Tuesday, June 28, 2005

On the river Amstel

I've heard of bike-friendly cities, but until arriving in Amsterdam, I guess I've never been to one. Not only are there dedicated bike lanes, they are specially colored, and it appears that that cyclists get their own signals at major intersections. It's frightening and amazing to see several bicyclists turn left across a 5-way intersection without fear of being run down. At night, the riders all wear a similar white glow light that hangs down the front of their chest.

For a city of just a million people, Amsterdam has invested an extraordinary amount into their public transit system. In addition to the impressive network of bike lanes and bike-oriented traffic signals, there's also rail-based trams, buses, and heavy rail. I'm pretty sure I heard that they are extending their subway under the historic district (which one?)in a massive and ambitious effort to be completed circa 2016. Other than that reference, I've not seen any sign of the subway. It's hard to believe that there could be a subway under all that water and mud upon which the city seems precariously built.

They say that Amsterdam is built on Denmark and Finland because all the wood pillars holding up the buildings come from there. It's a perpetually flooded city, really, standing in 3 meters of water--one meter of mud, one meter of bicycles, and one meter of water. If you fall in, you can always grab a bike and pedal out.

Water from the sea used to be one of Amsterdam's three historical enemies and it's symbolized by the color white on their emblem. War is red and the Plague is black. They seem to have tamed the sea, using it to clean out the canals every other day, thus avoiding the stench that mars Venice. With several hundred islets and a couple thousand bridges crossing an impressive network of canals, the logistics of water level management seem daunting--one mistake and the centuries-old city would be washed away or destroyed by the subsequent wood rot.

The Red Light district really has red lights. And there really are women standing in store windows...well, they're not really stores--they're sex shops. Many times, the red curtains are drawn which indicates that commerce is taking place. The oldest church in town is situated in the heart of this district. Either it knows its market or the girls know theirs.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Monkey or Duck?

Very few people realize that the quack of a duck and its variations have many connotations within the simian world. Listen carefully. What do you think this means?

this is an audio post - click to play

Monday, June 20, 2005

Flight of the Love Birds

In cage he found love birds no more.

Two piles of feathers on patio floor.

All doors latched tight to prevent their flight

They flew with serpent to Paradise's night.

this is an audio post - click to play

Thursday, June 09, 2005

When Worlds Collude

Tonite is the "victory" party for the Save Muni Wireless rare defeat of SBC in the Texas Legislature. It's not over until it's over, but a win is a win.

It's hard to feel good when elsewhere in the Legislature evil bastards are working to marginalize me as a human being. It makes me wonder if I've been putting my efforts into the wrong battle. In short, the Legislature passed a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage or any legal status identical or similar to marriage. Hey straight people, this seems to include domestic partnerships and common law marriage.

The amendent strategy forces challenges to the existing ban in state law to be heard on the national level as opposed to the Texas Supreme Court. Perry says it will prevent judicial activism. That's code for pre-empting the checks-and-balances in his own state.

Because the federal appeals process is so lengthy, this will increase the amount of time that Texans are oppressed. Does oppression seem like too strong a word? According to Rep. Thompson, the amendment "repeals the contracts that many single people have paid thousands of dollars to purchase to obtain medical powers of attorney, powers of attorney, hospital visitation, joint ownership and support agreements." Read more on this in Molly Ivins' response.

To make things worse, "our" lionized governor shamefully signed the bill from within a church. Clearly, Christian arrogance has reached the point where it's now okay to brandish their stranglehold on public policy from the pulpit. What more is in store for those of us deemed "not Christian enough" in their view? I find myself struggling to sympathize with "modern" Christian views when these guys are Hell bent on making my life difficult. Although I was raised and educated with Christian ideals, I feel very little left in common with these extremists who have turned the faith into a power-hungry, hate-mongering cult.

Today my legislative worlds passed into each other's orbit when a friend sent me a link from Eugene Mirman's site about a Christian telephone company trying to get people to switch from "Gay T&T". Apparently, the big telcos allegedly support the gay agenda. Can it be so? Do I want these guys as allies? The Christian telco absurdly claims that MCI sponsors a pedophilia site in Canada and Verizon "trains their employees to accept the gay lifestyle." Mirman's recorded conversations with these Christian telco nutjobs provides several minutes of, um, entertainment. It doesn't feel right to laugh. With such strange-bedfellows, I'd rather sleep alone.