Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Much Better Than Last Year

Small groups showed up early for the Cathy McMorris Rodgers town hall meeting. An email from Move On and a notice from the Spokane County Republicans rallied the masses. Well, it was masses compared to last year's town hall.

An older gentleman, wearing a red, white and blue American flag tie and a complementary RW&B Cat-in-the-Hat style hat, sat in a chair on Post holding these two signs. He introduced himself as John and asked that I not take his picture. He did permit me to shoot his signs. He said he was out there because he wants God to stay in the Constitution, the government, public schools, etc. And now those atheists put their signs on the STA buses.

I asked him and a number of other attendees if they went to the town hall meeting last year. No. Did they know there was a town hall last year? No. How did you hear about this one? Well I got this email.

More McMorris Rodgers supporters held up signs outside the Lincoln Center. According to her guidelines signs were not allowed inside. The hired security staff announced and enforced the rule. A number of people were disappointed but nobody raised a ruckus about it. A thunderstorm passed by and several sign holders used them to ward off the rain that was encouraging them to get inside. The doors opened at 5:15 and we filed in.

Once inside, you received a program with two tickets, one to leave in the tumbler if you wanted a chance at asking a question. Patriotic music played as the room slowly filled. I was busy making some notes when I noticed everyone was standing. I asked the man next to me what was going on. The national anthem was playing over the speakers and once one person stood up then everyone followed suit.

Well, I had to take a picture of that. About 10-15 minutes later the national anthem played again and everyone repeated the process. Pavlov was right.

After the flag was posted and the national anthem was played again, our Congresswoman took the stage and question time began. The questions varied widely as the randomly drawn numbers beckoned the lucky winners to the microphones. The lively crowd ignored the pre-meeting warning that hecklers and interrupters could be removed. Jeers and cheers were evenly matched as the crowd seemed to be evenly divided on...oh...pretty much everything.

McMorris Rodgers kept her composure most of the time. Softball questions allowed her to stay on the talking points and speak forcefully on reining in the EPA and other government regulatory agencies, repealing health care reform, not raising taxes, etc. The occasional pointed question on raising taxes, ending the wars, health care--especially for seniors--brought stuttered answers followed by a change of subject. The edge in her voice was noticeable when she got testy with someone making a comment on the minimum wage.

When the subject of jobs came up, she told us to look at and see what the Republican House had done to promote job growth. For someone who would go on about plenty of subjects--and get heckled for wasting time--I thought it was telling that she wouldn't articulate any specifics.

A young man, wet from riding his bike there in the rain, expressed his disappointment in McMorris Rodgers for supporting a decrease in Pell grants. In her reply she said she knew how expensive college was and she said she was still paying off her student loans. According to her bio she earned an executive MBA from UW in 2002. So it would appear she doesn't see long term student debt as a problem.

The meeting wrapped up quickly at 7:15. With the number of people who wanted to participate, I think it would be appropriate for her to hold a couple more town hall meetings but I don't see that happening. The slightly raucous nature of the crowd--on both "sides"--forced McMorris Rodgers to bring her A game which is how it should be. She was uncomfortable several times when forced outside of her well-framed talking points, but she held up pretty well.

While the meeting was interesting, enlightening and fun, don't expect her to change anything.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

And This Is A Story In Spokane...

...because we all saw what happened when New York decided to allow same-sex marriage.

Ha! I'm joking. LOL!

Still, what horrible catastrophe will Spokane suffer at the hands of the godless? Pssst! (Stage whisper) Avoid riding the buses if we have to evacuate.

I'm So Confused

Bill Nye 'splains it in easy to understand words but I'm just not gettin' it.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Prepare For The Town Hall Meeting

I received an email from today. Here it is in part.

Rep. McMorris Rodgers is attending an event in Spokane on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011, at 6:00 PM—can you join me and other Move On members to make sure she hears our "Jobs Not Cuts" message loud and clear this August?

We're meeting up on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011, at 6:00 PM in Spokane.

Here's what we'll be doing:

   Join us to protest radical Republican policies on Social Security, Medicare, and human rights.

   Bring signs and as many people as you can! Tell your friends, "Come one, come all progressives!"

I would prefer bringing hard questions. Signs tend to block the view of people behind you. If our Congresswoman does as she did last year, those who wish to ask a question write their name on a ticket and come to the microphone if their name is drawn. I recommend doing some fact checking on an issue important to you, condense the question down to the key point you want to focus on, and practice asking it to make sure it sounds okay and you don't ramble. The meeting time is finite so make the most of it by allowing a lot of questions.

I can appreciate encouraging people to come to the town hall meeting and express their views, but where was Move On last year when our Congresswoman was a shoe in for re-election? The reason for getting the word out for this year's meeting shouldn't be just for scoring political points.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Digital Memories

For Father's Day this year, Kathy got me a scanner with which I can scan almost any size negative and save the digital image. (Not the 110 film which is just as well since those were always poor quality pictures anyway.) It's a tedious process but the good thing is that if you have the prints with the negatives you can scan just the best pictures and skip the unfocused, low-light, herky-jerky, and finger-on-the-lense shots.

Hank and Geoff playing airplanes

Geoff's first soccer season

Steph battles it out with spaghetti

Josh all cute and cuddly

Kathy and Geoff at Easter

Big smiling Josh

Steph at Riverside State Park

Christmas 1986 with Geoff and Kathy

Geoff opens his most favorite gift on his 9th birthday

Snow sumo Steph

The wild side of Josh

Geoff and Josh watch the best kids science program ever

Josh and Steph and their clay play

So many memories to bring back to life. And this is just one box of many.

We Voters Reap What We Sow

There's an article in the Houston Chronicle on Rick Perry and his position on Social Security.

"It is a Ponzi scheme for these young people. The idea that they're working and paying into Social Security today, that the current program is going to be there for them, is a lie," Perry said. "It is a monstrous lie on this generation, and we can't do that to them."

What's difficult to discern here is whether Rick Perry or the people he was addressing understand how the Social Security program works or what a Ponzi scheme actually is and how there's no similarity between the two. Rare is the politician who will mention that raising the ceiling that the payroll tax applies to would easily solve the solvency problem with Social Security.

About 10 days ago, Rick Perry had this to say about evolution.

"It’s a theory that’s out there,” Perry told the child. “It’s got some gaps in it. In Texas we teach both creationism and evolution."

First of all, despite all the efforts to do otherwise, Texas does not teach creationism. Secondly, Rick Perry either doesn't understand evolution--it's not something to believe "in" as you would a faith system by the way--or does and won't say so. If he doesn't think evolution is a fact then sadly he's not alone in that regard.

Richard Dawkins does good job of explaining why the theory of evolution is so threatening to some people. Within his explanation he makes what I think is an important point about the Republican party.

Ignorance and lack of education are positive qualifications, bordering on obligatory. Intellect, knowledge and linguistic mastery are mistrusted by Republican voters, who, when choosing a president, would apparently prefer someone like themselves over someone actually qualified for the job.

Ouch. I think Dawkins is incorrect about one point. Just like all the other candidates, Perry does meet the qualifications for the job. He's a natural born citizen and he's over age 35. Nothing in the Constitution says you have to be educated, open minded, or possess any other quality one would find desirable in the leader of the greatest country in the world.

The problem is not entirely with the candidates.

Friday, August 26, 2011

What Do The People Who Count Think?

In today's Spokesman Review we have an AP article telling us how pleased Republican voters are about the Republican contenders for president. (Props to soccermomsusie again for sinking the hook a couple of times.)

The article lists Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, and Michelle Bachmann as the top three in the running. I was going to write about how wacked out each candidate is as they try to out-extreme each other when I checked out the poll this article is based on (PDF). I realize the article is about how Republican voters feel about the known or possible candidates, but there's a lot more in the poll that I find far more interesting.

Percentage who have a total unfavorable impression of...

Sarah Palin: 59%
Newt Gingrich: 57%
Michele Bachmann: 43%
Mitt Romney: 41%
Rudy Guiliani: 40%
Rick Perry: 36%
Ron Paul: 36%
Rick Santorum: 31%
Jon Huntsman: 28%
Herman Cain: 27%

Percentage who are totally dissatisfied with the people who may be Republican candidates: 50%

Percentage who thinks it's slightly or not important a candidate shares their religious views: 63%

Percentage who think abortion should be legal in most/all cases: 51%

But apparently the most important information to be gleaned from the poll is how Republican voters feel about possible Republican candidates.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Art At The River Park Square

After doing the Flying Irish run this evening, I was walking back to work to get my bike and passed by the entrance to the River Park Square mall. Harpman Hatter was playing and had a bunch of sidewalk chalk for any who wanted to draw pictures. Lots of people took him up on the offer and participated in the sidewalk beautification project. Nice.

Yer Doin' It Wrong

I'm always seeing cyclists doing something blatantly illegal and unsafe and rather than write about them I've always wanted to capture the moment in a photo. After all a picture is worth a thousand words, right? I haven't had much luck because the moment usually happens so quickly and unexpectedly I don't have time get my camera out and get the shot. (Those of you who have seen me riding may have noticed I almost always have my camera strapped over my back.) I've always thought that if I could capture a few of the bike riders I've seen I could start a "Yer Doing' It Wrong" series of blog

This morning I was stopped on Lincoln waiting for the light to change so I could cross Boone. A car was in the left hand lane and another car was coming in the right hand lane behind me led by a cyclist. The cyclist pulled up next to me and we exchanged the normal pleasantries: "Howdy". "It's a good morning for a bike ride". While he spoke he looked left and right and then crossed against the red light. What the? I was surprised and then I remembered--Camera! I slung it around front, pulled the lens cap, powered it up, and just kind of aimed it without looking through the viewfinder. Got it!

On the plus side, he was wearing a yellow jersey and a helmet, and he had a blinky red light.

In a related topic, check out Betsy Lawrence's letter to the editor about cyclists in today's paper as well as the multitude of comments it generated. Of course, the inimitable and always entertaining soccermomsusie steps into the fray.

For The Record

The other night I spoke at the county commissioner's board meeting about the proposed helmet ordinance they were considering. (Unfortunately, I had to leave afterwards for an emergency at work so I missed hearing the majority of the speakers.) The board had two options to consider along with the ordinance. One was that the ordinance would only apply to ages 16 and under. The other option was to make it "no penalty", that is, there would be no fines. A parent could essentially be cited twice since they could be cited along with their child, and organizers running events could be cited if participants weren't wearing a helmet.

According to the way it was described, the board could could adopt the ordinance as is or adopt one or both of the other options. I spoke in favor of adopting the two options. I brought up the CDC data showing the higher occurrence of injuries and fatalities for age groups 4-9, 10-14, and 15-19 and some other info from the Washington Dept of Health site as well. I spoke against fining event organizers for individuals taking part in the event who weren't wearing a helmet because participants sign a waiver acknowledging the hazards of the activity they're about to participate in. I can't speak for all organized events, but I have yet to attend one that didn't state a helmet was required.

I laughed when I saw the Review article yesterday. (You may have to log in to see it completely.) From my introductory comment you'd think I was some curmudgeon who didn't want the gub'mint tellin' me what do to.

One critic, Hank Greer, said he is a bicycle commuter who recognizes the value of wearing a helmet. He said he uses a helmet for his commutes, but doesn’t think he should have to use one for “puttering around the neighborhood.”

Why couldn't they have quoted the guy who spoke against the ordinance with his "Safety is a philosophy and it doesn't apply to me" speech? Now he was a critic.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Speaking Of Being In the Know

I haven't seen it announced anywhere else, but according to state senator Michael Baumgartner, Cathy McMorris Rodgers is holding a town hall meeting at 6:00 pm, Aug 31 at the Lincoln Center. Looks like that's the place to be next Wednesday.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

In The Know

The shadow of malfeasance in the Otto Zehm case grew darker this month as we learned from the Spokesman Review that:

...Assistant Police Chief Jim Nicks is prepared to testify that major crimes detectives failed to analyze the video of the confrontation compared to Thompson’s statement; they never followed up on a report from an ambulance crew that Thompson struck Zehm in the head with a baton; and his own review of the video shows that Thompson violated several policies and procedures by applying unjustified force against the retreating Zehm.

As the article states, that is a complete reversal of what Nicks said before. Plus, in today's Review we learn that the city attorney's office knew about this almost two years ago and the city council members are saying they were just now informed.

When this news came out earlier this month, the Center for Justice posted a brief article about it. A link to that was posted on Facebook leading to a comment by City Councilman Bob Apple.

Most of us knew it, when we saw the video and apparently others needed years to have it sink in, go figure. Know no evil, see no evil, hear no evil, caused by something not quite right at City Hall.

It remains to be seen who is included in "us" and what is meant by "it", but in the context of the linked article and his reference to City Hall, it appears "us" means the city leadership and "it" means what Nicks is now saying. (By the way, his reference to the three wise monkeys is not only off, it's an ill fitting opposite to his point.)

Yet in today's Review article we learn:

Councilman Bob Apple said he remembered being told before last week but that city attorneys dismissed Nicks’ opinions because they believed he wasn’t an expert on the use of force.

Yet eleven days ago he claims he and others knew years ago. As a member of City Hall, maybe he's right about something being not quite right.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Josh, Teach To Me A Song

Josh has been learning guitar on his own for about a year and a half now and he can play some pretty decent music. Steph says she's interested in playing and asked him to teach her something. I wish it was that easy, but it's great to see them hanging out together.

The Da Vinci Exhibit

We checked out the Leonardo da Vinci exhibit at the MAC today. It must have been something to have been one of the brightest stars during the Renaissance. Da Vinci's ideas, inventions, mastery, and the time and energy he put into his work were simply incredible.

A Mandatory Helmet Law

One of the agenda items (PDF) for the next Spokane County Commissioner's Board Meeting, (at 5:30 pm, Aug 23 in the commissioner's hearing room at the Public Works Building), concerns a county ordinance to require helmets for people on bikes, skates, roller blades, etc. The Spokesman Review has an article about the topic.

Personally, I'm all for wearing a helmet and I almost always wear one when I'm riding a bike. However, I find there are times when a helmet isn't necessary, like puttering around the neighborhood or a taking a leisurely roll on a non-motorized trail. I think going without a helmet is appropriate for Summer Parkways but since I wear one going to the event I keep it on out of habit. As for a mandatory helmet law, I thought I'd take a different look at the problem I perceive we would be trying to solve.

Presumably the most important reason for this law is preventing injuries and saving lives. I went to the Center of Disease Control site and checked out reports on non-fatal unintentional injuries and fatalities caused by unintentional injuries. Note: I looked at five year's of data nationwide for each query.

In the injuries query, cycling is listed as a specific cause is for three age groups nationwide:

* 5-9 years old - 5.3% or 450,141 out of 8,544,751 nonfatal unintentional injuries.
* 10-14 years old - 5.3% or 577,949 out of 10,932,943.
* 15-19 years old - 2.1% or 287,224 out of 13,645,416.

Here's the chart from the query I ran.

(Click to embiggen.)

And here is a summary for all ages.
(Click to embiggen.)

Next I looked at fatalities. The leading cause of death for ages 1-44 is unintentional injury. On this report you can drill down into the category to get more details.

(Click to embiggen.)

Here's the breakdown by age group where cycling was involved. Again, this is nationwide.

* 1-4 years old - .1% or 11 of 8220 deaths.
* 5-9 years old - .5% or 28 of 5303 deaths.
* 10-14 years old - .8% or 54 out of 6848 deaths.
* 15-19 years old - .2% or 68 out of 33,348 deaths.
* 20-24 years old - .1% or 46 out of 45,252 deaths.
* 25-34 years old - .1% or 93 out of 69,501 deaths.
* 35-44 years old - .2% or 168 out of 84,621 deaths.
* 45-54 years old - .3% or 249 out of 91,108 deaths.
* 55-64 years old - .3% or 179 out of 53,313 deaths.
* 65+ - .1% or 204 out of 181,065 deaths.

Here's a summary chart for all ages. I apologize for the poor quality but that's how it was displayed by the report.

(Click to embiggen.)

According to the Review article, the county commissioners have reserved the right to limit the ordinance to children ages 5 through 15. Given the CDC data, I think that approach fits best. But there's something else about the data that really stands out.

From the data we can see that cycling rates very low in the nonfatal unintentional injuries and as well as in the list of fatalities as a result of unintentional injuries. The number of injuries and fatalities attributed to falling, on the other hand, is HUGE in comparison.

Therefore, to prevent an even greater number of injuries and fatalities, it seems it would make more sense for us to pass an ordinance that requires everyone to wear a helmet all the time.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Building Formerly Known As...

We learn from the Spokesman Review that next year, after occupying the premises for 103 years, the US Postal Service plans to leave the downtown Post Office. The annual rent of $350,000 is apparently too high.

To help stem heavy losses, the USPS is looking at closing almost 4,000 locations and cutting 120,000 positions. Yet it turns out the reasons for the USPS losing $8 billion this year involves a lot more than losing business to UPS and Fedex.

Back to Spokane--if the Post Office moves out of the Post Office, what do we call the place? I think that's been done already.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Facebook Fail

Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers has prided herself on using Web 2.0 for communicating with her constituents with what I would consider mixed results. Today she held a one-hour Facebook chat with whomever was online at the time. Just my luck it was during daytime work hours.

While it appears to be a solid effort on her part, the overwhelming number of unanswered questions/comments showed that Facebook is not an effective format for multiple conversations. Plus it's awkward since every response is well after several other questions are asked forcing you to scroll up to see what the question was.

There was a question about when she was holding town hall meetings and McMorris Rodgers wrote that they are held in August and the schedule is being finalized. I would like to say that all those people who clamor for a town hall meeting seemed to be absent last year. Barely 150 people showed up and nobody pressed her with a hard question. You would think that since Spokane County contains the majority of her constituents there would be a need for more than one town hall meeting.

You would think.

She says the meetings are scheduled for August. There are only two weeks left so keep an eye out for the announcement of the finalized schedule.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Check Out The Top Tier

According to Fox News, Michelle Bachmann just nailed her top tier status as a presidential candidate. If only we were that lucky.

Here are the result of the Ames Straw Poll in which any Iowa resident who will be 18 on or before November 2012 can pay $30 to attend this Republican Party fundraiser and vote for their candidate.

1. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (4823)

2. Congressman Ron Paul (4671)

3. Governor Tim Pawlenty (2293)

4. Senator Rick Santorum (1657)

5. Herman Cain (1456)

6. Governor Rick Perry (718) write-in

7. Governor Mitt Romney (567)

8. Speaker Newt Gingrich (385)

9. Governor Jon Huntsman (69)

10. Congressman Thad McCotter (35)

Wow, no votes for Rick Parry. Looks like the Colbert Super PAC financial influence was a swing-and-a-miss this time.

Looking over the top tier candidates, I have to say it's just as laughable as it is sad that these are the best people the Republican Party can come up with. In the past we had perennial candidates like Lyndon LaRouche and Gus Hall who were out there on the edge. They were easy to mock, "Those wackos don't have a chance."

Today it's, "One of these wackos could be elected President?"

Can't wait to see that on the three dollar bill. Oh, wait.

This Is A Test

Did anyone else receive an annoying robocall from the College Republicans? It started off with that old style emergency broadcast warning system sound which was rather appealing in a pull-the-phone-away-from-your-ear-to-save-your-hearing moment. But I decided to stay on to hear what the emergency was about. The recorded message quickly spouted a toll free number I could call if I never wanted to receive this message again. Danged short term memory. Then they proceeded with a vitriolic message about how President Obama is destroying the country and how hard the College Republicans were going to fight him.

Press 1 to hear how the College Republicans will fight Obama.

Press 1 now.

Press 1 now.


They would have impressed me just as much if the message was, "APPLE JACK! APPLE JACK! APPLE JAAAAAAAAAAAAACK!"

Republican Presidential Candidates

Which one you is the most insane on hot button issues and provides the least substantive input on what's really important?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Killing Something Other Than Jobs

During the past few months Republican party concerns about jobs has been mainly concerned with job killing regulation on the part of the government--even though there is no basis for such a claim--and not about doing anything for the unemployed or under employed. The Environment Protection Agency is a favorite target. Our own Cathy McMorris Rodgers repeats the talking point that the EPA is engaged in job crushing measures and to hear her and her fellow Republican congressmen talk, you'd think the EPA and other government agencies were out to creating higher unemployment numbers when, in fact, the opposite is true.

Today I read the letters Paul Dillon exchanged with McMorris Rodgers concerning the FY 2012 Department of Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. As Paul points out, the bill eliminates the Office of Smart Growth. But it does many other things as well. McMorris Rodgers does not address any specifics in her reply, stating that protecting our wildlife and the environment "should not come at the expense of grown [sic] and development."

So what else does the bill do? It does not allow the EPA to modify, cancel or suspend a registered pesticide in response to a biological opinion. It denies the funds to implement, administer, or enforce the rule entitled National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants From the Portland Cement Manufacturing Industry and Standards of Performance for Portland Cement Plants (PDF).
Funds may not be used to implement, administer, or enforce the rule entitled Water Quality Standards for the State of Florida's Lakes and Flowing Waters. No money for regulating greenhouse gas emissions from new motor vehicles or new motor vehicle engines that are manufactured after model year 2016 to address climate change. New wetlands cannot be created as a result of the flooding in 2011. Funds may not be used to finalize the Proposed Guidance on False or Misleading Pesticide Product Brand Names. The EPA is denied funds to enforce portions of the Clean Air Act. And there is much more.

(AP Photo October 30, 2010) Engaging in "job killing regulation" bumper sticker politics is as deep as McMorris Rodgers gets in these matters. The monied interests are more important to her than the health and welfare of her constituents, the land they live on, the air they breath, and the water they drink. The defunding and the explicit "nots" in the legislation leans the "balance" McMorris Rodgers refers away from a clean environment. But she is right on one count. Hindering the enforcement of pollution controls will create more jobs--in health care.

Good job, Congresswoman.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Americans For A Better Tomorrow Tomorrow

The Colbert Super PAC releases its first ads.

Nothing Wrong With Your Eyes

The clouds were blurry tonight.

Almost There

For the fourth time, Rep Ron Paul has submitted a bill for the Sanctity of Life Act which states:

...Congress declares that--
   (A) human life shall be deemed to exist from conception, without regard to race, sex, age, health, defect, or condition of dependency; and
   (B) the term `person' shall include all human life as defined in subparagraph (A)...

It also removes jurisdiction over this law from the Supreme Court and the District Courts.

The idea of personhood has been gaining traction over the past few years, especially with abortion being a popular and valuable hot button issue for politicians. This year alone has seen a record number of anti-choice bills in the states.

Personhood takes anti-choice to the extreme by declaring that the moment of conception is when a person exists. Montana has a constitutional initiative to amend the state constitution to make that designation. A Georgia legislator submitted a bill (PDF) that declares a fetus is a person from the moment of conception and introduces "prenatal murder". It also requires a report of spontaneous fetal death with the county registrar within 72 hours. The registrar will issue a fetal death certificate. It's on the verge of requiring a criminal investigation of a miscarriage.

And that is what logically follows. Something like 10-25% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage and for a number of reasons. We're already prosecuting women for chemical endangerment of an unborn child and for murder after delivering a stillborn child even though the there was no proof of drug abuse affecting the child. We are seeing laws originally intended to protect pregnant women and the contents of their wombs now being used against them. So why not investigate every known miscarriage to determine if the woman is criminally at fault for having an ectopic pregnancy?

A vocal and energetic minority won't stop until legislation is in effect that has complete control of wombs. And they're winning.

Amusing Ourselves To Death

I rarely watch the television news and after my short visit to KXLY 4 HD last night I won't stop by again for a while. I was just in time to catch the weather lady, her distractingly bright pearly white teeth in a constant smile-grimace reminding me of Michelle Bachmann, talking excitedly about the 40 consecutive days of 100 degree weather in Dallas, TX and how they're approaching the record of 42 days suffered in 1980. No mention of the dozen people who have died in Dallas from the heat. Or the dying cattle, parched farms or crackled lake beds.

Then she closed with a video of a man in Florida floating down a flooded street on an air mattress with exclamations of "Wow" and "Awesome" interjected between the yuks.

A happy day for television tripe.

Sprucing Up The Place

New colorful benches in the Garland district add a splash of color.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Not All Who Tortured Were Prosecuted

In today's Spokesman Review we have a quiet article that didn't warrant a single comment about "the convicted ringleader of detainee abuses at Abu Ghraib" being released after serving 6-1/2 years in prisoner.

Graner was an Army Reserve corporal from Uniontown, Pa., when he and six other members of the Maryland-based 372nd Military Police Company were charged in 2004 with abusing detainees at the prison in Iraq.

If only his defense was that he did it to save lives.

Look Around

Sometimes the most interesting thing going on is away from the center of attention. I attended a friend's wedding this evening. This flower girl, her petal dropping duties completed, found a way to keep occupied while the ceremony continued.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Free Tour With Lunch

I decided to take up the city of Spokane's offer of a tour of the downtown bike loop and a free lunch to go with it. Thanks to the article in Tuesday's Review they had about 25 people show for the tour that day. Today, Stephen Fortunato of the Bicycle Advisory Board, led 11 riders on the tour.

Grant Wencel, Bicycle-Pedestrian Coordinator for Spokane, provided a map of the route and information on bike-related laws. While I've known about bikes being banned from downtown sidewalks I was not aware the fine for violators was $103. While Grant was telling us about this, as if on cue, a young lady rode down the sidewalk on the other side of the street. She wasn't wearing a helmet either. That's $52.

We fell in line behind Stephen and headed south on Howard and then turned right on 4th.

The westbound route on 4th is a little tricky. The bike path jinks to the left side of the lane because all the vehicle traffic has to turn right. (Yes, that is a ghost bike locked to the stop sign on the right.)

See that stop sign that's almost hidden by the Do Not Enter sign? It's on the left side of the island but the bike route angles to the right, across the street, and onto the sidewalk. Thus, it's easy to miss. And we did. We all blew right through it. So be careful there.

After taking Riverside, Lincoln, Main and Howard back to the start, we were treated to a hotdog, chips, and ice-cold soda courtesy of Downtown Spokane Partnership. Thank you.

Tomorrow at noon is the last tour. It takes all of 20 minutes. You get a free hotdog and a drink. Don't forget to wear a helmet.