May 30, 2008

Around The World In One Post

It's the mutha-flippin. It's the mutha-flippin. It's the mutha-flippin. News.

Gaza Students Lose Fulbright Scholarships

Palestinian students were told that because Israel won't let them leave the country, The U.S. State Department is withdrawing their Fulbright scholarships. Israel's stated goal is to support moderates (like students who seek higher education as a way to foster Palestinian success that is not tied to the violent Hamas organization).

Opinions differ regarding whose fault it is that these students are left high and dry. The prime minister's office says that higher education concerns are an exception that they would have allowed, if they'd received an appeal from the US government. The Americans don't want to comment on whether they tried to appeal. And some Israelis say "who cares?"

Way to go, State Department (and Israel's government) for a foreign relations failure that plays into the hands of Hamas.

Oddity Commodity - Used Fryer Oil So Valuable, It's Theft-er-riffic!

Fryer grease has become such a valuable substance, it's being stolen from drums used to store the dirty oil in the back of fast food joints everywhere. Thankfully, it's wanted as bio fuel and not to make fish and chips.

Ugh. Bullshit.

Saints preserve us from political astrology. The primaries aren't bad enough already?

Annoying

Annoying: Hype over the new "Sex and the City" movie. More Annoying: People who keep calling it "Sex in the City." I've never seen the show and even I know what it's called.

City Takes Backhoe to Students' Gift

How do you encourage middle school students to be involved citizens in their community? How about get them to work hard on a professional-quality sign for the city's park, and then turn around and yank it out with a backhoe?

Mr. Coelho said he followed all of the required procedures to erect the sign, consulting with City Planner David Kennedy and even the National Park Service to ensure the color scheme would not clash with park service plans to erect a sign at the corner of Brownell Avenue. Dig Safe also inspected the site, he said.

The park board approved it and everything. But apparently the micromanaging mayor and city council president felt snubbed. Boo hoo. You've learned a valuable, cynical lesson, kids.

BONUS GENIUS STORY OF THE DAY

If you're going to have a drug deal, the gas station right between the police headquarters and the High School is the best place to do it!

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Posted by James at May 30, 2008 9:28 AM
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Comments

Mayor Lang should have that sign reinstalled in the same location immediately. That's just ridiculous.

Posted by: Chuck S. at May 30, 2008 10:44 AM

Woo, I'm seeing double.

Posted by: Julie at May 30, 2008 11:50 AM

Genius story - I'm sorry to say that a few years ago, one of my relatives and his wife robbed a gas station near their house. It was a place that they had frequented for a couple of years, and they used their own car for the getaway.

They weren't even on drugs as far as I know; just too lazy and stupid to think it through.

Posted by: Julie at May 30, 2008 12:59 PM

Had a hiccup which caused me to lose a comment by Dave, so I will recreate it here (and apologize for the inconvenience):

David wrote:

"drug deal"? Is that a verb now, like "sandwich eat" or "car drive"?

If I were to use it as a verb, I'd say something like "Let's drug deal!" but instead, I am using it as a noun.

Generally, yes, "drug deal" is a noun. Since "deal" is often a noun.

Posted by: James at May 30, 2008 1:03 PM

"The park board approved it and everything. But apparently the micromanaging mayor and city council president felt snubbed. Boo hoo. You’ve learned a valuable, cynical lesson, kids."

Fake outrage.

It looks like it is more complicated than what you presented. It's also not clear whether we have all the facts.

While consulting with the "National Park Service" and "Dig Safe" was a reasonable thing to do (maybe, even required), it has absolutely NOTHING to do with whether the -particular- sign should have been erected at that -particular- place. That is, these might have been necessary conditions but they (clearly) were not sufficient conditions.

The "snubbed" comment is baseless editorializing.

Posted by: njkayaker at May 30, 2008 1:35 PM

From the article: "The sign had been approved by a unanimous vote of the five Park Board members at their meeting April 3."

What could a Park Board possibly be for if not to approve what goes on in the park?

My well-founded editorializing stands.

Posted by: James at May 30, 2008 2:06 PM

How dare you editorialize on your own blog, James.

You should go visit someone else's blog and editorialize there instead.

Posted by: Julie at May 30, 2008 2:17 PM

Well, this is something new. "Fake measured response" to "fake outrage."

If "measured response" to "fake outrage" isn't accompanied by "deep insight" and "facts contrary to your argument" then it comes off as "holier than thou bullshit." (Despite emphasis by CAPITALIZATION and -fake emdashes-.)

Posted by: Maggie at May 30, 2008 2:19 PM

RE: Political astrology - I hear you. Do we need this? Yahoo offered a glimpse into the candidates' personalities based on their handwriting. Talk about a slow news day.

Posted by: pam at May 30, 2008 2:21 PM

Julie: "How dare you editorialize on your own blog, James."

He can do anything he wants on his blog. I did not say otherwise. He also allows comments, which means I'm not doing anything I'm not supposed to be doing.

"What could a Park Board possibly be for if not to approve what goes on in the park? "

Are you sure this is sufficient for approval?

"My well-founded editorializing stands."

Your foundation is based on an article that appears to be a bit biased. For example, the article should have indicated why "blocking the view" was such a big deal. If the article was biased, you allowed yourself to be manipulated. Mentioning the National Park Service and the Dig Safe sounds meaningful but it isn't.

(But, we all know that the news is never biased.)

Often, these kinds of things turn out to be much ado about nothing, once all the facts come out.

Maggie: "Well, this is something new [etc]"

These comments certainly adds alot to this discussion!


Posted by: njkayaker at May 30, 2008 3:45 PM

Coffee-infused falafel wrapped in a keffiyah, anyone?

Posted by: Patti M. at May 30, 2008 3:59 PM

Patti M: "Coffee-infused falafel wrapped in a keffiyah, anyone?"

I'll take mine plain. The keffiyah would make it hard to chew and the coffee is unnecessary.

You can get falafel at McDonalds in the Middle East.

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I think this blog is great. I sure hope it's not a place where a difference of opinion is not accepted merely because it is different.

Posted by: njkayaker at May 30, 2008 4:10 PM

A lack of elaboration on "blocking the view" really isn't much of an indicator of bias, is it?

In each story I've read or heard on the radio, the "Friends" of the park have said they were horrified with the sign blocking the view. That's as far as their justification goes. There just ain't more to it that they are telling. Nobody is claiming it violated any ordinances, which is the usual sticking point in sign disputes, in my experience.

So it comes down to the "Friends of Buttonwood Park" who have the mayor's ear (I'm going to guess $$$), flexing political muscle over the park board, which appears to be on a short leash.

That's not biased; it's what happened. They've found another place for the sign, but the outcome of this is that the "Friends" of the park flexed their muscles and won. Again, this is a lesson in where the power is in a town. Different for different towns at different times. So it is a useful lesson.

I appreciate diverse views. My commenters comment for their own reasons, which can range from amusement to blowing off steam, to a desire for debate. That thing about not accepting views that are different, if that's something you encounter a lot, it may be a problem. I have had problems in the past with folks who, at the first criticism, had a habit of claiming their ideas are not accepted merely because they are different. Usually those conversations go nowhere.

Posted by: James at May 31, 2008 11:15 AM


"A lack of elaboration on "blocking the view" really isn't much of an indicator of bias, is it?"

That and other things indicate potential bias. The article does not go into enough detail about why there was an objection. That is, they really don't give the other side fair time to explain their side.

Even the title ("City Takes Backhoe to Students’ Gift") is spinning the story. It sort of implies that "violence" was done to the sign (though, that violence was not done was buried in the article). I think backhoes are commononly used as "cranes". Thus, the fact that a backhoe was used isn't news!

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The "sign" story may not be that far from the "Duncan Donuts Scarf" story.

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"In each story I've read or heard on the radio, the "Friends" of the park have said they were horrified with the sign blocking the view."

It's not clear that any of these were written independently. The media is lazy and they often just regurgitate a single source. They also like "simple stories" and the "sign" story is a classic "people being stomped on by big, nasty, unfeeling government". It's much more "interesting" to present the story this way even when a little bit of digging would reveal something else.

Note that I don't know that this is the situation in this case but it's a common-enough occurrance to be suspicious.

It's easy to present this story so that people are "outraged". It's not clear that there is sufficient information to warrent such outrage.

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"So it comes down to the "Friends of Buttonwood Park" who have the mayor's ear (I'm going to guess $$$), flexing political muscle over the park board, which appears to be on a short leash."

This might be true and it might not be true. If it isn't true, such a statment is slander. It's possible they had legitimate complaints.


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Thus, "This is why I think they deserved the benefit of the doubt" (just like the Duncan Donut Scarf storey).

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"I have had problems in the past with folks who, at the first criticism, had a habit of claiming their ideas are not accepted merely because they are different."

I don't care whether my ideas are "accepted". Anyway, what I got wasn't criticism. It was more-like "how dare you disagree".

Posted by: njkayaker at June 2, 2008 5:42 PM

"They've found another place for the sign,"

Thus, no harm was done and there really is no story.

That why I said "Often, these kinds of things turn out to be much ado about nothing, once all the facts come out".


"but the outcome of this is that the "Friends" of the park flexed their muscles and won."

No, a compromise was made. It's quite possible that the compromise was a reasonable one. It's also quite possible that the "Friends" provide value (eg, in maintaining the park).

Thus, we should give people the benefit of the doubt.

Posted by: njkayaker at June 2, 2008 6:06 PM

You're making baseless assumptions. At least my assumptions were based on a story (even if you did accuse it of bias.)

Where is the evidence that this was a compromise?

Posted by: James at June 2, 2008 6:45 PM

we should give people the benefit of the doubt.

Unless those people are newspaper reporters apparently. Where's the benefit of the doubt over the apparent "bias" in the story? People generally don't resign over minor issues that can be worked out with a compromise. This is clearly a story about an organization with the Mayor's ear using that influence to overrule the park board and in the process, rip up a gift to the community made by local school children.

A proper compromise would be for the friends organization to raise their objections at the next park board meeting and invite the mayor to attend. Then the sign could be moved once everybody was agreed. Instead they yanked it out of the ground and stuck it in a storage yard, and then wanted to talk about where to move it. Compromise doesn't work that way.

To analogize: you park your car at the end of your driveway where it blocks my view of the road. So I walk over to your house, hook your car to my towtruck, tow it to a parking lot a couple miles away and leave it there until you and I can mutually agree on where you should park. Am I amicably seeking compromise? Or am I treating your driveway like it's my property?

It's clear that this was handled very badly, and likely that it is only because of the outrage on the park board and among the public that the sign was/will be reinstalled quickly. I've no doubt that it would languish in the storage yard for a long time without the outcry.

Posted by: Chuck S at June 3, 2008 2:54 PM

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