Discovering Public Transportation

There and back again. It’s always where I’m going. And going is something I’ve been doing a lot of lately. Frankly, I’m getting sick of it. For the past three weeks I’ve been homeless, kicked out of my summer housing and not yet allowed in my fall housing. I stayed with a family from church and was able to keep working at my summer job. This week I finally moved into my fall housing, and then left again for home. I haven’t been home since Christmas. In a few short days I’ll be on the move again, but hopefully by this time next week I’ll have settled down.

In a cryptic nutshell, that’s my excuse for not posting my thoughts here for the past few weeks. It’s also my excuse for any haphazard postings in the next few days. But I haven’t completely stopped writing. In fact, I’ve probably been writing more. And I love it.

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Radio vs. Napster

What does radio have to do with Napster? This whole Napster controversy has been going on with the record companies suing Napster and millions of pirating web surfers complaining about their rights. Yet no one is talking about radio stations. I’ve been realizing lately that the mainstream radio stations are glorified extensions of record companies. They play exactly what the record companies want, when they want it. A band only has one hit single at a time. Why? The record company releases one single at a time. That way the album receives more airplay because more songs are on for a longer period. You get the public hooked on one song until they’re sick of it. Then you pick a new song and get ’em hooked on that one. You keep doing it until you’ve exhausted the worthwhile songs on the album, and by that time the band has released a new CD. They also hate those number one singles.

But what does that have to do with Napster? Well, millions of people have been downloading the songs they want for free. Apparently they’re too cheap to buy CDs and they’re not satisfied with the variety on the radio. Shouldn’t radio stations be trying to cash in on this some how? Radio stations deliver songs to the public for free. They don’t worry about any kind of copyright infringement. But no, the radio stations keep a tight grip on their 50 song play list and rarely depart from it. It’s really fun to listen to multiple stations and watch as each station realizes a new song’s going to be a hit. First one stations starts playing it a few times. When they start to overplay it another station picks it up and plays it occasionally. Then a third station picks it up and pretty soon everyone is overplaying the song and it’s featured on the end cap at Target. Too bad most of us were sick of the song a month ago.

It just seems like someone in the radio industry should wise up and discover a way to tap into all this technological wizardry and unappeased audiences.

Of course I haven’t thought of how to do it yet. I’ll save that for another past-midnight evening.

Anniversaries of Death

How odd it is to celebrate anniversaries of death. 55 years ago today the first nuclear bomb was unleashed on a civilian population–an act hailed then and today as a weapon that saved American soldiers by ending the war earlier, although countless people disagree, pointing out Japan’s willingness to surrender and the use of a second atomic bomb. 10 years ago today devastating economic sanctions were imposed on Iraq–sanctions designed to stifle the regime, when they’ve only served to starve children. It makes for a depressing day. Yet I wonder if people today care. It’s pure and simple apathy that allows world tragedies to continue. If Americans really cared about Iraqi children dying, they could change things. But they don’t really care.

Tonight I saw a commercial for Fox’s Teen Choice awards. One of the ways they tried to advertise the award show was by claiming that there wouldn’t be any tributes to dead guys. Were they implying that teens don’t care about the accomplishments of people who have died? That teens just aren’t interested? That’s a very sad thing to assume of a generation, although I can’t help but wonder if Fox has made an understandable assumption.

Polly the Protestor

Her name was Polly. A straw hat shielded her wrinkled face from the sun as she paced up and down the bridge. Her words were kind, yet full of compassion and urgency. She wasn’t the kind of woman who is content to retire and play shuffleboard. She smiles like my grandmother, yet carries a protest sign and is going three days without food. All for some children she’s never met halfway around the world.

5,000 children die every month in Iraq because of the U.N. sanctions. These sanctions are mainly kept in place by the United States as an effort to oust Saddam Hussein. The decade of sanctions have resulted in a million children dying while Saddam continues to maintain control of the country. The sanctions aren’t effecting him at all. Instead the innocent are dying.

And so Polly takes up a protest sign and marches along the Lake Street Bridge between Minneapolis and St. Paul. The gospel has an answer to war: Love your enemy as yourself. You are your brother’s keeper. But nobody really believes it. Except for Polly.

Protest on Lake Street Bridge

While crossing the Lake Street Bridge today I noticed a small group of protestors. Curiously I turned, wondering what they were protesting. I didn’t know of any strikes in the area, and I wondered if it had something to do with the election or the Republican convention. As I passed by the signs spoke of thousands of children dying daily. Hand printed words spoke of an embargo that was choking a nation, killing its innocent children. They were protesting against the American-lead embargo against Iraq. The Gulf War was ten years ago, yet we’re still blocking food and medical supplies from Iraq. The children are dying, and for what? Kuwait has been free and I’m pretty sure I remember the war ending. Yet the embargo continues and nobody really cares or knows anything about it. As the protestors disappeared from view, I didn’t think much of it. And that’s the tragedy of it.

Republican National Convention 2000

And so they babble on and on. They make great speeches (or not so great) and tell me what great things they’re going to do. Some of them sound like ideas they thought up yesterday. They take pointed little jabs at the opposition and cover any holes in their own armor, even if it means losing face. Perhaps there are some issues they just don’t care about. Of course you can’t tell the country that, so you act like you care, and you come off waffling.

Cynicism. It’s overwhelming me as I read reports of the Republican National Convention and all the election year news. But I am trying to sift through it all and make some sort of sense of it.

One interesting thing I found today was the comments of the wife of Dick Cheney, Bush’s choice for vice president. There’s a lot of tension in her voice and she seems to be offended at the idea her daughter could be gay. She claims her daughter’s not gay, but the evidence says otherwise. Either way you can sense the fear in her voice. Homophobia rising up, at least in the families of our presidential nominees. I find this somewhat troubling.

I’ll try not to end on such a cynical note. I found another interesting thing. Collin Powell made a speech at the convention that seemed rather intriguing. He spoke as a Republican to Republicans, but he wasn’t afraid to be a voice of dissention. He called for racial reconciliation