buy indie in ypsi for the holidays

    Last year at about this time, the YpsiVotes gang held a community forum on downtown business and what we, as members of the community, could do to help keep our locally-owned stores here and thriving. The session was well received and productive, and a lot of cool things came out of it. One of the best was that a friend of mine named Karen, motivated by what she’d heard and seen that evening, put together a a flyer encouraging people to do their holiday shopping locally. (That link will load a pdf.) The flyer named all the local businesses that we could think of, and grouped them into categories, like “antiques,” “clothing/jewelry/shoes,” “candy/novelty,” and “home goods.” We then distributed the flyers around town, and, through this site, began asking our friends and neighbors to take a “Buy local” challenge and do all of their holiday shopping here in Ypsi. The mayor agreed to do it, as did at least a few dozen other people. And, City Council agreed to name a “Buy Local Week.”

    Well, Karen’s moved away now, and I’d like to keep the initiative going. And, toward that end, I’d like to enlist the help of a few volunteers. First, we need a group of folks willing to update the flyer. Then, we need help designing and printing them. And, finally, we need help distributing them and getting the word out. There are all kinds of other things we could do, like have a webpage where people could sign a “Buy Local for the Holidays” pledge, but we can worry about all of that after we get the basics taken care of.

    So, if you’re up for helping out, leave a comment or send me an email and I’ll track you down once a time and a date for meeting has been set.

    Ideally, we’d get this up and running just after Thanksgiving so that it’s in full swing by the time the Shadow Art Fair rolls around on December 1.

    [note: For those who would like to know more about why locally owned businesses are important, my post on Michael Shuman is probably a good place to start.]

    Posted in Ypsilanti | 11 Comments

    sy hersh on the marketing of the war in iran

    Seymour Hersh has a new piece in “The New Yorker.” And, as he seems to be right more often than any other investigative journalist in America, what he has to say about the Bush administration’s likely plans for Iran are probably worth considering. Following is a clip from the article explaining why, over the past few months, our announced military targets in Iran have been shifting from nuclear research facilities to those connected to the Revolutionary Guard:

    …The shift in targeting reflects three developments. First, the President and his senior advisers have concluded that their campaign to convince the American public that Iran poses an imminent nuclear threat has failed (unlike a similar campaign before the Iraq war), and that as a result there is not enough popular support for a major bombing campaign. The second development is that the White House has come to terms, in private, with the general consensus of the American intelligence community that Iran is at least five years away from obtaining a bomb. And, finally, there has been a growing recognition in Washington and throughout the Middle East that Iran is emerging as the geopolitical winner of the war in Iraq…

    The bottom line is that Cheney and Bush want to attack Iran, but they know that the nuclear threat angle isn’t working. So, now they’re pitching it a different way. It’s all about the marketing.

    Here’s Hersh on CNN:

    Posted in Politics | 10 Comments

      does this mean there’s no more state of michigan?

      According to the official Sate of Michigan website, there is no more State of Michigan. At least that’s my interpretation. To be honest, I didn’t make it all the way through the 81-question FAQ though. What I did see, however, leads me to believe that Michigan has gone the way of New Coke, corn cob pipes and throat beards.

      If I were Canada, now’s the time I’d make a move to get the Upper Peninsula. There’s never been a better opportunity. American military forces are deployed oversees, the Canadian dollar is strong and there’s a leadership vacuum in Michigan. Plus, I suspect that a lot of Michiganders would gladly jump at an offer to join Canada, what with their nationalized healthcare and all. And, with global warming looming, those huge fresh water lakes of ours have got to be mighty tempting. If the Canadians have sleeper cells in Michigan, I suspect they’ll start rolling them out now. If you visit a Tim Horton’s tomorrow, pay close attention to the folks behind the counter.

      If we’re not taken over, how about renaming the state and starting over with a clean slate? We might even be able to sell naming rights to a beer company or something and make some money in the process. Now’s the time to start thinking outside the box, my friends.

      Assuming, however, that the Canadian’s don’t come to attack/rescue us, and we don’t rise up and start a new state, and that our legislature eventually gets their shit together and gets the ship of state running again, we don’t have to pay state taxes for the duration of the shutdown, do we?

      [Michigan Liberal has good, up-to-date coverage, for those who want to know what's really going on.]

      Posted in Michigan | 6 Comments

      dingell’s ties to general motors

      Carl Pope, Executive Director of the Sierra Club, has an article up at the Huffington Post entitled, “A Good Week for GM?” Here’s a clip:

      It certainly looks like it. The settlement of the short-lived strike by the United Auto Workers is seen as having resolved the threat that retiree health care costs posted to General Motors’ competitiveness, and the company’s stock price soared on the news. Meanwhile, Congressman John Dingell, whose wife Debbie is a GM lobbyist, has embraced GM’s long-standing policy preference in dealing with global warming and America’s oil dependence; that is, to tax fuel.

      Dingell has embraced — officially, at least — the idea of a $50 per ton tax on carbon, roughly $15 per ton of carbon dioxide, phased in over five years, and pegged thereafter at the rate of inflation. GM prefers a carbon tax, which puts the burden of emissions cuts on the oil industry (and GM’s customers), over tougher federal fuel economy standards for cars, trucks and SUVs. Recently, the company also embraced a cap-and-trade system that would also price carbon, thereby joining USCAP, an alliance of environmental and business groups working for such legislation…

      Dingell also announced that, in addition to his proposed carbon tax, he was considering a cap-and-trade program. In doing so, Dingell, the auto industry’s strongest congressional supporter, joined former Vice President Al Gore in advocating a combined carbon tax and carbon cap.

      But just as GM officially advocated a gas tax for years without really doing anything about it, there remain questions about Dingell’s sincerity. Back in July, when Dingell first talked about the possibility of a carbon tax, he made it clear that his motivation was in part to illustrate how little public support there was for effective action on climate: “I sincerely doubt that the American people are willing to pay what this is really going to cost them.” He added that he would introduce legislation, “just to sort of see how people really feel about this.”

      In fact, as Dingell is no doubt well aware, there is ample research showing that a carbon tax is the LEAST politically palatable mechanism for dealing with global warming. So it’s hard to avoid two observations: First, Dingell has seemingly designed his strategy to fail, and admits as much — which is not something a legislative craftsman as skilled as he would normally do. And, two, he has done so at a time when Congress is debating the most popular mechanism for reducing oil consumption — tougher fuel economy standards — which Dingell and GM loathe. In other words, it would seem that Dingell’s intention with this maneuver is not to pass a carbon tax, but simply to keep fuel-economy improvements out of a pending Congressional energy bill. If this is true, what seems like a good week for GM will in fact be just another missed opportunity…

      The heat is definitely going to build on Dingell in the coming months. As reporters begin digging, I suspect we’re going to see more and more about his economic ties to the auto industry and his wife’s position at GM. My hope is that he doesn’t let it get that far. It seems to me that by moving to support the modest increases in fuel economy that we’ve been talking about, that can be avoided, and he can preserve his legacy as a great leader for Michigan and an environmentalist. The alternative, I’m afraid, is an ugly public fight which calls into question his motivations, and sullies his legacy. I for one don’t want to see that happen.

      When we began our petition drive, we very consciously made the decision to stay positive. Our goal was not to have Dingell step asside, but to encourage him to be the kind of leader that we want and need. My sense is that most reasonable people are like us. They aren’t hoping to see Dingell end his illustrious career being called a liar in the press, with other members of the House legislating around him. Michigan should be leading the charge — not fighting it. And, as I’ve said before, Dingell shouldn’t be expending his considerable strength fighting the inevitable. He should instead be demanding federal dollars for R&D and job training. Instead of working fiercely to stop this from happening, he should be focusing on getting federal dollars into Michigan to help the Big 3 make the transition. This doesn’t have to be bad thing for Michigan. Facing reality can, in fact, present opportunities. Hopefully, for the sake of Michigan and himself, he’ll recognize this before it’s too late.

      update: Debbie Dingell, the Congressman’s wife, just left a rebuttal to the Carl Pope piece at the Huffington Post.]

      Posted in Global Warming | 9 Comments

      clementine tells her first joke

      Clementine told her first real joke last night. She’s said funny things before, but she’s never really positioned them as comedy bits. Last night, she passed that milestone. She asked us to settle down in the living room, and, when she had all of our attention, she said that she wanted to sing us a song. Here’s how the song went:

      Old McDonald had a farm, eeee iiii, eeee iiii, BUTT….

      That’s as far as she got. She may have had it in mind to follow with the sounds of farting, but she never got there. As she said “BUTT,” she fell to the ground and started laughing hysterically.

      I suspect it’s something she picked it up in school, along with the drippy nose and the habit of pointing directly into my face and screaming when I tell her she needs to settle down, but, if she in fact wrote it herself, I think she’s fucking brilliant… I wonder if they have a charter school for young comedians. I’d hate to see her talent get squashed.

      Posted in Mark's Life | 5 Comments

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