Cheers: Once again last weekend, downtown Vancouver was awash in the stylish and colorful characters of the annual Kumoricon Anime Festival. Celebrating all things related to Japanese animation, festival attendees broke out costumes so elaborate they looked like they required the better part of a year to pull together. More than 5,300 fans attended this year's festival, invading two downtown hotels and the surrounding blocks, including Esther Short Park. If you saw them, you know; their garb in unmistakable. In addition to bringing commerce to the downtown area, the annual gathering provides more than a dash of hip and playful creativity, and organizers said attendance was up more than 10 percent over last year. For those planning to attend next year's festival, there's no time to waste: Better start work on your costumes.
Jeers: This just in — the primary causes of car collisions are speeding and following too closely. That likely won't come as a surprise, yet it is relevant in the wake of a study released by Allstate. Looking at data from the nation's 200 largest cities, the insurance company revealed that Vancouver ranks 82nd in its America's Best Drivers Report. Not great, but not bad. Until you consider that Vancouver was No. 67 a year ago.
Based on last year's rates, drivers here average one accident every 9.5 years. That's certainly better than Washington, D.C., where the rate of one accident every 4.8 years is last among all cities. But it's not quite as good as Eugene, Ore. which stands as the 10th best. So, when in doubt, slow down just a little and back off just a bit from that car in front of you. We're guessing Vancouver could do better in these rankings.
Cheers: The widespread impact of drug addiction was poignantly represented this week by a gathering of recovering addicts along the sides of the Interstate 5 Bridge. Celebrating its 12th year, the Hands Across the Bridge event brought together thousands of people who every day are celebrating sobriety.
Recovery is an ongoing process, and it's one that touches the lives of not only addicts, but their friends and family members. Bringing together so many people who have similar stories is an inspirational and meaningful event that can serve as a source of strength for those who are trying to better their lives.
Jeers: It's no secret that when times get tough economically, teens are among the hardest-hit groups. Still, the numbers regarding teen unemployment are disturbing. In 1999, slightly more than 52 percent nationally of those aged 16 to 19 worked a summer job; this year, that number was at 32 percent, the fourth year in a row the percentage has been near record lows.
There's no easy solution for this difficulty. Even as the economy overall has shown some signs of progress, teens have been slow to reap the benefits. As one report suggested, this current generation of teenagers could be "economically stunted" in ways that will impact them for decades.
Cheers: Typically, we wouldn't recognize the beginning of the National Football League season in this space. But, typically, the Seattle Seahawks are not considered among the favorites to win the Super Bowl. After reaching the conference semifinals last year, where they lost a heartbreaker to Atlanta, the Seahawks have made improvements that have the so-called experts thinking they might be the best team in the NFL.
The Seahawks open the season Sunday at Carolina. They have their first home game the following Sunday against division rival San Francisco, also considered among the favorites for the Super Bowl. A lot of things can happen between now and the Feb. 2 championship game, but it's difficult to remember a Seahawks season being greeted with so much anticipation.