Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Dynamic, Interesting Place (Thursday LINKS)

Along the right hand side of my page, I have some of my favorite quotes from commenters and around the community that I have memorialized with a spot in cyberspace.  One of them is a quote from Larry Carson, former Howard County beat writer for the Baltimore Sun, in which he notes that Howard County is a "a dynamic, interesting place with people not content to just sit back and let the other person do things."

With a trip to California's wine Country still in recent memory, I've been thinking about Howard County as a "place" a good deal.  Michael Chabon's new book Telegraph Avenue, which specifically acknowledges Jim Rouse, has also stirred this silt.  In interviews and essays, Chabon describes Columbia as an ideal fallen short; left behind as its foundations became status quo.  I had always dismissed Chabon's disappointment or disillusionment as "Columbia Kid Made Big", until someone recently told me that they saw Chabon as a leader or spokesperson for Columbia.  Only in the 21st Century can a cynical critic double in as leader.

But then there's Larry.  You always think there is something about your hometown that is different than everywhere else.  I have to believe the same is true for your college town.  There is something sparkly about the place.  I offer that concession while adding that I do believe Howard County, and Columbia, are still dynamic, interesting places.  Unusual even.  Unique.

But "why"?  Do I have anything other than anecdotal experience and vapid Fortune Magazine rankings to substantiate my claim?  Probably not.  But if I were going to try to define it, I would say that the film separating the idea from the possible seems thinnest here.  "People not content to just sit back and let the other person do things."  We "do things."  And this element is otherwise without definition, leaving it vulnerable to even the slightest bit of scrutiny, but yet also true.

In that context, describing what we are, and what this place is, whether that be a failed city or an antiquated idea, is ephemeral at best and offensively simplistic at worse.  Our buildings may have slowed, but the community of individuals brought here on the ticket of ingenuity and "the new" have made a unique place.

"Yet another Columbian saying he's special."  Yeah, but not really.  If the quality I'm attempting to describe ever lent itself to quantification, I wouldn't sound so much like a ranting insecure fan-boy.  But how do you quantify communal leadership?  "Doing things"?  Columbia may not fit into the box that Chabon set out for it, but he doesn't get the convenience of stasis.  Howard County may be reviewed as resting on its riches, but that doesn't explain our accomplishments.  We're a "a dynamic, interesting place with people not content to just sit back and let the other person do things."  Live up to that.


So last night's game hurt.  The Yankees are a very impressive team and Derek Jeter may go down as the best post-season player of my lifetime.  The Orioles have to find a way to pull themselves back together and force a game 5.  As a fan, I am still genuinely happy that my team is there.  With this legacy of mediocrity bordering on complete failure, our appreciation for the postseason probably surpasses any other fan bases' enjoyment of a World Series ring.

Very disturbing news out of Gallaudet University where the diversity officer was placed on administrative leave after her superiors discovered that she had signed a petition to put Maryland's same-sex marriage law on the ballot.  Marylander's for Marriage Equality have issued a statement condemning this decision and requesting that the official be reinstated immediately.  This obviously fits right into the accusations of marriage equality opponents, who say that those with dissenting views will be "oppressed" (for lack of a better word) into compliance once marriage equality is passed.  I will acknowledge that the fact that this is the "diversity officer" seems to add some context to the decision, but we all should be offended whenever someone's political views, expressed as a private citizen, affect their employment.

Former GE CEO Jack Welch appears to have lost his mind.  With respect to differing opinions, I've linked his explanation for why he thinks "Chicago" cooked the books on employment numbers showing that the unemployment rate was 7.8%.  There are interesting op-ed's floating around wondering what will happen if President Obama is re-elected.  Will the same folks that hinted the President was foreign born and now say he is manipulating jobs data believe the final result?  Do we have any common facts anymore?  Even election results?

After accepting a plead deal acknowledging that she used $800 in state money to pay a member of her law firm and campaign funds for her wedding, Delegate Tiffany Alston should be asked to resign.  If she fails to do so, she should be removed from office.  Long time readers have heard this from me before - We need a "good government" candidate to run on a platform of stricter penalties for those who breach the public trust.  Suspension is not enough.  Mistake or not, one strike and you're out.

Featured Blog Post of the Day:  I enjoyed WB's look at what Frank Gehry's visit to Columbia means for the future of our City (while also disturbed by his low expectations for Downtown Development -- Annapolis?  That's it?).  Nevertheless, I hope Howard Hughes and John DeWolf look towards the next generation of architects and designers so that, once again, we get them before they make it big. 

That's all for today.  When I went to bed last night, I figured I was not going to get up to post.  Clause A, 2 of my Blogger Agreement allows that "After any significant late night loss by a Baltimore Sports team, the Blogger shall not be expected to post the following morning."  But I also know, however self-important this may be, that a lot of you will want something to keep your eyes away from ESPN. 

Have a great Thursday doing what you love!