Parking and Development in Downtown Lansing over the last 6 years

Over 6 years ago I looked at downtown Lansing to map out some of the giant parking lots:

I took the time tonight to see how much of that had changed, and the answer is not a whole lot (blue are new developments, red are existing parking structures:

I would be very interested, as I don’t live in Lansing and haven’t been there in two years, to see the difference in business occupancy rates.

I could never vote in good conscious for a party…

It’s pretty obvious from this blog where my political priorities lay.  I am, on occasion, moved by something going on at the state or national level and compelled enough to put it on this space.  That said, 2016 is already shaping up to be one of the most interesting election years yet. While the GOP is becoming increasingly irrelevant as the party of “no” and “anti-science,” they are also spending a lot of time and energy to make sure that the votes of anyone else do not count.

The short of this strategy is twofold.  1) The GOP is actively pursuing changing electoral college votes from whatever-it-currently is (where delegates are assumed to vote for whoever won the popular vote) to making delegates vote for whichever party runs that particular congressional district! Meaning, if the popular vote is for Candidate X, but Candidate Y’s party won the previous congressional election, the popular vote doesn’t matter because the district goes to Candidate Y.

Think about this for a second:  your vote in the presidential election doesn’t matter.

http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2013/02/25/1631961/michigan-gop-overwhelmingly-backs-election-rigging-plan/?mobile=nc
Courtesy of ThinkProgress

The second of this is something I’m not going to spend a lot of time on, but 2) The GOP is actively pursuing ways to disenfranchise voters.  Voter ID laws, reducing the capacity for places to handle long lines, etc.  You know, the stuff that made Desiline wait 6 hours.

Now why would the GOP be making such desperate moves?  This is the easy questions.  Because in 20 years, if they do not change, they will not survive.  Texas, a current red state, will change so dramatically in demographic that the current Latino vote will transform it into a blue state.  The same goes for AZ and NM.  Moreover, every time a moderate comes into play for the GOP, the party runs like hell.

I guess the point that they want to make is that they don’t care about what the country wants, but at the same time, they are not willing to give up their seats in government.  And like the title says, not many could vote of such a party in any good conscious.

Update:

Top Posts of 2012

1.  Food Deserts in Detroit
2.  Environmental Vegetarianism: Is it Sustainable?
3.  Patterns of Metropolitan and Micropolitan Population Change
4.  My MOOC: Seal ‘er up, send ‘er to rest
5.  Walkable Neighborhoods in Detroit and Southeastern Michigan
6.  Density in New York City–People and Power
7.  I promised my dad we’d hike…
8.  Venturing into a ‘MOOC’
9.  What American Higher Ed Looks Like Now
10.  Venturing into a MOOC: Intro, Lesson 1 and 2

 

Didn’t really predict this at all – but that’s what I get traffic for.  A pretty decent amount too – several thousand (unique) people viewed this blog in 2012.  Well, in that case, cheers (and Happy New Year)!

Michigan Politics and Economy

In an attempt to put some of my thoughts into a space where it may have some value (instead of just my Facebook page), I thought it might be prudent to write a post on some of the realities of Michigan’s political atmosphere right now and some of my thoughts on it.

Credit: Huff Post
Credit: Huff Post

I wrote a post over a year ago on the emergency financial manager law that Republican governor Rick Snyder signed into law when coming into office.  More recently, the law found itself under review at the mercy of the citizens of the fine state of Michigan directly at the polls.  Indeed, Michigan repealed this law with a clear majority of voters against it.

Today, the Michigan House passed the bill again.

I cannot comprehend the logic behind the lame-duck legislature that believes that this bill somehow is in the interest of their constituents.  Indeed, I believe it’s very likely that they see it in their own interest and the interests of those lining their pockets.

Now, in a different direction, Michigan voters also denied the legislature a proposal which would have codified collective bargaining rights for private and public employees into the state constitution (prop 2).  And in record time, the Michigan legislature has turned this into a movement to create and pass a law which removes the ability for effective collective bargaining to occur.

Of course, one might think that just because doesn’t think collective bargaining should be in the state constitution DOESN’T mean that the individual also thinks collective bargaining should be undermined completely.  However, given the illogical, non-representative manner of the conservative lame-duck legislature, I’m completely unsurprised by their decision-making process.

The same legislature has also gone to the right on other bills as well, with policies that restrict abortion, deny rights to LGBT individuals, eliminate the power of local governments, and overhaul education (K-20) in manners which have made many well-informed individuals extremely concerned.

In what might be the largest move to the right in decades, Michigan has gone from a labor-focused, moderate state to what might be tantamount to Mississippi or West Virginia.  No bones about it – that’s what has happened.

I think it’s time to slow the train down.

First, there is no conservative place in this country, including Houston, that low regulation and low taxes have lead to the area becoming an economic powerhouse.  Indeed, the places that have the most capital are high-tax and high human services: New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, etc.  They are not Dallas, Houston, or Indianapolis.  There is no need to argue this; it’s already been done.

Second, why in the world would anyone move to Michigan now?  This constant race-to-the-bottom philosophy does little to create jobs; rather it poaches jobs from nearby states and encourages companies to be concerned with only their bottom line rather than a fair pay and their community.  Additionally, if you’re a person of color, a woman, LGBT, or non-Christian, chances are the state of Michigan legislature is going to have a law that directly affects you in a negative manner.  (And if you’re any kind of conscious CEO, you’re not going to locate your company in a state like that, either…)

Third, conservatives themselves know that the path to success does not lie with the current agenda.  Indeed, Michigan’s own conservative Grand Rapids (“a bastion of American conservativism”) is doing well due to their own moderate and progressive agenda.  So what gives?

 

 

 

Environmental Vegetarianism: Is it Sustainable?

I suppose this is more of a personally-derived topic, but I feel an important one.  There are many environmental vegetarians, myself included.  By definition, an environmental vegetarian believes that the U.S. and other countries’ meat product systems are detrimental to the environment.  This may because of land degradation, energy-input to protein-output ratio, or bacterial (specifically e. coli and Mad Cow) threats to the human body as a product of poor practice.

I am an environmental vegetarian specifically because I believe that the food production system for meat is disgusting in practice, and because I believe the studies that demonstrate how methane and carbon dioxide gases from livestock are far worse than the exhaust from automobiles.

I recall when I committed to myself a path of environmental vegetarianism.  I was leaving Los Angeles in the summer of 2010, driving back to Detroit in the midst of a two-month road trip (comprising nearly 15,000 miles).  After eating a fried chicken, bacon, Swiss, and mayonnaise sandwich with fries and a pop from Jack-in-the-Box, I wasn’t hungry for an entire day.  As I crawled along at 45 miles per hour in the scalding Nevada desert into Utah, I began to fill sick.  The kind of sick that is really just guilt, but it comes from poor eating.  So I decided that my future would somehow reduce my impact on the environment, at that the decision to not eat meat would be an appropriate one to shuck myself of this guilt.

Well, nearly a year and a half later, I’ve eaten meat intentionally only twice, and accidentally (it’s easier than you think!) less than 10 times.

However, others and myself have been criticizing my own diet and perhaps that of environmental vegetarianism for being arbitrary in the decision to not eat meat instead of focusing on the reason behind a diet change: supporting a sustainable food system.  Now, I’m not going to say, “Go forth and eat McDonald’s daily,” because that would be silly. However, I don’t think that environmental sustainability is going to come from one decision.  It’s going to come from continuous decisions instead of understanding where your food is from, how it was produced, and just as importantly, how far it was transported.

I’m frankly in need of resources and information here.  The fact of the matter is that few grocery stores have this information.  Furthermore, the ones that do have it are expensive… or don’t have the selection of a Meijer, Kroger, Safeway, etc.  But where is the breaking point?