December 23, 2004

Merry Christmas from XQUZYPHYR

Merry Christmas from XQUZYPHYR & Overboard

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Well, that's it, folks. Enjoy the annual tradition of this curious oddity I call the Christmas Comic. We are officially closed for the year. See you all in January.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:31 AM

December 22, 2004

Have a Progressive Holiday!

Before I hit the road, I want to direct you all to this Nation article that addresses political climates on college campuses- and mentions Campus Progress.

I'm very excited about starting this, and there's going to be a lot of stuff coming in the next few months. So students- spend some time this break taking a look.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:55 PM


You will watch the trailer for Sin City RIGHT NOW and you will then realize there is still goodness left in this world.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 6:58 PM

Merry Christmas, Bill

As you know from this and several other sites, Bill O'Reilly has made himself somewhat the leader of a great crusade to save Christmas from liberal heathens who want to force your children to say "Happy Holidays" instead of Merry Christmas. Except of course for Jews, who according to O'Reilly should just go back to Israel.

So, here's the funny thing: O'Reilly hasn't seemed to find time to condemn his employer for destroying Christmas. It would have been a good thing to mention at the News Corp Holiday Party.

Or, to be specific, the News Corp Caribbean Holiday Celebration. How do I know that? I have a copy of the invitation to the party:

Now, considering how deeply Bill feels about this crisis facing oppressed Christians, I'm sure he'd want to know that his own employer is part of, in O'Reilly's own words, "a well-organized movement to wipe out any display of organized religion from the public arena." And I'm sure, now knowing this, he'll be discussing it openly on the Factor tonight. After all, it's not like Bill O'Reilly's a lying, opportunistic hypocrite or anything.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:12 AM

December 21, 2004


To the dismay of a lot of readers, I've written in the past about some of the tactics of abortion rights groups such as Planned Parenthood that I have found, to be blunt, horrific and mind-numbingly stupid. So I'm very glad to see that Planned Parenthood has a new strategy that isn't just unobjectionable, it's downright brilliant:

It's an ingenious idea. Create a no-win situation for anti-choice protesters - the more picketers who demonstrate outside a Planned Parenthood clinic, the more donations the Planned Parenthood clinic receives.

A number of Planned Parenthood affiliates have created different versions of this scenario. Here's how it works at Planned Parenthood of Central Texas (PPCT) in Waco, where the Pledge-a-Picket program is going strong: Each time a protester shows up at the clinic, a donation is made to PPCT. This campaign makes lemonade out of lemons by allowing Planned Parenthood supporters to pledge between 25 cents and one dollar per protester.

I'm smiling right now picturing handing out the flyers to those protestors explaining that. Not just because it gives money to Planned Parenthood, but because it's the one thing these people don't want- optimism from their opponent. The purpose of anti-choice protests are to scare women from entering clinics and terrorize people. If they're met with people thanking them for showing up, even sarcastically, they have to work to supress visible rage.

It's almost environmental- using the natural power of angry anti-choice lunatics to fuel a campaign instead of your own manpower. And let's face it, these are the type of people who get very angry, very easily. So how great must it be to tell them that the more they show up and try and harass women, the more money pro-choice groups get?

Posted by August J. Pollak at 3:48 PM

Again: they just don't care, do they

Apparently plagiarism qualifies someone as a respectable journalist with the integrity to co-host a new program on MSNBC.

You know, the supervisors at my last three jobs all managed to understand the concept of "running someone's name through Google" before hiring me. Why a major cable network doesn't grasp this is beyond me.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:26 AM

Golly, who knew?

A few readers sent in some information about the Washington Times and my earlier mention of how they selectively altered an AP report without mentioning it. The best response came from George Tiser, who said:

If there is full AP accreditation provided, that's somewhat an issue from a legal as well as moral perspective, but it's highly doubtful the AP cares or will bother with it. Discreet emendations and editing is permitted, along with unique headline writing et cetera, provided that the general content of the piece is maintained, and AP is given due credit; I would personally argue this is neither discreed nor content-maintaining, but it's doubtful the AP would care.

They probably wouldn't care as there's two things I'm possibly neglecting. One is that any paper or entity has to fill out some paperwork when printing an AP wire story; one is permitted to request on said paperwork certain 1-time print rights and intended usages, possibly including some categorical editing rights. That would account for full AP accreditation and wingnut editing without any law breach.

I'm also neglecting the possibility that the AP reporters and editors involved with the article are quite happy with its translation into the tongue they intended but dared not speak on account of professionalism (which, thankfully, the AP at least attempts to maintain in its wire reports, however little it cares about reprinting. This is not the first time I've seen such bonkers AP-reprinting, especially with fluffy news content best called "news" content in this motif. Admittedly, it's the first time said reprint was patently offensive... but offensive isn't illegal, provided that the AP doesn't consider itself an injured party by it, and it's likely they don't care.)

I never knew that, despite technically working for a college newspaper for four years. And frankly that's amazing. The AP isn't desperate to distribute their stories- in fact, people pay them for the right to run them- yet in purchasing access to their stories a paper has the right not just to crop passages for space, but actually replace entire words to fit the political agenda of its editors?

That's a direct contrast to almost every other franchising concept in the world... McDonald's doesn't allow a manager to sell larger Big Macs if he feels his customers would prefer that. A different price or sales poster is one thing; actually altering the recipe yourself is another. And that's what this is: not just a mere editing of language to fit locality (ex. replacing "color" with "colour" for English papers) but actually altering passages that refocus the tone of the story. Gay marriages were performed last year... except according to the Times, which claimed the right to address them in quotes, implying within someone else's story that gay marriage "doesn't count."

According to this message thread someone linked me, the AP pretty much doesn't care, as long as people are paying for stories. And from what I've been told, the basic style guide of the Washington Times mandates that "homosexual" is always used instead of "gay." Which makes sense, coming from a paper run by a man who once claimed gay people should all be executed.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 7:39 AM

December 20, 2004

They just don't even care anymore, do they

A few minutes ago:

Accused of being insensitive to U.S. soldiers in Iraq and their families, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld received a fresh endorsement Monday from President Bush, who called him "a caring fellow."

"I have heard the anguish in his voice and seen his eyes when we talk about the danger in Iraq and the fact that youngsters are over there in harm's way," Bush said at a White House news conference.

About three or so hours earlier:

A document released for the first time today by the American Civil Liberties Union suggests that President Bush issued an Executive Order authorizing the use of inhumane interrogation methods against detainees in Iraq. Also released by the ACLU today are a slew of other records including a December 2003 FBI e-mail that characterizes methods used by the Defense Department as "torture" and a June 2004 "Urgent Report" to the Director of the FBI that raises concerns that abuse of detainees is being covered up.
I guess they reached the point where it's not even worth it to avoid looking horrible.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:42 PM

Why does the President hate Christmas, Bill?

Elizabeth from Portland, Oregon gave me a heads-up on an interesting element of Bush's press conference this morning: he opens and closes by saying "Happy Holidays."

In fact, the only mention of Christmas in the entire conference comes from a reporter, not Bush. The President, on the other hand, chooses to wish "happy holidays" or reference "the holiday season" five times.

Bill O'Reilly will, of course, be leading off tonight's show with his outrage over this, immediately followed by an entire family of monkeys flying out of my ass.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 1:47 PM

Umm.... is this legal?

Forgive me if I'm slow on this, but is the Washington Times actually allowed to selectively edit AP articles without mentioning it? Here's the AP feed of Sunday's story about marriage licenses being nullified in New Paltz, NY (where the mayor had been authorizing gay marriages):

NEW PALTZ, N.Y. - The Social Security Administration is rejecting marriage documents issued for heterosexual couples in four communities that performed weddings for gay couples earlier this year.

The agency is rejecting all marriage certificates issued in New Paltz, N.Y., after Feb. 27, when the town's mayor began marrying gay couples, according to town officials.

Certificates issued during the brief periods when Asbury Park, N.J.; Multnomah County, Ore.; and Sandoval County, N.M., recognized gay marriages also are being rejected.

Susie Kilpatrick, 30, of New Paltz, said the local Social Security office told her that no marriage documents issued after Feb. 27 could be used to establish identity because of the gay marriages that took place there earlier this year.

The story is printed verbatim, save a different title, in the San Jose Mercury News. And I'm sure in a few other AP feeds if I had the time to search.

So here's the opening grafs from the article, via the Washington Times:

NEW PALTZ, N.Y. (AP) � The Social Security Administration is rejecting marriage documents issued for all couples in communities that performed homosexual "weddings" earlier this year.

The agency is rejecting all marriage certificates issued in New Paltz, N.Y.; Asbury Park, N.J.; Multnomah County, Ore.; and Sandoval County, N.M., during the brief periods when those localities illegally granted marriage licenses to homosexual couples.

Susie Kilpatrick, 30, of New Paltz, said the local Social Security office told her that no marriage documents from the town could be used to establish identity if they were issued after Feb. 27, when New Paltz's mayor began "marrying" homosexual couples. About 125 male-female couples have been married since then in the town.

The AP doesn't accredit the writers of their pieces, so I'm not really sure how, if at all, any steps can be taken to let them know a "newspaper" (look, I can use quotes that way too!) is altering their content. If anyone's got more information on this, or if I'm just way behind on something most people knew about for a while now, by all means fill me in.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 7:44 AM

Let's make it a Monday mailbag!

From Carl Ballard on the Washington recount:

Actually the recount is even crazier than you say. In much more conservative Chelan County, they have already added one person's ballot. There are two people named Nancy Johnson with similar addresses. So one got excluded. They solved the problem and let the other one's vote count. But after the second count.

Now Rossi's spokeswoman (the stupidest person on the planet) says that it shouldn't count. But Chelan County has already certified their ballots, so her wishing won't change it. And they didn't sue to keep her off the ballot when they had the chance.

Remember, oh, I don't know, three weeks ago or so, when we were all worried about how machines were going to fuck this all up? Those were good times.

Three more people wrote some thoughtful e-mails on that Wells College issue from a week or two ago, so here they are. From Larisa (no last name provided):

I really do think that a market analysis regarding the effects of being single-sex will not capture the social mission of women's colleges. It's not just that they gain a market advantage by selling themselves on their women-only basis, is that they believe they serve a purpose in society by being women-only. Do you not find that convincing?

I don't think strict bilateral equivalents of, say, The Citadel with Wells are very useful, ifyou are concerned with issues of equity and social value. Is the effect on students and society (and the military) the same with respect to the existence of each institution? I do think the problem with men-only institutions isn't that they exist, but that where they exist they tend to be the only way (or the most effective way) for people to access certain kinds of power. There never was a "female harvard" in terms of what going to Harvard can get you. And, given the fact that sexism is still endemic and institutionalized in our society, there probably never will be. So women have to be allowed in to Harvard. But is there a "male Wells" in terms of the benefits that women get from going to Wells? Do males not get those benefits at Coed schools?

I never went to a women-only college, and never really wanted to. But I'm glad they exist.

And from "Vidiot":

The problem with the Citadel analogy is that the Citadel receives public funding. It's essentially a state school, if I recall correctly. (Their website says it's a "state-supported comprehensive military college.") Women have every right to go there, because it's receiving taxpayer funding, and there's no equivalent taxpayer-funded military academy that admits women. (Aside from the four service academies, that is.)

(Same goes for the Boy Scouts. I'm not upset at them because they exclude girls, because of the Girl Scouts' existence. However, I am upset at them because of their anti-atheist, anti-gay stance, and the fact that they're using their quasi-public status to practice discrimination.)

Private schools like Wells have, on the other hand, the right to exclude men...or women. The research isn't crystal clear, but it looks like single-sex education for women can be beneficial, and as your correspondent mentioned, women's colleges have been using this rationale since the '70s to sell themselves.

And Wells is indeed quite a small school (which is probably why you haven't heard of it), but it's got a pretty good reputation academically. And its campus is gorgeous, and would be worth a LOT.

And from Amber Baum:

Re your recent posts on Wells: I don't know when Dave Scocca lived at Bryn Mawr, but I was there from 94 to 98, and I'm currently on an alumnae listserv with alums from the 50s through the present. Feelings on going coed are a lot more complex than pre 1970s pro, post 1970s con--at least at BMC, because of its unique relationship with Haverford (which like so many other schools was all-male and went coed in the 70s-80s--Bryn Mawr didn't and the relationship has been uneasy ever since). Wells has been in trouble for a long time, as Ray Reigadas describes. When you only enroll a few hundred students, you're a tough sell even if you admit movie stars. If it's true what he says that there was no institution-wide discussion about going coed, that could also explain a lot. If they tried that at Bryn Mawr, it'd be a class-action suit :)

I'm not in a position to say whether or not overall demand for single-sex liberal arts education is falling as compared to demand for coed liberal arts education, but my impression is that it's the liberal arts part that is less desirable. As for you not hearing about Wells...I bet you've heard of Wellesley. Smith, Barnard, Vassar, Radcliffe, Mt Holyoke, Bryn Mawr--the seven sisters. Only one has felt the need to go coed, and the debate within the BMC community, at least, is whether or not we should go coed to keep our standards high--not to survive. Relating to this point about popularity, your assessment about the problem Wells faces doesn't make sense. If Wells was attracting oh so many people as a specialized women's college, it wouldn't have gone coed. It went coed to get more students, because history showed it that that works.

About the Citadel--IIRC you graduated recently, and so were in high school during that court case, but I was at a women's college at the time, and it was big news, to say the least :) The issue with VMI and the Citadel was that they are publicly funded and sought to establish separate-but-equal women's programs to comply with the law. Wells, the seven sisters, and the all-male colleges that still exist are private, and like the boy scouts, have the right to make any rules they want about who to admit (and live with the consequences of being seen as discriminatory). Morally speaking, the difference was that there was no comparable experience to VMI/Citadel available for women, while there are equivalent experiences to women's liberal arts colleges for men. Women existed who wanted to attend VMI. There's no evidence that there are any men for whom it was their burning desire to attend Wells.

Finally, Mighty Ponygirl has sent in a "director's cut" of a semi-well-known travesty of sex education. This version works much better. Enjoy.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 7:23 AM

December 19, 2004

Advance notice

Not like you're banging down the storefront doors or anything, but I figured I should make a sales warning a few days in advance: either Wednesday or Thursday I'll be posting the Christmas Comic, at which point I'll be taking leave of both my senses and this site until the second week or so of January.

This shouldn't affect anything sold on CafePress, being a seperate entity, but this means any books/pins/stickers sold directly through yours truly will be devoid of a shipping manager (me). You're more than welcome to order stuff, but any books, pins, or stickers ordered after Tuesday won't be mailed out until I get back after New Year's.

On that note, if you've been on the fence about any particular products from the CafePress stores, I would recommend making purchases soon, as I'll be removing a lot of less-popular items after New Year's to make way for some requested new designs.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:52 PM
Posted by August J. Pollak at 4:55 PM