Alumnus pride (and a little shock)

With its win over in-state rival Arizona State today, Arizona gets to play Oregon next week in the Pac-12 Championship Game. As SI says:

Arizona in the playoff sounded like a peyote-induced hallucination at the beginning of the year, yet at the end of November, the Wildcats are not only in the conversation, they might have a chance to control it.

Better yet, all the scoffers who say the Wildcats have two losses to go with their ten wins will have to reconcile the fact that one of those ten wins was over Oregon back in October, when they surprised the Ducks 31-24.

Assuming the Ducks beat their own in-state rival Oregon State Beavers tomorrow, they’ll be 11-1. They’ve already clinched a spot in Friday’s championship, so they could lose and still be there. Nobody expects the 5-6 Beavers to beat the Ducks, though, particularly not with Heisman candidate Marcus Mariota healthy and bringing his 3,103 passing yards, 32 touchdowns and two interceptions along with 597 rushing yards on 97 carries with nine touchdowns to the game.

Friday night, then. 6:00PM PT at the brand-new Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Ca., televised by Fox.

Bear Down, Arizona!

How did Ferguson become Ferguson?

The Economic Policy Institute has a partial history. White flight was involved, but there was a lot of governmental action at all three levels which influenced its demographic shifts over the past century.

White flight certainly existed, and racial prejudice was certainly behind it, but not racial prejudice alone. Government policies turned black neighborhoods into overcrowded slums and white families came to associate African Americans with slum characteristics. White homeowners then fled when African Americans moved nearby, fearing their new neighbors would bring slum conditions with them.

That government, not mere private prejudice, was responsible for segregating greater St. Louis was once conventional informed opinion. A federal appeals court declared 40 years ago that “segregated housing in the St. Louis metropolitan area was … in large measure the result of deliberate racial discrimination in the housing market by the real estate industry and by agencies of the federal, state, and local governments.” Similar observations accurately describe every other large metropolitan area. This history, however, has now largely been forgotten.

It’s a long report, but it’s an important one. We need to refresh our memories.

It wasn’t just St. Louis, either. These policies were in place nationwide and affected hundreds of American cities.

Ferguson law enforcement’s misbehavior

From one of the Today Show’s Legal Analyst Lisa Bloom’s tweets while reading Ferguson Grand Jury transcripts:

What the hell kind of investigation is it that says “Oops, camera batteries dead. Well, no matter. Carry on.”?

This link is to a storified chain of all the tweets she posted while reading the transcripts, citing discrepancies and noting prosecutorial misconduct. Here’s her conclusion:

If the saying goes “”a grand jury would ‘indict a ham sandwich,’if that’s what you wanted,” then the converse must also be true: a grand jury won’t indict a killer if you don’t want it to.” It seems pretty clear that Prosecutor Bob McCulloch didn’t want to indict Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown.


I was under the impression that if you have conflicting witness statements and other discrepancies which make accountability for a death difficult, you take the case to a jury trial and present all the evidence to that jury. I’m astonished that this prosecutor decided he’d just dump all the material which would normally be taken up in a courtroom trial into the hands of a grand jury. Has the “prosecutor can get a grand jury to ‘indict a ham sandwich'” rule been overturned?

If prosecutor McCulloch was serious in trying to find justice for the victim as well as the killer, I think he blew it.

I hope nobody else dies as a result of this decision.


I got an invitation in the mail the other day offering me an annual subscription to National Geographic for $12. It’s a special “Welcome Back” deal.

Well, if the Society really found me on its “former member” list, they were looking back about 40 years. I don’t think I’ve gotten the magazine regularly in at least that long. I stopped re-upping for the usual reason: the magazines are too beautiful to throw away so they pile up on shelves or coffee tables, and no library in the state needs them as everyone who does try to get rid of them thinks of the library as the first alternative when deciding who to give them to.

Anyway, I’m tempted. But if I do sign up, it means I won’t need to read them at the dentist’s office because I’ll have already gotten the issues that turn up there. So I’ll have to read People magazine or Golf Digest. I’m too much of a snob to want to be seen reading celebrity gossip and I don’t care about golf. Why can’t one of the dentists (it’s a multi-practitioner office) be an avid sailor? I’d love to look at Sail magazine without paying for it (although it’s got a current one-year subscription rate that’s the same as NatGeo — $12. Hmmm.).

What to do, what to do?

We’ll get right on that

Speaker of the House John Boehner said this today:

“President Obama has turned a deaf ear to the people that he was elected, and we were elected, to serve. But we will not do that. In the days ahead, the People’s House will rise to this challenge. We will not stand idle as the president undermines the rule of law in our country and places lives at risk. We’ll listen to the American people, we’ll work with our members, and we will work to protect the Constitution of the United States.”

Then all members of the House went on their Thanksgiving break.

It’s been an hour already

Obama gave his speech at 3:00PM my time, about an hour ago. I have yet to see any mobs of brown people coming to ethnically cleanse me, Mom, or Abby.

The Republican party has offered and a whole lot of people have elected a bunch of raving lunatics. Kris Kobach happens to be the guy who wrote the “Papers Please” law in Arizona a few years ago, and he’s influenced other states to write some of the restrictive Voter-ID laws around the country. I didn’t know he was bonkers, but how else can you explain this from a radio talk show he hosts:

Koback [sic] also responded to a caller who was concerned about ethnic cleansing, which the caller claimed was a threat from immigrant and Hispanic rights groups.

“What happens, if you know your history, when one culture or one race or one religion overwhelms another culture or race?” the caller asked. “When one race or culture overwhelms another culture, they run them out or they kill them.”

Kobach then responded with his take.

“What protects us in America from any kind of ethnic cleansing is the rule of law, of course,” Kobach said. “And the rule of law used to be unassailable, used to be taken for granted in America. And now, of course, we have a President who disregards the law when it suits his interests. And, so, you know, while I normally would answer that by saying, ‘Steve, of course we have the rule of law, that could never happen in America,’ I wonder what could happen. I still don’t think it’s going to happen in America, but I have to admit, that things are, things are strange and they’re happening.”

I wouldn’t exactly call that incitement, but it’s not very responsible of a public official to say things like that. And how is that the Secretary of State of Kansas has time to host a radio talk show anyway?

Poetry from my past

I remember reading Alfred Noyes’s The Highwayman when I was in junior high or high school. I didn’t know what a murder ballad was back then, and it doesn’t quite qualify as one. It’s certainly a romance, albeit one with an unhappy ending.

Bess’s solution was a shock to me. I remember that from my first reading.

Loreena McKennitt put it to music on her 1997 album The Book of Secrets, and it’s glorious.