ustoo Dead

Sites to see:

Almost Essential
From the Left
From the Right
Magazines and Journals
Various Weblogs and Pundits
Think Tanks
Vast Right Wing Conspiracy
Shrill Leftist Garbage


Monday, February 28, 2005

NYC: you can have it 

New York has been called the "capital of the world", "the big apple", and maybe "the world's second home". A place that has loomed large in the american conscience for hundreds of years, and for the last 10 years it has been a mecca for fasionable for 20-somethings. The image of New York grew only larger after the attacks of 9/11, and the world watched the care and concern this tough city shared for the victims.

It is also wildly expensive. All the fine dining and culture in the world won't balm my noise of the fetid stink of not being able to live decently on $100,000. While I am sure this will fall on at least 50% deaf ears (ears attached to heads I imagine will soon be making more than 100k), if almost all of us [me] who would journey to NYC are offered nothing better than Midnight Cowboy, I say: Fuck it.

-Miguel Sanchez  14:34 EST | |

I have become stupid 

In preparation for the GRE, I have been reviewing calculus 1 & 2 [I know calc is not on the GRE]. I got decent grades in these courses, and excelled at certain topics. All that is gone, in 2 years time. None of what I once got 99/100 on I can comprehend. That last sentance was ingrammatical. Ingrammatical is not a word. You see what I mean?

I thought I was a good guy at having a lot of words, but in the course of studying, I see words every day no one talks. I haven't been huffing glue or anything. I can only blame my new-found stupidity on one person: John Kerry. Thanks for nothing, you horrible monster.

"Oh, Paul!" you may say, "John Kerry didn't make you stupid!" Well, smarty pants, my name is clearly not "paul"; it says "miguel" at the bottom of this post. In anycase, what if John Kerry is not to blame for this one of my many present ailments? {mmmmalglglglg.... Ale Mint}. Who is to blame? My best guesses [keeping in mind my limitations]:

In any case, I look foward to the bliss I have been promised by a widely misquoted poem, and look forword to working as your butler/gardener in the near future.

-Miguel Sanchez  14:11 EST | |

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Worse than a job 

The consequences of welfare "reform:"

From affidavits given this summer by plaintiffs in Capers v. Giuliani, a class-action suit filed by the New York Legal Assistance Group, the Welfare Law Center, and the National Employment Law Project on behalf of New York City workfare participants assigned to the departments of Sanitation and Transportation. In February 1995, the Giuliani Administration dramatically expanded the program under which the city's welfare recipients are required to work for their benefits. The workfare participants named as plaintiffs in Capers v. Giuliani testified that they experienced hazardous working conditions on a daily basis, including limited or no access to protective clothing, toilets, and drinking water; in August, a State Supreme Court justice ruled that the city was obligated to provide the 5,000 workfare participants assigned to the departments of Sanitation and Transportation with these necessities. City officials are appealing the ruling.

Omar Torres, age thirty-eight

I never received an orientation or any type of preparation before beginning my WEP assignment in June of 1995. Not once on the job have I been advised what type of clothing to wear. Once I was assigned to clean graffiti off of a fleet of fifty garbage trucks. I was never provided with goggles, though I used heavy equipment to spray graffiti cleaner onto the garbage trucks. I have scars on my legs where I was burned by splashing graffiti-cleaning fluid.

Before beginning any particular job for the day, the supervisors distribute the orange safety vests that WEP workers are required to wear. The vests at the garage where I am based are kept in a cat-litter box on the floor. I am not allowed to take the vest home to clean it, nor am I allowed to keep one for my individual use.

I cannot take my lunch to work, because there is nowhere to store it. I am not allowed to keep any belongings, including food, at the garage. I cannot carry it with me while I am cleaning the streets, because there is no clean place to keep it. Some people tie their lunch to their garbage barrel handle.

My supervisor refuses to listen to my problems. When I verbally challenge his opinions about working conditions, he threatens to terminate me. I am very frustrated by the unjust way I am treated. The supervisors are like overseers on a plantation. They constantly threaten the WEP workers with sanctions and termination. They try to brainwash you into thinking that no lawyer can help you, and tell us not to talk to them. Daily I have to think about whether a store will let me use the bathroom. It is constant stress. I feel like we are treated as if we were not human beings. I should not have to go through this just to work.

"Welfare As They Know It," Harper's, 24-29 (Nov. 1997).

-Ziggy Stardust  14:28 EST | |

Pretty pictures of my city 

Monday, February 21, 2005

Social Security As Welfare or Social Insurance 

Mark and I don't often disagree,* but I think one point of contention between us is whether Social Security old-age (not disability or survivors) benefits should be means-tested.

Means-testing is efficient; it is a little silly to send rich old people Social Security checks every month if the point of the program is to reduce elder poverty. But, and this is the rub for me, the communal, shared aspect of Social Security keeps it from being lumped into other, far less popular entitlement programs like Food Stamps and welfare (yes, yes, welfare is no longer an entitlement but a block grant, but that's a bad thing!).

It's the same with Unemployment Insurance--sure it's sick to read about laid-off investment bankers spending their UI checks on fancy meals and cigars--but the very fact that UI is open to everyone who works makes it much more politically palatable.

Kevin Drum argues that private accounts will destroy the social solidarity that has made Social Security so much more politically popular than what meager means-tested programs this country has created.

Basically, I am willing to sacrifice a great deal of efficiency in wealth-transfer programs like Social Security in order to keep them politically viable. Of course I wish we lived in a world where Americans cared about the least fortunate among us and were willing to offer robust benefits, but--then again--I also wish I had a pony.

*Yes, I am going to start every post I make with the words "Mark and I."

-Ziggy Stardust  14:04 EST | |

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Hunter S. Thompson Commits Suicide 

Hunter S. Thompson was a literary hero of mine. He committed suicide this weekend.

The madness of a modern political campaign has not been better described than it was in a series of articles written for Rolling Stone that became Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72

In his book Hell's Angels, he took the reader inside the darkest aspect of 60's counterculture. A symbol of the 60's and 70's counterculture, he was a pioneer of his own style called "Gonzo Journalism" that sought to take journalism from a dry exercise of relating facts to a vibrant picture that captured what it felt like to actually be present.

His critique of what he saw as the futility of the bohemian protests of the 1960's and 70's, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, was made into a film by Terry Gilliam in 1998. He was earlier portrayed in film by Bill Murray in 1984's Where the Buffalo Roam, a movie Thompson hated.

The phrase "Fear and Loathing" was originally used by Thompson in personal correspondence following the assassination of JFK. The inspiration for the character of “Uncle Duke” in Gary Trudeau 's Doonesbury comic strip, Thompson exchanged heated correspondence with Trudeau for several years, and promised to shoot him on sight.

Taking the cause of Lisl Ulman, serving life for a murder committed while she was in the back of a police car in hand cuffs, Thompson recently drew fire for his heated criticism of the Denver Police department in an article for Vanity Fair as "thugs" and "pigs".

Thompson was also known for his wild hedonism and his almost superhuman intake of drugs and alcohol. Frequently if not permanently intoxicated, Thompson was prone to wild behavior and threats of violence. In 2000, he shot his then-girlfriend, mistaking her for a bear.

Thompson was 67, and is survived by one son, Juan Thompson.

Fafblog, as usual, has the best thing to say on the matter. My obit above contains 1 or 2 inaccuracies (he is also survived by a wife), but I wrote it off the top of my head last night. I can't overstate the impact Hunter S. Thompson had on me. Before I knew you kids, I smoked all my cigarettes out of a short cigarette holder.

-Miguel Sanchez  23:39 EST | |

Charming little letter from my hometown 

One of the many bad habits I've picked up from Mark is looking at the Colorado Springs Gazette online.

A letter today argues that domestic partnership benefits for city employees would be a "double-standard" that treats gays better than straights since the self-proclaimed heterosexual writer wouldn't receive benefits if he was living with a man in a "committed" relationship. All fine and good I suppose, I'm certainly in favor of equal treatment, but it is sort of odd that the city has considered giving benefits to gay couples but not straight couples. But, wait, the city does give married couples benefits and the state--strangely enough--doesn't recognize gay marriage. I guess that just doesn't add up to a "double-standard" does it?

Here's the letter:

City benefits for gay partners would create special class

The Gazette’s Feb. 16 report, “Gay-benefits backers suspect double standard,” stated that Trish Bangert, the attorney suing the city over benefits revocation for gay couples was complaining of being victim to double standards set by the city, comparing her case to the situation with the firefighters’ pension.

If I understand correctly, she is arguing that gay city employees should be entitled to medical benefits for their partners like married couples are. Gay marriages are not legal in Colorado. I have nothing against gay couples, and if that’s the lifestyle they choose, that’s their prerogative. However, as a heterosexual city employee, if I were living with a man I was not married to, I would not be entitled to medical benefits for my partner, either, no matter how “committed” we may be. Why does she think they are entitled to anything more than the rest of us? Where are the double standards now?

Carol Mark

Colorado Springs

-Ziggy Stardust  19:26 EST | |

Friday, February 18, 2005

Note to Crazies: Learn to Aim 

I was excited this morning when I read that someone had thrown a shoe and called iraq war prevaricator Richard Perle a "motherfucking lier". Daily Kos made it sound awesome. Then I saw the footage on CNN.

If I had decided that I was going to throw a shoe at Richard Perle, I would have practiced. And I would have struck him. This guy didn't even try. Come on, man! This could have been so cool. But you ruined it.

-Miguel Sanchez  12:30 EST | |

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

I've been chewed up and spit out

This is a funny article, but it is kind of sadly true.
Today ended with Dawud's wake. It started when the boys were pulled for a "Boys to Men" conference. Without warning. Whatever. However, in the middle of an anti-violence speech- a speech about black on black violence- a group of boys, all wearing R.I.P. Dawud t-shirts, turned on some random kid for no apparent reason and beat the shit out of him. They knocked him down five flights of bleachers, kicked his face in, and sent him to the hospital. Irony at its darkest. One of my female students, or a friend of hers, made a disparaging remark about Dawud the other day and a group of upperclassmen came upstairs on a witch-hunt. They came to my classroom and I refused to let them in, even though the girl hadn't even come to class (she was hiding, I'm sure), and they tried to physically move me from my door. If she had been in the room and the administration hadn't finally shown up, they would have carried me away and then ripped her to shreds. she hasn't been back to school. she probably won't be coming back. I still believe in my kids. I am still passionate about social change and justice and I still believe that it all needs to start with equal educational opportunity. I still see far more good in my students and their community than bad, but damn am I tired. I'm going to end this with a plea- a refrain that you've heard from me many times before- find a kid to mentor. Find a school to help. Find a way to give... We need you.

-Jess  17:47 EST | |

Monday, February 14, 2005

Thank God for comedy 

In the most heinous midst of a paper, Gizoogle brought me out of my cave of despair and gave me a nice shot of endorphins.

On the new law building at CU, Gizoogle shares:
The law schoo' proudly celebrated tha ridin' fo' tha new Wolf Law Build'n on Friday, Crazy Ass Nigga 12th . Keep'n it gangsta dogg. Dizzy Getches, President Elizabeth Hoffman, Chancellor Richard Byyny, n otha distinguished guests welcomed several hundred thugz ta tha event n thanked all those who is mak'n this project possible like this and like that and like this and uh.

Thanks for keepin' it real.

-Lucky  21:56 EST | |

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Howard Dean appointed DNC chair. 

Well, ok. I guess he knows how to organize some grassroots.

-Ben  14:14 EST | |

Friday, February 11, 2005


Does anyone have any more details on this?

I'm writing a paper on the 6th amendment right to assistance of counsel and was reading about her last week, and frankly I'm damn surprised she was convicted. That being said I don't have any details on it. If it really is just because she was defending clients accused of terrorist activities, then I hereby issue an invitation to all of you to join me in moving to Argentina. It's a bit chilly this time of year, but the wine flows, the food is fabulous and we can dance tango and try to put this part of our life behind us.

-Lucky  13:55 EST | |

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Because life isn't fair

No. I didn't teach him. I didn't know him. I did spend the day holding kids who did know him. It hurts to know that a child died yesterday. I didn't know him, but I know plenty of kids like him. Kids who generally stay away from trouble, who cause more laughter than trouble in the classroom, who have dreams, who do everything "right". He is the second teenage boy to be violently murdered in Newark this week. At least the second I know about... Today my students were talking about his murder, and they mentioned that the "outside world" doesn't care about Newark. Maybe it doesn't. Here is what I can tell you about the Newark that I know. My students have dreams. They believe that they will go to college. They believe that they will succeed in life. They do not lead inherently violent lives. They were stunned and hurt by this death- they did not just brush it off as yet another murder. They have families that care about them. They want to learn- just as much as any other high school student does. They are proud of themselves and they know that they deserve respect.
I want you to know about this death and I want you to mourn it not as another young black man who died violently but as a teenager who was taken too soon.

(I apologize for the link- I don't do this often)

-Jess  17:12 EST | |

Thoughts on the Wall Street Journal 

I have a print subscription to WSJ. Unlike almost everywhere else in the world of publishing, these cheap bastards will not give me access to WSJonline.

This is important because a poll of readers indicated that most WSJ readers want ag subsidies cut. I guess that means we are on the same page as most WSJ readers.

Unrelated: brother stabs sister over pot pie. Pot pie is good, but still...

-Miguel Sanchez  13:30 EST | |

This is not torture  

In the climate we presently find ourselves, it's important to call a spade a spade. These accounts do not seem to be torture to me. Nothing at all like Abu Ghraib. Frankly, I don't care at all about this. We have real torture going on that is worse.

While I'm taking unpopular opinions, I'd like to add that, while a farce, I applaud the Bush Budget for offering nothing to Amtrak.

-Miguel Sanchez  11:19 EST | |

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

When "fantastic" = "shameful" 

Our President...

Update: I didn't mention originally that I got the Drudge link via Unfogged. I'd never actually just check Drudge. I'm just not that kind of person.

-Ziggy Stardust  20:18 EST | |

Saturday, February 05, 2005

SS boondoggle 

CAP pointed out some interesting notes on the so called social security reform plan in their daily progress report dated 3 feb. Most notable is the clearest explanation yet of the proposed benefit changes and their costs, from a WaPo article:
workers who opt to divert some of their payroll taxes into individual accounts would "ultimately get to keep only the investment returns that exceed the rate of return that the money would have accrued in the traditional system… In effect, the accounts would work more like a loan from the government, to be paid back upon retirement at an inflation-adjusted 3 percent interest rate." The Congressional Budget Office predicts an average of 3.3 percent gains, leaving most workers "with nothing but the guaranteed benefit." In other words, even assuming the market stays stable, unless workers received an unusually high rate of return on their investments, they would face significant cuts to their Social Security benefits
How is this better than what we have now? Is it the increased risk? Or maybe the lowered benefits? I know everyone is better off when the elderly have less money. After all, they are so frugal, they hardly inject any money into the economy on much needed consumer products like scented toilet paper and disposable toilet brushes. Then, they bitch about having to eat dog food so they can afford their medicine- medicine that, via the medicare drug-discount card program, would be cheaper for them if they had less money.

-Ben  16:29 EST | |

The Greatest Thing Ever 

Friday, February 04, 2005

An amusing diversion 

Overheard in NYC

Mark's edit: Ziggy didn't do justice to how funny this site is. It's collection of conversations overheard on the streets of New York. Here are some samples:

Wait, What Did His Family Do?

An activist tries to give a guy a pamphlet.

Guy: I don't believe in human rights.
Activist: I hope a tyrant kills your family!
--Times Square

What is Fatherhood, If Not Guns and Alcohol?

Flygirl #1: My brother was like mad drunk when his lady went into labor. He was gonna beat up these guys that were messing with our little brother, but he didn't have his gun. He passed out but his friend got his ass to the hospital.
Flygirl #2: He gonna be such a good daddy.
Flygirl #1: Yeah.
--2 train

Clearly Unemployed
Yuppie: I don't think he's working now. All he ever talks about is monkeys and robots.

-Ziggy Stardust  21:14 EST | |

The age old debate of science vs. religion 

The latest editorial lamenting the absence of evolution in the classroom.

What is wrong with understanding evolution while simultaneously believing in creationism or intelligent design or whatever else you want to believe in? Evolution is based on tons of evidence, both from the fossil record and from observations of things that live and die much faster than us (like bacteria), but most importantly, evolution is science--it's the only theory out there as far as the real scientific community is concerned--and ought be taught in science classes. It's risible to pretend that creationism has the same scientific validity as evolution (just look at pictures of the asinine displays and explanations in the new creationism museum where they try to fit creationism into a scientific theme).

Evolution is necessarily limited becuase it's scientific and this should provide succor to parents who don't want their kids to learn about evolution. Science can't address the existence of God. Evolutionary theory doesn't rule out the existence of a god who animates the forces that make evolution manifest. People are even free to reject evolution and have faith in another creation story and parents are free to make the argument to their kids why they should do this (the fossils were put there by the Devil or I don't know why the carbon does what it does and makes things look so old but you must have faith, etc.). Are people so concerned that their sincerely held belief in creationism will be destroyed merely by understanding what evolution is about? I can't understand why someone would want their kids to grow up ignorant.

This post doesn't exactly sound like or say precisely what I was intending, but I have to go back to work now.

-Daddy Brooklyn  13:43 EST | |

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Gems from the WSJ via Slate's TP 

"The Wall Street Journal does a "lessons learned" from the roughly 20 countries that have partially privatized their state pension systems. One: Don't give workers too many choices; they'll screw it up. Another: Going private can add lot of debt, helping to explode the economy. (See Argentina and Bolivia.)"

P.S. Is anyone else upset with Slate's new style of emails that makes you link to the webpage?

-Ziggy Stardust  16:14 EST | |

Project for The New American Century: Better than the Onion 

If you're like me, you love The Onion, and good laughs. If you're like me, The Onion's once-a-week publication schedule is not enough good laughs to keep you from plunging into despair so deep it makes Sartre look like Raffi. That's where The Project for the New American Century comes in.

Thrill to such hillarious pieces as "9-11 commission confirms Iraq and al-Qaeda Ties".

Howl with laughter over "The Statement of Principles"

Quake with terror when you realize they want war with China, and note how many of the undersigned on the "statement" page are in the current administration.

-Miguel Sanchez  15:28 EST | |

SS reform 

This is from the LA Times SOTU fact check:
Officials, describing how the private accounts would work, outlined significant restrictions on individuals' decision-making power to reduce the chance of loss. Individuals would have to choose from half a dozen mutual fund-like investment portfolios that would be overseen by the government. And they would have to accept substantial benefit cuts from the traditional system in exchange for setting up the private accounts.
Bold type is my own addition. Isn't this rather massive government interference in capital allocation decisions that would be better decided by the aggregated preferences of smaller investors? You know, that's how markets are supposed to work and stuff. What the hell kind of conservatives are in the White House?

-Daddy Brooklyn  13:29 EST | |

FDR + GWB = ? 

Was it just me, or was there a lot of FDR referencing going on in the SOTU.

Bush has the gall to invoke the patron saint of Social Security in a speech whose primary focus is bent towards destroying the program.

First off, Bush ended the speech with a quote from the man who gave birth to the very middle class Bush is trying to murder.
Each age is a dream that is dying, or one that is coming to birth.
Then there was the "freedom from fear" reference.

Can anyone point out any other obvoius ones?

Browsing some things...Podesta and the "Think Progress Team" have some comments on the same here and here.

-Ben  01:14 EST | |

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Oh Salazar, you are really sticking it to me 

Thank God for small miracles. If I'd have been hired by the Salazar office, I would be having an intense crisis of conscience over whether or not to resign. Great Stuff from Daily Kos on the lone Gonzales backing-democrat, Colorado's own David Duk- uh, Ken Salazar.

Note: Blogger's spell check aptly suggests that "Salazar" is a misspelling of "slacker".

-Miguel Sanchez  13:23 EST | |

Hostage or collectible doll? 

The AP couldn't tell the difference.

-Daddy Brooklyn  07:49 EST | |

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

A New Blog From the Center for American Progress 

CAP has a new blog called Think Progress. It looks like Podesta is going to be live-blogging the SOTU.

-Ziggy Stardust  22:11 EST | |

About us:

This weblog is an ongoing, if periodic, effort by several friends to stay in touch, in reading material, and in ideas.

Lucky Luciano is a former Italian Stallion real estate hustler and Benedict Arnold CEO turned shady lawyer-to-be. He lives in Denver.

Ben is a Paramedic and would-be philantropist who lives in Denver. He knows everything about nothing.

Fuzzy Dunlop lives in Manhattan. He is more than capable of standing up to the stresses of a high crime urban environment.

Jess is a teacher. But have YOU given her an apple? No, you haven't. You should be ashamed of yourself. This crazy feminist currently rests her copy of Awakening in Jersey City.

Matt is a pariah, iconoclast, and professor of gambling living in Oakland.

Miguel Sanchez is not Lionel Hutz.

Daddy Brooklyn lives in Brooklyn. He hates Republicans, though he wouldn't mind being ensconced in the landed elite of New York City.

Paul just smoked my eyelids and punched my cigarette.

Ziggy Stardust has no past.

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