Saturday, December 11, 2010

Culture over consumerism

Thanks to the wonderful world wide web I no longer have to spend my December weekends exchanging blows with my neighbors at the local mall. Instead, I can enjoy things like the dedication of the Paolo Soleri bridge in Scottsdale.

Soleri is the coolest Italian architect in this town and he is the godfather of the whole arcology movement. He is known locally for his Arcosanti concept. His people also make real cool bells and chimes.

Anyway, this bridge is a nice counter and complement to the evolving Waterfront area. It's nice to see his bohemian, utopian influences juxtaposed next to the State's biggest den of consumerism.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Where has all the good Christmas music gone?

Like many of us, most of my music time comes while navigating local streets. With the Holidays in full swing and my ipod transmitter broken I am at the mercy of the local radio stations to get me in the spirit. It's only been several days and I already don't like the mood they are creating.

A few thoughts on Christmas music and radio:

  • There are literally thousands of Christmas songs and millions of different versions of those songs. Why do these stations stick to the same 500? I love Bing Crosby as much as the next patriotic American but let's put the daily limit on "White Christmas" at 15.
  • The 40's, 50's, and 60's had to have been the golden years for the commercial Christmas song. Don Draper and his contemporaries gave us the classics like Rudolph, Frosty, and others all in the name of moving products at Macy's.
  • Meanwhile the 80's gave as a horrible nadir in terms of quality music. Leave it to Wham, Paul McCartney, and the folks behind "do they know its Christmas" to stink it up so badly that it would be almost a full decade before we would see artists tread back into these lucrative holiday waters.
  • If you are a successful musician making a Christmas song has to the lowest hanging fruit possible. Easy money, shooting fish in a barrel, you get my drift.
  • There are few religious Christmas songs played on the radio today. The obvious exception is "O Holy Night". But I think that is because it showcases the range of the diva more than celebrating the traditional meaning for the season. Seriously, if you are an artist and you want to demonstrate your skill then this is the Christmas proving ground for you. "Little Drummer Boy" is another exception but, c' offensive is a he?
A couple more hours of this and I will be running, not walking, over to the local Deseret Book for some Tabernacle Choir seasonal cd's.

Monday, December 06, 2010

I support the Dream Act. Here's why

While in no way a comprehensive solution to our immigration mess, the Dream Act represents a positive idea that should be supported and further developed by both sides of the aisle. (For text of the bill as it currently stands in the house click here.) Citizenship should be earned and this bill does a good job of providing the right kind of carrots for the kind of immigrant that will add value to our country.

Let's be honest, we can't blame the kids for whom this bill was drafted. They didn't create these circumstances. And before we lay all the blame on their parents, let's realize that our economy and government have long let the conditions for illegal immigration flourish. If we weren't so willing to pay these immigrants a tax-free pittance for their hard labor I doubt we would be facing our current immigration mess. But this is our reality and we would be best served by taking steps to improve it.

The bill focuses on paving a way for deserving immigrants a chance to go to college or serve in the military. There are plenty of strings attached to prevent this from being a free ride. And no these students won't be taking away grants and in-state tuition for those legal kids. The bill contains no language about in-state tuition, leaving that decision to each State. It merely gives some very deserving students the opportunity to attend college or the military and to earn an expedited path to citizenship through conditional permanent residency status.

There is an economic incentive to pass this as well. The CBO estimates that it will reduce the deficit by $1.4 billion annually. Some might bring up the opposing figures offered by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) but their perspective is too biased and their methodology too flawed to seriously to be seriously considered. Nonetheless, here is the link to their take.

The bill is not perfect and there are things that need further clarification and discussion. (i.e. in-state tuition, need to be part of larger reform, vague protections for anyone who simply starts an application, etc...) And, ideally this would be a small piece in a larger bill that truly fixes our immigration mess. Unfortunately that is not the case at this moment.

In the meantime, this is a worthy bill. It gives some relief to a group who can truly contribute and participate in America. And it will help in keeping the spotlight on an issue that only continues to grow.

3/23/17- A fitting end in Venice

That'll cost you 100 Euros I guess it makes sense to spend the last chapter of our Italian journey in the town most commonly associ...