Two Left Feet
Tuesday, November 26, 2002
In honor of a namesake...
-From a story making the rounds of the Internet, reprinted in the Utne Reader.
Thought For the Day
If it were all so simple!
This quotation interests me not only for its applicability to the current administration's rhetoric, but also because I, too, am often tempted to think of certain people (i.e., corporate execs) as evil people. While it is difficult for me to believe that they really are good people, deep in their (rotten, twisted, and stone-cold) hearts, perhaps you and I would do well to remember that they are products of the same culture that we are.
One of the main tenets of sociology as I understand it is that if a problem pops up often enough in a society, it is better to think of it as a societal problem, rather than an individual problem. For example, sociologists view divorce as a societal issue, rather than just an individual issue, because it occurs so often that it must at least in part be a result of our societal structure. So, accepting that idea, what is it about our society that causes the creation of so many corporate thugs?
I'll have to get back to you on the answer to that question.
Wednesday, November 20, 2002
Friday, November 15, 2002
On a positive note...
Here's an article describing how two groups who usually belong to opposite sides of the political spectrum are teaming up to take on SUVs. It's heartening when people realize that they really do stand for the same principles, so go, read the article.
P.S. Best of all, the campaign is going on in North Carolina!
The Daily Tar Heel Strikes Again
An editorial on the back page of the DTH today is entitled "Waste of Energy." Oh, boy.
At first glance, the referendum puts a smile on the face of the tree hugger in all of us. After all, recycling is good, biodegradable milk containers are good and seemingly endless water conservation is good. Why can't environment-friendly energy be good too?
First, this campaign isn't about being a "tree hugger." It's not about feeling good about ourselves, although the student body can indeed be proud of itself if it passes a referendum to make UNC the first green-powered university in the South. This campaign is about the future. It's about changes that have to be made. It's about our responsibility as citizens to work together in the face of a presidential administration that would like to drag every last bit of oil from the ends of the earth (and pay for it with the blood of young people like us) before making the changes we would like to embark on now. I could go on, but the lofty goals of the campaign aren't my main point.
What concerns me most in the editorial is this paragraph:
My problem with this paragraph? Well, it's blatantly false. The increase in student fees won't go for resarch, but to tangible projects such as solar panels and purchasing some of the university's power from green sources. So basically, this article slams our campaign on the basis of incorrect information.
I've also noted a disturbing trend in the DTH's coverage of the green energy campaign: the nearly utter absence of SEAC members from their articles. It seems to me that they should come to us and at least get our side of the story- something they
If the Daily Tar Heel cannot get their facts straight or even come to SEAC members for statements this campaign will indeed be a waste of energy for us and a waste of time for them.
Thursday, November 14, 2002
The Daily Tar Hell
While we're on the topic of the media, I have some issues with a very local media outlet- the Daily Tar Heel.
For background, the Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC) at UNC is (and I say this very humbly) embarking on an illustrious and noteworthy campaign. To make it short, we're trying to get a referendum passed by the student body to raise student fees by $4 so that we can buy things like solar panels for the roofs of buildings and purchase some of the university's power from green energy sources.
In any case, SEAC had a major victory on Tuesday night, when the Student Congress approved a bill 19-4 to place our green energy referendum on the student ballot in February. The DTH didn't seem to see it as such, however.
The article covering the event begins innocently by stating the facts:
Student Congress passed a resolution 19-4 Tuesday that will put a referendum on the February general election ballot giving students the chance to decide whether they want student fees to fund efforts to expand renewable energy programs on campus.
That's all fine and good. The article then launches into what strikes me as excessive negativity:
But some Congress representatives were concerned that student funds would be taken off campus and put to uses that would not directly benefit students.
Controversy arose over where the power would be generated and how much of it would benefit UNC students.
In the proposed plan, power would be generated off campus by N.C. GreenPower and sent to a power grid. UNC would be one of the recipients of the energy from the grid, while student fees paid to the power company would be invested to create a collateral base for renewable energy. This collateral would in effect create a market and ensure funding for future green energy projects.
Finance Committee Chairwoman Natalie Russell said the resolution was "fundamentally wrong in using student fees to create a market."
The power grid would provide power not directly for UNC but for the Chapel Hill community, and representatives were hesitant to let fees be spent in a way that might not directly benefit students.
I don't mind the fact that this article gives the negative side of the issue. I think that's fair. What's not fair is that it doesn't give voice at all to the positive side of the issue- and since I was present at the Student Congress meeting where the bill was passed, I can say with absolute certainty that there were plenty of good reasons presented. Yet the only direct quote on either side of the issue is from Representative Natalie Russell, who was fervently against the bill's passage. All of this seems out of balance with the fact that the congress passed the bill by a large margin, again, it was nineteen to four, and the fact that at least one representative who was originally against the bill was convinced of our cause during the course of the debate and voted "Yes" in the end. None of the arguments that moved him to change his mind, or that led the other eighteen representatives to cast their votes in favor of the bill, are presented here.
More disturbing, before telling her my personal thoughts on it, I had my roommate read the article and the first thing she said to me was, "This article seems really negative." She also said that if she hadn't known about the issue already from me, she would have thought after reading the article that the passage of the bill was a bad thing.
This has deep implications, because my roommate is one of the most liberal people I know, and if reading that article would have convinced her to vote "No" on the student referendum in February, we have a serious problem indeed. I have the feeling that if the DTH continues to cover our campaign in a negative light, it will, in effect, sabatoge all of our efforts.
Fortunately, I'm not sure that many people would read an article with the attention-grabbing headline of "Renewable Energy Referendum Gets OK in Congress." And the article that profiled the bill before its passage did not cast the campaign in a negative light at all. SEAC can recover from one negative article. We can only hope that the spin of the coverage improves beginning now.
Full article here.
The lead-in to CNN.com's top story today reads:
Iraq's defiant response to the United Nations leaves room for interpretation on whether Baghdad really has accepted the U.N. resolution demanding weapons inspections -- and that could mean a military confrontation is waiting down the road.
Maybe I've been abducted by aliens, have taken an acid trip, and been knocked on the head with a tree trunk a few times- maybe, just maybe, I'm plain old crazy- but isn't that the same letter that says that Iraq will allow inspectors back in to show "that Iraq neither had produced nor was in possession of any weapons of mass destruction -- nuclear, chemical or biological -- throughout the time of the inspectors' absence from Iraq."?
Well, actually, I just lifted that quotation from the CNN article with the lead-in I mentioned. That means that the ::grits teeth:: corporate media is deliberately misleading the American people by placing in huge letters hypothetical hawkish musings that contradict the text of the article, but one only knows that if one reads the entire article.
It seems likely that instead of reading the entire article, the harried American would only skim headlines, leading him or her to believe Iraq is being defiant, and that the second most important news item is "Jeanne Moos looks at a contest for the cleverest cat act."
Friday, November 01, 2002
I went to the anti-war rally in San Francisco last Saturday. It was a lot of fun (also a lot of walking--1.7 miles--OK, I'm out of shape).
Things I liked:
Things I didn't like:
Things that amused me:
I don't mean to criticize the rally overmuch. I think it was an incredible show of the extent to which people oppose this war, and it was beautiful to see people moving together with a common goal. I just think that there's a lot we could do to make things better, too.