Horowitz in Pennsylvania

by Henry on November 23, 2006

According to Scott Jaschik at _Inside Higher Ed_, David Horowitz’s ‘Bill of Rights’ movement has just suffered a “stinging defeat”:http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/11/22/tabor in Pennsylvania. Some of the juicier highlights below:

Horowitz said that he was furious about the “breathtaking audacity of this theft of the report by the Democrats and the unions,” and that a “cabal” of faculty leaders had convinced “weak-spined Republicans” (who controlled the committee) to go along with the “theft.” … In the end, though, the panel on Tuesday stripped away what he had been citing as points of victory. The final report kept the language saying that it couldn’t find evidence of problems with students’ rights. … because the final vote on the report was unanimous — on a committee controlled by Republicans — the committee made it more difficult for Horowitz to blame his problems on liberals. … In getting the Pennsylvania House of Representative to create a panel to study these issues, Horowitz won his major legislative victory last year, so the report’s outcome has been highly anticipated. Last week, he said he viewed Pennsylvania as a model for what he hoped to accomplish elsewhere and that he would be working to create similar panels in other states next year. … Asked how he could claim victory when the legislative panel had worked so hard to identify student victims, and failed, Horowitz offered more stories of students who were being hurt. He said that he had spoken to a dance student who was upset about her paper’s grade and that he had encouraged her to file a grievance. She didn’t want to. Horowitz acknowledged that there was no political issue in the paper, but said her reluctance to go through the grievance machinery showed the problems that students face. … Horowitz, asked why he couldn’t document more of the cases of students being hurt — the basis of his movement — said: “Why do I have to run around the country finding these kids?”

MyBlogLog reinvents itself and gets noticed

by Eszter Hargittai on November 23, 2006

.. or how to figure out whether you are hallucinating.

In the past few weeks I have come across more and more commentary about the site MyBlogLog, a service that is responsible for the list of pictures of other recent site visitors on the sidebar of some blogs (example).

But I was confused. I was quite sure that I had signed up for a free MyBlogLog account over a year ago, and this was not at all the service it had offered back then. I started searching and most recent commentary focuses on the above-mentioned social aspect of the service. So how to figure out if I am just utterly confused and mixing this up with another service?

[click to continue…]

Spooked

by Maria on November 23, 2006

After nine lovely Mondays spent anticipating the evening’s installment of Spooks, series 5, it’s all over. Monday is back to being plain old boring old Monday and Brussels seems even greyer than usual. Which isn’t to say this series was stellar. It was bigger and sexier, with more explosions and grander conspiracies. But the noisier Spooks gets, the less it seems to say. Spooks always had an eerie talent for anticipating world events – it started filming in the months before 9/11 – but fact is now so much stranger than fiction.

Two more of the few remaining characters from the first series have been dismissed. The only discernible character arc in the whole of series 5 was that of our hero, Adam, who spiralled further and further downward, with a quick stop off to bang his nanny. Actually, his story was a good one, and put the lie to most action-led tv series where characters bounce back from the deaths of loved ones within an episode or three. But the entry of a new female lead (Ros, played by Hermione Norris) flattened the entire series and crowded out two far more interesting and sympathetic characters, Zaf and Jo. Which is a pity, because Hermione Norris has the animation of a wooden cadaver. She’s no more credible doing hand to hand combat with Mossad agents than she is laying a glamorous honeytrap for a Saudi playboy.

The original strength of Spooks was the ordinariness of the spies and their struggles to reconcile their normal lives with the weird reality of their working world. Tom might have been an SAS-trained killer, but he had terrible taste in girlfriends and was never far from a nice cup of tea. The younger spies put their lives on the line every working day, but as junior civil servants they couldn’t really afford to live in London.

I know it’s dramatically useful for tv show characters to have no life outside of work, except for the occasional relative who can be placed in jeopardy. But it’s dull, dull, dull (not to mention deeply unquestioning of live-to-work capitalism). Life in the bubble suffocates the characters and makes them less believable. And that kills precisely what was so great about Spooks. Series five squeezed its characters into a smaller and less lifelike world, just as it inflated the scale of the threats a mere seven people face off. It’s now recycling stories – like the embassy hostages – from earlier series, but that only shows how much the Spooks has lost its own plot.

Le grand snark

by Maria on November 23, 2006

Well worth reading; Alex Harrowell at Fistful of Euros dissects the difficulties of the French right following the left’s decision to run Sego in next year’s presidential election;

‘The problem being, of course, that De Villepin is damaged goods, Juppé is a rush-job and a crook, having just returned from trouble with the law, and Chirac is old, unpopular and has scandals like a dog has fleas. Sarkozy, for his part, represents the heritage of the non-Gaullist “droite classique” and, more importantly, appeals to the cult of America. His argument (everything is terrible and only I, the new young US-style leader, know what to do) and his prescription (free markets and mass surveillance) bear a far closer resemblance to Tony Blair than anything found on Ségolene Royal.’