Tuesday, September 30, 2008
His proposal for the (hopefully) soon-to-be-pedestrian Big Four Bridge includes a cloud of wooden planks to filter the light like a forest, a historic timeline, and solar powered music and lights.
It's a big idea, he said, and now it's up to us-- as is its complementary bookend at the end of Vincennes Street. We should start squatting now.
* Renderings by Studio Arne Quinze
Monday, September 29, 2008
IU Southeast's Common Experience program, whose 2008-09 theme is "Greening of Earth: Whose Responsibility?" brings DJ Spooky to town this week in what this writer might, in a giddier moment, describe as the coolest thing to ever happen on campus.
And make no mistake, I'm jazzed. Work like Spooky's drove me into and out of graduate school. Conceptual artist, musician, writer, college professor - he's reason enough to own a computer.
He'll be doing a lecture about his work and a performance on consecutive days. I'll be at both. You should be, too.
Tickets are available from the Ogle Center.
Lecture - Rhythm Science
Thursday, October 2, 2008, 7:30 PM
Admission: Free. Tickets are required.
Learn how DJ Spooky(Paul Miller) puts together his multimedia presentations. He will explore the hidden connections between collage based aesthetics and what Miller likes to call the "politics of perception." His lectures unpack some of the issues that modern artists face: intellectual property, ownership of ideas, and above all, how art navigates the complex culture of digital media. The lecture is free and open to the public, however, tickets are required.
The Terra Nova Suite
Friday, October 3, 2008, 7:30 PM
Admission: Regular - $25
DJ Spooky/Paul D. Miller's large scale multimedia performance work will is an acoustic portrait of a rapidly changing continent. The Antarctic Suite transforms Miller's first person encounter with the harsh, dynamic landscape into multimedia portraits with music composed from the different geographies that make up the land mass. Miller's field recordings from a portable studio, set up to capture the acoustic qualities of Antarctic ice forms, reflect a changing and even vanishing environment under duress. Coupled with visual material from Getty Images' vast collection, The Antarctic Suite is a seventy minute performance, creating a unique and powerful moment around man's relationship with nature.
Watch this space early next week for news of a local artistic and environmental response as well.
* Manifesto image courtesy of the artist.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
In 1989, Dresden was the sort of destination that merited two days of sightseeing before rejoining the train for Prague. Before World War II, the city’s history, architecture and position astride the Elbe prompted frequent comparisons with the Czech capital. These comments largely ceased following the still controversial Allied bombings in February, 1945, which killed perhaps 40,000 residents, reduced the city’s center to kindling, and were witnessed by Hoosier soldier Kurt Vonnegut, who incorporated his experience in his 1969 novel, Slaughterhouse-Five.
To this very day, feelings are hard. In 1989, the East German the sluggish regime was lightning fast when it came to exploiting the past for political purposes.
It should suffice to say that with the exception of the Zwinger Palace and Opera House, the GDR didn’t make a truly serious effort to restore Dresden’s grandeur during the Communists’ 40-year run. Bits and pieces of pre-war Dresden, most of them pockmarked by unrepaired bombing damage, survived, resting uneasily alongside shoddy Communist-built, high-rise buildings built from unpainted, pre-fabricated concrete.
Culturally, the city was in a time warp even by the GDR’s standards, situated such that it was popularly reckoned to be the only part of East Germany unable to receive West German television transmissions – and in Communist countries, it wasn’t possible to stroll to the neighborhood Engels-Mart and buy a satellite dish.
But … there were certain advantages.
Maybe just one.
Analogous to West Germany, where the beer always seemed better in the southern region of Bavaria, the beer brewed in and around Dresden tasted better, and none more so than Radeberger Pilsner, brewed just outside Dresden, and served in the city’s most user friendly beer drinking venue, the Radeberger Keller. It was a below-ground restaurant downtown, and we went there every night of our stay to cool our heels, kill time and drink what for us was extremely cheap, good beer.
We had little else to do, although one evening Jeff and I entertained our fellow foreigners, especially the heavy drinking Finn, with a bout of “drinking wine spo-dee-o-dee, which we defined as alternate shots of Cuban dark rum and Bulgarian cabernet.
The service staff at the Radeberger Keller was a shade surly and inefficient in the typical fashion of the Bloc, which didn’t institutionally value such merits of customer service, but traditional beer hall etiquette was honored, and we were allowed to seat ourselves wherever open spaces permitted, with one exception.
One seating area, a gallery off to the side, was perpetually festooned with “Reserviert” signage, and not coincidentally, it was always filled with the privileged caste. In East German terms, this meant the friendly faces, brown uniforms and dingy black suits of the Soviet officers and bureaucrats who liberated Dresden from the Nazis in 1945, and never bothered to leave.
In 1989, there were almost 500,000 Soviet troops stationed in East Germany, and a sizeable contingent resided near Dresden, where a branch office of the KGB maintained a fraternal presence, and although there’d have been no way of my knowing it then, at least one of those KGB officers assigned to the area had come to develop as much affection for Radeberger Pilsner as my motley group of Western volunteer workers.
None other than Vladimir Putin, in fact.
You may recall that Putin became acting President of Russia on the last day of 1999 and was legally elected to the office a few months later. Around this time, an English language translation of a slim Putin biography appeared, and my friend Jon loaned me his copy. Putin’s first-person testimony about his six years as one of the KGB’s men in Dresden included the frank admission that he found Radeberger delightful, so much so that it threatened the continued viability of his slim, athletic build by distracting him from exercise. Furthermore, when not dieting, he confessed to frequenting the Radeberger Keller.
As an aside, having visited the former Soviet Union on three occasions prior to the 1989 stay in Dresden documented here, I can say with perfect candor that Soviet beer was wretched, indeed, and in general terms didn’t rise to the level of the bilious beer brewed in East Germany. But Radberger was a famous export label, and there was profit to be derived from it, so the brand was not degraded. Presumably the hoarded hops were going in the Radeberger instead of the people’s lager.
In retrospect, Putin’s fascination with Radeberger seems quite reasonable to me in the context of the time and place. After all, I was right there in the same beer hall, equally fascinated, though not only by the merits of the beer, also by the denizens of that perpetually reserved gallery off to the side, with the officers and bureaucrats of what in effect was an occupying power, albeit in one with a steadily ticking shelf life, drinking beer and having it all in a captive foreign land.
And so, in the final, authorized version of my five days in Dresden in 1989, there can be no confirmation that Putin was ever among those fellow Russians in the Radeberger Keller’s reserved seating area, much less that he and I drank beer together. I still believe it, anyway. The only famous person I ever met was Alvin Dark, manager of the 1974 Oakland A’s world championship club, and laying claim to beers with the future president of Russia is both more interesting and validates the way I spent the summer of 1989.
Along with the rest of the statue, Lenin’s shoes were removed from the Volkspark entrance after unification. I’d have liked to have them as souvenirs of one of the most unforgettable summers ever.
I wonder what Putin remembers?
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Once the volunteer brigade was billeted at the Planterwald quasi M*A*S*H camp in East Berlin, we began an unforgettable three weeks of daily work, which wasn’t tremendously difficult, if occasionally dirty, followed invariably by nightly beer drinking, both at the camp and various other pubs.
After a few evenings, our favorite became a Keller near Alexanderplatz that served Wernesgruner, one of the few East German beers brewed to West German artisanal standards.
Granted, cheap beer was plentiful in grocery stores, which were well provisioned by the prevailing standards of the Bloc. These simple lagers were palatable at minimum levels of price, flavor and alcoholic content, but it was revealed later (after unification) that those East German brewers responsible for producing everyday beers often were forced to substitute other bitter substances in place of sometimes unavailable or too expensive hops.
Like bile from the stomachs of cattle. Yes, really.
Each weekday morning at around 6:00 a.m., I’d rise from the top bunk, usually bleary-eyed and hung over, and watch the girls in our co-ed tent get dressed. Afterwards I’d freshen myself at the shower tent, splashing some water on my face and brushing my teeth, and then adjourn to the mess tent for rolls and coffee or tea. Some days I’d buy a bottle of local “Maracuja” soft drink for refreshment. After that, it was a ten minute walk to the S-Bahn station, and then another 10 minutes aboard the train before the changing point. The second S-Bahn train deposited us somewhat near the job site, but too far to walk, so we always took a street car for the final mile.
My friend Jeff was in my group, along with an Italian, a Finn (both of them male), and a woman from Northern Ireland. There was another woman from West Germany, and then two each FDJ guys and gals. We worked alongside veteran employees of the East Berlin parks department, and I noticed early in the game that none of them seemed eager to abandon socialism for the enticements of the capitalist world. In short, they pretended to work, and their bosses pretended to pay them. To most, especially one named Wolfgang, this was an excellent arrangement.
At first, I resolved to play it straight and at least try to put in a full day’s work for a full day’s pay, but from the beginning there was much to warn against the futility of such an honest approach.
At an orientation of sorts prior to being handed shovels, we’d been lectured by the volunteer brigade’s Communist party functionary (an older man with ludicrously black-dyed hair) about the importance of the labor, and the East German student assigned to translate the man’s utterances couldn’t help mocking them aloud, safe in the knowledge that the functionary couldn’t speak a word of English.
Our translator’s greatest scorn was reserved for the bureaucrat’s admonition against consuming alcohol on the job. In fact, virtually all the East German students in attendance raised their eyebrows and giggled, and for the next three weeks, my own group made daily lunchtime visits to the secluded park Imbiss for one or two half-liters of low-alcohol Berliner Weiss emit Schuss (with a shot of non-alcoholic raspberry syrup added).
Sometimes we even ate lunch.
Weekends were for exploration. Some times Jeff would accompany me, but most of the time I’d wander off alone to walk through the neighborhoods and try to get a feel for life in the capital of the GDR. Both halves of Berlin were subsidized by their respective sovereign nations to serve as showplaces of the economic systems espoused by each, and accordingly, West Berlin was hyper-Western and East Berlin just as over the top in the other direction, yet they shared the characteristics that preceded the forced division of the city.
The Wall was omnipresent, yet seldom seen during my ramblings. You felt it.
The entire city had been laid waste during WWII, and while West Berlin retained almost no discernable scars of the conflict, bullet holes could still be seen amid the crumbling brownish-gray, coal smoke stained stucco of the surviving housing stock in East Berlin.
News stands touting “news of the world” stocked only East Bloc papers and the broadsheets of Communist parties abroad.
Time itself was a variable concept. One Sunday morning I was strolling down a deserted street when I heard familiar music coming from an opened third-story window. It was Country Joe & the Fish, circa 1968: “One, two, three, what are we fighting for?”
I’d buy a greasy sausage, watch people walk through the parks, and a Trabant would belch past. All of it was grist for an earnest contemplation of the meaning of geopolitical life.
It would require thousands of words to retell all the stories, and perhaps some day there’ll be time to rewrite this narrative and tell a few more of them. However, the point today is to explain the Baylor-Putin beer-drinking symmetry, and to do so, I must now fast-forward to the end of the three-week active work segment, the harvesting of my final weekly pay packet of a crisp 100 Ostmark note bearing the visage of Karl Marx, and the delivery of the stated bonus owed the Western contingent in exchange for our labor.
From the beginning, we volunteers had been promised an extra payout at the conclusion of work. Presumably, we’d be rewarded with a week as pampered guests of the FDJ, spent touring the GDR outside East Berlin. We’d stay in cluttered university dorms, eat in minimalist university cafeterias, and meet committed socialist university students from different parts of the country.
The reality of this reward proved far less comprehensive than what had been promised. Something was up, and apparently we had become afterthoughts. Our escorts, practicing leftists from West Germany and Switzerland who were demonstrating the art and science of the junket, weren’t shy in expressing their annoyance at the absence of preparations and unexplained changes in the schedule.
In the end, and with some difficulty, we were able to transfer from East Berlin by train to Rostock on the Baltic coastline for two nights before being shifted all the way back through East Berlin southward to Dresden, close by the Czechoslovak border, where we were warehoused for five days – roughly three too many. Yes, there was the Zwinger palace and Opera House, and an excursion by Elbe steamer to the castle at Konigstein proved fascinating. But, honestly, it became boring after two days.
Among the cities we were supposed to have visited was Leipzig -- on a Monday. The visit was summarily cancelled, and when a small group tried to buy tickets to make the journey ourselves by train from Dresden, the officials at the ticket window literally shut it in our faces. Why couldn’t we go to Leipzig? We didn’t know it then, but weekly Monday evening protests had already started in Leipzig, and they were escalating. The East German authorities didn’t want us to know, and didn’t want us to go.
We were stuck inside of Dresden, with the Leipzig blues again.
(For Part 4, come back tomorrow)
Friday, September 26, 2008
Louisville’s I-64 makes
National Top Teardown List
Chicago-based Urban Development Org. Releases Top 10 List
Louisville, KY – On Monday September 21st the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU.org) released its list of top prospects for highway teardowns in North America. Among those listed as a top priority, Louisville’s Interstate 64 along the waterfront.
According to CNU:
“The “Freeways Without Futures” list recognizes the top-ten locations in North America where the opportunity is greatest to stimulate valuable revitalization by replacing aging urban highways with boulevards and other cost-saving urban alternatives.
San Francisco, Portland, New York City and Milwaukee have all seen how the removal of freeways allows the rebirth of great city neighborhoods – with improved surface streets, better parks, renewed attention to pedestrian and transit amenities, plus an infusion of new private investment bringing housing, shops, restaurants and exciting cultural offerings.”
CNU President and CEO John Norquist said, “Cities like San Francisco that have removed freeways and reclaimed waterfronts have turned them into magnets for people and investment.”
8664 Co-Founder JC Stites commented, “CNU’s recognition is wonderful, but not surprising. Urban planners and average citizens from around the country have recognized what an incredible opportunity Louisville has to transform our city for the better. It’s too bad it’s taking so long, but I’m confidant Louisville’s political leadership will embrace this opportunity to create a more vibrant and sustainable city.”
See link (sic) for CNU’s full list of “Freeways Without Futures”.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
REWIND: "A growing network of people and institutions that openly and enthusiastically invite positive change and progress to our city."
I'll leave that adjudication to readers, knowing it at least made the boss happy at one point and that I'll have (hopefully) survived my umpteenth annual Harvest Homecoming in the parking lot of the old Rainbo Bread building with the Derby City Roller Girls as either penance or payment by the time we encounter the same month and number this year.
Yesterday we referred readers to Randy Smith’s Volunteer Hoosier coverage of the Democratic Party fete at the Grand on Thursday evening.
Unsurprisingly, Randy’s piece prompted an ill-tempered response from someone hiding behind a bizarrely contrived Internet pen name:
Your comments, sir, make me want to puke. You are still wet behind the ears … more than your labeled "Gang of Four" weren't there … my party is fine, sir; you, sir, are not.
Anonymous cowardice having become the little person's Olympic medal sport in New Albany thanks to the tireless efforts of Trog Sham’s cyber-vandalism contingent, we would expect to find nothing particularly noteworthy in such a response ... except, in this case, it inspired our friend bluegill to compose the following riposte, one fully deserving of reprinting in this space owing to his clear, economical prose and a devastatingly accurate description of the facts -- not the opinions -- of where we are, and where we're going.
Feel free to enjoy Jeff's words as much as we have.
I'm still trying to figure out what there is to be learned from a group that's been largely unsuccessful for decades. After a year, I still have no idea what positive notions I'm supposed to glean from petty, ill-conceived and badly executed attacks on rationality. If anything, they've proven themselves to be informative as a sort of collective anachronism, a symbolic view into the darker past that created the conditions many are now working to reverse. They aren't Rosa Parks. They're the bus.
There are any number of people who've done more to improve conditions in New Albany in a year or two than have any of the usual cast of malcontents in a lifetime.
To clarify, that statement isn't made to discourage or disenfranchise those in (or outside) the party who've dedicated years of honest work to New Albany's improvement. In fact, it should serve to bolster their spirits and provide inspiration for redoubled efforts.
The days of feigning happiness and forcing smiles when a Dan Coffey or Larry Kochert wins an election, purely out of a sense of loyalty to the party, are coming to a distasteful but inevitable end. As their public lives haven't afforded much respect for or understanding of the concepts of grace or dignity, neither should their political deaths be expected to engender such traits. Dead, however, is dead.
According to almost all the longtime party members with whom I spoke last night, the dinner was a success not only because of the notable and not-so-notable absences but also because the speakers enjoyed a view that included so many new faces.
Whether party leadership has the gumption to engage the minds behind those faces and harness their energy to further enable the work of those who are actually creating progress in the streets everyday remains to be seen. To the extent that they do, I'll support them.
Because after the aforementioned year (the timeframe of which not at all coincidentally dovetails with the opening of Destinations, the debut of NA Confidential, the continued strengthening of the East Spring Street and S. Ellen Jones neighborhood associations, the revival of the Downtown Merchants Association, the work of Mike Kopp, and the finalization of plans for Scribner Place), this is what I know:
There is a growing network of people and institutions that openly and enthusiastically invite positive change and progress to our city. It was evident when my wife and I began looking for a home here. It is evident in our own efforts to communicate our belief in the potential of New Albany to others.
Most people I've met in the past year are not only willing to put forth an invitation to new residents and businesses, but also to do the leg work necessary to nurture and sustain their presence here. And make no mistake, that sense of pride and potential is spreading exponentially.
I know people who've convinced families and businesses to move here. I know those families and businesses are extolling the benefits of their choice to others just like them. And I know those people aren't just from Jeffersonville, Clarksville or Louisville. They're from Rhode Island, New York, California, Florida and foreign countries. Even the natives are beginning to see what's so clearly evident to those from elsewhere: New Albany, with its pioneering, multicultural heritage and regionally unparalleled historic resources, if matched with even a modicum of modern sensibility and cooperative vision, can regain its long lost position of being a place that matters.
The fear that “foreign” proposition creates in some is an aberration, a minor annoyance along the path to progress and should be dealt with as such. It's simply no match for the determination and talent of those who can do, are doing, and will do, whether out of a duty to their ancestry or a love of possibilities.
This is evidenced by the fact that, when I have occasion to help facilitate or participate in increasingly popular public affairs symposiums, neighborhood gatherings, educational activities, and various other meetings with investors, bankers, property owners, academics, and real estate and cultural agents- all with the aim and often the resources to turn that potential into a tangible, concrete reality- the naysayers are not present. Ever. Revitalization efforts are occurring in spite of them, not because of them.
And for that, I say to hell with them. They're irrelevant.
What is relevant is a continuing and increased cooperation between agencies and individuals, between money and ideas, and an overriding, pervasive DIY spirit. New Albany doesn't need heroes; it needs partnerships and at least one partner stares back at each of us in the mirror everyday.
If you have money to spend, spend it here. If you have an old pick up truck, help haul your neighbor's repair supplies. If you have a building department to rebuild, rebuild it straightaway.
The horn has been tooted, ladies and gentlemen. Now it's time to bring the instruments together to play a song.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Local TV station WLKY is running an online "best of" contest, including some familiar candidate names: NABC, Destinations Booksellers, Terry Middleton's, La Rosita, Speakeasy Jazz, Buds in Bloom.
I may have missed a couple downtowners in the many categories but, if you know 'em, make like wannabeen Larry K and vote for 'em as much as possible.
The Best of the WLKY A-list
Voting continues until September 26. Winners will be announced beginning October 6.
The site requires registration to hang a chad so take advantage of the slumlordless environment and participate in the only fair election New Albany's had since Cindy kicked the Vicodin.
*original photo credit: collider.com
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Even so, it seems the good doctor's political hankerings linger unsated as evidenced by his latest foray into electoral malfeasance. As Healthblogger explains:
As we get closer and closer to the election, I am going to spend every other week posting articles, commentaries and opinions on the candidates and their positions.
The health of Floyd County as well as the nation will be drastically different depending on who gets elected. This site, unlike the mainstream media, will have a conservative slant and will have commentaries that may not be read in other places.
Fair enough, though I'd appreciate a heads up when he decides to forward unattributed chain emails. I detest those things, especially when the content is so plainly characterized by fabrication enough to redden the cheeks of a compulsive machinist.
Dr. Dan's latest salvo is centered around said email, which purports to provide "data" on the proposed tax policies of our current presidential candidates.
His cribbed list is so egregious, however, that FactCheck.org determined that "...readers may already have noted that this chain e-mail does not provide links to any of Obama's actual proposals or cite any sources for the claims it makes. That is because they are made up. This widely distributed message is so full of misinformation that we find it impossible to believe that it is the result of simple ignorance or carelessness on the part of the writer. Almost nothing it says about Obama's tax proposals is true. We conclude that this deception is deliberate."
FactCheck then goes on to debunk line after line before offering that "...this message isn't real. It's a pack of lies."
You'd never make it as a thief, Doc. You have to know what's worth stealing.
Monday, September 22, 2008
The law even says that failure to record an ownership interest or to provide the building commissioner's office with contact information in the absence of that recording is considered consent for corrective action and a relinquishment of any legal claims concerning notice.
Here's the New Albany law:
150.103 ENFORCEMENT; SERVICE OF NOTICES AND ORDERS; HEARINGS.
(A) Whenever the Health Officer or the Building Commissioner determines that there are reasonable grounds to believe that there has been a violation of any provision of this subchapter or of any rule or regulation adopted pursuant thereto, he shall give notice of such violation to the person or persons responsible therefor, as herein provided. Such notice shall:
(1) Be in writing,
(2) Include a list of the violations found,
(3) Allow a reasonable time for the performance of any act it requires, and
(4) Be served upon the owner or his agent, or the occupant as the case may require; provided that such notice shall be deemed to be properly served upon such owner or agent or upon such occupant if a copy thereof is served upon him personally, if a copy thereof is sent by registered mail to his last known address, or if service is effected by any other method authorized under the laws of this state.
Which laws of the state apply? I'm pretty sure this part of Indiana's unsafe building law does:
Manner of serving notice
Sec. 25. (a) Notice of orders, notice of continued hearings without a specified date, notice of a statement that public bids are to be let, and notice of claims for payment must be given by:
(1) sending a copy of the order or statement by registered or certified mail to the residence or place of business or employment of the person to be notified, with return receipt requested;
(2) delivering a copy of the order or statement personally to the person to be notified;
(3) leaving a copy of the order or statement at the dwelling or usual place of abode of the person to be notified and sending by first class mail a copy of the order or statement to the last known address of the person to be notified; or
(4) sending a copy of the order or statement by first class mail to the last known address of the person to be notified.
If a notice described in subdivision (1) is returned undelivered, a copy of the order or statement must be given in accordance with subdivision (2), (3), or (4).
(b) If service is not obtained by a means described in subsection (a) and the hearing authority concludes that a reasonable effort has been made to obtain service, service may be made by publishing a notice of the order or statement in accordance with IC 5-3-1 in the county where the unsafe premises are located. However, publication may be made on consecutive days. If service of an order is made by publication, the publication must include the information required by subdivisions (1), (2), (4), (5), (6), (7), and (9) of section 5(b) of this
chapter, and must also include a statement indicating generally what action is required by the order and that the exact terms of the order may be obtained from the enforcement authority. The hearing authority may make a determination about whether a reasonable effort has been made to obtain service by the means described in subsection (a) on the basis of information provided by the department (or, in the case of a consolidated city, the enforcement authority). The hearing authority is not required to make the determination at a hearing. The hearing authority must make the determination in writing.
(c) When service is made by any of the means described in this section, except by mailing or by publication, the person making service must make an affidavit stating that the person has made the service, the manner in which service was made, to whom the order or statement was issued, the nature of the order or statement, and the date of service. The affidavit must be placed on file with the enforcement authority.
(d) The date when notice of the order or statement is considered given is as follows:
(1) If the order or statement is delivered personally or left at the dwelling or usual place of abode, notice is considered given on the day when the order or statement is delivered to the person or left at the person's dwelling or usual place of abode.
(2) If the order or statement is mailed, notice is considered given on the date shown on the return receipt, or, if no date is shown, on the date when the return receipt is received by the enforcement authority.
(3) Notice by publication is considered given on the date of the second day that publication was made.
(e) A person with a property interest in an unsafe premises who does not:
(1) record an instrument reflecting the interest in the recorder's office of the county where the unsafe premises is located; or
(2) if an instrument reflecting the interest is not recorded, provide to the department (or, in the case of a consolidated city, the enforcement authority) in writing the person's name and address and the location of the unsafe premises;
is considered to consent to reasonable action taken under this chapter for which notice would be required and relinquish a claim to notice under this chapter.
(f) The department (or, in the case of a consolidated city, the enforcement authority) may, for the sake of administrative convenience, publish notice under subsection (b) at the same time notice is attempted under subsection (a). If published notice is given as described in subsection (b), the hearing authority shall subsequently make a determination about whether a reasonable effort has been made to obtain service by the means described in subsection (a).
As added by Acts 1981, P.L.309, SEC.28. Amended by Acts 1981, P.L.45, SEC.27; P.L.59-1986, SEC.15; P.L.169-2006, SEC.69;
Indiana's unsafe building law is available here. I'm keen on further exploring the section relative to court ordered receivership as a means of dealing with problematic properties myself.
Are we to assume Mr. Hartman hasn't read that bit, either?
Sunday, September 21, 2008
My miniscule part in the GDR’s final summer came about because of a stubborn determination to be different from the rest of the backpacking tourists and spend as much time as possible in the Soviet Bloc during my months-long European sojourn in 1989. I’d become fascinated with the countries behind the Iron Curtain, and ideology was no consideration for me.
In fact, I never felt safer than when I was wandering through a police state.
For budget travelers like me, the GDR was one of the tougher Communist nuts to crack. With the sole exception of turncoat Yugoslavia, a passport alone was not sufficient to gain entry to the countries comprising the Bloc. Official permission in the form of a visa, either obtained stateside prior to departure or approved at an embassy somewhere in Europe, was also required.
However, merely possessing a valid passport and official visa still did not constitute final approval. Upon arrival, the traveler customarily was required to register with the governmental authorities, and the most common way of doing so was to report to the state bank and engage in the ritual of the mandatory currency exchange.
A specified number of dollars per day of one’s approved duration of stay was swapped for useless local currency, which was even more worthless – literally not worth the paper it was printed on – if carried out of the country afterwards, and which could not be exchanged back into dollars before leaving unless the minimum required exchange had been exceeded. That’s assuming someone could be located to perform the exchange function while a train was parked at the border being inspected by angular uniformed soldiers with machine guns.
In effect, the entire territory of Poland, Czechoslovakia and
Bulgaria was tantamount to the company store, and you had to use company scrip to buy most items. For the most part, eating and drinking proved fabulously cheap, as were hostels and home stays in “private” rooms available in slightly more liberal Bloc locales like Hungary (I use the “L” word with due caution).
As you might expect, the notoriously hard-line GDR was little interested in budget travelers, backpackers, hippies and other forms of decadent Western life, even if it desired the hard currency we carried in our money belts. Prepayment of expensive hotel rooms was the norm in East Germany. The question for me was this: How to spend time in the GDR without breaking the bank?
The answer came from Vermont.
Volunteers for Peace was, and remains, an organization dedicated to the principle of international volunteer exchanges between all willing nations, and generally speaking, among people of all ages. During the Cold War, VFP provided numerous opportunities to evade the restrictive entry requirements outlined above in return for a modest registration fee and two or three weeks of volunteer work toward a specified project, which might be assisting at an archeological site, or helping rebuild a house for use as a daycare center, or agricultural work.
Problem solved. A $100 registration fee was mailed to VFP, the requisite visa paperwork completed, and penciled into the itinerary following June in Czechoslovakia with my friend Jiri’s family, and three July weeks in Moscow to study Russian (though mostly to roam the streets in search of excitement), was a few recuperative days of decadent R & R in West Berlin, and a day to meet the West German sponsors and decamp across the fortified border into the Communist sector for a month in the GDR.
Encumbered with booty gleaned from the USSR, which proved to be a pain getting through the East German border control and eventually cost far more to mail home than it had to collect through swapping cigarettes and t-shirts, my train rolled into Zoo Station, West Berlin in the company of several Americans who’s been in the language program with me. We met Professor Barry, my cousin, and embarked upon a five-day alcoholic binge, with my friends gradually peeling off for their own adventures elsewhere until only Don and I remained for a final evening at Dickie Wirtin’s for goulash and lager.
The next day, still in West Berlin, I followed instructions to a cold-water flat where several of the Western volunteers had been asked to meet, including my Louisville friend Jeff. We prepared a communal meal, drank a few bottled beers that I’d packed, and chatted about the month to come. The evening was spent curled up on the wooden floor, with occasional interruptions as our hostess tended to her baby. Bread, jam and tea was for breakfast, and then we rode the subway back to Zoo Station, and over the Wall to Friedrichstrasse station, itself located in East Berlin, but also serving as a West Berlin public transportation stop and the control point to East Germany.
Later that afternoon, joined by others who’d come from different directions, we had our first glimpse of the place that would serve as home for the coming three weeks. Some distance from the epicenter of East Berlin, in a wooded park by a lake, and only a short distance from Treptower, location of the grandiose Soviet WWII memorial, was a fenced compound not unlike the M*A*S*H encampment on television, constructed entirely from surplus East Germany military tents and equipment. It had showers, latrines, a commissary, a stage and a shop. We were divided eight to a tent, in which there were bunk beds, blankets and little else.
Roughly two thirds of the campers were East German college student members of the Frei Deutsche Jugend – FDJ – in effect, the Communist youth organization, and the pathway to career advancement. Each summer, the FDJ “volunteered” to do socially useful work for the Fatherland. I was among roughly one hundred Westerners permitted to do the same, and naturally, we were deemed useful for propaganda purposes, although I must say that the impending exhaustion of the GDR’s ideals probably should have been evident from the absence of intensive instruction.
Had I considered it, there was another clue as to the disintegrating state of the East Bloc. Whereas the FDJ’s annual Planterwald international volunteer brigade was supposed to include representation from the entire Soviet-controlled expanse, there were conspicuous absences in the summer of 1989. The Poles, infected with the contagion of Solidarity, had not been invited. Neither were the Hungarians, who unbeknownst to us had opened their border with Austria earlier that same summer – enabling the Trabants to stream through.
Granted, there was a sprinkling of Bulgarians, Czechs and Romanians, and quite a few Cubans, the latter being among the most sought after on the part of the East German girls.
Me? I was happy to have a bunk and a beer.
(Come back for Part Three next Saturday)
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Some weeks back, I promised to tell you the story about the time back in the Dark Ages when I drank beer with Vladimir Putin. Then, as if by cue, my buddy went and invaded Georgia. As a result, I completely lost my nerve.
What was that? You say Putin’s no longer the president?
Duh. You don’t think it was Dimitry Medvedev’s idea, do you?
I must admit that at first, the notion of losing Georgia to Putin wasn’t a big issue to me. The Atlanta Braves aren’t winning any longer, and the unreconstructed rural crackers from the sticks probably will be voting for the has-been McCain and the wannabe Alaskan in November, anyway, but it soon became bitterly apparent that the Russians were grabbing a completely different Georgia (the place where Joe Stalin was born) and I totally lost interest.
Six Kobas or a half-dozen of Lester Maddox? Such a historical non-choice of despots neither matters, nor did my old pal Putin ask me for my opinion before the tanks started rolling. We really should have stayed closer, but you know how it goes.
Yes. Come again?
Yeah, right – drinking beer with Putin. What about the story? Okay, it’s coming, but first, a mild disclaimer.
Seeing that this tale from 1989 has unexpectedly taken on a life all its own, with requests for clarification pouring in from near and far, readers must be aware that it cannot be scientifically verified that I ever drank beer with Putin. Sorry. I can’t categorically prove that were at the same table, or that we ever met at all, although it is possible we sat in proximity in the same Dresden beer hall. I’m fairly certain that we were in the same urban area and time zone.
All of which begs the question: Exactly how did Mr. Putin and I come to be located in the same approximate geographical vicinity?
It’s because I spent the first three weeks of August, 1989, buffing and polishing V. I. Lenin’s shoes.
More specifically, the footwear in question was attached to a gargantuan statue of Lenin, prominently located at the entrance to the Volkspark Friedrichshain in East Berlin, the capital of the German Democratic Republic, henceforth to be referred to here as East Germany or the GDR. The ultimate objective of my voluntarily proffered shoeshine, and tree planting, and landscaping, was to make things look tidy and respectable in the Volkspark, which was cleverly reclaimed atop mounds of bombing rubble from World War II, and served afterward as the front yard for a hospital that often disgorged armless and legless pensioners for their afternoon constitutionals.
The stodgy and doctrinaire East German officialdom was in a summer deep cleaning mood of sorts that August, because an important celebration was being planned for September, 1989, when the GDR would be throwing a party in honor of its 40th birthday. Among the prestigious guests expected was Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, progenitor of many socio-political trends that were not making the East German leadership feel very happy at the time.
In fact, there had already been embarrassingly public signs that ordinary East Germans were prepared to take Gorbachev’s attempted reforms seriously, and if unable to safely agitate for glasnost and perestroika within the GDR, then do the next best thing: Escape. They were driving their tiny asbestos-laden Trabants to Hungary for sanctioned holidays, then disappearing across the only recently porous Hungarian border into Austria with visas to take them to West Germany and sanctuary.
But none of that mattered, at least yet, so there were branches to be pruned, trees to be planted, hedges trimmed and streets swept until they groaned with unfamiliarity. The GDR certainly tried its best to look the way its press clippings always proclaimed it did, although it generally didn’t, and perhaps somewhere in a declassified Stasi file there exists a yellowed photo of me with a shovel in one hand and a mug of raspberry infused Berliner Weisse bier in the other … and that’s because hidden away in the center of the Volkspark was an Imbiss, a small sausage, snack and beer vending stand – with rows of wheelchairs parked in front – and while the recommended workers’ commissary back at the shop was cheaper, it served the same basic meal each day, and there wasn’t beer there.
Of course, we know today that the GDR’s birthday bash, while smashingly choreographed, didn’t entirely go over as planned. In fact, 40 proved to be as good as it ever got for Communism, German-style, because behind the scenes over champagne and cocktail weenies, Gorbachev sternly lectured the hidebound East German nabobs and virtually disengaged the USSR from its surrogate’s future, setting crazy wheels into motion that culminated with the loss of lapdog Erich Honecker’s job, the fall of the Berlin Wall (Honecker’s pet project), and the disintegrated GDR’s unceremonious landing atop history’s scrap heap – all within an incredibly brief four-month period.
That’s a hellacious hangover by almost any standard, especially for a whole country, but naturally I didn’t know any of this in August, 1989, and although hindsight affords the clarity to recognize that those selected warning flags were beginning to fly, some already quite furiously, there was no credible reason at the time to believe that change was just around the corner.
Earlier that same year, Honecker had maintained that the Wall would stand for 50 or perhaps 100 more years, so long as the conditions prefacing it remained unchanged. It seemed so, and we saw no reason to suspend the formation of an East German-American Friendship Society back in Louisville, and to prematurely renounce the junkets we imagined such an organization would offer during the glorious proletarian future to come.
Turns out we were mistaken. We weren’t the only ones.
(Come back for Part Two tomorrow)
Friday, September 19, 2008
Meanwhile, owing to the wonders of Blogger.com’s scheduled advance posting capability, I’m on the ground in Belgium. Later today we’ll make a short bicycle ride from Ingelmunster to Poperinge, and when we arrive in the epicenter of the Belgian hop growing business in early evening, the opening of this year’s triennial hop festival will already have been observed.
That’s okay. The real fun comes on Sunday, when the parade takes place.
Tomorrow, with the weather permitting, we’ll ride to the French hill town of Cassel, which is perched atop one of the few genuine hills in Flanders, and where someone had the good sense to install probably the best Biere de Garde tasting café in France. If there is time before returning to Popering, sated, with saddle bags groaning under the weight of 750 ml booty, we’ll have a beer at the Hommelhof beer cuisine restaurant and café in Watou. Back in Poperinge, the Hotel Palace bar retains its large and varied beer list, and the evening will be hopping. The parade will be icing on the beery Poperinge cake. My tourist director buddy Luc will be a busy man, but it will be good seeing him again.
Here’s the brief account from 2005, followed by links to more stories about beercycling.
(Children in costume during the hop parade, with the Hotel Palace behind)
Poperinge’s hop festival is a recurring delight. This small provincial town possesses a self-image second to none, and the three-day event reflects a much appreciated commitment to local values.
Hop-related events and related revelry take place throughout the festival weekend, but the highlight is the Sunday parade through the tidy streets of Poperinge. The parade actually tells a story, with an accompanying libretto of sorts printed in several languages, periodic chapter markers, and a refreshing absence of commercial considerations.
The story concerns the history of brewing, the history of the hop, and its importance to the Poperinge economy. Onlookers meet the enemies of the hop -- for instance, brightly festooned children as beetles -- and the plant’s friends, other whistling children dressed as birds.
This year’s parade highlight came when the uniformed marching band from Wolnzach, Poperinge’s hoppy Bavarian sister city, stopped in front of the Hotel Palace, wheeled to face Guy, the owner, and played “Happy Birthday to You” on the occasion of his 60th.
PRESS RELEASE: "Let’s go to the hops."
9. Belgian beercycling 2000: Belgian beercycling 2000: The final beercycle ride, and postscripts.
THE SILVER GROVE NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION, INC.
7th Annual "STREET FESTIVAL"
Saturday, September 20th
11:00 a.m. till 3:00 p.m.
900 block of Indiana Avenue
New Albany, Indiana
COME JOIN THE FUN !
GAMES & PRIZES FOR ALL AGES * ENTERTAINMENT
FACE PAINTING * I-DENT-A-CHILD * CAKE WALK
DOORPRIZES * RAFFLES
REFRESHMENTS - featuring APPLEBEE'S
*Proceeds from the Street Festival help to fund
the SGNA's various areas of neighborhood outreach.
Rain Date: Saturday, September 27th
* ALSO DURING THE FESTIVAL*
THE ADVENT CHRISTIAN CHURCH WILL BE HOLDING AN OLD FASHION ICE CREAM SOCIAL!
SILVER GROVE HISTORIAN, JIM MUNFORD, WILL HAVE A HISTORY EXHIBIT in the basement of the Advent Christian church. THIS WILL INCLUDE THE ADVENT CHRISTIAN CHURCH AND TOWN OF SILVER GROVE INFORMATION.
(ANYONE WITH INFO OR ANYTHING THEY WOULD WANT TO DISPLAY, PLEASE BRING IT EARLY ON SATURDAY.)
Thursday, September 18, 2008
CM John Gonder will also update the Council on the work of the Housing Committee he chairs.
1:36 Update: Gordy phoned over lunch to retract his earlier organizational assertion in the paragraph below. There may yet be a head-to-head but, according to Gordy, "it ain't happening tonight." All the more time, then, to print tickets and build a proper cage. We were wrong about tonight's meeting. That's no reason to begrudge a grudge match. Our economy's at stake.
Intrepid reporter Gordy Gant wires that there's a public hearing at 6:00 as well, with One Southern Indiana, Develop New Albany, and the Urban Enterprise Association all making pitches for their respective organizations. I personally think they should wrestle for it, with ticket receipts going to fund an expansion of NABC's Fringe Fest.
Update: The pre-meeting meeting, more of a work session than hearing, will include a short presentation about the Historic Preservation Commission and its positive, criminally undefunded role in the city. Given that Coffey's last mention of "them people" was a complete fabrication (he claimed a citizen was forced to remove $40,000 in vinyl from her house and lost the property due to the expense), another grandstanding opportunity shall not go wasted.
Considering the city legal department's near total dereliction of duty in enforcing the historic standards made law by the council, this writer would like to personally invite the city attorney to the session. We'll be checking on you, Shane, and the pool of attorneys your boss promised the community to deal with enforcement.
One wonders if the County will bother to unlock the building for business today or if city employees will again be left to fend with the influx of county residents and questions as they try to direct storm recovery in town.
Has there been a public explanation as to why county offices were closed this week? Was there even an announcement, other than random citizens standing dejectedly around Hauss Square shrugging at each other after their door knocking failed to produce a live person? It seems an odd strategy in an election year.
Another meeting will keep me from Council attendance. If they decide to move the wrestling match to the Brewhouse, let me know. It'll have more of an impact on the city than county government anyway.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
New Albany Mayor Doug England briefed members of the media on the city’s wind storm recovery operations this morning.
Here are details and highlights from his press conference:
• Bottled water will be made available at no cost at four Floyd County firehouses, including the New Albany Fire Headquarters on E. Spring and E. 4th Streets. Other locations with water include: Georgetown Fire Department on Corydon Ridge Rd., Lafayette Township Fire Department on Scottsville Rd., Greenville-Galena on U.S. 150.
• Free meals will be available at the following locations in New Albany:
Wednesday – Silver St. United Methodist, 413 Silver St., 6-6:30 p.m.
Wednesday - Main St. United Methodist, 516 W. Main St., 5:30-6:00 p.m.
Thursday – Centenary United Methodist, 309 E. Spring St., 6-7 p.m.
Friday – St. Paul’s Episcopal, 1015 E. Main St., 6-7 p.m.
• The following New Albany-Floyd County School Corporation facilities will be open for showers:
Highland Hills Middle School
Wednesday 4-8 p.m.
Thursday 7-10 a.m. and 4-8 p.m.
Hazelwood Middle School
Wednesday 4-8 p.m.
Thursday 7-10 a.m. and 4-8 p.m.
Citizens should be reminded to bring their own towels and toiletries.
• The city’s temporary drop-off locations from vegetative waste – limbs, trees, branches, leaves and wood – remains open at the old Farmer’s Market located on Scribner Dr. between W. Oak and W. Elm Streets, across from the New Albany Little League baseball fields. The site, which is being regulated by a traffic officer from the city’s Police Department, is open to all New Albany residents.
• City forces have cleared all streets and alleyways of debris, except in locations where power lines remain entangled with trees. The city has been communicating these problematic sites on a regular basis with Duke Energy. Portions of approximately 10 streets remain blocked or closed, Street Commissioner Mickey Thompson estimated. (A separate e-mail will be distributed with current street and alley closures.)
• Property owners with damage to their residence should not only notify their insurance agent, but also Floyd County Emergency Management. Terry Herthel, the agency’s director, said compiling this information will help in their efforts to qualify Floyd County for federal funding and assistance. Citizens can call Herthel’s office at (812) 948-5454.
...here is an updated list of streets and alleys still closed in New Albany because of power lines entangled in trees or low-hanging wires.
1. Dewey St. between E. 15th and E. 16th St.
2. Near the intersection of Elm St. and Beharrell St.
3. Intersection of Crestview and Old Vincennes Rd. (two trees)
4. Alley between E. 10th St. and E. 11th St. between E. Spring St. and E. Market St.
5. Near intersection E. 11th St. Greenaway. (should be open within the next hour)
6. Intersection of Jackson St. and Hildreth Ave.
7. Alley between W. 9th St. and W. 10th St. off Cherry St.
8. Green Valley Rd. between Gordon Dr. and Greebriar Dr.
9. Alley between Beeler St. and McClain Ave. and between McDonald Ave. and Korb Ave.
10. Virginia Ct. between Spring Ave. and E. Elm St.
Not surprisingly, names like Portland, Austin, and Chicago appear near the top.
New Albany's puzzle, however, is not national. It's regional. It's metro. It's within 10 miles in any random direction. A notion of revitalization that at times seems vague and impossible is really just a matter of capturing a tiny percentage of real estate and retail activity within a relatively small area.
The categories, as defined by Travel + Leisure and separated out by CoolTown, are below. I might cavil at a couple of them, but I'm not editing a national magazine or running an international television network.
Within the Louisville Metro-Southern Indiana area, how do we comparatively rate? What are we good at? How do we capitalize? What and how do we improve?
Figure it out or die. No biggie.
Live music bands
Vintage stores/flea markets
Ethnic food/cheap eats
Farmers’ and specialty food markets
Quality of Life & Visitor Experience
Public transportation and pedestrian friendliness
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Obviously, no juice at work = no food and warm beer, so until the electricity's back, we're on enforced break. As for me, if there's juice at the airport, I'm off for the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. There's plenty of good beer there.
Stay tuned. Bluegill will update the situation. See you in two weeks.
Mark your calendars: NABC's Fringe Fest to provide downtown counterpoint to Harvest Homecoming, Oct. 9-11.
The goal of this first annual Fringe Fest is to create a cultural counterpoint to Harvest Homecoming and provide unique music, interesting exhibits, captivating films, and – most importantly – good locally brewed beer. Fringe Fest embraces everything creative and original, and welcomes anything outside of the social “norm”.
This year’s line-up includes the Louisville Film Society, the Derby City Roller Girls, and solo performers and bands from Indianapolis, Louisville, and New Albany. Other attractions being planned are a weekend-long art exhibit in the future Bank Street Brewhouse taproom, a beer bus shuttle from Louisville, Beer 101 class with publican Roger A. Baylor, a beer and cheese tasting, and a tattoo exhibit.
(John Campbell wrote the preceding; I edited)
Monday, September 15, 2008
The Mayor's office has been contacted by several interested citizens who would like to volunteer their assistance in cleaning up the storm damage strewn about the City.
The Mayor has indicated that anyone wishing to volunteer should focus their efforts in their own neighborhoods. Storm debris - limbs, trees, and other refuse - should be placed at curbside or five feet back from roads without curbs.
If anyone wants to haul yard waste to a dump site, they should take this material to the designated temporary storage site at the old Farmers Market on Scribner Drive between W. Elm Street and W. Oak Street across the street from the New Albany Little League field. Please, only yard waste - limbs, branches, leaves, wood - should be dumped at this site!
Mayor England appreciates the effort of all volunteers and cautions all volunteers to emphasize "safety first".
Carl E. Malysz
The power has been out at NABC/Rich O's/Sportstime since early Sunday afternoon, so I'm guessing our chances of opening today are slim. If the juice comes back on soon, we may be back in action serving beer tonight, but food deliveries don't come until tomorrow, and the beer (although unharmed) is currently warm.
I like it that way, though not everyone does.
The beer in the temperature-controlled brewery fermenters is another matter, and we'll have to play that one by ear.
Property damage from yesterday's Hurricane Ike aftershocks looks to be extensive, though not expensive in most cases, with many trees and limbs down, and shingles blown off rooftops. A few houses weren't so lucky, and as Diggin' In the Dirt reported on Sunday, several prominent New Albany landmarks took big hits from the gusts. Fortunately, injuries and deaths appear to be few in our region, and for that we're all thankful.
Any thoughts? Post 'em. The thread will remain open the remainder of the day as clean-up proceeds and I make ready for Benelux beercycling (departure Tuesday).
Sunday, September 14, 2008
I just received a text message with a photo of the steeple at St. Mary's on the corner of Eighth and Spring. The wind's knocked it cockeyed -- still attached, but it appears to be precariously.
That explains the sirens. I'd go look, but there's debris aplenty in the back yard, including tree limbs and two collapsed fence sections.
And yes, I'm very glad we got our dying tree down on Thursday before the Ike remnants hit.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
The Economist on Sarah Palin: "The most inexperienced candidate for a mainstream party in modern history."
The woman from nowhere: John McCain’s choice of running-mate raises serious questions about his judgment
(Column by Lexington; Illustration by KAL)
The most audacious move of the race so far is also, potentially, the most self-destructive. John McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin as his running-mate has set the political atmosphere alight with both enthusiasm and dismay.
Mr McCain has based his campaign on the idea that this is a dangerous world—and that Barack Obama is too inexperienced to deal with it. He has also acknowledged that his advanced age—he celebrated his 72nd birthday on August 29th—makes his choice of vice-president unusually important. Now he has chosen as his running mate, on the basis of the most cursory vetting, a first-term governor of Alaska.
The reaction from inside the conservative cocoon was at first ecstatic. Conservatives argued that Mrs Palin embodies the “real America”—a moose-hunting hockey mum, married to an oil-worker, who has risen from the local parent-teacher association to governing the geographically largest state in the Union. They praise her as a McCain-style reformer who has taken on her state’s Republican establishment and has a staunch pro-life record (her fifth child has Down’s syndrome). Who better to harpoon the baby-murdering elitists who run the Democratic Party?
Mrs Palin was greeted like the reincarnation of Ronald Reagan by the delegates, furious at her mauling at the hands of the “liberal media”. And she delivered a tub-thumping speech, underlining her record as a reforming governor and advocate of more oil-drilling, and warning her enemies not to underestimate her (“the difference between a hockey mum and a pitbull—lipstick”). But once the cheering and the chanting had died down, serious questions remained.
The political calculations behind Mr McCain’s choice hardly look robust. Mrs Palin is not quite the pork-busting reformer that her supporters claim. She may have become famous as the governor who finally killed the infamous “bridge to nowhere”—the $220m bridge to the sparsely inhabited island of Gravina, Alaska. But she was in favour of the bridge before she was against it (and told local residents that they weren’t “nowhere to her”). As mayor of Wasilla, a metropolis of 9,000 people, she initiated annual trips to Washington, DC, to ask for more earmarks from the state’s congressional delegation, and employed Washington lobbyists to press for more funds for her town.
Nor is Mrs Palin well placed to win over the moderate and independent voters who hold the keys to the White House. Mr McCain’s main political problem is not energising his base; he enjoys more support among Republicans than Mr Obama does among Democrats. His problem is reaching out to swing voters at a time when the number of self-identified Republicans is up to ten points lower than the number of self-identified Democrats. Mr McCain needs to attract roughly 55% of independents and 15% of Democrats to win the election. But it is hard to see how a woman who supports the teaching of creationism rather than contraception, and who is soon to become a 44-year-old grandmother, helps him with soccer moms in the Philadelphia suburbs. A Rasmussen poll found that the Palin pick made 31% of undecided voters less likely to plump for Mr McCain and only 6% more likely.
The moose in the room, of course, is her lack of experience. When Geraldine Ferraro was picked as Walter Mondale’s running-mate, she had served in the House for three terms. Even the hapless Dan Quayle, George Bush senior’s sidekick, had served in the House and Senate for 12 years. Mrs Palin, who has been the governor of a state with a population of 670,000 for less than two years, is the most inexperienced candidate for a mainstream party in modern history.
Inexperienced and Bush-level incurious. She has no record of interest in foreign policy, let alone expertise. She once told an Alaskan magazine: “I’ve been so focused on state government; I haven’t really focused much on the war in Iraq.” She obtained an American passport only last summer to visit Alaskan troops in Germany and Kuwait. This not only blunts Mr McCain’s most powerful criticism of Mr Obama. It also raises serious questions about the way he makes decisions.
Vetted for 15 minutes
Mr McCain had met Mrs Palin only once, for a 15-minute chat at the National Governors’ Association meeting, before summoning her to his ranch for her final interview. The New York Times claims that his team arrived in Alaska only on August 28th, a day before the announcement. As a result, his advisers seem to have been gobsmacked by the Palin show that is now playing on the national stage. She has links to the wacky Alaska Independence Party, which wants to secede from the Union. She is on record disagreeing with Mr McCain on global warming, among other issues. The contrast with Mr Obama’s choice of the highly experienced and much-vetted Joe Biden is striking.
Mr McCain’s appointment also raises more general worries about the Republican Party’s fitness for government. Up until the middle of last week Mr McCain was still considering two other candidates whom he has known for decades: Joe Lieberman, a veteran senator, independent Democrat and Iraq war hawk, and Tom Ridge, a former governor of Pennsylvania (a swing state with 21 Electoral College votes) and the first secretary of homeland security. Mr McCain reluctantly rejected both men because their pro-choice views are anathema to the Christian right.
The Palin appointment is yet more proof of the way that abortion still distorts American politics. This is as true on the left as on the right. But the Republicans seem to have gone furthest in subordinating considerations of competence and merit to pro-life purity. One of the biggest problems with the Bush administration is that it appointed so many incompetents because they were sound on Roe v Wade. Mrs Palin’s elevation suggests that, far from breaking with Mr Bush, Mr McCain is repeating his mistakes.
Friday, September 12, 2008
I got most of it. There's one small piece missing from a necessary tape change and I missed the last ten minutes or so. When Lloyd "Highwayman" Wimp lined up to deliver his statement, I ran out of tape two and didn't get a new one swapped in in time.
If the young Mr. Wimp would care to forward said document, I'll gladly post it for public consumption.
Otherwise, here it is. You'll need to hit play after it downloads a bit and then it should continue to stream. It's almost two hours. Don't say I didn't warn you.
Sorry, Doc -- gotta call you out on this one. Without further comment, here is today's "healthy" humor.
A most distressing knock-knock joke
Date: circa 1602
1 a: the quality or state of being redundant : superfluity b: the use of redundant components; also : such components chiefly British : dismissal from a job especially by layoff
2: profusion, abundance
3 a: superfluous repetition : prolixity b: an act or instance of needless repetition
4: the part of a message that can be eliminated without loss of essential information
Thanks to Merriam-Webster, and apologies for not seeing the Tribune reporter in the room for the rental inspection and code enforcement committee meeting on Wednesday night.
Committee may suggest rental registration in New Albany, by Daniel Suddeath.
In the article, committee member Steve Price is quoted as saying, “I don’t understand why you want to put another fee on taxpayers.”
Yep -- that’s the redundancy.
The utterance might have plausibly stopped with “I don’t understand” (does he ever so much as try?) and retained its full, rich meaning. Everything else after that is non-essential information. On the other hand, absent non-essential information, Price would possess none whatsoever. His career in politics is a paean to empty calories -- performed tunelessly, repetively and with quite the unceasing air of redundancy.
Come to think of it, we’ll be able to make Price redundant in 2011 in the British sense of usage, assuming citizens residing within the 3rd council district keep their heads and run one quality primary candidate against Jethro and not two, as has been the case the previous two election cycles. Let's hope we get it right this time.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Finding Sanctuary on Nine-Eleven
Here's what I wrote about it last year.
I’m always amused when people who “play by the rules” aren’t able to follow them.
Yes, it’s time to revisit Vicki Ann Denschak’s bilious Freedom to Screech blog and read “Professor Erik’s” original thoughts about … wait … it now seems that they’re not exactly original.
As the noted noted linguist Gomer Pyle once observed, "Surprise, Surprise, Surprise."
09. 11. 01
The imaginary lecturer’s first two paragraphs are cribbed in their entirety (sans attribution, which is the faux academic’s longstanding, loathsome habit) from an essay by John Peters.
Poignantly, Ms. Denschak inserts her own leadoff sentence into the second paragraph. Not only is it grammatically incorrect, but she misspells singer Shania Twain’s name.
Further along, there’s another whole paragraph stolen from an article by Stacey Colino published in 2002.
And, the sentence following the paragraph originally written by Colino can be found here.
What was that about rules? Consider this random definition from the Northwestern University website:
Northwestern's "Principles Regarding Academic Integrity" defines plagiarism as "submitting material that in part or whole is not entirely one's own work without attributing those same portions to their correct source."
Gee, you’d think a college professor would know that.
From the landlords’ side of the aisle, the gist of last evening's argumentation was a repetitive tendency toward obfuscation.
All agree they’re not to be confused with slumlords, and that their attendance is proof of this. Fair enough, and I don;'t doubt it. But it seemed that just about any complaint peripheral to the fundamental questions before the committee – is there a problem with rental properties in New Albany, and if so, how do we address it? – kept being tossed out for ritual flogging so as to derail discussion of this basic consideration.
Muddying the scrum ... who'd have thunk it?
Of course, it doesn’t help to have a councilman present who is hostile both to any regulation whatsoever of his own business interests and to the commonly accepted tenets of logic on planet Earth … but enough about Steve "LLCs-R-Us" Price, whose Gahan-inspired presence on the committee is an affront to thinking people (and their house pets) everywhere.
First the building commissioner was permitted to meander into his difficulties with owner-occupied housing (does he ever answer a rental property query straight up without wandering off point?), then came the usual Anna-istic diversion into why the understaffed and underfunded enforcement agents already on the ground can’t reinvent the wheel in the absence of political will, and finally, Mr. Haesley of Property Solutions offered a couple of bona fide gems.
First, as documented previously, he insisted that each and every one of the inhabitable houses owned by his company in the city of New Albany are not to be confused with houses where tenants pay rent. Rather, they’re "products," and once occupied (money presumably having changed hands in the process), the people living in the spaces owned by his company are tantamount to owners of the property in question -- which might come as a considerable surprise to them.
All of this circumlocution on Haesley’s part pertains to an understandable frustration over the terms of engagement with the folks who collect the garbage on a weekly basis. If his “products” are understood as a “business”, then they’re ineligible for residential pickup, and he must contract elsewhere.
So, if I grasped Mr. Haesley's argument correctly, it went something like this:
There is confusion over residential vs. business garbage; therefore, my business is not a business, and it should not be regulated.
Whatever. Rental properties? My position remains the same.
Legalize 'em ... regulate 'em ... tax 'em.
One needn't view the video in it's entirety, however, to grasp the essence of the situation. Amidst the embroidery of humorously bad arguments, irrelevant anecdotes, and sanitation fantasies, at least one thing is plain:
No one knows the law.
Over and over again, the questions arose: What legal obligation does the city have to notify property owners of code violations and what can legally be done if they don't respond? For that matter, what enforcement and collection options, according to the state, does the city have if they do respond? Every time, the answer was "I don't know".
Given the number of times the building commissioner has expressed exasperation with those unknowns, you'd think finding them out would be the crux of his efforts. If thinking was the hallmark of New Albany's past couple of decades, though, we wouldn't be having this conversation.
As much credit as I give John Gonder for displaying the fortitude so lacking in previous councils, there's not much sense in continuing the foray into chaos until those legal questions are answered. Otherwise, we'll be seeking to build an enforcement mechanism based on faulty remembrances rather than contemporary understanding.
And with all the superfluous talk throughout this conversation of how great things used to be, another myth is the last thing we need.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
(a) His business is located at (insert Floyds Knobs address here).
(b) All the many houses this business owns, from which the business derives income (dare we imagine … makes a profit?) by charging people a fee (that’d be “rent”) to live there, actually are not properties. They are products.
(c) Does a department store have to register each and every one of the products it sells?
I’ll leave it to Bluegill (who filmed the meeting) and others – was local media present? – to provide the in-depth coverage of the evening.
All I can say is this.
(a) Okay. I have an address, too. It isn’t a post office box, either.
(b) The beers I sell aren’t products, mind you. They’re dreams. How can we tax/register/license a dream?
(c) Pick an item in any store. Every step of the way, licensing is involved. Even if it comes from an unregulated Chinese sweat shop, the product is subject to some manner of importation licensing. What of the truck that delivered it? A licensed driver, of course. I'm sure we could follow this further. Why bother?
A product, huh?
Earlier in the session, Councilman John Gonder took a poll of the people in attendance, asking whether they were for or against a simple rental property registration program without registration fees. The vote predictably split along landlord/activist lines. Gonder did not permit stronger views to be enumerated.
Count me among the latter, though. So long as rental property owners insult my intelligence with arguments as weak as Mr. Haesley’s, then I advocate licenses for every rental unit in town.
Am I am extremist? Maybe. All I know is that my business is in fact a business, it is regulated to the hilt by multiple governmental agencies, and I accept regulation as the cost of doing business.
Business is business … right?
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
Bring your butterfly nets: Council's rental registration & code enforcement committee meets Wednesday night; Price votes "no".
The next meeting of the committee on rental registration and code enforcement is being held Wednesday, September 10, at 6:00 p.m. It will be in the third floor assembly room in the City County Building.
And, in the senior editor's own words:
Slumlords in attendance who plan on self-immolation are kindly asked to flick their Bics outside on Hauss Square, as smoking indoors is not permitted. Defenestration is the recommended alternative to second-hand smoke -- just don't get hung up on the big metal exterior art outside the assembly room's windows; the city simply can't afford overtime pay to firefighters for rescuing hanging cads.
Meanwhile, guest columnist Pat Harrison pinch-hits for the transgendered Prof. Erika over at Freedom to Screech:
"You stupid lying jack-ass..."
Whoa ... why not say what you really think, girl(s).
NAC's roving reporter, Gordy Gant, found councilman Steve Price playing video poker at the VFW and asked him his opinion about regulating rental properties like the businesses they most certainly are:
This is all a bunch of fucking bullshit.
That's a profound coincidence. It's the same way I feel about council president Jeff Gahan appointing Price to such a committee in the first place. Then again, at least Price has the gumption to say what he thinks aloud and for public attribution, rather than saving it for Gahan's non-smoke-filled back rooms. Sewer machinations, anyone?
See you all there, campers.
Monday, September 08, 2008
Consequently, I wasn't aware of the scandal at MSNBC ... but how delicious it is to read Olbermann's comments. He may be my favorite human being at present (Tim Filler's a close second).
Political anchors demoted (Yahoo)
Tensions at MSNBC lead to lesser roles for outspoken Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews.
You're invited to attend Jeffersonville Main Street Inc.'s 3rd Annual Smart Growth Summit on Wednesday, September 17 from noon-4:30 p.m. in Jeffersonville, Indiana. It is an educational afternoon of great talks about how we can best use our built and natural spaces to make our communities more livable.
This year's theme is "25 Ways You Can Improve Your Community." The event takes place in an historic rail car factory that has been preserved as a meeting facility called Kye's at Water Tower Square. We hope to see you there.
Registration Form for 2008 Smart Growth Summit >> (PDF Format)
Summit Agenda >> (PDF Format)
Driving Directions to Kye's >>
Sunday, September 07, 2008
Here’s one I missed from late August.
JOHNSON: Unite church and state, by Richard Johnson, (local Tribune columnist).
While there are many theories that try to explain what causes crime, only one of them in my opinion offers a complete explanation. The root cause of crime is a universal heart condition that the Bible calls sin.
As a longtime follower of Christ and an ordained minister of the gospel, I have served the Lord for many years, 15 of them in America’s prisons and jails …
I’ll cut to the chase. Johnson’s argument goes something like this:
Sin, not “fancy theories” (i.e., poverty, poor education, bad childhoods) leads to a chosen “lifestyle of crime”, which is a spiritual condition.
As such, “Government cannot do anything about sin; show me any government, anywhere, that can. Dealing with sin is the church’s job,” and the government’s job is preserving order, nothing more.
Therefore, the separation of church and state is an inefficient way of tackling crime because the state, which exists to preserve order, must have “allies” in the church who can deal with sin on spiritual terms.
Assertions of this nature never cease to amaze me. One wonders why the Founding Fathers even bothered with civil law if all they needed to do was mimeograph the teachings of one or the other Christian denominations and join certain areas of the Muslim world in shackling the legal system to one specific interpretation within a multiplicity of religious perspectives.
The concept of sin is undoubtedly a religious construct. Without sin’s purely conditional aspect of disobedience to God’s “word” – according to whatever “God” means within the framework of a specific religious worldview – the concept of sin is just about meaningless.
Johnson asserts that sin is the only “universal” explanation for crime, but that’s a fairly obvious over-simplification. When it comes to the behavior of a schizophrenic, there’s a better answer over at Wikipedia:
Increased dopaminergic activity in the mesolimbic pathway of the brain is consistently found in schizophrenic individuals.
If an undiagnosed (and untreated) schizophrenic commits a crime, was it the result of sin or bad brain chemistry? The schizophrenic made a choice, and “chose” sin, but how did he know what he was doing if the wiring in his brain is faulty?
And, what are we to make of God’s role in the creation of schizophrenia? If a supreme being created the brain and the brain is faulty, and if the schizophrenic commits a sinful crime as a result of what amounts to pilot error, then the crime and the sin were pre-determined. Free will, anyone? Making mistakes is one thing. Suffering from an illness that precludes the rationality necessary to make a sensible choice is something else entirely.
Johnson’s argument isn’t without an element of cleverness, though it’s an epistemological shell game. To make sense of sin, one must accept the existence of God. To accept the existence of both sin and God in this context implies plausibility of Johnson’s central point, that church and state should be anything but separate when it comes to crime.
Sorry. These are theistic back doors best left closed and locked. Johnson and his brethren are perfectly free to dispense spiritualistic solutions to personal problems, though not to graft them onto the secular law that governs the nation.
All these religious columnists lately! I may become a professional atheist yet.
See also: Making your own dirt: Why not evangelical atheism?