Keeping it real since 1975.

Government 2.0 and Howard County/Columbia

This morning I went to a very good beta presentation by Ken Fisher from about how Government can make it's way into the social media space. What was going to be a simple run through of his presentation became a quite active discussion concerning not only how he can improve his presentation for Wednesday, but also about government communications in general. This being a local oriented blog (although sparse so far -- sorry guys and gals new job and the need to learn new rules that apply to me and lobbying), the question then becomes how to apply these concepts to the local government.
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A Vision for a New Columbia - part 5: entertainment

I've been giving this a bunch of thought and Columbia 2.0 makes me worry a bit. It the Sun article concerning the group, there was a member of the group that books entertainment acts. I really hope there isn't another venue for crappy cover bands that makes a barely tolerable night out on the town. Nottingham's and Sonoma's covers that market rather well, thank you. Then there's the folk music, which is cool, but that won't drag in the youth market. Then there's the high art events, which many young people would go to, but it's not exactly the sort of thing that people would go to on a consistent basis. As I stated in my first post. There's easily 500+ people who go to either Baltimore of DC to see acts doing original music. That's a demographic work pursuing. And that's just the punk and indy rock scenes. Let's not forget the various jam bands in the area. Put that all together, and you have the economics of a vibrant music scene right here in Columbia.

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A Vision for a New Columbia - part 4: errata


As Dave Bittner pointed out to me on Twitter, there is/was a rail line going into Columbia East. While some may point to this as a sign that train service to TC would be unfeasible, I would dispute this assertion by looking at the economics of the old rail line and the new rail line. First, the old rail line was designed to be industrial rather than for the transportation of people. It was built during a time when rail was being supplanted by trucks and this line's failure is a symptom of that. With the increase in the cost of gas in addition to people's increasing frustrations with traffic, a train service to TC would make sense. There was also the older argument against trains in that it would increase crime at the mall, particularly theft. Well, let's look at the potential theft v. the economic impact of saving up to an hour a day off of people's commutes. I don't have those numbers since no one has done a study yet, but just pure supposition would probably support my argument.

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A note about GGP's proposal

In general, the GGP proposal is pretty decent. They've evidently put in a lot of thought into what they're doing, but it really is thinking in the box and neglecting some really significant opportunities for a real transformation and putting money where their mouth is. They talk about green buildings, what's the technology behind it? What do we really do about cars? Do you really think people will be sitting on a bench next to a major road reading a book? What about places that are a genuine substitute for town homes and single family homes? Let's go and explore this together some more. Personally, I'd make cars look and feel like secondary citizens.

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A Vision for a New Columbia - part 2: the public realm

As I stated in the last post, Town Center needs to the jewel in the crown of all development. It's what makes a statement of what Columbia is supposed to be. and I'm not talking about it from a design prospect, but from a community standpoint. This brings in the elephant in the room: the mall. The mall takes up so much spaceĀ  and is arranged in such a way that makes all further development difficult if not impossible. In order to get from one side of TC to another, you need to either go around the mall (a long walk no matter what) or go through the mall (and face the ring of moving cars, meander through the parking area, walk a lengthy stretch of the mall to get to a door on the other side, come out then face the parking lot and the ring of moving cars again). With all of that said, it's evident to me that the mall as it stands today needs to go.
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A Vision for a New Columbia - part 1

It seems that I'm having a difficult time getting away from the topic of Columbia, MD. No matter what, it seems what I most often talk about with others. I grew up here. After living in other places for periods of time, I always seem to make it back. Admittedly a few times was because I couldn't make it out on my own, but there's a weird thing about this town that is somewhat indescribable.

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Bumper Stickers linked to road rage? Nature addresses the issue

There's an interesting article in Nature last week concerning the link between bumper stickers and road rage. The conclusion from the Colorado State University team drew from their study is that there is a correlation between how someone uses their car as an expression outlet and their likelihood for anger behind the wheel. They link bumper stickers with territorial markers. This is my space, not yours
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What an interesting world we live in. I remember that when I was in high school, race relations were still tense. Even here in Columbia, MD, there was a tension between the races despite our more open attitudes. I remember when Neo Nazis were running around and being bold about it. I remember the race riots of LA on TV. I remember seeing Do The Right Thing in the movie theaters as well as the conversations that followed. And even within the past several years, I have seen its more subtle forms when people mock gangsta rap and hip-hop culture in general for not conforming to proper society (read: the way white people do things).
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Choosing Civility in Howard County? How uncivil.

Run around Howard County, Md and you'll see these little green bumper stickers that say "Choose Civility in Howard County". I started noticing these a few years ago and I pretty much ignored it until recently. It always stuck me as a bit odd since HoCo is pretty civil to begin with. Then all of the publicity surrounding the campaign started coming out. Okay, so I now know where it's coming from and what the library is trying to push. What do I do about it? I read the book.

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Thoughts on the Obama row concerning religion and race

I was just reading an article in the Guardian entitled "Obama race row reflects divisions in key Pennsylvania city" and some thoughts began to occur to me concerning not race, but the state of religion in America. In this article someone said,

In Chickie's and Pete's restaurant and sports bar in Philadelphia, John Fernandez, a chiropractor, said Obama must have known what Wright was preaching. "How can you be that tight and not know or share some of those opinions? I was leaning toward him a little bit, but that took it over the edge," Fernandez said, hollering to be heard over the din of the bar and televised basketball game.

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Why Hillary should bow out

For those of you who know me, or even keep track of this blog, you will know that I'm not exactly a talkative guy. I tend to keep to myself unless you come into my close circle. However, when something really starts geeing under my skin, I feel the need to make my voice heard. Sometimes I can be a little brash. Maybe a little vicious. But i feel like it needs to be said. Now onto the show...<./p>

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Dan Hess: Dear friend and an example of DIY Punk. 1976 - 2007

Last night, I was at the Pietasters show at the 9:30 club and I heard that my old friend, and sometime confidant, Dan Hess passed away from Hodgkin's Disease on May 14. One of the proprietors of Phantasmagoria and he suggested that I post my memories of Dan to DC Ska. It seems however, I feel like posting my memories and musings here and I'll let Michelle link to here. I'm still trying to put together specific incidents and photos (if I have any off hand), but at the very least, I can post my initial thoughts here for everyone to see.

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All a twitter.

I'm now signed up for Twitter. In case you're not aware of what it is, it's a social networking site with one simple purpose: to let your friends know where you're at. Physically that is. That's been one of those things that has always frustrated me in the past, I've wanted to let people know where I'm at, or I suddenly have some free time and I'm wondering where my friends are at. This pretty much solves that issue. For instance, I'm here at the Starbucks on Dobbin Rd. chilling out, reading a bit and listening to some podcasts. Well, all I need to do is to either log in to and update my message, or I can send in a text message from my phone and the message will be updated that way. I don't know how well it will work out, but I think I'll give it a shot to see how well it works. if you want to be on my network, just give me a shout.

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Thanks a lot AARP!

I must admit, I've been in a prety foul mood this week. To anyone who has felt my wrath as a result, I do apologize. Imagine this morning when I checked a piece of mail I got yesterday. It was from the AARP! "Hmmm...." I thought to myself, "I wonder what this is about?" Well, let's take a look at what it says.

Or records show that you haven't yet registered for the benifits of AARP membership, even though your're fully eligible.

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