Monday, January 31, 2005

Info on This Week

This should be a fun week here at The Unknown Blogger. A little serious commentary, a little at the local level, AND I'll be giving out my Super Bowl predictions! (Don't laugh quite yet, as I can't remember the last time I picked the losing side in the big one. That, and I'm usually really close to the final point spread.)

A quick note on the local front: The DA's Opinion page was easily the best I've seen in my time as a WVU student today. Resident lefty ideologue Steve Nicholas was well-balanced by Ry Rivard and Michael Withrow, who both had some optimism towards the Iraqi elections. But rather than jumping on the Withrow bandwagon as usual (for the record, I don't know him personally, I just consider him to be reasonable), I have to give my regards to LJ Ulrich, who wrote an excellent piece on the Michael Crichton novel State of Fear. Why am I giving him props? That's simple: his piece was extremely balanced and criticized both left and right, which is impressive because he's the president of WVU's Young Democrats. Cue my earnest applause.

Oh, and I thought it peculiar that the paper made a call today for the city and the college to do a better job of fighting alcohol abuse. I also found it odd that they published a single anti-marijuana letter in Tuesday's edition (which went to press as I was writing this), especially since the letter rebutted the Bible-based case for weed that ran exactly one week ago. Why is this so unusual? Well, it might be because someone on the DA staff found my blog over the weekend by doing a Yahoo! search for "the unknown blogger wvu". After finding me, he or she proceeded to go through several of my more recent posts, particularly the ones dealing with the legalization issue. It looks like they're catching on...

Extreme Left, Meet Extreme Right. Shake Hands.

I figured I'd use today to point out a highly dangerous extreme in American politics that I haven't discussed. No, I'm not talking about the left (I know, it's a shock to me too). What I'm talking about is the highly extreme right, namely Dr. Thomas E. Woods, author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History. The book claims to be attempting to counteract the liberalism of high-school textbooks by frankly telling you what really happened in our over 200 years of existence. But what is the real message here?

First of all, Woods is not your typical Republican. Heck, he isn't even your typical "arch-conservative" Republican. Instead, he's a member of a sect populated by what InstaPundit calls "fringe libertarians" and what I call "white supremacists". Yes, Woods is a neocon, but in this case, that doesn't mean he's a neo-conservative so much as a neo-Confederate. If you don't believe me on this one, read what IsThatLegal? has to say about it. Eric Muller did some digging on Woods there, and he has unveiled him as a founding member of the secessionist League of the South in a character study that is nothing short of eye-opening.

Read Muller's dissection for a glimpse into the "white power" side of the League of the South (and Woods himself). I'd comment on that, but it left me appalled. What I will mention is what the good doctor Woods said on a secessionist bulletin board:

...I agree completely with what has been said here: the book is being pitched to precisely those who need it most, namely the neocon-influenced right-wing-radio-listening masses. Perhaps it might help draw them back to antistatism. We can hope.

Yes, it is being pitched to us. The pitch is coming from Fox News, Hannity & Colmes, Joe Scarborough, and pretty much anyone else who is giving Woods air/facetime. This is relevant because of all the talk of secession from the extreme left, which is strangely overlapped by the League of the South (albeit in a very different manner). When I first heard about this book, it was by watching Scarborough when he had Woods on to plug the book. I almost never watch Scarborough's show except that I saw an ad for that night's program. (As I recall, Pat Buchanan, of all people, took over anchoring duties the night that Woods was on.) I noticed that it was being pitched as the cure to the poison of liberal history books, which made me stop and think, "Wait a history book really wasn't that bad!" The book that my AP History course used in my junior year of high school actually integrated straight facts with opinion-based summaries, and although it was a little old (no Monicagate coverage yet), it absolutely tore apart Bill Clinton's first term as setting a poor moral precedent. Yes, I clapped when I read that part of the book. No, I'm not kidding. Apparently, it's just the students in all the other history classes who have to sit through leftist retellings of America.

The book is also obviously attempting to cash in on conservative disagreement with Clinton, FDR, and LBJ. The Claremont Institute warns that the right should not buy into every book that does this, because, as in this case, there may be another agenda to push. In columnist John Kienker's opinion, conservatives "do [them]selves more than a disservice when [they] promote books, like PIG and others, that seek to discredit the principles of the American Founding....the 'single coherent philosophy within the conservative movement.'"

Well said.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Controversy? What Controversy? (Pt. 2)

I thought I might take an opportunity to spend a little more time talking about the Daily Athenaeum, namely the aftermath of the pro-pot editorial page from Friday's issue. Although I liberally spread the Opinion section's e-mail address around (namely on Free Republic and my own site), a total of five e-mails saw print in the Monday and Tuesday editions. The four printed Monday were all "parrot" e-mails that echoed the sentiments of the columnists and expounded on them to a limited degree, whereas the letter printed Tuesday was from a graduate student and advocated hemp legalization. No negative feedback was printed. I found this to be a little odd, so I decided to apply some (vaguely) scientific reasoning as to why no counterpoint mail was published. Bear with me on this one, because it gets pretty interesting.

First, like any good scientist, I came up with some hypotheses as to why no negative e-mail was put to ink. Keep in mind that most of the numbers are hypothetical. Here are the possibilities that I came up with, followed by some reasoning as to how they could be valid:

1.) There was no bad mail to print.

Occam's Razor says yes to this theory. (For the unitiated, the Razor is a scientific principle stating that the simplest explanation is usually the correct one.) Nevertheless, while entirely possible, the raw statistics make this unlikely. Over 25,000 students attend WVU. Not all of these students read the DA; if I were to guess, I'd say about a quarter of them (6,250) do so. Of those who read it, let's say that half (3,125) read the paper cover-to-cover. The chances of 3,125 readers not sending at least one negative e-mail are fairly slim.

Don't forget about Free Republic. My post about the controversy on FR was viewed roughly 1,000 times. Most FReepers are more active when it comes to the big issues and would be more likely to provide feedback. Surprisingly, there were more closet libertarians and pro-legalization Republicans than I expected on Free Republic, so we'll cut the number of potential bad feedbacks in half (500). (A side note: I thought about going to Democratic Underground for a moment when I noticed the trend...and then I laughed.) Two things work in our favor here: some WVU alumni read the post and made comments on it, and there were some people posting who were against legalization. We'll subtract about 200 for repeat views, which puts the potential FReepermail count at 300.

And of course, we can't leave out my own visitors. When I posted "What Is the DA Smoking?", my StatCounter (the green one that I programmed to ignore my IP address) showed about 800 hits. Currently, it shows 1186. That's a gain of over 300 visitors who probably would have seen the e-mail address. Visitors from other countries might not care as much about the issue at hand, so let's round the tally of potential e-mails from my site to 225.

If you're keeping score at home, these numbers add up to a total of 3,500 people who could have sent the Daily Athenaeum negative feedback. I tried to make conservative estimates, but the number could be much higher than that. The chance of these people not sending a single rebuttal is not impossible, but extremely improbable.

Oh, and you may be wondering: Why didn't I send them feedback? Well, that would have been too obvious!

2.) Any negative feedback was too extreme.

This is somewhat possible, but doubtful. The majority of people that would have sent mail would have made sure it was intelligent and printable (hopefully). Besides, the DA is a college paper; unless they received flame e-mail or mail containing slanderous/libelous statements, they would have done minor editing and printed the e-mail. Next...

3.) The negative feedback was uninteresting.

Very unlikely. If someone had bothered to write out an e-mail and send it to the Opinion section, chances are it would have made some kind of point. Even if the letter was short, it shouldn't have mattered; a decidedly original letter which argued that the Bible approves of weed only contained five short sentences and was printed in the Monday edition. I don't buy this hypothesis at all.

4.) The negative feedback was left out intentionally.

If the staff wants to push the issue, then this is possible. At the same time, it would take some serious nerve to be the student who publishes a well thought-out con editorial to balance the pros; therefore, the paper might not be pushing an agenda at all. The paper has shown strong evidence of bias in the past, however, so this theory would not defy precedent. We're playing scientist, so although we can't prove this false unlike 2 and 3, we can't prove it true. After all, science is only good for proving a hypothesis false, and even if science COULD prove this true, there isn't enough evidence. The paper's staff probably knows the answer to this question, but I don't, and if this is the answer, I'd rather not.


Theories 2 and 3 aren't nearly as valid as 1 and 4. The question becomes this: How will we ever know which one is true? That's simple: If the feedback was purposefully omitted (4), then this pattern will repeat over the course of future "topical days" at the Daily Athenaeum. Hopefully, that won't happen, and Occam's Razor (1) will hold true. Here's hoping, anyway.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Controversy? What Controversy? (Pt. 1)

Oscars shut out "Kinsey," "Fahrenheit 9/11;" "Passion of the Christ" gets three minor nominatons (AP)

You can't please all of the people all of the time. Michael Moore should have kept his movie out of Best Picture contention and in the Best Documentary category; by way of the shutout, the Academy prevents him from more anti-Bush grandstanding. Shouldn't he have known he didn't have a shot after November 3? If he shows up, he'll hopefully be the new Makeover Moore, rather than his normal slob-slacker persona.

When you read the nominations, it's easy to stop and smell the Oscar diplomacy. Many conservative Republicans (myself not included) would have had a small coronary if "Kinsey" had won anything important. The left side of Hollywood (read: 90% of Hollywood) might have had seizures in the aisles if "The Passion" had won Best Picture, but the Academy had to balance the right with the left, and it would have been criminal to not nominate "The Passion" for something. Mark my words: Mel Gibson's film WILL win at least one of the awards it was nominated for. Who knew that the Oscars could be so politicized?

(A side note: Pt. 2 of this is coming either today or tomorrow. It's not related to the Oscars, but the title is perfect for the coming post. Let's just say it ties back into my post from Friday.)

CORRECTION: I read a copy of the report again via the DA and noticed that "Kinsey" actress Laura Linney, who played Liam Neeson's wife in the movie, received a Best Supporting Actress nomination. Oddly, this fact was mentioned in a one-line blurb in the middle of some less consequential nominations. At least it wasn't a complete shutout after all...

On a more interesting note, the AP article linked above has been edited at least once. The version in the DA referred to Kinsey's wife as "carnally adventurous," but the version I linked to calls her "sexually adventurous." A bizarre edit, but an edit nonetheless.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

More Fun with Blogthings

Longtime readers may remember when I took a few quizzes through Blogthings just for a change of pace. I decided to take another one to see who my famous blogger twin is. Get a load of this...

Your Famous Blogger Twin is Andrew Sullivan

Opinionated with a lot to say
You blog because you truly love to write

I'm not gay, but otherwise, that is awesome.

(I rarely post anything serious on the weekends. Serious posting begins anew tomorrow.)

Thursday, January 20, 2005

What Is the DA Smoking?

I've got advance word on tomorrow's copy of everyone's favorite campus newspaper, WVU's The Daily Athenaeum. For one day, the Opinion section has become a new arena for marijuana legalization. They were smart by not plugging freedom of chronic in the "Our Perspective" section, but they might as well have, because all of the editorials are pro-reefer. I should have known we were in trouble when new opinion editor Matt Roberson said the section would start having "topical days," days in which all of the editorials would center around one topic.

Amber Corrin, Sarah Asti, and Charlie Wade wrote the pieces promoting legalization. Corrin looks at the drug's history, Wade looks at the current statistics, Asti looks at the current legislation, and they're all completely off-base. What is my real problem here? Well, you know, whose bright idea was it to have the campus newspaper play Reefer Love-Fest while the university ranks as the 4th biggest party school in the country? Running with this in such a biased manner is damaging to the faculty, the students, and prospective students. Our school is trying to improve its image, and you aren't helping. You're the campus newspaper, DA. Remember: the college is first, the pet issues are second.

(This has nothing to do with my personal feelings about marijuana use. Personally, I don't care what people do in private, and I don't agree with playing "moral police." If you think I'm writing this out of self-righteous indignation, you're dead wrong.)

Curiously, we never hear Travis Doyle's feelings on the matter, as he's busy writing about how to mod PRT cars. (For the uninitiated, WVU has a Personal Rapid Transit system that works kind of like Disney's Monorail, except it looks like the short bus and breaks down if you look at it funny.) Michael Withrow, who is consistently one of the most balanced and reasonable columnists for the paper, doesn't write a single word about Mary Jane; instead, his column is all about how much he likes Simon Cowell from American Idol. So much for point-counterpoint.

Oh, and by the way, DA: I posted this on the conservative forum Free Republic. Assuming they pick up on this, you guys should get ready to be swamped with e-mail. In case they don't pick up on it, here's hoping my readers say something about this irresponsible bit of platform pushing:

UPDATE: The first comment on the Free Republic post was simple and hilarious: "Just remind them it's hard to spell 'Athenaeum' when you're stoned."

Quick Update

This isn't really a full post, but I thought I'd let everyone know something kind of ironic. Someone at the DA Googled the name of their editor, Courtney Balestier. Guess what? One of my old posts came back in the top 30 results. If they didn't know about me already, they do now.

Oh, and as for Not One Damn Dime Day: Stocks were down across the board, but not by much (the Dow was down 68.50). There was no boycott that I noticed, as I sure wasn't the only person buying CDs at the Den today. And to think you thought I was joking about that shopping spree...

Not One Damn Chance

It's that time again. No, I don't mean time for a winter chill or blizzard conditions. What I mean is, it's time for something that's starting to occur on a year-round basis. That something is a protest, or should I say, practicing extreme laziness and calling it a protest.

So what is that protest? Well, for all of tomorrow (Inauguration Day), protesters will conduct a completely non-partisan (yeah, right) boycott of all buying and selling, particularly retail, in an attempt to freeze the economy. They're calling this boycott Not One Damn Dime Day. Why freeze the economy, you ask? To call for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq, of course! If you want to see the original chain mail that it came from (yes, it's all from a chain mail), start by going to the organizers' main website.

Now that you've seen the pitch, it's time for a reality check. Look at and for some reasons why this won't work. It doesn't help that the whole thing is a classic example of "armchair activism"/"slacktivism" (I prefer the latter), but I know I can add some other reasons of my own.

First of all, not everybody is going to participate in this. That's not just because it hasn't gotten as much publicity as you might expect; rather, it's because the general public is not in unanimous agreement that the war in Iraq is wrong. Even if the 45-50 percent of pro-war Americans were to develop 24-hour paralysis and not spend a cent, there's something else that no one has accounted for: alcohol. Anyone who's ever been to college knows that Thursday night is the universal party night. Many students go home on Friday, and most of their classes are done by then, so the local clubs and bars run specials. College students are also the stereotype for someone who would join this kind of a protest. Hmm...I wonder if the clubs will be empty in Morgantown tomorrow because no one is buying drinks? I doubt it. I should have told the DA about this before they ran the protest in the Jan. 11 Opinion section; after all, why make a futile effort to convert the student body when you can save ink for something more important? Trying to stop partying college students by using a protest call is like trying to stop a charging bull with a scrap of paper.

But let's humor the creator(s) of Not One Damn Dime Day for a second. Assume that the boycott works and the economy plays dead for 24 hours. Even if it were a success, it wouldn't matter because of the timing. It's not just Inauguration Day; it's a Thursday, people! It might be more noticeable if you did it on a Friday or a weekend, but because it has to coincide with the inauguration, anyone who might notice can just shrug and say, "Oh well, it's Thursday." It's not like the malls are exactly packed on a Thursday in mid-January, a time when a lot of stores are conducting inventory and not really trying to sell anything. I know the boycott is aimed more at retail, but because it's a weekday, the stock market could have a "bear day" and no one would care that much. (It wouldn't, because selling your stocks would require the use of the economy, which would violate the boycott, and no stock being bought would cause a stock market fluctuation of 0.00.)

Personally, I think the whole thing's ridiculous. So much, in fact, that I've put off buying some things until tomorrow in a form of anti-slacktivism. I had a CD I really wanted to purchase, but I don't need to spend $15 of my hard-earned cash until then. I'll probably stop at every vending machine I see and make an excuse to stock my fridge. I may even go to the mall and get some new clothes. While I'm at it, I could rent some movies, eat fast-food all day, try some new shoes, go on a shopping spree...and I could really use some company. I am posting this at the stroke of midnight Thursday, you know. Who's with me? that's counter-culture!

UPDATE: Wizbang has a post of their own about this craziness.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

My Apologies

I was about to make a post when Blogger glitched and ate my draft. I'll try to re-post it tomorrow, but since I didn't have it saved, I'm too frustrated right now to even make an attempt.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

My thoughts on Kos

For anyone coming in through Dr. Hanson's blog, welcome! I've had an extremely busy last few days, but you can expect a fresh update tonight. He included a link to me in an update made today about the Dean blogger controversy. Two bloggers (one of which was DailyKos) were exposed as having been paid consultants for the Dean campaign. It looks like a good time to share with you an e-mail I sent to Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit on the subject. I doubt he ever read it, but who knows?

Here is the e-mail:

Honestly, I'm a little concerned that Kos is in panic mode. He often seems to point fingers at the right when things go wrong, but I didn't expect him to do it on this occasion. He's so concerned about the controversy around himself that he's letting paranoia take over. Glenn, I know Kos claimed that what the Daschle v. Thune bloggers did was fine, but on DailyKos, he asks the Wall Street Journal why the pro-Thune non-disclosure never showed up in the Zephyr article. To me, that sounds like he's pointing a finger at them.

I also find it bizarre that he's trying to link the Armstrong Williams debacle with his current problems. Kos is saying, "Well, look at him; at least I wasn't receiving taxpayer dollars!" Sorry Kos, but these are two very different issues. Either way, you were both paid.

Personally, I don't really think it matters that much that Kos was paid by the Dean campaign; after all, he did disclose it (even if it wasn't the most obvious disclosure I've ever seen). I do, however, have problems with the idea that the blogosphere can be sold. If Kos is reading this, then I'd like him to know something: I'm a right-of-center blogger who has never received a cent for what I post. I supported Bush's campaign out of freedom of choice, not for personal gain. I like for my readers to have access to both sides of an issue, which is why both DailyKos and Instapundit show up in my BlogRoll. For you to imply that bloggers like myself are being paid off is disgraceful. I have my own opinions, and I intend to keep it that way. Believe what you will, but know this:

This blogger is not for sale.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Is That A Bomb In Your Pants, or...?

Pentagon reveals rejected chemical weapons (New Scientist)

Get ready to laugh. This is what would happen if Wile E. Coyote made weapons for us. Take a look at the second paragraph...wonder if that chemical actually works? I don't think I would have used these words in that paragraph:

Provoking widespread homosexual behaviour among troops would cause a "distasteful but completely non-lethal" blow to morale.

Somewhere, a blogger is removing the words "to morale" from that line. I'm speechless.

It's Ali G, Not Al-Qaeda

Borat at the Rodeo? Roanoke Paper Tries to I.D. 'Ali G' (Editor and Publisher)

This story reads like satire. Honestly, it could just as easily have appeared in The Onion as in the Roanoke Times. I've never seen an episode of "Da Ali G Show" in my life, but if he decided to stop in Morgantown, a lot us would know exactly what was going on. Who ever thought a candid-camera joke could touch off a media manhunt?

Throwing Up a Flagg

I almost never link to forum posts, but I had to make an exception. Over at the conservative forum Free Republic, a member by the handle of RandallFlagg made his first-ever blogging post. The post, WMDs = Cheese, is an intriguing theory on the war in Iraq in which he proposes that the WMDs may have been the ultimate terrorist bait. Yes, there's a little left-bashing in the beginning (if you think I'm bad about this, then you've never met a devoted FReeper), but there's some excellent possibilities discussed in here that I think is well worth anyone's time. Keep in mind that this is all speculation, but it's very good speculation. Also browse the comments at the bottom for some thoughts on why these theories could be true.

One thing that really doesn't work in Flagg's favor was something I had forgotten about. I didn't remember the wording when I started blogging this story, but Bush had an interview for 20/20 that doesn't make the "this all went according to plan" theory look too promising. The interview airs Friday, but part of it can be found here.

Speaking of Iraq, I have something related that's more than worth blogging about, but it'll have to wait until tomorrow. I need my sleep.

UPDATE: Note to self: No more blogging past my bedtime. Look at the date of the original post. Wow. So it's kind of a dead thread...and it looks like the interview coming Friday could be the undertaker. Oh well. I think I did reasonably well with both sides of Flagg's argument, and because it still feels like it has a little validity, I'm not deleting this post. I don't believe in covering my tracks, even though I may have just had a CBS moment. (By the way, Rathergate's practically over; once all related blogs lose their sense of direction, I'll retire them from my BlogRoll.)

Monday, January 10, 2005

Break Out the Pom-Poms

I really didn't think that people in general could shock me anymore, but this is outrageous. I've not been following the Abu Ghraib court-martials closely, but the minute I saw this, I had to link to it. Charles Graner's trial started today, and his attorney, Guy Womack, started his opening arguments by comparing the stacking of naked prisoners to cheerleader pyramids. He also argued that the use of tethers (read: dog leashes) on the prisoners was acceptable.

If you know any cheerleaders or were one yourself, you know that, while cheerleaders do like forming pyramids, not even the most masochistic would like being tortured, beaten, degraded, and humiliated like the prisoners at Abu Ghraib. If it's possible to get a nice, big tablespoon of BS and feed it to the court, then that's what Womack did today. This is disgraceful.

As for the leash comment, it looks completely inane when shown after this line in the report:

Womack said using a tether was a valid method of controlling detainees, especially those who might be soiled with feces.

Enough said.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Call It a Mercy Killing

'L.A. Times' Drops Daily 'Garfield' (Editor and Publisher)

Thank you. It's good to know I'm not the only person in America who thinks that "the comic strip with the orange cat" isn't funny. Let's hope for more papers to follow suit -- it feels really strange for me to be thanking the L.A. Times!

A Deacon's Thoughts on War

You know, sometimes the most refreshing views on current events and politics come from the people who seem the least political. Case in point: an interview with Hall of Fame lineman Deacon Jones, in which he talks about visiting Iraq. Although the majority of the conversation involved football, interviewer Adam Schefter had a very provocative question for him:

Schefter: What are your thoughts on the war in Iraq?

Jones: I would never issue a genuine opinion about the war in Iraq until the troops come home. And I'll tell you why, man. I saw them in action, and any position you take is going to be something against the troops, no matter how you cut it. So I don't have any opinion until the boys and girls come home. All I know is that they're doing one hell of a job under the most difficult circumstances I've ever seen in my whole life. And I just spent some time visiting the amputees at Walter Reed, visiting the wounded troops around the country, and trying to bring some peace and contentment to the families who have lost people on a permanent basis.

I think that if Jones fully agreed with the war, he would have said so; then again, I could be wrong. If he had come out and said, "I think it was a mistake," then his words would add to the chorus of dissent. Regardless of how any of us feel about the war, I think it would be best to follow his example. While I do not say this in an effort to suppress protest, I believe that, for the sake of the soldiers and their morale, we need to shut up and support our troops.