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The Military Budget as Cookies

This excellent animation from TrueMajority shows in graphic detail (using Oreo cookies) how ridiculously, large the military budget is, and how we could solve many domestic problems with a modest 12% cut. A must-see. (watch it now)

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It's a smooth ride in Mile High City
by Ken Hoffman, Houston Chroncle, June 6, 2000

DENVER -- The light rail system here is very similar to what they're talking about for Houston.
 
The Central Corridor Line, which starts at 30th Avenue and Downing, runs 5.3 miles through downtown, the Five Points Business District, past Coors Field, the Convention Center, Mile High Stadium, the 16th Street pedestrian shopping mall and a college campus.
 
Denver built its light rail system in 1994 without federal funds -- on purpose. The city wanted to get its trains rolling fast.
 
Houston may wind up doing it without federal money, too, not necessarily by choice. But obviously it can be done.
 
Here's how Denver paid for its light rail: The northern half was funded by an existing use tax; the southern part was financed by the savings realized by taking 430 daily bus trips out of downtown.
 
Denver's train ride is smooth sailing, powered by overhead electric cables. The train glides silently along the side of the street, not clogging the traffic lanes, with no exhaust fumes fouling the air.
 
The cars are squeaky clean. Passengers face each other, like they do on the New York subway. Unlike New York subway cars, there are no advertisements above the seats asking "Credit Problems?" from a company that wants the little money you have left.
 
The passengers are a strange mix. You have businessmen sitting next to college students across from moms taking their babies to the doctor.
 
Supposedly there's something psychological about a train. People who would never dream of riding a bus happily park their cars on the outskirts of town and hop a train to work. Stockbrokers can ponder their portfolios. Lawyers use the commute as billable time. Those guys don't miss a trick.
 
People treat a train with respect. They may leave a newspaper behind on a bus, but they take it with them from the train. There's no eating, smoking, drinking or loud music.
 
A few weeks ago, I had lunch with a judge in Houston who lives in the Medical Center area and works downtown. I knew I would be writing this series about light rail, so I asked him, "If we had a train running from the Med Center to the courthouse, would you take it?"
 
He said, "Absolutely."
 
I asked, "So how come you don't take a bus to work now? There's a bus that goes that same route."
 
He just scrunched his nose.
 
People don't scrunch their noses at trains.
 
A train ticket in Denver costs $1.25 during rush hour (6-9 a.m. and 4-6 p.m.) and 75 cents other times. There are ticket machines at all 15 stops.
 
Like most cities that have light rail, the Central Corridor route has given rise to restaurants, theaters and parks. Abandoned warehouses turned into loft apartments. Vacant lots became pocket parks. And there's shopping everywhere.
 
One thing that hasn't changed is the Buckhorn Exchange restaurant, located only 100 feet from the train stop at 10th Avenue and Osage Street.
 
Built in 1885, the Buckhorn Exchange is the oldest restaurant in Denver. Taped on the mirror behind the upstairs bar is "Colorado Liquor License No. 1."
 
The Buckhorn Exchange is an authentic Wild West saloon and steakhouse. But the specialty of the most famous restaurant in the Rocky Mountains is -- gulp -- Rocky Mountain oysters.
 
"It's our most popular appetizer, the thing we're known for. We serve them to practically every table," said manager Chris Murray.
 
"They're delicious. People who don't know about Rocky Mountain oysters get a weird look when they find out what they are. But that weird look goes away when they taste 'em."
 
For non-bovine-anatomy buffs, Rocky Mountain oysters are deep-fried bull's testicles. The testicles arrive frozen at the restaurant, still in the bull's scrotum. Each testicle is roughly the size of a baseball. It's cut into 30 slices, about 1/16-inch thick.
 
"Any thicker and they'd be too chewy," Murray said.
 
The "oysters" are breaded and lightly fried. One time a Japanese tourist ate them raw. Even Murray was grossed out.
 
Join the club. A waiter plopped a big plate of Rocky Mountain oysters in front of me. Murray said, "Dig in."
 
Now here's where you expect me to say they taste like chicken, right?
 
I grabbed one with my fingers, as is the custom, brought it to my lips ... and chickened out. I couldn't do it. Hey, I may exist on food that's bad for you, but even I have standards
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