Wednesday, June 30, 2010

They Looked Just Like Us!

I have an observation about how amazed the media is at the "distinctly American lives" led by the alleged Russian spies. From today's Spokesman Review:

Richard and Cynthia Murphy grew lettuce in a backyard garden, walked their daughters to the school bus each morning, and swapped Christmas cards with old neighbors who had moved to Texas.

Their modest three-bedroom house sported maroon shutters and a wrap-around porch, and sat on a winding street in a well-heeled suburb across from Manhattan. They drove a green Honda Civic.

To all appearances, the Murphys were a typical, child-obsessed American family – not deep-cover Russian spies straight from a Cold War novel.


A Cold War novel is...wait for it...fiction! These deep-cover spies, if that's what they are, looked exactly like they were supposed to. I've grown lettuce. I used to drive a green Honda Civic. I have a wrap-around porch and shutters on my house. I've even swapped Christmas cards with old friends in Texas.

Fascinating. I'm sending a report about this journalistic incredulity back to the Motherland.

Multiplicity

My nephew, Alex, was kind enough to help me out while I went through a tutorial on multiplicity photography. I realize this has been around for quite some time, but it never occurred to me that I could do this. This certainly looks like a first attempt.

Watching The Watchers

(Photo by Hank)

The American Civil Liberties Union released a report yesterday entitled Policing Free Speech: Police Surveillance and Obstruction of First Amendment-Protected Activity (PDF) detailing numerous incidents where law enforcement authorities infiltrated nonviolent organizations, abused their authority, or illegally spied on Americans who were simply exercising their First Amendment rights.

There are many interesting and outrageous examples of irrational, fear-driven behavior in the report which includes three incidents in Washington state. An anti-war activist reported to have "three known anarchists" in his car. An artist arrested for taking photos of power lines. And a Fort Lewis civilian working in law enforcement who passed himself off as an anarchist in order to infiltrate an Olympia-based anti-war group.

And then for those that do make it to a protest, there's the Miami Model to worry about.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Biking And Walking Back On The Chopping Block

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that the Safe Routes To School Program was being targeted by Rep. Eric Cantor's YouCut web site. Well, it's back in the running again.

For this week's round of YouCut voting, the Economic Recovery Working Group has decided to post the runners up from each of the last five weeks of voting. We've received hundreds of emails from folks asking that we bring back up YouCut proposals from previous weeks that did not win. With these requests in mind, we're giving you another chance. Thanks for voting!

It's a lot easier to kill a program like this than it is to stop a war.

Fear The Baby Terrorists

Just when you think you've heard the stupidest thing from a congressman, another one steps up to the plate, points to center field wall and swings away--before the other team even takes the field. This is Representative Louie Gohmert, representing District 1 in the great State of Texas, making his case for supporting the Arizona's controversial immigration bill on the House floor.



I talked to a retired FBI agent who said that one of the things they were looking at were terrorist cells overseas who had figured out how to game our system. And it appeared they would have young women, who became pregnant, would get them into the United States to have a baby. They wouldn't even have to pay anything for the baby. And then they would turn back where they could be raised and coddled as future terrorists. And then one day, twenty...thirty years down the road, they can be sent in to help destroy our way of life. 'Cause they figured out how stupid we are being in this country to allow our enemies to game our system, hurt our economy, get setup in a position to destroy our way of life.

What does he mean "how stupid we are"?

Morning Mind Warp

In an article in Science News, the question is:

I have two children, one of whom is a son born on a Tuesday. What is the probability that I have two boys?

And the answers differ because part of the answer is "it depends." Check it out and wrap your head around that.

Monday, June 28, 2010

What Was That...

...about rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanik?

Those Good Ol' Primary Reproductive Years

Julia Gillard is the Prime Minister of Australia. She's single and she's living with a man and that seems to bother some people. The question is, what kind of example is she setting for other women?

From the (very demeaning) commentary:

Cohabitation produces two groups of losers among women and children. Most women want to have children - Gillard is an exception - and some miss out after wasting their primary reproductive years in a succession of live-in relationships that look hopeful but go nowhere, leaving them childless and partnerless as they hit 40.

The Prime Minister of Australia has "loser" written all over her. Who knew?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Last Adventure In Decoding Emergency Instructions

Whether we hit water or ground, cover your face and put your head down because it's going to be very bad--for everyone. And no smoking while plummeting to certain death.

More Adventures In Decoding Emergency Instructions

No using a computer, listening to music, playing video games or placing briefcases on the tray while we are buzzing the tower.

Adventures In Decoding Emergency Instructions

Go to the door if you have someone on board the aircraft who claims to have a parachute in his briefcase.

Pull the handle in the direction indicated to open the doorway.

Push the door out and back and step out of the man's way.

Just before he jumps out, snatch the briefcase out of his hand because there's no way you can have a parachute in a briefcase.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Off The Grid For A Week

Until next Sunday.

Winning Money All Over The World

Three emails today inform me I have won all kinds of money. The first was from a World Cup Lottery.

You have won the sum of $700,000.00USD from the South Africa 2010 World Cup Lottery. Contact Mr. Donald Robert to claim winnings at; disbursementdept011@admin.in.th with your full name,address,occupation and phone no.

Then the United Nations.

United Nations has awarded a prize donation of 950,500.00USD.Provide your information to Dr.Packer Estrada.

Full Names:
Complete Address:
Age:
Sex:
Occupation:
Tel:
Country:

Regards,
Dr Packer Extrada.
E:Mail:(unitedfundsgrant0@yahoo.cn)
Tel:44-70-111-48748 UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY GENERAL


The last from the United Kingdom.

Dear Selected Winner,

This is to inform you that you have been elected for a cash prize of£800,000 (Eight Hundred Thousand (British Pounds) held on the 18th ofJune,2010 in London UK.The Selection was carried out through a ComputerRandom Selection System and your email address emerge as one of the three Lucky Winners.

Contact our fiduciary agent for claims with:

Agents Name: Mr James Brown
Email:mrjames-brownunit12@hotmail.com
Telephone:+44 703 1829 066

REF No: UK/9876125
BATCH No: 2009MJL-01
TICKET No: 20511465463-7644

Fill the below:
1. Full Names:
2. Address:
3. Marital Status:
4. Occupation:
5. Age:
6. Sex:
7. Nationality:
8. Country of Residence:
9. Telephone Number:

Congratulations!!

Sincerely,
Mrs.Anna Martins


I especially like how I'm a selected winner and yet they ask me for my name.

From Good Intentions Are Not Enough

A different perspective of volunteering overseas.

Now imagine that you are told that a Kenyan or Chinese college student is coming to your town to help solve your problems. They'd like you to help find housing for the student (preferably in someone's house so they can experience the local culture), you'll need to get them a translator, they'll need to be brought in to meet with local government officials, you'll need to call together meetings of your neighbors and other stakeholders, and it'll all need to be done very fast because they only have a couple of months off for their summer vacation (or a semester off depending on the school and program).

Read the entire article here.

Something to think about.

The Black Hawk Bicycle Ban

The city of Black Hawk, Colorado has been in the news recently due to it's recent enforcement of an ordinance that was passed back in January (PDF) of this year. And cyclists are upset.

One thing I'd like to point out is that although the news reports seem to imply that bikes are being singled out--and to some extent that applies to the wording of the ordinance--the ban applies to all non-motorized traffic.

I have no idea how many people in the Black Hawk area ride horses or use a horse drawn carriage, but the ban applies to them, too.

Here's a map of the roads where the ban is in effect.


View Black Hawk Bicycle Ban in a larger map

Thanks to Google Street View you can take a tour of most of the roads and see for yourself. That section of Hwy 279 is very narrow and there's little room for pedestrians let alone cyclists in some spots. I think Main Street could be a little crowded but with all the pedestrians and vehicle traffic, I think bikes would be fine. Bobtail Road is very narrow but if there's little traffic then it wouldn't be a big deal. After all, how many cyclists are we talking about?

Miners Mesa Road has a narrow should. Since it's a dead end, I wouldn't expect much vehicle traffic. There's no street view available for Silver Gulch Road.

From the news article:

Michael Copp, Black Hawk's city manager, the equivalent of chief executive of a local council in the UK, admitted there had not been any accidents to prompt the ban, just concern over potential collisions between motor vehicles and bicycles on 19th-century streets that were designed for horses and carriages.

Rhetorical question. If the streets were designed for non-motorized traffic then why is it being banned? Yeah, yeah, I know. But using that same justification they could just as easily ban large trucks, recreational vehicles, etc. And that's not going to happen.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Hit Song Formula


NSFW language, but really funny. If you're old like me then it's best viewed in full screen mode to read the song titles.

I've Been Approved!

So I heard back from "eBay International" and my purchase of the Yamaha Grizzly 700 was approved. Whoo-hoo!



Everything looks pretty official and on the up and up, right? It's certified and insured and guaranteed and too good to pass up.

Whoa, I have to pay using Western Union. That's the same thing my Russian almost love of my life, Dariya, tried to pull. Sigh. And Dariya was so much more beautiful than this Yamaha. Sigh....Dariya...uh--ahem.

Maybe I can work this out another way. So I wrote Kevin....

Kevin,

I was notified that I was approved through eBay International, but something better has come up. My brother is a long haul trucker and I just found out he's making a delivery in El Paso on Monday. This can save us both a lot of time and hassle. You don't have to make any arrangements and I don't have to wait for shipment. Isn't that great? He's willing to inspect the Yamaha and, if it's as good as you say, pay you in cash and haul it back to me.

If you give me your phone number and address, I can pass that along to him and he can make the buy.


But Kevin did not think this was so good.

I just want to close the deal through eBay safe service.

He has a point, you know. Take the safe route. My answer to him.

Kevin,

I definitely understand why you want to play it safe. I want to play it safe, too. Because if I really had a brother who was a long haul trucker going to El Paso, and you really lived at 318 Montana St, El Paso, TX, I see that address has plenty of room in the parking lot for him to park his truck and plenty of open space for him to kick your butt around in. :-)

So you can probably guess that I'm not about to go to Western Union.


I wonder if Kevin knows Dariya.

Street Music Week

Today was the last day of the 8th Annual Street Music Week. Last year Doug Clark and his fellow buskers raised $4,250 for Second Harvest. Hopefully the bad weather this week didn't put a damper on their fund raising. I took a walk during lunch today and caught some of the musicians. The variety was wonderful. I heard a lot of great music and saw a lot of happy volunteers.







More On That Scam

I couldn't let the scam go by without participating so I filled in the form yesterday and said I'd like to see the vehicle. Here is the reply I received.

From Kevin Walber

To gigowiz@gmail.com

Date Fri, Jun 18, 2010 at 5:53 AM

Subject RE: 2008 Yamaha grizzly 700 special edition


Hi,
Thanks for being interested in buying my quad. It is in a good condition, no scratches, no damages, no problems at the engine, runs very well. The price is not negotiable, $3800 firm. The price includes shipping and insurance to your address. I will ship it via a reputable shipping company and it will take almost a week depending of your location. Let me know if you are interested.

Thanks

> > To: markporter77@msn.com
> > Subject: 2008 Yamaha grizzly 700 special edition
> > From: gigowiz@gmail.com
> > Date: Fri, 18 Jun 2010 02:53:31 +1000
> >
> >
> >
> > I just moved to Colville, WA, and I'm interested in your Yamaha Grizzly. It would be very useful at my place. Is this weekend okay to look at it and can you give me directions to your place in the Priest River area, please?
> >
> > Thanks,
> >
> > Hank Greer


There are a couple things I'd like to point out. My form reply was sent to markporter77@msn.com and the reply to that email was sent from kevinwalber@msn.com. In spite of the obvious interest I expressed, he wants to know if I'm interested. Although I claim to live nearby, he ignores that and says he'll ship it. And that way-too-good-to-be-true price is not negotiable. So I answered back.

Yes, I am very interested. I'd like to come over this weekend and see it since Priest River isn't that far from me so there's no need to ship it since I can just take it home if I buy it.

Please tell me what time we can meet and give me directions. I look forward to seeing this machine.

Hank


And "Kevin" answers back with:

The quad is in El Paso, TX.
I want to finish this deal through eBay International Trading. They will hold your payment and release it to me only after you will receive, inspect and agree with the quad. I will give you 3 inspection days. I will start the shipping in the same day with the payment confirmation.
The delivery process to your location will take 5-6 days.

Tell me if we can get the ball rolling and I will contact eBay regarding our transaction. after that they will send you the information of the purchasing.

Thanks


Since this is such a great deal, I'm going to ignore that the vehicle has now magically moved from Priest Lake to El Paso, Texas. After all, the price includes shipping and insurance, right? Sweet! I am hooked and must pursue my quarry. So I send Kevin another email.

Okay. How do I get ahold of eBay International Trading?

Eager to make a sale, Kevin is being ever so helpful.

I have contacted eBay regarding our deal, they will send you the details of "how to purchase the quad" in a short time. email me as soon as youll hear from them so I'll know we are on the right way.

Thanks


And I received two other email, both from customer-support@ebay-ins.com. The first is from "Ray Stephens".

Dear customer,

My name is Ray Stephens and I am from the customer support department. I will help you to close the transaction in a quick and safe way.
We will insure you 100%.
According to our Policy Transaction Agreement / Sec.5, Alg.32, the transfer must be available before instructing the seller to start the shipping. The payment details are confidential and will not be released under any circumstances.eBay International Trading security measures are constantly reviewed and modified given evolving circumstances globally, drawing on both internal assessments and the support of government agencies.
In order to proceed with the transaction we need your name and address for shipping.
Please reply with any question.

Sincerely,
eBay International Trading Customer Support


The second email looks much more bonafide, complete with eBay logo and everything.

(click to embiggen)


They list Kevin Walber's address at 318 Montana St, El Paso, TX.

Does he live in the parking lot or the gas station?

Here is the registry information for ebay-ins.com.

Domain Name.......... ebay-ins.com
Creation Date........ 2006-06-29
Registration Date.... 2006-06-29
Expiry Date.......... 2011-06-29
Organisation Name.... Becky Eatmon
Organisation Address. 13164 Martin Road Spur
Organisation Address.
Organisation Address. Northport
Organisation Address. 35473
Organisation Address. AL
Organisation Address. UNITED STATES

Admin Name........... Becky Eatmon
Admin Address........ 13164 Martin Road Spur
Admin Address........
Admin Address........ Northport
Admin Address........ 35473
Admin Address........ AL
Admin Address........ UNITED STATES
Admin Email.......... ard_americanu@yahoo.com
Admin Phone.......... +1.2053101973
Admin Fax............

Here is the underlying registry data.

Domain Name: EBAY-INS.COM
Registrar: MELBOURNE IT, LTD. D/B/A INTERNET NAMES WORLDWIDE
Whois Server: whois.melbourneit.com
Referral URL: http://www.melbourneit.com
Name Server: YNS1.YAHOO.COM
Name Server: YNS2.YAHOO.COM
Status: clientTransferProhibited
Updated Date: 27-may-2010
Creation Date: 28-jun-2006
Expiration Date: 28-jun-2011

What a surprise that this site has nothing to do with eBay whatsoever. This scammer and/or his modus operandi has been around for quite some time.

But this is such a good deal--I'm hooked, remember?--and I just can't let it slip out of my fingers. The official-looking faux eBay email said "Dear eBay member, If you agree with this transaction please reply to this email and provide us your full name and address". I really really really want this Yamaha Grizzly 700 so I followed the instructions and replied.

My name is Ted Kazynski and I live at 224 N Elm, Colville, WA 99114

How do I make the payment for the Yamaha? And I do I understand correctly that I'm only required to put $1900 down?

Thanks

When We Criminalize Everything...

...we have to think twice about what we do. A 14-year-old boy in Florida initially thought to be a possible kidnapper now faces charges for false imprisonment for helping a 3-year-old girl find her mother.

Edwin approached the girl and told her he would find her mother. Edwin's mother said she saw the two together, asked Edwin what was going on, and then said she would help.

Then Edwin made his big mistake. He thought the girl's mother might be among a group of women that he saw leaving the store. So off he went.

The video shows him leaving the store, with the girl following behind. Once outside, he took her by the hand.

Edwin's mother then appeared, following after him and the girl.

It turned out the girl's lost mother was in the store. She told investigators that she was returning an item to the shelf when she lost track of her daughter. She naturally became alarmed. Another shopper told her that the girl left the store with a man. Edwin is big enough to pass for a defensive lineman, which probably is part of the problem here.

The video shows the girl's mother rushing out the door.

By that time, Edwin had discovered the girl didn't belong to any of the women he had seen leaving the store. He said he was turning back to return to the store.

There was a convergence of Edwin, his mother, the little girl and her mother. The girl was returned to her mother.

The video then shows mother and daughter going back into the store, followed shortly thereafter by Edwin and his mother.

...

Interestingly enough, the girl's mother never did press charges. But the Sheriff's Office decided it would, ultimately settling on a charge of false imprisonment.

"He was in custody of the child and had no authority to be so," said Capt. Angelo Nieves. "The thing is to make clear we have not charged him with an offense that did not occur."


Granted, the boy and his mom did not handle the situation with the best possible judgment--if they wanted to make sure they didn't do something illegal--but not everyone who provides help does so with the best possible judgment. It reminds me of that maxim about how good judgment comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgment. Given the criminal charge, good judgment now means the boy points out that a child can't find her mother and hopes someone does something about it.

On the other hand, since we choose to live in a world of extremes, the boy and his mom could be the coolest pair of child abductors we've ever seen. And besides, "The thing is to make clear we have not charged him with an offense that did not occur."

So everything's okay.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

How Did Spokane Rate This?

I saw this notice over on Pam's House Blend about the Department of Housing and Urban Development choosing Spokane "as the 4th national location for a Listening Session on housing discrimination facing members of the LGBT community." The other cities were Chicago, new York, and San Francisco.

It's scheduled at 1:00-3:00pm, June 26, at the Moran Prairie Library at 6004 S. Regal Street in Spokane.

From the HUD site:

JOIN A HISTORIC LISTENING SESSION ON HOUSING DISCRIMINATION FACING LESBIAN, GAY, BI-SEXUAL AND TRANSGENDER (LGBT) INDIVIDUALS AND COUPLES! HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity John D. TrasviƱa has chosen the Inland Northwest as the 4th national location for a Listening Session on housing discrimination facing members of the LGBT community. Please come and share your experiences with the current Administration, putting a face on LGBT discrimination. Share your ideas on how our Government can ensure that members of the LGBT community are given equal services in housing!

They want you to register if you want to attend.

Another Craigslist Scam

A friend of mine got suspicious about an ad on Spokane's Craiglist and brought it to my attention.


The ad is for a 2008 Yamaha Grizzly Special Edition being sold for $3800 with only 188 miles on it. A new one would have set you back $8900 so a used one with only 188 miles for $3800 almost sounds too good to be true.

Almost?

The first thing I noticed about the ad was that the description was in an image file instead of typed in. Why would you do that--unless you planned on using that same image elsewhere? I checked out the HTML of the ad and found this: (I mangled the HTML so it'll show up in the post)

(a href="http://foormac.com/ygrizzly/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">(img src="http://i973.photobucket.com/albums/ae214/sergiorodrigo/5a.jpg">(img src="http://i973.photobucket.com/albums/ae214/sergiorodrigo/5.jpg">

The two images, the description of the Yamaha and the four-picture collage, come from an account on Photobucket called sergiorodrigo. They are the only two images in the account. (As an aside, that pale blue display just doesn't look right to me. I would expect a monochrome display. But I can't say for sure because I don't know squat about the Yamaha Grizzly, Special Edition or not.)

As you can also tell from the (mangled) HTML, clicking on the images sends you to http://foormac.com/ygrizzly/.

First I looked at the domain registration info of foormac.com.

Registrant:
Holly Swope
410 Kensington Park Apt. A
Jefferson City, Missouri 65109
US

Domain name: FOORMAC.COM

Administrative Contact:
Swope, Holly gu.nloyemowu@gmail.com
410 Kensington Park Apt. A
Jefferson City, Missouri 65109
US
+1.5733016566

Registrar of Record: TUCOWS, INC.
Record last updated on 16-Dec-2009.
Record expires on 31-Aug-2011.
Record created on 31-Aug-2009.

A a whitepages search and a pipl search of Holly Swope in Missouri came up empty. Holly's phone is a Cingular cell phone number.

Sending your browser straight to foormac.com gets you a page that simply says "Holding page for 123-reg" which means the default page has never been updated--since Aug 31, 2009. Netcraft says the site is located in the United Kingdom.

Nothing seems out of the ordinary so far, right?

Here's the form on foormac.com you get after clicking on either image in the ad:
So I checked the HTML on this and found:

(form name="frmSample" method="post"
action="http://ezegroup.com.au/images/menu/ygrizzly.php" onSubmit="return
ValidateForm()">

The email form sends the data to and executes code on a server presumably based in Australia. I went to the ezegroup site.

The Eze Group of Companies professional services and products are designed and targeted towards reducing operational costs, escalating turnover and increasing the profile of your business.

Our products and services are designed to enhance your business and reduce your management workload. We make no secret about wanting you as our client for life.


I guess using an image instead of typing the same stuff over and over would reduce operational costs. Posting the same ad in a multitude of cities--and claiming that item is in that city-- would increase the profile of your business. I wonder if the Eze Group knows how some people are trying to make eze money using their eze servers.

A Google search for "ezegroup.com.au" and "ask a question" gave me this result:

http://ezegroup.com.au/image/1/

Which led to another form. Wow, deja vu all over again.

Just for grins I changed "http://ezegroup.com.au/image/1/" to "http://ezegroup.com.au/image/2/". It worked! I got another form. It also worked for the numbers 3 through 8, each one with an identical form to ask about a different item.

I advised my friend that when he finds something on Craigslist, he should do a search of the description. Had he done so with this Yamaha Grizzly, he would have found it was advertised in many places. Some have been taken down, but here are a couple that are still up as of this writing: Atlanta, Louisville, and Ann Arbor.

And, as always, if it sounds too good to be true--it is!

King Of The Road

Cross-posted from Cycling Spokane.

I enjoy bike commuting, especially the days when something memorable happens. Okay, when something pleasurably memorable happens. This morning's memorable moment involved an @$$hole.

I was stopped at the red light westbound on North Foothills waiting to cross Ruby and Division. I was in the right wheel track since the lanes aren't that wide. I had the lane to myself. A car and a garbage truck were in the left lane. Looking in my mirror I saw a car approaching behind me but didn't give it much thought--until I looked again and saw it wasn't slowing down. I was preparing to bail to the curb when the car swerved and squeezed in between me and the car in the left lane. The driver and passenger looked straight ahead as if I wasn't there.

I decided I would wait for this car once the light turned green because I had no idea if he was going straight ahead or making a right. But I couldn't let it go without saying something so I rapped on the passenger-side window. They both looked at me and the driver hit the button to lower the window.

"What?"

I was more than polite and civil. "I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't crowd a cyclist like that. It's very dangerous."

"Well, I'd appreciate it if you'd get out of the f*#%in' road."

So much for killing him with kindness.

With the end of his sentence the light turned green and he jumped forward, cut over in front of the car in the left lane and whipped into the left turn lane to go south on Division. First in line!

As I passed by him and crossed Division I could not help but signal that he should make the next cut at 18 inches. (Hmmm...a new Internet meme?) If you're not familiar with what I'm referring to, then click here to see.

So if you see a dark-colored land yacht with Washington license #815ZDY, give him some room because he's not going to give you any.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The More Things Change...

Jon Stewart nails it again with this comparison of Barack Obama before and after he became president.

Glenn Greenwald has been writing about the Obama administration's involvement in whistle blower prosecution, illegal eavesdropping by the NSA, authorized assassination of an American citizen, and the rule of law in America. Little, if any, has been reported by the mainstream media.

I would like to point out that if you were concerned about the Bush administration extending the power of the president beyond constitutional limits, then the continuation of those policies and efforts make that "Obama is trying to become a dictator" thing seem a lot less crazy, doesn't it?

A Chance Of Recovery

Business Insider shows us how concentrated the wealth is in America and how it looks like we're repeating everything that brought on the Great Depression.

The bottom 50% of America possesses 2.5% of the wealth.


Why tax cuts aren't necessarily a good thing
unless you're in the top 1%.

The article also highlights 20 cities that have suffered, such as Portland, Miami, Boise, and Las Vegas, and cities that have done well, such as Kansas City, Madison, and San Antonio.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Republican Offers An Idea To The Republicans Looking For Them

Cathy McMorris Rodgers had this to say on her Facebook page yesterday.

Now remember why AmericaSpeakingOut.com was created:

This site was developed as part of an official effort to increase the dialogue between Americans and their Congress.

Here is her "idea" in full.

Something else posted on the site:

This website is paid for with official funds of the Office of the House Minority Leader – no political or campaign funds have been used for any portion of the America Speaking Out project.

"Official funds of the Office of the House Minority Leader" means our tax dollars. Cathy McMorris Rodgers is talking to herself--at our expense.

Now, come on, does she need to post this "idea" on AmericaSpeakingOut.com so that Congress will listen? Or is this a craven attempt to score points?

It's enough to make you wonder what the real purpose of the site is. Okay, not really. It's pretty obvious.

Monday, June 14, 2010

A Cheap Shot?

This rather bizarre combination of headline and photo caught my eye. It turns out that JaySays is upset with Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers' proposed House Concurrent Resolution 285, "Recognizing the important role that fathers play in the lives of their children and families and supporting the goals and ideals of designating 2010 as the Year of the Father," along with her anti-progressive voting record.

McMorris Rodgers submitted the resolution along with Washington Representatives Reichert, Smith, Larsen and Hastings. The text of the resolution starts out with some history about Father's Day and overall seems pretty harmless. But then these two clauses are added near the end:

Whereas it is well documented that children involved with loving fathers are significantly more likely to have healthy self-esteems, exhibit empathy and prosocial behavior, avoid high risk behaviors, have reduced antisocial behavior and delinquency in boys, have better peer relationships, and have higher occupational mobility relative to parents;

A nice sentiment, but not all fathers are loving fathers. Is the reason the U.S. imprisons more people than any other country the fault of those non-loving fathers? And what about the girls? Are loving fathers helpless in that area? What the heck is "higher occupational mobility relative to parents" and why is it so desirable?

Whereas fathers who live with their children are more likely to have a close, enduring relationship with their children than those who do not;

Ya think?

These feel-good resolutions are useful, especially when you have nothing better to do than wait around for someone to give you a good idea.

An Inspired Dinner

Leftover baked beans and a hamburger with the fixin's--low carb style. Hard to tell if it was deliciously messy or messily delicious, but I'd have another.

If Only It Was On A Hill

We'd have a cycling slalom.

Meet Taylor

This is Taylor. She is my sister's granddaughter which makes me a great uncle. Hmmmm....Great Uncle Hank. That has a nice ring to it.

When you don't have young children in your house for a long time you quickly learn just how unchildproof your house is when one is turned loose. A benefit of Taylor's stay is that we have adjusted accordingly so you hear, "Thank you for finding that for me," less frequently each passing day.

Taylor's vocabulary consists of phrases like "ya-digga-digga-digga-digga" and "bop-pop-pop-pop-pop-bah-bah-pop" and other cheerful expressions with which she conveys her happiness with her surroundings. Her laughter and squeals of delight at being chased outweigh the discomfort of crawling on hands and knees on the hard floor. She's a real sweetheart and a lot of fun--except when she doesn't get her way...

...and then she has to teach her great uncle Hank a lesson.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Fearmonger At Work

The Inlander has seen fit to grace us with another George Nethercutt column.

As you sit in your home watching illegal immigrants enter the United States each day for years without restriction, you might imagine that one day some illegal immigrant might knock on your door and frighten your family or enter your home when you’re not there. A recent report in Washington state documented illegal immigrants who committed crimes against Washington state residents and then were deported to Mexico only to return again to commit other crimes.

They are not entering the country without restriction. They are entering by evading the restrictions we place before them. As to illegal immigrants knocking on my door and frightening my family, I had no idea that was a common practice of theirs. And then there was this one time when an illegal immigrant who either was a criminal or became a criminal did not stay out of the country when we told him to. The nerve of that guy! And since there have been more than one then all 12-20 million illegal immigrants must be criminals. That's why they take all those crappy and low-paying jobs. It's easier for those sneaky people to hide.

If you’re not racist, but just frightened about the security of your home from illegals you don’t know, you want the law to:

    Require federal-state cooperation in enforcement of immigration laws.
    Prosecute illegal immigrants.
    Prohibit human trafficking of illegal immigrants.
    Allow police officers to arrest an illegal immigrant if that immigrant is discovered to be illegal pursuant to a lawful arrest.
    Prosecute and enforce laws against employers who hire illegal immigrants.


This is disingenuous. It makes it sound like we don't do these things. It's done all the time!

If that’s how you feel, you probably don’t like President Obama, safe in the White House with federal officials guarding him and his family 24-7, telling you that the Arizona law is automatically unconstitutional and fosters “racial profiling.”

Yes, imagine the nerve of President Obama. He and his family are safely protected 24-7. They don't have to worry about illegal immigrants walking through their back yard rummaging through their patio furniture, trampling their flowerbeds, handling their garden tools, lawnmower or barbecue equipment. Yes, HANDLING them like they do ours!

But Mr Nethercutt is not without compassion.

My heart goes out to illegal immigrants who come to the U.S. for a better life. God bless them as human beings. But their best path to the blessings of liberty is not by sneaking in through the backyards of Arizona, but by entering the old-fashioned way legally and with proper purpose.

Let's see, the first immigrants who entered this country killed or displaced the natives who already lived here. Was that the old-fashioned way with the proper purpose?

Security Theatre - Act III, Scene 8 - The Elephant In the Room

In today's Spokesman Review we have an article about the body scanner that is to come to the Spokane International Airport in which they try to allay your fears about privacy and safety--as in health--but not about terrorism.

Privacy:

The scanner images are viewed in an isolated location, such as a separate office. TSA personnel who assist passengers are not allowed to see the scans, and those checking scans are not to see the passengers.

TSA personnel communicate through a wireless headset to move passengers through the scan. The images cannot be stored or printed, according to the TSA’s website.


What a relief to know you that won't hear them laughing at your tiny wee-wee.

Safety:

Some passengers have expressed concern about radiation exposure, but officials say the doses are insignificant.

“All results confirmed that radiation doses for people being screened as well as operators and bystanders were well below dose limits specified by the American National Standards Institute,” said Dwayne Baird, a regional TSA spokesman.

Drew Thatcher, certified health physicist with the Washington state Department of Health, said people are already exposed to a certain amount of radiation from their environment, buildings and food.

“The exposure from the scan is less than 1 percent of daily background radiation exposure in the Spokane area,” he said.


That's all well and good. I won't hear you laugh and you won't shrink me any more. But the subject that is not being addressed is the effectiveness of these scanners which happen to cost $130,000 to $170,000 each.

Rafi Sela is the former chief security officer at the Israel Airport Authority and a 30-year veteran in airport security. He helped design the security systems at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport.

This is what he had to say during a video conference with Canada's House of Commons Transportation Committee:

"I don't know why everybody is running to buy these expensive and useless machines. I can overcome the body scanners with enough explosives to bring down a Boeing 747," Rafi Sela on Thursday told parliamentarians probing the state of aviation safety in Canada.

"That's why we haven't put them in our airport."


To add the ludicrousness:

Todd Woodard, spokesman for Spokane International Airport, said the TSA will decide where the Spokane scanner will be used. The airport has two screening areas, one at Concourse A/B and the other at Concourse C. Installing the machine should only result in “minor modifications to existing space and utilities,” he said.

Let's hope the terrorists pick the right screening area. And if they do, let's hope the screener doesn't get distracted by a tiny wee-wee.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

World Naked Bike Ride Day

Yeah, that's a misleading, but attention getting title. Every once in a while I lead a ride for the Spokane Bicycle Club and today was one of those days. I joked with everyone that since although it is World Naked Bike Ride Day, we would wait until we got away from "civilization" before we disrobed. Uneasy laughter all around. People who don't know me tend to take me seriously.

Going up the hill on Fairview, I heard someone yell, "Ahhhhhhhh!" and then a crash. Bob's chain came off and he couldn't disconnect a shoe from a pedal in time and down he went. Fortunately, all he hurt was his pride.

The route was to take us to the sculptures of Bill Sanders I stumbled across back in March. We unlatched a gate and went inside the fence to check out the sculptures. Not long afterward a dog came out and started barking at us. Soon after Bill Sanders came out of his workshop yelling at the dog to be quiet. Bill graciously showed us around a little and invited us inside his shop to see his latest project.

This is Alice. Alice will unceasingly bark at you. Bill says he got Alice from the pound and she is afraid of people. She won't bite you as long as you don't try to touch her. So if she invades your personal space, just leave her alone and everybody gets along real nice like.

A Spanish Conquistador Bill just finished. He said he's trying to get it to a school in Florida.

Graduation

It seems we never stop noticing how quickly the time flies. Thirteen years ago we moved into our brand new house and the first order of business for one young man was to use a pencil to draw a line connecting each location where he wrote his name--all over the freshly painted white porch railing. I imagine Josh was marking this as his home.

That fall saw Josh started kindergarten at Farwell Elementary. For seven years he flourished and blossomed and made his subtle and humorous rebellious nature known. So subtle, in fact, that we didn't hear about these things until well after the fact.

If you get in trouble during recess at Farwell then you have to stand by "the wall" until you are released by a recess monitor or until recess is over. Josh would stand by the wall as if he was being punished. One of the monitors, not knowing what Josh had done, would approach and ask him.

"What did you do?"

"Nothing," Josh would reply.

"Don't lie to me because I'll find out."

And so the conversation would continue.

There was the sound-activated red light in the library that Josh would get to just barely flicker. In P.E. they had a test in which the kids had a certain amount of time to run to the other side of the gym. The time period grew shorter with each turn. If you didn't touch the opposite wall before the beep, then you were out. Josh decided he could start out walking and then gradually pick up speed with each turn, always making it to the opposite side just in time. And all the while Mrs Aubrey would be yelling at him, "Josh, you're doing it wrong!" Well, yes and no.

His two years at Northwood Middle School sped by. (There I go again.) During a field trip to Finch Arboretum, each student was to collect five items to glue together in a collage. Josh collected the requisite leaves, etc., and a 10-pound rock. While all the other students' collages were displayed on the hallway wall outside the classroom, Josh's rock, complete with attached acorn, twig, and leaves, became the doorstop. To this day, the teacher now tells the students that the five items they collect must fit within a ziplock bag "because one year I had this one young man...." Josh is legend.

Josh's uniqueness continued on through high school. Who can forget Black and White Day? And Rabble, Rabble, Rabble as well as playing with fire. That's just the stuff he did at home. I'm sure I haven't heard about everything he did at school. That always comes later. And yet, given all this, it almost seems contradictory that someone like Josh would ask permission to skip school. Go figure.

Last night Josh completed the last chapter of his 13 years of school. Here he is with both grandmothers, mom and dad, and brother and sister. This fall he's off to the University of Washington where he'll be a single body in a sea of students. I have no doubt he will make his mark there, too.

Here's to a young man who is quietly and resolutely not afraid to be himself. (Yes, those are 3D glasses.)