Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Can Someone Explain This To Me?

So in today's version of, "Can someone explain this to me," I present to you a road sign from St. Paul, Minnesota. Any idea what the hell it means?


Between "creepy-man-in-black-watches-you-here" and "pedophile-lives-in-this-house", I'm really at a loss. Is it a modern anthropocentric bus stop sign? Could it be a warning of local sex offenders? Maybe it's a way for singles to advertise: "What's missing in my life? A man, that's what!" But lastly...look where that bolt holds the sign to the post--OUCH!

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Message from Barack Obama.

Will Someone Please Explain This To Me?

Top Cities for Business.

The Wall Street Journal's MarketWatch released it's annual report of the Best and Worst Cities to do business in. The number one spot? Oh, come on guys, you should know this by now...Minneapolis!


Other top cities include Boston, Denver, Columbus and Washington D.C.. A mixed economy will always thrive in a city over a concentrated one. Look at Detriot (and no, that's not a misspelling): the entire city is based on cars, and it's facing 10% unemployment even with the possibility of a bailout. On the flip side, Columbus' main industries are healthcare, education, Government and insurance, four staples that aren't going anywhere. The same can be said for Minneapolis:

The [Twin Cities] area has managed to attract enough talent to support [UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH), the country's biggest health insurer], as well as such legacy companies as industrial conglomerate 3M Co. (MMM) , food heavyweight General Mills Inc. (GIS) , insurer Travelers Cos. (TRV) and financial powerhouse U.S. Bancorp. (USB)

The Twin Cities are also home to retail giants Target Corp. (TGT) and Best Buy Co. (BBY), medical-device makers Medtronic Inc. (MDT) and St. Jude Medical (STJ), and big private firms Cargill and CHS. Cargill has replaced Kansas chemical maker Koch Industries at the very top of Forbes' rankings of the nation's biggest private firms.

Many of the region's companies are home-grown and have thrived in the environment. UnitedHealth, for example, was started in 1974 and now boasts $80 billion in annual sales.

Other companies have deeper roots, such as Traveler's in St. Paul, which got its start in 1853. It's been sustained in part by a highly ranked school system and the network of higher-education providers in the region.

"It's a very educated workforce," said Andy Bessette, Traveler's chief administrative officer. "The people here, the school systems, are very good."

Much like Columbus, Minneapolis has a wide array of industries that aren't going anywhere (unless people stop eating.)

Thoughts on Gay Marriage.

A friend of mine wrote this and I thought I would share.
I am not gay. I have never been gay. I likely never will be gay.

I'm also not married. Never have been, never expect to be. It's not my thing.

The truth is, I find marriage to be an archaic construct set in place long ago by organized religion in order to create fear of sex and sexuality so that said organized religions could then swoop in and say 'but if you have this ceremony, under our auspices,of course, then it's okay for you to have sex; otheriwse it's sinful and you'll burn in Hell'.

MY opinion and I don't demand that anyone agree with me. It's just what I think.

Does this mean I'm anti-marriage? Hell no. I think people should find joy and happiness wherever they can, as long as it doesn't hurt anyone on purpose. If marriage floats someone's boat, then I say go for it.

Does this apply to 'gay' marriage, as well?

Absolutely.

I never have and never will understand any person, religion or political structure trying to administrate what 'kind' of love is acceptable and deserves to be recognized.

Should two men who've been together for years and who have built a loving, stable and permanent relationship have the same right to marry as a straight couple who met during a drunken night in Vegas and headed to a chapel ten minutes after that fateful meeting?

Hell, yes. In fact, a case could be made that straight people should have to prove their willingness to be committed and devoted to each other before they're ever granted a marriage license.

Now, let's consider that for a moment. Marriage License.

A document issued by a representative of a State's Government which declares that Joe Blow Straightguy and Jane Doe Straightgirl are legally entitled to enter into a binding contract which joins their lives forever... or until it gets 'too haaaaard' and they divorce. The only requirement for this license is that the people applying pay the fees, sign the paperwork and be of opposite genders.

There is no stipulation that the people thus applying even know each other, in some places.

And yet, take a gay couple-- male or female-- who have been together through thick and thin for decades. Maybe they even have kids, through whatever means. They CAN NOT marry because it's 'wrong' in the eyes of people who have likely been married more than once and sometimes don't want to take responsibility for the kids they have themselves.

Yes, that is an incredibly broad generalization. I'm aware of that. But it's still true, in some cases.

Now, some people say 'it's an abomination; it says so in the BIBLE! Marriage is between one man and one woman'.

Okay, this is a point. However, having read the Bible, it actually says marriage is between one man and however many women he can support. Homosexuality is an abomination, according to God, they say... but so is eating shrimp. And wearing linen and wool at the same time.

Call me crazy if you must, but linen and wool? A fashion nightmare, possibly, but an abomination? God says YES.

Enjoying a plate of Scampi? Well, clearly any Christian who's done that is going to Hell.

MY point is, if someone is going to fling about Bible passages in order to support their homophobic stance and determination to keep something like marriage 'theirs-theirs-theirs', it might carry a bit more weight to me and people like me if they actually followed ALL the rules set out in God's very own Handbook of Right and Wrong.

These people don't like gay marriage. Well, it isn't for them. It's for gay people, and it's not a threat to the 'sanctity' of straight marriages that rarely last in the first place.

But maybe that's the truth underlying all the overly dramatic outrage. The fear that if gay people are allowed to marry, they just might prove to be better at it than their straight counterparts.

Let's face it. Gay people aren't trying to REPLACE straight marriage with gay marriage. They're not saying 'oh, you cute little straight folks... now you have to marry people of your own gender even though you're not attracted to them'. If they did, the entire country--and maybe the world--would be up in arms and fighting a much more open and honest war than the one going on right now, which is composed of sly digs and proudly displayed ignorance on the parts of many people, both in the private and public sectors.

And yet, that's what we-- the Goverment as well as private and loud citizens-- are saying to gay people. We're basically saying 'well, you can get married, but not to anyone who isn't of the opposite gender, so nyah-nyah-nyah. Now, off with you. Shoo!'.

Gay people aren't telling the rest of us to turn gay. They're merely asking for the same rights as straight people to live and love and be happy while having the same RIGHTS.

This country, the United States, was founded upon the principle of SEPARATION of church and state. This says to me that making legal decisions, on a Federal or State level, based upon religious beliefs, is outside the charter of what this country is supposed to be all about.

Life. Liberty. The pursuit of happiness. That's in the Declaration of Independence, right?

I don't remember any part of that document that says 'We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal... unless, of course, they happen to be gay, in which case we can treat them like idiot children or maybe pets, and throw them crumbs from the table but never share the full meal'.

It DOES say that all men are 'endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights'.

It seems-- again, to me-- that if ALL men have certain UNALIENABLE rights and straight people can marry while gay people can't...?

Somebody's rights are definitely being denied.
Well said, Tistoo. :-)

Where Am I?

Ugh. My Google Reader has 326 unread updates from various bloggers. Gosh, I go into study mode for a few days and my internet life falls apart!

Anyway, I'll come back and update once finals are over. :-P

Thursday, December 4, 2008

History of Columbus' North Market.


So do you feel like reading 25 pages on the History of Columbus' North Market? I doubt it, but at this point I'm too lazy for substantial updates so I'm just posting my group's Planning Paper for our History of City Planning Class. If you're interested in the everything there is to know about The North Market, click on this link right here!

(This paper is the sole work of myself and my team members. No use, publication or reprinting of the paper can be used without written permission from the authors. It was written and submitted on November 26th, 2008 for Maria M. Conroy's CRP 643 Class at The Ohio State University.)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

How To Be Cool and Thrifty in Columbus!

So the economy's in the shitter yet you still want to have a good time. You're kind of screwed, huh? Well, luckily the little Jew that lives on my shoulder knows all the good spots throughout town where you can have a good time and still not break your wallet! So, tonight I present How to be Cool and Thrifty in Columbus! (Cool part not guaranteed, but the thriftiness is a sure thing!)

Mondays. So what if the week just started? You're hungry and you want a beer. The best place to hit? Swing by The High Beck in German Village. They offer free pizza on Monday! Heck, you don't even need to order the beer. Just stroll in and eat it up! However, if you're thirsting after a good pitcher of beer, they're pretty darn cheap. A Miller Lite Pitcher runs $6.75, and the rest of their draft--ranging from Blue Moon to Killians--are all available for $9.00. Cheap!

Tuesdays. Can it get much better than $1 Burgers? Not that I'm aware of! Over in the Park Street/Arena District, Bar Louie offers $1 Burgers starting at 10 and going until close. The crowd is casual yet the ambiance is relaxing. I'm not aware of any drink specials, but I'll forewarn you that they have a ridiculous amount of Beer. I'm sure you'll be quite satisfied!

Wednesdays. Call me prissy, but I hate eating wings. It's so much work! I'm far too lazy to have to eat around a bone. (Oh, wow, I can think of so many innuendos...anyway!). However, if your thing is wings, on Wednesday's Brothers has 10 Cent Wing night! Only requirement is that you have a student ID. Snag your friends, and order up a ton of wings! You'll be full for less than $2.00. And since domestics are only $1.00, you could walk out full, fat and drunk for less than $10.00! Nothing could be more American. Show your country pride and go to Brothers!

Thursdays. If you're a lady who loves to be surrounded by men who will shower you with praises, then Thursday is your best night to go out. Union Station in The Short North has $3 Long Islands all night and thus the place is packed. Gays for days! However, if you want to start the evening off with a little class, dress yourself up and head to Martini Modern Italian. From 4 -6 they offer incredible cocktails at only $3 a pop, plus they have half-price appetizers. The interior is gorgeous, so dress to impress. And ladies, if your self-esteem still hasn't peaked, finish the night off at Skully's for Ladies 80's! I personally don't care for the place, but then again I can't dance and I'm probably doing everyone a favor from abstaining. But still! Ladies get in free, and I'm sure with the crowd you'll continue to be fawned upon by men who will never want you. Success!

Fridays. Hyde Park and Eleven . Two of the most beautiful restaurants in town, both which offer a great happy hour. On Friday the gays invade Hyde Park and it's full 'til close. They offer $4 martinis and half-price appetizers, which is exactly what Eleven offers as well. And luckily the two restaurants are right next to each other, so in this cold weather you won't have much of a walk! These two happy hours runs from 4:30 - 6:30, but luckily Bristol Bar's goes from 6 - 8! Stop on in for $2 cocktails, drinks and shots.

This is barely scratching the surface of what Columbus offers as far as dining and drinking. However, if you're trying to keep within a budget, on this schedule you're bound to be happy. But if this list isn't enough to fulfill your boozing habits, here is a program that essentially lists every happy hour in town. While it doesn't tell which place has the best deals, you would have to be drunk for months in order to hit up every single one of these places.

Oh, and before I go, if you're going to drink--DO NOT DRIVE! Seriously. It's just not worth it.

Pizza, Carriages and Weddings.

I'm sure if there were a sanity test, none of them would pass.


"Tom Cruise is to merge his family with Victoria and David Beckham’s in a special ceremony. The ‘Valkyrie’ actor will hold the bizarre service – during which the families vow to be brothers and sisters and exchange heartfelt speeches - at his wife Katie Holmes’ New York town house. The gesture serves as a Thanksgiving present from Tom - who has two adopted teenage children, Isabella and Connor, with ex-wife Nicole Kidman and a two-year-old daughter, Suri, with Katie - to the showbiz couple. A source said: 'Tom and David have been friends for years and they and their families spend a lot of time together. This year Tom wanted to make a special gesture that would show how much he appreciates their friendship and he thought this would be the perfect way.'"
And just like any good celebrity living a life of luxury, the soon-to-be-family were spotted over the weekend eating pizza on a horse carriage. Gosh, I'm so jealous.

(Via TowleRoad)

Art Laffer is a Laugher!

Besides poor performance, what do Merrill Lynch, Bear Stearns and Morgan Stanley all have in common? Well, FOX news recommended them as "astonishingly well-run companies". That was just a year ago when Merrill Lynch was trading at $98 a share; today, at the time of this writing, it's at $11.56 a share. In that same broadcast they recommended Goldman Sachs at $175.00 per share, calling it the "Dolce-Gabana" and the "Creme de la Creme" of Wall Street. Today, it is at $65.00 per share. They said homeprices would be up 10% and they even said that 2008 would be the perfect storm for investing, calling the subprime crisis a "tiny problem". These nutcases were even stupid enough to recommend Washington Mutual as the best stock of 2008. To add to the hilarity (and insanity), they even had the gall to place an image of Champagne besides this proclamation!

(For some point of reference, Washington Mutual's failing is considered the largest bank failure in the history of the world. This bank failure is so astronomical in scope that the previous ten bank failures combined are not as big as WaMu going under.)

Peter Schiff is the only person among this group of clowns that realized the coming crisis. He is literally laughed at by Art Laffer, the idiot who convinced Reagan to cut taxes only for the rich and screw the rest of the country. They call Schiff off base, yet turns out, he was right. Schiff says it perfectly: "The basic problem with the US economy is we have too much consumption and borrowing and not enough production and savings. And what's going to happen is the American consumer is basically going to stop consuming...and when you have the economy at 70% consumption, you can't address those imbalances without a recession."

Watch the video, if you can do it.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Simply Beautiful.

Shocked!


I don't want to admit it, I really don't. But, well...Britney Spears' new CD is...

...wait for it...

...actually...good. Seriously. Does this mean...she's "back"?

Bike Sharing Program in The US.

Remember when I lamented that bike sharing programs could never come to America? Well, I was wrong. And take a guess where it's coming...?
The mayor of Minneapolis is looking to join [European] cities' ranks and embrace [Minneapolis'] rising status as a bike-commuting town by dropping 1,000 bicycles into Downtown, Uptown and the University of Minnesota campus next spring.

Industry experts say technological advances have paved the way to make bike-sharing programs a reality. In Minneapolis, bikes would be secured in solar-powered docks, and bikes would be unlocked by a subscriber's key card.

The bikes Minneapolis would use were designed by Stationnement de Montréal, which, oddly enough, is Montreal's parking authority. The agency manages Montreal's paid on-street parking and public parking lots, and the company designed a bike-sharing program inspired by European programs already in place. Time magazine ranked Montreal's "Bixi" bike one of the 50 best inventions of 2008, and Montreal's program will also roll out next spring.

The Minneapolis bikes would have covered chains and gears internal to the hubs, so it's less easy for bikers to damage the three-speed mechanics. The broad frame is designed to be easy to clean and it has a large adjustable seat, a basket and a unisex design. Electric generation powered by movement of the front wheel would automatically light up rear lights on the bike.

Riders could take out the bikes for a half-hour at no extra charge. Annual subscriptions would cost $50–$75. The bike program is designed for quick one-way trips that are about one to three miles. Riders could check online to make sure bikes are available at the nearest dock, and when they arrive at their destinations, 1,500 more dock points than bikes should ensure there is space for bike returns. (In Barcelona, trucks redistribute bikes throughout the day to ensure adequate supplies.) Stations would be positioned about 400–500 meters apart so people theoretically wouldn't walk too far to reach their destinations.

The cost to install 1,000 bikes at 75 docks is estimated to be $3 million, and city officials have applied for a series of grants to pay startup costs. The City of Lakes Nordic Ski Foundation, the organization that runs the annual Loppet skiing event around the Minneapolis lakes, developed a nonprofit model that Minneapolis could use for its bike-sharing program.

Exact locations for bike docks aren't yet determined, but they would be movable. Consultants on the project say that will make our bike-sharing system a lot less expensive than the one in Paris, which has bike stations permanently entrenched in the ground. Minneapolis' bike stations would be removed during the winter.
I don't think I've ever been so happy to have been wrong.

Slumdog Millionaire Trailer.

Next Wednesday I will celebrate the end of the quarter by seeing this movie. I simply cannot wait.

Giant Spider Invades Liverpool!

You'd think it's a headline from Weekly World News...but it's the truth!



(Thanks Stacy for the link!)

Commercial Fail.

Last night I saw a commercial for "LovLube" which featured a Santa seducing a girl with a bottle of lube. LovLube's slogan?

"It's not just lube...it's love in a tube."

Classy, America. Real classy.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

In One Month.

I'll be here.


Click to enlarge

I chose this photo because it's one of the rare photos of Chicago taken from this angle where you see my favorite building, 77 West Wacker. It's frequently forgotten compared to the Goliaths of Chicago: The Sears Tower, Trump Tower and Hancock Tower. But I just adore it. (It's the building four skyscrapers to the left of the Smurfit-Stone Nuilding, which is the skyscraper with the diamond outlining the roof. 77 West Wacker has a big red light on the top of a neo-classical style pediment).

Brain Excercises are "Waste of Time".

Well, darn. All those times I sat drinking bottles of red wine and only breathing through one nostril were for nothing!

Brain exercises, such as those taught to thousands of schoolchildren or advertised on television to adults as a way to prevent dementia, are a waste of time and money, a neuroscientist has claimed.

An award-winning Scottish professor says measures such as breathing through the left nostril, drinking water to increase oxygen supply to the brain, drinking red wine to fend off dementia or listening to classical music to boost performance are little more than myths. Sergio Della Sala has done more than 20 years' research on the brain.

The Professor of Human Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Edinburgh will next month attempt to expose many of the most common myths in a speech at the university's inaugural Christmas Lecture, when he will become the first recipient of the Tam Dalyell Prize for Excellence in Engaging the Public with Science.

'There are all kinds of myths that surround the brain. Some are passed on in good faith, some are funny and have been made up by pranksters, while others are designed with commercial reasons in mind - these are the most dangerous,' said Della Sala.

He is especially critical of exercises taught to children, which he claims have no bearing on how the brain works and won't improve students' performance.

'Despite how ridiculous many of these exercises are, this is no laughing matter,' argued Della Sala. 'Some of the exercises are so simplistic you wonder whether we have lost our capacity for critical thinking when it comes to education. One of the exercises involves asking kids to breathe through the left nostril so that the air goes up into the right hemisphere and stimulates the right side of the brain to make the kid more creative,' he said.

'A tiny problem in this thinking is that air goes down to the lungs rather than up to the brain. So I think it is safe to say that you can't stimulate the right side of your brain by breathing through your nostril. Besides the idea that the right side of the brain is the creative side is utter nonsense.'

While the brain does have two hemispheres that do different things, the professor said there was no scientific reason to believe that one side is more creative than the other.

He said another popular misconception that had become accepted as fact was that the drinking of water stimulates the brain by allowing it to absorb more oxygen.

'Luckily enough, water never goes up into the brain because if it did we would die,' said Della Sala. 'As for classical music making you cleverer, there is no evidence, and yet it has become a fact in the minds of people.' The professor says his aim is to encourage the public to hold up false statements to proper scrutiny.

'There are advertisements for games which claim they can make your brain perform like a younger person's or you can prevent dementia by gulping down gallons of red wine. Unfortunately these quick fixes just aren't true.

'Another typical myth is that we only use 10 per cent of our brains. Logically that means we can afford to lose the other 90 per cent, but if that was true people who suffer a stroke or head injury wouldn't have any problems. We send teachers on courses to find out how to teach preposterous exercises to children based on flim-flam evidence at a cost of thousands of pounds.

'A lot of these myths take a little bit of science to the extreme, so that the logic disappears. Sometimes this happens in good faith, sometimes it's for fun, and sometimes it's because people make money. Neuroscience has become a popular way for people to make wild irrational claims, and I'm looking to have a go back at these lies.'

Have any of you ever tried silly things to make yourself smarter? Back when I was a Christian I certainly tried praying, but I've noticed the reverse effect. When I prayed in High School, I graduated with a terrible GPA; now that I'm in college and I have never once prayed for assistance, I'm in one of the highest ranked Logistics programs in the country and frequently breezing by my classes. Turns out that studying does a lot more for me than praying!

Kentucky Protected By God.

Sometimes it is just agony to read the news. It is so bad that my wall has filed a complaint about the constant banging it receives every time I open a newspaper. It's embarrassing enough to be an American, but I'm utterly ashamed that I live within driving distance of this pitiful place called "Kentucky". I say this because, since 2006, the state of Kentucky has listed "Almighty God" as their ultimate defense against terrorism.

No, really. I'm not joking. Screw the Department of Homeland Security, we got an invisible man to protect us!

Under state law, God is Kentucky's first line of defense against terrorism.

The 2006 law organizing the state Office of Homeland Security lists its initial duty as "stressing the dependence on Almighty God as being vital to the security of the Commonwealth."

Specifically, Homeland Security is ordered to publicize God's benevolent protection in its reports, and it must post a plaque at the entrance to the state Emergency Operations Center with an 88-word statement that begins, "The safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God."

State Rep. Tom Riner, a Southern Baptist minister, tucked the God provision into Homeland Security legislation as a floor amendment that lawmakers overwhelmingly approved two years ago.

As amended, Homeland Security's religious duties now come before all else, including its distribution of millions of dollars in federal grants and its analysis of possible threats.

The time and energy spent crediting God are appropriate, said Riner, D-Louisville, in an interview this week.

"This is recognition that government alone cannot guarantee the perfect safety of the people of Kentucky," Riner said. "Government itself, apart from God, cannot close the security gap. The job is too big for government."

Nonetheless, it is government that operates the Office of Homeland Security in Frankfort, with a budget this year of about $28 million, mostly federal funds. And some administrations are more religious than others.

I'm pretty sure my wall just put in its two week notice. "This is NOT what I signed up for!"

Overheard at the Restaurant.

I'm walking by a server who notices one of their guests is standing by the bar away from their date.

Server: Excuse me ma'am, is everything ok? Would like me to bring you another glass of wine?
Lady, looking back at her date: Yeah, might as well, especially if I have to fuck that one tonight.

Violence Against Women in the Middle East.

Acid attacks and wife burnings are common in parts of Asia because the victims are the most voiceless in these societies. Naeema Azar, above, was attacked by her husband after they divorced. Her 12-year-old son, Ahmed Shah, looks after her.

There is only one kind of cure for this culture--put a bullet between every man's eyes. This is disgusting. I can't believe Americans are spending millions of dollars fighting to restrict other Americans from equal marriage benefits when absolute terror like this occurs in other countries. How many women could be saved if our country sent its efforts towards this instead of fighting over gay marriage? This is an all-hands-on-deck kind of story, and as blessed as we are here in America, we need to stop our stupid quarreling and work to make a real change in the world.

This month in Afghanistan, men on motorcycles threw acid on a group of girls who dared to attend school. One of the girls, a 17-year-old named Shamsia, told reporters from her hospital bed: “I will go to my school even if they kill me. My message for the enemies is that if they do this 100 times, I am still going to continue my studies.”

When I met Naeema Azar, a Pakistani woman who had once been an attractive, self-confident real estate agent, she was wearing a black cloak that enveloped her head and face. Then she removed the covering, and I flinched.

Acid had burned away her left ear and most of her right ear. It had blinded her and burned away her eyelids and most of her face, leaving just bone.

Six skin grafts with flesh from her leg have helped, but she still cannot close her eyes or her mouth; she will not eat in front of others because it is too humiliating to have food slip out as she chews.

“Look at Naeema, she has lost her eyes,” sighed Shahnaz Bukhari, a Pakistani activist who founded an organization to help such women, and who was beginning to tear up. “She makes me cry every time she comes in front of me.”

Ms. Azar had earned a good income and was supporting her three small children when she decided to divorce her husband, Azar Jamsheed, a fruit seller who rarely brought money home. He agreed to end the (arranged) marriage because he had his eye on another woman.

After the divorce was final, Mr. Jamsheed came to say goodbye to the children, and then pulled out a bottle and poured acid on his wife’s face, according to her account and that of their son.

“I screamed,” Ms. Azar recalled. “The flesh of my cheeks was falling off. The bones on my face were showing, and all of my skin was falling off.”

Neighbors came running, as smoke rose from her burning flesh and she ran about blindly, crashing into walls. Mr. Jamsheed was never arrested, and he has since disappeared. (I couldn’t reach him for his side of the story.)

[snip]

Acid attacks and wife burnings are common in parts of Asia because the victims are the most voiceless in these societies: they are poor and female. The first step is simply for the world to take note, to give voice to these women.

Since 1994, Ms. Bukhari has documented 7,800 cases of women who were deliberately burned, scalded or subjected to acid attacks, just in the Islamabad area. In only 2 percent of those cases was anyone convicted.

For the last two years, Senators Joe Biden and Richard Lugar have co-sponsored an International Violence Against Women Act, which would adopt a range of measures to spotlight such brutality and nudge foreign governments to pay heed to it. Let’s hope that with Mr. Biden’s new influence the bill will pass in the next Congress.

Disgusting. I have no compassion nor tolerance for a culture where men behave like this--I say kill every last man. They're absolute trash. And the only thing to do with trash is to dispose of it.

(Thank you Anna for the link.)

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Ministry of Harbor House.

I literally said it. "What, I thought every family had strangers living in their house?"

It was the summer of 2003. A month prior my family had found out that I was gay, and their response was an ultimatum: either repent and become an ex-gay, or get out of the house, and I chose the latter.

With that one bold declaration I started a new life. One night I had Christian friends and a church family to support and love me; the next morning I stood with just one friend by my side. It was strange, bizarre, surreal; I was 18 years old and suddenly this new life brought many grand realizations--one being that, no, not every family allows foreigners who don't speak much English to live in the extra rooms of their house.

My mother called it "Harbor House", and it was a ministry of hers to introduce international students to what an American family is actually like. Her interest was to share with them the love of Christ; her benefit was that it paid the mortgage. They would eat breakfast with us, check in to make sure my sister and I were doing our studies and even came to family functions with us. We celebrated their birthdays as if they were just part of the family. We took them grocery shopping as if we were all brothers and sisters. My mother even wrote "Harbor Lights", a Harbor House newsletter welcoming the new students, printing up the weekly dinner menus and discussing house news. It was like an international dorm, and it was what we called home.

It'd be an understatement to say the array of people who came through that house were unique. Who could forget Joseph Arbiza, the Ecuadorian house painter who eventually ended up joining a cult? Or what about Zhui-Ping, the Chinese man whose name sounded like "Sweeping"? I'll always remember Mercedes, my Hungarian roommate-slash-science teacher during the years I was home-schooled. And of course there was Hiroko, the daughter of a Japanese Executive at Fuji Film who could outspend the GDP of Finland. The most traumatizing Harbor Housemate may have been Grace, the older African lady who was convinced I was possessed by demons and literally tried washing the little devils off of me...

I can remember great Thanksgiving feasts with food from all over the world. The day when Dawn, the architect from Guyana, became a US citizen is one of my proudest memories in The United States. My all-time favorite memory involves Nadagjeay, the student from Nigeria with the complicated name (we just started calling her "Nadi"). When Nadi was leaving after living with us for six months, the whole Harbor House Family got together to say goodbye. Just as Nadagjeay was getting into her car, my mother blurted out, "Wait, before you go--how do you say your name?!". It may or may not have been the most hilarious thing to say to someone you just lived with for half a year.

Altogether my sister and I probably lived with 30 different people during our lifetime. And this was normal. This was typical. This was usual. Or so I thought.

It was only about a month after moving out of my parents' home that I came to the realization that this was not normal. But, looking back, it certainly provided a strange initiation into other people's culture. And, if nothing else, at least I have bizarre bragging rights! I mean, how many children do you know that grew up eating Russian pancakes for breakfast, Hungarian Goulash for lunch and barbecued Japanese eel for dinner?

A Fire Sale!!!


In honor of Black Friday.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Traffic Lights.

All your life you've seen the same damned traffic lights. Pretty much since they were invented they've remained the same design here in the US. They're yellow and boring. In this future-driven society, isn't it about time for an update? Isn't it time for a change you can believe in?

Presenting...the square traffic light!


Additional section also needs to be modified. Now drivers see green light when they are allowed to make the turn, but no light at all if they have to wait. There should be some symbol to display, to show the turn is not allowed (using two color diodes)

How cool is that? I say bring them on. (Except for the fact that our country is so broke they can't even afford to fix bridges. Or, really anything.)




(Via Luxofor)

Oh, This is BRILLIANT!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

House Prices Rise in Des Moines.

The end of the housing crisis? Hardly. But this is still good news for Des Moines.
The Des Moines metropolitan area was one of 28 areas nationwide to see its median home sale prices climb in the third quarter, squeaking 1 percent higher to $155,400, a National Association of Realtors report showed on Tuesday.

Median sale prices fell in Cedar Rapids, Council Bluffs-Omaha, Davenport, and Waterloo-Cedar Falls. In all, 120 metro areas nationwide saw price declines. Four had no change.The report also showed that sales of Iowa's existing homes for the third quarter fell 16 percent, more than double the national decline.

Iowa's sharp sales drop has some real estate leaders wondering whether the Iowa housing market has hit bottom.

"We're at a turning point in a number of markets," said Paul Bishop, the association's research managing director. "There are a lot of uncertainties in the economy, but it looks like we could be along the bottom."

Nationwide, home sales fell 7.7 percent to 5.04 million, with declines in 32 states.
Well go Des Moines! At least some cities are doing well.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Praise Thy Holy Name, Google!

Somewhere on this blog I said I should start a Google church. Turns out, it's already happened.

Is Google God? Here are just three of many proofs that Google is in fact, God.

» PROOF #1

Google is the closest thing to an Omniscient (all-knowing) entity in existence, which can be scientifically verified. She indexes over 9.5 billion WebPages, which is more than any other search engine on the web today. Not only is Google the closest known entity to being Omniscient, but She also sorts through this vast amount of knowledge using Her patented PageRank technology, organizing said data and making it easily accessible to us mere mortals.

» PROOF #2

Google is everywhere at once (Omnipresent). Google is virtually everywhere on earth at the same time. Billions of indexed WebPages hosted from every corner of the earth. With the proliferation of Wi-Fi networks, one will eventually be able to access Google from anywhere on earth, truly making Her an omnipresent entity.

» PROOF #3

Google answers prayers. One can pray to Google by doing a search for whatever question or problem is plaguing them. As an example, you can quickly find information on alternative cancer treatments, ways to improve your health, new and innovative medical discoveries and generally anything that resembles a typical prayer. Ask Google and She will show you the way, but showing you is all She can do, for you must help yourself from that point on.
I guess I'll have to switch to, "Google damnit!" and "Oh, Google!" and "Google Bless you!". I'm ok with that, I'll support it. Praise Google! At least she's done more for me than Jesus ever did.

America's Best Cities for Cyclists.

I've previously commented on this site that I hate city lists. It just seems like certain magazines throw together a trite method to rank cities for unquantifiable things mainly just to get site traffic to click on their ads. (See: Forbes Magazine). However, Bicycle Monthly has announced their annual "best cities for bikers", and I think something like this is a bit more exciting than say, "best city to not have to wait too long in line for a sandwich". Instead of simply ranking cities by number of doctors offices, this article reviews national policy and how it affects bikers.

Columbus was ranked as the best future cities for bikers. The biking community is growing here, and our green mayor, Michael Coleman, is certainly working to expand bike and pedestrian transportation. Especially considering projects like The Scioto Mile, things are looking good for Columbus. Ever since I have lived here I have noticed more and more bikers on the road, as well as improvements along our bike paths. With everything being so close together, I think Columbus is one of the best cities in America to live/walk/bike in.

Minneapolis was ranked as the second highest percentage of people who commute to work by bike and a runner-up for most improved. (Portland, Oregon took the number one spot with 3.5% of their work force commuting by bike.) Minneapolis has an incredible system called The Greenway, which is set up like a highway for bikes. Although I haven't spent much time on it, my friend Lindsey has and she swears by it.

The cities named the best for bikers were Portland, Seattle, Chicago, San Franisco and Boulder. Among the most improved were Boston, New York and Washington D.C.. Across the board there has never been a better time to be a biker!

Major, MAJOR Fail!

Efficiency.



Well that's one way to take a big load.

Time to Axe Daylight Savings Time.

Doctor David Levinson, Professor of Civil Engineering at University of Minnesota, has been studying the effects of daylight's savings time on transportation systems. When I met with him over the summer, he brought me to his computer lab and showed me some of the computer applications where he studies whether daylight savings kills people or not. If you're into technical journals, his publication on the issue can be read here. In the end, Daylight Savings Time does more damage than good.

And with this information comes the call for Barack Obama to try axing the tradition of Daylight Savings altogether. Originally implemented as an energy conservation policy back in World War I, the act has shown to not conserve energy, but tedious and even increase the rate of traffic fatalities. By reducing the hours of sleep for drivers in the spring, think of the countrywide impacts--304 million Americans all with an hour less of sleep. While on the local level it seems like a negligible argument, on the aggregate scale it is worth considering.

What do you think? Should we get rid of Daylight Savings Time? Here is one opinion. I'm not sure what Dr. Levinson would have to say about this, though.


Obama Win Causes Supporters To Realize Just How Empty Their Lives Are.

For anyone who knows Troy Gray, this is for him. ;-)


Obama Win Causes Obsessive Supporters To Realize How Empty Their Lives Are

Today's Photo Tour.

Guess where today's photos come from? Yeah, I know. You're getting sick of Minneapolis. Get over it! :-P

These photos come from Greg Benz. He is incredibly talented! Check out his site for photos from not only Minneapolis but from around the world. You can even buy prints if you'd like! (They're really that good). This first photo seems appropriate--Minneapolis in the morning. (Even though it's almost 2 in the morning for me. Hmph).



Here is an incredible shot of the interior of the central downtown library, designed by world famous architect Cesar Pelli. You may be familiar with his work on the one of the tallest structures in the world, Kuala Lumpur's Petronas Towers, Bank of America's world headquarters in Charlotte, the Key Bank building in Cleveland, The World Financial Center in New York, The Cleveland Clinic, The Schuster Center in Dayton, the Cira Center in Philidelphia, The Wells Fargo building in Minneapolis, The Aronoff Center in Cincinnati...the list is endless. I have no idea how this one man has seemed to design so many incredible buildings throughout the world. The man is everywhere.


Next is a photo of the incredible Walker Arts Center. I visited it for the first time on my last visit and without question it is the finest art museum I have ever been to. Absolutely stunning.



According to Greg, Red Bull installed these on the Stone Arch Bridge for about a month over the summer. Regardless, it provides a beautiful photo of downtown in Minneapolis.
I've been strolling through his blog for hours. It's addicting. But, here is one last photo. One that makes me smile. A lot.

The Place to Be in Cincinnati.

I swear real updates will come...but until then, here is a fun video of development in Cincinnati!


Revitalizing Over-the-Rhine from Soapboxmedia.com on Vimeo.

Lay Off The Sauce!

Count down with me.

In light of the horrible economic crisis we're in, I give it any day til George W. Bush says, "Ahhh, screw it. The country's fucked and I'm not President for much longer. No more of this sobriety crap--GIVE ME THE BOTTLE!"

Three....two....one...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Further Procrastination.

I want to be in New York. I want to be riding my bike. I want to be singing at the top of my lungs. I want to be reading a book. I want to be sleeping. I want to be playing piano. I want to be dancing in a night club. I want to be watching football. I want to be eating pizza. I want to be running. I want to be at the theatre. I want to be counting leaves on the ground. I want to be drinking a glass of wine. I want to be riding the train. I want to be driving on the interstate. I want to be counting to 12,462. I want to be watching paint dry.

Anything but writing this damned paper. (The one I'm not working on because I just wrote this)

Fearless.

"When I became convinced that the universe is natural, that all the ghosts and gods are myths, there entered into my brain, into my soul, into every drop of my blood the sense, the feeling, the joy of freedom. The walls of my prison crumbled and fell. The dungeon was flooded with light and all the bolts and bars and manacles became dust. I was no longer a servant, a serf, or a slave. There was for me no master in all the wide world, not even in infinite space. I was free--free to think, to express my thoughts--free to live my own ideal, free to live for myself and those I loved, free to use all my faculties, all my senses, free to spread imagination's wings, free to investigate, to guess and dream and hope, free to judge and determine for myself . . . I was free! I stood erect and fearlessly, joyously faced all worlds."

--Robert G. Ingersoll

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Update.

Sorry for the lack of updates, it's Michigan Week. And also every Professor has us turning in our projects before Thanksgiving, so I've been gearing up for that. I should be back soon enough. :-)

Oh, and one more thing.....GOOOOO BUCKS!!!!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Touch of Honesty.

Canadian City Planner Linda Allen has a dirty secret. Everyday she works to advocate more transit use, cycling instead of driving and every other effort to support sustainability. Her secret? She loves to drive.

Almost daily, I promote smart growth - alternative transportation choices, reduced greenhouse gases, increased housing densities.

It's my business to help Canadians understand and adapt to a future that is different from the past. I am a 21st-century city planner.

Along with fellow futurists, I advocate less vehicle travel, more cycling and transit use, smaller cars and sensible energy consumption. The terms "eco-density," "high-occupancy vehicles" and "environmental footprint" are common currency.

By day I'm committed to radical societal change. But my lifestyle is suspect because I really like to drive. Mostly by myself. Pedal to the metal. Wide-open spaces. No boundaries. Zoom, zoom, zoom.

It doesn't matter whether the vehicle is turbocharged, comes with a GPS or has leather seats. It just needs to be peppy and have a tight turning radius. It's about the essential pleasure of driving, regardless of make, model or colour.

I understand the disconnect between the extravagant past and our frugal future. My lifestyle is unsustainable and I need to change my patterns. But I subtly resist the shift. Perhaps it's the curse of the baby boomers. For our generation, driving has been a lifelong love affair, one that isn't easily surrendered.

My formative years were spent cruising small-town Ontario on sweltering summer nights in my mother's flashy turquoise convertible. A few years later, I was circumnavigating North America in a Volkswagen "shagging wagon."

As a responsible adult, driving became shuttling giggling, gossiping children to preschool, dance lessons and soccer tournaments in an all-purpose passenger van. But whenever possible it also meant navigating 16-lane California highways. Zipping through European roundabouts. Pushing through Albertan blizzards. Always plotting the next trip, whether 200 or 2,000 kilometres.

In my planning classes I've always found this hilarious. I cram into a room of 60 students, learn about the importance of reducing our carbon footprint and living green, then watch as 59 other students walk out of the class, across the street...to a parking lot. Although funny, it's concerning that even those who are well-educated in the perils of the oil crisis, the coming effects of global warming, the horrors of car-living and suburban sprawl still cannot give up their cars.

One Ugly House.



Wow, what an eyesore.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Brad Pitt on Transportation.

Brad Pitt will be narrating a PBS episode of "e2", a series devoted to educating its viewers on ways to improve our world and our environment. The topic? Transportation. It will debut online on November 24th.

Here's a quick preview.



Bike sharing seems like a fantastic idea, but here in the US? Please. Americans complain about having to pay a gas tax, I can't imagine the whining that would ensue if they'd have to--gasp!--pay for someone not to drive. It yet again reminds me of how far ahead the rest of the world is compared to us in The United States (...sigh...)

Also, for more great videos from e2 about sustainability, click here.

Logistics Fail!

Inauguration Plans.

Barack Obama's Inauguration Address is going to be one of the largest events to ever hit Washington D.C.. They're expecting at least 4 Million people to arrive. And, since I have a car of my own and place to stay, you know I'm already planning my road trip!
The question arises: Can the city handle it? Can millions of people fit downtown?

Or, could there be another Meltdown of '76?

That year, a million spectators were expected on the Mall to celebrate the Bicentennial. Transit officials urged people to take public transportation and promised special service. But there was nothing special about the Fourth of July traffic jam, which stranded cars and buses for hours.

District and federal officials blamed a flawed and smaller mass transit system for the 1976 embarrassment. They expressed confidence that they can handle this January's events. At the same time, they know that Inauguration Day 2009 will be one of a kind.


Now, as a huge Logistics dork, I'm curious how this is going to pan out. Washington D.C. as it is has horrible traffic congestion. But with 4 million more people in the city? This is like nothing they have ever seen before. For the annual July 4th celebration about 1 Million people come out and it's usually chaos. But 4 million? Expect hell.

Pimp My Ride.

New Skyscraper in Minneapolis?

The Nicollet on the Mall. It would be one of the tallest skyscraper in Minneapolis. Mixed-use with residential, commercial and retail space. It would be in the heart of the city, center of the city, middle of everything. Only question is...is it actually coming?



From my understanding, ground has not been broken for it. Also, on the skyscraper's website, there hasn't been a "news" update in nearly two years--same thing for the blog. So I e-mailed the sales associate and I'll hopefully find out the info. But until then, enjoy their website! :-)



*UPDATE* So I heard back from the Sales associate. The Nicollet is going through a redesign and it should break ground in 2010. Considering the market, 2013 is a reasonably expectation for this skyscraper.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Baghdad To Build Subway.

Oh, I wish I hadn't seen this article. I really wish I hadn't.

BAGHDAD – Iraq plans to build a subway in Baghdad to help cut pollution and ease traffic on the city's chronically clogged streets.

Baghdad Mayor Sabir al-Issawi said in statement released Monday that Iraq's Cabinet has earmarked $3 billion for the project.

The subway is the first in Baghdad and will have two lines.

One would run 11 miles from Shiite-dominated Sadr City in the east to the predominantly Sunni neighborhood of Azamiyah in northern Baghdad.

The second line would be cover 13 miles and link the mixed neighborhoods of central Baghdad to the primarily Sunni western suburbs. Both lines will have 20 stations.

Al-Issawi did not provide a timeline for the project.

Explain to me why we invade a country, spend over $1 Trillion on an unnecessary war, rebuild their Government and now we have to watch them introduce subways into their cities?! Here in The United States, the Chicago El routinely has trains derail, Cleveland's Rapid is thirsting for people to ride it, commuter trains crash in LA, Minneapolis has to fight to get a second light rail line approved, Columbus won't even let a $100 million Streetcar be built...and yet Baghdad can pull it off. BAGHDAD! The city that years ago was in utter turmoil, the city that today still has frequent bombings and mass-murder in the streets, the city that has thousands of troops planted there just to maintain the peace, the city that for quite some time didn't even have running watter. THEY can pull it off yet America can't?

*bangs head against wall*

I'm moving to Canada.

Bike Rant.

I bike about 50 miles a week and I'll be the first to say I don't always obey every law. Just like drivers who break the speed limit, there are some bike laws that I simply can't always follow. For example, some stop signs really just means "slow". I'm so sorry, but I will not come to a complete stop while I'm biking through campus at 1 in the morning. It literally is a pain in the ass.

However, the flagrant stupidity I saw the other day was absolutely appalling. It was 10:30 at night and a biker was going the wrong way on a busy one-way street, with no front or rear lights, wearing all dark clothes, no helmet...and she was text messaging. It's one thing to ignore a rule, but it's another thing to actively ask to be killed. Text messaging on a bike? While going the wrong way on a one-way? While biking with no front or rear lights? While wearing all dark?

Missy, if you're reading this--you are an idiot!

The Third Rush Hour.

Tyson's Corner, Virginia is what planners call an "edge city". An edge city is defined as having 465,000 square feet of office space, 600,000 sq. ft. of retail space and consists of more jobs than bedrooms. It's basically like a glorified office park with a big mall. I'm an avid critic of these concepts as they only promote auto-dependency, stress on the environment and in no way can complement a high-quality of life. The residents who do live there are bothered by incessant traffic during the day and nothing to do at night. The people who work there spend around one-to-two hours a day commuting to a sea of parking spaces and an office life void of character. It's really terrible.

So it's no surprise that a recent study informs that traffic is so congested in Tyson's Corner that there is now a third rush hour--when lunch time hits.

Having so many of the approximately 115,000 Tysons workers on the road, often driving less than a mile to grab a sandwich, is complicating construction plans for a Metrorail extension and Capital Beltway toll lanes that will rip up the streets around the area. An analysis of traffic counts shows more than 23,000 vehicles on the major Tysons thoroughfares, routes 7 and 123, between 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., surpassing the morning rush by 24 percent.

Things are so bad that traffic planners are introducing a lunchtime shuttle to try to get some of the vehicles off the road.

A lunchtime shuttle? Props to the planners for introducing a solution, but this problem shouldn't even exist in the first place. It's amazing how one can go to London, which is one of the world's largest metropolitans, and yet experience no problem like this whatsoever. You can thank General Motors and our policy makers of the 1950s for willfully destroying many public transportation systems throughout the country and thus putting us into the car-dependent society we live in. Today, as GM is asking for a multi-billion dollar bailout, I'm desperately hoping they don't get a cent from the Government.

Mirror Lake Jump-In.

If you don't know it, Ohio State Buckeyes are crazy. I can't give the explanation for it, but we're renowned as the rowdiest sports fans and nothing exemplifies this more than the OSU versus Michigan game. Couches are set on fire, bars are jam-packed with drunkies and tail-gaters line the stadium for what seems like miles.

However, a tradition sprung up many years ago, and that was Mirror Lake Jump-In. On the Thursday before the game, in the middle of 20 degree weather, die-hard Buckeyes strip off their clothes and dive into our calm and tranquil Mirror Lake in an attempt to send good fortune towards our OSU Buckeyes.



So we jump, get frozen and make a fool of ourselves. But boy is it fun. I just have some tips that I'd like to share. They're from the OSU Student Wellness Center and I'm glad I reviewed them before taking the plunge on Thursday.

Alcohol significantly affects judgment and reaction. Not all students choose to drink before the event, and that is a decision that should be respected. The more you have to drink, the greater the chances that you will:

  • Injure yourself (last year about 25 students were treated at the emergency department for cuts, sprains and other injuries)
  • Magnify the shock effect of cold water (alcohol is not antifreeze, it actually increases the shock to your body).
  • Lose valuables, such as cell phones and room keys ($100 cost to replace your residence hall room key).
  • Become a victim of sexual violence

Mirror Lake is cold and dirty and the depth varies greatly from one end to the other:

  • Never enter head-first
  • Never push others into the lake
  • Wear shoes
  • Get out quickly and dry off-your body will quickly lose temperature and you could develop hypothermia (signs are shivering, slurred speech, fatigue, cold pale skin, abnormally slow breathing)
  • Cuts are likely to become infected from the bacteria in the water

Other tips

  • Use the buddy system to make sure everyone gets home safely
  • Ask a "designated dry person" to hold your valuables if you plan to go in the water
  • Obey police orders
  • Be careful walking or driving
  • Seek medical care if you are hurt or show signs of hyperthermia
And now that the safety issues have been taken care of, here's a video of the tradition. Enjoy. (And be grateful you're not as crazy as we are).

Obama Picks Bill Ayers as Secretary of Defense!

Ok, so the headline is funnier than the actual piece, but I still got a chuckle out of it. :-)

All in the Family.

Woman waiting for coffee: You know my sister is a Playboy model?
Friend: (blank stare)
Woman waiting for coffee: Yeah! She sends me the pictures. I mean, she’s beautiful but I don’t wanna see that. And my brother, HE looks at those!
Friend: (blank stare)

(Via Overheard in Minneapolis)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Yes. I'd Like to Start Living Like The Mad Ones.

"The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars..."
~Jack Kerouac

Giant Octupus Eats Minnesota!

It's like a headline from Weekly World News!



(Via Pharyngula)

California High-Speed Rail.



This would be the first of its kind in America. Now, not to squash any hopes here, but look at High-Speed Rail in Europe. It's far superior.


Click Image to Enlage.

One day I'd love to see America like this. Is it likely? Probably not. But it still can't hurt to hope.

(Via Trains for America and Changing World)

Grandma on a Bike

This is just so cute!

Protest The H8.

This Saturday, all over the nation, in every major city in America, there will be a protest held against the passing of Proposition 8. This is your chance to stand publicly amongst your community (even if you're not gay! You support us, you're family!). This is your time to tell Ohio that you are not ok with an entire class of Americans standing as separate and still not equal. This is an incredible time to be gay in America.

I encouraged everyone in the Columbus region to come to City Hall on Saturday at 1:30 to protest. The address is 90 West Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215. The permit has been approved and the rally is set to go.

Similar protests will be going on in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Dayton and Youngstown. If you're not in Ohio, click the very first link in this post and find where your city is protesting.

Remember all those ads saying, "Psst! Do Something."? Here's your chance.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Deadliest Conflict.

6,000,000. That's nearly the number of people who have died in the Democratic Republic of Congo (or just "Congo").

Think about that number for a moment. If you had a penny for every person in Congo that has been murdered, you'd have over half-a-million dollars. If you had a book, just a regular sized paperback, for every person murdered, you could fill 10 downtown Columbus libraries. If you had a beer bottle for every person killed in the Congo, you could fill Ohio Stadium's bleachers to the point where there would be no Scarlet or Gray left.

6,000,000. Each one of those numbers is a life lost, and a life lost in the most brutal, horrific, terrifying way possible. 75% of surviving women in some of the eastern provinces of Congo have been raped. The women who have not been killed have often been kidnapped and forced to be sexual slaves for the soldiers. Millions of children are without parents and are on the brink of death from starvation, malaria, AIDS, malnutrition and of course the rampant, incessant gang-violence and murders that are happening in the republic.

45,000 deaths per month, half of them small children. 5.4 million killed as of January 2008; that number any day will strike 6 million.

6,000,000. What gets to me most about this is that our two Presidential nominees said time and time again, "We can never let another Holocaust happen", yet it is happening right now. In some way, it's looking to be worse. We are in the midst of the deadliest conflict since World War II, and no one is doing a thing to stop it. No one. Not the United States, not Canada, not even the fucking United Nations. The world has lost nearly 6 million people, equivalent to the size of Denmark, and no one cares. No one cares at all.

I have two immediate reactions. First, I think of every stupid American who walks around complaining about the most asinine things. "I ordered my Filet Mignon MEDIUM-RARE and what happens? IT COMES OUT MEDIUM!!!" Or, "Are you kidding me? Starbucks is OUT OF PUMPKIN SPICE SYRUP?! My drink is going to be free, and it will be free until I get what I want." I hear the whines and cries of every American--yes, me included--ranging from "my life sucks" to "my feet hurt" to "I'm so bored" to "I'm tired" to "no one loves me" to "I'm broke" and yet I look around me and I've still not had to witness a murder break out in my neighborhood. I haven't watched a women getting raped in the streets. I haven't started stacking children's dead bodies because there is no place to put them. We live in a country of such golden opportunity, and yet so many of us waste it away. What would those 6,000,000 people have given to be alive right now? What would they have given for just a single day in America? What would they have given for just the simple luxuries we forget about everyday--clean water, air conditioning, ice cream? I can imagine any single one of the 6,000,000 willing to work everyday for the rest of their life just to be in America. We are so ungrateful to the beauties of security.

The second thing that comes to mind is the fact that Christians throughout the country have spent millions and millions of dollars and hours on removing gay rights, yet what have they done to stop this nefarious evil? Wouldn't God rather see Christians working to save lives in countries that have been decimated by the most agonizing form of terror in the world?

Californians spent $75 million Prop 8. Couldn't that money have saved thousands of lives in Congo? Apparently it is more convenient to tear apart communities and take away rights than to save lives and possibly change the world. Apparently that is too much for Christ and his followers.

Christ isn't in the business of helping people; he's in the business of marginalizing communities and building fences up between people. Christ isn't about loving one another; he's about arguing over laws until people hate each other so much they won't even speak to one another. Christ isn't about making the world a better place; he's about taking happy people who are in love and doing everything to ensure they fail. This is the message that Prop 8 sent. Christians had the moment to rewrite their own story--they could have taken that money and worked to save the lives of those in need. Instead, they used it to destroy people's homes, crumple and spit on the image of The Cross, and forever keep people away from the so-called love of Christ. You "saved" marriage, but you stand with blood on your hands. I hope your fucking God is proud.

But back to Congo. As thousands die every single day--literally thousands--what are we to do? I'm alone in this. There is nothing I can do. Someone will do something. This is what every single one of you--and me included--has been saying for the past ten years. We have all been crying out to help save Congo, yet nothing has been accomplished. Are we going to keep turning a blind eye to this? Are we going to keep pretending like everything in the world is perfect? Are we going to continue to drink our lattes and live with shutters on our eyes?

Unfortunately, I believe the answer is yes.

More Uselss Google Apps!

You ready for this one? A country-wide flu detector.




I love Google, but I find this utterly useless. "Hey, guess what? When Decemeber comes around, people get the flu more often. Big revelation!"


But, err, thank you?

The Fat Optimist.

Today while walking through Ohio State, I saw a hefty man wearing a shirt that said the following:

"FAT PEOPLE: Hard to Kidnap."

Well that's one way to look at it. Who cares if you'll die 20 years earlier than your life expectancy, at least that large chance of kidnapping is reduced!

Good News For Franken.

For those who are following the Al Franken Senate Race, this article may give you some hope. He hasn't totally lost, and it's quite possible he may end up winning. Cross your fingers.

Do You Have Any Grey Poupon?



(Via DamnQueerFuck)

Monday, November 10, 2008

That Most Unusual Predicament.

It was his eyes—yes, it had to be. They drew me in. They captured me. They hurt me.

Have you ever noticed that our measurement of love is entirely in the loss? We sit and try to quantify this silly self-imposed emotion and it comes down to an equation of arithmetic: how long we spend together plus the good times and multiplied by the bad ones. We next factor in the special moments and begin to minimize the mundane ones. And from there, we take this number and put it up against every other fiasco we've endured with another lover, and try to compare, as if we can.

And we travel on, disillusioned, barreling effortlessly towards the exchange of the three most unoriginal words ever composed--"I love you". Have you ever realized how pathetic those words are? It's as if we've reduced ourselves to mindless boars on the hunt, and instead of searching for substance to secure our survival, we battle over the most banal, meaningless, forgetful, overused words ever to come across any human language.

But how arresting those words can be. How they can make your heart leap out of your chest. When they tickle your ears, it's like a warm sensation surrounding your body and silently cascading down your skin. Time will stop every time you hear them; and time will shatter when the words come no more. These three basic words have the power to heal, the power to embolden and even the power to destroy. There is no other feeling like it in the world.

And so I fell. Not a mere stumble but a direct and boundless dive into what I thought would be the most magnificent moment of my life. It was as if I were dancing and paid no attention to anyone else in the room. It was as if I were watching the sunrise and embraced the rays of light as they showered upon my face. I walked as if every destination was going to be next greatest encounter with the unexpected. My own smile radiated in a way that was harmfully contagious. When I woke up he was the first thing I thought of; when I went to bed I couldn't fall asleep dare I live a moment without him.

I don't remember him that well. But I remember the pain. I lied in bed for almost three days. The tears somehow felt soothing. I would find myself slamming the radio off for every song somehow brought me back to him. I disappeared from my friends. I watched three straight seasons of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer. It was not that he completed me; it was that life knew no reason outside of him. I’d often have to pull the car over for I was fighting a losing battle between driving and crying. I was an abysmal, pathetic mess, utterly lost in this most unusual predicament called love.

He taught me how to slow-dance. He took me out to dinner. We would lie around for hours talking, staring into each other's eyes. We would walk through the park singing, holding hands. When we would gather with friends the energy would spread rampantly throughout the room. When it was just the two of us, I could feel the Earth slowing down just to give us a few extra minutes before the sun would set.

And yet today all I long for is the pain. I have to pause to think of his last name. I have no idea what he is even doing anymore. But yet that damned pain remains. After all these years the indelible agony still lingers over me reminding me of what I once had—not necessarily what I had shared with him, but what I had allowed myself to experience.

Sometimes I wonder what I would be like if I still lived today so free from inhibitions. I am so far removed from loving another that when I say goodbye to someone, it’s almost as if they were never there in the first place. I live with no concern but for my own. And yet sorrow over an ordinary love affair clings to me stronger than almost any other memory in my vast repertoire of experiences.

His eyes. Oh, it was his eyes for certain. I yearn for the time when eyes alone could love me, mold me, complete me…and destroy me. I yearn for just one more time when I would allow myself that most unusual predicament called love. Just one more time.

Vancouver's Newest Neighborhood.


Vancouver is dense; really dense. So much it's eclipsed Manhattan as the densest residential area of North America. Really clinging to the Jane Jacobs idea of a mixed-use 24-hour city, downtown Vancouver has transformed itself in an exemplary city of mixed demographics, an affluent arts capital, a city to conduct business in and also a place to live, work, eat and play.

An interesting proposal is coming to the city that seems to balance Urban life so well--residential units in a stadium.

Vancouver has never seen a neighbourhood like this. While the city has managed to balance residential and entertainment land uses in areas such as Robson and Davie streets, Vancouver city planning director Brent Toderian says that the future housing development at B.C. Place Stadium will break new ground in redefining livability.

Some 1,200 residential units are expected to rise at the stadium’s site at the northeast end of False Creek, a district that Toderian noted will become an entertainment, sports, and cultural centre. At present, this area houses GM Place, the Edgewater Casino, and the Plaza of Nations, which will soon be the new home of the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Noise, traffic, and lack of community amenities are some of the challenges future residents will face. Obviously, these housing units aren’t for everyone.

I'm single. I like noise. I like Urban life. But I'm not too sure if I'd willfully sign up to live in place where nearly 100,000 people show up on my lawn once a week.


(This photo includes B.C. Stadium's Upcoming Retractable Roof)