A tale of six cities

I’ve lived in the Valley since 1983, longer than I lived in Canada. I loved growing up in Calgary and having a centralized location for shopping, musuems, entertainment and other attractions, and it’s one thing that I’ve sorely missed in the Phoenix area. The only city in the Phoenix area with a downtown that approaches Calgary’s is Scottsdale, but let’s face it, it’s *Scottsdale*. That downtown is just not suited for those of us who don’t harbour Amex Platinum cards in our D&G wallets or see little interest in getting soused with the glitterati as an entertaining Saturday night. But to give credit where credit is due, their Musuem Of Contemporary Art and Performing Arts Centers are both very nice.

In order to build vibrant downtown core area, a city must first define itself. What is the difference between Glendale and Tempe and Scottsdale and Chandler and Mesa and Phoenix? And what are the differences between those cities and other cities in Arizona like Tucson? Beyond that, what makes an Arizona city unique from say, Milwakuee? (Aside from the fact that Four Peaks Brewery makes better beer, that is.)

Over the course of the next year, with the help of a top-notch architect, we’ll take a look at the state of the urban core in the Valley Of The Sun, and what can be done to turn them into magnets for the community.

Stay tuned.

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December 31st, 2006 by exurbankevin

I veer from the beliefs of many conservatives, and indeed, some of my friends on this very blog, in that I do not support the death penalty as a punishment for the worst crimes commited in our society. Even conforting the execution of someone so utterly lacking in common human values as Saddam Hussein presents me with a moral quandary. Are there truly exceptions to the rule? Are there some men who really do deserve to die?

Josh Trevino settled this for me, with a resounding “YES!”, and there’s nothing more I can say beyond his words:

“It must be admitted that the killing of Saddam Huseein is a confounding event for an opponent of the death penalty like me. The ranks of those wholly meriting the final moments of agony, the fear of eternal horror, and the dread of God’s justice are — with respect to my Calvinist friends! — small, but he is assuredly among them. There can be no sympathy for him as he struggles his last at the end of a rope: indeed, he will even then be in sublime comfort set against the twisting agony of the Kurdish children he gassed. There can be no regret for his lost potential, as he fully expressed it in his creation of a hideous police-state that consumed its children and ravaged its land. Nor can be sorrow for his circumstance, as he was master of his fate in his long decades of absolute power — the only free man in Iraq — and used his freedom to choose death and misery in full. The thing that will be done to him — his execution — is intrinsically wrong. But the things that he will feel as a result, in those final moments and beyond, will be right. Most victims of the gallows may be said to earn their fates: Saddam Hussein may be said to have chosen it.”

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December 30th, 2006 by exurbankevin

Programming note

If you’re interested in current events and the military, Strategypage.com should be on your daily must-read list. Created by Jim Dunnigan, the father of the modern wargame, it gives a quick, no-holds barred look at military affairs all around the globe.

And now they have a podcast, too.

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December 29th, 2006 by exurbankevin

Oh, those wacky Finns

Who else would come up with something like this?

It must have something to do with soaking up the radiation that leaks thru the Van Allen Belts…

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December 28th, 2006 by exurbankevin

Give ’em hell, Harry

Prince Harry has been the wild child of the royal family, from the marijuana problems to the Nazi Halloween costume to, um, some extracurricular activities in school.

But when it came time for him to serve in the military, he chose the Army rather than the Navy, and enlisted with the Blues And Royals. And rather than serve in a ceremonial or staff position, his job as leader of a recon troop doing “close reconnaissance“. His unit has to seek out and find the enemy, get close enough to see who they are and what their capabilities are, then run like hell and survive long enough to report what was shooting at him to his superior officers. Not a job for the timid or the reckless.

It appears all of this has woken up his sense of responsibility and matured the lad, because apparently, he wants to serve alongside his fellow soldiers in Iraq.

Make us proud, Prince Harry.

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December 28th, 2006 by exurbankevin

A Decent Life.

“As a leader in the Congress, and then in the White House, President Ford demonstrated the highest levels of integrity and decency.”
— Gov. Mitt Romney (R-Mass.)

“…a man of distinction, honor and decency.”
— Sen. Dianne Feinstein, (D-Calif.)

“He was a decent man who left a great track record of good service to our country.”
— Rev. Jesse Jackson

“Throughout his career, as a Naval officer, Congressman, Vice President and President, Gerald Ford embodied the best values of a great generation: decency, integrity, and devotion to duty.”
— Vice President Dick Cheney

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December 28th, 2006 by admindude

Sometimes, the good guys win

Michael Yon is a national treasure, a worthy successor to the combat reporting legacy of Ernie Pyle and David Burnett. He’s willing to go the front lines, where the story is happening, not soak up daily press briefings in the Green Zone. He understands that combat means more than jostling for the best space at a hotel bar, and for that reason, he’s loved and trusted by the troops.

If you’ve not read it already, “The Gates Of Fire” is absolutely gripping. Go ahead, read it. I can wait.

Ok, welcome back. Michael was also fortunate enough to take one of the best combat photos of the war, but he had the unfortunate luck of having that picture stolen underneath him by a less-than reputable magazine publisher.

And now that publisher’s gone out of business, in part to Michael Yon’s persistency.

Congratulations, Michael. You deserve it.

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December 22nd, 2006 by exurbankevin

Mistaken Identity?

One of the troubling things I’ve noticed about the new game show “Identity” is how it reinforces stereotypes.

I don’t think I look like a photojournalist, and without a shooter’s vest on me, there’d be no real way to tell. And just how does an online marketing manager look, anyhow?

The contestant’s choices in the game are based primarily on how the people they face are dressed or look. I’m not sure if judging a book by it’s cover is something we should celebrate with it’s own primetime game show.

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December 21st, 2006 by exurbankevin

If it ain’t baroque,

…don’t fix it.

It’s the time of year when bits and snippets of Handel’s “Messiah” pop up everywhere. It’s one of the most – performed pieces of classical music in the world, with interpretations that run the gamut from the tedious to the unspeakable to my personal favourite, a live performance done by a chamber orchestra and choir from the Academy Of St. Martens In The Fields, done in Dublin on the 250th anniversary of the first performance.

Part II No. 42 Chorus: Hallelujah.

The trumpet solo here is sublime, soaring above the sopranos to cap off the melody with a joyous flourish, and it’s a fine example of how the smaller size of a chamber orchestra and choir really make this an extraordinary recording. It allows the orchestra and choir to co-exist peacefully and be noted for their individual efforts, rather than be mashed together and lose their distinctiveness in a misbegotten attempt to o’erwhlem us with musical power and majesty that is so typical of the recordings done by large choirs and symphony orchestras. It’s a testament to the subtlety and craftmanship of Handel, not the egos of the musicians.

By allowing the passion of the musicians to stand out and bring new levels of emotion to their craft, The Messiah is reborn under Sir Neville’s guidance from a tired standard of the Christmas season into a living, breathing, exciting expression of God’s abiding love for mankind, rather than the overblown and overwrought versions we’re used to hearing that do little to nourish our souls.

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December 21st, 2006 by exurbankevin

It’s an honour just to be nominated

I understand the thinking behind Time magazine designating “You” (meaning, us) as The Person Of The Year.

Jeff Jarvis raises some good points on how uninspiring this choice is.

“This year’s cover reveals that the notion — or they would like to think, institution — of a single person of the year in the single biggest news magazine is such a social anachronism. It is a vestige of the mass era. It is the conceit of mass media that they could pick one person who mattered for the world and that we would listen.”

I’ve always thought that naming a “Person of the Year was more for Time’s benefit, to fortify the idea in their minds that they mattered, rather than that choice meaning anything to us.
And unless Time’s editors have never logged onto the InterTubes (admittedly a distinct possiblity), the people who made this decision have also benefited from the Information Age as much as I have.

Therefore, the award should be to “Us”. The fact that they don’t include themselves with the rest of us in the unwashed proletariat speaks volumes as to how the editors of Time see their customers.

Meh. At the very least, being named “Time’s Person Of The Year For 2006” will look *great* on my resume.

Cross-posted at Organized Individualists.

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December 18th, 2006 by exurbankevin