Sunday, April 16, 2006

Good News for Tibet

After more than 50 years of occupation by the Chinese, the Tibetian "issue" has finally resolved itself. No longer will there be internal strife and international demonstrations. Long held hatreds will be forgotten and a new era of understanding will begin. Google can go back to censoring Chinese dissidents.

You might be asking yourself, how did this new miraculous peace come to Tibet? The answer, my friend, is simple. The Chinese are building a giant statue of Mao near the Tibetan capital Lhasa. Yes, it's true, the Chinese have returned to the age old truth that large, imposing statues of conquerors lead to unequivocal love of the conquered.

Thank you China for reminding us what it really means to be imperialists.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

One Year (and 11 days)

Just moments after posting about the driving range's (un)timely demise I realized a magnificent date had passed completely unnoticed. On April 12 of this year ProBonoGeek completed it's first year on the web.

Big deal, right? Lots of blogs stick around for a year... this is nothing special. In principle you're right (nameless reader who I assume would say such a thing). But in another way this is a true mile stone. As a I wrote a year ago, "The grand hope is that Blogger will be the magic ticket. We'll see though... what with its lack of inane smiley face options, I may have a difficult time properly expressing my deepest emotions in digital format." With hundreds of posts behind me and a strong appreciation for the Blogger interface, I think we can safely say I found the "magic ticket."

Here's to another 365 days (give or take a week).

Final Determination (For Real This Time)

If one could go back four years to listen in on my various conversations, record the topic, and then count the frequencies of particular themes I have no doubt that one topic would come out on top: the UW's Golf Driving Range. You can read all about this fine facility at their convenient website.

So why the obsession? How could hundreds of square feet of grass and fencing hold my attention for a period longer than high school? The story is a long and tortured one, complete with villains and heroes, tragic failures and uplifting victories. A complete retelling is easily worth a book... and perhaps, should I ever write memoirs, I might just open with this story. But not today.

Here's what I can tell you... after a seemingly assured defeat at the March 10 S&A Fee Committee meeting, fate transpired to deliever a win. With a little help from the University President, the student government presidents, and the ever impressive S&A Fee Committee I am proud to announce the plan to build a new driving range has been scrapped.

Read all about it in the Seattle PI, or if you prefer that vague inaccuracy only made possible by campus news, you can read the Daily story that came out a full two days after the PI's story.

I cannot help but chuckle at the idea of celebrating a plan's demise. Victorious stories usually end with creation, not destruction. How often do we celebrate the failure to do something? But then, I suppose I celebrate everytime Congress takes a firm stand against the Administration or the Governor strikes down the excess of the Legislature. Perhaps some of our greatest accomplishments as a people have been the stopping of something horrific... whether it be hereditary totalitarianism, Nazism, or economic depression... the vanquishing is often harder than the creation. Getting a rock to roll down a mountain has proved to be rather easy, it's much harder to throw yourself in front of that rock in an all too often vein effort to stop its decent.

With the range's demise a full $10 million is being returned to the S&A Fee Committee fund balance. It may not be an end to terrorism, but we each fight our own battles according to our own abilities. In the perfect world I would like to give the money back to the students by reducing their fees... but the nature of the bond does not allow for such practical decision making. As a next best, we will be taking that money and investing it into other needed capital projects... turning our next $50 million dollar project into a mere $40 million debt.

It's the small things that count.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Smarts in Seattle

I knew there was a reason I liked living in Seattle. Turns out of all the cities in the United States it is our fair Seattle that has the highest percentage of college (51%) and high school degrees (90%).

Rather remarkable, actually, but don't let it go to your head. Seattle is, after all, a pretty small city (563,374) in comparison to Los Angeles (3,694,820) of New York (8,008,278). It's the 23rd largest city, which means the number of people we have to educate to keep our percentages high is lower. Consider San Fransisco, whose college grad rate is the same as Seattle's but has a lower high school grad rate. With a population of 776,733 their grad population comes it at 396,133 as compared to our paltry 287,320.

But I'm still proud.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Watching the 43rd

When I first moved into the University District, and then later the Greenlake neighborhood, I proudly did my civic duty in voting for Sen. Thibaudeau, Rep. Murry, and Speaker Chopp. The three appear on the ballot year after year without opposition or controversy. This year, however, the game's afoot. Rep. Murray's decision to seek the 43rd's Senate seat is the right move for the district and I was ecstatic when I first heard the rumors months ago. But what of his now vacant house seat?

The Stranger has piece out today with a quick rundown of the candidates with focus on Jamie Pedersen, a partner at Seattle power firm Preston, Gates, and Ellis. It's the first piece I've seen on the race and I'm looking forward to watching the race as it develops over the next several months.

This won't be my first experience with Jamie and I'll be honest that I was surprised with the Stranger's characterization as "come[ing] across as too milquetoast." Jamie spoke at the Law School several years ago about same-sex marriage as a representative of Lambda Legal. Going head-to-head with ultraconservative Michael Medved I would say Jamie was anything but milquetoast. What I saw was a man of conviction and determination, prepared to stake his reputation as a lawyer and professional on a topic that is anything but popular in Bush's America. He demonstrated all the bite I think the 43rd has come to expect from Rep. Murray. I would say more than their shared sexually orientation, it is their shared civic commitment that makes Pedersen the so called "heir apparent."

Eagle Scout Lawyer... maybe, but I'm seven weeks away from graduating and eight years removed from my Eagle Court so I know a little bit about what it means to be an Eagle Scout Lawyer. Anyone who sticks to the ideals of the Scout Law and Oath while operating in today's legal environment is made of stiffer stuff than folks give him credit.