Tag Archive | Current Events

Jazzin’ on Jefferson

Just wanted to give a little blog love for an upcoming event in downtown Detroit this weekend: Jazzin’ on Jefferson.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the event (you poor souls, you), Jazzin’ on Jefferson is a two-day musical extravaganza that takes place on Detroit’s east side along Jefferson Ave. The event is produced by the Jefferson East Business Association and draws big jazz acts and a wide range of artists every year. Jazzin’ provides a chance for the community to celebrate its rich heritage and show all it has to offer to visitors.

This years acts include the Rayse Biggs Band, Jesse Palter Quartet, and the The Scott Gwinell Jazz Orchestra. New to Jazzin’ this year is the Artist Gallery tent, which will bring the works of local artists and crafts-persons together to exhibit and sell their creations.

If you’re in the Detroit metro area this weekend be sure to stop by Jazzin’ on Jefferson. If you’re really lucky you’ll get to meet me…and honestly that’s worth visiting all by itself.

If you can’t make it, check out JEBA and all the great work they do in the area. If you are Uncle Moneybags, look at supporting them.

Oh yeah, in the interest of full disclosure, my brother, Josh Elling, is the Executive Director of JEBA, but I was neither coerced nor bribed into doing this. If someone were to offer me an icy cold beer, however, I would not decline.

Pray At the Pump

jimmity

Let me start by saying that I’m very smug. My daily commute is a 2 minute walk door to door. I use my car out of convenience. Now another Ben Co. member has already abandoned his car and is joining the smug parade. When I read articles about gas prices, I feel even smugger (smugier?)

Now I’m not an economist, but I know supply and demand. Supply is stagnant, and demand is up, up, up.

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Goodbye, Gardiner?

On Friday the Toronto Star led with a report that Mayor David Miller has finally gotten behind a plan to start tearing down the god awful Gardiner expressway along the Toronto waterfront. While the proposed plan doesn’t remove the entire expressway, it is a promising start.

The proposed plan (which is light on details) suggests tearing down the 2.5 kms of the Gardiner, from the Don Valley Parkway to Jarvis street. The stretch is highlighted below (click for larger image).

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Americans Driving At Historic Lows

The U.S. Department of Transportation is reportingthat Americans are continuing their downward trend in driving, with estimated vehicle miles traveled on all U.S. roads in March 2008 falling 4.3 percent compared to March 2007.

Hand in hand with these posts (here and here), there was a nice op ed piece I wanted to share from the NY Times.

Basically, the author, Thomas Friedman, says that whomever becomes president (he seems to be leaning towards Obama) needs to have enough will to actually tell the American people what they apparently don’t want to hear: High gas prices are not going away and the country needs to change its habits.

A couple of points really jumped out at me.  Most of us have probably seen the Dodge ads where they are offering cheap gas for 3 years – Friedman compares this to tobacco companies offering cheap smokes to kids.  Essentially Dodge is acting as a drug dealer, pushing big old SUVs down the throats of addicts.

I’ll leave you with this bit from the article:

I can’t say it better than my friend Tim Shriver, the chairman of Special Olympics, did in a Memorial Day essay in The Washington Post: “So Dodge wants to sell you a car you don’t really want to buy, that is not fuel-efficient, will further damage our environment, and will further subsidize oil states, some of which are on the other side of the wars we’re currently fighting. … The planet be damned, the troops be forgotten, the economy be ignored: buy a Dodge.”

He’s right, too…Obama did have the guts to point out that the McCain/Clinton gas tax holiday proposal was worthless pandering.  Let’s just hope he has the guts to do a big time intervention to get us off our car addictions, as well.

Thanks to Jimsey for the tip on this one.

The ‘burbs have gone bust

I thought I’d share a recent report from Joe Cortright (CEOs for Cities) titled Driven to the Brink: How the Gas Price Spike Popped the Housing Bubble and Devalued the Suburbs.  Urban sprawl and transportation issues are one of my favorite topics, so this report was right up my alley.

You can find the full report here, but for those of you too lazy to click I’ll highlight some of the interesting bits.

Basically Cortright’s analysis find that the recent collapse of the U.S. housing market has partially obscured an even “tectonic shift in housing demand.”  The report finds that housing price declines “are generally far more sever in far-flung suburbs and in metropolitan areas with weak close-in neighborhoods” and:

 “Housing in cities and neighborhoods that require lengthy commutes and provide few transportation alternatives to the private vehicle are falling in value more precipitously than in more central, compact and accessible places.”

Basically, all you chumps who bought into the idea of living in the 5,000 sq ft house out in the suburbs are majorly screwed and cities that have good transit are better able to withstand the housing collapse.

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Is Toronto Transit Union throwing clogs in the machine?

I have had the great fortune in my first few weeks in Toronto to have the specter of a TTC strike raised already. How lucky can I get? Now, the Transit Union and the TTC are in talks. Pay special attention to the statement by Union President Bob Kinnear:

Kinnear added that the union is not contemplating a work slowdown, but would totally shut down the transit system if it concludes that labour action is necessary.

Great, wonderful, dandy. I’m all for positive negotiations to deal with issues. But I have my suspicions as to whether the Union is really sticking to this “no work slowdown” claim, however. In fact, I think they are throwing the proverbial clog in the transit machine.

Both my Friday morning and Monday morning commutes have experienced significant slowdowns for the following reasons:

a) “Problems with the signaling mechanisms”

b) “Passenger assistance button has been pressed’

c) “Emergency at a platform”

Now I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I typically don’t look for sinister motives behind actions. But it does seem odd that these various “issues” keep occurring at peak times while negotiations between the union and the TTC are ongoing. It smacks of saber rattling, to me.

In any case, I’m a newbie on the TTC, maybe these sorts of delays happen all the time. If there are any seasoned TTC riders, let me know.

But it makes you wonder. This also is a nice segue into some thoughts I’ve had on unions in general, but I’ll save that for another day when I’m sure the ghost of Walter Reuther isn’t floating around.

Alberta Election 2008

Ben

Well, all you Albertans should be wiping the sleep from your eyes and heading off to the polling station now. I, like many others, am not hopeful that any meaningful change will occur when polls close tonight.

As the Globe and Mail reports, this election has done little to capitalize on voter discontent around rampant growth, massive increases in the cost of living, and the environmental degradation that has occurred under the Alberta Tories (37 years and counting…).

Janice Brown predicts that the Tories will pick up 70 to 72 seats. I can hope for less, but in the end it appears that most Albertans are still either too dumb, lazy, or conservative to vote for any party other than the Conservatives.

While I had some faint hope that the influx of new Albertans might make a difference it appears that most people are more concerned with milking the hot economy for all it’s worth rather than making a political statement.

Good riddance, I say. Time to head somewhere where there is some semblance of a democratic process.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t vote, though, so find your polling station. At the very least Alberta can avoid having a record-low voter turnout. Maybe.

And keep your eye on Ben Co. for my Top 10 best and worst of Alberta.

“Vagina” inappropriate – try “cooter”

Ben 

A L.A.  high school newspaper sparked “controversy” when they published their Valentine’s day edition (or a more corporate version here) under the title “Happy Vagina Day” and included a drawing of a vagina taken from an anatomy book.

The editor-in-chief of the paper, Richard Edmond, claimed he was “trying to raise awareness of violence against women with a lead story about playwright Eve Ensler’s ‘Vagina Monologues.’ ”

The school’s administration has deemed the word “obscene.” This is an accreditation year for the school, which is why such a commotion is not surprising.

So, let me make sure I get this right.  According to the school administration, the word “vagina” is obscene.  So logically, “penis,” “breasts,” “labia,” and “testicles” would all be banned words, as well.

I guess the alternative will be that every anatomy course in L.A. schools will have to use “cooter,” “kootch,” “meat curtains” or “swimsuit area” in place of “vagina” and “wee wee,” “pee pee,” “one-eyed trouser snake” or “St. Ignace the Dragon Slayer” in place of “penis.”

Maybe the administration would find this site useful.

Yeah, because what high school kids really need is more confusion around sexual reproduction as they go through puberty and another means to stigmatize and repress sexuality in women.  Brilliant.

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