Thursday, December 13, 2007
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Posted by Mike Riley at 2:47 AM
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Posted by Mike Riley at 1:32 AM
Monday, November 5, 2007
I wish I knew where the term was first used - "Random Acts Of Kindness", I mean. I remember seeing it sometime in the 80's, as a play on the phrase "random acts of violence". Even then, there was a sense that the random act didn't have to be earth-shattering, or even community-shattering, for that matter. People would do things like paying the road toll for the driver behind them [at least until someone caused an accident trying to catch up to the person who'd paid the toll. I'd like to think it was to thank that person. But it probably was to find out who'd done it, and why] or shovelling a neighbor's walk clear of snow [usually an act of showing-off by the neighbor who'd just gotten a snow blower]. Still they were "well-meant" acts, and certainly a kindness to those who were on the other end of them.
That being said, it felt pretty good to be on the front end of them, too. We need to do more of this, helping people in need, or not in need, but in need of a kind act to make the day special. As you can tell by the little doo-hickey on the right-hand column of THIS VERY BLOG SITE!, Bloggers Unite! is hoping you'll take the time to do something special. There's a date of December 17th to blog about your good deed, but there's no reason to wait until the 16th, or stop at one deed. [If you don't have a blog, and want to see your effort noted, leave me a "Comment". If you have a blog, write it down to encourage others]
Posted by Mike Riley at 1:58 AM
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Posted by Mike Riley at 1:47 AM
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Victims were placed on a bench, face down, and their necks positioned between the uprights.
The actual beheading was very quick - often to the gathered crowd's disgust - taking less than half a second from blade drop to the victim's head rolling into the waiting basket.
However, debate rages over whether the quickness of the execution was humane or not, as many doctors put forward the notion that it could take up to 30 seconds before the victim lost consciousness.
That piece of gruesome news would not have worried the crowd, which continually called for aristocratic and royalist blood to be spilt.
An estimated 40,000 people travelled on the tumbrels through Paris to die under Madame Guillotine."
It was not my day to offer death when the King was killed. I have heard that he approached his end with an almost inhuman dignity. He was said to have prepared himself for the blade before approaching the Guillotine. Louis, when approached by the Revolution guards who wanted to tie his hands before allowing him to ascend the platform, called out in a masterful voice, "Do what you have been ordered to do. I accept that. But you will not bind my hands!" He was a brave man, was Louis.
I admit that I am sympathetic to the King's position. He had actually been trying to reign in the nobility, not at all like his two predecessors on the throne. But the example we had been presented across the ocean, in America, was too tempting to ignore. I believe that, had an acknowledged saint been upon the throne at the point the Revolution began, he, too would have suffered the same fate as Louis.
But whatever was the point in killing his consort, Marie Antoinette? Certainly, she had been a prime example of the excesses at Versailles, but after her children were born she settled down, and became an exemplary mother, and wife to the King. And what was her reward? Separation from her children, imprisonment in the squalid Concierge prison. and the terror of facing the Revolutionary guards herself, as her husband had.
But for all the criticism and torment, she, too faced her death with a special type of grace. As she was led up to me, she stepped on my foot, Now if anyone deserved the freedom to do as they wished, Marie had earned it, Yet she spoke up then, the first and only words she spoke that day. "Pardon me Monsieur for stepping on your foot, I didn't mean to". (Now understand that more than a few have stumbled en route to that final encounter.None, except Marie Antoinette, had ever apologized for a misstep.) Those were the last words she spoke on this Earth.
I pray that, when my last hour comes, that I may approach my end with the dignity and calm that Marie Antoinette did. Quell femme galante!
-Something different from
Posted by Mike Riley at 12:25 AM
Monday, October 15, 2007
Sometimes, timing is everything. Case in point: in the run-up to Blog Action Day, environmental issues happened to come to the forefront, in the form of the selection of Al Gore and the United Nations for this year's Nobel Peace Prize, because of their commitment to the environment. In case you hadn't heard, today, October 15th, is Blog Action Day, and the cause of choice is the need of all humans to take better care of the planet we share.
If you cruise across the Blogosphere today [and I'd encourage it], you will no doubt find statistics, and compelling arguments concerning a better treatment of the Earth. I don't have the statistics, and, for various reasons, I'm actually writing the dispatch from home, where I don't have T1 lines to make accessing those statistics easier. As for compelling arguments, is there a more telling one than the prospect of our grandchildren, or great-grandchildren being unable to enjoy the sounds of birds outside their homes, or to visit a forest filled with life, or even to walk down the street because the ozone levels are too high? Forget what we have already done to this planet; we MUST do better for it!
The folks at the Blog Action Day home site have suggested a few non-profit organizations that are trying to help, and could use your help as well:
-The National Wildlife Federation: www.nwf.org
-The Nature Conservancy: www.nature.org
-The Conservation Fund: www.conservationfund.org
There are other suggestions at www.blogactionday.org; if you can help financially, well and good, if not, please consider the role your lifestyle plays in harming or helping the Earth. Reconsider those actions that destroy the air, water, and soil we all need. It takes a whole planet to save the human race.
Friday, October 12, 2007
by Lim Chang-WonThu Oct 11, 12:54 AM ET
Sim Jae-Duck was born in a restroom and now he plans to live and die in one -- a 1.6 million dollar toilet-shaped house designed to promote his tireless campaign for cleaner loos worldwide.
Sim will open what is billed as the world's one and only toilet house on November 11 to mark the launch of his World Toilet Association.
The 419-square-metre (4,508-sq-foot) concrete and glass structure is rising on the site of Sim's former home in his native city of Suweon, 40 kilometres (24 miles) south of Seoul.
Before he moves in, anyone who is flush with funds can rent it for 50,000 dollars a day -- with proceeds going to his campaign to provide poor countries with proper sanitary facilities.
Apart from two bedrooms, two guestrooms and other rooms, the two-storey house -- of course -- features three deluxe toilets. Unlike the giant "toilet" in which they are located, they will not be see-through affairs.
"A showcase bathroom screened by a glass wall is located in its centre, while other toilets have elegant fittings or water conservation devices," Sim told AFP.
The showcase loo will feature a device producing a mist to make users feel secure. An electronic sensor will raise the lid automatically when people enter, and there will also be music for patrons.
The house, complete with a stream and small garden in front, is named Haewoojae, meaning "a place of sanctuary where one can solve one's worries".
Sim's birth in a restroom was in line with traditional beliefs.
"It was intentional. My mother followed advice from my grandmother that people born in restrooms will enjoy long lives," said the 74-year-old.
Sim's campaign began during his term as Suweon mayor from 1995 to 2002. His drive to transform toilets into "clean and beautiful resting places imbued with culture" earned him the nickname "Mayor Toilet".
Public restrooms in the city were jazzed up with paintings, fresh flowers or even small gardens. His achievements prompted Sim to launch the Korea Toilet Association in 1999, in time for South Korea's co-hosting with Japan of the football World Cup three years later.
Then he decided to take his clean toilets drive worldwide. The proposed World Toilet Association might be seen to rival squeaky-clean Singapore, where the World Toilet Organisation is based, but Sim has said the work of the two bodies will not overlap.
Indeed, he hopes his toilet house will highlight the global need for better sanitation.
"My family has already agreed to preserve this house as a symbol of South Korea's new toilet culture after my death," he said. "The house will be remembered as an example of saving mankind from diseases and protecting the environment."
Sim, a member of parliament, will host the World Toilet Association's inaugural meeting which he hopes will attract 300 representatives from 70 countries.
On the final day he plans to invite all participants to his house, which he said "envisions a new concept to place toilets in the centre of our life".
Sim said his campaign will focus on setting international standards for clean public toilets, adding that countries such as Mongolia, Indonesia, Turkey and Brazil are actively supporting it.
Epidemics caused by poor sanitation worldwide cost two million lives a year, he said. Worldwide, 2.6 billion people live without toilets. Elsewhere, poorly designed flush toilets waste vast amounts of potential drinking water, he added.
A future project in his active mind is IT-based toilets, where people can check their health or surf the Internet.
"Toilets were once regarded as stinking and dirty places. Not any more. They must be treated as the sanctuary that protects human health," Sim said.
Posted by Mike Riley at 1:31 AM
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
I don't normally blog about sports [and I'm not planning on it, either], but a recent death in the world of sports caught my attention. Somewhere in that group photo on the left [forgive me for not being able to discover where, exactly] is one Edwyn Owen, known for most of his life as "Bob" Owen. Owen was a member of the 1960 US Men's Olympic Ice Hockey team, the first American hockey team to win Olympic gold, and the only one to do so until the 1980 "Miracle On Ice" team. Despite the fact that the '60 squad is nearly forgotten today, its story may be more compelling than the 1980 team.
Kevin Allen, in "USA Hockey: A Great Tradition", said this about the circumstances of the US club in 1960: "In many aspects, the U.S. team's performance at the 1960 Olympics in Squaw Valley, California, was every bit as remarkable, if not more so, than the Miracle on Ice at the 1980 Olympic Games. First, the Americans had never beaten the Soviets. Second, the Canadians were better than the Soviets. Third, the team hadn't played all that well in the 18-game pre-Olympic tour. And finally, some players didn't like seeing Herb Brooks and Bob Dupuis dropped from the team to make room for the Clearys. Dissension threatened to undermine this team before it even arrived in Squaw Valley." 'The Clearys' refers to Bill and Bob Cleary. Bill was a great amateur player who insisted that his brother be added to the roster. They were one of two pairs of brothers on the roster; Roger and Bill Christian, from Minnesota, was the other.
The United States was hosting its first Winter Games since 1932. It was hoped that the Americans could at least match the '52 and '56 teams, who both earned silver. But coach Jack Riley [no relation] pulled his all-amateur [this was in the era that pro athletes were banned from Olympic play] team together, smoothed over the controversies, and led them into the final round. In round-robin play, the US beat Sweden, then edged Canada and the Soviet Union [the first time the US had beaten them, and a Cold War victory to boot], then faced Czechoslovakia for the gold. The Squaw Valley Games seemed to be oddly-arranged; after beating the USSR in an exciting night game, the Americans had to come back for an 8 AM contest the following morning! Sluggish from the previous night's effort, the US trailed the Czechs 4-3 after two periods. But a third-period Roger Christian hat trick [three goals, for the uninformed] helped push the Americans to a 9-4 victory, and the Gold.
The 1960 Winter Olympics, despite being played in the US, didn't draw a lot of interest in the host country. Winter sports in general, and hockey in particular, rated very low on the leisure activity "radar" of the era. CBS, the television network that broadcast the Games in America, paid only $50,000 [a low figure, even in those days] for the broadcast rights. Few of the hockey team's games were televised (although the club's success led to the first national broadcasts of pro hockey in America). After the publicity surrounding the 1980 team, there were reports of some bitterness and dismay among the 1960 team's alumni, feeling that they, too, deserved some renown for their feat.
Most of the Olympians did not end up in pro hockey; in fact, the most famous post-Olympics members were the Christian brothers. They used their carpentry skills to design and build hockey sticks for the successful company that bore their name. Ironically, one of the players cut to make way for the Cleary brothers went on to make some Olympic history of his own. Herb Brooks was the coach of the 1980 "Miracle On Ice" US team.
In retirement, Bob Owen lived quietly, supporting amateur hockey in his hometown of Topeka, Kansas. He loaned his name to the championship trophy of the town's tavern-league. The Bob Owen Cup was an empty beer keg, with a silver cup attached to the top.
Owen died last week, in a bizarre incident in his native Kansas. His car was found in an open field, aflame. Fire investigators believe the vehicle's engine set dry grass under the car ablaze, starting the fatal fire. Bob Owen was so severely burned in the blaze that it took until earlier this week to identify him.
Owen wasn't a memorable part of a nearly-forgotten team. But he did play for his country, and helped achieve victory in unlikely circumstances. Most of us can't say that.
- Mike Riley
Posted by Mike Riley at 2:35 AM
Thursday, October 4, 2007
Posted by Mike Riley at 4:31 AM
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Posted by Mike Riley at 5:17 AM
Thursday, September 27, 2007
(Actually, what with the Earth's rotation and all, more than a few places around the planet have reached Zero Hour. In the interest of candor, THIS VERY ENTRY is coming out Somewhat after Midnight, EDT. )
Before we go any further, A Disclaimer:
I DO NOT KNOW THE "OFFICIAL" BLOGCATALOG OPINION ON SELF-ABUSE!
[That said, I wish I understood the mechanics of "language translation". Not so much, the idea; more the nuts and bolts. After all, the potent English word "Self-Abuse" may or may not have equivalents in other languages. I need someone to translate these missives from English to, say, Italian. Then a second translator, who had not seen the original, would be charged with translating the translation back into English. 30-minute time limit. - MR]
BESIDES PEOPLE, even I don't have the nerve to completely trash "BU" during a major show of force. (Hey guys, I'm a member and all. I know the Rules...) And, as the Quicker Thinking among you have no doubt realized by now, it's Another form of "Self-Abuse" that's on the Table.
Being Specific, I mean the abuse we hurl almost continuously on ourselves. Understand, please, that I am not against a regular "self-examination"; What I'm bringing up is the kind of things that most of us [well, a lot of us, anyway] do occasionally, and Quite A Few, I Expect do entirely too much
Take a 'mo:
Circumstances Against Your Control - You're beating yourself over the head for things that are under the complete control of: God, Allah, The Buddha, The Boss [However you interpret that term], Coleman Hawkins recordings, You Know What I'm Getting At Here. Do you have a CLUE how unhelpful and unhappy the makes not only you[On principle, I think how you want to feel, so far as it's in your control, ought to by Law be your choice. After all, you're really the Only One who spends 24/7 with you.], but those of us who have to put up with you [we have our limits...]?
Circumstances Rigged To Explode In Your Face - 98 % of the time or so, you should not only be able, but should "feel obliged", to dismantle the bomb in question. FOR PRACTICE, if for no other reason [And I don't mean to kiss your employer's ass, either. Consider the benefits of being able to dismantle, then rebuild, those menaces, Knowledge Is Power!]
Situations Lost Because Of Legitimate Ignorance - Understandably, forgivable. In a world where Learning is frequently parcelled out by the size of one's purse, instead of one's abilities [Sorry for that very Franklinian touch - when you're confronted with the depth, breadth, and length of Franklin's file of Inventions, a frequent first reaction is to yell out, "arright, Franklin, you're the biggest bloody genius of the early-American-era. We'll just FORGET one bloody Thomas Jefferson". Fortunately, bouncers stepped in before further harm took place. Mr. Riley added that he had never had better treatment by what he termed "a bloody mini-army, just waiting for an excuse, or even a mis-read gesture, to begin the Earth's "Armageddon" [the real, and final Armageddon is, and always has been: Forces of Satan - vs Forces of God. I believe that God's Forces win. But it may hot be as big a walk-over as I'd like it to be...].
(You, no doubt, can add to this list. No you can't. You can only add to the "Comments" section. Damn. Maybe you could put your additions to this list in as "Comments. Just a thought...)
The point is, we trash Ourselves a great deal more than others. So knock it off! [Imagine that Slogan on the side of a dumpster in Your Town! We'll pay you less than you want, but almost as much as those sleazebags that operate the trash-collecting company that gets your [not THIS] area's "outsourced" trash-pickup business]. After all, can't we all get along with ourselves?
Not as much of a parody as you'd think...
PS: A special 'Thank You" to the sponsors of this little journal, for allowing us to carry the "BloggersUnited" poster; instead of carrying on a disgraceful "price war" over sponsoring this Historic Issue, they agreed to leave the space unpurchased. In gratitude for this unprecedented gesture, PLEASE VISIT AT LEAST ONE OF THEM TODAY! (Whether or not you end up buying things is Your Business, although I try not to put companies that have a bad reputation on this page). - MR
PPS: I would never call the two facts related. But the GM-UAW strike was settled WITHIN SIX HOURS after this space printed a brief look at the overriding dance between Labor and Capital. (Unlike "Dancing With The Stars", neither side is permanently eliminated. Frequently, in fact, they've both been on the Outs with the Outside World, sitting in some symbolic Penalty Box...
"BOX, BOX, BOX. BOX, BOX, BOX.
TO THE BOX, TO THE BOX, TO THE
BOX! BOX! BOX!"
-Chant in Buffalo's HSBC Arena, when
the opposition to the Buffalo Bandits
[pro lacrosse] pick up a penalty. - Also MR
Posted by Mike Riley at 2:33 AM
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Posted by Mike Riley at 1:17 AM
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Sadly, no one was kidding that day. As death estimates rose that day, and the horrific days that followed, I remember first of all a feeling of anger, that such a murderous act could take place on our soil [that's illustrative right there: our soil, our country was violated, its citizens, as well as citizens of many other nations, slaughtered in a wanton act of mass murder]. There was a feeling that our nation should do whatever it took to find, try, and punish those responsible [well, to be very honest, trials weren't necessarily on every one's mind; finding those responsible, then killing them by the most painful method possible was a popular early option]; that seems to have fallen by the wayside. Osama Bin-Laden reportedly plans to commemorate today's anniversary by reading the last will of one of the airplane hijackers in a new video.
While I've never been really comfortable with large public displays of Americanism [as opposed to patriotism, its more benign version], such things happened over the following days and weeks. Thousands of families buried their dead. Millions of dollars were raised to ease the burden of those who were now deprived of a wife, a husband, a brother or sister, a life partner or a life-long friend.
The memorials go on this year, although complaints of politics have come up over the New York tribute [then-mayor Rudolph Guilliani, now a Republican candidate for President, plans to speak, as he has at each memorial service]. The crowds that turn out each year get smaller and smaller. This is, I'd guess, inevitable.
But let this nation never forget the bravery of rescue workers who rushed into burning skyscrapers, who breathed fetid, lung-damaging air as they worked to save, and then recover, those trapped by the carnage. Let us never forget the bravery of airline passengers who thwarted another bombing attempt with their own lives. Let us never forget the feeling of national grief, of national unity, of the national will to go on. These things must be the true legacy of 9-11, not a sense of national impotence at the failure to bring that murderous gang to heel, not a feeling that the national leadership took advantage of the bombings to move its own agenda forward, or a sense that our spirit has been fatally crushed. Pray God, nothing could be, must be, further from the truth.
Posted by Mike Riley at 3:20 AM
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Posted by Mike Riley at 1:55 AM
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Posted by Mike Riley at 3:14 AM
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Regular visitors to this spot will probably notice a few changes. The familiar "It's Always After Midnight Somewhere" clock has been given a vacation. Its replacement is a count-down clock [as usual, provided courtesy of the clever folks at Clock Link.com. Mouse over the clock to hook up with Clock Link, if you're interested], as well as a couple of banners. There's a story behind it all, of course.
Virtually everyone who blogs is connected with one or more blog network. Over the year or so I've been doing this, I have signed up with a few of these services. The one that seems to be the most active [for my blog, anyway] is Blog Catalog (http://www.blogcatalog.com). They are home to a wide variety of posters, who blog on just about anything under the Sun. The authors are uniformly talented [present company excepted, of course], and know their subjects. It's also one of the few [maybe the only] sites that actually is selective as to what blogs are allowed in [I've gotten over another blog I write not making the cut. I really have...].
Another thing I like about Blog Catalog is that, from time to time, it asks its members to consider the larger world in their writings. A couple of postings back, you'll note that I wrote as part of a campaign dealing with organ donations. On September 27Th, we've been asked to address the topic of abuse. In an interesting move, the organizers of this campaign have decided not to select a particular form of abuse to consider. Of course, this opens up the discussion to anything from physical to verbal abuse, from environmental outrages to the case of a professional athlete sponsoring dog fights [a cause celebre here in the States just now].
As you've probably guessed by now, I will be part of the campaign. Are you in? Click on either the "poster" or the "Bloggers Unite" badge for more information. And even if you're not a member of Blog Catalog, I hope you'll look at abuse as a topic for a post on our around September 27Th. We have many examples of mis-treatment of our fellow creatures, the earth we all walk, the fellow humans we interact with in our lives. Blog for a cause on September 27Th!
Posted by Mike Riley at 1:26 AM
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Sorry I've been away from the keyboard again [and yes, I can hear Someone groaning in the background, "If you spent as much time blogging as you do apologizing, you wouldn't need to apologize"! Well, yeah.], but if you'd grown up here in Western New York, and you'd experienced the heat and humidity that's gone thru here [no, actually stopped and set up a picnic table], you wouldn't want to go near the Blogosphere, either.
Actually, the Blog World has been pretty hot of late, with the YouTube Democratic Presidential debate and its fallout remaining just ahead of the pride of lions on attack in that safari video that's all over the 'Net. There were those unfortunate cases of pedophiles who were cruising MySpace and Facebook, to name just two, in search of what we do not know, but can only suspect the worst, in the name of safety [considering what the Government wants to do keeping an eye on citizens whose prior records are squeaky clean, in the name of safety, the pedophiles got off lightly with just being booted off the sites].
Then again, hot is indeed the operative word. It's a warm Summer season across most of North America [I don't keep as good a check on Mexico as I should, but if the temperatures in the American Southwest are any indication, it's too warm there as well]. I'm hoping that this is not an intentional ploy of Al Gore's, to increase sales for An Inconvenient Truth, but you never can tell, can you?
Why, it's been so warm, I forgot to do something I'd promised myself I'd do once a year for the rest of my life: take a few hours to re-read Hiroshima, John Hersey's masterful reportage of the first use of the atomic bomb, and its aftermath. In the 1980's, he returned to the subjects of his original work, and traced their difficult life journeys since August 6, 1945. I have tried to read it every year, as close to the anniversary as possible. I haven't had the chance to search the apartment for my copy, but I'll feel guilty until it turns up, and I can take up my penance, penance for being one of the creatures whose ancestors felt the need to build so powerful a weapon of devastation. Well, maybe it'll cool off this weekend...
I finally got my first "new" computer to rights this week, so, if i feel the need, I can write to the 'Net from home, instead of waiting to get to work. Well, I'm excited about it! Stay tuned to this space. I'll try to get back to it more frequently, and more fervently. And, stay cool [except for those of you in the Southern Hemisphere, where the advice is, Try to stay warm (a sentiment I can understand!)].
Posted by Mike Riley at 1:52 AM
Friday, July 27, 2007
It's been quite a month, this July, in the "city" of Niagara Falls, NY, where I live. Two of America's three morning news shows have stopped by the falls to visit, and, by implication, endorse the Falls as a cool vacation stop once again. (Actually, the Falls never stopped being cool. We just lost our ability to appreciate them)
But, all in all, I'm betting some of the "locals" besides myself feel a little guilty about the whole thing. I mean, having grown up around here, we know the Dark Secrets that the Chamber of Commerce tries to keep away from potential visitors:
1. / The View is Better on the Canadian Side. Don't get me wrong. There are some spectacular sights to see on the American side of the Falls, beginning with the park that surrounds it. The Park, or the Reserve, as long-time residents call it, was the first state park established in the United States. Goat Island and its smaller neighbor, Three Sisters Island, are developed enough to make exploring them safe, but not so much that the experience of Being In Nature is lost. And there is no better place to experience the raw power of the mighty Niagara than Prospect Point, the concrete platform shaking with the water's force, the spray from the Falls covering you. But, for those picture postcard images that people love to send home to Loved Ones, the view is better on the Canadian side. To our credit, we residents are usually honest enough to admit this simple fact. Of course, we didn't figure this out just recently. Almost as soon as good roads [and railroads] made visiting the area easy for most of the nation, tourists figured out that the view was...well, you know what's coming next. In fact, until fairly recently, most of the tourism push was on the Canadian side, while in the U-S, companies attracted by the cheap and plentiful hydroelectricity made parts of the city so industrialized [and polluted] that the American side was once famously called, "the witch's end of Fairyland".
2. / With The Best View Comes The Best Attractions. This one comes out of another of those Dark Secrets we spoke of earlier: after about thirty seconds, you've probably seen everything Niagara Falls is going to do. Yeah, they're illuminated by colored spotlights in the evening, and during the Summer (High Tourist Season), there are frequent fireworks displays. But the Falls themselves are water running at a high velocity, before dropping of the edge of a cliff into the [obviously-named] Lower Niagara River. That's it. It doesn't change. This leads to a question: now what do we do? Because the best views of the Falls have always been on the Canadian side, the area around the Canadian Falls has always been a tourist magnet. Promoters and developers, sensing (or seeing) a crowd, were quick to set up attractions to give tourists something to do after seeing the mighty Niagara. With a nearly 150-year head start, the American side is playing an unwinable game of "catch-up". (Most of the major tourist attractions in Niagara Falls, Canada are on, or near, Clifton Hill. The land on this roughly one-block street is divided and sub-divided so as to get the maximum number of attractions, shops, and restaurants into the smallest physical space possible. I don't know if this is still the case, but at least into the 1970's Clifton Hill was private land, with its two owners allowing an "easement" for a street and sidewalks to be built. One side, not surprisingly, was owned by an accountant. The other was the property of a man who had made his fortune when he discovered the largest gold mine in Canada. Seeing Clifton Hill on a busy Summer day, you realize he also found the second-largest gold mine in Canada.)
3. / When Three Casinos Operate Within Five Miles Of One Another, No One Wins But The Owners. This area might be, well, "over-casinoed". There are two gambling [or to use the current industry buzz-word, "gaming"] halls on the Canadian side of the Falls, and one on the American side. (I'm not going to get into a comparison of one casino versus another. I don't spend much time in them. But I will say this; if you smoke, and enjoy a complementary cocktail or two with your gaming, visit the American casino. Since it's operated by an Indian tribe, the land it sits on is considered as belonging to the tribe, and thus is not subject to New York State or Canadian law, like the one that forbids smoking in all enclosed public locations. Just a tip...) For what it's worth, my point is this: too many places to go means no one place is making huge money. It also means more and more special programs to get gamblers...sorry, gamers, to spend their money at your gaming hall. Well, hey, America [or for that matter, Canada] can never have too many gambling-addicted folks dropping their last coins into a town's economy in a last-ditch attempt to keep that locale's head above water. Right?
(By the way, I don't have any moral objection to gambling. Everybody has a certain amount of disposable income to use as s/he sees fit. I spend mine on books and music. And I'm rather proud of the fact that, to date, I've yet to blow my entire paycheck in a book or record store. Although I've been tempted...)
And don't even get me started on the non-user-friendly tourism system on the American side. I'll just say that vital resources for the tourist are either located in the wrong place, or, more usually, non-existent. (Unfortunately, there are also reports that one or more of the several police forces that patrol in Niagara Falls, NY have appeared to make comments or taken action against visitors that seemed to be racially-driven. Again, just a tip.)
Look, we need your tourist dollars. Big Industry left us raped and abandoned by the roadside. So please come to Niagara Falls, NY. But understand that, to see the Falls at their best, you'll have to cross the border [It's really not as complicated as the Federal Government wants to make it, so this may be a good time to come a-callin'].If you bring kids, or if you enjoy the attraction side of touring, Clifton Hill [on the Canadian side] is your best bet. If you happen to be a person of color, we've got the prejudice you probably go on vacation to avoid [you can criticise us later]. But we must be a great tourist site. After all, two of America's three morning news shows have visited this month alone. Right? Am I right?
Posted by Mike Riley at 1:09 AM
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Sometimes the best thing about the Blogosphere isn't the words the Blogger puts out there, but what s/he finds on Other Peoples' Blogs. Case in point: the excellent site -
http://www.pinkyshow.org. (Yes, the savy out there are saying, it's very nice, but IT'S NOT A BLOG! Get over it...) The Pinky Show is a series of low-tech presentations, narrated by a small black-and-white cartoon cat named Pinky. It's a fascinating collection of perusals of current and historical culture. For instance, a consideration of the 1893 Chicago Columbian Exposition as the first flowering of Imperialist Culture in the U-S. Or a discussion of the battle between Direct and Alternating Current as the means of bringing electricity into American homes [this one, because of a demonstration by Direct Current's promoter, is entitled "Thomas Edison Hates Cats"]. No, it's not the history you learned in school [unless you had a very progressive school], but it's educational to the max. Worth a look...
In the "annoyingly cute, but hilarious" division, there's http://www.icanhascheezburger.com. Cats in funny pictures with cute captions usually make me chortle beyond control, and this site is no exception. (Cats seem to be this post's theme. So what?)
Nothing profound here. Just a couple of stops in One Blogger's Universe...
Posted by Mike Riley at 3:00 AM
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
As I write this, it's just after 1 AM in Western New York. I don't know for sure where, or whom, or why, but someone is desperately awaiting a transplant. Perhaps, as was the case with an occasional colleague of mine, they will die without a kidney transplant. Maybe the gift of a cornea will restore their sight. A heart or lung may keep a third person alive, to be a part of their family.
I have a terrible confession to make: I am not currently an organ donor. I don't know why. I guess because my personal health was so bad, I believed that I literally had nothing to offer. After examining some of the information posted at http://www.organdonor.gov, I realized that, despite personal health issues, my organs may still be usable for transplant. Even if they aren't, it's likely my blood can be used to help save some one's life [I have been a blood donor since late last year. I'd have started that sooner, but, owing to bad information and a childhood illness, I didn't think I was eligible.
In case you're wondering, I'm alibiing for myself because I feel rather guilty about not being an organ/tissue donor. After all, in most of the US, it's not very hard to be one; usually, a simple notation on your driver's license is enough [if you do that, though, MAKE SURE YOUR HEALTH PROXY AND FAMILY ARE AWARE OF YOUR WISHES!
The Woman I Love is an organ/tissue donor. People very close to you probably are as well. I'm going to be one, as soon as I can make the necessary arrangements. Why? You could ask any one of the nearly ninety-seven thousand people in America who are awaiting transplant donors tonight. Any reason they'd give to explain why they wanted to receive a transplant would be better than anything I could write.
Here in the United States, the previously mentioned OrganDonor.gov site is a good clearing house of information. If you happen to live here in Western New York, check out http://www.unyts.org, the home site of Upstate New York Transplant Services. If you live elsewhere in the world, please investigate organ/tissue transplant donation sites in your country. (I was shocked to learn that, in some parts of the world, people are killed for their organs! Thank God we are in a place where such matters are the stuff of urban legends).
I wish I could have made this a better, or perhaps more compelling, presentation. If you are looking for a few examples of why exactly organ/tissue donation is so vitally important, check out http://www.blogcatalog.com/discuss/entry/make-history-on-wednesday-1 post haste. There are links to several articles on this topic, most of which I suspect are better than this. But forgive my weak words. Find the strength within yourself and give life!
Posted by Mike Riley at 12:59 AM