Saturday, December 20, 2008

Cupcakes or Icecream, the Dessert Battle Again?

Patchus Propanga had already decided that pie was the ultimate winner in dessert, although the blogger is pro cupcake, he knew Pie made America more American.

Although Patchus believes cupcakes are awesome, other bloggers such as "Cupcake, take the cake" do not agree.

My Response to their comments follows. *** Please note that the opinions on both of those blogs, does not represent the opinions of the authors or editors on the Connetiquette Ave******

I disagree, those people that wait in line for 1/2 hour in order to get cupcakes are not in a cult, they are dedicated eaters. Cupcakes also have as much diversity in flavor icecream. The _______ new cupcake is interesting, i wonder what cupcake was the new of, Frozen Yogurt, Coffee, Slurpees ,or Cookies.

Now Cold Stone Ice Cream already tried to become successful, and they did, but then they died, what happen?

A cupcake is great as a birthday gift, or even a Christmas gift. A person can buy a half dozen of cupcakes and eat them throughout the week, ice cream melts in about an hour after ones gets it. Who eats ice cream when its 20 degrees out. The Average Temperature(S) for the country only allow for 6 months of ice cream consumption. [This of course is based of a 65 Degree ice cream tolerance]. That means six months of the year, ice cream stores would not be selling that well. I walked by both Tangysweet and the new frozen yogurt store in Georgetown; neither of these two stores had lines. However, i had to wait until 15 minutes in order to get my Georgetown cupcake.

Cupcakes will not die!

Gay Parties

Once again SHEAm has SHAMED himself and the gays by misquoting, misstating, and misunderstanding the politics of the GLBT world. Maybe he's tired of the Warren-flap, and maybe he's right that the issue shouldn't be surprising or isn't that important. But his assertion that McCain and Obama and in fact bot major parties are the same on gay rights is simply absurd.

I 100% agree that the two major parties on the national level are not in favor of gay marriage, but that is only one small piece of the pie. By and large (and yes there are exceptions on both sides of the aisle) Democrats want to pass the employment nondiscrimination act (Republicans have blocked and filibustered it since the early 1990s); Democrats (now) want to repeal the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act" which is patently unconstitutional (remember the full faith and credit clause?) while Republicans think it essential; many Republicans (including our current president) want to amend the U.S. Constitution to define marriage, Democrats don't; Democrats (now) want to allow gays to serve openly in the military, Republicans don't. The list goes on and on. There are severe differences between the two parties (at large and in Congress in particular).

Will Obama do all he has said on these issues? I don't know. I certainly hoped that he would deliver on some of the issues that are popular amongst large swaths of the public, especially protecting gays and lesbians in the workplace. My main point in this Warren-flap has been that Obama is signaling that at the very least he doesn't seem to be bothered even consulting with the leadership of the gay community (even the Human Rights Campaign. Coincidentally, I echo many of SHEAm's critiques)

Am I an Obama-booster? No. Did I vote for him over McCain? Absolutely. And maybe that's part of the problem. When it comes to social issues and any of the equality issues important to the gay community there is little choice but to support the Democratic nominee in nearly any national race.

Justice?? Hahaha.

Bojangles wants to get 8 year olds drunk - and Corrupt and GWSkank want to be there for the party too!

Now CharlieCorrupt ... I knew about the 1-year thing, but what I didn't know is that each ANC had the choice to decide what they wanted the rules to be after that one year period (whether to keep it, or to back) - that puts me even more against it. That is exactly what we don't need - rules that vary across the city. Laws like this need to be uniform ... it would be like allowing each ANC to set their own last-call time ... utterly ridic.

And I don't really understand the argument 'Kriston' ... she/he seems to want the DC Council out of the business of managing bar employees - and so do I. The licenses are currently managed by the DC ABC, the Circus just decided to put into the argument and make a new rule. So Kirston it seems that you and I agree - lets go back to the old way of the ABC making the rule, and guess what - the ABC thinks the way it used to be is the best way.

Under either system the problem falls to the bar owners ... but under the pre-Bojangles way, the bar owners and managers would have to be much more careful with selection and training of new employees. Underage drinking isn't life or death - but it is honestly important that bar owners enforce it properly. When there is a new bartender or bounder - the manager should have someone (or them self) rechecking IDs of people they think maybe shouldn't have be let in. The employees should be screened and have references ... and yes, I know mistakes happen. And suspending a license is tough for a single mistake, but I really think that it makes the bar owners and managers much more aware and on-top of their employees.

Oh Bojangles (Jim Graham) ... looks like its you and the entire city versus me.

Late edit: Apparently Corrupt wrote this post, not GWSkank as I had initially said.

Enough with Warren

This post is not going to be a Corrupt-esque shock that Obama chose the guy to give a speech. I'm honestly shocked that we are still talking about it ... it just proves how stupid and near-sighted most gays are. I predict that Corrupt with have a response to this ... something from the partisan left, but I look forward to it.

Obama doesn't support the gays anymore than John McCain would have. Obama, feels the same way - they are here, they are queer, and I don't care. Warren hates gays, blah blah blah ... yes we know that. Is he going to talk about homosexuality during inauguration; I doubt it. Does Obama like him for reasons non-withstanding of his position on homosexuality; probably. In all honesty, I am not in the least bit surprised - and therefore I don't care. Obama was never going to be the saviors that the gays expected him to be.

I'm going to say this (even though its going to drive Corrupt, and his other Obama-partisan politics-friends, off the charts), Obama supporters voted in favor of Prop8. The endless GOTV efforts throughout California helped Prop8 succeed, it wasn't the only reason - but it was one of many. I just had to say that.

Anyway - Warren. I think a great point was made in the VP-Debate between Conductor Biden and Games man Palin ... they both have the same position on gays. Both parties do, both campaigns did. They don't care what gays do, what happens to us, what doesn't happen to us. Biden and Obama just aren't concerned with it - its just that simple. It's clearly not a big issue for any major party. And here we are ... wasting our energy once again on something so inconsequential. Seeing the movie Milk, in which Harvey Milk organized universal support to defeat Prop6 - allowing the State of California the power to fire teachers for being gay. Why can't we do that today? What's wrong with the gay community?

Well for one ... The Human Rights Campaign is a money pit. As a supporter of gays, you are likely to get more results from putting your donation towards a drink than you would by giving it to HRC. They get nothing done. They just dilly-dally about, accomplishing nothing - and I'm sick of it. We need real leaders to motivate people ... not Joe Solmonese sending out daily emails about what matters and how they need more money to raise his salary a little higher.

Sorry about that whole long rant - point is ... Obama doesn't care about the gays now and didn't pretend to care about them when you voted for him in the primaries and general election. Get over it. Let's start tackling some bigger issues ...


Because Charlie is so enthusiastic about my Pittsburgh series, I've decided to do a post in his honor.

I haven't had a chance to focus on one of the things that distinguishes any region: food! While there aren't many Pittsburgh-only foods that I'm aware of, there are a few that come to mind.

Pittsburgh, like many places, is home to a wide variety of ethnic groups (with particularly large Irish, Polish, Greek, German, and Russian populations) and naturally the foods of each group will follow. Pittsburgh is famous for pirogies, but those are by no means unique to Pittsburgh.

There are two companies that make very unique products that can only be found in this region. The first is my very favorite, Isaly's (in Pittsburghese: "ahhhs-lees") chipped ham. Isaly's is a Pittsburgh institution and I'm fortunate enough to have one of their restaurants in my very own little corner of the region. The ham is cut up into very thin disorganized pieces and is perfect for just about any sandwhich (in my opinion).

The other, and more famous, institution is Primanti Bro's sandwhich makers (in Pittsburghese: "Primanny's"). Primanti's is almost as ubiquitous as Starbucks in many parts of the city. While similar to many small sandwhich makers, Primanti's has a very unique way of serving their sandwiches: with the fries and coleslaw right on the large oversized sandwiches. It's a greasy unhealthy delight, and something you should be sure to have if you're ever in the region.

Pittsburgh's Youth Revival

Many of you (and people across the country) think of Pittsburgh as an older, polluted, dying city. While I can certainly understand that perception and it is frequently reinforced by the media (in news, movies, tv, everything), there are several important ways in which this is not true.

As a member of the Millenial generation (post gen-X) and someone who is relatively politically aware, I'm very proud of the fact that Pittsburgh has the youngest Mayor of any major American city. Regardless of anyone's thoughts or ideas on the matter, it is true that Pittsburgh is a very Democratic city. In fact, there hasn't been a Republican Mayor or member of the City Council since the 1920s. Pittsburgh Mayor and eventual Pennsylvania Governor David Lawrence led a Democratic resurgence and eventual dominance as a champion of President Roosevelt's New Deal agenda. This has unfortunately resulted in a pretty organized machine of Democrats 'waiting in line' to become Mayor, leaving little room for new ideas and for younger people getting a seat at the table.

When Pittsburgh Mayor Bob O'Connor passed away, 26 year old Council President Luke Ravenstahl succeeded him and won a special election to fill the term. Mayor O'Connor's death was a tragedy for the city, but Mayor Ravenstahl has led a series of initiatives to help re-invigorate the city. He's been a very successful public face for what has previously been thought of as only an older, degenerating city (with great appearances on the late-night circuit and the Sunday shows). He's also been instrumental in bringing free wi-fi to downtown Pittsburgh, steamlining the city-county services (saving $$$), and bringing new economy jobs to the region. We've seen unprecedented growth in the region, redevelopment, and investment downtown. Keep it up, Luke!!

10 Years Later

David Schribman had a very interesting column in today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about a rather unusual anniversary: the 10th anniversary of the Clinton Impeachment. He explores the self-indulgence and bitter partisanship that racked that time in our history, mainly on how tragically we wasted that time. There are many fingers to point on both sides of the aisle, but it mostly shows just how much things have changed and how little we bothered to worry about in the late 1990s.

You can read the full column here, but an excerpt is below:

Winston Churchill described the years when Britain and France dithered away when Europe could have prepared, militarily, psychologically and strategically, for the Nazi threat as the "years the locusts ate." We might apply the same appellation to the years the impeachment consumed. We could have used them to examine our profile in the Middle East, to consider the dangers terrorism posed at home, to question whether the high-tech boom was instead a bubble, and to wonder whether the American dream of owning a home was vulnerable to being hijacked by the American dream of riches beyond the dreams of avarice.

We could have done all those things, but we spent them wondering why Hillary Clinton stayed with her husband, what Monica Lewinsky told Linda Tripp in a shopping mall and what Paula Corbin Jones meant when she talked about the president's distinguishing characteristics.

The gays

1. Morgan, please stop copypasting wikipedia entries about Pittsburgh on this blog. It's a lovely city, I'm sure, but we are all capable of researching the merits of Pittsburgh at our own leisure. I promise to prepare a 20 page research paper of the wonderful contributions that Pittsburgh and its people have made to society ... if you simply stop copypasting from Wikipedia.

2. Jon Stewart recently had a great bit on his show about gay marriage while interviewing Mike Huckabee. I think Jon Stewart really hit the nail on the head in this interview. The core of the gay marriage issue is, in my opinion, the social conservative notion that homosexuality is a lifestyle choice. My favorite line:
Stewart: “I live in New York City, so I’m going to make a supposition that I have more experience being around [gay people],” he told Huckabee. “And I’ll tell you this: religion is far more of a choice than homosexuality.”
Until the masses understand that homosexuality is not a choice, we will continue to hear the arguments that gay marriage will lead to polygamy, marrying animals, etc. Until people understand that you have as much choice on your sexual orientation as you do on your race or ethnicity ... we're never going to get anywhere. Beyond the complex legal or religious arguments, people need to understand that homosexuality isn't a choice. Plain and simple.

Check out the clip:


At the risk of infuriating Tim (and his newfound teetotaling ways), here is a link to a great post on DCist by Kriston about Graham's (Bojangles') proposal to issue a warning to first time offenders that serve alcohol to minors.

A quick excerpt:
It never made any sense for the D.C. Council to be in the business of managing bar employees. A more reasonable rule (such as the one that will govern D.C. for the next year as an experiment) would provide a warning so as to tease out the lazy or merely mistaken bartenders from the habitual offenders. That puts the onus of enforcement on bar employers, where it belongs. Where bar owners and managers are negligent, repeat offenders will prove.
Now this measure will only apply for a year on an experimental level After the year has ended any ANC may reverse the measure as they see fit without any say from DC Council (The Circus). Here's hoping it works (and that my local Adams Morgan ANC pays close attention to see if this is a successful measure)!

Famous Pittsburghers (Abridged)

Below please find a partial list of some of the more famous people from the Greater Pittsburgh area. They've been divided into general categories for your convenience. You can find a more comprehensive list on Wikipedia

Actors, artists, broadcasters and musicians


Business and industry


Educators, scientists, and researchers

Politicians and governmental leaders

More on Warren

I know I keep posting about this, but here is a great explanation of just how insulting the Warren pick is from a civil rights perspective (from Obama's hometown paper the Chicago Sun-Times)

Also, here is a link the the petition started by Equality California.

More Pittsburgh posts to come, I know you're excited!

Completely frivolous

I cannot get enough of Beyonce's new video, Single Ladies ... and while I won't admit that I'm using my holiday break to learn the entire dance (ha), I will let you in on my favorite imitations.

The first video is from SNL -- Justin Timberlake is HILARIOUS and all too yummy not to share:

Toooooo cute (and I love that there is an open beer bottle next to the couch -- great parenting):

A Quickie

Hey gang, just wanted to send out a quick post on a few small topics. I have to run in a few minutes, but here goes:

** First of all, TIME has a nice little post on Swampland about the Rick Warren flap, the gay community's response, and what it all really means for the Obama team. The author looks at a slightly different angle, noting that it's the underlying ideology of Obama's decision that perhaps is really sparking such discontent. Some great points are made about the potentially positive impact of pragmatically seeking the 'radical' (and to some people it is) agenda of guaranteeing nondiscrimination policies in the military and the workplace and strengthening hate crimes laws, while virtually ignoring the marriage question. The article also pulls some quotes from the campaign when Sen. Obama espouses a position akin to separate but equal. Here's a quick excerpt:

This is a remarkably complex, if only subtly controversial, argument. He suggests that laws preventing gay marriage are as unjust as laws preventing interracial marriage, the very union that led to his own birth. But he further argues that the best way to fight this injustice is to indefinitely cede the central moral argument--that in America all men (and women) must be treated equal--and rather score incremental victories that push the nation in the right direction. In Obama's formulation, it would have been indefinitely acceptable for interracial couples to be denied the rights of civil marriage, if other progress was being made to advance racial equality. In the same way, it is indefinitely acceptable for gay couples to be denied the right to civil marriage, if other progress is being made to give gay couples similar rights. There is an unstated assumption here: If Obama is successful he will clear the way for a subsequent politician to support gay marriage, just as the broader civil rights movement cleared the way for an end to anti-miscegenation laws in 1967 by the (activist?) U.S. Supreme Court.

Whatever advantages this approach scores tactically, it also carries with it a cost. Namely, Obama effectively cedes the clarity of a moral argument for gay rights equality. He cannot argue that separate is not equal, because he is endorsing a separate system for gay and lesbian couples, an accommodation that seems, on its face, to contradict a central principle of the civil rights movement, as laid out in 1954 by the (activist?) U.S. Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education.

It's certainly worth a read and the full piece may be found here

** While I have been very clear in my condemnation of the whole Rick Warren affair, there's another perspective besides the TIME article that's worth mentioning. One of my more favorite writers, Andrew Sullivan had this to say as his final word on the issue. He makes a good point that perhaps this is an important (even teachable) moment. Maybe we can use this chance with Rick Warren to show our compassion and engagement in the future of this modern civil rights movement. While I don't always agree with Sullivan, what he writes here really made me think. Here's just an excerpt of his post:

Gay people contribute disproportionately to the religious and spiritual life of this country and we seek no attack on free religion freely expressed and celebrated. I find the idea of silencing my opponents abhorrent. Many gays voted for McCain. I believe in family, which is why I have tried my whole life to integrate my sexual orientation with my own family and finally two summers ago, to become a full part of it as a married man. I love my church, however much pain it still inflicts on itself and others. And I am not alone in this, as I have discovered these past two decades.

If I cannot pray with Rick Warren, I realize, then I am not worthy of being called a Christian. And if I cannot engage him, then I am not worthy of being called a writer. And if we cannot work with Obama to bridge these divides, none of us will be worthy of the great moral cause that this civil rights movement truly is.

The bitterness endures; the hurt doesn't go away; the pain is real. But that is when we need to engage the most, to overcome our feelings to engage in the larger project, to understand that not all our opponents are driven by hate, even though that may be how their words impact us. To turn away from such dialogue is to fail ourselves, to fail our gay brothers and sisters in red state America, and to miss the possibility of the Obama moment.

It can be hard to take yes for an answer. But yes is what Obama is saying. And we should not let our pride or our pain get in the way.

**In other news, Al Franken has now gained a lead in the Minnesota recount for the first time. While this makes me happy personally, it is hardly the end of the long process. Regardless of who wins, this is just one more example of how badly we need national election standards and how far we still have to go in the wake of the debacle in Florida in 2000. Minnesota thankfully has rather open election standards that allow officials to follow the intent of the voter (if it is at all clear). The Franken campaign has taken a very steadfast position that each and every vote that can count should count, while Coleman has taken to the courts a few times now to prevent blocs of votes from being counted (first the 133 ballots that were lost in a Franken stronghold, then an attempt to prevent absentees from being counted because they were erroneously thrown aside, and then claiming a few hundred Franken votes were double-counted.).

I have absolutely no illusions that were the vote count reversed so would the positions of the respective campaigns. If Coleman were initially behind he'd be trying to get more counted, and had Franken been ahead he'd want to end the process. Hopefully this can help the country move to a more uniform election system, with the same standards, the same process, the same machines/methods. I'm not holding my breath though...


Friday, December 19, 2008


Extinction Level Event ... when I first heard this I thought of a movie with Morgan Freeman, but couldn't remember what it was. Turns out it was Deep Impact - where the comet hit the Earth ... same premise as Armageddon, equally lackluster movies - thought I think I might go find Deep Impact right now and watch it, haha. Deep Impact has a quote about E.L.E. - who a reporter thinks is a mistress, but it turns out she has discovered the fact that a comet is headed towards Earth. Anyway ... the point of this whole thing is an op-ed in The Paper of Record that made me shed a tear - it was titled Extinction-Level Television Event.

Alan Spinwall writes what NBC's decision to surrender its 10PM timeslot to Jay Leno really means for the television world as we know it. That timeslot has been the home of some of the greatest shows - including the long-running ER, and leaves each of the Three Networks (ABC, CBS, NBC) with only 10 hours of primetime programming per week (M-F, 8-10PM; Saturday is not a TV day; Sunday is for football). Only ten hours ... wow. As someone who grew up in the cable-world, with cable - I suppose I shouldn't be surprised ... Cable TV has everything, the Networks have very little.

I suggest you read the Op-Ed, I linked it - here - again. Any in order to drive you to read it, I am going to take two thought-provoking excerpts from the piece. One:
This reminds me of a joke Tina Fey told at the Television Critics Association awards ceremony. She thanked us “for making ‘30 Rock’ the most successful cable show on broadcast television,” and added: “Oh, it’s a great time to be on broadcast television, isn’t it? It’s exciting! It’s like being in vaudeville in the ’60s!”

and two:
To use a pop culture metaphor that everyone should (I hope) understand, the networks are Wile E. Coyote running off a cliff. So long as they pump their legs and assume there’s solid ground beneath their feet, they get to keep moving. But as soon as one of them gives up and looks at where it is, as NBC has with the Jay Leno deal, there’s nowhere to go but way, way down.

Sadness ... I hope this isn't really true - but it seems that it is.

Also ... on a completely unrelated note. I am going to ride the Nostalgia train on Sunday -- look forward to pictures!

Chu, LaHood, Ducan, Rhee, and FiOS

The title of this post says it all - so I will just go in order...

* I just went to the The Paper of Record's website and saw that Bush approved $17.4 million in loans. This is just a measure to let the hobble along until Obama can come in and just pour money into their coffers. I'm pro saving these companies and don't think bankruptcy would have destroyed them, but I'm against this bailout. I see this as a bailout of failed-union policies, not as a bailout of the automakers.

Anyway ... back to the post:

* It turns out that Dr. Steven Chu - Obama's nominee for Minister of Energy - went to my high school. Dr. Chu graduated from Garden City High School in 1966 (quite a bit before I did, though I understand the building has not changed much), and cites one of his teachers, a Mr. Miner, as one of the main reasons for his love of physics. So I did some reading about him, the guy seems pretty smart - he is Chairman of the Physics department at Stanford. The Paper of Record has a great quote that I just have to put here:
New houses could be made energy efficient with an investment of an extra $1,000, “but the American consumer would rather have a granite countertop.” (At a lecture in Washington on energy options, June 25, 2008)
* LaHood. The whole LaHood nomination (he was nominated for Minister of Transportation) has been overshadowed by the fact that Obama announced that he hates gay people, but I'm still fuming over LaHood (especially since I knew long ago that he hated gays). The more I read about him, the more I want to vomit. I mean Norman Mineta = great American, Ray LaHood = great non-American (I didn't want to compare him with another country because most that I can think of have pro-transit policies). Sidebar, I was trying to find this great post-9/11 picture of Mineta on a Coast Guard patrol boat, it was so great - but I can't find it. Anyway ... LaHood. I honestly don't know what to make of him, he doesn't have an anti-transit record, but I was hoping for someone who is all about smart growth and transit, etc, etc. (Cough - Janette Sadik-Khan - Cough) Anyway, I'm going to bring you a quote from my friend Panda. Just as a little background, this kid would support Obama if he was shooting American's in front of the White House, so I figured I would give you some pro-LaHood talk:
I think we need to wait and see on the Transportation Secretary. According to the Chicago Tribune, LaHood is a moderate Republican with a bipartisan "record of supporting funding for Amtrak and public transit." As far as appointing a Republican to the Cabinet, LaHood seems like an ideal candidate. I think we need to hold off on judgment for now. As I said before, once the rubber hits the road (or the wheels hit the rail), then we'll see what this administration is all about.
Anthony also popped over to Track Twenty-Nine after reading my post about LaHood which linked to T29. He found this pro-LaHood comment on this post, which I generally disagree with (I agree much more with the blogs author Matt), but it also offers a unique perspective on the entire LaHood thing:

Matt, I feel your pain. I had extremely high hopes for who could have potentially been Transportation Secretary (my favorite was Blumenauer); nevertheless, your past few posts expressing serious disappointment with Obama got me thinking.

In an ideal world, with the right appointments, government could wave a magic wand and satisfy all of us urbanists instantly. I'm afraid the political game simply isn't that simple. At first glance the LaHood appointment appears to be a slap in the face to anyone hoping for a much more progressive approach to transportation. However, there are still a few things worth considering:

First, we still don't know who is going to be the Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration. It could be possible for Obama to use that position, rather than Transportation Secretary, to push a more progressive urban agenda. Second, it is entirely possible that transportation issues, particularly urban transportation issues, could be handled out of an entirely different executive office. In that case it would make sense to appoint someone like LaHood to oversee the airlines, interstates, etc. and let someone with more urban experience handle the urban issues. Third, transit issues are often held up by stubborn congressional Republicans (people like McCain who think we ought to privatize Amtrak or people like Coburn who don't think we should fund WMATA or other agencies with federal dollars); putting an extremist as the head of DOT probably won't help to win these individuals over.

Finally, I think you have done good work on this blog, so please don't take this the wrong way; but your last few posts have almost confirmed the perceived snobbish attitude that leads a lot of folks to distrust urbanists with otherwise good intentions. When I voted for Obama I knew that on transportation issues 1) they couldn't be worse than under McCain and 2) that it was really a roll of the dice as to whether or not any real progress would get made during the first term. Campaign rhetoric is usually just that: rhetoric. Setting your expectations too high ultimately leads to the disappointments you now seem to be experiencing.
* Duncan! My friend Friend sent me a post from DCist about how Obama's nominee for Minister of Education, Arne Duncan, will have to deal with DC School's Chancellor Michelle Rhee. Now - I am a huge fan of Rhee ... and would take a bullet or two for the woman - but it is an interesting thought. The Ministry of Education always feels the need to get involved in DCPS, and will likely even get more involved -- as Rhee will likely ask for the system to be placed in a 'state of emergency' giving her even more control over teacher contracts ... and the fact that the American Federation of Teachers (the national union) is getting involved in the whole battle. Well Duncan, you read it here first - Rhee is right, and I expect you to stand by her. It is important to point out that Duncan received a recommendation for the job of Minister from the AFT - so that will be interesting. There is a write up over at US News that I suggest you read - here. The article also had a great Rhee quote:
If the children don't know how to read, I don't care how creative you are. You're not doing your job.
I think it will be interesting to see what happens with Duncan, because I think he will have to get involved sooner rather than later in the battle taking place in DCPS. Michelle you have my full support, so if you want to go over to the Ministry of Education and toilet paper those red school houses they have out front - let's do it! And I will leave you with a quote in The Paper of Record from Arne Duncan, which I believe shows that he's got Rhee's back:
We are one of the few districts in the country that has shut down underperforming schools and replaced the entire school staff. This turnaround school strategy has taken some of our lowest-performing schools and doubled or tripled test scores within a few years. Same kids, different teachers, new leadership, a new educational approach, and the results are dramatic. (Testimony before House education committee, July 17, 2008.)
* And finally ... FiOS. I talked about FiOS the other day, when I wrote a passionate post about how awesome it is. I neglected to tell you that last Christmas while I was home - I convinced my parents to get FiOS ... as it was finally available in my neighborhood. My family had been using Verizon for landline services, Cablevision for internet, and DirecTV for television. The reasoning for using three different companies was my Dad's hatred of Cablevision, but the lackluster-ness of DSL made cable-internet the only option. Anyway, so I was home this afternoon watching FiOS and decided to go look at the HD channel offerings. AMAZING.

Okay ... based on my rough count of HD channels online, RCN, which as of last week added more HD channels has about 67 channels which are HD, 20 of which fall under premium only packages. So everyone had at least 50ish HD channels. Meanwhile, FiOS has about 103 channels available in HD, about 30 of which fall under premium only packages. So with FiOS everyone has at least 70ish HD channels. wow... America. FiOS wins.

I'm out for now ... that net neutrality post is still coming, one of these days.

Oh Cocktail - I really agree with you ... this 'internet' capitalization thing is driving me crazy.

Pittsburgh History!

I've reviewed some of the great ideas, inventions, and innovations to come out of Pittsburgh as well as some of the general highlights of the city, so today we'll explore the history of the great city itself!

The area surrounding the headwaters of the Ohio was originally inhabited by the tribes of Allegawis, Adena, Hopewell, Delaware, Jacobi, Seneca, Shawnee, and several settled groups of Iroquois. The French were the first Europeans to settle here and they founded Fort Duquesne on the site. During the French and Indian War General John Forbes's troops succeeded in taking the fort. Afterward Forbes ordered the construction of Fort Pitt, named after British Secretary of State William Pitt the Elder. He also named the settlement between the rivers "Pittsborough".

In the early days of the country Pittsburgh was home to the Whiskey Rebellion. The Civil War boosted the city's economy with increased production of iron and armaments. Steel production began by 1875, when Andrew Carnegie founded the J. Edgar Thomson Steel Works in North Braddock, which eventually evolved into the Carnegie Steel Company. The success and growth of Carnegie Steel was attributed to Henry Bessemer, inventor of the Bessemer Process.

In 1901, the U.S. Steel Corporation was formed, and by 1911 Pttsburgh was producing between a third and a half of the nation's steel. During World War II, Pittsburgh produced 95 million tons of steel. By this time, the pollution from burning coal and steel production created a black fog (or smog), which even a century earlier had induced author writer James Parton to dub the city "hell with the lid off".

Following the war, the city launched a clean air and civic revitalization project known as the "Renaissance." This much-acclaimed effort was followed by the "Renaissance II" project, begun in 1977 and focusing more on cultural and neighborhood development than its predecessor. The industrial base continued to expand through the 1960s, but beginning in the 1970s and 1980s, the steel industry in the region declined with massive layoffs and mill closures.

Beginning in the 1980s, the city shifted its economic base to education, tourism, and services, largely based on healthcare, medicine, and high technology such as robotics.

The city is on the Allegheny Plateau, where the confluence of the Allegheny River from the northeast and Monongahela River from the southeast form the Ohio River. The Downtown area between the rivers is known as the Golden Triangle, and the site at the actual convergence, which is occupied by Point State Park, is referred to simply as "the Point." In addition to the downtown Golden Triangle, the city extends northeast to include the Oakland and Shadyside sections, which are home to the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, Carnegie Museum and Library, and many other educational, medical, and cultural institutions

Pittsburgh is often referred to as the City of Bridges or the River City. Situated as it is on three rivers with many smaller bodies of water in the region and many hills and valleys, Pittsburgh has more bridges than any city in the world.

Pittsburgh often places high in lists of the nation's most livable cities. After placing fourth and first in the first two editions of "Places Rated Almanac", Pittsburgh went on to finish third in 1989, fifth in 1993, 14th in 1997 and 12th in 2000, before reclaiming the number one spot in 2007.The survey's primary author, David Savageau, has noted that Pittsburgh is the only city to finish in the top 20 of every edition

In 2005, The Economist ranked Pittsburgh and Cleveland the top most livable cities in the United States, and tied the cities for 26th worldwide.

Preview of upcoming editions: Famous Pittsburghers and other exciting info!

U.S. Senate!

Something a little different:

As a political nerd and Senate-enthusiast I've been following the U.S. Senate drama pretty closely recently. There's been a lot of motion on that front recently and it's really hard to keep up. So here it is: your very own guide to the Senate drama!

To recap: Sens Barack Obama and Joe Biden were obvious elected to President and Vice President this fall, both leaving behind unfinished terms (or in Biden's case he was actually re-elected to the Senate as well).

We all know about the drama with Governor Blago in Illinois trying to sell the Obama seat. That all continues to unfold: the Governor may be facing impeachment, some officials want there to be a special election instead of letting the Governor decide the replacement. Biden's seat meanwhile appears to have a seat warmer in place. The outgoing Governor there appointed a longtime Biden confidante to hold on to the seat until there is a special election held in 2010. The conventional wisdom? That the Senate seat is really being held for Biden't son who is currently serving in Iraq. He should be back from Iraq and ready to run by 2010.

Then there are those who are being appointed to Obama's cabinet. Of course, my favorite Senator, Hillary Rodham Clinton, has been tapped for Secretary of State. Senator Ken Salazar has also been asked to serve as Secretary of the Interior. This leaves the Governors of New York and Colorado, respectively, to fill the now open seats. Governor Patterson of New York is being lobbied left, right, and center to appoiont one of many local officials to the open seat. But Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the late President, has been running a real media circus around her pseudo-campaign to be appointed. Personally, I don't see any reason whatsoever to appoint her. She's barely a New Yorker (granted, neither was Clinton at first) but more importantly she has absolutely no experience in public office and there are many more candidates that are interested in the position that have demonstrated their ability. She's now even calling herself a "Clinton Democrat" in order to help her case, even though she endorsed Obama in the primaries. So which is it, Ms. Kennedy?! I will likely rant about this issue in particular in the coming days.

The Governor of Colorado is seeking online submissions of ideas on who should replace Salazar - interesting idea!

Then there is the whole drama in Minnesota. The incumbent, Norm Coleman(R), has had a razor thin lead against Democrat Al Franken (regardless of politics, he was one of my favorite comedians growing up...). There has been a mandatory recount going on in Minnesota for more than a month now. Lots of problems - lost and found ballots, challenges from both sides, write in problems, and there are looming legal battles. Today, the AP reports that Coleman's lead has been reduced to two (2) (Yes two!!) votes. Franken is expected to take the lead today, but who knows if it will last, there are still more ballots to count and challenges to be heard. It is very likely that this contest will not be settled until sometime after the Senate opens its new session Jan 6th.

It's all over the place, and I frankly can't wait to see how all of this works out. The Senate is going to have either 57, 58, or 59 Democrats. Depending on who wins these races it could decide the outcome of several import pieces of legislation this session. With so many new Democrats who are a little more conservative on certain issues, this could be interesting.

Letter to President-Elect Obama

Ok, so I admit this is getting to full-fledged rant mode, and I doubt Obama will reverse himself on this issue (and like I said, probably relishing the rants from the left...). I rarely find the Human Rights Campaign to be a very effective organization when it comes to fighting for equality, but below please find a letter from HRC President Joe Solomonese that states things pretty well.
Dear President-elect Obama -

Let me get right to the point. Your invitation to Reverend Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at your inauguration is a genuine blow to LGBT Americans. Our loss in California over the passage of Proposition 8 which stripped loving, committed same-sex couples of their given legal right to marry is the greatest loss our community has faced in 40 years. And by inviting Rick Warren to your inauguration, you have tarnished the view that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans have a place at your table.

Rick Warren has not sat on the sidelines in the fight for basic equality and fairness. In fact, Rev. Warren spoke out vocally in support of Prop 8 in California saying, “there is no need to change the universal, historical definition of marriage to appease 2 percent of our population ... This is not a political issue -- it is a moral issue that God has spoken clearly about." Furthermore, he continues to misrepresent marriage equality as silencing his religious views. This was a lie during the battle over Proposition 8, and it's a lie today.

Rev. Warren cannot name a single theological issue that he and vehemently, anti-gay theologian James Dobson disagree on. Rev. Warren is not a moderate pastor who is trying to bring all sides together. Instead, Rev. Warren has often played the role of general in the cultural war waged against LGBT Americans, many of whom also share a strong tradition of religion and faith.

We have been moved by your calls to religious leaders to own up to the homophobia and racism that has stood in the way of combating HIV and AIDS in this country. And that you have publicly called on religious leaders to open their hearts to their LGBT family members, neighbors and friends.

But in this case, we feel a deep level of disrespect when one of architects and promoters of an anti-gay agenda is given the prominence and the pulpit of your historic nomination. Only when Rev. Warren and others support basic legislative protections for LGBT Americans can we believe their claim that they are not four-square against our rights and dignity. In that light, we urge you to reconsider this announcement.

Further Reading:
Here are some places you can visit for more info/actions-
Daily Dish
HRC Action Center

Prop 8 Foe Rejects Inaugural Invite

Let me know if you see other places to visit/petitions/op-eds

Obama Drama Day 2

Ok, so maybe this pales in comparison to the Illinois Governor flap, but this one is 100% Obama's responsibility, so I'll call the choice of Rick Warren the real Drama.

Anyway, the President-Elect and his spokespeople have issued a few statements since the blogosphere has gotten riled up that basically amounts to, "We hear you. But deal with it." This 'tough luck' attitude has only served to further show that the transition team didn't only anticipate this anger, but were quite likely looking forward to it. As a chance to show the rest of the country, and most importantly the right, that he doesn't have to cow-tow to his base and he's willing to take some heat from the left, Mr. Obama is making a small political gamble that he hopes will pay large political dividends.

I for one am particularly disturbed by what seems to be the purposeful exclusion of anyone in the GLBT community in this decision making process. It would have been courteous to at least consult (or even inform!) any of Mr. Obama's many allies in the gay community about this decision. That would have shown the incoming administration at least understands what a slap in the face this decision really is for many of us.

Furthermore, while the religious right is getting a tip of the hat with the selection of Pastor Warren, would it be too much to ask for even a gentle acknowledgment of the other side here?

In any case, here is a great article from Salon by Mike Madden. Check it out and let us know what you think.

Good Morning World!

and in case I don't see you Good Afternoon, Good Evening, and Good Night. This is going to be a morning roundup of sorts - though it is kind of late and I have to get my day going.

* I am home, home ... I'm not really sure what to call it anymore - because I call DC home, so calling NY home is tricky too. I called it my parents house to someone yesterday and that kind of freaked me out and made me feel like I was 40. So I guess home, home works ... perhaps 'where I grew up' but that is really a mouthful. Let me know if you have any thoughts on this issue.

* Anyway ... at home, home. It's snowing. It's actually sticking. It makes me feel cold. I need to go find my boots.

* People ... John Catoe is losing Cocktail's Moron of the Week vote ... get over there and vote. Link here! Yes I am trying to artificially inflate numbers with a lackluster blog population.

* Ummmm ... so we gave Patchus guest blogger privileges and he is gracing us with some posts. You may notice several spelling errors and grammatical mistakes, but its not his fault - he grew up in the 52nd State ... Ontario, and they don't have proper schooling up there. One day he will learn the English language.

* Stole this link from GGW - cool article in WaPo about public spaces that have been snatched from the public since September 11th. GGW got me thinking about all the barricades that we have put up since September 11th, and if they will ever come down. Anyway the article is interesting - it talks about the West Steps of the Capitol, which I have never been on because they are closed. AND! It talks about a Candlelight tour of the White House, which I have never even heard of. I immediately called my Representative from Home, Home and inquired - the intern had no idea what I was talking about, but I left a voicemail for the Scheduler.

* WMATA approved the prices from Inauguration (rush hour fares, and charging for parking). Interestingly enough SmarTrip will not be used for parking on Inauguration Day - they just don't want to deal with it - and parking will remain its current price of $4.00. According to Metro, they are unable to make it the consumer-friendlier $5.00 because they would be required to hold a public hearing on it. Via WaPo, Dr. Gridlock - here.

* Via DCist, the Fenty Administration has released a holiday picture of the family. The baby, Aerin, is like only three weeks old, but look at all the hair on her head. I don't know much about babies, but I was shocked to see so much hair. Anyway - the family looks good, although if I were Michelle Rhee's boss, I would want her in the Holiday card too ... maybe next year.

Ok I'm hungry ... out!

Travel, and Do it Now

As the Pound hits the lowest point in history to the European Currency, known as the EURO; it never seemed as good a time to travel the world. (Article on said statement)

Yet, where should i go?
- London maybe?

Since the district is currently experiencing a brutal wind,cold and rain mixture travel seems only obvious.

Here is weather around the Connetiquette
(Current / High)

Tim - 34/33 with Heavy snow ( Good luck with that, might want to get the shuffel)
Morgan - 36 with Rain
Patchus - 40/48 with rain [ training into 36/38 rain ]
Charlie - 60 and Cloudy

Happy Friday!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

New Bus Stop Shelter

After weeks of walking by the Dakota (2100 F st Washington DC) on my way to work, i noticed some form of side walk construction in front of the building. I figured the bricks were broken, and simply the District would simply rectify the situation. However, just now i passed the site and saw something interesting; a billboard esc thing similar to those found in the mall, sitting outside the building with the word "wired" written on a sticky note. This leads me to believe that Metro is placing a Bus Stop shelter there.

I don't really have an opinion on this, because i never use the buses. So to fellow bloggers thoughts?

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