Tuesday, September 20, 2005

We've won the wars on drugs and terror, so what's next?

Apparently we have truly succeeded in knocking out the drug problem in this country, terror is a thing of the past, and now the government officials are twiddling their thumbs, wondering what they can do to break out of their extreme boredom. Because there's nothing else to do around Capitol Hill, they decided to take a crack at the last great plague of this nation, the porn industry. Ah yes. The greatest evil of all. Porn. I can't believe this is for real. Check it out in today's Washington Post.

Recruits Sought for Porn Squad

Man, I can't wait to see what the Daily Show does with this one. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a fan of pornography, but I am a huge fan of free speech and of education, which includes educating kids about reproductive rights, sexual health, and making responsible choices. Congratulations to the religious Conservatives out there who are totally missing the point. Repeat after me: sexual education is the BEST way to reduce the rates of sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies. Maybe all the 15-year-olds having babies are being irresponsible because they're ALL sitting home watching dirty movies, but chances are they are just uninformed and don't make good life choices. But that would be too...liberal.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Seven Wonders of Chicago (It's official!)

As promised, I now present to you the Seven Wonders of Chicago, as decided by fellow Chicagoans who have voted early and voted often. (John Kass is just jealous, really.)Click on the names to see what the Tribune has to say about each Wonder.

1. The Lakefront
What needs to be said about the Lakefront, really? Sometimes it smells like dead fish. Sometimes it smells like wet dog. Sometimes it smells like hot dogs and sunscreen. During the summer it's ALWAYS beautiful, and during the winter, it's chilling and overwhelming. After living three blocks from the lakefront, how could I ever live in a landlocked city? All kinds of people flock to the Lakefront because there's something for everyone--nature, exercise path, boating, dog beaches, people beaches, open areas for picnics and recreation, wildlife conservatories, vending areas, and even comfy benches for the homeless, the elderly, the very young, and the injured to sit and wile away the hours.

2. Wrigley Field
Well, I'm a White Sox fan, so I can't extol the many virtues of the home of the Cubs, but I'll say this: Cubs fans know how to have fun. The Sox may be the better team, but the atmosphere in and around U.S. Cellular Field (ahem, Comiskey Park, thank you very much) can't compare to the craziness that is Wrigleyville. I can understand why so many people love it.

3. The "L"
People are complaining about traffic and gas prices and having to get a dumb headset for their cell phones so they can talk in the car. Every morning, I get to sit peacefully with my magazine or newspaper, listen to my iPod, and people-watch all the way to Garfield/55th Street. The subway interrupts cell phone service, so I don't have to worry about all the ringing and jabbering of annoying people on annoying cell phones, I can sleep if I want to, confident that I'll get to my destination stress-free, and I don't have to pay for gas or pollute the air. Driving is sometimes faster, but not always, and parking is a huge pain in the butt. Plus I get a workout by walking between the L and my destinations. Sadly, no city south of the Mason-Dixon Line or west of the Mississippi River has a working public transit system, except maybe San Fran. Maybe the L will change people's minds yet.

4. Sears Tower (aka next target for terrorism)
Kidding. It's a cool place. My uncle used to work on the 75th floor, and it took two elevators to get there. Lots of business gets done each day, and once in a while, a window pane will fall out and crash to the street. And you can't even feel it swaying in the wind.

5. Water Tower
I'm ashamed. The only thing I know about Water Tower is the tall shopping mall next to it with the same name. But it's a Chicago landmark that now houses the Lookingglass Theater, and you can see the pump station inside. At night, it shines like a beacon along Michigan Avenue.

6. University of Chicago
I'm proud to say I work at the U of C. The students may be too intense, too smart for their own good, a bit socially awkward, and any other traits one can associate as a generalization of intellectuals. But U of C is a great place, responsible for producing great scholars, businesspeople, lawyers, scientists, government officials, and other great minds in the world. I'd never go to school here, probably because I'm not even close to being smart enough, wealthy enough, or intellectually focused enough, (I'd never want to date Goerthe OR Nietsche, much less choose between the two, as was being discussed by some students here) but in my almost-three years of working here, I have learned to truly appreciate the intellectual aspect of life, and I've learned how to challenge myself in many ways. I'm sure the students at this university feel the same way, and that's what makes it such a great school.

7. The Museum of Science and Industry
(Personally I prefer the Field Museum, which is moving its huge collection of artifacts to a new storage location underground at the museum. But whatever.) The MoS&I is a really cool, hands-on museum that makes science and discovery accessible for kids of all ages. The domed Omnimax theater takes people on a wild ride down the Amazon River, on a flight through the Grand Canyon, and on a tour of the human body. Visitors can tour a submarine, a coal mine, a locomotive, and much more. The recent Body Worlds exhibit opened people's minds to the inner workings of the body in a way no other exhibit has before. And it's six blocks from the University of Chicago and right on the Lakefront.

Molly Ivins Tells it Like it is

No comments from me, just thought this was interesting. Thank you, Molly Ivins.
Follow the Money for the Real Story

Monday, September 12, 2005

Nature knows no political boundaries

Last night while I was killing time until the season premiere of Family Guy, I caught the last 20 minutes of the program Nature on PBS. The title of last night's show was Lost World of the Holy Land, and it was all about nature in the Middle East and the work that conservationists are doing to protect and restore threatened wildlife populations there. The little bit that I watched was about migratory birds, which live in all areas from Egypt to Israel to Syria and Jordan to Turkey and Iran. Israeli scientists were raising young vultures in order to help the population recover and spread. A Palestinian scientist was banding and releasing songbirds and teaching students how to track their migrations through interactive computer programs. Another scientist led a group of students on a nature hike and taught them about bird populations in the area. The students had arrived on three buses--one filled with Jewish Israelis, another filled with Arab Israelis, and the third filled with Palestinians. The students were grouped into threes, one from each bus, and the groups worked together on worksheets and study guides to learn about the local wildlife. Some groups even helped release birds that had been caught and banded.
This was before the escalation in violence, and they haven't been able to get together since then. But the symbolism is obvious. There is much that humans can learn from nature and through nature. The three buses of kids realized that although their backgrounds were very different, they shared the same interest in wildlife and could learn together about the populations of birds that live in all of their lands. While learning about wildlife together, they were also learning about each other, interacting as different cultures coming together for a common cause. Maybe the next generation of Middle Easterners will be more progressive, more willing to work together, more cognizant that despite their political, religious, and cultural differences, they share the same concerns about land conservation, wildlife, natural resources, and the environment around them.