Friday, December 02, 2005

I need help

My bible study made a decision a few weeks ago to attempt to do something good for Christmas. It is our goal to help make Christmas a happier day for a handful of those in need and most deserving. We are looking for military families in the Denver area whose Christmas could be better with some toys, food, clothing, etc. We, and by we I mostly mean I :-), would be particularly interested in families who have either lost a parent or who has a parent that has been seriously disabled, but any military family having a tough financial time with an active duty member or a called up reservist is fair game.

This is a serious offer. Please send email to if you know of any such families or know of organizations that can help us get linked up with them.

Likewise, if you or some group you are involved with is interested in this goal, drop me a line. The more the better. We want to help as many of these families who have sacrificed for us as possible. Our team is using our personal and professional contacts to get great discounts and make our money go as far as possible but we are a small group of ordinary Americans so our resources are limited.

Flawed elections in Palestine

LGF points to this article on the recent elections.

RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party scrambled on Wednesday to salvage a primary election rocked by turmoil that has widened internal rifts ahead of a political battle with its Hamas rival.

A day after Abbas suspended voting in response to violence and fraud, Fatah's Central Committee decided to name a 24-member review board, chaired by the president, to finalize a list of the party's candidates for a parliamentary election on January 25.

"You cannot say that the elections were really democratic", Central Committee member Nabil Shaath said about the ballot in the occupied West Bank and in the Gaza Strip. "There was a lot of fraud and cheating."

and Charles ends with:

Oh, say it ain't so, Nabil.

Now, I have to agree with that sentiment. At the same time isn't it a major step in the right direction that a Central Committee member is admitting to the fraud and cheating and refusing to honor the elections of those where fraud can be proven. Beyond the part Charles quoted, is this:

Shaath said the primary, Fatah's first, would resume on Friday, but only in areas where voting had yet to begin.

"The board will recognize the election of those elected fairly," said Abbas Zaki, another Central Committee member. "We will not recognize the results in areas where fraud took place."

So it ain't perfect yet but that sounds a lot better than the official positions during Arafat's phony elections. As usual, I don't know nothin' about the details on this one. If this is really a statement that we are going to recognize the elections where our guy won and not recognize the ones where our guy lost there is no progress. But on the face of it, this would seem to be significant progress.

As an aside, this is why I love the blogosphere. Charles was a good boy and linked to his source material so that I can read the whole thing and not just the part he quoted. I give you a pointer to his post and the original (of which I have only quoted half). I am quite sure as a regular reader of his blog that his whole point was to be sarcastic and not to make a serious point. He may or may not agree with my point, but he gave me the ammo to make it. A truly free and open medium, a thing of beauty.

The Dems have lost their minds

Hugh covers the firing of ultra-insane Robert Scheer by the LA Times. The interesting thing isn't so much that they fired Scheer but that 24 Democratic Congressmen took this opportunity to send a letter to the publisher asking him to reconsider..... in their official position as Congressmen..... HELLO!!!! There is no separation of Church and State in the U.S. Constitution but my copy distinctly calls for the FREEDOM OF THE PRESS. And their argument is "backed" with a list of topics that Scheer "covered" in their favor. You cannot read this letter and not read between the lines. "He was always on our side, please don't take away his platform to help us." Avoiding things like this is exactly what FREEDOM OF THE PRESS means. That aside, how could somebody actually sign something that begins:

We, as Members of Congress, object to the dismissal of Robert Scheer, a 32-year veteran of the LA Times with a long history of excellence in reporting and op ed pieces.

He might argue for the same things I do some times but I wouldn't sign anything that purported that Michael Savage represented excellence in broadcasting. Hugh has the whole letter. You have to read it to believe it.

The whole point of freedom of the press is that government officials do not tell institutions of journalism what to print or who to print. This is an outrage. If the individual congressmen who actually read the LA Times wanted to complain as news consumers, fine. To put the names of 24 sitting Congressmen (16 of whom don't even live in CA) on a letter to the publisher "suggesting" he reconsider a personnel decision is beyond the pale. They have lost their marbles and violated their oaths.

Now go do something good

Check out Products for Good and make a purchase. I admit I haven't yet because I haven't had a chance to talk to my wife about how many of what size to buy. Read the story of where these coins came from and help to raise some money for the families of the fallen. Buy some Christmas presents. Quit reading and go do it.

And now for something totally different

Check out this Dry Bones.

University of Colorado, part 4

Let us now move up to last Saturday's football game with Nebraska. As everyone could see for themselves on this nationally televised game, the student fans are completely out of control.

Students began throwing objects onto the field. As far as I could tell from the TV coverage no university official ever made a PA announcement. Security was shifted and after they decided they could not control it, security cleared the section. This took more than 15 minutes. It should have taken 5. Arrests should have been made, people should have been expelled from school. As far as I can tell, none of this happened.

I have checked the Denver Post several times. So far, I have seen the incident mentioned twice. It was stated that the student section was cleared in a straight sports news piece about the game. The reporter apparently interviewed the AD at the school. He asked if the coach would be fired. He didn't ask what, if anything, was going to be done to control the students. One columnist did an article basically saying that the school had better fix this because it is giving the school a bad reputation. This is a good thing, but go back and count how many columnists jumped in on the recruiting "scandal". Pick a pretty missing girl half way around the world and make a comparative count.

The football recruiting wasn't a scandal. This is. There is a chronic and long lived problem with unacceptable behavior by the student fans. It is a disgrace for the university. And it is NOT a handful of students as suggested by the national TV color commentators on Saturday. It is certainly not the entire student body, but it is a large number of students. The students present who don't participate in the bad behavior also never seem to do anything to prevent or stop it.

If the senior staff of the university cannot put a quick and decisive halt to this they should be replaced by someone who can and will, starting at the top. They are not ruining the reputation of the school, it is in ruins now. The farther it is allowed to crumble the harder it will be to rebuild.

I would love to root for the local school's teams but I can not and do not. I would love to support them by buying tickets. I can not and will not. I do not think I am alone. CU football tickets are still hard to get, but it is already getting easier. That trend will continue if this problem is not fixed.

Much more importantly, more and more parents will make the decision that some of my neighbors already have. "Son, you can go to any CO college you can manage to get into except CU Boulder." It is happening already in small numbers. Trends can be dangerous things, and Ward Churchill is the one of the least of the serious problems at CU.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

University of Colorado, part 3

Everybody will vaguely remember that there was this big investigation, complete with people losing their jobs, over a recruiting "scandal" involving the football program. Here is what happened.

During recruiting visits to the school some of the recruits would spend an afternoon and evening hanging out with current players and other students. This is not at all uncommon. It makes perfect sense to me to have these perspective students get a little glimpse of the campus from a student's perspective and to see what kind of guys he would be spending hours a week with on the grid iron.

The scandal started with some of the evening activities.

1. They went to unchaparoned student parties - astonishing

2. There was alcohol served - this is illegal but give me a break, did you go to college?

3. There were instances where the recruits had sex. This was the straw that broke the camel's back and raised the ire of the feminazi university president. But let's face it. 18 year olds have sex. Further, one of the advantages of being a jock is that getting sex gets a lot easier. And we are surprised that the college football jocks invited some of their free-love female friends to their parties?

4. Eventually there were allegations of prostitutes being involved. I find this stupid. I never had trouble getting laid in college and I wasn't a jock. Why pay? I am not sure this was ever proven or disproven, but this is a scandal?

5. At one point there was an allegation of rape at one of the parties. This was, as much as such allegations can be, disproven. And most importantly, these allegations did not come up until well into all of the investigations and posturing for the media. I think rape is a serious crime and universities should be dillegent in working with the proper authorities in investigating and prosecuting it. In this case, it appears it was a vendetta charge without merit. And again, it wasn't part of the initial outcry that there was a scandal.

This story was daily news for months. The university president held hearings and demanded resignations. Over what? Perspective students were participating in something that many, many students participate in regularly. The football jocks having parties involving sex and alcohol wasn't the scandal. The scandal was that there was a recruit in the room. So? "The boys" invited "Joey" to a party in March that looked just like all the parties they were going to start having regularly with him in August.

You may agree or disagree with this behaviour. You may have participated in such things in college or not. If you went to college you know that it happened at least every weekend. If you went to a large university you know it happens every night in several locations on campus. If you think this isn't happening at every major university campus every spring you are naive.

This never struck me as a scandal. Further, it doesn't strike me that it should be a violation of recruiting rules. I don't know if it is or isn't. There was no money being paid to the guy or any promise of anything as far as I can tell. He was invited to a party. He had a couple beers. He got laid. Period.

This "scandal" was really a great example of truth in advertising.

University of Colorado, part 2

Since my experience with the basketball game was so poor I decided to give the school a second chance. I friend offered me a couple of tickets to a home football game at CU. This was a real eye-opener for me.

I invited another friend who lives in Boulder to go with me (my wife has even less interest in college football than basketball). We parked at his house and took the bus to the game. He lives on a route that is a straight shot to the stadium so it was convenient, cheaper than paying for parking, and meant we didn't need to be concerned about driving after knocking a few beers down at the game. Or so we thought.....

They don't server beer or any other form of alcohol at CU football games. I repeat, in a state where Coors is one of the biggest employers, in a city considered highly liberal and proud of it, you cannot buy a beer at a college football game. As two graduates of midwestern universities we were astonished..... knock me over with a feather grade astonished. We had never heard of such a thing. It had never occurred to us. We asked some of our new neighbors what the deal was.

It seems that a few years back the banter and general rowdiness at a Colorado/Colorado State game turned into a drunken brawl. The response of the University was to ban alcohol from the football games. Why be bothered punishing the guilty harshly so students would

a) learn that there are consequences to bad behavior
b) think twice about participating in a drunken brawl on campus

Nope, we will just ban beer from the games and that will solve the problem. If the students can't drink at the game then they will obviously behave. This flies in the face of reason, but whatever. I am not that big a beer drinker and neither is the friend I have brought with me so while were highly intrigued this isn't going to effect our enjoyment of what promises to be a good football game.

But wait, it gets better. Prior to the game starting I noticed a couple of younger photographers wandering around in front of the student section taking pictures of the crowd. I asked the guy next to me if those were yearbook photographers and why they would have 2 of them at the same game. Silly me. Those aren't yearbook photographers. They photograph the entire student section throughout the game so that if anything bad, like a brawl or people heaving things onto the field, were to happen they have film of the student section to use to track down the guilty. "They have been doing it for years." Interesting. I don't ever remember anything like this at any college sports event I went to, but whatever.

Then the coolest thing happened, because the story has to have at least one good part. A stealth bomber did a fly-by. I guess technically it was a fly-over given that it is a bomber. At any rate it flew directly over my head an I would guess it was less than 500 feet above me. Very intensely cool. Even if I cannot have a beer and even if the game sucks, the trip to the game is now well worth it. Apparently the fact that this was going to happen was in the Boulder paper that morning. I don't get the Boulder paper so I had no idea and therefore had no camera with me. Darn.

The first half was pretty good football and we were having a great time. Off to get a hot dog and a soda. Normally I would have done that during play to watch the halftime marching band and avoid the long lines. No such luck. I had asked what halftime would be and had no interest, and given that the game was going well, I waited. After what I thought was a remarkably short wait in line for the little boys room I entered and found a janitor mopping up what was left of a hot dog and some other things after 2 passes through somebody's esophagus. Great. In one of the stalls is apparently the former owner of the hot dog who neither looks or sounds good. I finish my business and hope that the snack line proceeds as smoothly as the restroom line did but with better aroma.

Out in the open area where the vendors are along the walls I notice a number of students having difficulty walking a straight line. A pass by of one of them reveals the heavy smell of bourbon. OK, so don't sell beer and the kids will just smuggle booze into the stadium. I am not the least shocked. I get what was a pretty good German brat, albeit stadium priced, and a soda and head back to my seat. Discussing the half time observances with our new friends I learn that the students are very thoroughly searched by security on the way in. My new friend, a season pass holder of many years, tells me they are likely not getting the booze into the stadium. In what I thought was an entirely reasonable question ask why the hell the University would prohibit beer sales but allow drunken students in. I am told they are not drunk when they pass security.

Stop! Think about this for a moment. I did, and I would have never come up with the answer to this paradox had I not been told. They don't get booze into the stadium and they aren't drunk when they enter but they are clearly quite drunk now.

Apparently, and I do not state this as fact simply as what I was told by one fan who I had never met before that day and have never seen since, they drink a bunch of hard alcohol in a big hurry shortly before entering. They toss the bottle in their trunk or in a garbage bin, then rush through the line and enter still sober. By the end of the first quarter they are drunk and haven't imbibed a drop of alcohol since entering the stadium. Magic? No. Explains what I have seen? Yes. VERY, VERY STUPID, yes. This is a great recipe for alcohol poisoning.

Back to the game, which is still entertaining. The student section is getting more and more rowdy but still very much in the spirit of good team rivalry as far as I can tell. I am not close to their section so I cannot hear what they are yelling but from a distance it looks like what you would expect to see at any college football game.

And then, you knew there was a "and then", didn't you? Somebody throws a little rubber or plastic ball out onto the field. Over the course of the next 10 or 15 minutes there were more little rubber balls and water bottles and cups and popcorn containers. My failing memory tells me there were two brief interruptions in the game caused by this but there was a big hassle of a couple official looking guys occasionally running out on the field, grabbing stuff, and running off well away from the action.

The morals of the story:

a) banning beer sales does not prevent drunk students
b) sober students can still do stupid things
c) your photographers are either inept or your punishment is not sufficiently harsh
d) your university looks bad to visitors

Again, I didn't notice this in any sport section or commentary section in the Denver Post so I begin to assume this is "normal" at CU.

University of Colorado, part 1

Before you skip this, these posts have nothing to do with Ward Churchill, well not directly anyway. This is a stream of consciousness about things I have witnessed living a few miles from the place.

The University of Colorado main campus is in Boulder, CO, world recognized as the only major college in the world where the host community is more liberal than the staff or student body. This explains some of the weirdness there, but not all of it. And, by the way, some of that weirdness makes the town a fun place to visit periodically.

A couple of years ago a friend bought me tickets to the CU/Texas Tech basketball game for Christmas. I went to IU and am a fan of Bobby Knight, the now head coach at Texas Tech. I was a bit surprised that he could get tickets as this was really not possible at IU. Student "season" tickets were only for 1/3 of the home games and if you weren't a student, staff or VIP you had to shell out a pretty penny to a scalper to go to a game. He said he had picked them up at the CU box office and that there were plenty of non-student season tickets to be had. I was considering it until we went to the game.

The game, referring here to what occurred on the court, was fun and more competitive than I would have guessed. The behavior of the fans, and here I mean the CU students, was appalling. I went to a lot of college games while a student and on a couple of occasions saw Coach Knight call a time out, grab a microphone, walk to center court and put a stop to students doing inappropriate things. I have never seen the kind of behavior that I witnessed at the CU game.

My visit to the restroom at half time was quite interesting. I was, as were many adults sitting around me, wearing an IU shirt. This is very common at any road game for Texas Tech. Many sports writers have commented on it. I expected the possibility that some tipsy CU student would make an offhand comment but I have worn an IU shirt to games at Purdue, both basketball and football and it was never a big issue. I had not one but two different students get up in my face and make unflattering comments about my heritage. For those of you who don't know me, I am 6'4" and should weigh in at about 230 pounds (I am more than that but that is another problem) and a farm boy and an accomplished martial artist. When I was 18 and hadn't yet gotten any wisdom, I would have leveled these guys. As an older, wiser guy I had the good sense to just shake my head and walk away.

During the second half, there was an escalation to the unacceptable behavior. Up to that point the biggest issue was that the student body, in unison, was "singing" chants that would make a sailor blush. But they decided this wasn't sufficient and began throwing empty cups and water bottles at the opposing team and fans. This escalated into full water bottles. After the officials threatened to call a technical on the fans, the CU coach sent "security" to the main student section. This ended the throwing but the volume level on the "F-U" and similar chants got considerably louder. And NOTHING was done.

On leaving the stadium I witnessed both cars that had been vandalized and things still being vandalized. Luckily, we had parked a few blocks away at an enterprising church that provides protected (security guards who are off duty armed cops) parking. So much for my thoughts of buying season tickets. I love college basketball, my wife would say I am fanatical about it but she didn't grow up in Indiana. CU pretty consistently has a good team, never great, but good. They play a number of schools with solid programs every year. Their student fans ruined any possibility that I will be returning to watch a game in the near future.

And the University seemed entirely unconcerned..... It didn't make the Denver paper even in the story on the game.

Sorry about the blackout

I went on a wonderful vacation with my wife two weeks ago. I had intended on blogging a couple of times through the week but was surprised to find there was no internet access in our timeshare suite. It has taken me all of last week and most of this week to get caught up with email and document review so my personal time has been spent intentionally not in front of a computer. I call this "vacation punishment". The company regularly tells us that we should take more vacations, put limits on the amounts we can accrue, and then happily swamps us when we return.... life. Anyway, I am kinda back but things will be light for the next couple of weeks.