Archive for February, 2007

Visit from House Speaker Andy Dillon! (… “but where’s Steve Tobocman?”)

Wednesday, February 28th, 2007


Liberal Lucy (BLUE shirt) introducing Michigan House Democratic Speaker Andy Dillon (in suit, standing), to a cast of thousands (or close)

         As per Liberal Lucy’s fine Mich Lib diary Tonight: Meet Up With House Leadership, there was a nice get-together at the Livingston County Democratic Party Office last night. Michigan House Speaker and Democrat, Andy Dillon, graciously fielded many questions from the visitors there.


The Speaker…..speaking

         Much of the discussion was financially oriented, e.g., how to deal with state revenue shortfall (one idea of the Speaker’s was to encourage aircraft repair in Michigan, since many planes have to be flown all the way to Indonesia to be repaired, otherwise!), the downside of cutting library funding, etc.
         I myself asked two questions, the first about university waste, e.g., the fact that UM-Ann Arbor hasn’t been audited by the state Auditor General in 23 years or so, I believe (a general “audit” of Michigan state universities’ tuition and fees did come out today–see the Freep–but its main focus isn’t UM-Ann Arbor); and I think the Speaker said he would look into it. And as for my second question, about both the “Prop 2″ initiatives, the first from 2004 restricting gay (and unmarried heterosexual?) health benefits, and the second from 2006 destroying affirmative action, Dillon focused on the first initiative, saying that he too had heard that there could be bad effects on heterosexual folks, and that it’s important to provide health care for a large array of people.
         –One notable saying of Dillon’s: the most important thing (or was it the rarest thing?) in government is to get good information, since bureaucrats may present their agencies’ performance as better than it really is, etc. –This may be another raison d’etre for blogging, that is, to spread accurate information!


“Not Bob” Dillon and Ann Arbor business consultant Anthony Nitsos. The Speaker looks like he has that “preacher with the mystically glowing Bible” thing going on…

         So, many thanks to Speaker Andy for his time and attention to his computer-savvy constituents!
         What happened to Steve Tobocman, though? he being the other Democrat who was supposed to show. I hope the majority floor leader is all right, but we didn’t see him, nor did we hear from him! Hope all is well…

         …Back to blogging: after the Speaker had gone, and as a final flourish to the night, Liberal Lucy gave a brief “introduction to the blogosphere” to an attentive crowd there, including people who wanted to learn the very basics. So thanks to her (and to the Livingston County Democratic Party), and I am sure the number of well-informed and activist bloggers will now greatly increase!

Horror at 20,000 feet

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

Elmo from front

Elmo from back 

         Well, not quite as scary, or as high, as that famous William Shatner “Twilight Zone” episode; but still, walking down South University around 2 a.m. this morning in the snowfall, around the intersection with Church, I saw not just shoes, but a huge stuffed thing hanging from the power lines. It seemed to be a Tickle Me Elmo or something.

         But what did he do to deserve a fate like that? –Ah the Elmo emo.

Dem convention fun on 2/24/07

Monday, February 26th, 2007

Blogger “Liberal Lucy” at mike during MDP Bloggers’ Caucus, Laura Packard in background

         The Mich Democratic Party convention on Saturday the 24th at Cobo in Detroit was something of a fun time, especially if you enjoy hours on end of speeches… The Bloggers’ Caucus seemed successful, with various visiting grandees including Senator Stabenow, Mich. House Speaker Dillon, etc. We got a much bigger room than during the August convention, so we must be doing something right.

“House Dean” Congressman Dingell with Governor Granholm; blogster/author Marcy Wheeler in lower left-hand corner

         For some of us there were two lunches available, the one from the Governor available in the Riverside Ballroom, and for 15th District folx, the one from Congressman Dingell. (See photo above) It doesn’t hurt to be Dean of the U.S. House, I guess. No one starved, let’s put it that way. 

You can’t see details of the Gov from far away, but you probably recognize the flag

Glowing like she’s radioactive. Or is it just my cell phone camera.
…Now you can call her “J. Glow” if you like 

         There wasn’t much great controversy at the convention; a looming floor fight over “net neutrality” was averted, at least for now. What was worth noting, though, was the way, during the main meeting of the convention (dodging the Clark and “Draft Gore” fans and flyers as we went to our seats in our respective districts), which Jennifer Granholm was able to “work” the crowd.
         Without mentioning all the details, I’ll say that she waved her arms, she slipped into a drawl at times, and her voice built up to this sort of (Martin Luther) Kingian crescendo as she forcefully emphasized how important it was that we move Michigan forward, as per her economic and other plans. The crowd got to its feet clapping, so what JG did must have worked. …Quite the performer–in a good way!

         (Also worth noting was Senator Carl Levin’s comedic recognition that Anna Nicole Smith and Britney Spears should be the real news priority these days. At least I think he meant it as a joke…) 

         And after all that, I was lucky enough to attend a birthday party for Ann Arbor blogger Laura Fisher, whose blog a later date is well worth checking out. (Have a look at her art gallery too.) What a day/night!

         See you at the next convention!

DePauw sorority evicts minorities, large girls

Sunday, February 25th, 2007

         Wow. See New York Times, Sorority Evictions Raise Messy Issue of Looks and Bias,

         “When a psychology professor at DePauw University here surveyed students, they described one sorority as a group of “daddy’s little princesses” and another as “offbeat hippies.” The sisters of Delta Zeta were seen as “socially awkward.”
         Worried that a negative stereotype of the sorority was contributing to a decline in membership that had left its Greek-columned house here half empty, Delta Zeta’s national officers interviewed 35 DePauw members in November, quizzing them about their dedication to recruitment. They judged 23 of the women insufficiently committed and later told them to vacate the sorority house.
         The 23 members included every woman who was overweight. They also included the only black, Korean and Vietnamese members. The dozen students allowed to stay were slender and popular with fraternity men — conventionally pretty women the sorority hoped could attract new recruits. Six of the 12 were so infuriated they quit. …”

         Glad that none of the MICHIGAN “Greek” organizations are like that. (rim shot)

HPV: should there be mandatory vaccination of Michigan girls?

Friday, February 23rd, 2007

         HPV meaning “human papilloma virus” of course; and a few months ago, there was a bill in this state to make vaccination for HPV mandatory, but it failed, see, e.g., Michigan Votes. It seems as if Michigan House, and Senate, Democrats supported the bill more than the Republic Party did. Maybe the R’s were not completely wrong on this one. . .
         That is, people in other states are beginning to get skeptical about vaccination, too, see, e.g., DetNews, Clarence Page, No need to rush anti-cancer shots,

         “…At least 20 states have been debating whether to require all girls to receive Gardasil to prevent cervical cancer and genital warts. In the meantime, the vaccine works and that’s good news. According to the CDC, each year, more than 12,000 U.S. women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and more than 4,000 die of the disease. …
         Texans were not the only ones surprised on Groundhog’s Day when Gov. Rick Perry jumped way out ahead of that national debate. Without going through the usual niceties of a legislative debate, Perry issued an executive order to make his state the first to require the vaccination for schoolgirls aged 11 and 12.
         Texans have good reason to wonder about Perry’s haste; he’s a usually conservative Republican. If any issue calls for reasoned debate and public education, this one does.
         Nor did it calm anyone’s nerves to learn that Merck, which stands to make billions of dollars from the drug, had hired as one of its top lobbyists, Mike Toomey, who once served as Perry’s chief of staff and is very popular with the legislatures. Merck also doubled its spending on lobbyists in Texas this year, according to news reports, as lawmakers considered a vaccine bill that had not yet been voted on when Perry announced his executive order.
         For a state that has been reluctant to provide other more urgently needed health-care coverage for the uninsured, it also seems odd for Perry to be in such a hurry to provide the vaccine in this case. Perry’s plan allows parents to opt-out for religious reasons, as they can for other shots. But, for an innovation this new, they should be allowed to opt in. …”

         Opt-in was just what I’d been thinking myself before I read Page’s article. (Page is usually on the “liberal” side, by the way, so I don’t see his being a sinister enemy of young girls’ health or anything, or an ally of the hysterics on the “right” who think the vaccine will promote female promiscuity!)
         So whatever Michigan does on this issue, I hope it’s informed by many factors, including libertarian concerns, issues of transparency about lobbying, etc. Just because you don’t support mandatory needle-sticking with Gardasil, that doesn’t mean you’re down with HPV…

         (Off-topic note: MICHIGAN DEMOCRATIC PARTY STATE CONVENTION tomorrow at the Riverview Ballroom, Cobo Center, Detroit, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. See you there!)

Iggy Pop tix available Friday

Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

         The Ig is coming to town; at least to teh D, if not to Ypsilanti where he grew up. (Maybe they should rename it “Iggsilanti”.) For tickets (buyable Friday at 10 a.m.) and info, see Freep here.

MSA airBus for spring break

Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

         As we have previously noted, the infamous MSA airBus is still ferrying folks to places of wanton vacationing, or at least to the airports which take them to whatever “Spring Break Sin Palaces” there are. Hop on!

Ash Wednesday

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

(”Ash Wednesday”, T.S. Eliot, 1930)

         “…Lady, three white leopards sat under a juniper-tree
         In the cool of the day, having fed to sateity
         On my legs my heart my liver and that which had been contained
         In the hollow round of my skull. And God said
         Shall these bones live? shall these
         Bones live? And that which had been contained
         In the bones (which were already dry) said chirping:
         Because of the goodness of this Lady
         And because of her loveliness, and because
         She honours the Virgin in meditation,
         We shine with brightness. And I who am here dissembled
         Proffer my deeds to oblivion, and my love
         To the posterity of the desert and the fruit of the gourd.
         It is this which recovers
         My guts the strings of my eyes and the indigestible portions
         Which the leopards reject. The Lady is withdrawn
         In a white gown, to contemplation, in a white gown.
         Let the whiteness of bones atone to forgetfulness.
         There is no life in them. As I am forgotten
         And would be forgotten, so I would forget
         Thus devoted, concentrated in purpose. And God said
         Prophesy to the wind, to the wind only for only
         The wind will listen. …”

         Don’t ask me what it means, I didn’t write it.

Diversity seminar at UM Dearborn tomorrow: see Archer, Gettelfinger, Moore

Tuesday, February 20th, 2007

         My old colleague Sekou Benson passes this along, so it must be good:


         Dennis Archer, Ron Gettelfinger and Stephen Moore speak at “Agents of Social Change?: Exploring the Business Case for Diversity” panel

         DEARBORN, Mich. — The University of Michigan Dearborn School of Management will host a seminar entitled “Agents of Social Change?: Exploring the Business Case for Diversity” on Wednesday, Feb. 21 at 6:15 p.m. at the Fairlane Center. The free seminar will focus on diversity in the workplace, how the legal and social environments are influencing policies and practices, and practical implications of new laws addressing affirmative action.

         The three-speaker panel includes: Dennis Archer, president of Dickinson Wright PLLC and former mayor of the City of Detroit; Ron Gettelfinger, president of the United Auto Workers union (UAW); and Stephen Moore, senior economics writer for the Wall Street Journal editorial page.

         The event is free and open to the public and there will be an opportunity for questions from the audience. The event opens with a reception at 5:15 p.m. and the discussion begins at 6:15 p.m. at the Fairlane Center South Dining Rooms B&C, 19000 Hubbard Avenue in Dearborn.

         “Businesses today place a high value on diversity, and, as educators, we have a responsibility to introduce our students to this important, but often sensitive, issue,” said Bruce Bublitz, dean of the School of Management. “This event brings academia and businesses together for an open and inclusive dialogue.”

         This event is part of the Difficult Dialogues initiative sponsored by a $100,000 grant from the Ford Foundation to promote campus environments where sensitive subjects can be discussed in a spirit of open scholarly inquiry, academic freedom and with respect for different viewpoints. The grant was originally created in response to reports of growing intolerance and efforts to curb academic freedom at colleges and universities.

         UM-Dearborn was awarded the grant in 2005 to develop a series of courses, public lectures and related activities addressing the racial divide; religious diversity and intolerance; and issues of Middle Eastern identity, politics and culture relevant to our campus and regional community.

         The Ford Foundation launched Difficult Dialogues in April 2005 as part of a broader, $12 million effort to understand and combat anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and other forms of bigotry in the United States and Europe. It builds on the foundation’s other forms of supporting colleges and universities to foster more inclusive campus environments and to engage effectively with the growing racial, religious and ethnic diversity of their student bodies.

         The university is committed to preparing its students for the issues that exist in today’s business environment. “I applaud the School of Management for hosting this forum and bringing different viewpoints into an academic setting,” said Chancellor Daniel Little. “This is one of a series of events that the university will hold to engage the entire community in open dialogues.”

         Those interested in attending are asked to contact Beverly Turowski to RSVP at or 313-593-5248.

         For more information, contact Terry Gallagher at or 313-593-5518.”

         UAW and WSJ…watch out for fistfights! (heh)

Star light, star not so bright in AA tonight

Monday, February 19th, 2007


         While walking onward from Larry Kestenbaum’s fundraiser to other adventures I noted that there was a prominent star shining underneath the moon, not to mention the artificial stars or moons created by the Main and Liberty Street venues. So, photo.
         However, you have to look really hard to see the star; it’s the “point of not so bright light” underneath the moon, at about 185 degrees on the compass or so.
         Oh well, it looked brighter in person. All those darned city lights drowning it out on the cellular telephone camera…