Rehersals for Arrival

As a teenager, I’d usually drive through Chicago at least a couple times a year, either going to the city itself, or to points east (grandparents in Indiana, ect). My dad would always want to take the big loop around the city, but I always pushed to drive right through the middle. I loved everything that you got to see on that interstate, driving under the Sears Tower and past all of the other skyscrapers. Even though I grew up on Minneapolis’ south side, I think it was in Chicago that I really started to love cities.

It pains me to say it, but New York is so much better. I’ve come into New York twice now, and flown over once. I’ve done Amtrak and driven in. Driving is way to go. When you take the train, you come in through queens and then tuck into a tunnel before you get to see anything. When you drive in from the north, you come through the Bronx’s forest of low income towers until you see the Empire State Building rising in front of you followed by the rest of Manhattan’s skyline.

Take the Triborough Bridge on to 125th and 2nd in Spanish Harlem. 2nd to 110th. 110th to Fifth and follow the park. Cut under at 97th. Then Columbus to the Port Authority. Finally, get off the bus and it’s right onto the streets of Midtown, people everywhere trying to find a Subway that will take you somewhere (Manhattan has the most confusing Subway system anywhere, it’s much harder then it looks.) Take the N, Q or R (but not W) downtown to the East Village.

Enjoy your stay.



NY State of Mind

ahhh.... just finished my final paper for ethics. i wrote on Kant's sense of duty crossbred with Jane Jacob's ideas of slum clearance. I was going to post it, but then i realized that even i wouldn't want to read 7 pages on that, so to hell with it. Now that we're done with class (and she's still carrying a 4.0), Jessica and I are off to NY for a couple of days of rest. We've got tickets for the Yankees and the Angels on Thursday night. It'll be my first time at an outdoor stadium for a night game. We've also got a $100 gift certificate for a gourmet cheese shop. Mikee eat your heart out. We are staying at the hotel where Woody Allen shot "Manhattan Murder Mystery," which we just rented. It's good, check it out.

On a different note, we just saw a preview of the movie "Crash." See it. It's hard to watch but very good. I was also happy that when they were speaking Farsi in the movie I understood some of it. Now that I can read it's coming faster.



The Terrorism of Money

The big bankers of the world, who practice the terrorism of money, are more powerful than kings and field marshals, even more than the Pope of Rome himself. They never dirty their hands. They kill no one: they limit themselves to applauding the show.

Their officials, international technocrats, rule our countries: they are neither presidents nor ministers, they have not been elected, but they decide the level of salaries and public expenditure, investments and divestments, prices, taxes, interest rates, subsidies, when the sun rises and how frequently it rains.

However, they don’t concern themselves with the prisons or torture chambers or concentration camps or extermination centers, although these house the inevitable consequences of their acts.

The technocrats claim the privilege of irresponsibility:
“We’re neutral,” they say.

Eduardo Galeano, “Professional Life/3”

I just finished reading an interesting book about American colonial history that I picked up in preparation for a trip to New York that I’m taking next week. The thesis was essentially that the colony of New Netherland was responsible for the pluralistic, multi-cultural society that America was to become, whereas the colonies of New England were totalitarian theocracies that had more in common with Iran then with the country that we were to become. Now, living in New England, I, of course, feel that the book showed a New Yorkers typical belief that all civilization springs forth from the loin of Manhattan, but it was still a well-written history of a time period that had tended to be glossed over in American history books.

In reading more about the Puritans recently (in both this book and in the book “The Seduction of Place” by Joseph Rykwert with regards to Utopian city planning) I’ve had to think some about the ideas of utopianism as opposed to the Evangelical beliefs that I was brought up with. I find it extremely interesting that, although Evangelicalism grew out of the Puritan traditions (the denomination that I attended after high school grew directly out of a group called the Plymouth Brethren) the beliefs about the direction the world is headed are exact opposites of each other. The Puritans believed that they were going to build “a citty upon a hill” and that they would, through Christian governance achieve a kind of heaven here on the earth. Fast-forward 350 years. I was brought up believing that world is constantly getting worse. Moral degradation is without precedent and eventually, the world will become a lot like the set for Blade Runner until eventually Christ decides to come back and burn it all up (after removing all the Christians and leaving our folded clothing on the airplane seats that we had occupied). I’ve been told that it was World War II that caused this shift, but I’ve also been told that “wine wasn’t as strong in Jesus’ time” so I tend to take everything with a grain of salt.

After leaving the Evangelical church for the Post-Modern one, I once had a conversation regarding this very topic with a Pastor. He tended towards the view that the world is actually improving, and at the time, fresh from my time spent in the optimistic European Union, I was inclined to agree with him. This isn’t a direct quote, but he said something with the jist, “wouldn’t you rather live now in any country in Africa then in Europe or American 200 years ago.”

I no longer agree with this statement. The emergence of the “Forth World” country in the last 15 years stands in stark contrast. The “Forth World” is any country that has lost ground in standards of living since independence. One of the best examples is Haiti, which was highly civilized, with good industry and a standard of living that was almost twice as high as the neighboring Dominican Republic (and, in the 1890’s, still better then Florida.) Today, Haiti is the poorest nation, by far, in the western hemisphere, and one of the poorest in the world. The majority of Haiti’s population of 8 million lives on less then $.50 a day. The budget of Haiti’s government is slightly lower then that of Cambridge, Mass. Other countries that fall into this grouping are The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia and Sierra Leone (once the two richest countries in Africa because of their positions as colonies for returned slaves from the US and Britain respectively), Somalia (once the center of trade for the entire western Indian Ocean resulting from Mogadishu being one of the few natural harbours on the east African coast, Somalia was once called the only modern nation-state in Africa), and Cambodia (who hasn’t seen photos of the stunning accomplishments of the Khmer kingdom based at Angkor Watt?). I would rather be born into Europe in the 1300’s than into West Africa now. At least they didn’t have AK47’s in the middle ages.

So then, is the world becoming better or worse? Here lies the root of many of the problems of our post-modern world. I think it is doing both at the same time. The gap between the rich and the poor is ever widening. There is real hope for many developing countries (Costa Rica, Brazil, Mexico, China, India ect.) that they will reach the first world in terms of development and standards of living, however, many more nations and falling ever farther behind, or, in some cases, even running in the other direction.

The question then is: can we be satisfied with our American or European lives knowing that not so far away, things are getting constantly worse for a large portion of the worlds population?



a moment of silence

Pete the Pirate the Guinea Pig passed away tonight... He will be missed...



Pope Vote 2005

Just for fun... here are the front runners (probably).

Francis Arinze (72 Nigeria) -
Former archishop of Onitsha, now in Rome overseeing liturgy
Converted from Animism

Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga (62 Honduras) -
Archbishop of Honduras
Speaks six Languages

Christoph Schönborn (60 Austria) -
Archbishop of Vienna
Talented at reconciliation

Angelo Sodano (77 Italy) -
Vatican Secretary of State
Bureaucrat who knows the Vatican inside and out

I think the two older guys have a better chance, I don't think they want to run the risk of having another Pope who lives such a long time (John Paul's was the second longest reign ever. Choosing someone older is one of the churches checks and balances.) Personally, I'm thinking it is going to be Arinze. The church is growing fastest in the developing world, and I think they'll want to reflect that, just as Pope John Paul was chosen for his ability to speak out against Communism, I think the challenge before the church now is Poverty and Development.



Is Nelson a Bay Stater?

Last night on Simpsons, Nelson said, "Check out my T-shirt. It's wicked relevant."

What's up with that?



Becoming Bostonian

So, I think it's finally happened. I was sitting on Comm. Ave the other day reading when a big white SUV with Ohio plates pulled up to the curb and rolled down it's window. A women leaned out and asked directions to Feneuil Hall. It was as though I was possessed by the soul of some crusty Hub old-timer (the kind that still say tonic for soda and bubbler for water fountian) and I heard pass from my lips the following sentence: "Yah pahk yah cah an tahk tha T." I also reallized at work the other day that i've started using "how you doin" instead of hello and wicked is becoming an adjective of choice. Another six months and i probably won't be using "you know" at the end of all my sentences anymore.


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