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  1. Hey now, some of us toothless hillbillies do go downtown with no money. Heck, we might even take a gander inside yer fancy Chinese phone store when they done built it.
  2. I usually like the concept of building modern buildings over historic buildings in order to bring new life and importance to an old building. They should preserve the old buildings underneath as much as possible (with some interior refurbishments) and not feel obligated to make the addition look like part of the Historic building. I think the Port of Antwerp headquarters building is one of the best examples of this approach that I have seen.
  3. We need someone to give Tony G a definitive "No" so he can drop this idea of building over the homeless park and start looking for other places to build his tower.
  4. Maybe when you have The Alamo, that's all you need. "Remember The Alamo."
  5. I don't know... After the way the NIMBY's in West End Park successfully got the height lowered on that tower on Murphy Avenue, I'm starting to think we need more developers who are determined to build tall and see their grand vision come into existence, regardless of what the community thinks about it.
  6. Let's try to look at the bright side. It's weird architectural quirks and local conspiracy theories like this that will result in an interesting built environment to look at. Pedestrians on the Shelby street bridge will be wondering out-loud for years to come "What's up with that little parking lot down there?" Maybe a church will be built there in the future for that new AI-worshiping religion started in California, who knows. It would be a great spot for an annoyingly abstract art installation named "The Futility of Pride" in honor of BB&S attempting to sabotage the Four Seasons. Or perhaps it could be the location of a new homeless park if the old one is displaced by Tony's proposed 60-story tower.
  7. Hey, a great re-use is possible at PSC metals! It could easily be turned into a Mad Max-themed demolition derby arena. People could dress up in their best post-apocalyptic garb and bring their outlandishly impractical cars there to smash into each other. It would be a great tourist attraction and you could even keep processing scrap metal in the background to maintain authenticity.
  8. Agree. There are several "industrial" or "gritty" assets around downtown that I feel add to the big-city atmosphere because they let you know you are not in a suburban office park. The railroad tracks in the gulch are one example. The smokeless tobacco plant is another. But the crown jewel is PSC metals. In my opinion, the most intriguing skyline view is looking west from I-24 with the rusted machinery of PSC in the foreground and gleaming glass towers looming in the background.
  9. It would be cool if it were 100% filled with poison ivy, poison sumac, and stinging nettle, with an artsy fence around it and historical placards explaining how it is an art installation depicting the self-defense mechanisms of mother nature.
  10. And now, I will return to the original format of this post (city/country reports & perspectives): VENEZUELA I visited Valencia Venezuela in 2010 during the peak of the swine flue epidemic (remember that?). They had special screening for Americans arriving where they asked about what symptoms you were experiencing and gave you a number on a business card to call if you started to feel sick. Needless to say, there was no way in hell we were going to call that number. I was there for business, so I stayed in a high security hotel for foreigners and had armed guards as drivers. I remember gasoline was 12 cents a gallon, and traffic was horrendous. It took 2 hours to travel the 6-mile route on the highway between the hotel and the factory. A colleague of mine witnessed a huge road-rage induced brawl, but luckily I missed that scene since I was in a different car. Conveniently, you could purchase empanadas, bootleg DVD's, and flowers from vendors who walked between the cars on the highway as they crept along at 0.05 miles per hour. At the time they were constructing (or maybe just finished) a new metro system to alleviate the traffic situation. The scene at the factory wasn't much better. Half of the workers were on "light duty" because they sustained some minor (or imagined?) injury. It was illegal to fire workers, so they simply spent all day milling around the factory compound, smoking and sitting under gazebos, showing up for their free lunch, and discussing politics. Those who did work went about the business of constructing a multitude of elaborate schemes to defraud the company of what little profit it could have made. Corruption was rampant from the CEO down to the janitor, and everyone knew about it. On the weekend we took a trip to the Caribbean island of Cayo Sombrero in Morrocoy national park. Venezuela has amazing beaches and natural scenery, which was on full display within the relatively small bit of the country that I saw during that trip. If politics and economics were different, I'm confident it could be one of the top tourist destinations in the western hemisphere. Wrapping things up here: The food was forgettable, the locals were incredibly friendly and curious about how things were going in the USA, the weather was hot, and I'm glad I got to see the country at that time in its history.
  11. Freedom in all regards seems to be on the decline worldwide, which is a shame. Aside from the dramatic reduction in free speech rights in western countries (the USA being the only exception to this trend), developing countries that once showed so much promise have been regressing to more oppressive postures against freedom. I once held out China as the best example of how a post-communist country could embrace freedom and prosper from it, but that trend came to an end during the past decade and freedom has receded horribly there. Thailand is under a military dictatorship now. Indonesia seems to be trending towards a more oppressive application of Islamic laws. Turkey has thousands locked up for political crimes. Egypt is under a military dictatorship. South Africa is on the verge of a race war, depending on what the parliament does with land rights. Some countries seem to have made minor improvements such as Burma (I don't call it Myanmar) and Zimbabwe, but they almost had to improve because they were some of the most oppressive regimes in the world.
  12. I'm not too sure about that. I believe English proficiency has actually ben slightly declining in HK. It's one of the few places around the world where that is the case. From my perspective, it's hard to overstate the degree to which HK has pivoted from being a global economic hub to being a highly china-centric economic satellite. Not that it's negative though. It's actually quite natural when you think about it because it's role as a gateway to China has essentially been eliminated because multiple cities can serve as gateways to china, even Guangzhou and Shenzhen and especially Shanghai and Beijing. The thing that causes worry for the future, in my mind, is an over-reliance on china in terms of HK's investment portfolio. My prediction is that China will suffer worse economic stagnation than Japan is now during the next 2 decades. I would say the PRD (Pearl River Delta, for those not familiar with that term) is already the premier megalopolis of the world, but again, I don't think it will be the top dog by 2035. Look at Japan. In my opinion, China is doomed to a worse fate than Japan in terms of demographic collapse. Tokyo population growth has stalled, for the most part. Neither country is really that open or receptive to massive immigration, nor do they have positive growth due to natural births. I think we have just about seen the peak of PRD population growth. My bet for the next 30 to 50 years? Southeast Asia, India, and Africa. By 2050 I think the Dhaka-Khulna-Kolkata economic corridor will be the top megalopolis in the world, followed closely by New Delhi and Mumbai. The Lagos-Ibadan metroplex might give them a run for their money. It is in that context that I think Sinapore's more independent/international credentials will give it the advantage over any Chinese city. However, I've never been to Singapore, so maybe I would change my mind if I visited there.
  13. Wow, cool. HK was the first place I traveled to outside of North America, so I have fond memories of that place. Questions for you, if you don't mind: 1) Are you ethnic Chinese, and if not, did you go to a school with other westerners or mix with the locals? 2) How good is your Cantonese and what do you think about the nascent Mandarinization of HK and severe Mandarinization of Guangzhou? 3) Do you think you will ever move back there, and what is your mental calculus surrounding your view on that question? 4) What is your impression of HK's fate looking into the future? In my opinion HK has, in a lot of ways, been eclipsed by Singapore as the premier expat/FDI/foreign headquarter/business hub destination of Asia. Granted, Singapore is smaller in scale, but it seems there is an economic dynamism there that reminds me of HK in the late 1980's or early 1990's. SG is more multi-ethnic, more multi-cultural, more economically and politically independent, better located to benefit from the growth of India, Southeast Asia, maybe even Africa?
  14. I read an article about him online and he and his wife have a variety of investments together, mostly in hotels. So it seems that before he was a Global Mall merchant, he was a hotelier first. That's encouraging, in my opinion. Also, I remember that it was a Business Information Systems class I had with him, not Business Communications.
  15. Random bit of info: I think this Rajesh Aggarwal used to be a professor in the school of business at MTSU. If it's the same Rajesh Aggarwal that I remember, then I had him for Business Communications back in the late 1990's. Of course, I don't know how common that name is in India, maybe it's like John Smith. But my former professor's wife was also a doctor, which again, might mean nothing because a bunch of Indian guy's wives in Middle Tennessee might be doctors. If it is the same guy, then he is actually pretty funny and likeable in person. He used to tell us hilarious stories in class and say things like "I bought Cavalry Bank shares at $8, now it is trading at $64, you are lucky that I am still here".
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