Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Dragged, Beaten, and Robbed UPDATE

Remember the story of the 15 year-old boy who was dragged off the Minneapolis Route 5 bus, beaten, and robbed? SwanBlog covered it here, here, and here.

More than a year later, Metro Transit has taken the bold step of hiring four-man teams from MAD DADS, with no law enforcement powers, to ride the route. The initial Star Tribune story did not reference the aforementioned beating. The updated story mentions it, along with two other serious incidents.

I will leave it to other bloggers to do the math on the number of shifts and the costs of the program.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Conservatives, Republicans, and Everybody

I was flipping through channels last night and caught a TV Guide Channel piece about American Dad. I have never seen an episode of this Fox cartoon. After viewing the behind-the-scenes documentary, I don't seem to be missing much.

What I found interesting was the claim by series insiders that they "make fun of everybody." This is apparently in response to claims that the show is tilted in favor of the Left. As someone who was unfamiliar with American Dad, it seemed that the documentary "doth protest too much." In a later interview, one of the production crew (cast member? animator?) compared the show to All in the Family. This meshed with other crew members' claims that the show appealed to conservatives in that the main character was spouting their beliefs, while still appealing to liberals who understand that it is satire.

Anyone have a problem with this?

Friday, May 26, 2006

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (Monday Too)

Open thread for Memorial Day weekend. Post your thoughts in the comments section below.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Attacks, Counter-Attacks, and (Judicial) Retreats

This looks bad. Not one of my predictions, but in the same spirit.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Parades, Freedom, and Discrimination

Returning to the imaginary town of Cityville, does Club Cityville have the right to exclude people from its annual events?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Abducted, Banned, and Challenged

Minnesota has another controversy regarding a "banned" book. Read about the controversy over the book Abduction! here, here, and here.

I have raised questions what constitutes a banned book here, here, and here. More later.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (5/19/06)

Open thread Friday. Tell me what's on your mind.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Public, Private, and Partnerships

Here are the questions for those of you who are following the controversy in my imaginary town of Cityville:

Let's assume that we can agree that a purely private club could hold an event that was just for fathers and sons, or exclude a feminist message from its own communication. Does it make a difference how widespread and institutional the organization becomes? In the case of Club Cityville (C2), we are not talking about some knitting circle or ham radio club meeting in someone's basement. Everyone from the Cityville Mayor to local business owners participate in C2 events. Also, Cityville does not put on its own Fourth of July parade and fireworks display because it knows that C2 will do so. In addition, it is not like a competing group could hold its own Fourth of July parade. Even if there were comparable streets to block off or staggered times throughout the day, the parade is something for which there is only one game in town.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Fathers, Sons, and Controversy

Continuing the discussion from here of the imaginary town of Cityville, another controversy concerning Club Cityville (C2), a civic group, is its sponsorship of a father and son dinner called the Sportsman's Supper. To be fair, C2 also sponsors mother/daughter events. But some claim that the event is discriminatory.

The father and son dinner is not designed to exclude children with absent fathers. On the contrary, C2 includes male role models in the definition of "father," and even helps to recruit them for boys who are in need of such guidance.

The Sportsman's Supper has grown over the years to include things that would interest males: local sports celebrities, giveaways of camping/hunting/fishing gear, and generous portions of food normally found in sports bars. Activists opposed to the "exclusive nature" of the dinner are trying to dissuade local businesses from contributing to the giveaways or participating in C2 at all.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Men, Fish, and Bicycles

As these things happen, someone had to stir up controversy in the imaginary Cityville Fourth of July parade. Club Cityville (C2), the sponsor, is not particularly activist, but does promote the values that one would expect from a civic club in a medium-sized town.

A feminist group with ties to a national organization is seeking to march in the Fourth of July parade sponsored by C2. What's more, they want to march with banners and t-shirts with the slogan, "A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle." According to C2, this is contrary to the subdued nature of the Independence Day event, as well as being against the general beliefs of C2 as an organization. The feminist group is free to attend the parade in their t-shirts or march in the parade without a slogan.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Parades, Fireworks, and Dinners

In our imaginary town of Cityville, the local membership organization, Club Cityville (C2), is especially known for its Fourth of July activities. C2 sponsors the local parade and fireworks display. In past years, there were no formal arrangements with the Cityville government. Everyone just assumed that C2 would put on the festivities. Now with insurance and other legal liabilities, there are permits and paperwork galore.

Some have suggested that C2 should become more involved in the town's Christmas celebration, but nothing has come of it. Other big events for the club include the Sportsman's Supper (a father/son event) and a smaller event for mothers and daughters. When Ms. Magazine was initially sponsoring Take Your Daughter to Work Day, C2 gained a little publicity with promoting stay at home motherhood as a career option for girls. This alternative fizzled, much like the underlying Ms. Magazine event.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (5-12-06)

What's on your mind? It's open thread Friday.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Elliott, Katharine, and Taylor

Before we return to the exciting adventures of Cityville, let me calm everyone down about American Idol. It seems that the blogosphere is buzzing that "we wuz robbed" last night when Chris Daughtry was voted off the show.

American Idol is not about picking the best singer. Good singers are routinely dismissed for being too ugly, too Broadway, or whatever. The way to advance on American Idol is to be a decent singer, PLUS: have an interesting personality, have a hard luck story, or be good looking. Kellie Pickler had all four, but still was voted off the show. So there are no guarantees.

Ask yourself this: is Chris Daughtry noticeably better than when he first auditioned? Has he grown at all in the experience? Can you imagine an entire concert of Daughtry singing songs looking up at the microphone with that pained expression on his face?

Yes, he could have won, but it is not a travesty of justice that he was voted off. Just ask Tamyra Gray and Latoya London.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

God, Country, and Cityville

Let's return to our imaginary town of Cityville.

Club Cityville (C2) is a very active member of the community. The food shelf and other charitable programs are funded through dues, as well as the generosity of local businesses. Most of the local business owners have at one time been in a leadership position with C2, although it is not a chamber of commerce or country club. Membership is generally open to anyone.

Club Cityville sponsors some activities that might seem old fashioned. There are C2 men's and women's groups, with the occasional father/son and mother/daughter events. C2 is also not shy about patriotism or religion. The pledge of allegience often takes a prominent role at C2 functions, as does a non-sectarian prayer.

C2 is not a single issue group. It would best be described as a membership organization that promotes what it believes is best for the community through its various activities.

To be continued....

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Wobegon, Garage Logic, and Cityville

I need an imaginary town. I am going to call it Cityville.

Cityville is actually large enough to have a couple high schools, competing newspapers, and various large employers ranging from factories to high-tech businesses. Population is yet to be determined.

When I got to Cityville, some of us decided to form Club Cityville (C2). Club Cityville is not a cult, militia group, or anything bad. Its activities range from charitible events to purely social ones.

Join us back here at SwanBlog for the continuing adventures of Cityville.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (5-5-06)

Open thread Friday. What's on your mind?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Hypocrites, Hillbillies, and Heroin

Rush Limbaugh deserves criticism because he:

a. is an prescription drug addict (recovering)

b. is a hypocrite

Your answer to that question depends largely on your politics, I suppose. Not just your like or dislike of Limbaugh's politics, but whether you think the U.S. has the correct drug policy.

Those who want to play the hypocrite card have gotten a little silly, though. The Minneapolis Star Tribune sniffed that Limbaugh was guilty of "the very things he derided in others." Media outlets have been recycling a quote from more than ten years ago where Limbaugh argued that drug users ought to be "convicted" and "sent up." The reaching even extended to Limbaugh's criticism of then-Governor Bill Clinton for saying he smoked marijuana but "didn't inhale." Clinton quotes in Limbaugh stories here, here, and here.

First of all, the criticism of the "didn't inhale" quote is not a about drug use, but what would later become known as a Clintonian response -- trying to have it both ways and parsing every word. It was a dumb thing to say for someone who would later become President. The whole point of smoking marijuana is to inhale. One need not be free of drug use to point that out. In fact, a level of sophistication about marijuana use helps illustrate the absurdity of the "didn't inhale" quote.

Second, is the 1995 quote the only one they could find? This quote (apparently uttered both on Limbaugh's radio and television show on the same day) is making more appearances than the famous looted vase footage after U.S. and coalition forces captured Baghdad. It is a stretch to say that Limbaugh was an activist on the issue of drug prosecution. Moreover, one can make a distinction between addiction to legal prescription painkillers and use of street drugs. Maybe both need to be punished equally, but it is possible to believe otherwise without being a dreaded hypocrite.

Oh. The answer to the question above is "a."

Monday, May 01, 2006

Blogs, Breaks, and Brodkorb

Tim O'Brien of the Star Tribune pulls out the trusty old timestamp attack against conservative bloggers. The gist of the argument is that any blog entries during the business day indicate a sinister plot involving the day job of a part-time blogger. O'Brien makes assumptions about Michael Brodkorb's work hours and then concludes that Brodkorb has a "really nice employer."

Kennedy v. Machine has a nice rebuttal here. This issue came up last year when the both Nick Coleman and City Pages questioned the work habits of the Powerline guys. Mitch Berg had a good response to that attack here and here. I dubbed the non-story "Coffee Break-gate."