the grand canyon is not 6,000 years old

According to a December 28 press release by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility:

Grand Canyon National Park is not permitted to give an official estimate of the geologic age of its principal feature, due to pressure from Bush administration appointees. Despite promising a prompt review of its approval for a book claiming the Grand Canyon was created by Noah’s flood rather than by geologic forces, more than three years later no review has ever been done and the book remains on sale at the park, according to documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

“In order to avoid offending religious fundamentalists, our National Park Service is under orders to suspend its belief in geology,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “It is disconcerting that the official position of a national park as to the geologic age of the Grand Canyon is ‘no comment.'”…

[This comes via ATTYTOOD.]

If you’re interested in the origins of this debate over the Grand Canyon, check out this 2004 post of mine.

Posted in Religious Extremism | 4 Comments

my friend the burnout: when buying local leads to dissatisfaction

A friend of mine drank the “buy local” kool-aid that I’ve been pushing on this blog and elsewhere. Convinced that she could have a genuine impact on the town in which she lives by choosing local options when they exist, she went out and started doing something about it. And, from what she tells me, it was empowering. It was perfect… at least for a while.

Every time she spent a dollar at a local coffee house instead of at Starbucks, she felt great. There was this surge of happiness as she envisioned the dollars spent there circulating back through the same local economy several times over. She thought about the people she was supporting and how they in turn would support others. With each swig of locally roasted and brewed coffee, she thought about the local accountants, bankers and attorneys who counted the owner of the coffee shop as a client. And she thought about all of their bright-eyed little kids going off to public school, making it better in the process. She thought about the other entrepreneurially-inclined individuals in town who, seeing what was happening, might choose to increase their involvement, possibly opening shops of their own, or holding events like our Shadow Art Fair. From her perspective, there was no end to what could be accomplished.

So, her involvement in the community grew, and she started getting others involved. She could feel that a movement was growing, and it made her happy. Her town, at least in her eyes, was becoming a better place, and she felt as though she was instrumental in making that happen.

As we all know, however, all good things must come to an end. It was inevitable, but at some point she started losing faith. I don’t want to get into all the details here, but let’s just say that the closer she got to local business people, the less she felt like idolizing them. Over the last few months, the petty jealousies between them started to emerge. And she began hearing stories from friends about business practices that didn’t sound altogether kosher. There were stories of employees being harassed and questionable accounting practices. She managed to keep it all in perspective and stay positive about it, though, until a locally owned auto shop tried to rip her off a few days ago… That was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Although she had gotten great service from a mechanic at a franchise of a national chain garage for years, she found out about an independent garage that was closer to her house and decided to give them a chance. After taking her car there for an oil change, she was told that she was in dire need of new brake pads. Since the estimate they gave her seemed high, she decided to get a second estimate from the franchise. An hour after dropping the car off, she got a call from her trusted mechanic – her brake pads, while not brand new, had maybe 10,000 miles left before they needed replacing. The owner of the independent shop had told her they were basically gone, that she was taking her life in her own hands if she left without having the work done.

Sure, he could have misread the pads, but my guess — and hers — is that he lied in hopes of milking her for a few more dollars. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the reality of the situation. Buying local, as many of us have pointed out here, is not in itself a cure for all that ails us. There are bad local business owners wherever you go, and there always will be. Unfortunately, you come face-to-face with them when you shop at a locally-owned store, whereas at a nation chain they remain hidden. Some people lie, cheat and steal. My advice to my friend, however, is not to give up on her town, but to keep patronizing those businesses that she’s had good experiences at, and continuing to try others when the opportunity presents itself… Buying local doesn’t mean buying stupid. It doesn’t mean supporting local shops when it’s foolish to do so.

And, to local businesses here and elsewhere, I offer this piece of advice… If people in your community are, as we are here in Ypsi, trying to evangelize and build a “buy local” movement, then the least that you can do is to meet them halfway. If you don’t, I’m afraid that the movement will be short-lived. The goodwill won’t last forever, and sooner or later, unless you’re providing good, honest service at a fair price, the whole “buy local” campaign will dry up and blow away. And, it’s in all of our best interests to see that this doesn’t happen. (I’m not suggesting that business owners necessarily police one another, but the guy who owns the coffee shop needs to realize that he’s being affected by the person next door who is ripping people off, etc.)

So, what does this mean in terms of Ypsi. Well, I just had a beer with Brian Cors, the fellow who launched and I think we’re in agreement that we (those of us providing content) are not doing anyone any favors if we gloss over the negative things in our community. So, from now on, we’re thinking that the editorial voice of the site will be a bit less cheerleaderish. Don’t get me wrong, we still want to stay positive. Primarily, we want to share good news about our community, such as tips as to where one can find good deals and good service, however, from now on, I don’t think we’ll be so quick to shy away from mentioning where a business owner might be able to do a better job. For instance, I think it’s fair to say something along the lines of… “I love the burgers at Restaurant X, but I’ve noticed over the past year or so that the quality of their pizza has been steadily decreasing. As a result, I generally buy pizza from Restaurant Y. Hopefully Restaurant X gets their act together. I’ll be checking back in January to see what it’s like. In the meantime, if you have thoughts on their pizza, or any other menu items, leave a comment.” Sound fair enough?

Posted in Ypsilanti | 15 Comments

defamer link brings over 4k people so far

Now that Defamer is on to the Crichton thing, I wonder how it might effect our collaborative writing project. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Posted in Media | 2 Comments

sacrificing for our kids

Every morning, on my way to work, I flip between a few radio stations. I generally listen to Drew and Mike on WRIF, unless they’re either talking about sports or in a commercial, in which case I flip over to WKRK and listen to the most recent jackasses they’ve brought in to fill the slot vacated by Howard Stern. Drew and Mike aren’t that bad in the whole scheme of things. Sometimes they’re juvenile, and occasionally they piss me off with their politics, but, for the most part, being a listener of theirs isn’t something that embarrasses me. It does, however, cause me some shame when Clementine is in the car with me.

On the days that Clementine goes to school, I’m usually the one to drop her off. I generally don’t change my listening habits when she’s in the car. I just turn the volume down a bit and kind of lean forward in my seat, ready to smack the volume down at the first mention of the word “bitch,” or allusion to a sex act. I talk with her the whole way, but I do so in a kind of distracted way, always keeping part of my brain focused on the radio, worrying that I might miss out on a particularly clever dick joke or the like.

I know a guy from Brazil. Growing up, his parents made it a point only to speak English in their house. They did so because they felt that their sons would have better opportunities if they knew our language and could speak it naturally. I’m sure they would have preferred to have spoken Portuguese, but it was something that they felt strongly about, and they wanted their sons to have every advantage.

Every time I think of them, I feel like throwing myself headfirst into an industrial meat grinder.

I don’t even come close as a parent. Sure, I’m good about doing what needs to be done, and I do a fair job when it comes to challenging, teaching and encouraging my daughter, but I don’t really sacrifice for her, at least not in any kind of substantive, prolonged way. For instance, while I think it might be a really great idea, I haven’t so much as looked into taking a local Mandarin course. Hell, I can’t even bring myself to sing the ABCs some nights – in English.

And these Brazilian parents aren’t even the worst (and by “worst,” I mean “best”). Linette and I know of people who had very prominent careers abroad who gave them up to come here to the United States and work menial jobs because they were convinced that being here was in the best long-term interests of their children… And, here I am, physically unable to tune out the dick jokes for the five minutes it takes me to deliver my daughter to her school.

Anyway, this is one of the things I’ve been thinking about this holiday season…. I’ve been wondering what I’d be doing right now, if I really wanted my daughter to succeed in life. Would I be getting my MBA (so that I could, if necessary, emigrate to Canada)? Would I be working a second job instead of blogging, so that I could afford to send her to space camp? Would I be working on a novel or running for political office, with the thought that doing so might somehow increase her chances of getting into a good college? I don’t know.

I doubt I’ll be perfect about it, but, there has been some progress. As of a week or so ago, I’ve been trying to play classical music and jazz when she’s in the car with me. It’s a small sacrifice. I hope, however, that larger ones will follow.

Posted in Observations | 27 Comments

doug skinner, on youtube, but not not wikipedia

I just found out that my friend, and frequent commenter, Doug Skinner, had the honor of writing the introduction for a soon-to-be-released collection of John “Mothman” Keel’s columns from “Fate Magazine,” soon to be released on Galde Press, publisher of titles such as “Alien Rapture” and “The Lesson of Moogoo-Maagooville.” In poking around the web, looking for a publication date, I happened across Keel’s Wikipedia entry, and noticed that our friend Doug is mentioned there as well. Surprisingly, however, I also noticed that Doug’s name is in red, indicating that he, as of yet, does not have a Wikipedia entry of his own.

If any of you out there feel so inclined to start an entry for our Mr. Skinner, you might want to consider starting with these bullet points, which were left by him on this site a few weeks ago. And, whatever you do, be sure to include a link to this historic video footage of Doug and his colleague Eddie discussing optical illusions. (And I know that “colleague” probably isn’t the correct term, but I can’t remember what the p.c. term for “dummy” is. I just know that “dummy” and “puppet” are frowned on by folks these days.)

And, for all those Doug Skinner fans in the audience, a few translations that he’s done of work by eccentric French Romantic Xavier Forneret are supposed to be in the upcoming (304-page) “Strange Attractor Journal#3, accompanied by the illustrations of Betsy Heistand. I’m told that this issue also includes stuff about the catacombs under Liverpool, Stewart Home’s pranks, Hans Christian Andersen’s collages, sex magic in Paris opium dens, among other things. (For what it’s worth, the new issue of “Crimewave,” which I’m supposed to be working on right now, isn’t shaping up to be nearly as interesting.)

Posted in Art and Culture | 1 Comment


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