Peanut Butter Knife

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Urban Coyotes

Last year after I moved to Akron, I began driving through the valley on my way up to 271 N to work every morning. I started seeing these large, scruffy, mean looking dogs roaming around the fields and woods from time to time. One morning I had to slam on my brakes as one of these dogs raced across the road at lightning speed. My curiosity was piqued. Were these wolves? Wild dogs? It turned out that they were coyotes and up until that point I never knew that coyotes existed anywhere outside the desert regions of the country.

It turns out coyotes are turning up in increasing numbers in cities throughout the country due to their highly adaptable nature. This article from the Smithsonian does a great job of explaining this phenomena better than I can. It's really fascinating, I encourage you to read it.

In the west, they've dealt with this problem for years by encouraging homeowners to keep a close watch on their pets and not to leave pet food lying around outside. Not sure why this Chicago Tribune editorial thinks that midwestern suburbanites will find such tactics more inconveniencing than their western counterparts.


The Tribune also had another article about the perils of myspace yesterday. Yawn...I think this is becoming the lazy journalists new fallback story. Anyways, the only reason I bring this up is to point out my own myspace page and the fact that anyone out there who reads this blog who doesn't know me should stop by and introduce yourself.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Film Fest Wrap Up

I took Friday off to catch 2 movies at the Cleveland International Film Festival. Unlike last year when we made a few bad choices, this year we saw two great films.

The Bow, Directed by Kim Ki-Duk This film is destined to make any list of my all time favorite movies for years to come. It's five days later and I'm still thinking about it. The story centers around an old fisherman and a young girl he kidnapped ten years ago. He's kept her on the boat all 10 years and is counting down the days until she turns 17, when he plans to marry her. Throughout the film, the two main characters do not speak any words. What you know about their relationship comes entirely from body language and facial expressions. If this sounds inaccessible, it's not. Stylistically, The Bow is similar to the other Kim Ki-Duk movie I've seen, Spring Summer Fall Winter...And Spring which showed Kim's absolute mastery of communicating with images, the essence of what film is. In addition to the body language, Kim also uses symbols like the Korean flag and Buddhist images in an iconoclastic fashion that speaks to the film's underlying theme of modern and traditional worlds colliding.

Kim portrays this relationship in a way that might seem surprising in that he does not turn the characters into hero and martyr, oppressor and victim. Instead you understand that the girl is being held against her will, but as the fisherman makes his living by chartering fishing expeditions for mainland fishermen, you also see him defend the girl from some potentially dangerous situations and you are never led to believe that he has compromised her physically in any way. The girl has also learned a great deal from the old man as you see her defend herself with his bow & arrow, as well as play music with the bow when he is away. The two entertain their boat guests by telling fortunes in a strange way that involves the girl swinging off the side of the boat while the old man shoots arrows at her and hits various parts of a Buddhist painting.

Inevitably, a teenage boy comes aboard the boat and falls in love with the girl, and she reciprocates. The boy introduces her to modern culture giving her an iPod and taking her picture with a cell phone. He wants to take her off the boat to see Seoul and to reconnect with her parents, who he discovered are still looking for her on the internet. Obviously this sets up a confrontation between the boy and the old man resulting in an ending that will have you questioning the nature of what it means to love and trust someone, to belong to someone else. I highly recommend this movie, should it ever receive a proper release theatrically or on DVD in the states.

Li Yu's Dam Street also deals with the fallout that's taking place in Asian society as it opens itself up to the modern West. Beginning in a small Sichuan town during the 80s, a young girl gets pregnant and is told by her mother that the baby died, when it was actually given up for adoption at the hospital. She is expelled from school and her boyfriend forced to leave town. Ten years later, Xiao Yun still lives in the town and performs with a Sichuan opera troupe where she becomes friends with a young boy who has a similarly irreverent attitude about life as she does. Of course, the boy is her son and the journey that takes her to learning this will have profound consequences on her life.

Li Yu is a rare female voice in the world of Asian film and made waves a few years back with her movie, Fish and Elephant, the first Chinese film to explore lesbian themes. Dam Street took home the award for best film at the highly regarded Asian film festival thats held annually in Deauville, France.

Asian cinema is so alive and exciting right now. I can only imagine that this must be what it was like in the 60s when each new movie from France or Sweden held new discoveries. The main difference, to me anyway, is while the triumph of European cinema was largely stylistic, taking chances on telling different types of stories that were more real than their American counterparts; Today's Asian cinema (especially right now from China and Korea) is not only finding ways to tell us new stories, but is also chronicling a major shift in world culture as these once closed societies stretch their feet and wake up to become dominate players on the world stage. Never before has film been able to chronicle such a shift as it happens, and as such these movies are likely to be studied for a long time as we enter the Asian century.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

7 Blunders of Cleveland: Part 1, Attitude & Indentity

As promised, this is the first in my series on the 7 Blunders of Cleveland, based on the Tribune's Chicago-based series. Not sure if I'll be posting this series every day for the next week, but I hope to have a few up each week. I've kind of grouped a lot of different ideas into 7 basic categories rather than listing every individual blunder (which could take years), so I hope this format does the idea justice.

I suppose there is some irony in starting off this series about some of the worst aspects of life in Greater Cleveland by saying that one of those aspects is the bad attitude we collectively have towards the city. But what struck me while coming up with this list of blunders were that they weren't all entirely unique to Cleveland. Other cities have had lousy school systems, poorly planned highways, a massive suburban migration, etc. but in many of those cases, the blunders were overcome or the damage mitigated by other things. Here, we have been fighting the same battles for over 20 years and I think some of that is due in part to the defeatist nature of most natives.

When LeBron James is bringing some much deserved sports attention to this town, people ask "How long until he leaves through free agency?" How many of you know suburbanites who won't set foot inside city limits?

There's been a lot of much deserved derision of the "Believe In Cleveland" campaign that's sprouting up on billboards and TV commercials as of late. Giving people an empty slogan won't turn this city around, but the very fact that someone thinks that we need to hear it still says a lot.

I want to turn now to the question of identity and how this ties in to civic attitudes. Every city has something, a claim to fame, a landmark or a culinary treat that the whole world knows them by. In Cleveland, there are several things that we could promote as our own, but instead most Clevelanders will tell you that's things are cooler elsewhere. The Rock Hall? Instead of pride, the reaction you'll get often centers around the fact the inductions are held elsewhere or that the EMP Museum in Seattle is better. Both legitimate beefs, but it does so much to reinforce our second rate status.

People gravitate towards people that exude self confidence and pride and they gravitate towards cities that do the same. As long as most Clevelanders think that this is a bad place to live, so will the rest of the country.

Forgive this long winded entry, but I promise that future installments will be shorter and snarkier.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Thailand Corp.

I read an interesting article last week on how Thai citizens are also facing up to the nightmare of a "CEO Presidency" (in the case Prime Minister).

Much like Bush, the Thaksin administration has seen rampant cronyism, a crackdown on free speech, corruption and conflict of interest. While some of Thaksin's goals were far to the left of Bush, I don't see how the outcome could have been any different from a man who promises to run his country like a corporation. The idea that corporate governance is good for actual governance is one of the biggest fallacies of the post-Reagan era.

The top-down structure of most corporations is antithetical to the spirit of democracy. It does not allow for transparency or openness. The only accountability a corporation has is to it's shareholders, who are a closed self-selected group whose only insistence is on growth and increasing profits. Where free speech and innovation clash with these motives, they will be squashed. This does not make the corporation evil in and of itself, only amoral, which is why we need regulation to keep the beast in check.

In a democracy, government is of service to all it's citizens. In order for it to function properly, there needs to be full transparency. As a service to people, it's is incumbent upon government not to be wasteful, but that does not mean that it needs necessarily to be profitable. If a bus route is losing money but that same route is serving an underprivileged community by taking them to work, medical facilities and stores, the greater good here is the service to the community, and that's something that private enterprises can't compute.

Someone needs to stick up for government as a concept. Good government, but government nonetheless. If we keep trying to run our countries like we run our companies, democracy will die.

Sidenote: You could read this wordy post I just wrote, or you could just look at this comic which says it all much more eloquently.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


I know things have been quiet around here this week as work has been very busy and exhausting. However, I've got some ideas for future postings. One is going to be a series based on the Tribune's very entertaining 7 Blunders of Chicago, only naturally I'd like to do the "7 Blunders of Cleveland/NE Ohio" and I'd like to get some suggestions on what you think should be included. Ralph Perk's wife going bowling, Burke Lakefront Airport, etc. So, if you have any ideas, leave them in the comments below.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Strickland: Broadband for Ohio

It was just last week that I mentioned that expanding broadband access should be a key component of the Democratic platform in 2006. Now this morning, an email arrived from Ted Strickland's campaign (as they do several times a day, someone's mouse hand must be getting sore over there!) touting a plan to do just that.

On the surface, it seems like a pretty sound plan and won't involve spending any additional money that hasn't already been allocated. However, I'd like to know a few more details about this part of the proposal:

The Strickland/Fisher BroadbandOhio plan also includes strategies to work with private-sector telecommunications providers to ensure that affordable broadband connectivity is available to all citizens in every one of Ohio’s 88 counties.

At a time when many telecom providers are pushing for a use-based model of billing customers for broadband and fighting cities that are offering free wi-fi connections, I'm a little skeptical about these companies' willingness to play ball in the "affordability" game.

With that minor reservation aside, when added to Strickland's other proposals in TurnaroundOhio (especially the early childhood education plans), who says Democrats don't offer any good ideas? I hope some of the party's national leaders are paying attention to this.

Ghosts in the Architecture

I was reading a travel article last night about Chicago in this magazine. The writer listed several spots in Wicker Park/Bucktown that I had never heard of and my assumption is that these places must have opened recently. Now these upscale boutiques and spas weren't places I'd be likely to frequent, but reading about them made me kind of sad. I haven't been able to get back to Chicago in almost 2 years. I had plans to go last November, but my sudden illness and hospitalization put that on hold. Despite this, I still feel a very strong connection to the city and my memories of living there seem very recent, even more so than other things that have happened in the time since I left.

This aspect of the article doesn't surprise me. Heck, even if I was still there it's possible that I wouldn't have heard of these places. Every time you turned a corner in Wicker Park, it seemed like a new condominium complex or a yuppie bar or a coffee house chain was going up where there was nothing the day before. This is probably why even though I lived in Wicker Park for roughly 2/3rds of the time I was in Chicago, when people ask me what part of town I lived I tell them Old Irving on the NW side, where I was for my last year or so. Old Irving is a pretty quiet neighborhood. It's too residential and far away from downtown to be either trendy or dangerous, yet it still has all of the architectural charm and intrigue of the city's more well-known enclaves.

I've always said that one of the primary reasons why I love Chicago so much is that it always seemed like there is so much history lurking around every block. I used to go for long walks on just about every nice evening by myself or sometimes with friends. Each building seemed to be full of stories to tell, a history of the city hidden beneath every layer of paint. Often, I'd take pictures and then write a letter to my friend Julie about my journey complete with a photocopied map of my route. I think this is a big reason why I hold on to these memories so fiercely. My life there was mine and mine alone. Every discovery made, each connection to each new place; I could lay claim to being another part of that history.

My life wasn't perfect during those years, far from it, if it had been I'd have never come back. Still, those were the best years of my life and I struggle every day in hopes of recapturing some of that feeling again. NE Ohio takes me for granted. It knows I'm tethered here, bound by family and tradition. Chicago is still speaking to me though, even if I haven't been by for a visit in quite some time.

Recommended Viewing:

In the Realms of the Unreal

Sidenote: I planned to do some more work on the blog this weekend that didn't materialize. However, I should be able to start posting mp3s with my music posts very soon, so I'm pretty excited about that.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Survey Time

Tagged by Pho

1. Grab the book nearest to you, turn to page 18 and find line 4.

Haruki Murakami's A Wild Sheep Chase: "I shut the window and switched on the air conditioner, then set the two mugs of coffee on the table."

2. Stretch your left arm out as far as you can, what do you find?

Nothing. I'm about 4 feet away from the spare bed.

3. What is the last thing you watched on TV?

Me playing Playstation baseball. Actual show: "The Soup"

4. Without looking, guess what time it is:


5. Now look at the clock, what is the actual time?


6. With the exception of the computer, what can you hear?

The sink and whatever is on the TV upstairs.

7. When did you last step outside? What were you doing?

Went out for lunch, groceries.

8. Before you started this survey, what did you look at?

An email and then the stats of Corey Patterson on

9. What are you wearing?

Oliver green long sleeve t-shirt, jeans.

10. Did you dream last night?

Yes. I had a dream I went on vacation to Dover, DE for some unexplained reason and when I came home we'd been evicted from our apartment.

11. When did you last laugh?

Something Liz said, but I can't remember what now.

12. What is on the walls of the room you are in?

Ugly wood panelling, a bulletin board and a 2005 Simpsons calendar that I haven't taken down yet.

13. Seen anything weird lately?

My dog, but he's always weird.

14. What do you think of this quiz?

Better than some.

15. What is the last film you saw?

LolliLove on DVD, The Squid and the Whale in theatres.

16. If you turned into a multi-millionaire overnight, what would you buy?

A house, then I'd travel extensively.

17. Tell me something about you that I don't know.

I guess it depends on the level of knowledge of whoever is reading this. However, since Pho tagged me and he doesn't know anything about me I will say this: My real name happens to be that of a famous athlete.

18. If you could change one thing about the world, regardless of guilt and politics, what would you do?

Free, high quality health care for everyone.

19. Do you like to Dance?

The one time I danced in public, I was in England and I got back to my room and found a sticker on my back that said "I'm an idiot".

20. George Bush.

This survey is getting obscene.

21. Imagine your first child is a girl, what do you call her?

Marcey, Lucinda, Sophia...all possibilities

22. Imagine your first child is a boy, what would you call him?

Henry William Jordan (EDIT: I guess I just gave away the answer to number 17)

23. Would you ever consider living abroad?

Yes. For language reasons, the UK or Halifax, Canada sound most appealing; but Brazil or E. Asia would be tempting.

24. What would you want God to say to you when you reach the pearly gates?

"Good work"

25. 4 people who must also do this theme in their journal.

Anyone who came to this blog from livejournal or myspace.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Dig: Part III, Vol. 1

Last weekend was one of my most extensive digs in months. Friday we made an impromptu stop at Square Records in Akron, who had just gotten a boatload of new titles in, then Saturday we hit up several shops on Cleveland's west side. Suite Lorain (their website appears to be down, otherwise I'd post a link), a sort of mid-century modern antique store provided the best thrills of the trip, but I was still able to find a few gems everywhere I went. I suppose the main problem with buying vinyl at thrift shops/antique stores is that the quality of the records are not always checked and many LPs are missing inner sleeves, scratched to hell, etc.

I found enough stuff over the weekend that I really haven't had a chance to listen to it all, so this edition of The Dig will be done in multiple installments.

Thin Lizzy Jailbreak (Mercury, 1976) This one probably seems out of character for anyone who knows me well. It may just be nostalgia for my days working at Thrill Jockey when inevitably someone would play this album in the office about once a week. In any case, this is one hard rock album that I can totally get into. Perhaps I like this because unlike a lot of other classic rockers of the era, Thin Lizzy placed a good deal of emphasis on songwriting and melody. When things get heavy, its never bombastic or over the top, everything is done in service of the song. And the songs are irresistible. "The Boys are Back In Town" is one of the rare classic rock staples that doesn't sound stale after 30 well-worn years on FM radio. That song, together with the title track, should be included right along with Big Star, the Raspberries and Cheap Trick as blueprints for power pop. On the album's more tender moments like "Romeo and the Lonely Girl", the band captures a melancholic suburban rainy day feel and it's easy to see how bands like Belle & Sebastian can also lay claim to Thin Lizzy as an influence.

Another fun fact: The mid-70s Mercury Records logo features an image of the Chicago skyline!

Syreeta One to One (Tamla/Motown, 1977) Sometimes there are records that you are really excited to find, but then once you take them home that excitement wears off. After watching the movie Junebug, I became fixated on the sweet island flavored pop-soul song that played over the opening & closing credits. "Harmour Love" was written by Stevie Wonder who appears on this album (Syreeta is Stevie's ex-wife). With the song stuck in my head days after seeing the film, One to One quickly made it to the top of my "find!" list. When the album turned up in mint condition for $1 at Half Price Books in North Olmsted of all places, needless to say I was pleased. Unfortunately the album, as a whole, does not stack up to "Harmour Love". Anything released after 1975 is a gamble, as productions became slicker and the influence of disco begins to creep in. One to One suffers from both these traits plus an overreliance on slower gospel inflected numbers, which is not really my cup of tea. Still, "Harmour Love" sounds great on wax!

The Blackbyrds City Life (Fantasy, 1975) It's been a long time since a music magazine has really excited me and turned me on to new sounds, but since I started reading Wax Poetics a few months ago I'm feeling like I did when I was in high school discovering punk and indie music for the first time. Whole new worlds of sound are being opened up and this month's feature on The Mizell Brothers is no exception. The Blackbyrds were a jazz-funk group founded out of an association with trumpeter Donald Byrd's backing band. Like Byrd, they were produced by the Mizells and during the mid-70s their presence means that unlike many other jazz artists of this era, The Blackbyrds' music eschewed any stuffy academic pretenses, instead offering a stunning aural portrait of urban America circa 1975. The minimal lyrics were simple, almost chanted phrases that weaved in and out of the fluid rhythms and tight improvisational interplay of the musicians. Anyone who digs funk needs this album in their collection.

Curtis Mayfield & The Impressions ABC Collection(ABC, 1976) Last month when my car was broken into, I think more than having my stereo stolen, the item I was most upset about losing was my 2 CD Curtis Mayfield anthology. That collection has been in heavy rotation on my stereo for years since I found it used at Reckless Records in Chicago. This best of collection might not have some of the amazing tunes from the early years of Curtis' solo career, but it does me good to hear songs like "Gypsy Woman", "Keep On Pushin", "It's Alright" and others once again. The picture above is not the actual album cover, but it is the photo that the ABC art department used as part of its garish design.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Blog Against Sexism Day

I know this was making the rounds a while ago, but since you still can't click on a music related site without seeing their amateur porn inspired ads, why not have a little reminder about why American Apparel is not what it seems?

RIP: Ali Farka Toure & Ivor Cutler

The music world lost two of it's most original voices yesterday with the deaths of Malian guitarist Ali Farka Toure & British poet/songwriter/humorist Ivor Cutler.

Toure was often credited as a sort of "missing link" between African music and American blues. The similarities are hard to mistake, and his music certainly has all the soul and grit that we associate with the blues. He's recorded several albums that have garnered domestic release, mostly on his own and a few in collaboration with others, such as Ry Cooder. Anyone who listens to PRI's "The World" on NPR will be familiar with his sound. That's Toure playing the little guitar riff during the "Geo Quiz" segment.

You can sample his music here. The link to "The World" above has an archival interview with Toure as well.

I was less familiar with Cutler's work, though American audiences might know him from appearing in the Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour or through the late British DJ John Peel's championing of his work. Prior to yesterday, I had only heard a handful of his songs. I became aware of him through Jim O'Rourke's cover of "Women of the World", but never got around to exploring him in greater detail. Cutler's music reflects a certain brand of silliness inherent in all the best British humor from Monty Python to Ricky Gervais. His songs were often unbelievably short, but posses an undeniable charm.

You can listen to some Cutler selections here, but in honor of Blog Against Sexism Day, I recommend this song.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Roh Moo-hyun: Showing the Way Forward

Last night, I found out that I've been added as a front-page contributor at Unbossed. I'm flattered to have even been considered as a writer there as they do some great work. Here's hoping I don't disappoint! My first post will be going up this afternoon, but here's a preview:

Does this sound familiar?

" (Candidate) used and even invented new ways of
campaigning that worked in concert with the changes
within society, whereas (the opponents) relied upon
traditional campaign tactics. (Candidate's) campaign
focused on communication, volunteers, and information
technologies...It represented the nation's first
large, voluntary support organization for an
individual politician. The association, 70,000-
members strong, became actively involved in party
primaries, electoral campaigning, and fundraising. It
organized rallies during the primaries and campaign,
led online debates, and initiated the movement for
small donations to be made to their candidate. Thanks
to the association's efforts, hundreds of thousands of
Internet users visited (candidate's) official campaign
site every day, exchanging and sharing views on
election issues during the campaign. They also helped
(candidate) accumulate...approximately U.S. $6 million
from 200,000 small-amount contributors."

No, the candidate in question is not Howard Dean; and the organization is not Daily Kos,, ACT, or even DFA. The above quote is talking about Roh Moo-hyun of South Korea, though you'd be forgiven if you thought otherwise. Roh's electoral story does sound an awful lot like that of a certain former governor of Vermont. Two key differences however: Roh's campaign happened in 2001-02 and today, Roh Moo-Hyun is the sitting President of S. Korea.

Over here, those of us who became active in politics through the 2004 elections via the internet are facing what seems to be an uphill battle for legitimacy and more importantly, victory. After the heartbreak of the Iowa caucuses, netroots denizens were able to use their influence to bring attention to a number of races that would otherwise have been written off by the traditional party leaders. Though there were victories at state and local levels; and nationally, netroots support played a part in victories by Barack Obama and Stephanie Herseth; many other candidates fell short. Tony Knowles, Stan Matsunaka, Lois Murphy, Brad Carson, Ginny Schrader, Christine Cegelis, Jeff Seemann, and Paul Hackett to name a few. Some came pretty close, while others reaffirmed their long-shot status, but the question of how much influence the netroots actually had was still open to some debate.

So how was President Roh able to use these same methods with such a different result? The answer lies less in the similarities between Roh and Dean than in a few key national differences. And as such, Roh's story is very relevant for American progressives to be aware of.

Though there are some more obvious differences between the two countries, a key factor in Roh's election was that over 50% of the electorate were in their 20s and 30s. The so called 3-8-6 Generation (also known as the 20/30 Generation) had come of age during the harshly repressive right wing regimes of the 1980s. Many had taken part in campus protests to bring democracy to S. Korea, some had been arrested. As a civil rights attorney, Roh represented many of these students and learning their stories of torture and other human rights abuses, Roh became a leader in the pro-democracy movement. With this backdrop, its easy to see how the critical mass attained by the 3-8-6 Generation during this decade provided a rich environment for a progressive-populist like Roh to be elected. Their anger for having lived under repressive right wing rule for so long only fueled this critical mass.

Going hand in hand with being such a young country, S. Korea is also the most wired. The nation leads the world in just about every category when it comes to broadband internet access. Both countries have a total internet penetration of about 67%, however 80% of S. Korean internet users have broadband access in their homes compared to roughly 33% in the US. In other ways too, S. Korea is leading the world in becoming an IT society. PC purchases are subsidized for low-income families, 13% of the country's GDP comes from IT related fields (compared to 8% in the US) and what's more is that this broadband is faster than that in most parts of the world, as S. Koreans connect at 2Mbps, 4 times faster than those in western countries. In short, information technology is at the center of life in S. Korea, while it remains on the outskirts for many Americans.

Because of these advantages, and not despite them, American netroots organizers have much to learn from their Korean counterparts. It won't be long before broadband access begins to become more mainstream in the American household (and pushing it's expansion as a matter of policy is not a bad idea for Democrats either). In addition, each year millions more Americans raised on the internet will come of voting age. As these events occur, netroots campaigns will also move from the fringes to the center of American political life. In addition, the 2002 Korean election saw a 70% turnout. Having an informed electorate is having an engaged electorate and when voters feel like the issues matter to their lives, progressives win. Until then, we can keep making progress by following the lead of Howard Dean in reforming American party politics and maybe we can also look at the S. Korean experience for other innovations, such as the use of text messaging, and continued internet outreach by candidates after they reach office. Having leaders like Howard Dean and Roh Moo-Hyun won't hurt either.

Further Reading:

Broadband Penetration and Participatory Politics: South Korea Case

The Balancer: Roh Moo-hyun's Vision of Korean Politics and the Future of Northeast Asia

South Korea: At the Forefront of the Internet Broadband Revolution

Monday, March 06, 2006

Weekend: March 4-5

I spent a good part of my writing energy this weekend on a piece for another site about South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun. I'll post a link when it goes up. Outside of that, I went on a vinyl dig in Cleveland that yielded some pretty fine returns that I'll blog about later in the week. For now, a roundup of interesting stuff:

--The Plain Dealer had an article Saturday on some misleading statistics found in the federal rankings of local school districts. It doesn't surprise me that Bushco would devise such a poor method of measuring school excellence, but what really blew me away was this:

In addition, if a district continues to have any subgroup fail - even if the student body as a whole passes - the state could eventually take control of the school or district, and even contract management out to a private company.

"My gravest concern of all is that in a few years we will have turned these systems over to the private sector, who will loot our cities and not educate our children," Estrop said, stressing he hopes he is wrong. "Their intent is on making a profit."

Maybe I wasn't paying enough attention when NCLB was passed, but did this little provision get much notice back then? Much like Medicare's prescription drug plan is a giveaway to the pharmaceutical industry, NCLB is merely the first step towards a for-profit education system that will have little oversight and ensure low-quality for low-income students.

--The schedule for the 30th Cleveland International Film Festival is out. The lineup this year doesn't look quite as appetizing as some years, but perhaps that's a good thing since every year, I end up missing a lot of things I want to see. Some interesting selections I hope to see include: The Bow, Dam Street, Portrait of a Lady Faraway, and Clearcut. I'll have to plan this around what's showing on the weekend or maybe take a day off on a Friday or Monday.

I miss the days when I was at CSU and the festival would always coincide with spring break. With little else to do, I'd practically live at Tower City, sometimes seeing as many as 3 films a day. I've seen so many interesting movies at the festival over the years: Men With Guns, Lawn Dogs (very underrated), Late August Early September, The Acid House, Children of Heaven, Stevie, In the Realms of the Unreal, Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself. Last night I made fun of how many times during the Oscars they felt compelled to remind us that we should be watching films in a theater and not on DVD. Though the desperation at this high profile event was, in fact, laughable; it is true. I wonder how much these films would have stayed with me if I'd only watched them at home on a TV screen.

--Pho has more on Capri Cafaro's new infomercial.

--Finally, Pandagon has been kicking my ass (in a good way) lately. Great analysis and engaging writing. Definitely check it out.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Give 'em Hell Ted!

Between the well-publicized nuclear attack Ken Blackwell waged on Jim Petro last week, and now the GOP primary candidates both tacking to the right of the Taliban to curry favor with the hard line wingnuts of their party; one thing is becoming clear: 12 point lead or not, I hope Ted Strickland is paying close attention. There is so much riding on the gubernatorial race this year, Strickland is going to need to fight hard, because this state cannot afford what the Republicans have coming down the pike. After 4 years of Blackwell, TEL, etc lifelong Ohioans will no longer recognize this state. The brain drain will start looking at places like Indiana and Mississippi as a step up. A Strickland loss will probably be more devastating than 11/3/04.

So Ted, I hope you are looking at what Blackwell is doing to Petro and coming up with a solid plan to fight back and defeat him. We can't afford any less. And if anyone is wondering, I will be volunteering what time I have to the Strickland campaign and not just blog about it.

Follow Ups:

--Pho has more on Petro's patent lawyer fiasco here.

--After mentioning my love of archaic retail architecture yesterday, I found a few great sites worth checking out:

Malls of America
Dead Malls
Ohio Grocery MSN group Featuring photos and commentary by the incomparable Toby Radloff

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


--I had a chance this morning to listen to the Betty Sutton podcast. I have to concur with most of those who were there that she is very impressive. Although she doesn't come across as the most forceful or polished speaker, she has a great conversational style of speaking that I personally find very engaging and also allows her to articulate her views in a way that aren't just empty soundbites, but believable mission statements.

If I had attended the event, I wanted to ask her about Democrats needing a unifying theme or message in 2006 and how she thinks she can contribute to that. I think I partially got my answer in listening to the podcast. Sutton mentioned several times about "not being afraid to ask questions" in addition to highlighting her work as an attorney on behalf of working people. This gives me the sense that she is there to serve and to make sure that government is working for the people. It also points to what I think needs to be a recurring theme in every 2006 campaign: accountability. Because right now in DC there is none, and I think its a big reason why people are turned off by politics right now.

--For those who may be wondering, I do not live in OH-13, though because of the way the borders of Akron and Cuyahoga Falls twist around each other, I could walk 100 feet in any direction and be in that district. So my interest in this race is as a committed Democrat and not a prospective voter. Fortunately, I am represented by Tim Ryan in OH-17 and he will be running unopposed in November.

--Looks like Jim Petro's in trouble again. Its nice to know that someone who has accused Ohio universities of being inefficient is doing so much to help them in that area by forcing them to hire law firms that don't even handle the type of work they need them for.

--Probably one of my favorite scenes in The Blues Brothers is the shopping mall car chase. Maybe this has something to do with my love of ugly, outdated retail architecture (which also explains my love of the original Dawn of the Dead). Now it looks like Dixie Square is about to be torn down. Its just too bad they couldn't have driven a car through it once more, for old time's sake.

--Finally, I wonder if these kids have seen Werner Herzog's Grizzly Man?