Saturday, May 31, 2008

May Photos

CC Little Building, facing North University Ave.

Mural in alleyway between Liberty St. and Washington St., across from the Federal Bldg.

Demolition of the old YMCA

Alleyways behind the Michigan Theater

Maintaining the Burton Tower

Ann Arbor Railroad bridge over Main St and the Huron River

Across from the Argus Bldg on 4th St.

An old train station of the Ann Arbor Railroad (near 1st and William)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Sylvania ad from SE Asia

I really like this commercial, since it shows off a panoply of "boogie-monsters" of SE Asia. (The transvestite comment is a little odd, though.)

Man jailed for riding skateboard to work

From Treehugger:
Lee Breen lives green; his day job is running a landscaping company that uses push mowers, hand clippers and organic compost. He says that the City of Fredricton, (New Brunswick, Canada) should be encouraging non-polluting forms of transportation. But even though he was skating at the edge of the road, wearing a helmet and actually using hand signals, he was arrested last summer for breaching a local bylaw that prohibits the use of "a sled, toboggan, wagon or skateboard on the streets of New Brunswick's capital."

So... rollerblading, rollerskating, rollerskiing, powerbocking, stilt-walking, "magic-wheel"-ing, unicycling, cargo-biking, mono-wheeling, kick- or motor-scootering, etc. along the side of the road are all fine? Most of these forms of transportation create just as small a profile as a skateboarder. Some of them are less stable, to boot!

The issue of skateboard bans has - I believe - nothing to do with public safety, but rather a perception of a public nuisance. Using a skateboard on the sidewalk can easily become a nuisance - both to the boarder and to pedestrians - much like using a bike or being a jogger (or any of the above-listed alternative modes of transport), since it operates at a speed that is an order of magnitude faster than walkers.

Finally, I feel that a ban on using a skateboard as a mode of transportation is about as dumb as banning the use of personal re-usable bags at a store as a means of goods-schlepping.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Natural disasters and the mandate of heaven

Another side of why the Chinese government may be so interested that the their people take note of their efforts to save and help so many civilians after the large earthquake may be due to the Mandate of Heaven. There have been several stories about this on the blogosphere, but I think might have a good summary.

Although 2008 is only 5.5 months in, China has suffered two major natural disasters: snow and earthquake. In January was the worst snows in decades, stopping millions of Chinese from going home to the countryside for Lunar New Year celebrations. It was cited at that time - what with the Prime Minister apologizing for the weather delays - that many people in the politburo were worried about the perception of a loss of this heavenly "mandate" for their party - their "dynasty" - to continue their rule.

Now, at the start of May, China has suffered a major earthquake, with tens-of-thousands of people dead, and possibly thousands more deaths to become confirmed.

The strength of this notion of the "Mandate of Heaven" might be stronger than some people in the West might think. After all, China is seen to be a "godless" Communist country. We know that the central government has recently made such outrageous statements as to regulating reincarnation (!) and enforce religious laws allowing only adults to practice any religion. We know that China is also a growing area of science. We tend to imprint our own viewpoints upon those pieces of evidence we see and draw conclusions based on our own world views and upbringing. However, China is not totally within our paradigm. Just as anyone in the West has to deal with a society constructed around the notion that "religion = Christianity", in a similar way the Chinese have to deal with "rulership = Mandate of Heaven". (I would forward the notion that minus a democratic system of power being vested in government by the free will of the people - which the current government is - then the possibility of hanging on to the notion of the heavens holding the mandate of rule is a pretty appealing one.) Therefore, it shouldn't be much of a surprise that since we find that religiosity in China is alive-and-well, so, too, will come the understanding that the Chinese government may be very determined to show the country that they are working for the people (especially when much of the stated religiosity shows up as "Fortune" and "Fate" - aspects governing the Mandate of Heaven).

True, the country is also putting on a show for the rest of the world. Now, I'm not saying that this is a "show" in the sense of a "dog-and-pony show", but there is an understanding that the world is watching the country. What with the Olympics coming, China has put itself (semi-voluntarily) on the world's stage for scrutiny. With this natural disaster, it has only itself to blame if relief is not given in a timely manner. Indeed, one has not heard China asking the world for relief aid, and so one might think that there is also a bit of the "we're part of the developed world" attitude being displayed. (Of course, the contrary point-of-view is that the Chinese government has trepidations of allowing thousands of foreign relief aid workers throughout the country.)

Finally, there is the "Tibet problem". Although China has recently stated that it will meet with a representative of the Dalai Lama, I'm sure that it can now use the recent earthquake - and their helping of the Chinese people - as a convenient excuse to stop talks. We shall see what happens in the next few days, I suppose.

Perhaps if there is another set of natural disasters, the country will have to take more and more seriously the inequalities of the richer Eastern coastal area versus the relatively poorer and rural vast remainder of the country. A poor way of obtaining rights and governmental benefits, to be sure, but when there is no democratic oversight, nor fair representation for the countryside, to whom else but the heavens can people turn?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Squirrel: it's what's for dinner (in Britain)

Ahh, the wonders of British cuisine never cease to amaze me. From The Guardian:

It's low in fat, low in food miles and completely free range. In fact, some claim that Sciurus carolinensis - the grey squirrel - is about as ethical a dish as it is possible to serve on a dinner plate.
Mmmm... Where can I sign me up for some squirrel meat?

Now, the idea of eating squirrel is not that new, but where can I get some recipes? A quick search on the Google of "squirrel recipe" led me to:
But looking down the list, I started to see a pattern emerging: the popular squirrel recipes were only on the hunter-type websites. If the UK government is going to support the sale of these wee beasties as food products, then it had best try and come up with some good recipes for them.

"Please sir, can I have some more?"

Now, in all seriousness, the reason why so many grey squirrels are being hunted is due to their being so bloody aggressive in the wilds (and not-so-wilds) of Britain, beating up on their hapless red squirrel cousins. To that end, the Brits have decided to allow target practice to commence upon the grey squirrel.

I wonder what Michigan Squirrels Club would have to say about it? (I think I might offer them some squirrel-on-a-stick come next year...)

Target: Women ... Yogurt Edition