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  • Yale professor talks Plato, James Madison and Detroit’s emergency manager law

    Much has been made about Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s decision this week to transfer authority of the city’s water department to Mayor Mike Duggan. In what is the most interesting read on the situation, Jason Stanley, professor of philosophy at Yale, pens an analysis on Michigan’s novel emergency manager law on the New York Times Opinionator blog. Stanley deconstructs Michigan’s grand experiment in governance by addressing two questions: Has the EM law resulted in policy that maximally serves the public good? And, is the law consistent with basic principles of democracy? Stanley ties in examples of Plato, James Madison’s Federalist Papers, and Nazi political theorist Carl Schmitt. A short excerpt: Plato was a harsh critic of democracy, a position that derived from the fact that his chief value for a society was social efficiency. In Plato’s view, most people are not capable of employing their autonomy to make the right choices, that is, choices that maximize overall efficiency. Michigan is following Plato’s recommendation to handle the problems raised by elections. Though there are many different senses of “liberty” and “autonomy,” none mean the same thing as “efficiency.” Singapore is a state that values efficiency above all. But by no stretch of […]

    The post Yale professor talks Plato, James Madison and Detroit’s emergency manager law appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Where to meet a baby dinosaur this week

    Walking with Dinosaurs, a magnificent stage show that features life-sized animatronic creatures from the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods, will be in town next week. But to preview the show’s run at the Palace, a baby T-Rex will be making an appearance at four area malls to the delight and wonderment of shoppers. Baby T-Rex, as the creature is being affectionately referred to, is seven-feet-tall and 14-feet-long. He’ll only be at each mall for about 15 minutes, so while there will be photo opportunities, they’ll be short. The dino will be at Fairlane Town Center Center Court at 18900 Michigan Ave. in Detroit from 2-2:15 p.m. today, July 30; The Mall at Partridge Creek at 17420 Hall Rd. in Clinton Township from 5-5:15 p.m. today, July 30; Twelve Oaks Mall at the Lord & Taylor Court at 27500 Novi Rd., Novi tomorrow, Thursday July 31 from 1:30-1:45 p.m.; and Great Lakes Crossing Food Court at 4000 Baldwin Rd., Auburn Hills from 5-5:15 p.m., tomorrow Thursday, July 31.  

    The post Where to meet a baby dinosaur this week appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit website offers stats, updates on city operations

    Interested in reading about what Detroit accomplishes on a week-to-week basis that’s produced by the city itself? Great. You can do that now, here, at the Detroit Dashboard. Every Thursday morning, the city will publish an update to the dashboard because Mayor Mike Duggan loves metrics, even if the data might be hard to come by. According to Duggan’s office, the dashboard will provide data on how many LED street lights were installed, how many vacant lots were mowed, how much blight was removed, and more. This week, the city says it has sold 13 site lots through BuildingDetroit.com, removed 570 tons of illegal dumping, and filed 57 lawsuits against abandoned property owners.  

    The post Detroit website offers stats, updates on city operations appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Long John Silver’s makes nod to Nancy Whiskey in YouTube commercial

    We don’t know about you, but usually Nancy Whiskey and Long John Silver’s aren’t two concepts we’d place in the same sentence. However, the international fast food fish fry conglomerate made a nod to the Detroit dive in their latest YouTube commercial. LJS is offering free fish fries on Saturday, August 2, which is the promotion the commercial is attempting to deliver. But, we think we’ll just go to Nancy Whiskey instead.

    The post Long John Silver’s makes nod to Nancy Whiskey in YouTube commercial appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Michigan’s women-only music fest still shuns transwomen

    We came across an interesting item this week: Apparently, a music festival with the name “Michfest” is quietly oriented as a “Women-Only Festival Exclusively for ‘Women Born Women.’” It seems a strange decision to us. If you wanted to have a women-only music festival, why not simply proclaim loud and clear that it is for all sorts of women? But if you really wanted to become a lightning rod for criticisms about transphobia, organizers have found the perfect way to present their festival. Now, we know that defenders of non-cisgender folks have it tough. The strides made by gays and lesbians (and bisexuals) in the last 20 years have been decisive and dramatic. But the people who put the ‘T’ in LGBT have reason to be especially defensive, facing a hostile culture and even some disdain from people who should be their natural allies. That said, sometimes that defensiveness can cause some activists to go overboard; when we interviewed Dan Savage a couple years ago, he recalled his “glitter bombing” and said it was due to the “the narcissism of small differences,” adding that “if you’re playing the game of who is the most victimized, attacking your real enemies doesn’t prove you’re most victimized, claiming you […]

    The post Michigan’s women-only music fest still shuns transwomen appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Use this widget to find your polling place for Aug. 5 primary election

    Reminder: the August 5 primary election is coming up. Where do you vote? What’s on the ballot? All these questions can be easily answered by simply typing the address you are registered to vote at into this handy widget created by Pew Charitable Trusts and Google: You can embed this widget on your own website with the following code, and more information can be found at the Voting Info Project.: <script type=”text/javascript” src=”https://voter-info-tool.appspot.com/js/loader.js”></script> <div id=”_vit”></div> <script type=”text/javascript”>vit.load({‘election_id’:’4034′, ‘suppress_voter_id_rules’: true});</script> Read up on MT‘s election guide for Wayne county executive here.

    The post Use this widget to find your polling place for Aug. 5 primary election appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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Stir It Up

Go to health

We hear a lot about health care, but what about health?

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Last week's Supreme Court decision that essentially upheld the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been getting lots of play in the media. That's an understatement when it comes to the right-wing media. That gang — Glenn Beck, Ben Shapiro et al. — has gone absolutely nuts. Blogger Shapiro wrote, "This is the end of America as we know it." Others have been no less sanguine, calling for armed revolution, declaring that the Supreme Court does not have the last word on what's constitutional, even threatening to secede from the union. 

Much vehemence has also been aimed at Chief Justice John Roberts (a George W. Bush appointee), who conservatives saw as solidly in their corner. Roberts sided with the liberal camp in saving the ACA and brought the right-wing thunder down on his head.

On the liberal side, there is crowing that the decision validates the righteousness of the Obama administration, which pushed the controversial law through in 2010.

The biggest question now is: How will the decision affect this fall's presidential election? Of secondary value, at least for now, is the question of how it will affect the cost of health care, especially in 2014 when the full provisions of the ACA kick in. What is not being discussed is the basic nature of our health care system and how it operates. And even more basic: How do Americans get healthy? Everybody is talking about health care, but few are talking about health.

And health is a big issue in the United States, where consumption of overly processed, salt- and sugar-laden foods has created an obesity and diabetes epidemic that threatens to make affordable care a sideshow in the face of overwhelming illness.

According to a Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index taken in 2009, 63.1 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. That's almost two out of three people. The headline of a webmd.com article discussing the well-being index said: "Americans Are Eating Poorly, Exercising Less, and Getting Bigger, Survey Finds." 

Obesity leads to numerous ailments, including breast cancer, coronary heart disease, type II diabetes, sleep apnea, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, colon cancer, hypertension, kidney disease and stroke.

African-Americans are 1.4 times as likely to be obese as non-Hispanic whites, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, and four out of five African-American women are considered overweight or obese. All of the attendant disease linked to obesity is hitting the African-American community harder than other groups. One out of every three people with kidney failure is African-American. African-Americans are twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes. All of the various complications that result from those diseases, such as being hospitalized, are higher for blacks too.

"In 23-plus years in emergency medicine and critical care nursing, I saw a lot of complications of diabetes," says Yvette Cobb, a local nurse practitioner who also teaches yoga and has trained in the Tree of Life therapy that claims to reverse diabetes through a raw food diet. "I saw a lot of limbs being cut off." 

The health care system will cut off your leg after you get diabetes, but will not do a lot to prevent your diabetes in the first place. Prevention takes a lot of education and lifestyle change. We actually got some leadership from the White House on that, but it wasn't from the president. First lady Michelle Obama took the lead when she planted the White House kitchen garden in 2009. She's followed that up with last month's publication of American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America.

Michelle Obama's book will never get near the attention that the ACA has, but what she champions has the potential to make a bigger difference in the health of Americans. The ACA is about who gets how much money in a sick system. American Grown is about people taking charge of themselves and their health by eating the kinds of things that prevent disease. It's not quantifiable; we have no idea how many cases of cancer were avoided by eating healthy, how many did not become diabetic. But we do know it makes a difference.

American Grown also puts a focus on community gardening, something Detroiters have taken up with enthusiasm. It's hard to walk through a neighborhood and not trip over a community garden these days. The book also covers composting and beekeeping, another angle of the growing community/urban gardening phenomenon.

So how does this gardening business fit in with health? Consider the points made in the headline from WebMD: eating poorly, exercising less, getting bigger. It follows that the cure involves eating better and getting some exercise. Those are certainly the short answers. 

Mark Covington, founder of the Georgia Street Collective community garden on the east side, reports losing 40 pounds over the past couple of years from working in the garden and eating healthier. He wasn't trying to lose weight. His motivation in starting the garden was to clean up a vacant lot near his mother's house. But that's the beauty of this gardening thing; it can bring you unintended benefits.

Malik Yakini, director of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, understands the dynamic between gardening and good health. The DBCFSN runs D-Town Farms, a seven-acre endeavor in the River Rouge Park area growing vegetables, fruit and herbs. It has an apiary and an ambitious composting operation. All of this is directed toward instilling self-dependence regarding food.

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