On the contrary: The onslaught of porn is responsible for deadening male libido in relation to real women, and leading men to see fewer and fewer women as “porn-worthy.” Far from having to fend off porn-crazed young men, young women are worrying that as mere flesh and blood, they can scarcely get, let alone hold, their attention.

So Dworkin was right that pornography is compulsive, but she was wrong in thinking it would make men more rapacious. A whole generation of men are less able to connect erotically to women—and ultimately less libidinous.

The reason to turn off the porn might become, to thoughtful people, not a moral one but, in a way, a physical- and emotional-health one; you might want to rethink your constant access to porn in the same way that, if you want to be an athlete, you rethink your smoking. The evidence is in: Greater supply of the stimulant equals diminished capacity.

(H/T Shunya's Notes)

05 April 2008

Final Four Thoughts and Another Chris Henry Story

Chris Henry just ain't right in the head

I overheard a man today whom I think might work for the Bengals. He talked about where the coaches traveled for meetings and what they were doing, etc. He also shared an unreported Chris Henry story:

He said Henry rented a car (in Louisiana, I think it was) and wrecked it. His insurance didn't cover the damages. Henry then rented another car and never returned it. Eventually he just drove it back home to Cincy. The rental company tracked it down and took it from his driveway.

Final Four Thoughts

I think UNC will beat Kansas. But Memphis-UCLA is a conundrum. My head says UCLA, but my gut knows that when you have a team that is almost universally discounted, you gotta watch out for it. Memphis is that team. If they were to take the title, I would be surprised, but not nearly as surprised as the pundits will be.

03 April 2008

And the 'Groundhog Day' Award Goes to...

Chris Henry!

Assault and criminal damaging charges have been filed against Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry.

It happened Monday outside an apartment building on Ohio Avenue in Clifton Heights.

A warrant has been issued for Henry's arrest.

Na Na NAH Na,
Na Na NAH Na,
Hey, Hey, Hey... Good-bye.

Boehner, Earmarks, and Miami U

From the Miami Student:

When it comes to federal project funding, local colleges and universities in the tri-state area are millions of dollars ahead of Miami University.

Miami falls in Rep. John Boehner's (R-West Chester) district. Boehner, who is also the minority leader, has voiced his opposition to earmarks.

Rep. Geoff Davis (R-Hebron), and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Jim Bunning (R-Ky.)... sponsored five projects for Northern Kentucky University, which received a total of $1.5 million in earmark funding-- the most of any nearby university.

Although earmarks make up less than one percent of the federal budget, Marshall said, fiscal conservatives like Boehner see them as wasteful pork-barrel spending.

"Congressmen Boehner has never supported earmarks and has made that clear," said Jessica Towhey, Boehner's press secretary. "He has never requested and never accepted an earmark."

Since Boehner has a policy against earmarks, Miami now has to ask congressmen in other districts to sponsor their projects...

"The projects we put forward are partnerships, which benefit not only the university but the state of Ohio and the community," Thomas said.

Though he opposes earmarks... Boehner supports competitive grants since they illustrate that a particular project has merit. Towhey said Boehner writes letters of support for organizations that frequently apply for these competitive grants.

There are many examples to illustrate that earmarks are used irresponsibly and in that regard it's good that Boehner opposes them. But many are worthwhile, and a blanket opposition means worthwhile initiatives may go unfunded. Earmarks for education and R&D can be investments, not wasteful expenditure. They should be scrutinized for their potential to advance health, education, industry, etc., not their potential to irritate Grover Norquist.

This article, written when the GOP was seeking a new majority leader, reveals that Boehner is not the high-principled fiscal moralist he would want you to believe he is.

02 April 2008

Architecture and Cities

From an insert in the March 17 Financial Times:

Any city with ambitions beyond its own fuzzy edges promotes itself as a destination for culture or shopping. If cities once established themselves through industry or trade, with courts, culture or cathedrals, now they take the short cut and call on the international starchitects to create a chunk of instant culture-cred.


This decade has seen almost every major US city seek out its own icon. Cities that were beginning to see a trickle of inhabitants back into their neglected downtowns have tried to jump-start urban regeneration through the creation of monuments. A small clique of international architects-- Gehry, of course, but also Renzo Piano, Daniel Libeskind, Zaha Hadid and Santiago Calatrava-- carved a seam of gleaming new arts buildings running through the centres of cities flattered finally to hit national and international headlines.

Unlikely Midwestern cities such as Des Moines, Cincinnati, Davenport, Akron and Milwaukee suddenly dominated the architecture press and appeared in in-flight magazines. Culture became the way these cities could enjoy their brief moment in the spotlight and convince themselves they were changing. A single gesture, an extravagant building, often funded by local philanthropy, appeared a cheap way of kick-starting regeneration-- far easier and cheaper than addressing social or housing problems.

Ouch. That's quite a contrast to the sentiment I've expressed in this blog, which is that one of the things that characterizes world-class cities is world-class architecture, and if Cincinnati wants to be a world-class city then it needs to project that in its buildings. Just as it is said to "dress for the job you want, not the job you have," so too should a city "dress" for what it wants to be, not what it is.

That's one reason why I'm unenthusiastic about the Banks groundbreaking. Yes, it is finally happening but the chance to build something iconic that would attract visitors from around the country and world was not taken. Commercial, retail, residential and parking space housed in run-of-the-mill buildings. Meh. It could be worse, but it could definitely be much better.