Saturday, February 25, 2012

Bike TLC Day

With the snow blowing and piling up I thought it was a good day to give the bike a good cleaning, put the fenders and rack back on, and get ready for another season of commuting. The Trek held up well against the abuse I put it through last year. No cracked wheels this year. (I'm on my second front wheel and my fourth rear wheel, all but one replaced for free.) This year should be better since it won't have to endure cyclocross racing any more.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Who Is Hugh Oliver?

Why he's a rock star, of course. Yes, he drops an F-bomb in this song, but it's okay. When you're 82 you can say whatever you fuckin' want.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

For Our Benefit

“We were put on this Earth as creatures of God to have dominion over the Earth, to use it wisely and steward it wisely, but for our benefit not for the Earth’s benefit."

"I for one never bought the hoax. I for one understand just from science that there are one hundred factors that influence the climate. To suggest that one minor factor of which man’s contribution is a minor factor in the minor factor is the determining ingredient in the sauce that affects the entire global warming and cooling is just absurd on its face. And yet we have politicians running to the ramparts — unfortunately politicians who happen to be running for the Republican nomination for president — who bought into man-made global warming and bought into cap and trade.”

Rick Santorum
* * * * * * * * * * *

When we look at a photographs of Earth taken by the Apollo astronauts, we can't help but notice how small and insignificant our home planet is compared to the universe. When our astronauts returned—and even more so for the distressed Apollo 13 mission—they knew that when they landed safely they had arrived home. One day in the distant future someone may studiously observe the footprints and American flags left by astronauts who, although sent there by America, recognized they represented all of mankind. These students may be reminded of Ozymandias—if a record of it still exists—and wonder who these people were who achieved such fleeting greatness.

In Rick Santorum's home he is free to use wasteful incandescent light bulbs even though science, and his electric bill, tell him he would consume less electricity if he used more efficient bulbs. He can buy new bulbs just as quickly as they burn out. He has dominion over his home and using energy wastefully would be for his benefit, not for that of his home. Rick Santorum has the liberty to let food in his refrigerator go uneaten and spoil even though science easily predicts such an outcome. If it ruins the fridge, he is free to buy a new one for he has dominion over his refrigerator and it is there for his benefit. He is not compelled to benefit the fridge by keeping it clean. In Rick Santorum's house he may very well chop up his furniture and burn it in the fireplace to warm himself. The furniture is there for his benefit and he is free to run to Ikea or contract with a furniture maker to replace the table he warmed himself with. He has no need to dust or polish or otherwise benefit the furniture. The useful existence of knives in Rick Santorum's kitchen could be quickly cut short. They are there to benefit him and doing his knife a service by keeping it sharp is outside his purview. Fortunately, he can always buy another one to replace the dull blade he uses to rend meat in a manner that leaves it as incomprehensible as his thoughts on science.

When Adam was presented his home in the Garden of Eden, he was placed there to work it and take care of it but he did not have free reign to do as he pleased. From man's fall from grace we learn that selfishness is not an ordained and blessed trait.

I have no reason to believe the condition of Rick Santorum's home is as I have described. If it was, he would quickly be labeled a buffoon and valuable time would no longer be wasted upon him and his nonsensicalness. Mankind has but one home to pass on to its children. If we are to have dominion over our home as described by Rick Santorum then concern for our children is not significant enough to enter the conversation. We should not be bothered to think of the poisons in the air or water, fearsome droughts, dwindling farmlands, extreme storms, the melting ice caps or any other subjects our scientists study and report on.

If it is truly our place to have dominion over the Earth, our only home in this expansive universe, then may it be grand and glorious, short lived though it may be.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Planning Ahead

There's a challenging bike ride in Spokane that gains a little more notoriety and popularity each year. It's called the Midnight Century and it takes you from Spokane, east to the state line, southwest to Spangle, west to Cheney, and then back to Spokane. I decided I'm going to ride it this year so I put it on the family calendar because the rule in our house is that if it's not on the calendar, it's not happening.

Then Stephanie noticed something else I put on the calendar.

"Dad, really? Really? You scheduled a nap six months from now?"

Well, I wouldn't want to forget.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Decline To Sign

An interesting web site has sprung up, care of a man in Aberdeen, Washington. The idea is to encourage people to not sign the forthcoming petitions to put same-sex marriage to a popular vote. But if it gets enough signatures, and it probably will, then he'll change the site to approve the referendum.

Last Sunday I sat through the most bizarre homily I've ever heard in which a very young priest tried to explain how using contraception was not only sinful but it interfered with the Blessed Trinity's involvement in procreation. Now that same-sex marriage as been made lawful, I'm sure we'll be receiving more moral guidance.

Well, I ain't signin'. And I'm voting for it.

Friday, February 10, 2012

And It's Only The Bus

It's funny how our environment can shape us, affect our comfort level, expectations and sense of identity.

I started taking the bus when I began my current employment downtown fourteen years ago. I remember my first morning at the Hastings Park and Ride. I was wondering whether I should take the #23 or the #25. I was interested in the one that got there the quickest and it was pretty much a draw between the two. So I asked a woman who was waiting there. She looked me over and said, "You should take the number 23. We have a more professional clientele on that bus."

Well, then.

STA has tweaked the routes over the years and now we have the 124 express going to and from Hastings and downtown. Most riders are what could be described as a professional clientele. Rare is the screaming child, the attention attracting group of teens, or persons yelling into their cell phone, "I'm on the bus now! I'll be there in a bit. We're passing by...(looks around)...Jack in the Box. No, the bus! I said I'm on the bus." At the time I catch the 124 it's usually full of people in business clothes maybe in quiet conversation with a fellow rider, playing a game on their smartphone, listening to music, or reading.

I got off work late last night and wlked to the bus stop on Lincoln by Spokane Falls Boulevard. I was reading during my wait and only paid half attention when the bus pulled up. I swiped my bus pass and the machine beeped in approval. I looked for an open seat and took notice of the people and thought, "Wow, there sure is a rougher looking group on the later 124." I sat down and switched between reading and solving Sudoku puzzles during the trip going north on Monroe. The guy next to me talked on his cell phone. "Yeah, I'm on the bus. I'll be there in twenty minutes. (listens) No, I'm on the bus. (listens) Yeah, I have to get there first and I can't until I get off the bus, okay?" And then we got to Francis--and turned left.

Well, no wonder things were different. I was on the 24, not the 124.

I caught the 24 leaving Five Mile, jumped off at Francis and Monroe where I caught the 124, which I should have been on in the first place.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Just Pick The Parts You Agree With

In Cindy Zapotocky's testimony against the same-sex marriage bill she said she's also submitting four documents. The first is a letter from 39 religious leaders. An excerpt:

Instead, we believe the most urgent peril is this: forcing or pressuring both individuals and religious organizations—throughout their operations, well beyond religious ceremonies—to treat same-sex sexual conduct as the moral equivalent of marital sexual conduct. There is no doubt that the many people and groups whose moral and religious convictions forbid same-sex sexual conduct will resist the compulsion of the law, and church-state conflicts will result.

Secondly, she submits a writing from a Dr John R. Diggs in which the doctor goes into levels of promiscuity, anal intercourse, oral-anal contact, human waste, fisting and sadism, but only regarding homosexual relationships. The same could be addressed about heterosexuals as well but that's not the purpose of his writing.

Next up is the article from the Spokesman Review about the possible link between the human papillomavirus and increase in oral cancer rates. Again, this sexual behavior is not unique to homosexuals or heterosexuals.

Last of all she submits a copy of "the Book of Genesis from the Holy Bible, the truthful word of the God who created us". Let's hope they don't get overly concerned with moral equivalents and destructive sexual behavior while reading Chapter 19. But Cindy says it's the truthful word of God and that's good enough for me.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Did You Know?

One thing that bothers is when a politician makes a statement asserting something as if it's a well-established fact but doesn't provide a source that backs it up. Kevin Parker, one of my 6th District legislators, did this today when he posted this statement on his Facebook page.

Did you know that in 2011, 1,410 new rules and regulations were created for businesses costing about $10,000 - $14,000 per employee? We need a job friendly culture now more than ever.

I asked for the source for the numbers and he replied that the AWB has quoted the number several times. I searched for "AWB" and the top hit was the Association of Washington Business. I checked out their site and couldn't find anything remotely related to what he posted. I searched for "1410 rules" on AWB and using Google and found...nothing.

When I told him I couldn't find anything on the AWB site, he told me to follow the Twitter account of Christ Teft of the AWB who "often tweets this kinds (sic) of stats". He also referred me to the Washington Policy Center that "has some good research if that is what you are looking for". In other words, he can't or won't provide the source for his statement. So there's only one conclusion I can make.

* * * Update

Mr Parker pointed me to the testimony concerning HB2276 as his source. Here it is.

After doing some homework on the short testimony presented I found that the figures come from a study contracted by the Small Business Administration in 2010. A copy is here.

However, the Congressional Research Service found a number of flaws in the way the study was conducted resulting in greatly inflated numbers. A copy of that report is here.

The Economic Policy Institute did an even more detailed report of the flaws in the study. A copy is here.

The underlying message I get from stating a cost per employee for rules and regulations is essentially that rules and regulations are bad for business or as Mr Parker puts it, "a job-friendly culture". This by itself is overly broad and ambiguous plus it ignores the cost benefits associated with regulatory requirements.

Since Mr Parker is a small business owner he is in an excellent position to address specific regulatory requirements that cost him $10,000-$14,000 per employee. I look forward to his posts about them.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Tea Partiers Against Same-Sex Marriage

The Yakima Herald-Republic has a poll (Do you support legislation to legalize same-sex marriage in Washington?) to go along with an article about those opposed to same-sex marriage. It's not surprising that the poll results don't look good.

From the article:

Bob West, the leader of the local tea party group Grassroots of Yakima Valley, and Central Washington Tea Party organizer Kirk Groenig also said they would get opponents organized and signed onto a petition against gay marriage.

"We have a few people (in the Legislature) making decisions for the rest of Washington," Groenig said. "That's not right."

Yeah. Just who do those elected officials think they are passing laws for the rest of us? It's insane!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Went For A Bike Ride Today

And ended up climbing these ice-covered stairs going up from Liberty Park. I almost had to go all National Geographic and break out the ice axe, crampons, climbing ropes, and such. As it was, I managed to hang onto the rock wall with one hand while carrying my bike on the opposite shoulder. I found a better way back.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Buy An IPad Every Month

Really sick people pay for an iPad every month and complain about it. What's up with that? It's like health care is something you have to go all out for, not a right.

Universal health care is achievable and affordable but our political leaders refuse to even mention it let alone pursue it. In the meantime, they proclaim the benefits of the free market solution that gets to pick and choose to maximize profit. Imagine the government decided that law and order was not its function but should be that of the free market. You'd get to buy your protection and investigators as the market dictated. The people who have the least wealth to lose would be priced out of the market because what they have isn't profitable to protect.

Except their lives.

It's Pronounced "Vee-bruhms"

This is pretty funny. I've actually said some of the sh!# in this video.

Didn't Explain A Thing

Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker, Founder and CEO of Susan G. Komen, gives the "straight talk" on why the organization will no longer provide grants doesn't say. What she says is that they have new grant criteria that's being mischaracterized by some. She doesn't mention why, but she does say the organization has been reviewing the grant process to reduce duplicative efforts. She doesn't mention the House investigation of Planned Parenthood that hasn't done anything more than ask for documents or the new SGK rule that says funds won't be provided to any organization under investigation by local, state or federal officials. But she does mention there are scurrilous accusations being hurled at the organization. Overall, there's not much straight talk in this video.

Taking A Stand

After watching the video of the State Senate discussing amendments and the adoption of the same-sex marriage bill, I couldn't help but notice one state senator, who happens to be running against Maria Cantwell for the U.S. Senate, was silent except when his name was called for casting a vote. Well, today is a new day. Maybe he'll have something to say at the Tea Party meeting.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Cut Off Your Nose To Spite Your Face

The Susan G. Komen organization recently decided it would no longer provide funding for breast cancer screenings and breast health education at Planned Parenthood. Here in Eastern Washington, a number of people are expressing their opinions on this decision which was made at the national level. Many are upset. As of this writing the national organization's blog is unavailable but their Facebook page is taking a beating.

So how did this happen? The organization has been taking a lot of heat since it began providing funding to Planned Parenthood back in 2005. The reason is that since Planned Parenthood provides abortions--in some states it's the only provider--the pro-life zealots associate Planned Parenthood with abortion even though overall abortion services consist of three percent of the services it provides. Regardless, the taint of abortion is unacceptable to some.

Enter the new vice president of the Susan G. Komen organization, Karen Handel. While running for governor of Georgia she posted this on her campaign web site.

First, let me be clear, since I am pro-life, I do not support the mission of Planned Parenthood. During my time as Chairman of Fulton County, there were federal and state pass-through grants that were awarded to Planned Parenthood for breast and cervical cancer screening, as well as a “Healthy Babies Initiative.” The grant was authorized, regulated, administered and distributed through the State of Georgia. Because of the criteria, regulations and parameters of the grant, Planned Parenthood was the only eligible vendor approved to meet the state criteria. Additionally, none of the services in any way involved abortions or abortion-related services. In fact, state and federal law prohibits the use of taxpayer funds for abortions or abortion related services and I strongly support those laws. Since grants like these are from the state I’ll eliminate them as your next Governor.

Even though she admits these grants did not go towards providing abortions, she would cut it off anyway just because Planned Parenthood provides abortion. Back in September, Rep Cliff Stearns, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations within the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, opened an investigation of Planned Parenthood (PDF). Stearns also headed up the Solyndra investigation. There's plenty of information about Solyndra on the Oversight and Investigations site, but nothing about the Planned Parenthood investigation. Regardless, the Komen organization created a new rule that it would not provide funding for any organization under investigation by local, state or federal authorities. So there we are.

Abortion is unacceptable for a lot of people. Consequently, they want nothing to do with any organization associated with abortion and work to shut them down. They can do that if they choose. But let's take this approach and apply it elsewhere. We can look at something else that's unacceptable and inarguably could never be justified by anyone--religious leaders preying on children. This is not unique to a particular faith and you can find a news article about it in the United States almost every day. If you find that reprehensible, why don't you work to shut churches down? If a fraction of pastors, monks, or priests molest young girls or boys, surely that's enough to warrant shutting down all churches, isn't it?