Saturday, April 28, 2007

Politics Friday

Last night the bf and I sat around being the political junkies that we are. First we watched reruns of The Daily Show, further analyzing John McCain's appearance on Tuesday night and the election in France. Then we flipped through and caught most of Bill Moyers Journal on PBS. I have never seen this show before, but so many people talk about it that I felt like I had been missing out. Moyers had an interview with Jon Stewart, which was funny, thoughtful, and touching. Then he had a story about a group of independent journalists who are covering the attorney general firings. These journalists have really exposed the plans behind the scenes to put more politically supportive attorneys in place of those who have either refused to take politically motivated action against Democrats or who have been pursuing cases of wrongdoing by loyal Republicans. And I gotta say, it makes me a little sick. The facts that have been uncovered and presented so far comprise a story that sounds like a conspiratorial novel, but is, in fact, reality. This is not just the Democrats hating on the Republicans. This is an unbelievably scary reality of the inner workings of the American government. To read more about the journalists' work, you can either click through the link above or go here.

Needless to say, Bill Moyers Journal has been added to the DVR recording list. We joked that recording this show automatically registers me on the Patriot Act watchlist for un-American activities. These days, I wouldn't be surprised. In any case, it's not the scandal story that attracted me to the show, it's the fact that Bill Moyers asks poignant questions and presents stories that the traditional news programs don't cover. As a current events and politics junkie, that appeals to me more than outright Bush-bashing, which as Jon Stewart complained, has gotten really old and too easy.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Driving in cars with radios

Now I remember why I love driving so much. Listening to the radio can be a fun experience or a frustrating time, especially when you're a captive audience. Until now, I was under the impression that Triangle-area radio sucked. When they say they play everything, they mean
everything random that no one really wants to listen to. Ugh. I thought I was going to have to rely on trusty old NPR (91.5 WUNC) while on the road. But I have recently discovered some great independent radio stations based out of University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill (89.3 WXYC) and North Carolina State University in Raleigh (88.1 WKNC). I guess Duke has a radio station too (88.7 WXDU), but I haven't listened to it yet. The playlists look good, but I tend not to trust any station whose mission is:
"WXDU, as a member of the Duke University Union, exists to inform, educate, and entertain both the students of Duke University and the surrounding community of Durham through quality progressive alternative radio programming. WXDU seeks to give its staff te freedom to pursue their personal aesthetic within the framework of a cohesive format. WXDU aims to provide the listener with an alternative viewpoint untainted by commercial interests. WXDU should maintain good relations with the music industry without compromising its integrity and nationally recognized commitment to quality programming. WXDU must remain a laboratory where all members are free to make and learn from their mistakes."
(Wonky! This, by the way, is a perfect example of what the Duke experience is. Even music is an academic endeavour and must always keep up proper and impeccable appearances. My program is not like this, however. We like music for music's sake. We're the hippies.)

In any case, ah, college radio. Where everything indie came from before anyone had ever heard of it. The stations play great music all the time, and you can listen to all of them online. Please check them out and spread the word. And support your own local/college radio stations.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


And so, dear friends, the two-year anniversary of this blog has arrived (first post: April 19, 2005). When I first started blogging, I was trying to figure out what to do with my life, since my job was less than satisfying and I craved intellectual stimulation in my life. My posts were clever (or at least, I thought so) because I had no creative outlet and no opportunities for expositional or persuasive writing. I wanted to tell people about all the things I thought they might be missing, or at least not already discussing.

Now, two years later, my blog has become slightly neglected. I don't have time to read print newspapers and the online ones get skimmed. In fact, I don't have time to read or write much that isn't for school. But it's okay, because now my life is full of all the things I used to crave. My friends are all smart and intellectually stimulating. My boyfriend emails articles to me almost weekly, about things I probably wouldn't pick up on, because he spends more time reading the online newspapers than I do. My classes give me new and interesting things to think and write about, and I have once again learned to enjoy writing. My work on the environmental law and policy journal gives me a chance to impose rules and order on the writings of the smart and accomplished. And I feel a little less afraid now, after the turn of Congress and the growing greenness in this country. There's still plenty to worry about in this world, but these days, I'm more hopeful.

So in this, the third year of the blog, I'll be taking a different direction. I'll still try to point out the important things that I think people might be missing. I'll still recommend great books or music or websites. I'll still praise Salt Lake City and other places for their continued, if unexpected, commitment to the environment. And there will be more of my life in here as well, more thoughts, concerns, experiences, and such. I'll still try to keep it smart, not trite. But if you don't find it intellectually stimulating enough, start your own blog.

Oh yeah, and Happy Earth Day, y'all!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A good soaking

Over the course of Saturday night to Monday morning, we received a ton of rain, which left the ground soggy and soft. We hadn't had a lot of rain over the past month, so it was well needed. It also washed a lot of the pollen away, for which my allergies are thankful. However, in the sandy soils of North Carolina, wet conditions plus high winds lead to a high probability of falling trees. Which they did. Apparently many trees fell over the beautiful Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, so our campus bus took a different route. The tree-lined quiet streets and the exposed red red soil along the road warmed my heart. Somehow, this place with its Southern accents, pine mulch, coastal sensibilities, and sprawl, feels like home. I'm realizing more and more that the same cool things you get in other cities are here too, you just have to look a little harder for them. Things move more slowly in the South, it's true, but why is that a bad thing?

This summer, I'll be working at preventing sprawl and encouraging smart transportation options down here. I'll be doing research from the library or at home, meeting with legislators, talking to reporters, and in general, getting my feet wet. I'm sure I'll have a lot to report. I'll also be learning to play the banjo, trudging through calculus (still), and perhaps training in Geographic Information Systems so I can make pretty maps on the computer. Of course, I'll be spending time with friends during my last truly free summer.

So what do I like best about North Carolina? There's always something new to learn.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


I've been remiss in posting, except to brag about my awesome spring break (which was the first real spring break since high school's class trip to Hawaii. This break was just a wee different...)

So here are some other things I have experienced in this great state of North Carolina:
1. I worked on another sustainable farm that makes cheese. The cows are pastured all the time (with rotation) and fed small supplements of corn and soy. There are pigs that eat the whey, a byproduct of cheesemaking that would otherwise be treated as waste because of naturally occurring nitrogen levels. There are chickens that lay eggs and eat the flies and fly larvae that would otherwise spread diseases among the cows. The cheese is made on the premises and sold at farmer's markets and Whole Foods. Yeah, most of the cheeses are made with animal rennet, so they're not perfect, but otherwise they do good things.

I will continue to volunteer on the farms this summer, hopefully twice a month. In the fall, I'm going to work with the fellow student who got this whole thing started to create an official student group, and maybe look into getting some sustainable agriculture research opportunities in our program.

By the way, both farms we have worked on are owned and run by lesbian couples. Hey, it's just great to see women running farms and doing good things.

2. Yeah, all those lovely pine trees that smell so great all year? They're the source of all the dusty yellow pollen that covers everything in sight, like someone's chalk drawing gone awry. All the tree pollen, which is emerging earlier than usual due to warmer temps and dry conditions, is wreaking havoc on my eyes and sinuses. April is usually rough for allergies, but this is ridiculous. I really hope it clears out soon, or it's going to be a miserable summer.

3. Even still, spring is in such full force that I almost forgot there was a winter at all. So the South has its good and its bad.