I am in the midst of making plans to visit New York City this spring after having stumbled across The High Line Park website earlier today. Few things catch my interest as much as this incredible idea for a park built on an abandoned rail line elevated to pass over city streets full of traffic below. What a brilliant solution to a tough problem.
As the city takes the shape of the needs of the current residents, there are bound to be problems that arise. Instead of investing good money into tearing down the elevated rail, it was thought that this could be the site of a public park in a locale where real estate is a commodity few can afford, and where green space is scarce.
Here is a history of the High Line as it is posted on their website:
1847 The City of New York authorizes street-level railroad tracks down Manhattan’s West Side.
1851 – 1929 So many accidents occur between freight trains and street-level traffic that 10th Avenue becomes known as Death Avenue. For safety, men on horses, called the West Side Cowboys, ride in front of trains waving red flags.
1929 After years of public debate about the hazard, the City and State of New York and the New York Central Railroad agree on the West Side Improvement Project, which includes the High Line. The entire project is 13 miles long, eliminates 105 street-level railroad crossings, and adds 32 acres to Riverside Park. It costs over $150 million in 1930 dollars—more than $2 billion today.
1934 The High Line opens to trains. It runs from 34th Street to St. John’s Park Terminal, at Spring Street. It is designed to go through the center of blocks, rather than over the avenue, to avoid creating the negative conditions associated with elevated subways. It connects directly to factories and warehouses, allowing trains to roll right inside buildings. Milk, meat, produce, and raw and manufactured goods come and go without causing street-level traffic.
1950s Growth of interstate trucking leads to a drop in rail traffic, nationally and on the High Line.
1960s The southernmost section of the High Line is demolished.
1980 The last train runs on the High Line pulling three carloads of frozen turkeys.
Mid-1980s A group of property owners lobbies for demolition of the entire structure. Members of this group own land under the High Line that was purchased at prices reflecting the High Line's easement. Peter Obletz, a Chelsea resident, activist, and railroad enthusiast, challenges demolition efforts in court and tries to re-establish rail service on the Line.
1999 Friends of the High Line is founded by Joshua David and Robert Hammond, residents of the High Line neighborhood, to advocate for the High Line's preservation and reuse as public open space.
2001 - 2002 The Design Trust for Public Space provides a fellowship for architect Casey Jones to conduct research and outreach for "Reclaiming the High Line," a planning study jointly produced by the Design Trust and Friends of the High Line, which lays out planning framework for the High Line's preservation and reuse.
March 2002 Friends of the High Line gains first City support—a City Council resolution advocating for the High Line's reuse.
October 2002 A study done by Friends of the High Line finds that the High Line project is economically rational: New tax revenues created by the public space will be greater than the costs of construction.
December 2002 The City files with the federal Surface Transportation Board for railbanking, making it City policy to preserve and reuse the High Line.
January – July 2003 An open ideas competition, "Designing the High Line," solicits proposals for the High Line's reuse. 720 teams from 36 countries enter. Hundreds of design entries are displayed at Grand Central Terminal. (View Competition Entries)
July 2003 Friends of the High Line and the City jointly testify before the Surface Transportation Board in support of High Line reuse.
March – September 2004 Mayor Bloomberg announces City funding for the High Line. Friends of the High Line and the City of New York conduct a process to select a design team for the High Line. The selected team is James Corner Field Operations, a landscape architecture firm, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, an architecture firm, and experts in horticulture, engineering, security, maintenance, public art, and other disciplines. (View the High Line Design)
September 2004 The State of New York, CSX Transportation, Inc. (the railroad company), and the City of New York jointly file with the Surface Transportation Board to railbank the High Line.
April 2005 An exhibition showcasing the preliminary design by James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro opens at the Museum of Modern Art.
June 2005 The Surface Transportation Board issues a Certificate of Interim Trail Use for the High Line, authorizing the City and railroad to conclude railbanking negotiations.
November 2005 The City takes ownership of the High Line from CSX Transportation, Inc., (which donates the structure), and the City and CSX sign a Trail Use Agreement. Taken together, these two actions effectively preserve the High Line south of 30th Street.
April 2006 Groundbreaking is celebrated on the High Line with the lifting of a rail track. The first phase of construction on Section 1 of the High Line begins. Construction begins on Section 1 (Gansevoort Street to 20th Street). Tracks, ballast, and debris are removed, and the tracks are mapped, tagged, and stored (some will be reinstalled in the park landscape). This is followed sandblasting of steel, repairs to concrete and drainage systems, and installation of pigeon deterrents underneath the Line. (View Construction Photos)
2008 Landscape Construction begins on Section 1, with construction and installation of pathways, access points, seating, lighting, and planting.
June 2008 Final designs are released for the High Line's transformation to a public park. (View the Final Designs)
June 9, 2009 Section 1 (Gansevoort Street to West 20th Street) opens to the public.
June 8, 2011 Section 2 (West 20th Street to West 30th Street) opens to the public.
April 25, 2012 The New York City Planning Commission votes unanimously to approve a zoning text amendment that secures the eastern portion of the High Line at the Rail Yards, including the 10th Avenue Spur, as public open space.
July 25, 2012 The High Line at the Rail Yards is saved. The City of New York acquires the title to the third and final section of the High Line from CSX Transportation, Inc., which donated the final portion of the structure to the City.
September 20, 2012 Groundbreaking is celebrated on the High Line at the Rail Yards. Construction proceeds in three phases, with the first phase projected to open in 2014.
Spring 2014 Nick's first visit to The High Line. (Hopefully Mike will join me--I haven't asked him yet!)
I really can't wait to visit. Spring can't come soon enough! The main images above and below this entry link to The High Line Organization website. All the information you need can be found there.
I'm not a huge fan of Glenn Beck, but I really appreciated this discussion about the Common Core. The Common Core will dictate what every student in the United States should know at the end of each grade from Kindergarten through 12th grade. In this YouTube segment, it is implied that Bill Gates (Microsoft), Yahoo, and Google are dumping millions of dollars into funding for the Common Core Initiative so that students will be educated in the ways of working for Microsoft, Yahoo, Google and the like.
Students, under the direction of teachers who have been taught everything they need to know to prepare students for work in technology related fields, will be funneled into huge corporations as employees that push power to the higher ranks. This will ensure that competition in the form of new upstarts will cease, and these already powerful corporations will become more powerful, and are guaranteed that power for years to come.
This scares the hell out of me. Topics like this have been written about by authors for centuries, and the books they produce have been labeled as dystopian fiction. This isn't fictional, this is real. Welcome to the United Corporations of America.
Further reading: Common Core Initiative Page, Wikipedia Common Core Page
The following are the nominees for the 2014 Academy Awards (the ones I care about) announced by Cheryl Boone Isaacs, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, on Thursday. For some strange reason, she was joined by "Hunger Games" actor Chris Hemsworth. Weird. I wonder who he had to screw to get that spot... Anyway, The Academy Awards will air live on ABC on March 2, starting at 7 p.m. ET. Share your picks in the comments.
CNN Coverage | Official Oscar Site
Mark Twain said it beautifully, "All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure. ” Oh, so true!
I went to WalMart tonight to pick up some tea and ice cream (wonderful combo, I know), and was astonished at the level of happiness I saw in individuals who are very clearly and hopelessly ignorant. Now, I don't mean rude or stupid, although some of them could be, but I mean that they have no connection to the realities of humanity and the way it works.
They seem to go along, very happily, as large, lazy, junk eaters who only gain amusement out of being confronted by the ways of the world and other people. I marveled at the lack of concern about what others must think of them, and stood in wonderment at the self checkout as a woman devoured a melted carton of Ben and Jerry's ice cream as she paid for her diabetic-coma-waiting-to-happen grocery bill with a food stamp card. She looked stress-free without a care in the world.
Meanwhile, I can't leave the house if I haven't showered and made myself presentable, even if it's just a trip to WalMart. I need to see a therapist twice a week to work on issues that stem as far back as my single digit childhood years. I am always stressed, and even have panic attacks. This leaves me thinking I've been living this life devastatingly wrong, and I am surely missing out on some secret. The secret of not giving a shit. If someone could clue me in to this awesome way of living, please do so in the comments. Thank you in advance!
Last night, I was watching documentaries on Netflix with my boyfriend Corey. One of them was called "Park Avenue: Money, Power, and the American Dream," which features clips of Ayn Rand speaking about her vision of Laissez Faire Capitalism. This brought me into research mode, wanting to find out a little more about the Ayn Rand Institute. I have loved Ayn Rand and "Atlas Shrugged" for years, but I never knew that ARI was a political powerhouse. On my quest, I came across an article George Saunders had written for the New Yorker called "I Was Ayn Rand's Lover."
I had known about Ayn Rand's affair with Nathaniel Branden from reading her many biographies, in particular "The Passion of Ayn Rand." It creeped me out quite a bit back then, but now to see that she prowled on more than one innocent young man left me with a sour taste. If you know Ayn Rand and her philosophy of Objectivism, you wouldn't be too surprised that Nathaniel Branden was a target on her radar. To hear Saunders recount his having essentially been "raped" by her was a little off-putting to say the least, but his developing jealousy over Ayn having set her eyes on a young Paul Ryan disturbed me. It wasn't his feelings of jealousy that disturbed me, rather her voracious appetite for bedding young men in late puberty is what was particularly disturbing.
So, we now know of three men in their late teens who were successfully pursued by Ayn Rand. There are probably plenty more, but my interest stops there. Seeing Paul Ryan run wild with Ayn's version of Laissez Faire Capitalism as it pertains to our present day economy was like being punched in the gut by Ayn Rand herself. All of her theories sound good as just that -- a theory, but when put into practice as Paul Ryan has done as a congressman, they are truly frightening. I don't know what plagues me more: the affairs with young boys, or being disillusioned by Paul Ryan's crazy plans for American prosperity.
To understand what I'm talking about, you'll have to do a little research. Most of it can be done by watching the "Park Avenue" documentary, reading "Atlas Shrugged," "The Passion of Ayn Rand" (also a film), and then reading George Saunder's New Yorker piece (which is very well-written, I might add). It amounts to a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach, I'll bet, because that's what I'm feeling right now. It can all be summed up in one word: UGH!
Watch the entire "Park Avenue" documentary:
Barbara Branden (Nathaniel Branden's wife) on The Passion of Ayn Rand:
Alonzo Clemons was born with many gifts, but society only saw his shortcomings. Mr. Clemons was institutionalized and deemed "bad" or "evil" by people who didn't even know him. This video shows a gifted artist who admits he has to work much harder than most to live a simple life.
This video shows us that we must not herd all challenged individuals into an institution, thinking it's what's best for them. Alonzo is proof that anyone can live the American Dream if they are willing to work for it, and not everyone who needs help is "bad," "damaged," or "evil."
> See the artistic talent of Alonzo Clemons on his website. <
Award-Winning Journalist and Commentator Bill Moyers gets right to the heart of what the shutdown and debt ceiling threats are all about. He's right on, and it's very scary. Will the republicans really let us default? Is this the end of democracy? Should we all leave the country and emigrate to Canada? I'm seriously thinking about it, and thank God I'm a Democrat. Here's what Bill Moyers says in the "about" section of the video on YouTube, video to follow:
"This week's government shutdown has consequences for all of us, costing an estimated $300 million each day that the government is closed for business. Many Americans have voiced their frustrations with the fallout from the shutdown on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter using the hash tag #DearCongress. Here, Bill Moyers shares his own frustrations, admonishing the Republican Party for holding the country hostage via an irrational "ransom list" of demands — while sabotaging democracy in the process. "When the President refused to buckle to this extortion, they threw their tantrum," Bill says. "Like the die-hards of the racist South a century and a half ago, who would destroy the union before giving up their slaves, so would these people burn down the place, sink the ship." He goes on to tell us where the "reckless ambition" of the Republicans could lead us."
It's all over the web. The government has officially shut down as of midnight on Tuesday, just as Obama Care went into effect. The shutdown is costing tax payers up to $300 Million per day, just because appointed government officials couldn't muster the effort or intelligence it takes to do their jobs. It is a sad, sad day for America.
Speaking of Obama Care, open enrollment began last night at midnight, and the system it is using is so poorly designed that I couldn't seem to enroll to save my life. I enrolled once, and when I reached the end and pressed "submit," it gave me an error message and a link to try again from the beginning. When I tried again and pressed "submit," it said that my "first/last name combination, and username/password combination is not unique." No kidding! This had better be fixed soon or else there will be hell to pay as Americans trying to enroll are being refused left and right because of glitches in the site's infrastructure. You can try to enroll at www.healthcare.gov, but be warned: it probably won't work.
Around the Web:
> Obama Urges Republicans to Drop Health Law Fight @ New York Times
> The Price of Incompetence: The Government Shutdown Could Cost $300M Per Day @ Huffington Post
> Obama Care Launch Day Plagued By Website Glitches @ Huffington Post
> Opening Rush to Insurance Markets Runs Into Snags @ New York Times (added 10/04/2013)
I find this video shocking. I would honestly think Syrian citizens would be afraid of a strike, but here they are begging for one against Assad. If the US can pinpoint Assad's location so as not to harm innocent people, I'm for it. This video swayed my opinion. I just don't want the US to become embroiled in the civil war there. What do you think?
National Security Agency
Meet the National Security Agency, a government agency who has master encryption codes for almost everything. Websites, e-mail, companies, agencies, social networks, texts, etc.
Essentially, their duty is to spy on everyone and everything under the guise that they're maintaining digital security. It's up to you to decide whether or not it's spying or protecting.
I, personally, think it's spying. Companies are essentially forced to hand over their master encryption codes to the agency in the name of national security. The agency, from these master codes, has developed a massive database of information collected from the ongoings of every day digital life. It probably includes every bit of information about our online habits, websites we visit, and the way that every American is tracked on the web.
This article on the New York Times website talks about the efforts being taken to bar the N.S.A. from spying on American citizens, and whether or not it is ethical for them to collect and keep these encryption codes. Read the article and let me know what you think. Is this the Big Brother agency? And is it spying or protecting?
The above slideshow contains screen captures of the Syrian President's son Hafez Assad's Facebook post and some of the comments left mostly by Syrian residents. The post essentially invites the US to take action because we supposedly don't know what we're getting into. Here is the New York Times article that questions the true identity of the account holder of this particular Facebook page. It does seem pretty well written for an 11-year-old. What do you think?
> New York Times: Debating the Case for Force
>Huffington Post: Kerry fumbles over "Boots on the Ground"
Boy, John Kerry is looking old these days. Maybe it's due, in part, to all the work he's doing to get us into the Syrian civil war. Everywhere I turn, John Kerry is talking about reasons to strike. If that isn't enough, he's become the president's mouthpiece saying, "He believes we need to move. He’s made his decision. Now it’s up to the Congress of the United States to join him in affirming the international norm with respect to enforcement against the use of chemical weapons.”
Good for him, and good for you, John Kerry. This pisses me off. When I'm angry about something, I find it hard to write about, but in this case, I don't believe we need to use force against Syria. It's not going to stop Assad from gassing his own people yet again, and I believe it'll provoke the man into unleashing greater force upon his people and maybe the people who are attacking him--which would be us. America. I don't want bombs falling on Philadelphia, or any other city for that matter. 9/11 was bad enough.
Assad's ties with Russia worry me. If we do go ahead with a strike, that is if the houses approve it, are we risking Russian retaliation? Russia is much bigger than Syria, and far more powerful. Is anyone thinking of the consequences here? Or does Kerry just like to see himself on TV acting all important?
I am against a war. Are you?
Update: 09/07/13 - This New York Times article calls John Kerry "the Obama administration's chief salesman for a punitive strike", which is totally accurate. It describes what Kerry is doing to sway the opinions of European nations.
> Huffington Post Article from 9/1/13
> Video - Kerry's Speech and Commentary 8/30/13
> What is Sarin?
We learned today, in a speech from Secretary of State John Kerry, that Sarin, a nerve agent, was used on the Syrian people within the last 24 hours. Proof comes from hair and blood test results done on first responders. Kerry says that this is the case they are building to justify military action against Syrian President Assad.
There is proof that some citizens were told to don gas masks that are used in the event of a chemical attack. Kerry also says there is proof of when, where, and by whom this chemical attack was launched, it is clear that the intent was to seriously harm or kill innocent Syrians, and there is high confidence that it was launched by the Syrian government.
It was made very clear today that although Obama called for Congressional approval to launch an air attack, he has the ultimate approval with or without congress. It seems, if you read between the lines, that Kerry is basically saying that Obama plans to go forward with this even if Congress comes back with the decision not to strike, and this new attack is just fuel for the fire. It's almost certain that another chemical attack will occur, and if so, we may be fighting in the Syrian civil war before Congress even has a chance to decide when they return from recess.
> New York Times Multimedia Look at Syria
> New York Times: Experts Fear Strikes Overlook Risks
> Huffington Post Syrian News Feed
In 2011, locals took to the streets of the city of Deraa after 15 school-aged children were arrested and tortured for spray painting anti-government graffiti on a public wall. Non-violent protests in the beginning turned violent after the Syrian army opened fire on the protesters, killing four innocent people. The next day, the army opened fire again on the mourners at the four victim's funerals, killing another innocent citizen. As news of this spread throughout the country, unrest followed as people became outraged at their government's capacity for senseless violence.
The protesters who took to the streets in increasing numbers all throughout Syria simply wanted democracy and freedom of speech. They had had enough of the government's practice of ruling with an iron fist. Several reports of suspected intentional internet outages popped up all over the country after protests and during President Assad's public address. Control of this sort was made possible by the many people who still supported Assad and his party.
As the protesting grew to huge numbers, it is suspected that Assad and his cronies took 3 days or so to put together nerve agents for a chemical attack on the protesters in the city of Damascus. When they (supposedly) launched the attack on August 21, 2013, 1,429 men, women, and children were killed. Syrian citizens began fleeing the country to neighboring Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq. The United Nations reported that upwards of two million citizens had become refugees, and nearly one million of them were children. Millions more have been displaced by the fighting within Syria, and have no means of securing help.
Regular citizens have formed a rogue army, and are too busy fighting to help their fellow citizens who are without food, water, and shelter. The United Nations can not come to an agreement on how to help the citizen army fight the government army. If they send weapons, the weapons shipment may be intercepted by the government. If they launch an air attack, they risk killing more innocent people. Another issue here is that Putin, the Russian president, has close ties to President Assad's government having supplied them with artillery, so Russia does not support the UN going through with air strikes.
Initially, France and the UK were in support of the US air strikes, but the UK has since pulled out of that agreement. It is feared that the disagreement between countries will precipitate a third world war. It is also feared that if the US launches said air strikes, that they will bring us one step closer to sending troops on foot into the Syrian civil war. Neither the Syrian government nor the Syrian citizens have been able to overtake the other, so there seems to be no end in sight, but it's very unlikely that the Syrian government will ever have full control again.
As of this afternoon, August 31, 2013, President Obama is letting Congress vote on whether or not we should launch air strikes against Syria. He said, "a lot of people think something should be done, but nobody wants to do it." He has the ability to make the final decision, but said it was important for the people to decide. I was of the belief that we should mind our own business, but as a member of the UN, the United States does have the responsibility to help the Syrian people in their fight for a democracy. It doesn't appear they can do it on their own. While I do think we should help, I don't think our help needs to involve air strikes. I'm in the camp with other people who believe this can ultimately be solved non-violently. At least I hope it can. I do not, I repeat DO NOT want to see world war three in my lifetime. Isaiah 17:1, a bible verse, has been trending because people believe that the fighting in Damascus brings the second coming of Christ and the end of days. A grim outlook if you ask me.
I didn't want to blog about Syria, but I wanted people to know what's going on. A lot of my peers had no idea why the fighting began in the first place, so I felt the responsibility to outline it for you simply. I hope this helps in some way, and I'd like to hear everyone's opinion on whether we should help or not, and whether we should launch an attack or do this without weapons. Let me hear your opinion one way or another.
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My name is Nicholas Emeigh, but everyone calls me Nick, and I prefer it. I'm usually called Nicholas when I'm in trouble. I'm from the Philadelphia area, work in business, and fancy myself as a freelance graphic designer, writer, and artist. I have a passion for art in all its forms including music, but I restrict my singing to the shower and the car for the good of society. If you'd like to know more, just send me an e-mail. I really appreciate you stopping by.