March 30, 2005

Frying Pan to Fire

Having just completed a contract with a natural gas company, I've now begun a new one with a biotech. Perhaps there's a military supplier out there who needs some help.

During the interview, the VP of Discovery asked me what I thought of coming to work for a biotech, a pharmaceutical company. I told him that my grandfather died of a heart attack, that my father had had a couple himself, and that frankly, I was counting on them.

Posted by joshuasharf at 11:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Pill Bill

The Colorado Legislature has passed a bill requiring all hospitals to tell rape victims about "emergency contraception," basically pills that abort a potential pregnancy. It's on the governor's desk now.

Naturally, the Post treats this like a personal religious crisis for Owens, ("Pill Bill to Test Owens"), as though he were Roger Williams or Brigham Young. Apparently, the notion that there might be non-religious reasons for respecting other peoples' religious practice is something that Post editorial policy can't quite get its arms around. Apparently, the Post can't abide someone's political beliefs coinciding with his religious beliefs.

During Tuesday's debate in the House, [bill sponsor Betty] Boyd said the bill covers institutions, not individuals. Individual medical workers could opt to have someone else tell a patient about emergency contraception, she said.

And no hospital will be forced to provide the pills, she said. Rather, hospitals would be required to refer patients to another source for the pills.

Oh, that's persuasive. As though institutions weren't permitted to hold and exercise a point of view. Let's try applying that logic to the public schools some time, and see how far that gets you with Rep. Boyd.

Orthodox Judaism takes a different view of an embryo from Catholicism. Until implantation, the embryo has no status, and even then, the status is at best murky for 40 days. Denver doesn't happen to have any hospitals under rabbinical supervision, but even Hadassah in Jerusalem would be able to abide by the new bill in good conscience.

This isn't about my own position on the matter. It's about Church-run hospitals having the right practice medicine in a manner consistent with their own beliefs.

Posted by joshuasharf at 07:06 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 29, 2005

1939 New York World's Fair

I've written before about the 1939 New York World's Fair, and the place it holds - and represents - in American memory. It's often been compared to the 1851 Great Exposition in London's Crystal Palace, except that I'm not sure that people were still writing about that one on the eve of World War I.

The Fair was a mix of high-brow education, middle-brow futurism, and low-brow entertainment. It was Optimism about Progress in a way that our current culture can barely grasp, much less share. It was so optimistic it included a Palestine pavilion from a country that didn't even exist - yet.

It wasn't even conciously stubborn optimism; that's just the way the country was. Look, it was a Fair, not a newscast. A couple of the countries had to vacate for the 1940 season because they either started a war in the meantime or got plowed under by it. The Poles probably didn't do themselves any favors by holding a drawing to "Win a Trip to Poland" on the eve of being drawn and quartered by Stalin and Hitler.

I haven't been able to find documentation of this, but I suspect that the Fair had some influence on Disney's vision for Epcot. Only some dial got set wrong during the design process. When my parents lived in Orlando, we went to Epcot a couple of times, and I always came away feeling a little disappointed, like the designers were spending more time looking in the rearview mirror than out the windshield. I wanted the World of Tomorrow, but they gave me "Millennia of Progress."

The Links (given a permanent home on the sidebar):

  • 1939: The Lost World of the Fair
  • The New York World's Fair: 1939-1940
  • The Last Great Fair by Jeffrey Hart
  • Iconography of Hope (U.Va.)
  • Images From the '39 Fair
  • Video From the Fair

    Posted by joshuasharf at 11:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
  • Carnival of the Capitalists

    Weekly home of the Worldly Philosophers.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 11:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Harsanyi Media Alert

    Honorary Friend of the Alliance and Denver Post columnist, David Harsanyi, will be sitting in for Dan Caplis on the Caplis and Silverman Show tomorrow from 3-7 pm, Mountain Time. David's a pretty knowledgable guy, and should do a terrific job.

    Listen Here, after you go through the free registration process.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 10:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    March 28, 2005

    Freudian Slip

    The parking meters in Denver are on holiday today. As a group of high schoolers, on Spring Break, tried to use the high-tech parking meters, a woman came out of the Post Office and helpfully explained that today is "Hugo Chavez Day."

    Let's hope it never comes to that. Cesar Chavez Day is bad enough.

    Personally, I plan to eat my traditional bunch of grapes in commemoration.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 01:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    March 27, 2005

    Happy Easter - from Vernal, Utah

    Posted by joshuasharf at 04:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    March 25, 2005

    Purim and Anti-Semitism

    Christians, especially religious Christians who are involved in their church,
    have a tendency to see anti-Semitism as a Christian phenomenon. While that's
    the most recent experience, it's not the only one. The Book of Esther was
    written before the Church, so its events concern the Zoroastrian rulers of a
    huge multi-ethnic empire. The Romans pagans may have tried to be tolerant,
    but couldn't abide Jewish sovereignty, so ended up in the same pattern. And
    Muslim anti-Semites have recently adopted quite easily much of the European
    anti-semitic symbolism and charicatures.

    From a Christian point of view, of course, the relevant issue is how the
    church relates to Jews. But from a Jewish point of view, it's about how we
    relate to the world.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 02:58 PM

    Jewish Law on Terry Schiavo

    Some have asked what the Jewish take is on Terry Schiavo. As usual, the Orthodox Jew looks to Jewish law or Halachah, first for an answer, and then for guidance. In this case, there's an answer.

    Under Jewish law - which obviously doesn't apply to Christians living in a country of secular laws - clearly forbids removing the feeding tube. If someone is alive, even if he is severely incapacitated, you can't do anything to hasten his death.

    Terry Schiavo simply does not meet the qualifications for being dead. She's not even close. She's not brain dead. Her heart and lungs are still functioning. She's just severely incapacitated. She may or may never be rehabililtated.

    Now, just because you can't hasten death doesn't mean you have to endlessly extend physical function. There is always the option of not beginning certain treatments in the first place. Thus the critical importantce of a living will. About a decade ago, the Rabbinical Council of America approved a living will that conforms to Jewish legal standards, acceptable to American courts.

    The question of life-saving, or even life-extending medical technology is a difficult and complex one, subject to many distinctions among physical states, measures required, relationships to the afflicted, and so one. Under Jewish law, though, this isn't a hard case at all.

    From a personal point of view, I find it horrifying that we're dehydrating a woman to death, and Dickensian that our legal system can't get itself sorted out long enough to prevent it.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 11:16 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Happy Purim

    Today is the celebration of Purim, much beloved by Jews, virtually unknown by the outside world. In a nutshell, it celebrates the story in the Book of Esther. In machinations worthy of any oriental court, the Jews of the Persian empire (which is pretty much all the Jews, at that point) manage to survive a plot to kill them, engineered by Haman.

    There's a fair amount of Jewish history packed into this story, and it represents the prototypical pattern of anti-Semitism. Jews follow our own religious laws, which gets held against us. Some people will extend personal grudges against individual Jews to the whole people. Jews who manage to "pass" can come in very handy at key moments, but tend not leave much of a personal Jewish legacy.

    In a fit of justice, Haman ends up being hung on his own gallows. (Those of you who are not Jewish, but who have heard the Southern expression, "Hang him high as Haman," now know where that came from.) And in a phenomenon unknown until about 1948, the Jews actually organized militarily and defended themselves against the planned pogroms.

    Since it's one of the books with a happy ending, the holiday is an extraordinarily festive one. We dress up in costumes, hear the Whole Megillah read out loud, give small gifts and food baskets, and in olden days, would write "U Can't Touch This" on the local Russian Orthodox churches. And then spend the day packing.

    Nowadays, congregations and shuls put on "Purim Spiels," which make fun of more or less any institution. Religion is too often associated with a relentless earnestness, and it's good to get away from that from time to time.

    I realize that today is also Good Friday, which must cause tremendous cognitive dissonance for our Messianic friends. It's a quirk in the calendar appropriate for some other post, and it happens very rarely. I want to extend appropriate Easter wishes to the Christian readers of this blog as well, especially now that the Church has stopped blaming me personally for the weekend's events.

    Just remember that, if you happen to drive through a Jewish neighborhood and see people celebrating, it's not all about you.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 08:36 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    March 23, 2005

    Crushing of Dissent

    Protesters at the Social Security Preso. There have been complaints that a couple of people who wanted to make a disturbance were escorted out. Too bad. If their purpose was to protest, there was plenty of room outside where they would have been guaranteed an audience and cameras. If their purpose was simply to embarass the President and disrupt the event, they deserved to be shown the door.

    In fact, there was a small smattering of protestors outside. All the Reactionaries were able to muster was about 10 people in a couple of small groups. One of them, called "Billionaires for Bush," sporting faux furs (they had better have been faux) and real tophats, carried signs saying "Privatize Everything." As they walked by, I called out cheerfully, "Now, that's a policy I could get behind." One of them, who was into the spirit of things, laughed. Five of them didn't.

    The other myth is that the crowd uniformly supported the President's proposals. They didn't. They may have been friendly Republicans, willing to be convinced, but that doesn't mean they walked in or walked out spouting talking points. My b-school friend, Kevin, is still sitting on the fence. People around me in line were expecting a substantive proposal, although they did want it to be civilized. Most of them were probably sympathetic, but not necessarily sold.

    Columnists who want to turn us into the PRC are just blowing smoke.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 08:04 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Social Security Roadshow

    As mentioned below, President Bush brought his Social Security Roadshow to town on Monday, and I got to see the event up-close and personal. All the pieces were there, but I came away thinking that the presentation could have been much more persuasive than it was.

    The pieces were the President, Sen. McCain, and the panelists. The President was at ease, relaxed, a terrific presenter and moderator, and clearly in command of the facts. Sen. McCain added some centrist wattage, a challenge to the AARP in one of its home states, and another articulate voice. And the panelists really were just normal folks picked to represent different life stages and incomes.

    One of the lighter moments came when the President introduced McCain, "He's up here to claim some of his water." This drew mostly good-natured boos; "Never mind. Just a little inside joke that didn't work." It turned into a running gag when McCain said he was here to visit some of his water, and cracked up even the President by asking us to remember that "Arizona is so dry the trees chase the dogs."

    The President is trying to offer younger workers something - a tangible account of their own with higher returns - that also appeals to middle-aged workers - it's transferrable. At the same time, he needs to reassure retirees and soon-to-retirees that their stated benefits will be paid. He can make this case.

    The problem is, the program couldn't decide if it wanted to be a political rally or a policy presentation, so it came off as an infomercial. When the President said he wanted to have a "discussion," it sounded like the discussion your dad had with you about that D in Algebra. I didn't do much talking during those discussions. The panelists were props. Willing props, to be sure, who wouldn't have been up there if they didn't support private accounts, but still props.

    A number of people came away having learned something. A friend of mine from business school said that he hadn't realized that the government spent the excess payroll tax it collected. But people want details; they're parched for details; and our whole system is predicated on the notion that they can handle details. If avoiding the details makes a plan harder to attack, it also makes it harder to support.

    If the President is still in the Convince People There's a Problem stage, this may have helped. Even there, the case could be stronger. Europe currently can neither grow economically nor defend itself because of its welfare state commitments. Social Security has the potential to do that to us a couple of decades from now. The President needs to point to Europe, and ask the American people if that's the path we want to take. He'll win that bet.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 07:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    March 22, 2005

    Spring is in the Air

    There's a moment that usually comes in, oh, late August. You're out walking around, in my case, I'm walking the dog. It's been hot for 2 months. (Here in Colorado, it cools down at night, but we're not talking about then.) The sun is out, but it's early in the day, so it's warm. And you walk under a tree, or into some kind of shade, or a little breeze kicks up, and it's cool. Not just less warm, like it was yesterday, but cool. And then you realize that Labor Day is right around the corner, and in my case, that Rosh Hashanah is right around the next corner.

    This morning was the Springtime equivalent. The sun peeks up over a building, and it's warm. Purim, and then Passover, and then Memorial Day. Harbinger of big changes.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 07:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Herding Cats

    The Carnival of the Capitalists round-up is over at Beyond the Brand. This week, as Carson would have said, "Good Stuff."

    Posted by joshuasharf at 06:36 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    March 21, 2005

    Social Security Photoblogging

    I had the great good fortune to attend one of President Bush's Social Security Town Hall Meetings this afternoon, held at the Wings Over the Rockies Museum on the old Lowry Air Force Base a few minutes from my house. More on the style and substance of the event tomorrow, but I thought these pictures could serve as an appetizer.

    The event was billed as being co-hosted with Congressman Bob Beauprez, who didn't speak, but was there with his wife.

    Governor Bill Owens (whose Deputy Chief of Staff Sean Duffy furnished tickets to the bloggers) gave a brief introduction, holding at least some of the crowd in rapt attention, at least when they weren't shamelessly using their children to promote their blogs.

    A surprise participant was Senator John McCain. When his name was announced, an audible "oohhh, wow" ran through the crowd. Together, the Senator and the President helped the panel through the discussion.

    And after the presentation, the President repeated his campaign peformance of diving into the crowd, or at least reaching across the barrier, and signing autographs for everyone who could get close.

    As I said, more later. Probably tomorrow after I can read the Post account and see whether staff writer Susan Greene and I were at the same event. Heh.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 10:26 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Nuts and Bolton

    That's the title of the latest from Mark Steyn in the Spectator. Steyn usually cuts down the Spectator column for American syndication, and if you've got less time this morning, you can get the gist of it here.

    Okay, I get the hang of this game. Sending John Bolton to be UN ambassador is like ...putting Sudan and Zimbabwe on the Human Rights Commission. Or letting Saddamís Iraq chair the UN conference on disarmament. Or sending a bunch of child-sex fiends to man UN operations in the Congo. And the Central African Republic. And Sierra Leone, and Burundi, Liberia, Haiti, Kosovo, and pretty much everywhere else. All of which happened without the UN fetishists running around shrieking hysterically. Why should America be the only country not to enjoy an uproarious joke at the UNís expense?

    Steyn goes on to argue that America is simply honoring its traditions by refusing to play by the stale rules of an archaic game designed by others. Unlike some others who would like to do the same thing, America can make it stick.

    Bolton simply isn't interested in being liked. He's interested in promoting a policy, which is actually what diplomacy is about.

    My guess is that thatís what Bill Clinton and Eason Jordan were up to when they respectively hailed the progressivism of Iranian politics and defamed the entire US military. Youíre with a bunch of foreigners and you want them to like you and itís easy to get carried away.

    Thatís what was so stunning about Bolton. In a roomful of Euro-grandees, he was perfectly relaxed, a genial fellow with a rather Mitteleuropean moustache, but he thwacked every ball they served back down their gullets with amazing precision. He was the absolute antithesis of Schmoozer Bill and Pandering Eason: he seemed to relish their hostility. At one event, a startled British cabinet minister said to me afterwards, ĎHe doesnít mean all that, does he?í

    Posted by joshuasharf at 08:49 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    March 19, 2005

    Hockeytown USA

    Realizing that "triumphalism" is the word-to-be-avoided when blogging, I'll try to gloat ceremoniously. After all, when you're deprived of professional hockey, you need to take what you can get.

    DU beat Colorado College 1-0 for the WCHA Championship.

    Now, take a close look at that grid. Colorado had all of two teams in the 10-team tournament. Minnesota had, 1, 2, 3, no, four, count 'em, four teams. (Not to mention North Dakota, suburb of Minnesota and home state of both the Rocket and Lileks.) And look at that final matchup, including, hmmmm, two teams from Colorado. Minnesota placed 40% of the teams in the tournament, and none of them even made the Finals? Wow.

    So, ah, what did the Alliance bet Fraters this year on the tournament?

    Posted by joshuasharf at 09:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    The Rocky Defends Bloggers

    The Rocky Mountain News joins the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in editorializing in favor of journalistic protections for bloggers:

    The problems here are self-evident. First, of course, is that companies could hang the "trade secret" label on almost any material they didn't want published, including, for example, internal memos detailing everything from product flaws to accounting fraud. The media's responsibility is to publish accurate information of broad public interest, not protect the business interests of private corporations.

    Second is Kleinberg's suggestion that he is the best judge of what constitutes legitimate news. That is simply not true. In a free country, news is what consumers and journalists say it is.

    The danger is the precedent, which is one reason why some states are contemplating expanding their shield laws to include bloggers. Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia have shield laws that give varying degrees of confidentiality to the sources, notes and other materials gathered in the course of work by journalists, as variously defined.

    Unfortunately, Colorado's law appears to exclude Internet journalists. It defines "mass media" as "any publisher of a newspaper or periodical; wire service; radio or television station or network; news or feature syndicate; or cable television system." So the need for a tech-savvy update is acute, preferably before an Internet-related case lands in a Colorado court.


    ...An increasing number of blogs gather and report news - some of which appears in newspapers or on TV. The most successful enjoy audiences bigger than a large majority of newspapers. As such, they deserve no less protection than their colleagues in traditional media.

    At least some newspapers seem to understand that not drawing a line can work both ways.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 07:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


    To Hugh, to KNUS, and especially to Cezanne and Jennifer at KNUS, and RaeAnn at Borders, who thought to include us, and worked so hard to make the event a success.

    And to PCClub for sponsoring the laptops and wifi access for the bloggers.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 07:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    March 18, 2005

    Book Signing Off

    OK. I turn into a pumpkin at 6:10 PM Mountain Time, so I gotta run. Tune to Bob and Jonathan for continuing live coverage.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 05:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    More Bloggers

    Now, Ben and Jared have arrived, along with a few non-alliance bloggers, William Seccombe and Todd Carpenter.

    We're still waiting on Clay. I guess they don't have all these big, paved roads out in Elbert County.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 05:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    TABOR Blogging

    Posted by joshuasharf at 04:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Governor 2006

    In what had to be a bone-jarring moment for Mike Coffman and Marc Holtzman, the crowd here just applauded enthusiastically for Bob Beauprez's presumptive Gubernatorial candidacy in 2006.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 04:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    People Will Turn Out For Anything

    Posted by joshuasharf at 04:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Live! From Golden! It's Friday Afternoon

    Here at the Colorado Mills Borders, in a makeshift studio. I guess in order to avoid being here until 1:00 AM again, Hugh's signing books during breaks.

    Some of the Alliance has shown up early, including Bob, Jonathan, Jim, and camp follower Barbara.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 04:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    March 16, 2005

    Day Three

    Initially, I had just planned to take I-80 across to Green River. As usual, I found a long-cut. This took me through North Park. While I found no Chef there, I did find this:

    Finally entering Wyoming, heading north on The BEST Route to Yellowstone and the Tetons, I came across this:

    Sure, you're thinking. The Brigham Young probably dumped the woman here, and this thing hasn't been "open" since the first Cleveland Administration. As it turns out, the proprietress and her husband probably did vote for Cleveland, which may account for their taciturnity; said all there is to say.

    There will be time to cull through the nature pictures, but this also caught my eye:

    It's a Carbon-o-Rama! A coal-laden train passing what was The Most Modern Refinery in the World! when it was built, 30 years ago.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 07:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    March 14, 2005

    Alert Barry Lynn!

    This is a Jewish site, so with all due respect to my fellow RMA bloggers, I don't tend to throw a lot of crosses onto the blog. Still, I really thought the Progressives, the ACLU, Americans United for Division, etc., should know about this. As always, click to enrage - er, enlarge.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 08:57 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    March 13, 2005

    Road Trip

    Ah, nothing better than a good night's sleep behind me and a ribbon o' road in front of me. Word to the wise: watch the Speed Limit signs going through Empire. No, I didn't get a ticket...

    No, the trip isn't the reason for the blogging vacation, and I realize this post is a violation of the self-imposed blogxile, too, but as Tom Lehrer said, "Sharks gotta swim, bats gotta fly..."

    Right now, I'm in a very nice little bookstore/coffee shop/wine bar in Steamboat Springs, with the dog enjoying the chilly weather outside, wondering when is he going to come out already. Steamboat's a neat little town, although it's slowly being overrun by development to accomodate people who want a smaller place than Vail.


    Posted by joshuasharf at 08:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    March 10, 2005

    Blogging Holiday

    Despite all the fascinating stuff coming out of Boulder, Qwest, and Wall Street, I'm going to be taking a blogging holiday for the next few weeks or so, to deal with finals and some personal matters that have come up.

    I'll see you all when I get back, towards the end of the month.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 08:36 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    March 09, 2005


    For some reason, comments that have been posted are not showing up properly. Until I have time to figure out what's causing the problem, I'm going to disable comments on the site.

    This doesn't have anything to do with anything that's been written - it's purely a technical problem that I don't have time to solve right now. You're still invited to email me, and let me know if the email is for attribution.

    With luck, comments will be re-enabled soon.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 03:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Adult Supervision

    So, with the end of CU's Canterbury Tales of Hoffman approaching, it's time to choose a new President.

    The RMA has decided to offer its services to the Board of Regents as a - screening - service. We'll be taking applications, and in the spirit of the blogosphere, debating them openly over at Adult Supervision, our group blog devoted to this process.

    Stop by, take a look, comment, hell apply. You never know - you might win a chance to be the next President of CU!

    Posted by joshuasharf at 10:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Big Shoes to Fill

    The Rocky Mountain Alliance of Blogs has been solicited for its endorsement of a candidate to replace Elizabeth Hoffman as president of the University of Colorado. On Monday during his radio show, the eminent Hugh Hewitt submitted his name in candidacy. On Tuesday King Banaian of SCSU Scholars also submitted his name in candidacy, specifically requesting the RMAís endorsement.

    The RMA, as the premier representative of Coloradoís new center-right media, will issue its official endorsement for the new CU President on Monday, March 21. The RMA will take into consideration all available posted information on candidate qualifications and is not immune to various forms of flattery and other inducements. Hugh Hewitt is the apparent front-runner due to greater name recognition, but King Banaian has offered more detailed plans and - more importantly - is willing to become a Denver Broncos fan.

    Other candidates are invited to submit their names for consideration but will be judged on a first-come, first-served, ďas time permitsĒ basis. Thank you for your participation.

    Serious candidates may apply by sending an e-mail to Jim of Thinking Right (

    Posted by joshuasharf at 08:25 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    March 08, 2005


    Condolences to Bob at the Daily Blogster, who lost his beloved springer spaniel Hannah this morning.

    If you've lost a pet, you know what it's like. If you haven't, there's no way to describe it without drifting over into being maudlin. You certainly can't analyze it.

    A few months ago, my sister lost her dog of 14 years, Muffin. She took it worse than her kids did, who immediately started pressing for a replacement. It really changes the rhythm of a house when a dog dies. A few years ago, friends of mine lost their 18-year-old house dog, Bookshy, and it was years before they could settle on getting another one.

    I myself have only lost one dog, a cockapoo named CB, when I was about 11. Dad came upstairs and told us that "the dog had died," figuring that strong medicine is best given straight. CB had had a heart condition for which he took pills, and during the night he just gave out. (Dad claims that late that night, before he put the dog in his basement room, CB came over to him and put his muzzle on his leg, which he never used to do. Did he know?) We buried him (quite illegally, but a cremation for such a fine dog was out of the question) in the back yard, near the electric pylon.

    Sage the Lab is starting to show some signs of middle age as he approaches six, and every once in a while I find myself thinking about what it'll be like when he goes. The only possible response to such thoughts, naturally, is denial.

    (Click "Continue Reading" for Rudyard Kipling's take on the matter.) To read a number of essays on the subject by someone who really could write, try Thurber's Dogs, which seems to have been reissued as The Dog Department : James Thurber on Hounds, Scotties, and Talking Poodles.

    The Power of the Dog

    There is sorrow enough in the natural way
    From men and women to fill our day;
    And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
    Why do we always arrange for more?
    Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
    Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

    Buy a pup and your money will buy
    Love unflinching that cannot lie--
    Perfect passsion and worship fed
    By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
    Nevertheless it is hardly fair
    To risk your heart to a dog to tear.

    When the fourteen years which Nature permits
    Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,
    And the vet's unspoken prescription runs
    To lethal chambers or loaded guns,
    Then you will find--it's your own affair--
    But ... you've given your heart to a dog to tear.

    When the body that lived at your single will,
    With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!)
    When the spirit that answered your every mood
    Is gone--wherever it goes--for good,
    You will discover how much you care,
    And will give your heart to a dog to tear.

    We've sorrow enough in the natural way,
    When it comes to burying Christian clay.
    Our loves are not given, but only lent,
    At compound interest of cent per cent.
    Though it is not always the case, I believe,
    That the longer we've kept 'em, the more do we grieve:
    For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,
    A short-term loan is as bad as a long--
    So why in--Heaven (before we are there)
    Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?

    -- Rudyard Kipling

    Posted by joshuasharf at 03:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Terminal State-Uism

    Back in the Good Old Days, at Virginia, we used to fret about something called "creeping (galloping) State-Uism." Virginia was the non-State U State University. We didn't want to be a State U, we wanted to be The University. I actually had friends who rooted against the school's athletic teams.

    We had a pep band, like the scramble bands from Up No'th. Never mind that our governor was frequently apologizing to West Virginia's or Maryland's governor for some joke. ("Will the car with West Virginia tags 'SAT 400' please report to your vehicle...") When some alumnus donated the money for a marching band a few years ago, it was not only a sign of how the University had failed to perpetuate its culture, it was Gallavanting State-Uism.

    Flash forward to 2005. In the last couple of years, it's become clear that Colorado's branding initiative has yielded a football helmet. And now, the brand is so tarnished that if you tried to polish it, it would break apart like some relic from the Titanic. Sex scandals, recruiting scandals, alcohol scandals, money scandals, CU Foundations, summer camps. Hey, Just Win, Baby.

    Hugh wants to run for President of CU on a "Beat Nebraska" platform, which just goes to show that Harvard's own brand is a little over-rated, too.

    What we were afraid of back at Virginia? We were afraid of becoming Colorado.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 06:51 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    Light Blogging, and a Note of Concern

    Today's Blogging: Light, with much to do.

    Ah, that Note of Concern. Well, you know, now that the MSM has decided to start checking out that "Bush May Have Been Right" train that left the station while they were inside refreshing their cocktails, it might be worth it to remember that these guys do have a pack mentality. They usually do all right with the fact - it's the story they have a hard time getting right.

    In this case, with Democracy Busin' Out All Over, the story we want to avoid is 1848. That was the year that the citizens took over Europe. In January, they started making trouble all around; by June, the people had seized control of the governments of Germany, France, and Austria. By December, the Empires had struck back, and were back in control. In the one exception, France, the man who would become the dictator Napoleon III was in charge.

    Revolutions, even genuinely popular ones, can fail. Our job is to make sure that doesn't happen in the Middle East. My guess is that the President understands this better than most of the critics-turned-grudging-admirers.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 06:24 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    March 07, 2005

    Hoffman Resigns

    It appears as though Ward Churchill's people have acquired their first scalp, collateral damage though it may be.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 05:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Colorado Election Numbers

    Ben Degrow cites Ted Halaby's campaign letter for National Committeman, and its notation that Republicans outpolled Democrats by 36,000 votes in state legislative races.

    As they say on that other radio network, "Let's do the numbers."

    I totaled up the State House of Representatives votes going back to 1996. This was by far the worst aggregate showing for Republicans in the list. For simplicity's sake, I only counted percentages for the Republicans and Democrats. The only time other parties have a decent showing is when one of these two is absent from a race.

    In percentage terms, the Republicans beat the Democrats by 1 point this year. Going backwards, they won in prior years by 13, 13, 16, and 23 points in 1996. The Democrats didn't win a majority in either House or Senate races, and most of their candidates won by running as centrists, so this hardly constitutes a "new progressive majority" by any standard. Indeed, as the Democrats seem to have as hard a time counting their own votes as they do counting election ballots, it's not even clear there's a progressive majority within their own party.

    But it also means that the move was more than the "technical win" cited by Dick Wadhams and other party activitst. (This doesn't mean there isn't a lot of party-building work to do; it just makes it a necessary but insufficient condition for winning.)

    Ben also points out that the aggregate vote, much like the national popular vote, is meaningless when it comes to doling out committee chairmanships (or Presidencies). In fact, the Republicans in the state have historically won 3-5 seats fewer than would be predicted by their vote total. (Since Colorado apportions legislative seats by a nonpartisan commission, my guess is that it's highly unlikely this is a deliberate result. In Minnesota, traditionally a Democratic stronghold, they've run several seats ahead of their vote total for the last few elections.)*

    Both Ben and Clay are supporting Bob Schaffer for the post, and it would certainly help heal some of the divisions from the last election. One question is: how much will Schaffer's undercutting of Ramey Johnson be held against him?

    *In calculating the expected number of wins, I use Bill James's "Pythagorean Method," which pretty accurately predicts a baseball team's wins based on the number of runs scored/run allowed. He uses the square of the number of runs, and comes much closer to actual records. Since each seat would represent a "win," my working hypothesis is that this formula works better than a straight percentage. I'm actually going to spend some time rounding up numbers from around the country and seeing what works best.

    UPDATE: A reader writes:

    Colorado does not redistrict by nonpartisan commission. Redistricting is handled by a bi-partisan committee of legislators, and must be passed through the legislature like any other law. Which means in the 1980 and 1990 redistricting rounds, it had to pass two republican-held chambers and be signed by a democratic governor. In the 2000 redistricting round, it had to pass through a democratic-controlled Senate and republican-controlled House, and be signed by a republican governor. The legislature failed to accomplish this by the end of session, and so the process had to be adjudicated in the courts - by a highly partisan, democratic judge that chose a set of maps drawn by the state Democratic Party.

    He is correct, although the state redistricting has usually gone smoothly, and wasn't the source of 2002's rancor.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 12:38 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    March 06, 2005

    Spring Cleaning

    Ah, it's the first week in March, which means Cycling Season has arrived in Colorado. People ride their bikes all year round here, but the it's only now that you see people dressed as though their Sunday rides were being sponsored by Cingular.

    It's also the time for the state parties to meet to elect their leaderships for the upcoming cycle. In this case, the Democrats have decided to replace Chris Gates with a relative unknown, more acceptable to the lunatic fringe Mike Miles wing of the party.

    Under Gates, the party positioned itself and its leadership to the center-left, and retook both houses of the state legislature, a Congressional seat, and a Senate seat. This is a little like firing a coach after his second consecutive Super Bowl win. Gates is resorting to a recent Democratic tactic: accusations of vote fraud. Seriously.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 08:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    The Jordan Rules

    The Jordanian Foreign Minister, Hani Mulki, is using Syria's non-pullout as a catalyst to - pressure Israel. In an interview with the Jerusalem Post, he equates Syria's ongoing rape of Lebanon with Israel's occupation of the previously-uninhabited high ground between the two countries.

    Never mind that Syria took the liberty of inviting itself into each country in turn, the primary difference being Israel's ability to defend itself.

    In the meantime, Jordan wants back the Intecontinental Hotel on the Mount of Olives, which is on territory lost to Israel in the 1967 war. There may be a solution there, inasmuch as the Israeli-Jordanian Peace treaty permitted Israeli farmers to own and work land inside of Jordan. It may be possible to return the hotel to Jordanian control without ceding sovereignty over the Mount.

    Except for the Jordanians' history in treating the cemetery there.

    As usual, the existing Arab governments' first reaction to any regional change is to use it as a club against Israel. If Jordan were interested in any way in Syrian peace with Israel, it would try to build on this momentum to bring about change in Damascus.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 08:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Institutional Lunacy

    The good folks over at the RMPN are practicing the old Guilt by Association.

    My outrage is for me alone to dispose of, but I am thoroughly disgusted by this.

    I was disgusted when I saw this same group of about 8 people several months ago on a Sunday morning as I was walking my dog. No words passed between us, but it was clear they returned my contempt. Sadly, my dog declined my invitation to lighten his load on them.

    Still, I am not outraged. I will be outraged when they are invited to sit in the Presidential Box at the Republican National Convention.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 08:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    March 04, 2005

    The Open Letter From Closed Minds

    Dave Kopel wanted it. Here it is.

    Signatures 1

    Signatures 2

    Posted by joshuasharf at 05:03 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    Hoffman and the Faculty

    CU President Betsy Hoffman yesterday set the stage for a recommendation of action against Ward Churchill, or at least, played for time. She made an - impassioned - defense of academic freedom in front of the faculty, but made the point that the investigation had gone beyond speech into the possibility of actual misconduct.

    She's trying to placate the faculty, and at the same trying to head off a lawsuit in the event that they do try to fire Churchill. She's playing politican, not leader, and her stock has fallen far too low for her to get away with it at this point. Even Rocky columnist Mike Littwin, no fan of the governor, wrote that Hoffman had badly overplayed her hand in her testimony yesterday at the state capitol.

    Hoffman's been flailing recently, trying to save her job, even as it becomes more and more clear that the university has been out of control on all levels for decades. For that reason, House Minority Leader Joe Stengel issued a press release calling for Hoffman to resign. That's almost certainly a necessary but very insufficient condition for fixing the school.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 11:47 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    March 03, 2005

    Demographics are a Moving Target

    One of the capstone courses at DU Business School is something called the Integrative Challenge. Teams of students do research projects for local businesses and governmentes, evaluating expansion plans, marketing schemes, student-researcher compensation, and so forth.

    This year, one of the teams drew a local amusement park/water park equipment company, who wants to expand into Europe. Their presentation was a case study - in missing Hannibal's elephants in the living room.

    While dutifully noticing that while each European country has children, they also pointed out that the populations were aging and eventually, declining. Of course, the inconsistency goes away once you realizing that it's North African immigrants who are having all the children.

    It's one thing to suggest putting a water park in a country where the Great Winter Pastime is skating on the canals. It's quite another to entirely miss the fact that 50% of Dutch children born this year will be learning the Koran in a few years.

    There are obvious business implications here. After all, this is a massive cultural shift, which suggests that Marseilles might not be the ideal place for a water park that it was when the last group of fascists moved in. You'd hate to put up a nice water slide, only to find the next morning that someone had been tossing grenades at the supports.

    Certainly there's risk for the team that someone from the company's management is going to notice this. Those of us who read Mark Steyn on a regular basis already knew about it. But this team spent a lot of time on these countries. Could it be that there's greater risk to the company that they won't notice?

    One of the benefits of the blogosphere's explosion is that information like this is available. It's evidence of its continuing limitations, as well as the MSM's ongoing failure, that it could be completely missed by a team researching those countries.

    Posted by joshuasharf at 08:10 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack