Friday, October 31, 2008
Something about the couple seems...odd.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Rising frustration over Santa Monica's congestion has led a group of citizens to qualify a ballot initiative for the November general election that would fight what they argue is the root of the problem: commercial development. The bill would cap the amount of commercial development allowed per year in the city at 75,000 square feet for the next 15 years. This is the equivalent of about two acres, or like building a new supermarket and a handful of fast food restaurants. This is a significant cut for a city that sees an average of 160,000 square feet of commercial development each year.
The proposal is on the Santa Monica ballot as Measure T (as in "Traffic"), but around town and throughout metropolitan L.A., the development cap is known as RIFT. The acronym is especially apt, as the proposal has caused a major divide amongst residents, officials and developers. It stands for Residents Initiative to Fight Traffic, and its authors assert that the city needs to more actively prevent traffic from getting even worse. Opponents argue that the name itself highlights the proposal's two main problems: one, it's a residents initiative, and two, it won't fight traffic.
The prospect of counteracting the city's gnarling traffic was enough to entice more than 10,000 residents' signatures, nearly double what was needed to qualify RIFT for the election. Authors of the bill say this overwhelming support underscores the need for action – action they're not seeing from local government.
"We don't believe that this commercial development serves the residents," says Ted Winterer, a co-author of RIFT and a candidate for Santa Monica City Council. "It begins to just become an engine for revenue growth." And more jobs. And more traffic.
It just makes my day when I hear Columbusites complain about traffic. "Why, I had to sit on that highway for fifteen minutes. It was insane!" While I understand city traffic always sucks, compared to the congestion in Chicago, Miami, Washington and LA, Columbus traffic is essentially non-existent. In fact, the highways here should be praised that when big events such as "Red, White and Boom" (which usually attracts 500,000 people) come, the events go off so smoothly. In my opinion, it's one of Columbus' finer attributes, its ability to orchestrate huge downtown events with stellar efficiency.
Barack Obama leads John McCain by a 52% to 36% margin in Pew’s latest nationwide survey of 1,325 registered voters. This is the fourth consecutive survey that has found support for the Republican candidate edging down. In contrast, since early October weekly Pew surveys have shown about the same number of respondents saying they back Obama. When the sample is narrowed to those most likely to vote, Obama leads by 53% to 38%.
A breakdown of voting intentions by demographic groups shows that since mid- September, McCain’s support has declined significantly across most voting blocs. Currently, McCain holds a statistically significant advantage only among white evangelical Protestants (aside from Republicans). In addition, Obama runs nearly even with McCain in the so-called red states, all of which George W. Bush won in 2004.
Just as ominous for the Republican candidate, Obama holds a 53% to 34% lead among the sizable minority of voters (15%) who say they have already voted. Among those who plan to vote early but have not yet voted (16% of voters), 56% support Obama, while 37% support McCain.
Let's just go ahead and crown Google King of Teh World.
Monday, October 27, 2008
As you may recall, I recently made a totally legit public marriage proposal to the character Ty Williamson in Sordid Lives. Well, that handsome fellow, whose name is Jason Dottley, somehow found this site and guess what--he said yes! Now, minor detail, he didn't acutally say yes to my marriage proposal, he instead said yes to his (now) husband's. Ironically, they were just married yesterday. Looks like my plee for marriage was just a day shy! But who cares?! He said yes to someone, so if he's off the market that's better than him flat out rejecting me. Success! Chris wins the day!
I love the internet. I love it so much.
The second to last time I was there a cop pulled me and said, "You must have passed a million signs saying you can't drive this way!" I remember responding, "I'm sorry, I'm not from around here." The cop then asked, "Well, where you're from, do they teach you how to read?"
He was kind enough to not give me a ticket, but even after that I've mistakenly hopped on Hennepin thinking it was ok. But there's good news! Starting next year, Hennepin Avenue will be going both ways!
By this time next year, Hennepin and 1st avenues will be morphing into two-way streets. What those streets will look like is far from settled, however.
Different layouts under consideration could have bike lanes running down the center of the road, running next to buses near the curb, or sharing left-turn space with vehicles at each intersection. Instead of two bike lanes on Hennepin, one of them could run on 1st Avenue. The streets may or may not include left-turn lanes, and some layouts could create situations where cars are backed up for blocks. Drivers aren’t getting much sympathy in the current plans — they will undoubtedly travel through Downtown at a slower pace on Hennepin and 1st. City officials say that’s welcome news for area businesses because slower traffic will boost their visibility.
One major focus for the project is the bicyclists that have adopted Hennepin Avenue as a cycling highway — 500–1,000 cyclists travel down Hennepin in a single day, and bike traffic in the city has increased at least 30 percent in the past year alone.
City planners have already ruled out many layout options for Hennepin and 1st, largely because of the streets’ limited space. The curbs will remain intact in order to conserve the sidewalk space and keep the project on track for completion by early 2010. Here are the remaining options on the table for Hennepin and 1st. To send in feedback, visit [this site here].
Well, score! Next time I mistakenly drive down Hennepin Avenue, at least it will be legal!
[Writing in the New Yorker] "To put them in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. “Can I interest you in the chicken?” she asks. “Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it?”
"To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked."
To celebrate my 303rd post, Nick over at FiveThirtyEight messed with all of his statistics to put John McCain at a win percentage of 3.3%! (Ok, that's not true at all, but who cares?)
So for post #303 and McCain at 3.3%, I'm celebrating Sesame Street style! This post has been brought to you by the number 3!
Makes you really appreciate our great parks here in Columbus. If you haven't checked them out, all the info for the parks in the Columbus metropolitan can be found here. My personal favorite is Sharon Woods, but they're all great. Take advantage of them!
The Grove, the Americana’s spiritual antecedent, is the most prominent, and successful, 21st-century attempt of the private sector to fill the void of public life in Los Angeles. Its critics, like those of Disney before it, dismiss the Grove as a manufactured universe free of the gruff realities of urban life. Yet the Grove attracts more people than even Disneyland, while the withered Pan Pacific Park, right next door, offering all the opportunities one could want for “real” public interaction, is barely used.
The Grove is safe and clean because, as a private development, it has control over who and what to allow. Unlike a public park, the Grove can legally toss the overtly political, the intoxicated or the indigent out — eliminating the fringe and ensuring a beigist medium for safe social and commercial interaction among the majority.
Though critics continue to spew impotent rage at the Grove, the space is what it is — a fancy outdoor mall. The Americana, however, while aesthetically and conceptually similar to the Grove, is a much, much different story. It is a strange and uncertain hybrid.
When Rick Caruso agreed to develop the 15.5-acre plot of city land in Glendale that would become the Americana, he assented to creating a new town center — replete with housing, retail and public space. The selling point of the project was the development of a new, 2-acre park at its center, which would be open for public use. Glendale agreed to provide the land for the entire development, free of charge, with the condition that the city would retain ownership of the park. Caruso Affiliated would be responsible for its design and maintenance.
The result is what L.A. Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne describes as “a public space masquerading as private space that is masquerading as public.”
Or, as Hemingway might have said, the park is a park is a park is an onion.
So, University of Pennsylvania just put out a study: Guaranteed Parking = Guaranteed Driving! (PDF) Who knew?
"The study (by University of Pennsylvania planning professor Rachel Weinberger), "Guaranteed Parking, Guaranteed Driving", compares parking and commuting habits in Park Slope, Brooklyn and Jackson Heights, Queens. The study finds that despite having the same car ownership and very similar access to public transit to the Central Business District, Jackson Heights residents are 45% more likely to drive to work in the Central Business District and 28% more likely to drive to work in general.
The study concludes that Jackson Heights car owners are more likely to drive to work because of guaranteed, off-street parking spots to return to at the end of the day."
I would never have guessed this! Who would have ever thought that as you build more parking lots, it encourages people to drive more? No one could have seen this coming!
If you haven't seen this show yet, starting watching. It's hilarious. Also, as a side note, I'd like make to make public my first official marriage proposal to whoever plays the gay character Theodore "Ty" Williamson. (I don't know his name, but that's not important! I can learn details like that after our wedding).
Ty, will you marry me? I'm a great cook and I play piano! I'll make your coffee for you every morning and I'll even wash your clothes. I sure suck at ironing, but for you I could learn! What other important matters are there in marriage? Oh, yeah, my name is Chris! I have curly hair and I've got wit for days! I really never was an eater, so for you I'll always stay thin, which I know is important for a STAR like you in Hollywood. We'll be perfect for each other! (Once we get over the "what's-your-name" dilemma).I'll let you guys know what he says when he gets back to me. I have high hopes! *giddily crosses fingers*
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Well according to a report by The United Nations, New York does have a few commonalities, and they're not what you'd expect--Nairobi, Kenya Abidjan and Ivory Coast.
In a survey of 120 major cities, New York was found to be the ninth most unequal in the world and Atlanta, New Orleans, Washington, and Miami had similar inequality levels to those of Nairobi, Kenya Abidjan and Ivory Coast. Many were above an internationally recognised acceptable "alert" line used to warn governments.
"High levels of inequality can lead to negative social, economic and political consequences that have a destabilising effect on societies," said the report. "[They] create social and political fractures that can develop into social unrest and insecurity."
According to the annual State of the World's cities report from UN-Habitat, race is one of the most important factors determining levels of inequality in the US and Canada.
"In western New York state nearly 40% of the black, Hispanic and mixed-race households earned less than $15,000 compared with 15% of white households. The
life expectancy of African-Americans in the US is about the same as that of people living in China and some states of India, despite the fact that the US is far richer than the other two countries," it said.
Disparities of wealth were measured on the "Gini co-efficient", an internationally recognised measure usually only applied to the wealth of countries. The higher the level, the more wealth is concentrated in the hands of fewer people.
"It is clear that social tension comes from inequality. The trickle down theory [that wealth starts with the rich] has not delivered. Inequality is not good for anybody," said Anna Tibaijuka, head of UN-Habitat, in London yesterday.
I love the jab at Reaganomics. I was raised a strong fiscal and religious conservative, so I find it amusing how over and over again the free market proves not to be what Milton Friedman promised. I love Capitalism, but not what has happened here in America.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
I can imagine the old man sitting in his rocker, face all gloomy as he was struggling with the decision he had to make. He really is that prepared to lose.
Now most Americans are also quick to forget that Amsterdam is a world tourism location, a financial headquarters, one of Europe's largest metropolitan areas and also a transportation exemplar. It's not only the most bicycle-friendly city in the world, it's also actively working to reduce CO2 emissions and become more 'green'. Lastly, when it comes to innovative transportation ideas, it just doesn't get better than this:
Oh yeah, you're seeing that right. It's a DHL boat designed specifically for the canals of Amsterdam. It works as a "Floating Distribution Center", with four workers to work on the boat and around 20 bicyclists to deliver packages. By this system, which has successfully run for over 10 years, there is less traffic congestion on the roads, it is healthier for their employees and their green goals are more easily accomplished. Plus with the cost of gas, I can't imagine that this brilliant concoction is more costly than having trucks go all over the city.
Notice how the bikes fit onto the floating distribution center itself.
Now, pardon my soap box moment, but when I hear John McCain and Sarah Palin spew out that,"America has the greatest innovators and workforce in the world", I get slightly incredulous when I see things like this. Why haven't Americans done something like this? Are there brilliant and effective transportation ideas like this in Minneapolis, Columbus, Phoenix or Memphis? Maybe I've just missed it. Please, if you've seen something like this, let me know. It doesn't have to be precisely the same thing, I just want to be reminded that Americans still can be the greatest workforce in the world.
Unfortunately, I have a feeling that, yet again, Americans were too busy watching Rock of Love and listening to Ciara to worry about the future of this nation. That's work that someone else can always do. *sigh*
(Thanks Reuben for the pictures!)
So after viewing literally hundreds of these enormous fossils at The Field Museum, I must have missed the one fossil The Creation Museum has of a perch.
The area shows evidence of several large lakes that formed after Noah's Flood.
"I lost count of how many times I read claims such as, "The evidence suggests...", yet none of the supporting evidence was shown. For example, a claim was that, "The Evidence suggests Lake Hopi was formed after The Great Flood". Yet, after searching the whole museum, there wasn't an inch of this so-called evidence, not even a reference!"
So readers, forgive me. The Creation Museum does have fossils. They're small, insignificant, and can only be found when the director takes photos and sends them to you.
Since the McCain campaign never had any morals to begin with, it comes as no surprise that they were taking voters' money and using it to doll-up Sarah Palin.
The Republican National Committee has spent more than $150,000 to clothe and accessorize vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and her family since her surprise pick by John McCain in late August.
According to financial disclosure records, the accessorizing began in early September and included bills from Saks Fifth Avenue in St. Louis and New York for a combined $49,425.74.
The records also document a couple of big-time shopping trips to Neiman Marcus in Minneapolis, including one $75,062.63 spree in early September. The RNC also spent $4,716.49 on hair and makeup through September after reporting no such costs in August.
The cash expenditures immediately raised questions among campaign finance experts about their legality under the Federal Election Commission's long-standing advisory opinions on using campaign cash to purchase items for personal use.
And this is the man who is supposed to cut spending and balance the budget? That's like saying, "Spending $100 on lunch is saving since you didn't spend it on dinner". Unless he switches from Neiman-Marcus to Payless, I doubt he doesn't even have a clue how to spell 'budget'.
But, in lieu of all of this chicanery, what makes me really proud is that the McCain spent $75,000 of their people's tax dollars...in Minneapolis! You see, in the good state of Minnesota, there is no sales tax on clothing. So after taking the voters money and spending it on important campaign matters--jackets--the campaign decided they didn't want to bother with having to pay back into the system. Why, that'd cost us even more of the tax payers money! And paying taxes is un-American! So they ran right downtown to Minneapolis, hunkered up a big shopping trolley full of clothes, and carted it back to campaign headquarters. Success!
Oh, by the way, I'm pretty sure all of that was illegal. But at least they did it in Minneapolis! For today, Sarah, you're a winner. But on November 4th it won't be what they call you!
And for a sneak peak, here is Park City, Utah! I wonder if this is where The Grinch tried to steal Christmas?
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
First off, The Creation Museum is located about 30 minutes west of Downtown Cincinatti, in a field off a small country road. Before I drove through the gates, I had to have the right intro music. I could have thrown on some loud heavy metal music, only to further the stereotype of atheists as goth baby eaters; I also could have thrown on some flaming remix of a Cher or Abba song, only to notify the security guards that a homosexual was about to infiltrate. But, instead, I searched within the crypts of my iPod and found CeCe Winans' Anybody Wanna Pray With Me?. For a museum in Kentucky, I'm sure I offended somebody.
The parking lot had hundreds of spots, but maybe 40 cars. As my friend and I parked the car, a tractor giving hay rides came chugging by us. A few kids and their grandparents rode, but that was about it. As we found our way to the entrance, no one but a perky security guard was standing out front. By his side was an adorably lazy bloodhound named Mater.
The museum itself was somewhat unsatisfying. At only 70,000 square feet, the structure could hardly be called enormous. In addition, for being The Creation Museum, I expected a big sign yelling its name; instead, there was just a small marquee above the door. It was so forgettable I didn't even take a photograph.
The entrance is completely unadorned. Unlike stepping into the Smithsonian's Natural History museum, where you are greeted by the awe-inspiring and intimidating Tusked Elephant, you walk in and there is a small concession stand selling tickets. Of course there wasn't a line. Heck, there wasn't a soul in the whole place besides us!
After buying out tickets, we went in to the small movie theatre showing "MIW: Men in White". There were about 50 seats; four were taken, two of those being my friend and I. "Men in White" starred two angels (neither who looked like Will Smith or Tommy Lee Jones) sent to counsel a girl questioning her faith. To put it kindly, the bad acting and even worse special effects came alongside an interactive theatre that violently shakes your chair, spits water in your face and blows a fan through your hair. The gimmicks coincided with the biblical stories of the creation and the flood, but instead of providing some eye-opening experience, it just made me laugh. While God was busy killing off millions of his own creations, I couldn't stop the hysteria of watching an angel wear a raincoat and having squirts of water splash onto my forehead. At one point my friend leaned over and said, "This is so bad you'd think it was a parody on The Daily Show".
We left the theatre and made way for the actual exhibit. It should be noted that The Creation Museum, unlike any respected museum, really isn't the kind that has seasonal exhibits. Instead, they only feature (for $21.95) the biblical journey of creation! It's a tour of small rooms that clearly were thrown together on a budget, each room a different theme. The exhibit progresses with little-to-no actual science, though jam-packed with plenty of wild assertions. Any philosophy major would have a heart attack over the innumerable amount of fallacies. I lost count of how many times I read claims such as, "The evidence suggests...", yet none of the supporting evidence was shown. For example, a claim was that, "The Evidence suggests Lake Hopi was formed after The Great Flood". Yet, after searching the whole museum, there wasn't an inch of this so-called evidence, not even a reference!
Another claim with no evidence was that radioisotope dating is completely unreliable because it is "hundreds and hundreds of assumptions that are based on assumptions that come from other assumptions". Of course they did not explain what radioisotope dating is, nor did they explain what these so-called assumptions were, nor did they even make a stab in the dark at it. All they said was, "It's wrong and can't be trusted".
In the entire museum, there was not a single fossil. There was a replica of one fossil, Archaeopteryx, but even that replica didn't focus on the science--instead the supporting plaques spewed out the same hackneyed conspiracy of how this was a made up fossil.
There was an entire room devoted to "same evidence, different perspectives", saying that both creationists and scientists study the same evidence, but Creationists instead come with the belief that the bible is 100% accurate, and thus they make science fit its way into that mold. Unlike scientists, who continually question everything and do everything within their will to remain objective, these Christians admittedly are perfectly fine with their bias and would rather manipulate evidence than question a text written by cavemen. So much for that pesky scientific method.
Each room was a yawn at best, carrying the silly idea of Adam and Eve coinciding with dinosaurs, who just "naturally went extinct". (All of them.) There were plaques quoting scripture and somehow trying to connect the verses to modern day scientific explanations of natural phenomena. And of course, the grand canyon came from the flood. Their proof? Well, Mount St. Helen's changed after the volcano eruption, and thus it's possible for a few days of rain to create an overwhelming canyon so vast it has the world standing in awe. Riiight.
My expectations couldn't have been lower. I know the mentality of fundamentalists; I used to be one. But even I was surprised at the utter disgrace that is The Creation "Museum". There was no science, no sense, nothing to be impressed by, and it was over in less than an hour. Even the dinosaurs, supposedly the greatest draw, were nothing I haven't seen in an aisle at Wal-Mart. As a student I fortunately only had to pay $8, but even that was a ripoff. I wanted to dearly apologize to the family of five I saw who no doubt paid $109.75 plus tax!
Fellow atheists, learn from my mistake: there is absolutely, positively nothing about this debacle that is worth seeing. This is not like Expelled where you should see it just so you can say you know first hand how bad it is. No. Instead, The Creation Museum is kind of like choosing between a white wedding cake or one made entirely out of horse shit. Sure, people always like more options, but sometimes its better just to trust common sense and admit that you don't have to test an idea to know it's a bad one.
Pissed off at having to spend $16 in order to possibly lose IQ points, my friend and I hopped back into my car, plugged my iPod in, and found the perfect song for my getaway. With stellar efficiency, Fergie's Glamorous blared out the windows, and the line "If you don't got no money take your broke ass home" seemed to fit so well, because after being robbed by The Creation Museum, I had no problem heading home and far, far away from that awful "museum".
...wait for it...wait for it...
The Creation Museum.
You'll get a full update later tonight.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
When speaking with Columbus' most well-known and successful restaurateur, the possibility of questions are endless. But really:"what's your favorite food and wine pairing"? "How often do you cook"? These are the best they could ask?!
Hey, "writer" for The Alive, I have a question for you--Is this journalism for the local High School Newspaper?
The Free Market wins again!
This is the absolute best explanation of why Barack Obama is the finest candidate for President. His remark about "the really right answer" is very powerful.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
For just a day, I would love to have the ability to take a right from the haters. Nothing big. I'm not cruel like that. But, let's say something like right-hand turns. Small and insignificant. Not a human rights issue, such as the right to a family, happiness or liberty, but something ordinary and easily forgotten. I wonder how these millions and millions of people would function without something that is so ingrained into their routine they don't even recognize it's there? Just imagine an entire day where you cannot turn right, at all--not on a bike, not in a car and not even when walking. Everywhere you went, you could only go left. Wouldn't that be problematic? I'd love to see Grand Central in NYC or Michigan Avenue in Chicago. It would be utter chaos.
And that's just one day. Now, imagine what it's like to spend your whole life knowing that you will never be considered 'equal'. Every person you ever meet will judge you. You'll always be looked down upon from your co-workers, family, even your friends. You'll change your voice at work so you don't seem 'different'. People will always make excuses for you because of your sexuality. "He dresses well because he's gay" or "he smells good because he's gay" or "he's flamboyant because he's gay". You'll never be considered just you; instead, you'll always be someone's "gay friend", almost as if you were an accessory. And religious nuts will tell you, almost on a daily basis, that God hates you and will send you to burn forever in hell.
And then imagine having your entire country tell you that you cannot fight for them in the armed forces. Then try to live knowing you can never give blood to help those in need. You cannot adopt the millions of children who do not have a home. You can't even ask the person you love, "will you marry me?"
Voting 'yes' on Proposition 8 only says, "yes, this is ok". It's not a religious issue or a moral issue--it's an issue over decency. Can we not agree that loving couples should be able to own property together, to share health care services and to hold each other's hands as they lay dying? I would never vote to take that right from anyone in this country. Why would you vote for it to be taken away from me?
Oh. God. Madness. Utter madness. "Christian nation"?! That woman must have never read that pesky thing, that constitution of ours: "Congress shall pass no law respecting an establishment of religion..."
Why does it always have to be in Ohio? Why am I always so embarrassed of this state?
This is an aggregate of all recent polls and essentially a "if the election were today" sort of thing. That win percentage is giving John McCain's possibility of winning less than 5%...really? Barack Hussein Obama is going to win over America so strong that there is a 95% chance he'll be our President? I mean, you all know me--I love the guy. His platform is incredible. He's a supporter of urban development, creating new jobs and jump-starting our economy. He wants to end the war in Iraq and finally give some rights to the gays. I'm voting for him with full confidence. But I still don't think the race is that set in stone. 5% chance of losing? Nick is the world-famous statistician, but those numbers are just not easy to swallow until November 4th.
Holy guacamole! What happened to Madonna?!
I hardly recognize her! Ahh! Must be the new look for her next album...
William Hessian, a Minneapolis artist, is challenging his favorite city in the world to find his artwork! The announcement to bring his art hunt to Minneapolis came only two weeks after completing six art hunts across the United States; a series of events which were part of his summer-long "Art as Treasure" tour. Successful community art hunts were completed in Salt Lake City, Utah; Costa Mesa, Calif.; and Portland, Ore., to name a few.Another reason to love Minneapolis!
On Friday, Oct. 17, the challenge for Minnesotans will be to find one of 35 miniature artworks, hidden in plain sight, in the public parks in Minneapolis. Each artwork is an original hand-drawn and -painted Octopus by William Hessian. See more pictures of the art and watch an informative video at www.williamhessian.com.
One of the many distinct features of Washington D.C. is its limit on the heights of buildings. The purpose of this 100-year old law is to keep the national monuments from being shrouded by skyscrapers and towering residential buildings. However, it has grown to be a particular outstanding aspect of the city, and thus Washington is analogous to many European cities, a rarity among so many of our American cities.
As Washington has grown, planners are running out of area and currently the law hangs in the balance.
I'm with the planners. Washington just booms prestige. Sure, their education system sucks and it once was dubbed "murder capital of the world". But, still, the city is a pearl among planning, especially considering travesties such as Tyson's Corner. To remove its iconic character to reduce the price of housing seems like an unequal sacrifice of costs/benefits. Plus, it's not like there isn't plenty of room in the surrounding area.
As vacant land disappears in Washington, concerns about high real-estate prices are fueling debate over whether developers should be allowed to build taller, which is prevented under a century-old law.
Land scarcity and attempts to curb suburban sprawl have spawned talk of bringing office towers to a city long known for its picturesque views, sunlit streets and compact buildings. Within 15 years, according to one analysis, no more space will be available in a 3.5-mile stretch from Georgetown to Capitol Hill.
Christopher Leinberger, a land-use strategist and visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution think tank, warns that unless more room is found, the artificial cap on space will inflate already soaring downtown real-estate prices, which rank second behind Manhattan.
Contrary to popular lore, the low-lying skyline has nothing to do with preserving the prominence of the Washington Monument's 555-foot stone obelisk.
Congress — which has oversight over the capital — passed the Height Act of 1910 in response to residents' outrage over the 14-story Cairo apartment building erected in 1894 near Dupont Circle, towering over nearby row houses. Besides concerns about aesthetics, there was a desire to prevent buildings from becoming too tall for fire-engine ladders.
The law limits building heights to the width of the adjacent street plus 20 feet. There have been several exceptions to allow for construction of the National Cathedral and Georgetown University Hospital. Otherwise, the law has capped most buildings at 130 feet, though heights of 160 feet are permitted on certain areas of Pennsylvania Avenue.
For many influential Washington planners, the idea of altering the city's skyline borders on blasphemy.
"I wanted to let you [Cakewreck Blogger] know that I attempted this morning to discreetly take a photo of a spider cupcake wreck at my local [name removed to prevent possible lynching] store with my phone. Apparently the bakery manager and store manager are on to the Cake Wreck Blog, because I was shouted at by both of them "NO PHOTOGRAPHING OF THE CAKES!" I told them I was sending the photo to my husband to see if it was the one he wanted for the party today, they replied "No you aren't, you're going to send it to that cake wreck blog like everyone else."
Cake Wrecks is probably the funniest blog on the internet. You must check it out. She's known across the country! Heck, if Fabulously in the City was known at my local grocer I'd be pretty darn happy...
What troubled me most was what John McCain had to say about women, something that most certianly lost some votes for him: it was the comment about "the health of the mother". I understood his point, that language such as this can be construed, but that's something you bury in the back of your mind and keep quiet about. Instead, McCain came out and in effect said he wasn't concerned about the health of the mother. I wonder how many feminists and Palinists just felt trampled on by this comment? I'm a gay man, I'll never have to deal with the choice of abortion. But even to some degree I felt a bit offended. Knowing that if my sister's health was at risk and yet my President questioned the validity of her claim is not a becoming characteristic of a leader of this great nation.
Lastly, the Reds and Blues are pretty locked up by this point. From this point on, it's the Independents that matters. How did Barack speak to them, how did McCain? On this matter, I feel McCain continued to same negative attacks, silly accusations and the continued trite and banal plans to fix our economy: nothing. Barack, as always, continued to lay out his plans in a methodical and systematic approach. McCain accused him of being elegant (and this is bad?), but I wouldn't say he was elegant--I'd say he was Presidential.
No winners, but McCain should have won. He ruined it for himself though.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Something else to consider is the relatively small size of Minneapolis: 58.4 square miles. That is incredibly tiny, considering Columbus is 212.6, New York is 468.9, Houston is 601.7 and New Orleans is 350.2 square miles.
Although the Twin Cities Metropolitan is home to over 3 million people, only about 380,000 people live within Minneapolis' small city limits. It's just interesting to note that almost 10% of those people live within the booming downtown area, while only about .0027% of Columbus' population live downtown. (2,000/740,000). However, with Minnesota's harsh winters, and Minneapolis' fine sky-way system, it's no surprise so many people take to living downtown. They can pretty much go for weeks without ever having to step foot outside.
As much as I enjoy my job, I don't do it for the hourly wage. Until last year, it was $2.13 here in Ohio. But, with our big pay raise, we're now making $3.41 an hour, which is completely eaten up in taxes and healthcare. I basically haven't actually received a paycheck in four years and thus my bills and college tuition are paid entirely from the expected 20% gratuity. (And I say expected because I bend over backwards for my tables.) Also, 25% of my earned tips are taken every night and given to the bartender, food runner and bussers, so if I expect a 20% tip, I actually only get a 15% tip. Kind of sucks, doesn't it?
All this to say, a restaurant in San Diego has entirely done away with the tipping process, instead opting for an automatic 18% service charge on every table. At first I was a little horrified, but after reading the article, I was slightly envious. The best reason is this: Sunday evening I came in and waited on a party of 9 for over two hours. Their bill came to $350, and after a flawless experience without one thing going wrong, they left me a $10 tip (that equates to 3%). The manager stopped by and the people confirmed that the meal was "perfect" and everything was "outstanding", so what could he do? Force them to shell over 60 more bucks?
I'm a little jealous of that restaurant in San Diego. But, until then, readers, remember that when you go out your server is getting paid almost nothing-per-hour (unless you're in California). And, many restaurants require tipouts of 30%, 40% and even 50% of their tips! You'd be surprised just how often I am told "your service was perfect" and then I'm handed a 10% or 15% tip. Jipping a server on a tip and saying, "You did a great job" is essentially the same as me calling the cable company and saying, "I just love my cable", and then acting surprised when they still expect me to pay up.
(Thanks Anna for the link!)
If you haven't visited, Philly is such a fantastic city, with the busyness of New York, the restaurant scene of Washington and yet the price tag of Baltimore. I spent a weekend there a year ago and it still remains one of my favorite vacations!
To top it off, they've got optimistic news amidst rising concerns: Planners are working on the egregious problems that have surfaced recently with the increase in bike traffic--bike parking.
Philadelphia's parking shortage is approaching critical proportions. You see people circling the streets of Center City in an anxious quest for an available space. It's unexpectedly hard to park at institutions such as La Salle University and the Art Museum's Perelman Building. But you really know things have reached a dire state when you have to go blocks to find a pole or parking meter that doesn't already have someone's bicycle hitched to it.
Yes, this time Philadelphia's parking crisis involves vehicles of the two-wheeled variety. While the drumbeat during the Street administration was for more parking garages in Center City, the cry now is for more and better bike racks everywhere. That's progress.
The problem starts when the bikers stop. There just aren't enough bike racks on Philadelphia's heavily used, narrow sidewalks for everyone. Desperate bikers will lock to anything that won't move, like Rittenhouse Square's elegant wrought-iron fence or the railing around SEPTA's 16th Street concourse entrance. The tangle of metal is not pretty.
The Nutter administration hopes to improve the situation somewhat in the next few months. It just ordered 1,500 racks and expects to begin installation in November. The new upside-down "U" racks will bring the sidewalk total to 2,600, distributed through the entire city. It's a far cry from the 10,000 the Bicycle Coalition says are needed.
Luckily this isn't a problem in Columbus, mainly because our downtown is a sea of parking lots. I've seen monthly parking permits for $30 (compare to daily prices of that on Manhattan), and most lots around $5 a day. I really can't imagine Columbus transforming into a biking city anytime in the near future: we have no bike lanes, plenty of parking and some of our densest areas are around 10 miles from downtown. In order to reverse this, it would take years and years of effort. Not that it's not worth it, it's just not foreseeable.
Soon, students can add another restaurant to their checklist of places to eat. A new Sonic Drive-In is under construction on Olentangy River Road, and will open its doors 6 a.m. Oct. 27.
Sonic is a drive-in food chain where customers can pull up to a parking spot, choose their meal at an order station and have a bell-hop in roller skates bring each order on a tray.There is also a drive-thru and patio seating.
At the new location, the drive-in has been customized to represent an OSU atmosphere. Hillwertz said the structure's support poles are usually painted green, but are scarlet to represent OSU colors. Instead of yellow, red and blue alternating outfits, employees wear a scarlet shirt and an official OSU hat.
The new Sonic will be open from 6 a.m. to 12 a.m. every day. Hillwertz said the store may eventually be open 24 hours, but it depends on how busy the new location become.
Gasoline prices here have tumbled even more than in most places, to less than $3 a gallon, but drivers say they still aren't filling up their tanks and zooming down the highways.
Instead, the sour economy is prompting them to stick to their new fuel-efficient ways, a pattern that is likely to hold across the country even if gas gets cheaper. This means demand for oil will probably continue to slacken, putting more pressure on petroleum prices.
"There's been a sea change in people's attitudes in terms of gasoline consumption," said Michael Right, a spokesman for the auto club AAA in Missouri. "The economic situation is not conducive to spending more money on energy."
Basically, as gas gets cheaper, demand is remaining stagnant (confirmed in another article, too). This is a good thing, as it will continue to push gas to a cheaper and cheaper price, or at least keep it at where it is. The other day I filled up at $2.85 (about $36 for a tank), which sure beats the $4.45 (about $55 for a tank) I paid three months ago when I went on my Midwestern road trip. Looks like I should have planned it in September! Whoops.
Monday, October 13, 2008
In the group you only need one Ohio State Student! So you can bribe me. (I can be bought!) You give me half the money, you come up with the idea and do all the work. Sounds fair, right? ;-)
And just so you know what your competition is, look at last year's winners...
1st Place Team - NanoMed
Offers the proprietary Zip-Disk Gene Delivery System used to genetically modify cells, enabling rapid prototyping of new gene therapies in the biopharmaceutical industry for the development of cures for cancer, autoimmune diseases, and other debilitating disorders.
2nd Place Team - XMRI
A medical device development company that plans to manufacture, achieve FDA approval, and market Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) compatible treadmills for use in Exercise Stress Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging (CMR).
3rd Place Team - ThermoBuffer
Provides an innovative new technology that addresses the basic problem of temperature control in containers for foods and liquids, maintaining the temperature in the optimum flavor range.
Yeah. Those are good ideas. Like, really good ideas. *lays cards on table* I think I'm out, but maybe you'll have better luck?
So when Sarah Palin was mayor of Wasilla, how did she measure up? It's a valid question, and unfortunately it has the answer none of us want to hear. As any good Republican, she shot down the first zoning plan in Wasilla's history, forgoing the opinion of the public and doing only what furthered her own agenda.
My word, can it get worse?
Over the next two months, Palin surprised and excited many in Wasilla by introducing social issues such as abortion and guns to the city's nonpartisan elections on the way to defeating the incumbent. But the centerpiece of her campaign was opposition to Stein's effort to bring zoning to the community.
Wasilla today reflects the results of her free-market approach to development. Running for a second mayoral term in 1999, Palin cited as one of her greatest successes luring a Fred Meyer mega-supermarket to Wasilla. The zoning plan, adopted over then-councilwoman Palin's opposition, proved no impediment for the store, which went up just a few feet from the banks of bucolic Lake Wasilla, with a parking lot that contains Kentucky Fried Chicken, Blockbuster Video, and Carl's Jr.
They are among the dominant landmarks in a city that councilwoman Dianne Woodruff says "looks like a big ugly strip mall from one end to the other."
Way to go, Sarah! You just can't do anything right. That's something to be proud of!
"Every time we meet with people for the first time, they say, 'We don't want our town to be like Wasilla,' " said Thea Agnew Bemben, a planner whose firm has worked in neighboring communities.
"You'll hear that a lot of times in meetings. They're afraid Wasilla is coming their way," said Kathy Wells, executive director of the pro-planning Friends of Mat-Su. "The joke now is: Can we put a wall around it and not let it spread?"
However, they still have some smart cats at USC. Professor Pete Gordon wrote an article about the importance of emphasizing economic impacts on planning efforts in the midst of a financial crisis. It's a good read. He also has a great blog. (It's still no Fabulously in the City, mind you!)
I received a great e-mail and thought I'd share it with you. I'm going tomorrow to vote early because of it!
I encourage EVERYONE in Ohio to vote early. And here's why:
1. If you vote early, you save the campaign valuable time and money, because they no longer have to spend their resources targeting you and making sure that you get to the polls. It costs a lot of money to run the phone banks, mail literature, and drive canvassers out to your place.
2. Instead of wasting their efforts on a staunch supporter, they will be able to target and contact new and undecided voters. And their lists of election day GOTV targets will be whittled down, making them easier to read & follow for the hundreds of election day volunteers and staffers.
3. It gets even better if you persuade someone else to vote early. That's another person not in line on Nov 4. Not only do you bank their vote, you stop the campaign from inadvertently annoying them with calls and canvassing (of which too much of can be a turn-off). It IS possible to annoy your supporters with too much contact.
4. You'll do a great service to the brilliant number-crunchers at HQ, because they'll gradually get a better picture of how things are shaping up, which precincts to target, and how to move votes. Their models are definitely going to appreciate the numbers you give them.
5. And best of all, you'll reduce the odds of GOP operatives 'challenging' you at the polls or forcing you to stand in artificially long lines on election night. By voting early, you REDUCE the possibility of election fraud by the GOP.
COLUMBUS Vote Early location-
Franklin County Vets Memorial
300 West Broad St in downtown Columbus
FREE PARKING back of bldg.
Mon--Fri 8 AM--7 PM
Sat: 8 AM---5 PM
Sun: 1 PM--5 PM
Find other counties' early-voting location/hours -- www.voteforchange.com
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Anthony Morley, 36, a former Mr. Gay UK, is on trial in Leeds for the murder of Damian Oldfield, 33, whose thigh he allegedly cooked and ate afterwards.
Morley, a former chef, is said to have taken Oldfield home, had sex with him, and then cut his throat and stabbed him to death on April 23. Prosecuting attorney Andrew Stubbs, who characterized Morley as "troubled" by his sexuality, said, "Having killed him upstairs, the defendant carved away a piece of flesh, took it downstairs to his kitchen, where he seasoned it, fried it, and tried to eat it."
He's supposedly a bodybuilder...and he's frying the guy's thigh? Come on! I'd at least expect him to grill it. Or, at worst, broil the sucker. Gotta save on the calories!
So today in the news, I find out he voted against promoting transportation in my hometown of Washington D.C.! Come on, John! Are you asking for me to loathe you? Jeepers!
McCain was also one of two dozen senators who voted last week against a bill that included Davis's proposal to authorize $1.5 billion in dedicated funding to Metro over 10 years. The provision was part of broader rail safety and Amtrak funding legislation.
Davis said that he was disappointed with McCain's vote but that he thinks McCain's opposition was directed more at Amtrak.
A statement from the McCain campaign, however, targeted the Metro funding as well as Amtrak. "Senator McCain strongly objects to earmarks in the bill such as a $1.5 billion earmark for the Washington . . . Metro system and questions if this money is warranted above the needs that may exist among other mass transit systems in our country," the statement says. "With the serious financial situation facing our nation, this [multibillion-dollar] commitment of taxpayers' dollars can [be] dedicated to addressing far more important national priorities." The Dulles rail issue was not addressed.
Addressed to John McCain: I agree that other transportation systems need funding. They all do. John McCain, you blind baffoon, transportation is the vehicle for production! Promoting transportation promotes a better economy! You were a military man...come on! Logistics is what makes or breaks a military operation. You should know this. (I realize you got shot down 5 times and all, but your memory shouldn't be that warped!) So why won't you support transportation efforts that would in effect fix the economic problems we're in?! It creates jobs, furthers production, increases efficiency and reduces the cost of our highways. Gosh, you old geezer, you sometimes get me so upset...!
The Dow Jones index fell 678.9 to 8579.2, its biggest percentage drop since Black Monday in October 1987 and its third biggest points decline in history.
In a staggering final hour of trading, the Dow fell more than 400 points after Standard & Poor's downgraded car maker General Motors and investors were forced to sell off shares to meet margin calls.
The S&P 500 fell 75.0 to 909.9 while the Nasdaq closed down 95.2 at 1645.1, its lowest level since August 2003.
Trading volumes soared, sending volatility near to all time highs, as the Dow closed down 7.3pc. That came exactly a year after the index hit an all-time high on October 9, 2007.
"This is just pure panic," said Chris Orndorff, head of equity strategy at Payden & Rygel in Los Angeles.
Is just coincidence that the last major financial crisis also came at the end of a 8-year Republican administration? Reagan won in 1980 and spent his entire Presidential career pushing Reaganomics, the idea that if you make tax cuts for the wealthy, they will continue to invest their money into projects that will eventually provide jobs for the poor. (It's all been called trickle-down-economics, always a funny term to me, since essentially the rich get a big load and the poor get a few drops. Hmph.)
The economy and politics are not directly intertwined, though economic policy results from a political administration. It's not as black and white as, "Republican=depression, Democrat=success!", but I can say this: Milton Friedman was wrong. Adam Smith was wrong. These men, though good intentioned, have clearly been proven as hacks. We've given the market less and less regulation, and we keep coming up nowhere close to this "invisible hand". Instead, we keep finding ourselves like a beaten housewife. Time after time of being smacked across the face, thrown down the stairs and kicked in the ribs, we keep saying, "But, he's a good man! You just don't know him!"
Enough is enough. We're bruised, wrecked and laying in a pool of our blood. Our two wars are nowhere close to "victorious" as John McCain declares. Our economy is the worst it's been in 20 years. Our healthcare system doesn't cover nearly 50 million Americans. Our education system is shit compared to the rest of the world. We have collapsing bridges. We can't even respond to national disasters that destroy some of our largest cities.
If you want to keep claiming laissez-faire capitalism is the way to go, and that a hostile military force is the way to gain world respect, then elect John McCain. And watch as this country is destroyed.
A few weeks ago I watched my own very dear friend call Barack Obama a "Muslim terrorist". She says she feels so uneasy about him, but has no idea why. (And she refuses to learn more about him and why he makes her feel so "uneasy"). This video is nothing new, it is nothing original, it is nothing like a one-in-a-million kind of chance. This is the feeling of many crazy, illogical Americans. Maybe we should have been investing in education instead of war?
Just one more reason that I will be moving out of Ohio the day I graduate.
(Via Jonathan Martin)
- Did Jonah really live in a 'big fish'? How is that even possible?
- Did Adam and Eve really get deceived by a talking snake? Does that story even make sense?
- Isn't it strange that the story of Jesus is found through many different time periods? (Horus, Vishnu, Mithra, etc.)
The movie circumvented the deeper questions in order to be comical, which it was. The audience was laughing for most of the movie. But, I just got the sense that the movie was dumbed down for American audiences. I wouldn't ever call it a documentary, since little research was put into it. Sure, they quoted our founding fathers who were profound haters of state and religion mixing. Yes, they of course did research about the other stories of Christ that have been around for centuries before they claim he existed. But, this movie is just a bunch of silly interviews with morons, and the purpose of it is to make religion look dumb. (Which it already does on it own, though fools still flock to it.)
I wanted more. More substance, more facts, more knock-it-out-can't-deny-it-science. I wanted an actual documentary, not a comedy. And, although funny, I don't really feel like I learned anything. All I got out of it was more dismay about this country's leadership and this country's populace. When 61% of Americans literally believe that Polar Bears, Penguins, Kuala Bears, Sheep, Aligators, Flamingoes, Anteaters, Bison, Walruses and Goats all lived on a boat for 9 months (without a shred of proof), I'm already pretty darn terrified for where this country is headed. Throw in a movie like this, and my bags begin to look like they need a permanent vacation.