Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Enrollment cap at UWM

Mike Affholder
The University of Wisconsin Milwaukee is a college campus stuck between a rock and a hard place, as cliché as that sounds. It is a university that strives for growth, both in diversity and education, but the campus’ physical location is literally preventing this from happening. Think about it. UWM is landlocked; it is surrounded by urban areas. The city’s refusal to tear down buildings to help make room for more UWM facilities is causing a problem, not only for the university, but for its neighbors as well. There are too many students to be contained in so small a campus. However, for every problem, there is a solution. In this case, the solution needed is an enrollment cap on incoming freshman.
Crazy, right? Not really. UWM doesn’t really have any room to grow anymore. It’s already outgrown itself in a sense with over 23,000 undergraduates, and an average freshman class of 3,400, attending the university. How else can we accommodate for this lack of space than to limit the number of people who attend the school?
UWM’s non-student neighbors are also a factor. Limiting the number of incoming freshman could lessen the number of students living off-campus, which is a major complaint of non-student residents living near UWM. They claim that UWM students cause typical college student trouble where they don’t belong. If UWM started admitting incoming freshman in accordance to dorm capacity, this problem would be lessened.
UWM’s image is also a factor. An enrollment cap would mean stricter admittance prerequisites. Making UWM a harder school to get into would boost the school’s image past its current one as the poor man’s Marquette. UWM is the kind of school where only its students and faculty know how great its programs really are, so an enrollment cap would definitely help make others realize that it is a college that deserves being grouped with others like UW-Madison and Marquette, rather than just be considered a safety school.
An enrollment cap would be hard to put into action, since it is possible it could interfere somewhat with the university’s policy of catering to students from urban backgrounds or lower-income families. However, this is a problem that could be worked out, to the benefit of the university, its students, and its neighbors. UWM needs an enrollment cap. Otherwise, Shorewood had better make way for next year’s freshman.

Aging rockers can still bring the pain

Mike Affholer
A popular riddle that is often posed upon and ferociously discussed amongst various circles of rock snobs and critics is the age-old question as to whether or not rock ‘n’ roll truly is dead. The answer, despite continual debate and verbal glove-slapping between the aforementioned parties, is no. Rock ‘n’ roll is not dead; it’s just getting really, really old. A more sensible question to mull over is whether or not aging rockers should give up and call it quits by the time they’re slamming warm milk before bed instead of liquor, and popping Viagra instead of amphetamines. Can you really put an expiration date on cool?
The idea of crotchety old men prancing around a stage and rocking out to songs that were popular 40 years ago isn’t exactly appealing to younger generations, but true art never shows its wrinkles. The Rolling Stones are case-in-point here. These guys have been rocking for over four decades! Mick Jagger (arguably the coolest old guy ever) is in his 60s, but he still jumps around in concert, kicking and screaming, like a 20-year-old, and is still the embodiment of the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. With 2005’s A Bigger Bang, the Stones pick themselves up after some of the stumblings of their post-Tattoo You (1981) career, proving once and for all that a band with a combined age of nearly 250 can still go off pretty hard.
Former Beach Boy and surf-rock pioneer Brian Wilson, 64, released his long-awaited magnum opus SMiLE in late 2004, which had already gained a mythic status amongst fans after Wilson stopped its production in 1967 due to personal problems and growing tensions within the group. The album was hailed by critics and longtime fans as a masterpiece rivaling the Beach Boys’ best material and showcases Wilson as a virtuoso songwriter and arranger (as if we didn’t already know).
Wilson’s longtime friend and former artistic rival Paul McCartney, 64, (oh yeah, he was also in that band, the Beatles) released Chaos and Creation in the Backyard in 2005 to much acclaim. The album was extremely well-received, considered by many to be Sir Paul’s greatest album in years, and a throwback to his early solo work. McCartney, now at that magical age he so romantically glorified in 1967, seems to have reached a creative pinnacle in the twilight of his career. Now if only he would stop painting and focus on making more music as beautiful as this.
Bob Dylan just released his critically praised album Modern Times in August. The album marked the 65-year-old’s first number one record since Desire in 1976, making Mr. Zimmerman the oldest living person to have a record reach number one on the US Billboard charts. Ok, it’s no Highway 61 Revisited (1965) or Blonde on Blonde (1966), but what is, really? Dylan isn’t one to retrace his steps, and if he wanted to, he probably could go out and revolutionize rock ‘n’ roll all over again, but that just wouldn’t be cool.
By now, it’s probably safe to say that the Stones will never release another Exile on Main St. (1972), and it is unlikely that Brian Wilson and Paul McCartney will ever recapture the glory they attained in their respective 60s pop groups, but these geriatrics are all releasing career-rejuvenating albums in their golden years. With such rich histories to mine from, age isn’t a factor on quality, other than the fact that these guys learned from their past mistakes, and they know better than to repeat them. They’ll leave that to the amateurs.

The Front Man Syndrome

In the music world, there are two types of bands: those who visibly depend on their front man and those who advance equally as a group. Do some people get shafted in the process? Of course. Who would admit that they want to be in a band that is led by one person? If they did, wouldn’t they just be a solo artist? Probably.

The first type of band is usually the one with “front man syndrome”. What is this syndrome? It typically exists in a band that has one person that writes the majority of songs, arranges a lot of the music, and has a general presence of leading the group. However you would define this person, they exist.

The issue with this for many bands, however, is the common tendency of the front man to go off on his or her own to work on a solo album or side-project. So, why do they break away? To preserve the truth and rawness of their vision.

Tim Kasher, front man of the band Cursive, has been playing with the same guys for years. They’ve put out 6 successful albums over 11 years, so far. A few years back, the band went on hiatus. Meanwhile, Kasher was working with his other band The Good Life, comprised mainly of gloomy, slower songs that strayed pretty far from what Cursive’s material was like. The Good Life seemed like Kasher’s soul was being poured out in the street for everyone to form circle around and stare. Cursive’s material would be comparable to throwing his soul in your face and yelling at you. Was Kasher preserving his vision? I’d say so.

Next comes Colin Meloy of the Decemberists. This band also has its fair share of successes over the years, gaining an audience larger than most bands with such an odd instrumentation of strings, percussive elements, accordion, and horns. Meloy’s vocals and storytelling through lyrics are what has brought the group as far as they’ve come. Meloy ventured out on a solo tour in 2006, and also put out a dual-disk album with his other band Tarkio, which was accepted with open arms due to the raw, acoustic nature of the material. Coincidence?

One of the most famous front women to venture out on her own and gain enormous success is Bjork. Formerly a member of the Sugarcubes of Iceland, she broke away from the band in 1992 to pursue a solo career resulting in 10 successful albums, DVDs, acting opportunities, and Grammy nominations. By doing this, she broke ground for an inconceivable amount of female musicians and forever changed music. Would it have happened if she didn’t leave the Sugarcubes? Who knows. But she definitely had something in mind, and she conquered it alone in her own very different way.

The New Pornographers pumped out three solo performers: A.C. Newman, who released The Slow Wonder in 2004 and proceeded to tour solo; Neko Case, who released multiple award-nominated albums, and Dan Bejar, who went on to create the praised indie band Destroyer. Each of them had different creative visions, and while they worked well in the New Pornographers, they went even further in their solo careers to separate ends of musical atmospheres.

One front man, Ben Gibbard, spread his musical talent between two projects, starting with Death Cab for Cutie, an indie rock band that creeped up from the underground music scene to become one of the most popular to date, and later The Postal Service, a project he started with another musician through the mail. The two bands are very different, and it’s apparent that Gibbard needed to separate the two to accurately depict his visions of what he wanted to perform: light melodic indie rock and poppy electronic music.

Next is David Bazan of Pedro the Lion. Though the band was originally made up of two people where the second member changed multiple times, they ended it for good in 2006. Bazan went on to start the band Headphones, a huge jump into the electronic world from the formerly acoustic music he had done before. Later in the year, he released a solo record that wasn’t a far departure from Pedro the Lion material sound-wise, but lyrically it was an explosion. The difference was definitely apparent in his roughness.

Another huge front man on the list is Thom Yorke of Radiohead. With the band, he has released 6 full-lengths and 7 EP’s, a huge collection by any standard. In 2006, Yorke released a solo album titled The Eraser in which he constructs most of the music electronically while laying his lyrics over it. Though Radiohead and his solo project both have electronic influences, there is a huge difference between the moods of the two types of music, thus, a vast difference from his work with the band and work alone.

Finally is Ian MacKaye. Originally playing in bands like Minor Threat and Fugazi, MacKaye has strayed far away to the band The Evens. The music is simpler, with just baritone guitar and drums, with vocals of himself and the drummer Amy Farina. They just released their second album this year. Though MacKaye preserves the same moral standards he had before with pricing of shows and albums, his musical style has changed to a more simplistic but full-felt sound.

All of these performers have seen years upon years of musical experience. What do they all have in common?: The fact that they’re willing to preserve their vision in its rawness by trying different combinations of these things to succeed in their musical tasks. They’ve tried different styles, played alongside different people, and changed their influences many times. They won’t let anyone stand in their way. So be it a syndrome or not, for many, it’s turned out to be a good one.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Will Mueller's Blog

How to make our politicians lovable again

by Tyler Casey

It’s been a while since the most recent midterm elections, and a lot has happened since. The new season of “The Wire” ended, Michael Richards turned out to be a huge racist and Milwaukee somehow survived “Snowpacolypse ‘06” (thanks WTMJ.) But while all this was happening, our elected officials somehow got worse.

At least that’s what people are saying, according to the latest survey from the Rasmussen Reports that says that only 11 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of the United States Congress. What is surprising about this isn’t the fact that most Americans find elected officials to be somewhere between panhandlers and burger flippers on the reliability scale.

No, what’s most surprising is that apparently 15 percent of people surveyed had a favorable opinion of Congress the day of the elections. And 13 percent had a favorable opinion two weeks ago.

What possibly could have happened since Election Day to make politicians less trustworthy than they already were? The Mark Foley scandal is yesterday’s news by this point. The bitter and negative attack ads that people say they hate so much that flood our airwaves every other fall are just a distant memory. A tax-hiking, child-hating, terrorist-loving memory. And issues like gay marriage and the Iraq War haven’t really changed since November 7.

How can people whose jobs depend on being popularly elected be so unpopular?

The only logical answer is that Congress did a worse job at the end of the current term than they were last month. A poll said so, and our country’s government is, more or less, made up of our answers from one complicated survey.

If our elected officials want to win back the support of four percent of the American people, they’ll need to make some changes. While the new Congress will feature more Democrats than the last one, that likely won’t be enough to win back public support. After all, the only real story to come out of either chamber of Congress since the elections has been South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson, a Democrat, suffering from a stroke. So new Senators and Representatives should try and avoid going the whole stroke route, as there’s a good chance it could anger four percent of Americans.

A different Rasmussen survey from earlier this year revealed that more Americans believe used-car salesmen are generally more ethical than members of Congress. While some would see this as a harsh insult, I see it as a potential opportunity. Some of the more “popular” Senators or Representatives out there should try and opening a used car dealership. I know used car salesmen don’t have the best reputations, but everyone has to start somewhere, and according to the survey it’s an improvement in image. Maybe if that goes well we can see politicians work part time doing even more respected lines of work. Like greeting shoppers at Wal-Mart.

Or, if they’re really desperate, American politicians can just ignore the results of this poll and continue to get money and convince slightly less than half the population to go against their natural impulse for one morning every few years in November and vote them back into office.

Satphone to the Rescue

When traversing through remote and dangerous areas where cell phone coverage is virtually non-existent, you should consider using a satellite telephone so that you have the ability to summon help should the need arise.

A satellite phone, or satphone, is a mobile phone that communicates with communications satellites that are orbiting the Earth. Because the device is always in range of the orbiting satellite, the device is able to provide a constant telephone connection regardless of where the user is located.

Satellite coverage may include a specific region, such as the western United States, or the entire Earth. As long as you are in the defined region you will have a reliable telephone connection.

Anyone who has struggled to receive a stable cell phone signal can appreciate how comforting it would be to have a reliable signal without having to worry about being in range of a cell phone tower.

As two recent tragedies demonstrate, satellite phones should no longer be considered luxury gadgets for the rich. Indeed, they can be life saving devices.

James Kim, his wife Kati, and their two children were driving to their California home after a Thanksgiving holiday trip to visit their family and friends in the Seattle area. While traveling through the back roads of Oregon, the family car got stuck in heavy snow.

If the Kims had taken a satellite phone on their trip, they could have called for help and potentially could have been rescued within a day or two. However, the only communication device they had in their car was the cell phone that was unable to locate a signal.

After being stranded for eight days, Kim left his family and ventured into the wilderness in an attempt to find help. His wife and children were rescued three days later by searchers who vectored in on the area where the car was stranded by tracing cell phone messages sent to the Kim’s mobile phone.

Unfortunately, Kim did not return to his family and was eventually found dead approximately seven miles from the stranded car. His tragic death could have been prevented if the family would have had a satphone with them on their trip.

Since building a satellite and launching it into space is more expensive than constructing cell phone towers, it’s no coincidence that owning a satellite phone is more expensive than a traditional cell phone.

A Qualcomm GSP-1600 satphone costs $645, and the best airtime plan that I could find cost 14 cents per minute. You don’t have to be able to join the same country club as Bill Gates and Warren Buffet in order to purchase your own satphone, but those costs are quite steep for the average person.

However, several companies allow you to rent a satphone. Globalstar, for example, has rental plans that start at $39 per week for a satphone. Airtime rates under the rental agreement cost an additional $1.49 per minute.

While you may not want to use the satphone to call your neighbor for help with a campfire recipe, very few people would flinch at the price if they could use the phone to call for help in an emergency situation.

The recent case of three mountain climbers lost on Oregon’s Mount Hood further illustrates how a satphone would be beneficial when emergencies occur in remote areas where cell phone coverage is limited or unavailable.

As with the Kim search, rescuers tracked cell phone usage to determine a general search area. However, it still took several days for searchers to locate the body of one of the climbers. The other two climbers are still missing.

Like the Kims, had these experienced climbers taken a satellite phone on their climb they could have summoned help immediately and potentially been rescued.

Although satellite phones have been available since the early 1990s, they continue to occupy a niche market when compared to their cellular cousins. The low price and ubiquitous nature make cell phones a more attractive option for everyday use.

Many people believe it is essential that they carry a cell phone with them while traveling. However, guides, outfitters and park personnel should recommend that travelers and adventurers carry a satellite phone when heading into remote locations that have limited cell phone coverage.

Spurred by the global marketplace and worldwide business travelers, some manufacturers are combining the cell phone and the satellite phone. These hybrid devices work on available cell phone networks when they are available, but they have the ability to utilize satellite communications when there is no cell service.

One example of these useful devices is the Thuraya SG-2520, which sells for approximately $895. For those who travel in areas of the world that do not have cell phone coverage, this new generation phone will be an indispensable, albeit expensive, tool.

As technology advances and users demand uninterruptible mobile phone coverage, I’m certain that you will see more hybrid devices like the Thuraya SG-2520. As these types of devices become more prevalent the price will drop.

When this occurs, hopefully situations like the two recent tragedies discussed in this story can be avoided with the prudent use of a mobile phone that has constant coverage regardless of where it is used.

Beliefs and Iraq

Beliefs are hard to conquer. They are often engrained into people’s souls and it is because of this that beliefs can be very dangerous.

There has been civil war going on within Iraq for quite some time now and this shouldn’t surprise anyone. The Shiites and Sunnis have been fighting over their different beliefs since the death of Muhammad in 632 AD.

Shiites and Sunnis militias fight because of their differing opinions on who should have succeeded Muhammad after his death. Shiites believe Ali Bin Abi Talib should have succeeded him, while Sunnis believe that the first four of Muhammad’s successors rightfully took his place as leaders of the Muslim community.

It seems the enemy we are fighting is divided against itself. Our government officials did not see this coming or at least pretended not to.

They also didn’t attempt to understand the religious differences within the Muslim community, along with the ideological differences between the U.S. and that community. If they had we wouldn’t be in Iraq right now.

It is hard to help people that we don’t understand and who don’t understand us. In order for us to actually win in Iraq we would have to change the way Iraqis feel about us. However, you can’t destroy a belief system.

The U.S. can’t help how it is perceived. Many Muslims base their opinions of Americans on how they comprehend our portrayal by whatever media they choose to watch.

You can’t stop perceptions because they are how we understand our surroundings. When a Muslim woman is surrounded by overbearing men and women who must cover every inch of their body because of religious practice, she is going to be accepting toward what she perceives as normal.

Similarly, consider an American teenager who sees all his friends wearing the trendy clothes of the day. Often that teenager is going to mimic those trends because, like the Muslim woman, he perceives that they are normal.

It is our perceptions that form our ideas about life. So a problem occurs when one country tries to force what they perceive as good onto another.

When the country being forced to submit to an ideology has conflicting ideologies within itself, you have even more problems.

The U.S. is not only fighting an insurgency, but also two different belief systems. Perhaps it is possible to defeat an insurgency, but it’s nearly impossible to defeat a belief system and certainly not two. The strength of a believer is just too strong.

Shiites and Sunnis hold their beliefs so tightly that it’s hard to think of a way in which the U.S. can change the fundamentalist ideas of many Muslim citizens, let alone fight an insurgency that is willing to kill for those ideas.

We are not fighting an enemy in Iraq, but rather a mindset. It is a mindset that has been in place for centuries and it not likely to change anytime soon.

Once this is understood, it becomes harder and harder to support the war we are currently submerged in. How can you fight what you don’t understand and expect a happy ending?

You can’t fight two belief systems at the same time and try to gain influence with your own.

People are willing to die for their beliefs. The U.S. does not need to find out just how many.

Home Alone

Britney Spears has Macaulay Culkin Syndrome. In case you weren’t familiar with the condition, let me go over it with you. Break out as a young, cute and fresh face that rips into the hearts of America? Check. Become so popular that people will buy anything you put out? Check. Make a series of bad decisions, each worse than the last which results in complete ridicule? Check.

Sure, When Macaulay started his illustrious and quick “career” in showbiz he was only eight years old while Britney was seventeen. The results were the same. Macaulay tried to push himself back into the spotlight, but inevitably failed each time just as Britney Spears will in the near future.

Macaulay had one clear advantage over Britney, in the fact that while he did marry young, he did not marry Kevin Federline. Oh, and he did not get pregnant twice either.

The fall of Britney Spears’ downfall had been triggered by her brief marriage with longtime friend Jason Alexander. Soon after Kevin Federline swept in to pick up the pieces, and we all know where that went.

Three months before the end of their marriage, she even went on the record to say their marriage was going strong. Spears and Federline would not be getting divorced, as they respected their children as well as the sanctity of marriage. Surely that didn’t ring true when Spears divorced Federline last month.

But can we really blame Federline? Did his redneck ways simply bring out Britney’s? Yes. As showcased on the visual holocaust known as “ Britney and Kevin: Chaotic,” she had “let herself go,” and simply reverted back to her pre-teen idol days. Her cover had been blown and the country unfortunately saw her for what she really was.

But now that she’s free of the parasite, she can go back to be the teen idol that she once was, right? Well according to her publicist she may have to avoid any negative press until her next album release.

Did Ms. Spears listen? Of course not. Partying on weeknights with Paris Hilton while her children are under the care of a hired hand isn’t really the most responsible thing to do. Nothing says you care about your kids as much as paying strangers to look after them and make sure they stay out of danger.

Another crime to humanity that Britney Spears has committed revolves around her clothing choices… or lack thereof. On several occasions she has been seen and photographed without any underwear on, displaying her naughty bits to anybody that cares to look. And trust me, nobody cares to look. I guess it would have been more satisfying to see a tattoo with the text “K-Fed wuz here.”

After these public displays, Britney went on to write a blog posting on her website where she raved about Victoria Secret’s new line of underwear. Not even a week after that, another batch of upskirt pictures depicted her panty-less yet again. Classy.

Once all of these subsided there was a small period of time where she looked to be setting things straight. Pictures began appearing where she looked classy, or dare I even say, sexy again. But Macaulay Culkin Syndrome does not let go of its victim. It grabs hold and does not let go. Sure, it may let the victim think that it is getting away, but the condition always prevails.

Britney Spears attended her mother’s birthday party. There is nothing wrong with that sentence right? Oh, and did I mention that she was wearing a bra and panties with a completely see-through lace dress on top? This girl cannot do anything on her own, much less listen to the advice of her public relations advisors. There is no way to class it up more than by wearing next to nothing to your mom’s birthday party.

To add salt to the wound, Ms. Spears was also named the world’s worst dog owner by The New York Dog and The Hollywood Dog. An inability to dress yourself appropriately and behave like you have millions of people watching your every move? Check. Inability to care for an animal that relies upon you for mere survival? Check. It’s funny how similar dogs are to humans at an early age…

In any case, Britney Spears is destined to fall through the holes of the showbiz industry and possibly come out of it through the bowels of the porn industry. Because of her poor decisions she will never reclaim what she once had. In ten years she may have faded completely from the public eye, or be looked at as an embarrassment for females everywhere.

Monday, December 18, 2006

When it comes to eating out, there are just certain things that should be paired together. Just like peanut butter and jelly seem to be made for one another so do certain entrees and the drinks that should accompany them. Steak always goes well with a nice glass of full-bodied wine and beer helps a nice juicy burger go down easy.

I really feel that it is necessary for some food staples to be paired with a specific drink and only that drink- no substitutions, please.

For this reason, when people dine out in order to fully enjoy the experience, they should know what drink goes with what food and practice this. For instance, when going out for a nice, thick tenderloin one should definitely not opt for a margarita.

It causes me to cringe when I see patrons dining out and not knowing what to drink and I feel that it ruins the meal- or at least detracts from it. The flavors just don’t mesh as well as they could.

Now, I understand that not everyone likes every kind of alcoholic beverage, but there are certainly ways around this.

For instance, if you’re going out for a nice hearty Mexican meal, fully equipped with refried beans and rice- a glass of wine would certainly not taste best with the meal. But instead one could order a lime margarita on the rocks (or blended) or of course, a Corona paired with its signature slice of lime. The lime flavor in both the margarita and Corona would bring out the intense flavors of the meal, and taste delicious with the fresh chips and spicy salsa. I guarantee you wouldn’t be disappointed.

Plus, by doing this you also partake in the culture behind the dish. Margaritas have traditionally been paired Mexican dishes- they’re made for each other. Just take a trip to Mexico, and you’ll see.

Some great places to enjoy a margarita and Mexican dish in Milwaukee are La Fluente, and La Perla in addition to many others on National Avenue.

Additionally, when going out to a nice steak or seafood restaurant, it is customary to get a glass (or even a bottle) of wine. It doesn’t have to be the most expensive glass on the list – especially if you’re running a little short on cash, but rather any kind that sounds best. For red meat, it is best to have a red wine, whereas seafood often goes with white.

Just as a traditional Mexican meal would taste horrible with wine, an entrée with either steak or seafood wouldn’t taste so great with a margarita. The flavors of the dishes wouldn’t pair as nicely. Steaks are often accompanied with a hearty sauce that needs to be balanced out with a wine (or perhaps a martini if you’re not partial to wine).

And I don’t think anyone can argue that the best drink to go with a hearty burger would be a nice, cold beer. Any beer would be well suited for a burger and fries because they all finish off the meal perfectly. You can’t live in Wisconsin without being able to enjoy a thick cheeseburger and a pint glass full of fresh, frothy beer.

Once people learn to compliment their meals with the right drink, they will certainly enjoy them more. Plus, if you’re really craving something that doesn’t compliment your meal, you can always get one for your after dinner drink. That way you can have the best of both worlds- a perfect drink to compliment your meal and a drink you’ve been craving all night for dessert.

Opinion Writing - UWM

Opinion Writing - UWM

Is he for real?

Everyone has seen the “he did this” and “he did that” campaign commercials on TV lately. And hopefully many people know that you can’t really believe too much of what is being said.

Politicians are in the game to win. They are only looking out for themselves and their campaign’s success. Why would they want to help the other guy? Unless it helps their own campaign at the time, they will not help.

They are not only in it to win, but they will do whatever it takes to win it all. They will even play dirty if necessary. Let’s use Gov. Jim Doyle as an example of a dirty, selfish player.

There are constant rumors that Doyle is using the State Elections Board for his own personal gain. Congressman Mark Green, Doyle’s opponent in the upcoming election, got the short end of the stick. Green even put out a commercial saying Doyle rigged the board’s votes in favor of his side. I decided to look into it for myself.

Here’s the story I’m telling.

Green had previous funds from his run for Congress. That $467,844 came from donations from out-of-state political action committees. There is a Wisconsin law stating that these committees must be state registered before a candidate can use these donations.

The State Elections Board voted to make this a law the day after Green transferred the money to his campaign account for governor. Doyle must have gotten a little nervous, possibly intimidated, and decided to hire a lawyer. Good plan! Lawyers really make everything better, don’t they?

The lawyer proceeds to email three Democratic members of the State Elections Board and heavily lobbies them to vote in favor of Doyle’s complaint. This would make Green have to un-accept the money, even though he claimed the money was already used.

Doyle’s lawyer says that he didn’t file the complaint with the board about Green’s campaign money. The complaint was filed by a non-Partisan Wisconsin Democracy campaign. Right – so that’s really the excuse you’re going with?

Doyle claims he hired a lawyer simply because Green broke the law. But he had hired the lawyer before Green even transferred the money. So now he’s psychic and knows when his opponents are trying to one-up him. Fascinating. What else ya got?

A law in Wisconsin allows the media to access any written records, so the Journal Sentinel found the emails from Doyle’s lawyer to board members. No correspondence was found between any of Greens campaign and the board. The board says it is perfectly legal to contact them and Green’s people could have done the same as Doyle’s But Green doesn’t seem to want to play dirty, a first for a politician. I’m just as shocked as you.

Though board members deny being told how to vote by anyone, the emails obviously show that the board’s decision was made before the meeting and vote even took place. That’s all thanks to Doyle’s lawyer. Nice job, ace. Score one for you, big shot.

Doyle’s lawyer had to know he was doing something kind of sketchy. It’s obvious he suggested anti-Green decisions to the board; I doubt he would deny that. But what’s sketchy is that Doyle’s lawyer did not contact one of the Democratic board members after that member had suggested the board give Green an opportunity to get the out-of-state committees registered. This board member wanted the State Elections Board to at least look reasonable.

Well of course Doyle’s lawyer didn’t contact him. Why would he? He wants to be reasonable and fair. The lawyer was working for Doyle, who is neither of those things. So I guess that makes sense.

What doesn’t make sense to me is why Doyle was so intimidated that he felt the need to go after Green’s campaign money. Even if that money had been allowed, Green still would have had $2 million less than Doyle. He was scared and good at showing it.

The State Elections Board’s legal counsel recommended that the Green money transfer be allowed. Since similar transfers have been allowed since the 1990s, that decision seemed appropriate. In previous years, the board actually approved three similar transfers.

An example of this, and an example of Doyle’s dirty playing style, came in 2001. The State Elections Board dismissed Doyle’s complain when now-Mayor Tom Barrett wanted to transfer campaign donation money. That sounds strangely familiar.

If rigging board votes is how Doyle wants to win an election, go for it. But that will certainly be what he is known for in the future.

Shortly after the incident with the Green donations, there was a move to combine the State Elections and Ethics Boards. This would allow the unified Board to have more authority to investigate corruption, like Doyle’s dirty campaign strategies. It passed in the Senate, but not the Assembly. Foiled again!

Green attempted to fight back by going to the Supreme Court with the whole mess. The campaign for Green now says they have set aside the money in case they lose, but are hoping for a response by voting day.

This election has turned into the dirtiest in awhile and it is not over yet. Just remember Doyle’s ethics, strategies, and style of play when you vote on Nov. 7th.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Get Em' While They're Young

In early October, a kid's "edutainment" theme park opened in Tokyo. The park touts itself as a fun and educational experience, but a closer look reveals more lessons in consumerism and gender normalcy than work ethic.

It's called "Kidzania"- a child-size replica of a metropolitan city "with streets, buildings and vehicles where children can play adult roles and learn about over 60 professions and occupations" according to the theme park’s mission statement.

The company was founded by Xavier Lopez Acona and the first Kidzania appeared in Mexico City in 1999.

Kids from 2 to 16 are dropped off by parents and get to pretend to be things like firefighters, hairstylists, doctors, etc. For their "work" they are given pretend money (called Kidzos), which they can later spend at one of the many (corporately branded) retail and food stores.

When I first saw a TV news special about the park, I thought it was a great idea- giving children a vision of their possible futures in a wide variety of occupations. I thought that maybe it could be a source of inspiration for girls and boys. I must have been on something.

A more in-depth look at the park shows certain ideas and behaviors being indoctrinated into the minds of its visitors- all of whom are at critical stages in their development.

Though Kidzania allows children to role-play with over 60 occupations, most of the time children are pushed toward those that are acceptable for them based on their gender.

Photos on the website show young boys being suited up to go and fight fires- very masculine! By contrast, the girls are practicing to be nail technicians (and recipients of those services).

I searched through several pages for photographs that did not support my opinion, but to no avail. Other images were girls playing flight attendants and maternity ward nurses, and boys playing scientists.

This is not fair for either gender, because it excludes them from certain fields by clearly identifying what jobs are male and what jobs are female and thus perpetuates stereotypes.

Kidzania parks are plastered with brands. Some of its "marketing partners" include big names like Sony, Coca-Cola and Johnson&Johnson to name a few. Realistically, one can expect to find corporate branding in any theme park; however Kidzania's approach is a little different.

Instead of play-working at a hospital, these kids work at The Johnson&Johnson General Hospital- I think you can see where I'm going with this.

The park also offers different stores and shops that reflect the current fads of the specific city the park is located in.

One might think that the constant advertising is overlooked by the children, who are focused more on having fun- but all the while brand loyalties are being created. All of this is manifested when the children receive their "Kidzo" and anxiously run off to spend it at one of the corporate brand-name gift shops.

Despite this, Kidzania is hailed as one of the best family theme parks in the world, and more are due to sprout up in Portugal and the United Arab Emirates over the next two years. It's only a matter of time before there is one in our backyard. But when or if that day comes, parents: please be careful about the ideas you allow to be ingrained in your children's minds- even if it's only 'pretend'.

Blame for sequel-mania misplaced

Barely before the eve of release for Lionsgate Films’ “Saw III,” the impending fate of another sequel-ridden film franchise is being realized.

Lionsgate announced Wednesday that it had already given a green light to produce “Saw IV.” This is astounding seeing as to how “Saw III” hits theaters a week from now.

The usual talk about the excessiveness of sequels seems overplayed at this point. The real issue is movie studios turning everything that is mildly successful into a full-blown franchise.

There is little room to doubt that under such repetition, audiences are rarely – if ever – seeing anything new. Franchises are franchises because of their familiarity, and it goes without saying that once something is overly familiar, it ceases to be of any interest.

Franchises fizzle out simply because they lack anything important or new. Not many people are interested in bringing back Freddy Krueger or Jason Vorhees. They have become old hat. They are uninteresting.

Audiences saw everything these characters were ever going to do in the first two films of their respective franchises, and that’s probably generous. There’s no excuse for an additional seven films other than the need for studio executives to continue to push profitable wears while simultaneously over-populating the movie world with one-trick ponies.

In other words, it’s not the film’s fault so much as it is the studio’s fault. Lionsgate has recently shown that it has a knack for repetition, as it has become one of the only film studios to consistently find a way to push sequels to its most successful movies for annual releases.

Don’t the executives at Lionsgate ever pause for a moment and think enough is enough?
Evidently they don’t, but they’re not alone. Think back three years ago to when Warner Brothers was pushing as hard as they could to produce two sequels to “The Matrix” that were to be released six months apart.

What resulted were two of the least imaginative follow-ups to one of the most imaginative films in modern cinema history. Panned by critics and audiences alike, “The Matrix” sequels came across as an attempt by Warner Brothers to make a quick buck.

One of the reasons that “The Matrix” sequels were popular was because they had the ability to ride the coattails of the original movie’s success. Like many sequels, “The Matrix” sequels were largely void of substance. They seemed like a ploy by Warner Brothers to get more money.

The same can be said about other upcoming sequels. Does anyone think that Eli Roth’s “Hostel: Part II,” another Lionsgate sequel, is going to be anything monumental? Probably not, since it’s likely to be a rehashing of the first film.

Oh, accept there are huge differences. This time it’s a cast of all women, and there’s going to be more gore. Now that’s some legitimate creativity. Executives at Lionsgate must think that these minor changes alone are cause for another unimaginative movie.

Studios always back sequels up by claiming that they’re giving audiences what they want to see. This isn’t entirely unfair as sequels often find a way to box office dominance. Audiences start to get a little cautious, though, when those sequels are released every year.

In the days of saturation advertising, it isn’t difficult to promote something new. Instead of re-treading, it seems to make more sense to invest in new projects. Sequels don’t give audiences something they have never seen before. If movies are supposed to feel new, there has to be some follow-through.

The ranting and raving of how a sequel is going to be unlike anything audiences have ever seen is a fallacious point in the first place. Lest we forget, there was an original movie that spawned the sequel.

Unless the audience is sleeping, it’s pretty safe to say that it picked up on almost everything the film had to offer. A sequel will not show it anything new. It’s just a way to milk a lucrative series under the pretense of “you haven’t seen anything yet.”

But we have. If we hadn’t seen anything yet, why was the first film even made? This tagline is overly reliant on the need to get audiences to turn out to a movie. The more people that go, the more money can be made.

What better way to encourage that than with a cliché tagline?

If money is the bottom line, then the studios have to at least make it illusory. The saturation of sequels makes the money grubbing just a little too obvious.

Sequels should not constitute the main course of a studio’s offerings. They should be used sparingly. We don’t need a sequel to “Saw” or “Hostel” every year. That’s excessive, and the only thing that mentality is banking on is the predictability of box office trends at certain times of the year.

For every successful movie there are many that fail, but that’s a chance the studios have got to be willing to take.

Otherwise, how else are they going to discover what’s sequel material?

Nothing wrong with the MPAA

There is a lot of buzz from critics about the level of brutality portrayed in “Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning.”

Some critics are saying that the violence is too over the top and leaves nothing to the imagination. Others are saying that the MPAA needs to get its act together when it comes to rating violence.

I don’t understand what all the fuss is about.

The MPAA doesn’t need to make ratings stricter simply on account of brutality. There is a long history of brutal film violence, and “Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning” looks fairly benign compared to some other mainstream movies that have been released in recent years.

Not all of these blood-drenched movies are just horror movies, either.

Mr. Disgusting, a critic from the horror movie website,, wondered about the sanity of the MPAA because of what he determined to be a lenient rating.

“Every scene appears to be shown in its entirety, which only makes me wonder what the hell is going on at the MPAA?” Mr. Disgusting wrote. “’Team America’ has an urination scene and gets an NC-17, a guy gets his face peeled off in TCMTB and it gets an ‘R’ [sic]? I’ll never quite get it.”

This is an awfully gruesome scene to endure, but to go so far as to suggest that the MPAA needs to start giving movies that show this kind of violence stricter ratings is unnecessary.

If the MPAA started giving horror movies with an analogous level of violence an NC-17 rating, people like Mr. Disgusting would probably be out of a job.

As to why Mr. Disgusting was so appalled by “Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning,” I can’t figure out. Is it gory? Sure, but it’s not gory enough to require the MPAA’s most restrictive rating.

Yes, one character does get his face peeled off in “Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning,” but it’s implied violence. The audience sees very little before the camera cuts away.

The MPAA understands the distinction between what the audience is shown and what the audience is led to believe through editing. The distinction, then, is between implied violence and actual violence. And there’s a huge difference.

Implied violence is not shown explicitly. It’s used to heighten suspense because it focuses on an act for a very little amount of time. It titillates, but it doesn’t show every detail of a violent act.

Actual violence is the stuff that is actually projected onto the screen. The MPAA has certainly lowered its standards for the amount of actual violence that can be seen in a movie before it gets slapped with an NC-17.

How else would audiences of 17 or younger be allowed to see such a blatantly graphic scene like Steven Spielberg’s famous D-Day sequence in “Saving Private Ryan?”

This is a sequence that shows the violent deaths of what seems like hundreds of actors, and it takes no prisoners. The realistic violence in this sequence is much more disturbing than a face getting peeled off. Yet, this movie got an R rating as well.

If “Saving Private Ryan” gets an R rating, then there’s no reason why “Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning” should get an NC-17.

This is not to mention that a whole slew of horror movies that are much more violent have been released in the last couple of years that the MPAA hasn’t found necessary to give NC-17 ratings to.

George A. Romero’s zombie movie from last year, “Land of the Dead,” is so violent that Romero himself actually admitted that the MPAA was lenient with its R rating for the film. There’s a lot more actual violence in “Land of the Dead” than there is in “Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning.”

It would have been silly, however, if “Land of the Dead” received an NC-17.

The same can be said about “Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning.” It would have been an exercise in excess if the MPAA finally decided to bring the hammer down on a film that shows much less actual violence than a multitude of movies made in the past decade.

Mr. Disgusting isn’t acknowledging the sensibilities of audiences. Surely there will be a number of people that go to see “Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning” that will be shocked by its depictions of violence.

Those people are likely a minority. The crowd at the theater I saw it in erupted in cheers when anything violent happened.

There’s very little in terms of violence that filmmakers can show audiences that they haven’t seen before. The MPAA probably realizes this. Likewise, they realize the futility in giving just another Halloween horror movie its most restrictive rating.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Healthy Food Alternative vs. Police In MPS

The Milwaukee school board recently adopted a plan which will put four police officers in Milwaukee Public Schools on a regular basis for the first time in an attempt to control rising levels of school violence. Not only does the $500,000 plan fail by adding only four police officers to protect a school district of 217 schools, but it fails to address other serious problems such as MPS's shameful 45% graduation rate.

I have no objection to the idea of putting officers into schools for our children's safety, but I feel that this plan will not prevent violence but only attempt to control it with too few police officers to make a significant impact. The school board should develop a plan which addresses not only violence prevention but the district's embarrassing graduation rates as well.

I encourage the school board to explore a healthy, high-nutrition food program, which studies show can decrease aggressive tendencies in students (decreasing the potential for fights) and improve test scores at the same time. This type of plan addresses two of the district's most glaring problems and inspires hope that our children may one day be safer and better educated.

Marco Visscher from the independent magazine, Ode, explains how removing junk food can curb violence. He explains that when high blood-sugar levels caused by soda and candy fall, the body attempts to replace the sugars with adrenaline, which can make a person “irritable and explosive.”

Visscher cites the work of criminal justice professor Stephen Schoenthaler who explains how healthy eating can improve test scores. Schoenthaler supervised an experiment in 803 schools in low-income areas of New York City where sugar and junk food were replaced with fresh, nutritious food. The schools' test scores rose from “11 percent below the national average (on final exams) to five percent above.”

One of the best examples of the success this type of program can have exists only 100 miles north of Milwaukee. The Appleton Central Alternative High School is a school for developmentally challenged students which formerly needed police to help with security. Since implementing a healthy eating program and removing soda from vending machines the school no longer needs help from the police and has fewer litter and vandalism problems.

Morgan Spurlock, director of the movie Supersize Me and author of the book, Don't Eat This Book, cites other instances which highlight the effectiveness of these programs. He discusses James Monroe High School in Los Angeles, where students participated in planning the school's healthy food program. Since the change, the school's violent suspensions were reduced by a whopping 75%, and overall suspensions were reduced by 45%.

In another success story, a healthy food plan was implemented in a prison in Buckinghamshire, England. A group of prisoners underwent a scientific study which involved a control (placebo) group and a group which was given nutritional supplements. The results were astounding. The control group showed no change, but the supplement group showed 37% less serious infractions or violent acts.

Combating violence in our schools before it begins is possible if the school board is willing to implement a healthy food program in MPS. If the board is skeptical about a healthy food plan they must first look at their own plan which authorizes spending a half-million dollars for four police officers with the hopes that they can protect MPS's almost 90,000 students.

While the school board feels that police officers are necessary to protect our children now, they are making no attempt to correct the culture of violence which has enveloped MPS. The board is only throwing money at a problem with the dire hope that taxpayers, parents, and teachers will be fooled into thinking that the their $500,000 plan is the city's best option.

I agree that MPS currently need police officers to protect our children and our teachers, but I also feel that there is an option which may reduce or eliminate that need in the future which the school board has not even addressed. A healthy food plan at MPS would not only increase the health of Milwaukee's children, but it may make them safer and give them a better chance for success in their studies and in their lives.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Cue the Pulse to Begin

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Unsafe Fruit Loops

Faggots! Fairies! Queers! Hey ladies! All yelled at us from cars passing down National Ave, while we walk down the street. This is just on the way to the door.

I know this is no reason to run to the 5th Precinct and file some hate crime report.
Although, I can’t help but glance backward to make sure the cars haven’t
turned to head back in our direction.

The loud “bumpa-bumpa” of music and dancing contained within the bar meets us as we open the door and enter.

Even once we’re in the building, I can’t help but wonder, when did we become complacent being treated like this? More importantly, shouldn’t the Milwaukee Police be patrolling the “fruit loop” so I feel safe?

Chicago has an entire town for their gays on the upper west side, with the hackneyed name “Boys Town.” Here in Milwaukee we have the block, the “Fruit Loop.” This phrase was coined because the gay bars form a perimeter around one city block.

Now the busiest area of the “Fruit Loop” is around National Avenue and 2nd Street. This area has almost no parking for bar patrons, forcing them to park streets away and walk. These streets have almost no streetlights. And the surrounding neighborhood is a hop, skip, and a jump from being a ghetto.

For added fun, the “Fruit Loop” isn't solely gay bars. The block is a mix of biker bars, gay bars, and Latin bars. With this creative assortment of people and a less than desirable geography, Milwaukee Police patrolling the area is an obvious necessity.

But alas, the gay cries go unheard. I’m perpetually hearing stories of friends getting attacked, harassed, or worse while leaving one of the gay bars.

Bob Kennedy was walking to his car from La Cage and three men in a truck stopped and beat him with a fire extinguisher. On a different night, a bartender was leaving when five drunken men leaving a nearby bar pushed him to the ground and took turns kicking him.

And in a creative display of artistry, someone painted “FAGS DIE” in green spray paint across my friend’s two-week old car. Ironically, he isn’t even gay but was meeting us out for a cocktail. And these are just some events I’ve heard about in the past couple of months.

Nothing like this would happen outside Swig on Water Street or on the sidewalk near Cans on North Avenue. In these high traffic areas of Milwaukee there are large amounts of people and even larger amounts of booze consumed.

Yet aside from an occasional scrap outside a bar about whose jock is bigger, these areas are typically trouble free. Perhaps it’s the fleets of Milwaukee Police officers lining these busy streets.

I’m not saying a walk to Switch from your car is like a trip through Compton. A majority of people I’ve met around the “Fruit Loop” are friendly and respectful. Once, after a bender of karaoke and Long Islands I found my tire flat and two guys leaving Steny’s helped me change it.

But the “Fruit Loop” has proved to be dangerous for some of its gay bar patrons. Milwaukee Police Department, busy as they are, has an obligation to protect people of Milwaukee. Therefore, members of the Milwaukee Police Department should start patrolling the “Fruit Loop” in an effort to protect its citizens.

I suppose my other option is to stop going out to these bars with my friends. But I shouldn’t have to. We shouldn’t be chased out of the one area we call “ours” because Milwaukee isn’t sending its Police cruisers far enough down Water Street.

We can’t seem to get marriage, at least give us drinking and dancing.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

sexy nurses and dirty cops

My roommate dressed as a “cowgirl” for this year’s Halloween festivities.

The costume consisted of a western-style shirt tied up to display a good 8 inches of her stomach region, a denim skirt reminiscent of Daisy Duke’s infamous shorts, a bright pink hat, and Ugg boots.

How can you ride a horse in that get-up?

To make matters even worse, after reviewing her attire in the mirror, she opted for an even shorter version of the already lacking, to say the least, denim skirt.

“Is this too short?” she asked.

“Why don’t you just go in your underwear?” I asked in response.

She thought I was kidding, but there is a serious concern in my comment.

My roommate is an intelligent, beautiful, and talented woman. She could turn heads in her pajamas, let alone a costume that looks like cowgirl-themed lingerie. She doesn’t need to showcase her body for all to see to get attention.

And she’s not the only one.

I asked some other girl friends from La Crosse what they were wearing for Halloween. Almost every answer contained the adjectives “sexy,” or “dirty.” One friend was a “sexy” Captain Hook from Peter Pan. Another was a “dirty” police officer, and I’m not talking Jon Bartlett “dirty.”

When did Halloween make the transition from scary to sexy for women?

The popular Lindsay Lohan movie, “Mean Girls,” contained a funny, but truthful quote concerning young women and Halloween:

“Halloween is the one night a year when girls can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it.”

Good thing many young girls see Lohan as a role model and memorize her movies.

These provocative costumes have now become a huge trend in Halloween-town. Not only are they demeaning to women and reinforcing gender ideologies by equating sexiness with appearance; they are potentially dangerous.

Retail stores like Target and Wal-Mart are feeding the trend with the overabundance of women’s costumes portraying a “sexy” version of notable female occupations, like the naughty nurse, or popular fictional children’s figures, like Disney’s Tinkerbell, for grown women.

Walk through the aisles of these stores, and it will be difficult to find a traditional, scary costume, unless you’re in the men’s department, where apparently they aren’t “bringing sexy back” yet.

They’ve even made Raggedy Ann provocative! For $9.50, women can be the “Rag doll,” at

The website offers this description of the costume: “You'll definitely be the 'Doll' of the party in this sultry, 'wet look'-vinyl Rag Doll number from Rubies. Comes complete with a vinyl bodice top and skirt, apron, hat, wig and thigh-highs…Does not include lollipop.”

Raggedy Ann is a rag doll; she’s not supposed to be sexy.

Many women also completely correlate feeling sexy by looking “sexy.” Deborah Tolman, director of the Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality at San Francisco State University, wrote a book called “Dilemmas of Desire: Teenage Girls Talk About Sexuality,” in which she questioned teenage girls on a variety of topics concerning sexuality, according to a New York Times article.

In the book, Tolman said that when the girls were asked what makes them feel sexy, they misunderstood the question as, “What makes you look sexy?”

This is the misconception that many young women have when it comes to dressing up for Halloween. They correlate feeling sexy with dressing provocatively, putting body image front and center.

How about designing your own, creative costume from scratch? Personally, I’d feel sexier knowing that I was unique in a crowd of people, and had used my imagination and wit to create a spectacular costume.

The dangerous aspect of these provocative Halloween costumes for women is the situation they usually occur in. Alcohol often comes hand in hand with Halloween for young women and men. Halloween on State Street in Madison, for example, is basically a huge house party of intoxicated, belligerent college students.

Judgment is impaired, and bad people are on the prowl. Wearing a towel as a costume is basically a target for those who will prey on young, drunk women.

Some also argue that dressing provocatively on Halloween is a way to escape the routine, unexciting casual attire.

It is not necessary to show your body parts to have fun. It may be even more fun to wear such a disguising costume that even your closest friends can’t tell who you are. That’s a good escape for anyone who wants to get away for a while.

Now don’t get me wrong- as a woman, I support feeling sexy, and even showing a little, appropriate skin when desired, like wearing a nice dress.

Women should be confident and proud of their bodies.

But there’s a fine line between classic sexy, and downright dirty.