Author Archives: trstanto
Today with the explosion of the Kwame scandal onto the national scene, various leaders in metro-Detroit and Michigan have finally spoken up against the mayor. Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, U.S. Rep Candice Miller, Macomb County Board of Commissioners Chairman William Crouchman, and Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence have all made comments stating that the Mayor should step down. Michael Cox is seeking the highest charges he can and Gov. Granholm is under pressure to remove Mayor Kilpatrick.Â
While I am not defending the Mayor by any means, publicly denouncing him at this point seems like nothing more than a cheap and easy way for metro-Detroit politicians to score points. And given the tense political and racial past between Detroit and its suburbs I’m worried about including the overwhelmingly white suburbs in the process of removing Detroit’s black mayor. (This is further enforced by local coverage of the scandal, in which (at least when the news first broke) white reporters were asking white suburbinites what they thought about Detroit and its politicians)
I’d like to just open this up to everyone.Â How involved do you think the suburbs should be in trying to remove Kwame Kilpatrick? Does the racial difference between the city and the suburbs play into this at all?
Singer/songwriter Randy Newman released his new album Harps and Angels (2008) this past Tuesday. One of my favorite songs on the album is “A Few Words in Defense of My Country” about America’s changing reputation among our allies. In typical Newman fashion he spins it around on them, dragging up references to horrible European leaders (similar to his song “Great Nations of Europe“) while remaining equally harsh while talking about the President, color codes, and the Supreme Court.
With all the talk about cute and cuddly animals, I figured now would be a good time to talk about the meat industry’s effect on the environment. Its a common misconception that the majority of greenhouse gases are emmited by planes, trains, or automobiles. But in truth, cattle account for 18% of emmissions world wide; the largest single factor or source in greenhouse gases.
Earlier this month Flint Police Chief David Dicks enacted a policy giving police the power to site wearers of saggy pants with public indecency. Since then, the ACLU has threatened action against the FPD and is currently looking for a case to bring forward. I, for one, am glad that the ACLU is standing up for our right to choose our own clothing. Here are a couple of points about this issue:
Noted atheist and contrarian, Christopher Hitchens, recently subjected himself to waterboarding in his article “Believe Me, It’s Torture” in Vanity Fair.Â He wanted to experience first-hand this controversial form of torture. For anyone who wishes to be informed on this issue I would recommend this interesting piece.
I was pushed onto a sloping board and positioned with my head lower than my heart. (Thatâ€™s the main point: the angle can be slight or steep.) Then my legs were lashed together so that the board and I were one single and trussed unit….
In preparation for this year’s fourth of july, my brothers and I have decided to throw our “Patriotic Marathon.” This includes (over the course of this week–building up to friday) watching what we consider to be movies and tv shows appropriate for the holiday. Here is the list of movies/shows we plan on watching.Â
1) The West Wing-seasons 1 through 3 (after which the series really started to take a dive)
2) HBO’s John Adams mini-series
3) 1776–the musical based on the signing of the Declaration of Independence featuring a singing Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams (played by William Daniels–a.k.a. Mr Feenie from Boy Meets World)
4) Independence Day–the movie where Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum save the world. In the end the President (a former fighter pilot) personally shoots down the aliens’ space ship. It also has Harvey Fierstein which is a definite plus.Â
5) And maybe Gone with the Wind (I know I know–its about the Confederates, but it is still one of the greatest movies ever)
If anyone has any suggestions or holiday plans of their own please feel free to add.
Recently Dr. Jack Kevorkian has announced his intent to run for Congress in Michigan’s 9th District. Kevorkian was sentenced to 8 years in prison for the assisted suicide of Thomas Youk (a Lou Gehrigs’ patient). While I cringe at the idea of having him in office, I think he does bring up some interesting points about suicide. Our nation is founded on the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but do we have the right to forfeit our own lives? And if we want to die, why can’t our doctors assist in it?
- It would be ideal if everyone had the money to pay medical bills and stem cells could be used for research into diseases that cure patients’ suffering rather than just ending it, but sometimes this is just not enough. In the case of a terminally ill patient–who knows there is nothing but greater suffering and pain ahead for them–why can’t they commit suicide with medical assistance? Isn’t this better than them committing suicide by hanging, shooting, or cutting themselves?
- We are all given the right to say whether we would want to live on life support. And if you do not want to, the government respects your wishes (or should respect your wishes). How is it any different for terminally ill people? God forbid, if I were to become terminally ill, I would seriously contemplate dying in peace rather than having to suffer through a long and drawn out death that doctors don’t have cures for anyway.
- Doctors are supposed to do what is best for the well being of a patient. And this would seem to imply that they should not assist in suicides. But isn’t there a point where its best for the patient to just pass away then suffer? I honestly don’t know, but I think the choice should belong to the patient. And I think doctors should obey the wishes of their patients.
I’m not proposing that assisted suicide become normal procedure and I’m certainly not endorsing Kevorkian for Congress, but I think it is an issue that is worth deeper consideration. As a nation we should do everything in our power to prevent people from having to make such a decision: socialized medicare, stem cell research, etc. But, ultimately, the decision should be our own–not the government’s.
Don’t get me wrong, I like the GSIs and a good Union strike as much as the next guy. But I have some serious doubts about this strike. My complaints basically come down to 3 points:
- Isn’t this entire strike going to be pretty ineffective? By announcing they will only strike for Tuesday and Wednesday, the GEO is basically telling the University to just sit tight. Why would the strike encourage the University to deal with them? All they have to do is wait two days and everyone is back where they started. Espeically since the bulk of GSIs’ work (and the sections they teach) fall on Thursday and Friday. In most of my lecture halls I honestly wouldn’t notice if the GSI isn’t sitting up front. All in all, striking for two random days in the middle of the week seems like an empty gesture. If they really want to make their voices heard–go on strike indefinitely. Then the pressure would be on for the University to do something.
- I’m sorry but I’M CROSSING THE PICKET LINE. I know the GSIs deserve better than what they are getting paid, but I’ve paid way too much in tuition (and have worked far too hard for my grades) to simply take two days off getting this close to finals and the end of the term.
- Doesn’t this strike hurt the wrong people? By not having GSIs work on Tuesday and Wednesday–is this really impacting the professors or administration? If anything its really hurting students and the GSIs the most (it means they’re going to have to grade more papers and catch up on the work they missed once the two days are over) The GEO has some really fair concerns like health care coverage and pay gaps. And I wish them luck in their negotiations. But the strike itself, just seems a little haphazard and misguided.
Saturday night I was walking down State street in Ann Arbor and came across a familiar site. A Christian group had camped out on the corner of N. University and State, and had begun preaching and passing out scripture. My initial reaction was contempt. Like most people, I hate being inundated with flyers and I hate being told that I’m some heathen thats going to burn in hell. But rather than the preachers really offending me, I found that Ann Arbor’s reaction to this church is what I was offended by.Â I am not a religious person by any stretch of the imagination and I don’t like being preached to. But I saw passer-byers yelling back at the preachers, I saw some kids flicking off Church members, and I even saw a group of teenage boys and girls begin mocking them by holding a fake “prayer” meeting of their own. (These actions just disobey a general Â sense of common decency) The contempt people had for these religious folk went much deeper than slight annoyance. And oddly enough, I didn’t think the preachers were even saying anything all that controversial. They mostly yelled about sin and the problems of drinking and promiscuity. I do not mean to turn this into a religious discussion or defend the church’s ideas (I, personally, disagree with them on many counts). But it struck me as odd that, Ann Arbor, a city and campus that prides themselves on acceptance and tolerance would so blatantly mock a religion.Â Now I realize that they “started” it, but I wonder if people would have the same reaction if this was a Jewish, Buddhist, or Muslim prayer meeting being held on the street. I doubt Ann Arbor would be so enraged. Its become cliche to connect devout Christian groups with homophobic, bigoted, and nasty views and so the mere sight of a Christian protest sets a lot of people off. Again, I do not wish to defend their views, and if they had been preaching against homosexuals, I would encourage people to stand up against them. But if Ann Arbor really wants to be liberal, and really wants to be accepting, this means they’ve got to treat their “enemies” with the same tolerance they would everybody else. (I do not claim that Christians are the “enemy,” but just that in a stereotypical way many liberals see these radical Christian churches as the opposite of themselves).Furthermore, radical Christian groups often give all Christian groups a bad name. And when Ann Arborites react with such contempt against a group (that was saying nothing negative–as far as I had heard), it re-inforces the stereotype of liberals as a satanic, god-hating bunch.Â Â I’m not asking people to like this group that preaches on the corner (I don’t like them at all). But I’m saying for the sake of tolerance and decency everywhere, just ignore them. The more you try to protest these religious protesters, the more you’re going to encourage them and make all of us look foolish. Â
The other day while glancing over the NY Times (as I sometimes do), I saw the article, “Move Over, Oil, There’s Money in Texas Wind.” In short, the article describes how Texas has surpassed California as the state with the most amount of windmills. More than 3% of the state’s electricity comes from these wind turbines and I, for one, think this is a terrific idea that Michigan should pursue. All too often, Michigan is blamed for the country’s energy problems. Its easy to blame “Detroit” for a lack of fuel-efficent cars and some environentalists challenge suburbia’s ability to even be “green” (see NY Times “Don’t Let the Green Grass Fool You”). But I’m not so skepitical about this beautiful state’s ability to be part of the solution. Currently the Michigan legislature is considering a Renewable Portfolio Standard that would require Michigan to get 10% of its electricity from renewable sources (by 2015). This standard would show potential “green” investors that the state is serious about alternative energy. While 10% may not seem like a ton, I think this RPS mandate is a magnificent idea. The economy has been extremely hard on this state. And its hard convincing people who just became unemployed that the environment should be their top concern. So getting private investors to come to Michigan may be the best option; and may even bring more jobs to the state. Wind power will hopefully play a big part in this.