Asia, China, competition, education, politics, really?

Please Vote For Me

The good folks at China Digital Times have pointed us to a documentary by Chen Weijun about an experiment in democracy in Chinese grade school. It’s an amazing piece. With all the electioneering and scheming, you eventually forget that you’re watching a bunch of eight-year-olds in a (nominally) Communist country.
Here’s the YouTube intro: 

In an elementary school in the city of Wuhan in central China, three eight-year-old students campaign for the coveted position of class monitor. This is the first election for a class leader to be held in China. The three candidates hold debates, campaign tirelessly and show their intellectual and artistic skills, until one is voted the winner. Their parents, devoted to their only child, take part and start to influence the results. 


The remaining chapters after the jump. Continue reading

dissipation, education, journalism, money, really?, unfortunate

Follow the Money. Or Breadcrumbs. Or Whatever.

Matt Krupnick published an article about the fallout from the dean search at Berkeley’s journalism school in the Contra Costa Times yesterday (“UC Berkeley mum on why dean hire bailed out”). I think it’s worth a read, if only for the summing up that hasn’t appeared anywhere else–and he did a good job considering few would talk to him. He made it onto Romenesko, so people are taking notice.

We might as well pull out all the old journalistic shibboleths for this awkward situation. Is the cover-up worse than the crime? What did people know and when did they know it? Follow the money? Funny how so many tropes stem from Watergate.

The most interesting piece of new information in that story was about money, and it came from Provost George Breslauer. Both John Peabody and I mentioned Cynthia Gorney’s question to Breslauer at last week’s school-wide meeting. She asked if he could guarantee that the university would keep funding coming in. “Done,” he told us, sparking a round of applause.

In my post, I thought it worth noting that “how much, for how long, and for what was not completely clear.”

Turns out Krupnick’s reporting has dug up one parameter: “I’m not prepared to step in and now pour money in to ensure that everything Orville [Schell, the former dean] raised money for keeps going,” Breslauer told him.

That runs counter to the impression he gave at the meeting. “Grandstanding,” one professor called it yesterday.

But who’s asking questions? Or rather, who’s allowed to ask questions, considering what’s been said around the school? This situation has the potential to become, as George W. Bush says, “an accountability moment.” So the buck stops where?

anticipation, dissipation, education, journalism, really?

Sources Say…

John Peabody’s got an inside source who says:

1. There were tenure disagreements. And, 2. potential inaccuracies that are minor, if they exist at all, were in Lynch’s CV.

John Peabody, don’t you remember the finger-wagging admonition not to traffic in rumor and scuttlebut? From our own interim dean, no less? Remember Day 1 of journalism school: you are reporters and we expect you to act that way. Until we tell you not to.

But the possibilities JP and his source raise don’t sound so different from what other students have pieced together. So maybe we won’t be so surprised when the truth comes out, only disappointed by their substance and what that says about this process.

Meanwhile, a message was relayed from Breslauer to the school this morning. Let’s look at it (there’s nothing terribly controversial or revelatory in it, as expected):

Dear Colleagues:

We appreciated the opportunity to meet with many of you on Monday. I
understand that there were many others who could not make it. So I’d
like to take this opportunity to reiterate or elaborate on several
points made at the meeting.

We consider GSJ [Gto be the best journalism school in the country, and
we are committed to keeping it that way. With respect to funding, we
realize that the School has many needs and we are determined both to
work with the School on fund-raising and to assist the School
financially to ensure that its priority needs are met as we bridge to
a mature fund-raising structure for GSJ.

Fuller incorporation of digital media into the curriculum and
research programs is vital to the future of both GSJ and the
university more generally. We are committed to enhancing the
capacity of GSJ in this area.

We will continue to seek the best available candidate for leadership
of the School at this important juncture. A process for choosing a
new dean will be decided soon. It has been our pleasure to work with
Neil Henry as interim dean in recent months as he has worked to set
the stage for the School’s transition. He has provided outstanding
leadership, serving with professionalism, integrity, and devotion to
the interests of GSJ.

George W. Breslauer
Professor of Political Science
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost
University of California at Berkeley

The only interesting parts come up at the beginning and end. Breslauer starts by announcing that he’s recapping our meeting for the benefit of those who were absent. Somehow he left out the best part and neglected to mention that no questions regarding Lynch’s withdrawal were or will be addressed substantively.

He later points out that there is no set plan for how to choose the next dean–a dean search and related committee is not even broached rhetorically, though my impression is that it is required technically. If not, why go through formal channels, ever? But in the next sentence, Breslauer launches into an encomium of Neil Henry’s interim deanship. So connect those dots however you want.

The fundamental question that this whole episode highlights has to do with many of the complaints and problems that crop up at the journalism school. Namely, where is the accountability?

A second-year student at the meeting asked an important question: Will Neil Henry ask Dianne Lynch to accept some responsibility for this situation and write a letter essentially apologizing to the school for leading it on, only to withdraw at the last moment? Henry said he would ask.

But if the reason for Lynch’s withdrawal that JP uncovered are true, maybe she’s not the one–or at least not the only one–who might consider taking responsibility for her actions.

anticipation, dissipation, education, irony, journalism, politics, really?, ridiculousness, unfortunate

Instant Void: When it comes to the Journalism School’s Dean, you’ve got questions, but we’ve got no answers

Wrote this on Tuesday:
John Peabody has a nice rundown of the Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism’s meeting on the surprise withdrawal of Dianne Lynch as incoming dean. She is, and will remain, dean of the Roy H. Park School of Communications at Ithaca College. To recap: Lynch was the favorite candidate among the finalists for the job to succeed Orville Schell. She withdrew late in the game. Provost George Breslauer discussed her reasons for withdrawing with her and convinced her to accept the position in May. Breslauer and the search committee got the UC Regents to approve what they felt was a generous compensation package and official appointment in the summer. Then they started the faculty review. Breslauer said they waited until they could be sure the money was in place before they initiated the review. And then she withdrew, again, last week, about two months before she was set to start, about 5 months after she accepted the job.

Breslauer, along with Vice Provost Shelly Zedeck, and interim dean and professor Neil Henry, a former Washington Post reporter, met with students, faculty, and staff for about 40 minutes Monday evening.

The meeting, according to an e-mail from Henry, was “to discuss the withdrawal and the school’s immediate future with the full school community.”

The discussion of the withdrawal consisted mainly of variations of the phrase, We can’t tell you what happened.

The school’s immediate future was never substantially addressed either. Professor Cynthia Gorney got Breslauer to confirm that program funding would continue, though how much, for how long, and for what was not completely clear. But there’s a promise. In any case, in the same e-mail that Henry sent informing us of the meeting, Henry wrote: “With much School planning and decision-making on hold in recent months pending Dianne’s arrival, I will now move to secure university financial support for various curricular and program initiatives during our continuing transition.” So no surprises there.

There were a handful of notable moments in the meeting, including Henry’s admonition that we should not be curious about rumors, nor should we ask questions about confidential information. Sometimes a person will kick away the dirt to reveal the bright shining line that exists between journalism and bureaucracy.

But all of this secrecy and uproar may have a more pernicious effect. Granted, Breslauer, et al., are bound by the University’s rules of confidentiality related to personnel matters, and thus can not tell us what happened. But Breslauer was careful in describing the timeline of this process (which I summed up above). And he noted that it was during the faculty review process, when materials presumably relating to a candidate’s professional history, are scrutinized by faculty, that she withdrew.

And that’s where the questions start pouring in.

Look at it this way. If one went through the process of getting a high profile job in one’s field, only to withdraw during the professional evaluation–when people are examining your work, maybe calling up a few old colleagues–the casual onlooker might then wonder if something unpleasant was discovered. If it were enough to disqualify someone from being a dean at Berkeley, one might wonder if it might be enough to disqualify that person from being dean anywhere. Yet due to the confidentiality surrounding personnel matters, that other school might not be similarly informed. (Or it might not have seen a problem where others did.) Meanwhile, the reputation of an accomplished administrator and new-media star hangs in the balance.

That’s the uncomfortable situation that Lynch is in, and since there is a void of substantial information, rumors and assertions rush to fill it.

Worse, it may all be the result of bad timing. So Lynch withdrew during the review phase rather than the salary phase. Her motivation may have had nothing at all to do with the review. But because it happened during her professional review, it’s difficult to shake the implication of impropriety. And that, inevitably, is where many questions are headed.

But wait: What if Lynch’s withdrawal didn’t have anything to do with her record? Why withdraw then? Family, yes, which is what she’s told us. (When Karl Rove resigned, citing family reasons, Sara Schaefer Munoz mused about the popularity of the family reasons reason on the Wall Street Journal’s The Juggle blog.)

Could it be the Journalism School, itself? Possibly. Over the course of this whole dean search, a fair amount of dirty laundry has been aired, most of it having to do with the usual departmental politics endemic to any academic institution, though some of it has to do with the nature of journalism and journalism training. If you had a good thing going at your current job, and saw that the new job was rife with vitriolic, internecine feuding, maybe little Ithaca College isn’t so bad, after all. Why leave upstate New York, four seasons, reasonable cost of living, for the big time at Berkeley, if that means trading it all in for a two-season, earthquake-prone den of dysfunction?

Or maybe it’s something else. But I guess that’s the point here.

As long as the confidentiality rules hold, then both sides are technically protected from any potential revelations that they’d just as soon keep hidden. But in the process, both sides risk losing face.

competition, education, journalism, money

Getting In

For a long time, when people asked me where I go, or went, to college, my first response was “New Hampshire,” or even, “New England.” Then they would slowly zero in: which school, or which town, until: Dartmouth.

I abandoned that initial answer too long after I had started getting the question. While I thought I was avoiding the obnoxious and overbearing pride of the Ivy Leaguer by not immediately admitting my affiliation, the avoidance began to seem self-consciously coy and precious, subtly inviting the inquisitor to continue peeling away, with growing anticipation, the layers of obfuscation. It was like Barthes’s strip tease. The final revelation was not always a great letdown, but, like the strip tease’s denouement, it sometimes was. Of course, coming from Alaska (as in many places west of Ohio), every second or third person did not know what or where Dartmouth was, so a regional response was often a very appropriate answer.

The issue of Ivy League designations is meaningful to me again because I recently had the choice of graduate programs at Columbia University and the University of California at Berkeley. I believe that some people who were in the same situation picked Columbia, in large part because it is an Ivy League school (though that factor often went carefully unmentioned). By the way, that’s Columbia’s Low Library pictured above. I think it was Nick Lemann who pointed out when I was there that it is a library with no books.

Last October, Malcolm Gladwell, who brings revelatory sociology to the masses, published a story on the Ivy League mystique in the New Yorker. In particular, he described how the Ivy League has effectively branded itself as a high-demand, low-supply luxury, the result of various admissions practices that are themselves remnants of early 20th century policies stemming from conceptions of race, class, ethnicity, and morphology. The article also acts as a roundabout review of the book The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton by Jerome Karabel (who happens to be a sociologist at Berkeley).

Gladwell is Canadian, and applied to college using a very simple form that took him about ten minutes. The college admissions process, for him, was not the nail-biting, mind-bending, perspective-warping experience it often is for Americans. He writes:

Am I a better or more successful person for having been accepted at the University of Toronto, as opposed to my second or third choice? It strikes me as a curious question. In Ontario, there wasn’t a strict hierarchy of colleges. There were several good ones and several better ones and a number of programs—like computer science at the University of Waterloo—that were world-class. But since all colleges were part of the same public system and tuition everywhere was the same (about a thousand dollars a year, in those days), and a B average in high school pretty much guaranteed you a spot in college, there wasn’t a sense that anything great was at stake in the choice of which college we attended. The issue was whether we attended college, and—most important—how seriously we took the experience once we got there. I thought everyone felt this way. You can imagine my confusion, then, when I first met someone who had gone to Harvard.There was, first of all, that strange initial reluctance to talk about the matter of college at all—a glance downward, a shuffling of the feet, a mumbled mention of Cambridge. “Did you go to Harvard?” I would ask. I had just moved to the United States. I didn’t know the rules. An uncomfortable nod would follow. Don’t define me by my school, they seemed to be saying, which implied that their school actually could define them. And, of course, it did. . . .

from “Getting In,” New Yorker, October 10, 2005.

Does it? That is one question I had to ask myself when choosing between Berkeley and Columbia. Later in the article, Gladwell discusses the research of a pair of economists, Alan Krueger and Stacy Dale. According to their work, if a student gets into a selective school as well as a less selective one, and then chooses the second option, he or she does as well in life as those who go to the more selective school. I find that a reassuring fact.

There is a big difference here between the choice that that research describes and my choice: namely, I was not choosing undergraduate schools. In fact, Berkeley has many highly-regarded graduate programs, including the journalism school; and I don’t know that the statistics for the journalism programs would bear out the assertion that one is more or less selective than the other. My choice–and here I am fortunate–was between two very good graduate schools. But throughout the process, the implication present in many of my discussions was that success at Columbia was more likely than at Berkeley. I often reminded myself that I could do as well for myself by choosing Berkeley than Columbia.

There are no guarantees, certainly. In fact, “no guarantees” is an appropriate motto for much of my life experience. When choosing, I considered that what happens in my life–my professional life, at least–is not determined solely by my school, but mostly by me. And that helped.

education, influence, journalism, photography, San Francisco

All Apologies: On Being a Bad Blogger

Dear Reader, I am sorry that I have not posted here for weeks–weeks! It’s not been for lack of content or interest, but merely lack of time and energy.

I have been trying to sort out the tangled decision about where to go in the next stage of life. I have made a handful of visits to Berkeley and its Graduate School of Journalism. I recently returned from New York City and its Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. I have sought counsel from a long list of luminaries, including Adam Hochschild, Barry Bearak, Bill Drummond, John Lyons-Gould, Rod Mackenzie, Alisa Dichter, Vera Petkova, Gary Lenhart, Andrew Revkin, Tom Valtin, Nanette Asimov, Rebecca Solnit, Cynthia Gorney, my mother, Soon Hyouk Lee, William Pallister, Rob Gunnison, Jeremy Rue, Daniel Porter, David Perlman, Peter Alsop, Brian Chang, Adrian Cotter, Pat Joseph, Joan Hamilton, Ethan Klein, Mike Papciak, Jon Mooallem, and many, many others, and I appreciate very much their thoughts. I had an opportunity to ask Jon Stewart, but then his son began to cry. I think it is foolish to turn too inward when making a decision like this–I’ve been exposed to all kinds of perspectives and angles that did not initially occur to me. I’ve discovered extra information; for example, I scooped the San Francisco Chronicle by about two weeks on Orville Schell’s stepping down as dean at Berkeley, but had nowhere to publish it (except, I suppose, here). But I do risk the Clintonian trap of too much information, with its built-in delays and eventual paralysis by analysis.

It is, apparently, important to point out that these programs both are graduate schools, because they are the only two in the country. Nick Lemann, the New Yorker staff writer and Columbia dean, was careful to emphasize this. (City University of New York will be inaugurating a third graduate school this fall.) The rest are open to, and presumably overwhelmed by, the undergraduate mob.

But as for you, Reader, as a sign of my affection I include this photograph. A friend noted that it “looks like it’s leaning over to give the pole a kiss.” That is just adorable.

art, education, food, music

This Week in Tim: February 26 to March 3

I don’t have much patience for those blogs that dwell on the minutiae of their authors’ lives, so I will probably hate this post. But, I can take some satisfaction in the fact that this post is about one of my favorite subjects: Tim. And Tim had an interesting week, so I’m calling this “This Week in Tim.” Tim’s agreed to go along with this, but isn’t sure if it will go over all that well. He thinks that if you don’t like reading about authors’ lives you should skip to another post.

Sunday, February 26: Tim decided he’d better get off his ass and go to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. How many people can say that? This, in many ways, was one of his grand exercises in procrastination, and it allowed Tim to put off working on his financial aid applications (the federal application—FAFSA—and the Columbia Journalism School’s aid applications), which were due March 2. But he really wanted to see the Chuck Close self-portrait exhibition, which was scheduled to close February 28. March 2, February 28, museum exhibit, financial aid—here’s where “urgency” and “priority” become muddled in Tim’s world.

Tim eventually made it to the exhibit, which he enjoyed. He was accompanied by his friend Katia and her family. It was a rainy day, but warm: San Francisco had been struck by a winter storm from Hawaii, the so-called “Pineapple Express” that brought rain up to 9,000 feet in the Sierras.

Tim had dinner with several friends later that night. He was able to put his latent puppeteering skills to use when he gave Katia’s daughter, Isabel, a little bear-in-a-sleeping-bag puppet. Isabel originally thought it was a backpack and all the rest thought it was an oven mitt. She promptly named the bear “Angelina.” Everyone was most satisfied with the evening, and when Tim discovered that his friend Vera had briefly been a mime in Bulgaria (and had gotten tips from Marcel Marceau), he thought this was a good start to what might be a promising Week in Tim. Plus, he realized that no matter how daunting all of that financial paperwork might be, on March 3, he would be free of it. Probably.

Monday, February 27: Tim arrived home from work at about 7.30 p.m—early for him. That is, he thought he was arriving home. A garbled message from his roommate Pablo indicated a tree near his house was blown over by high winds during a storm that evening. Upon arrival, Tim found his block blocked off by a firetruck and yellow tape and three firemen keeping people back.

A firefighter named Shane, dispatched from Station 5, apprised Tim of the situation.When the wind picked up (in some places, it picked up to 100 mph), said Shane, the phones all lit up. The tree in front of Tim’s house was a high priority site because the falling limbs pulled down a 1,500 kilowatt power line. The wire happened to touch down directly in front of Tim’s door. The firemen had to reroute traffic and watch the site until PG&E workers turned off the power. Then city workers would take care of the broken limbs. While Tim described the scene to Pablo on the phone, a nearby car rear-ended another car. A cameraman from the local CBS affiliate showed up to shoot some B-roll for the news. Because it would take hours to sort all of this out, Shane suggested that Tim should go get some dinner, or at least a few beers. Tim thought that was a pretty good idea.

Tuesday, February 28: Tim went to the Chuck Close show again at lunch and discovered that the new special exhibit at SFMOMA would be work by Alexander Calder. Tim was excited. That night, Tim finished his taxes, his FAFSA, and his Columbia forms. Two days early? Amazing! He stayed late at work to finish and left a little after 9 p.m. As he walked toward his subway stop, he noticed a large white van with its doors thrown open and a small storage trailer attached. Spraypainted on the door was “!” Tim suspected it was a band.

A tall man with shaggy brown hair, thick brown earlobe tunnels, and a shaggy brown fur jacket stepped out from the small group clustered near the van and said to Tim, “Excuse me. Do you know any cool bars around here?” The tall man was polite and exuded a sort of rock star charisma. His friends, an assortment of young men in black leather or hooded sweatshirts and scruffy beards, all seemed excited to be in San Francisco, but had no idea where to go.

“What kind of a scene are you looking for?” Tim asked, suspecting he knew the answer based solely on the style choices of his interlocutor. But before the tall man could respond, a shorter, high-strung man dressed all in black leather, with massive mutton chops and clenched fists interjected, “Anywhere where there’s no fuckin’ rich pricks!”

“Fair enough,” Tim said. He was tempted to tell them, “You’re in the wrong neighborhood for that, if not the wrong city.” But Tim didn’t want them to be discouraged. He suggest they go to Zeitgeist, in the Mission. Tim was probably right on with that suggestion: the Mission is more their style, though it, too, is full of rich pricks (just dressed differently). But they wanted to go somewhere within walking distance. Tim eventually suggested the 21st Amendment Brewery, five or six long blocks away, and their eyes lit up at the word “brewery.” They seemed like decent guys, so Tim felt bad that he couldn’t make a better suggestion.

When Tim got home, he went to and listened to what this band describes as hardcore/punk/rock music. It was sort of like Gwar and Rollins Band and unintelligible. Their band was called Mich!gan, and they were from Salt Lake City, unsigned, on their own little tour of the West Coast.

Wednesday, March 1: Nothing much happened today.

Thursday, March 2: Just kidding! Something happened on Wednesday. OK, let’s go back to Wednesday.

Wednesday, March 1: Really?

Thursday, March 2: Yes. Go ahead.

Wednesday, March 1: Tim went to lunch with Mike, the Sierra Club’s Webmaster. As they walked through the Financial District, they noticed a man walking parallel to them across the street. He wore headphones and, when not vaulting over fire hydrants, trying to climb over street signs, or jumping into the window recesses of buildings, he danced in place. Mike was entertained by the acrobatics and Tim speculated that the man was on drugs. At one corner, Tim tried to get a picture of him from across the street. Unfortunately, the photo came out blurry. The man noticed Tim taking the picture, but since Tim was fiddling with his camera, he failed to notice the man scowling and giving him the middle finger.

After a block or two, the man crossed to Tim and Mike’s side of the street. He pretended to walk in front of them for a short distance, then turned to face them. He slouched backward and yelled, “Why don’t you take a fucking picture? It’ll last longer.” He had a discernible Scottish accent, which meant he said “fooking.”

He also said, “It’s just a lark,” which Mike interpreted to mean the man was not high or drunk, simply very enthusiastic. In any case, Tim didn’t take his picture, though he now wishes he had. At lunch, Mike and Tim talked about corruption. Later that day, Tim wrote an embittered blog post about tilt-shift photomanipulation.


On the eastern side of the eastern block of Union Square, on Stockton Street, there is a tall man with dyed blonde spiky hair. He wears slick suits and wraparound sunglasses and stalks up and down the street. His job, apparently, is to hand out brochures and to direct people to an upscale men’s clothing store. He used to be somewhat massive, but in the last year and a half, he appears to have lost at least forty pounds. Tim sees the suited man as an enigmatic figure, tense and aggressive.

Tim thought it was strange to see the suited man out of his element later that night. Stranger that he saw him at Tim’s gym, and stranger still that the suited man wore to the gym a fine black turtleneck sweater, black dress slacks, and shiny Italian-looking black leather shoes. Alas, no suit. But he also carried a black and white tartan scarf to wipe down the equipment. Tim was profoundly embarrassed, because this is also his gym outfit, yet he still managed to grin and gleefully whisper to himself, “How bizarre!”

After pacing around agitatedly for several minutes, the suited man settled on the lateral pull-down, and yelled at a nearby person in an effort to ask if the equipment was available. Apparently, he was unable talk to anyone in a normal tone at the gym; the atmosphere inspired him to speak with loud-mouthed gruffness. Tim remembered that this is how the suited man always talks. On the machine, the suited man leaned far backwards and jerked the bar toward him with as much force as he could muster. He did this for about 20 repetitions, with audible exertion. After a short pause, he did another set of 20 reps. And then a third. During those breaks, Tim says the suited man tried to “pick conversations” with people, which Tim describes as being like picking a fight, except that it is aggressive engagement in conversation, not aggressive engagement in physical combat. Sometimes, Tim adds, the man tempered his aggressiveness with a dose of amiability. For example: “Not as easy as it used to be,” barked the suited man at one unwitting bystander. The bystander just nodded in agreement. “It’s not like when I was these guys’ age,” he added, indicating the other men at the gym. He sat back at the lat pull-down. “When I was 25, it was a lot different.” The suited man’s self-consciousness overwhelmed his coherency, and he half-barked, half-mumbled, “I’m just starting. I haven’t been doing this long. When I was younger, this was a lot easier.” And then, with special emphasis as he re-commenced pull-downs, he proclaimed, “I was huge.”

Thursday, March 2: Tim no longer works in the Conservation Department, but he still attends SNAX, the weekly Conservation Department ritual of eating sweets provided by a rotating host. The hosting had rotated to Tim, so he was a little on edge. Every SNAX host worries about the reception of his or her snacks, and that said reception will determine the participants’ perception of the host. No SNAX host gets to enjoy his or her own snacks. Of course, the participants almost never judge.

In an effort to allay his own concern, Tim decided that SNAX should be a tool to be wielded, not an obligation to be feared. The realization crystallized in his mind that he could view this SNAX as an opportunity to impose his dessert aesthetic on a ritual marked by rampant chocolate partisanship. He also realized he could view SNAX as performance. He notified the department of his intentions:

E-mail from Tim. 12.19 p.m.
Subject: SNAX: An opportunity for change
Brothers and Sisters,IT IS REVOLUTION!

We are overthrowing the TYRANNY of Chocolate!

Too LONG HAVE WE SUFFERED under the sweet, GOOEY thumb of Chocolate. It has grown corrupt and lazy with its homogenous corporate taste and insipid
style while we are left to chew mindlessly through the AGONY of its banality. We see through its DARK sometimes SEMI-SWEET curtain. We know the TRUTH.

No, Chocolate, no, you WON’T FOOL the Children of the Revolution.

JOIN ME! Our staging area is the Yellowstone Room at 3 PM. Bring any tool at hand to help us achieve this dream: your shovels and hoes and pitchforks and regular forks and plates and hearts (and/or minds), or possibly just your hands if you want the Paul Newman vegan-friendly GINGER-CREME OPTION.


*Note: There will be no caramelized snacks at Snax. However, we will not be swayed from our plan to subvert the dominant chocolate paradigm.

Beside the aforemention Newman-O’s, Tim also brought a box of mandarin oranges and a mixed fruit shortcake from Tart to Tart. It was an astounding success, much to Tim’s satisfaction. People actually came up to him and said things like, “I’m at SNAX today because you don’t always get a call to arms like that.” Others said they were there to support the revolution. Nobody seemed to mind that Tim had asked his friend at the bakery to write “Down With Chocolate” on the cake in yellow frosting. It was all lustily eaten by the assembled.

Tim was prepared for an uproar, if not a full-scale counter-revolution, provoked by his criticism of chocolate. So uncertain was he of the reception and the viability of his revolution that he snuck a can of Hershey’s chocolate syrup into SNAX. He was prepared to sarcastically drench everything in syrup if the complaining got too loud. Not wanting to tip anyone off, he disguised the can like so:

And he prepared a statement to be read in case of popular dissatisfaction:

Even the most zealous revolutionary eventually learns to sacrifice principle for the sake of politicial expediency. Which is to say he’ll do whatever he can to keep his job. Even though one form of chocolatey tyranny may be deposed, another, simply in a different form, may rise to take it’s place.And since I can see the natives are getting restless, I have this….

Brothers and sisters, eat it and weep.

Here is another view of the label. The expression on Tim’s face was a point of much discussion. It was merely a file photo that he had on hand.

Friday, March 3:
As I write this, it is Friday morning, and I’m not sure if anything interesting enough to warrant bloggging has happened. But something will probably come along. Maybe at the airport—I’m going to see Alisa in San Diego. We’ll see. But in the meantime, I have posted what one successful blogger has termed “too much content.” So we will leave it at that.