You didn't think our political culture could go any lower? In a reminder that we have made no forward progress since 1999, when David Howard of Washington, DC was forced to resign his city government job because he used the word "niggardly," Massachusetts' Governor Mitt Romney has apologized for referring to the disastrous Big Dig project as a "tar baby." (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, August 1, 2006 at 7:19 am | Edit
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When Larry Summers, then President of Harvard, dared suggest that genetic differences between men and women might, in general, predispose them to greater abilities in different fields, I had no problem with that. When he was pilloried and forced to resign, I was appalled (though not surprised) at the continuing evidence that liberals aren't necessarily liberal, those who call loudest for tolerance aren't tolerant, and "academic freedom" is an oxymoron. If the presence of a Y chromosome instead of an X can make differences that are visible and obvious, to insist that it can't possibly make more subtle differences, and to forbid inquiry into the matter, is as bad as the Catholic Church in Medieval times. Worse, because I don't think the Church ever claimed to be open-minded.

Yet as fast as Harvard tried to distance itself from Summers' heresy, there are more serious worms in its own apple. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, July 15, 2006 at 7:05 am | Edit
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The sad thing is, I'm not surprised.

During the 18 months we lived near Boston we heard a lot about the Big Dig, experienced plenty of inconvenience thanks to the Big Dig, and heard much political grumbling about cost overruns, delays, and incompetence. We didn't actually see much work being done on the project, however, and it was hard not to wonder if there was some politcal/union stranglehold on the project. Accustomed as we were to Florida roads projects, in which a "crew working" sign is usually followed by a crew working—day, night, weekends, holidays, whatever it takes to get the job done—it was shocking to see the massive construction project lying fallow so much of the time. But apparently such lack of haste did not reflect a commitment to doing the job right.

Will yesterday's partial collapse, in which a concrete slab fell from a tunnel roof onto a hapless motorist, finally cause someone to examine the entire political system that bred such tragedy? It's only the latest in a decades-long series of problems, so I doubt it.

Which is too bad. I fell in love with Boston, and Massachusetts in general, during our stay. There is much about that part of the country that I miss terribly. But the Big Debacle seems only to be a sign, not an abberation. The rest of the country—Massachusetts included—mocks Florida's politics and its voting problems, but as one who has lived and voted in both places, I can say without a doubt that democracy is alive and well in Florida, while the political process in Massachusetts sometimes felt like a tunnel with a crumbling roof.
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, July 12, 2006 at 5:57 am | Edit
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A friend alerted me to a Wall Street Journal Opinion Journal column by Peggy Noonan, in which she reveals her impression that our society is fundamentally broken, a trolley off the tracks and hurtling toward an unknown destination, and her concern that few people are willing to think about the problems, much less take action. My friend added this: "No one wants to talk about the cracks in the bridge when you're walking over it." Naturally, I had to comment. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, November 3, 2005 at 1:48 pm | Edit
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Mallard Fillmore hits the nail on the head again. One can as easily subsitute "president" for "congressperson."
Mallard Fillmore 29 Oct 2005 Democrats and Republicans
Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, October 29, 2005 at 8:55 am | Edit
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The Real War Against America, by Brett Kingstone (Specialty Publishing Company, Carol Stream, IL, 2005)

Our local library has a subscription to Ancestry.com, the genealogical research site. Unfortunately the response time is slow, and one day a couple of months ago I was working near enough the “New Releases” shelf to do some browsing during the otherwise interminable wait between entering my request and the return of the results.

The bright cover of Brett Kingstone’s book caught my eye. I was not impressed by the title, which sounded Limbaugh-esque and evoked images of conspiracy theorists. I brought the book home, thinking Porter might enjoy it, but did not expect to read it myself. It didn’t sound like my kind of book.

Never judge a book by its title. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, October 26, 2005 at 10:37 pm | Edit
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I don't normally read the sports page, but Porter called my attention to last Friday's Orlando Sentinel, and an outrageous statement by David Stern, Commissioner of the National Basketball Association. The Orlando Magic, our own NBA franchise, is currently trying to shake down the city for still more financial incentives not to pack up and go where the bribes might be greater.

What Stern said was this: "If a city builds a symphony hall, there is a cultural benefit to the city, despite the fact that the hall is not likely to make money. The same can be said for having an NBA franchise." (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 at 2:39 pm | Edit
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When Terri Schiavo dies, there's going to be cheering, and I don't understand why. I know there will be cries of exultation because of the commentary I've heard, and the rude jesting, even from as mainstream a production as National Public Radio's Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me. Perhaps people make light of tragedy in self-defense; I know my family was able to find humor even as our father lay dying. There was, however, an enormous difference: our humor was suffused with an undeniable love for the man and a determination to do all we could for him. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, March 30, 2005 at 8:21 am | Edit
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The Orlando Sentinel recently published a letter by a local community college professor expressing his disgust over a new Florida law that requires an American flag to be displayed in the classroom in which he teaches. I took issue with some of his points, and wrote a letter to the Sentinel in response. When the editor called to let me know that they would be publishing my letter, she very kindly said, "We haven't heard from you in a while." It's nice to be missed! You can read Professor Scolaro's letter and my response on the Sentinel website. I'm also putting mine below, in case the Sentinel link breaks, which it's bound to do eventually. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, January 27, 2005 at 9:49 pm | Edit
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It appears that Boston could not have two big winners this year. If they could have chosen, I wonder how many would have traded the Red Sox World Series win for a Kerry victory?
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, November 3, 2004 at 1:59 pm | Edit
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John Kerry has conceded, and President Bush is expected to declare his victory. That speech will be the first critical act of his second term. It needs to be humble, conciliatory, positive, respectful, encouraging, and unifying. These are not attitudes that Bush's speeches project very well. Whether the fault is in him or in his speechwriters, the ultimate responsibility lies with the one who speaks the words, and he needs to change his attitude and/or find himself some better speechwriters. Kudos to Kerry for having the grace not to subject the country to weeks of agonizing legal battles. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, November 3, 2004 at 11:55 am | Edit
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Thus far I have tried to remain fairly nonpartisan in my political commentary, but the time has come to take a stand. I have been a Democrat all my voting life, although I’ve been gradually coming to realize that the party I thought represented compassion and liberty acts in reality as if it cared no more—and in many ways less—about such things than the Republicans.

George W. Bush has sufficiently disappointed and embarrassed me that the Democrats probably could have saved my vote by putting forth a moderate candidate who would present himself as a positive alternative. Instead, they chose John Kerry.

Without detailing the intellectual and visceral internal debate behind my voting choices, I include some brief comments on the issues both candidates seem to think paramount, based on their advertising rhetoric: (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, November 1, 2004 at 8:07 pm | Edit
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As I have written previously, I believe that Florida's voting procedures in 2000 were as fair and accurate as any in the country, and better than some.

I have no such assurance this year. Four years ago, any irregularities were minor and mostly attributable to innocent mistakes. Now everyone knows that Florida matters, and the stakes are so high that I no longer trust either side to resist the temptation to pretend that the ends can justify the means. The negative ads, on both sides and at all levels, have convinced me of one thing: that neither side can be expected to take the high moral ground on anything important.

Between "early voting" and the misuse of the absentee ballot system, chances of fraud, collusion, and coercion are high, and the chance of knowing the results in a timely matter is low. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, November 1, 2004 at 4:04 pm | Edit
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Get your news first, from Crickler! Their nifty little puzzles often alert me to interesting news stories, which I follow up with my favorite overall news source, Google News. Today's intriguing tidbit has been a little hard to pin down, as the full story at Salon.com requires a subscription. Supposedly you can get a "one day pass" to read it if you watch an advertisment, but I sat through the thing twice and still was asked to register, so I gave up and will wait till a free news source covers the story. However, since I was asked my opinion, I'll quote the beginning (free) part of the story:

George W. Bush tried to laugh off the bulge. "I don't know what that is," he said on "Good Morning America" on Wednesday, referring to the infamous protrusion beneath his jacket during the presidential debates. "I'm embarrassed to say it's a poorly tailored shirt."

Dr. Robert M. Nelson, however, was not laughing. He knew the president was not telling the truth. And Nelson is neither conspiracy theorist nor midnight blogger. He's a senior research scientist for NASA and for Caltech's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and an international authority on image analysis. Currently he's engrossed in analyzing digital photos of Saturn's moon Titan, determining its shape, whether it contains craters or canyons.

One theory is that the President was receiving some sort of assistance during the debate, which would make Bush the immoral, irresponsible idiot of his opponents' visions. I have a few thoughts of my own, and have gathered more from other folks:
 (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, October 29, 2004 at 3:09 pm | Edit
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Did you know that? Do you care? Probably not, unless you live in Boston.

A senator from Boston, with a name like Kerry? Of course he's Irish! At least that's what everyone thought, and—Boston politics being what they are—Kerry did not dispel the illusion. It was only when the Boston Globe hired a genealogist to look into Kerry's ancestry that it was revealed that he is not Irish at all, and that the Kerry name is only as old as his grandfather, who changed it from Kohn. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, October 26, 2004 at 4:42 pm | Edit
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