Another Reason to be Scared of Clowns

I'm not sure I feel justified in my fear anymore, given that I had nothing like this when I was a youngin'.

From a playground in Russia:

See more strange playground pieces at Mental Floss.


An Unfortunate Wine Boycott

For the first time ever, I am boycotting a specific set of wine brands.

Many will think I am doing this out of disagreement on a single issue, but in truth, I am boycotting Don Sebastiani's businesses because I think he is using his vast wealth to manipulate the democratic system in a way that I cannot support by contributing to that wealth.

Many, after hearing about Don Sebastiani's contributions, will want to boycott him simply for his choice in what he supports. More power to those people! I, however, am not one to be inspired to boycott anything (especially wine), over a difference in viewpoint. Abuse of power is another story.

The current issue arises because of the proposed amendment to the California constitution regarding parental notification of teens seeking an abortion. There are a number of reasons that I do not support this law, but that is not the point of my boycott. If you'd like to learn more you should check out this article about the pros and cons of parental notification laws, which I think offers a fairly unbiased view of both sides. Also see the additional resources at the end of this post. Please note these extra links are completely biased in favor of my views.

Regardless of what the current issue is, Don Sebastiani, Sonoma wine bigwig and former California State Assemblyman, is abusing the system.

In 2005, Jim Holman of San Diego newspaper fame and Don Sebastiani financially backed Proposition 73 "Termination of Minor’s Pregnancy. Waiting Period and Parental Notification". The measure was defeated 52.7% to 47.3%.

In 2006, Holman and Sebastiani backed another proposition, this time it was numbered as Proposition 85. It was defeated 54% to 46%.

Holman decided he'd had enough. Until, that is, Sebastiani donated $500,000 to back the measure that is now on the ballot for 2008's November election. Now Proposition 4 "Abortion Waiting Period and Parental Notification Initiative", is up for vote again even though the public has voted against it twice. Non-profit advocacy groups and and health clinics are being forced to use funds to work against this once again, simply because some rich old fart up in Sonoma decided he wasn't happy with controlling only wine interests (I swear I'm not a bitter person).

Now it's being called (by supporters only), the Child and Teen Safety and Stop Predators Act: Sarah's Law. I love the personification with the girl's name and all. We haven't seen that in ridiculous laws in California before. *cough* Jessica's law, anyone? The rest of the language refers to the idea that old men prey on young girls and then force them to have abortions, and that parental notification of abortions would stop these predators. Funny, I thought statutory rape was already illegal. It also seems to me that the kind of family in which a child would feel comfortable approaching their parents about abortion might also be the kind of family that would already have an idea that their teen was spending time in bad company, which really makes the protective factor of this law a moot point.

Back on track: my whole point here is that a rich person should not be able to get something back on the ballot that the public has already voted against twice in the last 3 years. How long will this continue? Perhaps there should be a window between elections that include a similar measure? I guess what bothers me most about this is that it really is driven by one man and his massive amounts of money.

On a totally different note, Don Sebastiani is a self-stated Napa wine hater. Granted, I don't love the elitist attitude of Napa in general, but Sebastiani has stated again and again that he doesn't drink California wines, and finds them inferior to the French wines he regularly consumes. It's all well and good to have an opinion on this topic - but he's a California winemaker!!! I definitely have a bone to pick with someone who makes their money selling something they can't back. He doesn't have to like it, or even pretend to like it - but he should try to refrain from down-talking it. He's like a slimy used-car salesman that tells himself if someone will buy that lemon all is well. Blech. So even if you don't give a hoot about his political tinkering, know that Don Sebastiani is a man who doesn't enjoy the wine he makes, but is happy for your money to go into his pocket, which apparently allows him to control the California constitution.

Given all of this information, I've decided to boycott all Don Sebastiani wine brands. I simply can't support such a slimy person. I've included a list of all of his wine brands with links to pictures of the labels so that you can join my efforts if you so choose (and so I can keep track of the many many brands he controls).

B Side
Hey Mambo
Kono Baru
Mia's Playground
Pepperwood Grove
Screw Kappa Napa
Smoking Loon
Used Automobile Parts
The White Knight

And no, for now I won't be boycotting Sebastiani Vineyards. It seems Don gave control to his sister back in 2001, and the worst thing they've done with their political contributions is donated to Rudy's campaign. :)

Additional Information
or, why laws mandating parental notification don't make sense

Center for Reproductive Rights: Mandatory Parental Consent
Center for Reproductive Rights: Current Restrictions by State
Center for Reproductive Rights: Forced Parental Involvement
The New York Times: Scant Drop in Abortion Rate if Parents are Told
MedScape: Overview


Sustainability in Wine Consumption

Sustainable wine has been a hot topic in the Bay Area for several years. The California Sustainable Wine Growing Alliance unites those producers who wish to think responsibly about their impact on the environment, and wine bars like Yield are popping up to offer green wines to the conscious consumer. Terms like organic, biodynamic, green, and sustainable are being tossed around in the wine industry as much as everywhere else, and oenophiles are adding these considerations to the already long list of qualities that are desirable in a good wine.

A recent paper from the American Association of Wine Economists, however, demonstrates the minimal impact of these efforts in comparison with simply applying a rule of local consumption. The paper proposes a green wine line that separates the United States into two regions based on whether the lighter carbon footprint comes from drinking wines from Napa or Bordeaux.

The paper is a bit more academic than most like wish to read, but Mental Floss has an excellent summary on their blog.


Crap Dogs

Well, I've always called them rat dogs, or little icky dogs, but I can go along with the folks over at crap-dogs.blogspot.com who share my sentiments about small yippy "dogs".
Wikipedia reveals that an alternative name for the Pekinese dog is the foo dog. This dog is definitely a foo.
Foo foo on you, foo dogs. And the opposite of foo foo to the creators of the blog.


And my goal is still top 10%

I must be nuts.

Haas School of Business was ranked #1 in the US in Corporate Social Responsibility by the Financial Times. #2 by the Wall Street Journal.

But then again, it seems maybe I picked the right field:

Berkeley CA - The Haas School was ranked #1 in corporate social responsibility in the Financial Times Global MBA 2008 Rankings of full-time MBA programs published on January 28. This is the first time in the seven years of the annual survey the top ten programs by academic discipline were identified. Inclusion of corporate social responsibility (CSR) on the FT's top academic discipline list signifies its rapidly growing visibility and importance in the business world.

“We have been fortunate to receive some great recognition for our Center. This FT rating catapults us out into the global CSR-leadership stage and makes us more proud than ever of the Center's faculty, staff, and, most importantly, our Haas MBA students – who have continued to drive us forward with their intense desire to use the power of business to make a better world," said Kellie McElhaney, executive director and professor at the Haas School's Center for Responsible Business.

Coupled with the recent #2 ranking in CSR by The Wall Street Journal for the second consecutive year, the Haas School is leading business education in CSR teaching, research, and experiential learning opportunities for students, which is offered through the Center for Responsible Business. The Center works closely with a host of companies - including Gap Inc., Hewlett-Packard, McDonald's, Intel, eBay, and Levi Strauss - on strategic consulting engagements, research projects, case competitions, and fellowship opportunities.

Adds McElhaney, “We are honored that a reputable global publication such as the Financial Times now counts corporate social responsibility among its substantive fields of recognition within MBA rankings, solidifying its place among good business strategy.”

The trend article, "Making an impact", which focused on career opportunities in CSR and sustainability, also acccompanied the rankings. The article highlighted the increasing number of MBA graduates who are looking for jobs that exhibit at least an element of corporate social responsibility. The trend – a 37 per cent increase per year in the number of postings for CSR jobs since 2004 – is reflected in recent research by Net Impact and Ellen Weinreb CSR Recruiting, both based in the US.