Thursday, August 31, 2006

It's Going to Take 10 Years to Find That Many Guns.

Our neighbors to the north have decided to give Canadian border officers guns, but it's going to take ten years to implement the plan.

The article doesn't give details as to what will take ten years, but maybe it's training, distribution and procedures that have to be written up. Regardless, what on earth would take ten years? Clearly, there's no imminent danger. Canadian border officers, however, aren't too keen on being unarmed when scary stuff is coming through their border:

Officers left their posts in British Columbia earlier this year when they were told that two murder suspects from California were headed their way. The men were apprehended by armed U.S. law enforcement officers.

Wow, so in 2016, this issue will be resolved. I wonder why the officers left their post for this incident. Surely, other dangerous characters have been heading their way in the past.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Interesting Perspective

"In principle, I don't have the feeling that I missed out on something," Kampusch said of her youth. "I was spared some things — didn't start smoking and drinking and didn't have any bad friends."
Yeah, except for Wolfgang Priklopil, the creep who locked her up in his basement for eight years. I had to wonder, though, how she didn't escape earlier, then I remembered this occurred in Europe:

On a typical day, she said, she would have breakfast with Priklopil, a communications technician who she said usually didn't work. The day would be spent doing various things around the house.
Oh yeah, silly me. Oh, and this is unintentionally funny and begs other questions:

Police were in contact with Priklopil after Kampusch disappeared because he owned a white van — the type of vehicle a witness said the girl was dragged into. But investigators believed him when he said he was alone at home working
on his house when she vanished.
Good sir, you drive a van much like the one driven by the suspect who kidnapped the small girl... what's that? You were home at the time? Good enough for us. Wha? My guess is that at the time, Priklopil wasn't that much of a suspect, otherwise some simple surveillance would have probably nabbed this guy much earlier.

The President Could be Radicalizing America!

That's what I love about Western countries. We wring our hands over the actions of our leaders, and wonder if we're creating radical movements in other countries by taking a hard-line stance on certain foreign policy issues. Do the exotic and foreign peoples of other countries, especially those in the Middle East wonder if their own hard-line stances are radicalizing American foreign policy?

I think this is one of those uncomfortable questions we'll just whistle past...

Eminent Domain and the Distortions of Fair Market Value

If a small house in a lower-middle class neighborhood would sell to another potential homeowner who intended to occupy the property and use it in the same manner as the seller-- and its price was say, $159,000, then one could argue that the Fair Market Value of the house (and property) is somewhere near to $159,000. But lets say this neighborhood is found to be well located and situated for mixed-use, commercial and residential due to changing demographics in a city. Then lets say that the property catches the eye of a wealthy developer who plans to do large scale redevelopment over the entire area, then the Fair Market Value can no longer be assessed based upon what another homeowner who intended to simply re-occupy the same property would be.

This brings me to look at property based on two views. The first is 'as-is' market value which, in the first case mentioned above, the house and property is probably worth around $159,000 give or take. But the second scenario is a 'will-be' market value. So the question becomes, how do you assess the 'will-be' market value of property whose use will change dramatically once the developer takes ownership?

My belief is that in the second case, fair market value should be assessed as what the property would be worth if the planned development had already taken place, or some reasonable percentage thereof. If multiple parcels are being taken in one action, then the sum total of the whole group should be assessed in this manner, then divided appropriately between each property holder. So, if ten parcels are taken at a 'will-be' fair market value of $8,000,000, then each property owner should receive around $800,000.

The only question remaining is how does one arrive at a 'will-be' figure? It's reasonable to concede that the value is in the redevelopment, so one can't realistically value the property assuming that all developments take place. As we all know, the property gets some of its value by the actions of the owner so the compensation shouldn't be based upon the not-yet completed development. But it should be based upon the type of property that the government zones this land as in the process of the eminent domain taking. For instance, if I buy a piece of downtown real estate in Seattle, and plan to place a 1,900 square foot rambler on it, I'm still going to pay the tens of millions of dollars for that piece of real estate. And, if this miracle occurs and I actually get this real-estate and subsequently place my small rambler on it, the property is not suddenly only worth $159,000. The property is still worth tens of millions (less what structures I had to raze to build the rambler). This is self evident.

It is fantastically unfair that we then believe that the owner of a $159,000 lower-middle class home in a quiet neighborhood is only going to get $159,000 if the developer plans to put a glass and steel office building, restaraunt, health club and pharmaceutical research facility on it. If after the developer finishes his intended project, the property is valued at $15,00,000, it seems perfectly fair that the rezoned but undeveloped land would be worth maybe 1/4 of that value: $3,750,000. If there were ten equally sized parcels that made up the property package then each owner would receive $375,000.

Monday, August 28, 2006

You Never Know Who's Behind the Wheel

An incident like this might find a Washington State Supreme Court Justice behind the wheel:

Around 8 p.m. Sunday, a deputy assigned to Metro Transit saw the driver of a 1995 Mazda Millennia go through a stop sign at Yesler Way and South Washington and then run a red light at South Washington and First Avenue, said sheriff's Sgt. John Urquhart. When the deputy attempted to stop the vehicle, the driver side-swiped another car and kept going, he said.

Charges Dropped Against Karr

Looks like the prosecutors backed away from John Mark Karr. It'll be interesting to see what all the hubbub was about.

I Got Gas...

For about $2.88 in Federal Way. So... just sayin'.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Income Taxes Are Immoral. Reason #9,234,983,234

In the shifting sands that define what 'income' is and from where it comes, the IRS is rattling sabers about online auctions, specifically those on Ebay. It's one thing to talk about sellers making an income by selling goods on Ebay--this, in my opinion is no different than someone doing the same out of their garage without an internet connection. But it's another thing to start talking about a guy who pulls a 24 port network switch off a shelf with a sticky note that reads "Bad?" and sells it on Ebay 'as is'. If you're making your entire living selling stuff, prudence says you probably ought to report something to the IRS dogs, just to keep them at bay. But when you're talking about a baseball card collection or a nice antique set of teacups, them's fightin' words.

While no details were given, the new reporting requirements could mean big changes for stand-alone Web retailers as well as individuals selling family heirlooms through popular online auction sites such as eBay Inc.

Specifically, they're targeting items which sell for more than their purchase price. If an item's original purchase value can't be determined, the IRS kindly estimates that value to be $0.

Something also tells me that the IRS won't be adjusting for inflation, either.

Not Buying It. Any of It.

I just read an excellent review of Judith Levine's book Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping. I won't comment much on the review, because I don't want to end up reviewing the review. I had heard about this book on NPR which got the expected accolades. According to Cheryl Miller who wrote the review, the books premise falls apart within the first few pages in the extremely predictable way in which a wealthy New Yorker would 'Not Buy It'. Apparently, not buying it means something very different to those of us who don't have it in the first place:

Levine claims that she means to limit herself to the necessities of daily life. One scans through Levine's list of necessities with growing incredulity. High-speed DSL (hey, it's for work!), cable television, the occasional $55 haircut, 'organic French roast coffee beans,' skiing?!

Levine airily insists that necessities in New York are different from those of a 'farmer in Bangladesh.' But she seems to forget this relative wealth when she describes the aily life she leads with her partner, Paul. She paints a pitiful picture: This 'highly insecure' existence includes two residences (an apartment in Brooklyn and a house in Vermont), flexible work that allows the couple to take off and ski in the afternoon, three cars, a windsurfer, and a healthy diet of such Whole Foods staples as 'Thai sweet black rice' and 'Mexican huitlacoche fungus.'

I'm a little stunned that this book would be this bad, so I'm tempted to buy the book so I can find out for myself. From reading a little about the book in general from other sources, I understand that it's a big anti-Republican screed which is fine. But as most Democratic screeds about Republicans, it's anti-Republican for what I suspect to be all the wrong reasons.

But no matter, it's not her politics I care about, it's the hypocrisy that I'm watering at the mouth to get at.

Miller ends her review with an utterly fantastic closer:

Levine’s no-shopping pledge has all the anti-capitalist bona fides of Adbusters’ “non-brand” brand, Blackspot, or, better yet, one of Citibank’s “Live Richly” ads. Spiky haircut? $55. Organic coffee beans? $7 a pound. Excoriating everyone else for overconsumption? Priceless.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Adjustable Rate Mortgages Kept at ARM's Length

The housing bubble has burst, according to an article by Bill Fleckstein on MSN Moneycentral. While he spends a lot of time patting himself on the back about how he 'told us so', I agree with his general thesis: That too many people overborrowed, took unconventional loans and now with rising rates, the piper's come a'callin'.

He cites a particularly nasty example:

It begins with the story of a Detroit accountant who was looking to lower her monthly payments. In 2004, she refinanced a $312,000 mortgage via an option-adjustable-rate mortgage that offered various payment choices, as do so many of these plans. Her (introductory) rate of 2.3% is now up to 8.75%, and her loan balance has grown to $324,000. She claims that the terms weren't clearly spelled out. But if she actually read the documentation, as accountants often do, and didn't get it, you can imagine how many people truly understand their mortgages. (Hint: The number rhymes with "hero.")

Taking a bit of a tangent on the above example, one is led to wonder how many lawsuits we're going to see from hapless homeowners claiming that 'they didn't know' what it really meant to have an ARM (adjustable rate mortgage).

My wife and I, in a recent attempt to consolidate a little debt and lower our housepayment were offered an ARM. The broker was very honest, didn't try to sell us something, and explained all the terms very carefully. I'm not a financial whiz, but even without his explanation, I wouldn't get near an ARM if you paid me. I always feel that the better bet is to take a fixed rate mortgage, and if interest rates go down significantly, refinance and accept the up front costs.

All of this leads, of course to a word we haven't heard in years: Stagflation. Anyone remember the Carter years when the Keynsian economists of the time were confused because the economy was slowing at a time when inflation was heating up? Something that in the Keynesian view was never supposed to happen.

Monday, August 21, 2006

A prudent warning from lefty's: Don't take the government trains...

Or so says the AWBC (A World Beyond Capitalism) website. For their 2006 conference, they had this travel tip for those who wished to make the conference:

A World Beyond Capitalism Conference 2006! No charge for anything.


Important: We do not recommend that you use Amtrak train service for travel to Portland unless you like taking risks, as Amtrak has considered filing for bankruptcy several times. The train has become one of the most unreliable forms of transportation to Portland in recent years. Several confirmed nationwide reports cite that Amtrak's Coast Starlight train, which services Portland, has Amtrak's largest number of late trains. We mean late as in days late and/or abrupt cancellations which has caused some people to lose their room reservations. More than one conference volunteer has experienced trouble with train service, including having to stand the entire train ride, missed connections and much worse.

Study: Sticking Needles In Random Places On the Body Helps Reduce Pain

Or so says a study which was trying to determine the efficacy of acupuncture reported on NPR today . I've long been an acupuncture skeptic for, well, as long as I can remember. I developed a theory that at best, acupuncture had shown some effectiveness in reducing pain due to the process, not the actual treatment itself. Lying on a table, meditative state, soothing Windham Hill CD's playing in the background... the usual. Skeptics contend that the needles and the so-called Chi points are, at best, hokum.

In the study, arthritis sufferers were broken into three groups. All three groups had modern therapies including drugs, but the second two had acupuncture treatments in addition to the regular therapies. Of the two groups receiving acupuncture, one group received 'correct' acupuncture, the other received 'incorrect' acupuncture, or what is sometimes referred to as 'sham point' acupuncture.

In the end, both groups getting stuck with needles reported pain reductions. The conclusion of NPR's medical expert was that the process of receiving the extra care, time with their caregiver and the extra attention from medical staff in general is probably a likely factor in the pain reduction.

The report on NPR's website has an interesting lede:

Study: Acupuncture Helps with Joint Pain

The small text blurb that accompanies the audio story reads as thus:

A medical study conducted in Germany shows that acupuncture might help with joint pain -- but it's not necessarily the needles that do the work.

First off, for those that didn't catch the obvious, the headline says that acupuncture helps with joint pain, then the text says that it might help with joint pain, but it might not be the puncture part of acupuncture that's doing the work. I did a quick check of the dictionary definition of acupuncture, and it read as thus, from

A procedure used in or adapted from Chinese medical practice in which specific body areas are pierced with fine needles for therapeutic purposes or to relieve pain or produce regional anesthesia.

My interpretation from this definition is that needles are really the central part of acupuncture. I'm sorry, but if I walk into an acupuncturist and she does everything but stick needles in me, and then if I get better, she later claims that it was the acupuncture that fixed me, I'm going to wonder why we're bothering with needles altogether.

The point being that if acupuncture is about the needles and specifically the needles being inserted into the 'correct' points then one is left wondering what acupuncture is if NPR publicizes a study as affirming the effects of acupuncture but concludes it has nothing to do with the needles. I'm perplexed...

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Nasrallah Is the New Black

Or at least the new Arafat. Looks like the Israelis have inadvertently created a new Arafat by allowing Nasrallah to goad them into a conflict they couldn't 'win'.

Pretty brilliant when you think of it. Send a group across the border in an illegal action, capture and kill soldiers, and draw the 500lb gorilla into a fight he won't technically win because he's forced to fight amongst civilians.

There simply has to be a new way to fight this war. I think it might involve bombs in cars.

Q: What If Pot Were Legal?

Hempfest is taking place at Myrtle Edwards Park this weekend, in Seattle, prompting a Seattle Times article which poses the question "What if pot were legal"?

I had the opportunity a few years back to talk to an ATF agent about this very question when I had become particularly frustrated in a long online debate over the subject. My suspicions (according to the ATF agent) were spot on. To sum up what the ATF agent told me (sorry, it's been years and it was something like a 45 minute conversation): It'd probably be controlled much like beer and wine.

Yes, you'd be able to grow your own, but only in limited quantity. Yes, you'd be allowed to give it to a small number of people, again, in limited quantities. No you wouldn't be able to sell or produce any over a given quantity or potency.

Sellers would be licensed much the same way pubs, liquor stores or restaurants would be. Taxes paid, forms to fill out, licenses to obtain. Forget about the guy with his basement lined in mylar, flourescent lights and 2,000 plants. He'd still be in big trouble just as before. He would be the equivalent of a shine still in the woods. And the government doesn't look kindly upon moonshiners.

Regulations would follow, probably for quality and safety. The list goes on. None of these possibilities are completely lost on our baked friends at hempfest, however:

If people are able to buy weed like liquor and beer, it will probably come with the same kind of corporate trappings, said Keith Stroup, founder of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

"I would love to see only nonprofit cooperatives ... or little produce stands," he said Saturday at Hempfest 2006. "But the truth is somebody is going to make a lot of money off of marijuana."
But a man who called himself Cloud, an organizer of Emerald Empire Hempfest in Eugene, Ore., worries that mom-and-pop artisans would get squeezed out if marijuana and its accoutrements went legit.

I'm not sure why the Hempfest crowd always gives me a chuckle, but maybe this is why:

"My parents don't know I'm here," said one boy, wearing a rainbow-colored, crocheted cap pulled over blond dreadlocks.

If his parents aren't themselves baked from roasting the chronic, I'm sure they'll know he's there. Afterall, it seems to me that marijuana attire hasn't changed for forty years- it's a freakin' uniform. Making assumptions about the age of his parents, it's very likely that they put on the exact same attire when they went a tokin'.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Whoosh! Here comes da judge!!!

Oklahoma district Judge Donald Thompson got busted for using his penis pump and exposing himself to hapless court reporters during trials.

Foster told authorities that she saw Thompson use the device almost daily during the August 2003 murder trial of a man accused of shaking a toddler to death. A whooshing sound could be heard on Foster's audiotape of the trial. When jurors asked the judge about the sound, Thompson said he hadn't heard it but would listen for it.

Alaska Airlines, check yourself b'fo you wreck yourself.

I fly Alaska Airlines mainly because they have direct flights to Tucson and we're with their frequent flier program. For those of you who have long forgotten what a direct flight is, let me remind you: Imagine flying from a place like, oh, Seattle and heading for Tucson and being on a plane for about two hours. So it's hard to give up Alaska. But damn if they aren't having a whole passle of trouble, lately.
Anonymous poster sent this link detailing an interesting experimental kayak design. I wonder how much drag is caused by the submerged hydrofoil when you're not at top speed? I think Anonymous needs to be careful about experimental kayak designs.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Goddamnit! Will it never end?!!

According to a story in the Seattle Times, a victim of the shooting at the Jewish Federation is going to dedicate herself to fighting for tighter gun control laws. For anyone not familiar with this story, this is the case where an unbalanced Muslim man forced his way into the Jewish Federation in downtown Seattle and shot six people, killing one of them.

Without going into the long, typical and perfectly diamond hard logical rant of why a gun ban would be a waste of time, I'd like to point out that Scotland has just passed a law banning swords because "blade crime" is apparently out of control in a country where guns are very tightly restricted already.

"They are certainly among the range of weapons that are used by people. This reduces their availability except for legitimate reasons. I think if it saves one life or permanent disfigurement it is worthwhile."

If the above quote were any more cliche, I'd probably think that they were talking about guns, but they're not, they're talking about swords.

SWORDS will be banned from sale in Scotland in a new effort to tackle the country's "booze and blades" culture.

In fact, if the text of this story could be any more parallel with a gun debate, I'd have the vapors:

However, it is understood that exceptions will be made for weapons required for religious, cultural or sporting purposes.

Retailers yesterday claimed the move was an over-reaction, as swords constitute just 1 per cent of knife crime.


They will be required to record the names and addresses of all purchasers and be prohibited from displaying non-domestic knives and swords in shop windows.

It looks as though that in this episode, the assault rifle will be played by the Scottish Claymore, and the cheap imported firearms will be played by various other non-domestic knives and swords.

Geraldo: This time he's REALLY in the sludgeheap of history...

An arrest has finally been made in the age old JoneBenet Ramsey murder case. The first thing that struck me was not so much the details of the arrest, but what Geraldo must have been thinking. To remind everyone, Geraldo had been so convinced that JonBenet's mother Patsy had killed her because the girl was wetting the bed that he even held a mock trial in a 1997 television special in which the Ramsey parents were found 'guilty'.

The Ramsey's may have been a bit creepy, but their little girl never deserved her fate. Saying that, Geraldo can go bugger off. I'm too lazy to research Geraldo's reaction to the arrest, if he's even had one. Maybe someone can comment?

Global Warming gets that Old Time Religion!

Case in point

Washington State Supreme Court justices know how to party.

Yep, they're back in the news again. Justice Tom Chambers was in an unreported motorcycle accident where a woman had injuries requiring medical treatment, including a broken collarbone. Now, I'm not going to make hay out of a simple accident that didn't occur under nefarious circumstances.

However, the Seattle Times article made mention of a one (1) Bobbe Bridge in this rather oddly written section:

Supreme Court justices are held to high standards, as one of Chambers' colleagues found out three years ago.

Justice Bobbe Bridge was arrested in 2003 on drunken-driving and hit-and-run charges. While returning home from a party in Seattle's Queen Anne neighborhood, Bridge sideswiped a parked pickup and then drove on the wrong side of the road, forcing another vehicle onto the curb to avoid a collision.

Bridge was reprimanded by the state Commission on Judicial Conduct, which called her actions "callous" to the safety of others.

Now I'm not hip to the statistics on what the rest of us would get if caught driving at three times the legal limit (.08), sideswiping a parked vehicle and fleeing the scene. But it seems that Bobbe Bridge got off pretty easy (no jail time) with some counciling and a device in her car that she has to breathe into before starting the engine-- considering that she's a freaking Supreme Court Judge. Higher standards? I think not.

But I can say that regardless of what the rest of us get, we can be sure that we don't get less than what Justice Bridge got- so I'm not sure I concur with the statement about Justices being held to 'high standards'. She kept her job, made a 'confessional' speech which got her a standing ovation and sympathy as to how hard all this must be for her.

Top Al Qaeda advisor to Bin Laden: We may be creating a thousand new George W. Bush's

Or at least I wonder if Al Qaeda ever has this concern when they plot their next terrorist attack. In fact, I wonder if radical Islam, or even moderate Islam frets over this possibility. I tend to think that Islamists- especially the radical elements aren't particularly introspective about their role in the world.

But when arguments are put forth, suggesting that our actions and policies in the Middle East are "creating a thousand Bin Laden's" one has to wonder if the reverse is true. I tend to believe that the events of 9/11 certainly did create thousands of so-called hawkish Neo-cons who will brook no quarter in the WoT.

I think that it's a perfectly normal and valid question to ask. Are there elements of our political class being radicalized by the actions of radical Islam? Will our Middle East policies become more hard-line, more militaristic by the continued actions of Islamic terrorists?

WAR DECLARED! A long time ago...

At times I feel as if I've lost my memory as to why we're at the current juncture in this here Global War On Terror(tm). This by no means is an endorsement of the way we're fighting it, our current president, his means, his ends, the Iraq war, our overall policy, etc. I could go on. However, sometimes in our frustration over these current events, especially those relating to the Iraq war we get too wrapped up in our current president, and the daily machinations that occur in Iraq and the Middle East at large. In fact, it has been precisely because of George Bush that I forget what started this whole process.

I spent some time this evening taking a little trip down memory lane. I was reminded that Osama Bin Laden had declared war on these here United States in the year 1996.

I read as much of this blustery Fatwa as I could, skipping as many "praise be to Allah's" as I possibly dared and found this interesting bit:

Clinton appeared in front of the whole world threatening and promising revenge, but these threats were merely a preparation for withdrawal[from Somalia]. You have been disgraced by Allah and you withdrew; the extent of your impotence and weaknesses became very clear. It was a pleasure for the "heart" of every Muslim and a remedy to the "chests" of believing nations to see you defeated in the three Islamic cities of Beirut , Aden and Mogadishu.

Right before this section, Bin Laden makes references to the 1983 withdrawal from Beirut after a bomb kills '241 mainly marines'. Primarily, we're reminded that Bin Laden was cooking actions against the United States a long time ago. These resentments run deep and won't be cured soon. I have no answers, but I will be posting on my thoughts about Islam, from time to time. I'm slowly beginning to develop a grand unifying view of Islam and how its old-world adherents differ from Western cultures.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Board Naked

It's official, we've lost our minds. Well, ok, maybe 'we' haven't but certainly Representatives Edward Karkey (D-MA) and Joseph Crowley (D-NY) have by introducing the "Leave All Blades Behind Act". I wish this were a joke, but it's not.

"TSA should not be making it easier for the next Mohammed Atta to terrorize passengers at 30,000 feet," Rep. Markey said. "The flight attendants, air marshals and families of 9/11 victims support keeping the ban in place. The Bush Administration should listen to them – they know, from first-hand experience, the devastation that sharp objects such as metal scissors can cause in the hands of a suicidal terrorist," Rep. Markey added.

Senator Clinton (D-NY) is also behind the legislation:

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) will introduce and Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) will co-sponsor companion Senate legislation. The Republican-controlled Congress should schedule a vote on our bill before Congress adjourns later this month.

What these dimwits apparently fail to understand is that it was precisely the safety of passengers that the TSA was (finally) looking out for. They realized that they were wasting time confiscating nail clippers from blue-haired octogenarions instead of looking out for more obvious threats.

When one gets into the business of banning 'blades' one discovers that it's not like banning firearms. And in fact, once you ban firearms, you realize that you're left with a large group of helpless, unarmed people who find themselves at the mercy of clever assailants who have spent some time thinking about improvised weapons.

When one sits down and really considers what common items could be broken, sharpened, bent or otherwise quickly modified and made into a potention weapon, the mind boggles. Plastic forks, knives, chopsticks, toothbrushes... the list goes on.

The perversity of all of this is the TSA continues to disarm all honest passengers in their attempt (and guaranteed failure) to disarm the terrorists. I can personally guarantee that I can get effective, improvised weapons on board an airplane that no TSA official would ever catch. Ever. At this point, we have devolved into a place where the only way to best insure that no one has weapons, sharp objects, potential explosives, or any other item that might be used to bring down a plane is to force all passengers to check ALL baggage, no medicines, no carryons, no baby formula. The clothes on your back after a full pat-down search is all that should be allowed. Knowing that this option is of course, completely ridiculous, we're left with a confused Congress and a keystone-cop like TSA, chasing down the latest perceived threat while terrorists are quietly improvising new ways to blow up planes. In fact, if the idiot terrorists would get their act together, they'd move on to something else besides planes and do something smart, like place explosives under bridges in some random city other than New York or Los Angeles in the middle of the night when no one's looking and then detonate them during rush hour.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Seattle's Mayor Nickels: Is he on crack?

That's the question being asked by many people who are at least acquainted with a system called "logic". Nickels, in his latest 'goal' wants the city of Seattle to increase its population by a whopping 60% by the year 2040.

Seattle's population is currently a little over 560,000 as of the 2000 census. For the city of Seattle-- a city on a narrow strip of land surrounded by water-- to increase its population by 350,000 by 2040 is... ambitious to say the least.

The Seattle Times quoted Richard Morrill, a geography professor emeritus at the University of Washington as saying "That magnitude of change hasn't happened anywhere except maybe Beijing". The story continues:

For the city to reach such a goal, Morrill said, likely zoning changes and "somewhat astounding density" would reduce the number of single-family homes and families with children in the city, leading to "some kind of rebellion."

What's strange is that Nickels refuses to 'touch' the zoning of existing single family housing. Nickels is rather famous for these pie in the sky proposals- such as the South Lake Union Action Plan.

This is a plan which envisions 15,000 to 23,000 new jobs to be 'created'. We assume that this calculation was done by estimating the number of cubicles one could fit into the newly proposed office space. When the Major makes a major news release that 25 new jobs have been created in South Lake Union it makes one wonder just how long it's going to take to bring in the other 22,975.

I will say one thing about Nickels-- he's got vision. His action plan basically breaks down as thus:

  • Attract biotech and other jobs.
  • Encourage development of housing for a range of incomes.
  • Create a new waterfront park.
  • Build a streetcar.
  • Improve the Mercer Corridor.
  • Build infrastructure for new jobs and housing.
Why didn't he just tack on his country's 500th anniversary to plan and his wife to murder? Can anyone spot the incongruity? Somehow, a streetcar factors heavily into this whole thing. A single, fixed line transportation apparition of antiquity. Why? There's nothing wrong with anything else in his plan less the lofty predicitons born of an attitude harkening to 'build it, and they will come'. I hate to say it, Mr. Nickels, you can build it all you want, but they may not come. And frankly, don't be surprised if they don't.

Here we go again...

On Monday, an uncle said she was trying to put the past behind her; she wanted to spend more time with her young son, who lives with his father.
"She had her hard times, but she was a good girl," he said, asking not to have his name published for fear the incident might hurt his business. "She said she was going to church and wanted to get her life together."

And how many times do we get to hear how the criminal behind the tragic event was 'just turning their life around'. They were 'hoping for a fresh start'. No. No they weren't. No they're not. Being tanked up on meth, not reporting to your parole officer, and driving an SUV at eighty miles per hour through the Central District and killling a police officer does NOT define "getting your life together".

She had her hard times and she was a freaking career criminal wench:

Just 10 days out of prison, Mary Jane Rivas was on the run from the law — again.
Wanted on arrest warrants for prostitution, DUI, malicious mischief and two thefts, Rivas had blown off a meeting on Aug. 4 with her parole officer, and the state was still looking for her.

Rivas has been in and out of prison since 1995 — for possession of stolen property, attempting to elude police, illegal possession of a firearm and possession of heroin and methamphetamine.

This woman's a real piece of work. This whole 'turning a new leaf' thing that we hear in every single story about a perpetrator of a tragic crime suggests to me that the most dangerous time for society is right when the criminal decides to turn his or her life around.


Monday, August 14, 2006

If this is ravaged, I'd hate to see savaged!

I'm not sure whether the pictures don't justify the extent of the damage, or the headline is a complete lie.

For a RAGAVED skate park, they show about eight pictures, almost all of which are extreme closeups of graffiti, most of which appears on a single port-a-potty. In fact, two pictures are of the same port-a-potty, slightly different angle. One picture is of some graffiti so faint, you're not sure if it's even recent.

And frankly, I'm shocked...SHOCKED that graffiti would appear at a place frequented by skateboarders.

Below, see the ravaged skate park and and recoil at the dommages étendus!

In the unintentionally funny story, we're told how the vandals even left a broken bicycle at the park. Bicycles are ILLEGAL at the park!

We're in the wrong line of work.

Say what you will about government work, it pays, and pays well. Or so says a study

The Bureau of Economic Analysis released data this month showing that
the average compensation for the 1.8 million federal civilian workers in
2005 was $106,579 -- exactly twice the average compensation paid in the U.S.
private sector: $53,289. If you consider wages without benefits, the average
federal civilian worker earned $71,114, 62 percent more than the average
private-sector worker, who made $43,917.

Eh well. Much ink spilled on this subject.

The Unified States Wikitution

Proposal: The United States Constitution to become the United States WikiTution

We the people of the Unified States, in order to form a union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, daily stuff, promote better wages, and secure the blessings of liberty from disease, bad luck and rogue car accidents to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Wikitution for the United States of 'Murrica.

Some excerpts already taking shape as posters across the world wide web make our new living Wikitution:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of the wrong religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of non-hateful speech, or of the licensed press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble in predetermined areas, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances except where real property has duly been condemned for public purpose.

A well regulated militia, being unnecessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall be infringed.

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of the president, especially in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the media, when in actual service in time of public danger including any crisis of public health; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb unless the crime can be tried once at the state, and then, upon failure of such trial, be tried again at the Federal level; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of a democratic vote; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without a plan.

Tinseltown: Havana

This is an utterly fascinating statement made by a major newspaper outlet:

The photos [of the ailing Castro] were credited to Estudios Revolución, a division of Castro's personal support group that collects historic documents and images. There was no reason to doubt they were real.

Let's take this from another perspective. A mock situation can be conjured up: George W. Bush realeased photos of Weapons of Mass Destruction found in Baghdad earlier today. The photos were credited to Bush Productions, a division of Bush's personal campaign office. There was no reason to doubt they were real.

Look, I'm sorry, but any images (especially photos) coming from a group personally attached to Castro-- not to mention that it's in a communist country where every aspect of public life and media are carefully controlled-- are automatically doubted as to their authenticity.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Q: Have you left your bags unattended at any time? A: Yes, with Airport Security.

One [alleged London airline bomb plotter] was a well-known London Metropolitan University student activist whom a friend described as a moderate. Another worked in security at Heathrow Airport.

Great. Now admittedly, this is English Airport Security, so I have no idea what the screening and hiring process is. But given our current crop of domestic security and the lofty hiring standards applied, I know I sleep better at night.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Cats in the Cradle

A notorious cat previously used in an undercover sting was killed by traffic:

Fred ran out Moran's back door into her yard Wednesday while Moran was attending to two dogs.
"He had to have hopped several fences" to escape to the street, Moran said. Neighbors found his body in the road later that morning.

Methinks Fred was trying to get away from something. Could it be this:

Fred received a Law Enforcement Appreciation Award and was honored at an adopt-a-thon benefit hosted by Mary Tyler Moore and Bernadette Peters. He had been "preparing for a new career in education," with a "significant role" in a classroom program that teaches children how to care for animals, the district attorney's office said.

I know something about cats, and I can tell you that cats, especially cats like Fred who were docile and "easy going" are not much into high pressure careers, social engagements and full calendars. Let this be a lesson to anyone overscheduling their house cat.

Story here.

The latest (foiled) attack

So, everyone seems to agree that the links between our last little group of young, angry muslim men and Al Qaeda are... unclear.

To this I say, fine. It is interesting that the attack was (about) to take place on the anniversary of a one Osama "he's like, so dead" Bin Laden's declaration of war agin these here Unified States of 'Murrica.

So... coinkidink? I tend to think not. But if it is a coinkidink, and our latest group of angry, muslim men are NOT linked to Al Qaeda, then we need to sit down and consider some things.
There are more than one well financed terror organization capable of working on an international scale which is well financed. I have to confess, that this doesn't really make me sleep well at night. It also makes us realize that muslims are completely and utterly fascinated with transportaion systems, primarily airplanes. They take the two things which are probably the most protected, and keep attacking them. So despite all the 'they're so sophisticated' talk, they're beginning to act like a bunch of 'tardlets with bombs. It also leads me to believe that large well financed terror organizations, despite all the 'working under the radar' talk can only think 'big'. It appears that they may not be able to act in a disconnected manner- small local organizations making distributed attacks. They want the big bombs taking out the big targets. High profile. Movie stars, swimmin' pools. My advice for Al Qaeda... erh, terror organizations which are international in scope and well financed is: you need a large, John Goodman type character to say "Now B.L., the sun does not rise and set on the Airline Industry!"

As an exercise, I've cooked up half a dozen types of attacks which could take out a large number of people (well, relatively large), cause significant damage and disruption, would require very little grand planning and only one or two people to coordinate at most. Yet Al Qaeda, or, excuse me, young, angry Muslim men don't seem to be interested in these types of attacks. They seem to favor large operations requiring considerable logistics planning, networks of operatives, financing and international coordination. I'm reminded of a little chat with General Melchett of BlackAdder fame:

Melchett: Nonsense! Let's hear the list in full!
Darling: Very well sir. "List of personnel cleared for mission Gainsborough, as dictated by General C. H. Melchett: You and me, Darling, obviously. Field Marshal Haig, Field Marshal Haig's wife, all Field Marshal Haig's wife's friends, their families, their families' servants, their families' servants' tennis partners, and some chap I bumped into the mess the other day called Bernard."
Melchett: So, it's maximum security, is that clear?
Edmund: Quite so sir, only myself and the rest of the English speaking world is to know.
Melchett: Good man. Now, Field Marshal Haig has formulated a brilliant new tactical plan to ensure final victory in the field. [they gather around a model of the battlefield]
Edmund: Now, would this brilliant plan involve us climbing out of our trenches and walking slowly towards the enemy sir?
Darling: How can you possibly know that Blackadder? It's classified information.
Edmund: It's the same plan that we used last time, and the seventeen times before that.
Melchett: E-E-Exactly! And that is what so brilliant about it! We will catch the watchful Hun totally off guard! Doing precisely what we have done eighteen times before is exactly the last thing they'll expect us to do this time!

That now seems to be the operational directive from international terrorist organizations which are well funded but can't be called Al Qaeda. Updated:

Bin Laden: So, gentlemen we have a new secret plan to attack the great Satan!
Terrorists: It wouldn't happen to involve airplanes, would it?
Bin Laden: How can you possibly know that? It's classified!
Terrorists: It's the same plan that we used for the foiled Bojinka plot...

Anyway, you get the idea. At this point, I'm honestly not sure whether to be scared, laugh, retreat and say that maybe some parts of the WoT are working, declare it a large victory in a sea of smaller failures? Either way, I still say the Iraq war has nothing to do with any of this- either causing or deflecting these attacks so no wobbly bits there.