Friday, July 31, 2009

It's A Jungle Out There

As you can see I totally disregarded the directions concerning the separation between plants. So far we've enjoyed green beans and zucchini. There are tons of tomatoes that will probably be ready while I gone for three weeks in August. Poor Kathy!

Box Cutter Bingo

Last night I was trying to remove a plant from its plastic bucket and decided to use a box cutter for the job. I sliced the side open and then tried to cut across the bottom. The blade slipped and embedded itself completely into the base of my thumb. The way the blood flowed I knew I just got myself out of doing any more work. Yeah, it's almost like I planned it that way.

Trailing blood like a Freddie Krueger victim, I walked around the back of the house and told Kathy I'd just cut myself pretty bad. I cleaned the profusely bleeding wound in the kitchen sink, applied direct pressure with a small towel and off the the ER we went.

A couple of hours later I was stitched up and on my way home. I only got three stitches, but I made up in depth what I lacked in length. I was lucky I missed any important nerves and tendons which would've been pretty serious. Regardless, I try to keep things light so during the information gathering phase one of the questions an elderly secretary asked me was, "What race do you associate yourself with?"

"5k", I answered.

She got it.

A Resolution That Americans Don't Get Fat

Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers has taken aggressive action towards real health care reform. She submitted House Resolution 683. In part:

Whereas the percentage of obese Americans increased 37 percent between 1998 and 2006, including the number of obese children;

Whereas obesity is now considered a chronic disease and the leading indicator for more serious diseases such as type II diabetes, cardiovascular heart disease, and hypertension in both adults and children;

Whereas the medical costs associated with obesity reached $147,000,000,000 in 2008, 9.1 percent of all medical costs in the United States;

Whereas obese Americans spent 42 percent more or $1,429 per person on medical expenses;

Whereas the United States Preventive Task Force recommended clinicians use the Body Mass Index (BMI) to screen adults for obesity;

Whereas children can be screened for hypertension, a proxy for obesity, in schools; and

Whereas Americans have the ability to stop the prevalence of obesity in this country: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that--

(1) the House should move forward with health care reform legislation; and

(2) costs can be contained through prevention and wellness initiatives that empower parents, families, and communities toward better health.

Because skinny people don't get cancer, have heart attacks, get diabetes, involve themselves in vehicle accidents, hunting accidents or anything else that unnecessarily drains away precious health care resources. Nor do they get turned down or terminated by insurance companies, or suffer through bankruptcy because of high medical bills.

Nope, Cathy McMorris Rodgers tells us exactly the cause of our health care woes. And she makes sure they're easy to see.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Homegrown Terrorism

ABC News interviewed Attorney General Eric Holder and he expressed his concerns about Americans becoming radicalized and turning to terrorism.

"I mean, that's one of the things that's particularly troubling: This whole notion of radicalization of Americans," Holder told ABC News during an interview in his SUV as his motorcade brought him from home to work. "Leaving this country and going to different parts of the world and then coming back, all, again, in aim of doing harm to the American people, is a great concern."

What I noted was that he was only referring to people who leave the country to be trained by a some sort of Al Qaeda-related person or group and return to attack here.

But as the (now withdrawn) Department of Homeland Security report (PDF) concerning right wing extremism, there are far more homegrown threats than the ones addressed by Attorney General Holder in this interview. And you don't have to look that hard to find them.

There are threats against President Obama. And while some may be from lunatics, the threats against him rose significantly after his election. There are threats against federal judges. Not that threatening judges is anything new, but those also continue to increase.

We have racists in the military, something that has plenty of history, and has caught the attention of the FBI (PDF).

This is not something new. Just enough Americans harbor some sort of hate, let it fester and then do something about it. They will always be with us in one form or another.

Consequently, our meaningless National Threat Advisory can never drop below Elevated (yellow) even if all the Al Qaeda-related groups were to make nice with us.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

How Depressing

I was listening to some music on my computer while I was reading and Steph walks in.

"Is that Good Charlotte you're listening to?"

"Yes," I answered. She started laughing.


"Only emo head banger teenagers listen to Good Charlotte," she scoffs.

So I guess I'm branching out since my life sucks so bad?

A Lucky Break

I don't take the best care of my bike. I clean the drive train occasionally but mostly I ride it into the ground. It's time for a major tune up, replace the chain, etc., but I only have two weeks until I'm gone for an extended period of time and I can leave the bike at the shop. For the last week my rear derailleur has been acting up and I couldn't get to the bottom two cogs so I worked a little harder getting up the hills. On the way in yesterday I could barely shift at all. I called a LBS and they said they could look at it during lunch. I thought it just needed an adjustment. But it's never that simple. I needed a new cable and cable guides. But while removing the cable the cable head broke off inside the shifter.

"This is bad," I was told. I'd have to leave the bike and hope they could get that piece out. Otherwise I'd have to replace the shifters which would be very expensive. Fortunately they came through and I got to ride home and shift gears with impunity. Thankfully, I get to ride for two more weeks.

Fear Rules

Because we all know that not only do terrorists hate the United States, they reserve a special hatred for 21-foot signs saying "United States".

Splitting Hairs

Here's a question for the Birthers. How many Americans are not "natural born" citizens and are therefore constitutionally unqualified to be president?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Psychology Of Percentages

There's an article in today's Spokesman Review about the increase in size of food product packages and they list various chips as examples. (Note: Even though they call it food packages, this is not food. But that's another topic.) Anyway, the picture shows bags of chips emblazoned with "20% more free". My weird mind has always found use of percentages interesting.

In the examples provided by the article we have various bags of chips increasing in size. I'm going to pick one. A bag of chips going from 12 to 14.5 ounces is an 20% increase (rounded). Sounds good, doesn't it? Going from 14.5 to 12 ounces is a 18% decrease which doesn't seem as bad. So even though the difference is the same, they are expressed in different terms because they have different starting points. And they can be used to make us feel better about the change. One side of this always works out to put the manufacturer in the best light.

Of course, you never hear about the 18% decrease. Normally you notice that the bag seems smaller. The greater the change the more marketable it is. A drastic (and probably unrealistic) example would be a 50% decrease, i.e, paying the same for half the amount. Returning to the original amount is now a 100% increase. Doesn't that sound great?

I hope Breyers dumps the 1.5 quart containers and returns to 1.75 quarts. Josh and I love that mint chocolate chip and that .25 of a quart makes a difference. Better yet, make it 2 like it used to be -- a 33% increase!

Should We Wear Kevlar Helmets?

Yet another bizarre bicycle-related incident making the rounds.

An Asheville firefighter charged with attempted first-degree murder after witnesses said he shot at a bicyclist, made his first appearance today in Buncombe County District Court.

Charles Alexander Diez, 42, apparently fired at the Asheville man after arguing with him about riding his bike on the busy road with his 3-year-old child in a bike seat behind him, Asheville Police Capt. Tim Splain said.


Diez stopped his car and confronted Simons near 1360 Tunnel Road. When Simons began to walk away, Diez shot at him, Splain said.

The bullet blew a hole through the outer lining of Simons' helmet and went straight through both sides of it, but he was not hit.

Even more interesting are the comments agreeing that the shooter's actions are unconscionable but so are the cyclist's since the roads are so dangerous which almost seems to justify the shooting.

The Latest Insider Scam

The word is out about how Goldman Sachs and others have been making money. From an Ars Technica article:

If you look under the hood of the markets in 2009, you'll find that the trading floor has been replaced by electronic networks; the frantic, hand-signaling traders have been replaced by computer systems; and all of moves in the trader's dance—a thousand little tricks and techniques (some legal, some questionable, and some outright illegal) for taking regular advantage of speed, location, and information to generate profits—are executed hundreds of times per second, billions of times per day.

Only about three percent of the trading volume on the NYSE is actually carried out by means of traditional "open outcry" trading, where flesh-and-blood humans gather to buy and sell securities. The other 97 percent of NYSE trades are executed via electronic communication networks (ECNs), which, over the past ten years, have rapidly replaced trading floors as the main global venue for buying and selling every asset, derivative, and contract. So the ECNs are the markets in 2009, and those pit traders who pose for the cameras are mainly there for the cameras.

Here's a recent piece from the NY Times:

Powerful computers, some housed right next to the machines that drive marketplaces like the New York Stock Exchange, enable high-frequency traders to transmit millions of orders at lightning speed and, their detractors contend, reap billions at everyone else’s expense.

These systems are so fast they can outsmart or outrun other investors, humans and computers alike. And after growing in the shadows for years, they are generating lots of talk.

Nearly everyone on Wall Street is wondering how hedge funds and large banks like Goldman Sachs are making so much money so soon after the financial system nearly collapsed. High-frequency trading is one answer.

And for some additional enlightenment of the NY Times article:

But then the NY Times gets the bottom line wrong:

The result is that the slower-moving investors paid $1.4 million for about 56,000 shares, or $7,800 more than if they had been able to move as quickly as the high-frequency traders.

No. The disadvantage was not speed. The disadvantage was that the "algos"
had engaged in something other than what their claimed purpose is in the
marketplace - that is, instead of providing liquidity, they intentionally
probed the market with tiny orders that were immediately canceled in a
scheme to gain an illegal view into the other side's willingness to pay.

Making The Most Of Technology

I was playing Scrabble with the kids last night. To even the playing field I let them look up words in the Official Scrabble Dictionary before they take their turn. That doesn't help much with placement and maximizing points, but it helps their minds branch out and try new possibilities as well as learn new words. Last night we found that "qi" and "za" are accepted words. Then Steph started coming up with words like "ataxia" and "biota". Josh and I were incredulous she'd come up with words like that but then she'd open the dictionary and show us. But our doubts were well founded. The little sneak was using her iTouch to enter her letters at Win Every Game.

New rule: No iTouch allowed during Scrabble games.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Some Are Chosen. Some Are Not.

Police and prosecutors have incredible discretion when it comes to reporting violations and enforcing the law. Judge Alex Kozinski and Misha Tseytlin discuss that along with the issues of overcriminalization and the public's treatment of criminals in "You're (Probably) a Federal Criminal" (pages 43-56). A thought-provoking read about how and when a crime can be enforced and who can be considered a criminal.

The remainder of the essays in the book are interesting as well. They're all written in response to the first essay in the book. "The Aims of the Criminal Law", written by Professor Henry M. Hart back in 1958.

See Cathy. See Cathy Run.

There's a debunked myth that's continues to live on. People now referred to as birthers believe Barack Obama was not born in the United States and consequently is not constitutionally qualified to be President.

Mike Stark went around and asked several Republican members of Congress if they thought Barack Obama was a natural born citizen of the United States. Barely twenty seconds into the video our very own Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers replies, "We're all going to find out," and "I'd like to see the documents." Then she picks up speed and scampers up the steps in shoes totally inappropriate for such exercise.

McMorris Rodgers, who is a member of the House Armed Services Committee, the House Committee on Education and Labor, and the Natural Resources Committee, and is the vice chair of the Republican Leadership Conference, answers, "We're all going to find out."

We already know. Who is "we" she is referring to?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Fun Day

Stephanie and Josh have mastered the art of blowing ring bubbles. Josh learned about this reading a magazine while waiting for a haircut. It's a ring-shaped bubble of air like the one you see in the photo. It's pretty cool. They hold a five pound weight to their collarbone so they sink to the bottom and stay there. And then they say, "Pop...pop...pop". Each "pop" is said quickly. Don't forget to come back up for more air.

Some friends of our who are new to cycling took our tandem for a test ride. John says it and my Trek ride so much smoother than his 1974 Schwinn Continental. He still has the owner's manual and the receipt showing he paid $162 for the Schwinn. I wonder how much that is in 2009 dollars.

A Universal Truth

There's an interesting piece in the Faith and Values section of today's Spokesman Review entitled "Strong belief in self can help conquer obstacles". Intended to be an inspirational story, I think it has an unintended darker side.

Last summer I had reached the end of the rock garden and found a tiny little plant that I could not immediately identify. I knew I didn’t plant it and Denise claimed that she didn’t either. We decided to let it continue growing until we could figure out what it was.

Weeks passed and as I made my way back to the mystery plant, it appeared to be a sunflower. It was spindly looking with a tall, skinny stalk and only one head on it. I decided to baby it along and weed around it.

As I pulled rocks from the area to get to the weeds, I noticed something unusual. The sunflower had not started where I saw the stalk begin. It actually had begun beneath a big rock and grown under and around it to reach the sun.

That’s when I realized that if a tiny little sunflower didn’t let a big rock stand it its way of developing, we too have the capability of doing the same thing. Once our environment begins to see that we believe in ourselves like that little sunflower, we can attain the same nourishment and nurturing as well.

Here's the lesson the author learned from the sunflower.

First, we need to believe in ourselves, knowing we have the capabilities in achieving our desires. The sunflower knew it had the capability to overcome its obstacle because it trusted in the Universal Truth and had faith it would succeed.

Stand tall like the sunflower and be proud of who and what you are, and the environment will begin to support you. You will find a way to go under or around your big obstacle in order to reach your desires.

Believe in yourself, trust in the Universal Truth and have faith you will succeed in overcoming obstacles are all truly inspirational themes exemplified by this sunflower. A sunflower spared the fate of the weeds he was pulling. Weeds that were just as desperately trying to stand tall, overcome obstacles, and trust in the Universal Truth and yet were so casually destroyed by his hand.

Life just wants to be. And in doing so it affects other life. Even killing it.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Argumentum Ad Nauseam And Mixed Messages

I missed out on Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers' telephone town hall last Wednesday. She did invite me to take part but since the answering machine kicked in she left an automated message repeating her "federal bureaucrats getting between you and your doctor" mantra. She is consistent, but then that's what the playbook calls for.

Yesterday, I received an email from her--I'm still on the list!--in which she copies an opinion piece from the Wall Street Journal full of dire warnings about what they refer to as both the Obama health plan and the health plan passed by the House. She passes the opinion piece, which does not have an author's name attached, as if it's a piece of accurate reportage. Here's a snippet.

The House bill says that after a five-year grace period all Erisa insurance offerings will have to win government approval—both by the Department of Labor and a new “health choices commissioner” who will set federal standards for what is an acceptable health plan. This commissar—er, commissioner—can fine employers that don’t comply and even has “suspension of enrollment” powers for plans that he or she has vetoed, until “satisfied that the basis for such determination has been corrected and is not likely to recur.”

That "commissar" reference tells me just how objective the author(s) is/are. The claim is that ERISA will be repealed. The ERISA arena of law is a very complex but you can find out more about it's effect and role in health care reform here and here. Feel free to check out a little of ERISA's history. While I'm at it, here's a response to the WSJ's claims.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers is kind enough to provide the entire 1018 page draft health care reform legislation on her web site so I took a crack at it. I found the quoted material in the WSJ op-ed but I didn't come away with the same sense of dread and gloom. Maybe if I wore some socialism glasses.

ERISA regulates the administration of private employer-sponsored benefits including health insurance offered by an employer. It was enacted in an effort to protect participants in employee pension and benefit plans and their beneficiaries from abuses by those who invest and manage such plans. Essentially the federal government exercises its authority to preempt state regulation of the administration of private employer-sponsored health plans, which prevents the states from enforcing laws interfering with ERISA. Without legislating exemptions to ERISA, any states wishing to experiment with health care reform would be hamstrung.

So if the states wanted to try their own single-payer option, an amendment Cathy McMorris Rodgers supports, Congress would have to legislate exemptions to ERISA. And Cathy McMorris Rodgers certainly let us know how she feels about ERISA going away.

I think.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Anniversary Ride

Kathy and I passed the 29 year marriage mile marker last month but work, school and family events prevented us from taking any time off to celebrate. So we decided to leave the kids at home, spend some time on our own and do some bike riding as well. It's great to be able to take some time to look back at where we've been and where we plan to go. Along the way we lackadaisically covered 54 miles on the Trail of the Couer d'Alenes.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

If It Sounds Too Good To be True...

I was reading a review of a camera on PCWorld and I saw this user review at the end of the article.

This is an absolute MUST for everyone looking to get a new Camera! ...BUT, the price is a little to high in my opinion, I never would have got one if I never got mine for FREE!. Luckily a friend recommended this website to me before I went and bought one: **- - ** . I checked out the website, completed ONE simple offer and met the requirements to receive one for FREE, it arrived a month later in the post! It was also shown on BBC and CNN news!!

Hmm, sounds too good to be true, doesn't it. How many companies give away $1250 cameras just for signing up on a web site. So I searched for "" and found other reviews that were remarkably similar.

One for a laptop. One for a personal computer. And one for an iPod.

So I took a look at and found this.

A credit/debit card will be required to make register for the 'eAuction Tutor' offer, I contacted them about this when I was getting my first free gift and they have assured me that it is to prevent duplication of accounts and to save space on there servers. They will not charge a thing to your account as it's a <--FREE TRIAL!-->

Not very reassuring, is it?

The "free" seems to be misleading. When you sign up, you agree to complete one offer to activate your account and you have to provide a credit card. You have to pay to make an offer, whatever that consists of, and then get other people to be referrals for other offers so you can have them count towards your "free" prize. That's why you'll find tons of links posted by people who want to use you as a referral for their account. They'll even create a site called so people drawn into the trap will be referrals for whoever has account 7226.

It's based in the United Kingdom and it's legal but it's still a scam. You'd think that the sites reviewing cameras, computers, etc., would look at the reviews and weed out that kind of junk. But maybe that's just me.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Pander And Grovel

South Carolina's governor, Mark Sanford, of "sneak away to Argentina to see my soul mate" fame, published a letter of apology today in which he expresses his faith in the principle of (Christian) forgiveness.

It is true that I did wrong and failed at the largest of levels, but equally true is the fact that God can make good of our respective wrongs in life.

So first he must admit he was wrong and bring God into the picture because he's just a weak human just like the rest of us.

If you ever have the misfortune of being at this point, whether self-induced as in my case or not, it will give you an indeed amazing perspective on life and on what really matters.

That's a mixed message. I suppose the misfortune of being caught can give you an amazing perspective on life. Now was the self-induced part when he first started cheating or when his wife asked him to leave?

One, forgiveness and grace really do matter. I used to believe that at an intellectual level; now it is at the level of heart. Over my life I have not given enough of either, and yet given all the ways in which my failings have come to light, I write to apologize for, in the most profound of ways, letting you and so many others down. It’s always the people closest to us whom we hurt the most, and given my standing of public trust, I know I’ve hurt many across our state. I apologize for this, and more than anything would ask for your forgiveness going forward.

Because what's really important here is that South Carolinians forgive him, especially now that he recognizes how important forgiveness is.

Two, life is indeed about way more than public standing or political views; it’s about recognizing that none of us is the arbiter of truth, that there are moral absolutes and that there is a God to whom we will all report for our actions. My failure has been most glaring on this front, where no public apology can make wrong right. As a consequence, it is on this plane that I’ve grown the most over the past weeks — and where I’m committed to growing the most going forward.

Yes, this is far more important than the office he wants to stay in. Let's forgive and move forward.

I’ve been humbled and broken as never before in my life, and as a consequence have given up areas of control in a way that I never have before. And it is my belief that this will make me a better father, husband, friend and advocate.

The poor man. You'll also notice this is the only time he mentions his role as a father and husband because the reason for this letter of apology is so he can remain in office.

Micah 6:8 asks us to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly, and as I begin these steps into the last 18 months of this administration, it will indeed be with a more contrite and humble spirit.

We must not forget to include appropriate quotes from the Bible that support your line of thinking. I wonder why he didn't mention these two:

Deuteronomy 22:22 "If a man is found sleeping with another man's wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die."

Leviticus 20:10 "If a man commits adultery with another man's wife--with the wife of his neighbor--both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death."

Wait, she's not married. Why all the fuss?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Sit! Stay!

Thanks to EvilElf for bringing this to my attention by posting about it. Apparently I have been removed from the email list again.

Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers wants to educate and inform us about the health care proposals and options. Take a close look at her web page where she asks for feedback from us.

Look closely at the options she presents. (1) Don't change anything or (2) pay less and potentially wait weeks for tests and months for treatment. Why are those the only options she presents? What about those people who don't have health insurance? What is the basis for the second option? Apparently she thinks you and I are too stupid to know any better and that we're easily led with false logic.

Our congresswoman claims to truly care about our health. But when you look at who she can help the most it's easy to see that she's not thinking about them.

From the Luntz memo (PDF file): The best approach is to empathize with the fear, anxiety and financial pain people are clearly feeling right now. So instead of dismissing their concerns, acknowledge them – up front – and then pivot to your solution. Some conservatives will undoubtedly find this distasteful.

Really? I wonder if she does.

Like EvilElf said, She has definitely been given her marching orders. I envy the easiness of her job. "Here is what you need to say. Just say it." Over and over again.

It's like she's trying to get us used to the feel of the collar and leash so she can lead us in the same direction as the one pulling her.

Not A Foolproof System

In federal court, members of a jury are given specific instructions as to what they must decide, what the law is and how it applies, what the elements of the offense(s) are, etc. Some appellate courts have model jury instructions on which the judges are to base their instructions. While perusing the model jury instructions of an appellate court one particular instruction about taking notes caught my eye. I grabbed similar instructions from other appellate courts.

Sixth Circuit:
Remember that if you elected to take notes during the trial, your notes should be used only as memory aids. You should not give your notes greater weight than your independent recollection of the evidence. You should rely upon your own independent recollection of the evidence or lack of evidence and you should not be unduly influenced by the notes of other jurors. Notes are not entitled to any more weight than the memory or impression of each juror.

Ninth Circuit:
Some of you have taken notes during the trial. Whether or not you took notes, you should rely on your own memory of what was said. Notes are only to assist your memory. You should not be overly influenced by the notes.

Tenth Circuit: If you do decide to take notes, be careful not to get so involved in note taking that you become distracted, and remember that your notes will not necessarily reflect exactly what was said, so your notes should be used only as memory aids. Therefore, you should not give your notes precedence over your independent recollection of the evidence. You should also not be unduly influenced by the notes of other jurors. If you do take notes, leave them in the jury room at night and do not discuss the contents of your notes until you begin deliberations.

Eleventh Circuit: You will have your notes available to you during your deliberations, but you should make use of them only as an aid to your memory. In other words, you should not give your notes any precedence over your independent recollection of the evidence or the lack of evidence; and neither should you be unduly influenced by the notes of other jurors. I emphasize that notes are not entitled to any greater weight than the memory or impression of each juror as to what the testimony may have been.

I'm both curious and puzzled because this runs counter to how we do things in school where the point of note taking is to remember details. Can you imagine telling a teacher or professor that although it differs from your notes, your individual recollection takes precedence? If it's good enough for our legal system, it's good enough for Math 101, right?

But more importantly, what if you noted an important detail during a trial and it differed from the majority of your fellow juror's recollections?

Friday, July 17, 2009

To The Woman I Yelled At This Morning

I was coming out of the left turn lane and you were in the oncoming lane making a right turn onto the same road as I. I was behind a pickup truck but there was enough distance between me and the truck that the truck would not obscure me. The truck and I had a green light. You had a red light. You yielded to the truck and then made your turn.

I realize that screaming "HEY!" at the top of my lungs at close range into your open driver's side window could be startling, disconcerting and even annoying, but I had no idea if you were aware of my presence and I desperately wanted to alert you to that fact. You may think my reaction to the sight of a vehicle entering the space I was occupying on a bicycle was a bit over the top and hardly merits an intense emotional reaction, but there's something about a near life-threatening situation that affects me that way. And while I appreciate that, for whatever reason, you pulled over at the next intersection, I know my curt "Take a look next time," may not have thoroughly conveyed my underlying message of paying attention to more than just vehicles. So next time I'll try to do better and calmly explain my concerns.

Let's hope your next time doesn't involve a cyclist who isn't paying attention.

Oppressed White Folks

Patrick Buchanan does not want the Senate to confirm Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. In a column published yesterday he made his position clear.

The chutzpah of this Beltway crowd does not cease to amaze.

They archly demand that conservatives accord a self-described “affirmative action baby” from Princeton a respect they never for a moment accorded a pro-life conservative mother of five from Idaho State, Sarah Palin.

Pundits here gets hoots of appreciation for doing to a white Christian woman what would constitute a hate crime if done to a “wise Latina woman.” But, as no Republican who followed the script of the mainstream media ever won a national election, why should the party pay them mind?

The imperative of the GOP is not to appease a city that went 93-7 for Obama, but to win back its lost voters.

In 2008, Hispanics, according to the latest figures, were 7.4 percent of the total vote. White folks were 74 percent, 10 times as large. Adding just 1 percent to the white vote is thus the same as adding 10 percent to the candidate’s Hispanic vote.

If John McCain, instead of getting 55 percent of the white vote, got the 58 percent George W. Bush got in 2004, that would have had the same impact as lifting his share of the Hispanic vote from 32 percent to 62 percent.

What an incisive and profound revelation. The key to political victory is the white vote.

When Republican identification is down to 20 percent, but 40 percent of Americans identify themselves as conservatives, do Republicans need a GPS to tell them which way to go?

Why did McCain fail to win the white conservative Democrats Hillary Clinton swept in the primaries? He never addressed or cared about their issues.

Hmmm, so more narrowly the key is the conservative white vote.

These are the folks whose jobs have been outsourced to China and Asia, who pay the price of affirmative action when their sons and daughters are pushed aside to make room for the Sonia Sotomayors.

I was not aware that only conservative white people suffered at the hands of both outsourcing and affirmative action. If we could only wrap this in the flag and appeal to the conservative white folks' sense of national pride. It didn't take long. Last night he was on Rachel Maddow and had this to say when Maddow asked him why 108 of 110 Supreme Court justices were white.

"White men were 100% of the people that wrote the Constitution, 100% of the people that signed the Declaration of Independence, 100% of the people who died at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, probably close to 100% of the people who died at Normandy. This has been a country built basically by white folks, who were 90% of the nation in 1960 when I was growing up and the other 10% were African-Americans who had been discriminated against. That's why."

Will non-whites ever be able to repay the debt they owe to the whites who basically built this country? Apparently not. Thank you, Mr Buchanan, for educating us and showing us just how attractive the conservative movement is--to some people.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

This Doesn't Look Good

[The] Cascade Bicycle Club and the City of Seattle are being sued by a coalition of Ballard industrial businesses, industrial associations and the Ballard Chamber of Commerce. The lawsuit is an appeal to the Superior Court and challenges the city’s plans to complete the “Missing Link” of the Burke-Gilman Trail. The project would improve traffic management and allow for improved safety and access for all users -- pedestrians, bicycles, cars and trucks -- through the corridor.

You can read more about it here.

Is This A Test?

I was walking back to the office to change into my bike clothes and ride home after this afternoon's Flying Irish run when I saw a Spokane Police bicycle officer on the sidewalk near the entrance to River Park Square. Post Street was blocked off and full of classic cars. An older couple--okay, they were probably around my age--was crossing Main Street from Red Robin. There was no traffic coming down Main at the time.

I heard someone say, "Hey! Hey!" I turned around and the bike cop was addressing the couple who just crossed the street. He pointed at the "Don't Walk" sign and asked them, "Can you tell me what that sign says?"

You'd think by now the police department would hire cops that can read.

Well, When You Really Think About It

Had I known of the battle raging for the mind of my child I would have forbidden Josh from seeing the movie.

Armed with a movie of his own, the documentary "Harry Potter: Witchcraft Repackaged — Making Evil Look Innocent," [the Rev. Doug] Taylor resurrected his public stand that parents and schools should closely examine the occult influences found in the books and ban them.
"Harry Potter teaches witchcraft to children through children," author Robert McGee said in the documentary. "It's teaching children that witchcraft is something attainable. When a child is captured by witchcraft, they rarely choose to get out until much later in life, after they've led a very miserable life."

Well, heck, instead of camping out the night before, Josh and his friends could have cast a spell to prevent anyone else from being first in line. And what do we do with witches?

McGee and fellow author Caryl Matrisciana, an expert on world religions, sects and cults, urged viewers to closely examine the pagan symbols and references riddling the "Harry Potter" books. Their examples included everything from spells, shape-changing, curses, drinking animal (unicorn) blood to references to Nazism, possession, phallic symbols and "dark arts."

Hmmm, I wonder how they feel about transubstantiation or the Roman Catholic and Episcopalian practices of consuming the body and blood of Christ.

"I didn't come here to argue," said Emily Fuller, 18, of Lisbon, the lone opposing voice at the meeting. "My friends and I came here to hear your views. I firmly believe it's just a book. Reading 'Harry Potter' has never interrupted my life. My friends and I have never cast a spell."

How refreshing. Someone--and a young person at that--who uses their mind.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Stupid Internet

Guess who's son thought it a capital idea to camp out with his friends at the theater so they'd be the first ones in line for the Harry Potter movie showing at midnight tonight.

Guess who's dad just checked and found that all three midnight showings are already sold out.

*** Update: Turns out the boys bought their tickets online. They camped out so they would be the first ones in the theater.

With Time To Spare To Get A Spare

During the ride home I spotted a car blocking the bike lane and thought, "Great! Well, at least I have my camera so I can get a picture." Then my rear tire went flat. I took my picture and then removed my panniers and flipped the bike over.

One look at the tire told me the flat was the least of my problems. I walked from Addison to Division and caught the #25 bus. I called North Division Bicycles and found I had just enough time to get a tire. So I did. I got home a little over an hour late but I get to ride tomorrow.

You're probably wondering how that tire got to looking so bad. It's only two years old but it has a ton of miles. Just last weekend I put new brake pads on. While testing them out I skidded a couple of times and I guess I peeled some of the tire off when I did. Obviously I didn't notice. I guess I was lucky to make it as far as I did.

Beware Of Small Men

In today's Spokesman Review there's a Cal Thomas column in which he tries to paint President Obama as a timid political leader. Setting aside everything Thomas is wrong about what Obama is wrong about, there is one paragraph that caught my attention.

There is nothing worse for the world than to have a president of the United States who is perceived as weak. Weakness can result in the deaths of innocent people, a wrecked economy (again) and new attacks on American allies and interests around the world.

I'm reminded that after the supposedly strong President Bush took strong action by invading Iraq that terrorist attacks around the world actually increased. Alongside the increased expenditures for war, the lack of regulatory enforcement, the decrease in taxes for the rich, and the blatant good ol' boy system permeating our political and economical systems, hundreds of thousands of innocent people died--in other countries.

Years ago a friend of mine warned me, "Beware of small men because they'll kill ya." Now we know what happens when you put one in charge.

Monday, July 13, 2009


I mentioned the One-Minute Writer back in March of this year. It's a fun exercise for anyone who likes to write. One of my entries was recently selected as a winner. I had to complete the old high school "Most likely to be..." phrase. My entry was particularly truthful. I was that quiet kid that nobody knew. In my junior year they listed my first name as Frank in the yearbook. To save them from making the error again I decided not to have a senior picture.

Rain Runnin'

I don't normally find running that enjoyable. But there's something about running barefoot in the rain that makes running so enjoyable and today was one of those days. Plus I focused on pronating while running at a slower pace and it was actually quite comfortable. My soles weren't stinging and they didn't feel as worn as they usually do. I'm treating myself to an ice cold beer to cap the day.

A Serious Problem. Seriously!

Those of you with video game playing teens may want to see if your health insurance covers Duke Nukem Disease.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

You Won't See This In The News

Bill Moyers scored a coup with guest Wendell Potter, a former health insurance insider who decided to speak out about the industry's self-preservation efforts.

The industry has always tried to make Americans think that government-run systems are the worst thing that could possibly happen to them, that if you even consider that, you're heading down on the slippery slope towards socialism. So they have used scare tactics for years and years and years, to keep that from happening. If there were a broader program like our Medicare program, it could potentially reduce the profits of these big companies. So that is their biggest concern.


BILL MOYERS: I have a memo, from Frank Luntz. I have a memo written by Frank Luntz. He's the Republican strategist who we discovered, in the spring, has written the script for opponents of health care reform. "First," he says, "you have to pretend to support it. Then use phrases like, "government takeover," "delayed care is denied care," "consequences of rationing," "bureaucrats, not doctors prescribing medicine." That was a memo, by Frank Luntz, to the opponents of health care reform in this debate. Now watch this clip.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER: The forthcoming plan from Democratic leaders will make health care more expensive, limit treatments, ration care, and put bureaucrats in charge of medical decisions rather than patients and doctors.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL: Americans need to realize that when someone says "government option," what could really occur is a government takeover that soon could lead to government bureaucrats denying and delaying care, and telling Americans what kind of care they can have.

SEN. JON KYL: Washington run healthcare would diminish access to quality care, leading to denials, shortages and long delays for treatment.

REP. JOE WILSON: How will a government run health plan not lead to the same rationing of care that we have seen in other countries?

REP. TOM PRICE: We don't want to put the government, we don't want to put bureaucrats between a doctor and a patient.

That's what she said.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

My Newest Excuse

Here's something fun from Discover magazine.

Everybody knows what it is like for our minds to wander, and yet, for a long time psychologists shied away from examining the experience. It seemed too elusive and subjective to study scientifically. Only in the past decade have they even measured just how common mind wandering is.


These experiments show that we spend about 13 percent of our time zoning out. But when we are drunk, that figure doubles. In other words, inebriated subjects report less mind wandering only because they are less aware of their own minds.

I zoned out twice--that I'm aware of--putting this together.

Barefoot Running Update

I'm still having issues with my left foot. I can tell I'm not landing on it the same as my right foot and there's evidence of it as well. Ten days ago I got another blister. It's in the same place where I've had one twice before now which is irritating in more than one way. Reading up on the subject I learned I am probably running too fast. Yeah, as if such a thing was possible. In response I've slowed my pace and really try to focus on my footfalls. That seems to have helped this last week.

A funny note about the blister. I tried to lance it and the skin is so thick that the pin wouldn't go through. Rather than risking a sudden breakthrough and possibly have the pin coming out the other side of my foot--I am such a wimp--I left it and allowed the fluid to reabsorb on its own.

One thing I'm noticing is that even though the soles of my feet are thicker, landing on lone small stones still hurts.

That and quite a few people think I'm crazy.

The Siren Call Of The Family

What if I was elected to office and went to Washington, D.C., and someone told me God chose me to lead and I was welcome to join a little known, influential and powerful organization that would also help me keep my role as a leader no matter what transgressions I committed? What if the transgressions I committed were considered immaterial because I was chosen?

Tempting. Very, very tempting.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Well Whattaya Know

When I got home I noticed the Plan B article I wrote about earlier was entitled "Pharmacists lose pill ruling" in the printed copy of the Spokesman Review. I looked at the online version again and saw it was entitled "Pharmacists lose Plan B pill ruling". Having plenty of experience with screwing up I thought maybe I made a mistake. If so, I needed to 'fess up and set the record straight.

So I searched for the prior title and the same article shows up. It looks like the Review changed the title for the online version. But they didn't get rid of all the evidence.

I am vindicated. Regardless, I think that was a good thing for the Review to do.

Dousing The Fire With Kerosene

In today's Spokesman-Review there's an article about the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals lifting an injuction effected by a District Court Judge in the Western District of Washington. What's interesting is how it differs from the original. The original article, written by Carol Williams for the Los Angeles Times, is entitled "Pharmacists can't refuse Plan B pill, appeals court says".

But the Review decided to entitle the article "Pharmacists lose abortion pill ruling"

There is only one mention of abortion in the article and that had to do with the pharmacists' argument for not stocking and providing Plan B.

"...the new regulations would force them to choose between keeping their jobs and heeding their religious objections to a medication they regard as a form of abortion."

Any clear-headed person--even an editor--who can read should know that Plan B, unlike RU-486, is not an abortifacient. Just because you regard or believe it is doesn't make it so. By referring to Plan B as an abortion pill, the Review not only contributes to confusion, ignorance and the polarization of the subject, they implicitly takes sides in the matter.

Fan those flames, baby!

I also found the characterizations of the judges by Carol Williams to be inapplicable.

The three judges found common ground despite broadly differing outlooks: two conservatives named by President George W. Bush and a liberal named to the court by President Bill Clinton made up the panel."

I think you'll find the opinion (PDF) measured and objective. One would be well advised to read it before placing any importance on the presumed political leanings of the judges.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Forgot My Camera

Near the end of this morning's commute going through Riverfront Park I was greeted by an osprey carrying a fish in its talons. I couldn't tell if the fish was joyful or scared about flying through the air. It kept mouthing the words, "Oh, oh!"

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Put The Fun Between Your Legs…

While Geoff was home for the Independence Day holiday he was telling me about the San Jose Bike Party. I like their motto. In two years they have grown from about 40 to over 1500 at the last ride. This Saturday they're having a Bike Party Scallywag Scavenger Hunt.

As another cyclist commented to me, why bother with having meetings for a year, getting insurance, paying for police, designing and buying t-shirts, etc., to have an organized ride when you can get a bunch of people to come out anyway?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Mawidge Is What Brings Us Together

The Washington State Catholic Conference (WSCC), representing the Catholic Bishops of the State of Washington on issues of public policy, recently released this statement concerning Referendum 71 which aims to protect marriage by repealing SB 5688, the domestic partnership legislation that expands the rights and responsibilities of registered domestic partners.

WSCC opposed SSB 5688 because proponents publically [sic] stated that this legislation was intended to extend existing marriage rights to same-sex couples as a precursor to legalizing gay marriage in Washington State. While opposing all unjust discrimination against any individual, WSCC upholds marriage as a union between a man and a woman, which is the foundation of our civil society.

So never mind what the law says. Their concern is this is a stepping stone for legalizing same-sex marriage. It's a slippery slope situation. And while they oppose unjust discrimination, this discrimination is just.

One wonders, what with marriage being the foundation of our civil society and all, why priests can't be a part of that foundation. It might help them contribute something more constructive than this.

Can't Go Out - Can't Stay In

In a wonderfully irresponsible and confusing article in today's Spokesman-Review, Rebecca Nappi passes on tips from experts to help you keep your child safe during the summer.

Pools and parks are busier than ever this year, thanks to economy-induced “staycations” and the opening of new pools in Spokane. Rebuilt pools at Shadle Park and A.M. Cannon Park open today.

But the sunshine of summer can get clouded over by the presence in playgrounds, parks and pools of people who shouldn’t be there – sex offenders.

One wonders why parents allow their children to go to the Spokane parks and pools what with the profusion of child molestations and abductions occurring there. The whole tone of this presumably helpful article reminds me of former Vice President Richard Cheney's description of the Bush administration's anti-terrorism doctrine. If there's a one percent chance of something happening, we have to treat it as a certainty.

Be afraid and make your kids afraid, too. And if you're a lone adult out enjoying the park or pool, be careful you don't set off someone's sixth sense by talking to a child. So we are duly warned. Why bother with talking to your kids, building their confidence and self-esteem, etc., when telling them to be afraid works so well?

But wait! They're not done warning us of who to look out for.

Sgt. Jim Faddis, head of Spokane Police Department’s sexual assault unit, said, “The people you should be aware of, too, are people in your own home.”

According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, 43 percent of children who are sexually abused are abused by family members, 33 percent are abused by someone they know and the remaining 24 percent are sexually abused by strangers.

And you thought the parks and pools were unsafe.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Beat The Rush

Kathy and I decided to scout the soon-to-be-opening north-south corridor between Farwell and Freya. Getting on wasn't a problem. With no striping to hem her in Kathy could be a road hog.

It offers unparalleled views of the industrial area along Market St.

There's still a short unpaved section, but the road bed is packed well so road tires were fine on it. We obviously didn't see the ramps in the background.

The road abruptly ends and you have to take the on/off ramp going to a roundabout at Freya.

Keypad Security

I wrote about an experience with this last January, but Bruce Schneier just blurbed about it on his blog. The examples he provided are far more obvious.

It reminded me of something else I saw at an airport a few years ago. (I'm not going to name the airport or the airline. And please don't let this affect the faith you have in the rest of the security theater associated with air travel.) When passengers are not getting on/off the plane the doors to the gateways taking you to the planes are locked and must be opened by a cipher lock. I watched as a pilot walked up the a door and clearly punched 1-2-3-4.

When you think about it they have to make it something that they all can remember, right?

Friday, July 3, 2009

McMorris Rodgers' Invisible Health Care Solution Made Clear

I was unable to take part in Cathy McMorris Rodgers' TeleTown Hall meeting last Wednesday evening, but a recording of it is available on her web site so I listened to it. After leading off with a prepared statement repeating the government control of health care canard she is so fond of, she took questions. The inaccuracies and incongruities were many.

One of the main themes was the effect of illegal immigrants getting health care and raising the costs for all of us. Our congresswoman said that of the 40-45 million Americans without insurance, 8-10 million of them are illegal immigrants. Illegal American immigrants?

Another theme was how bad government control of health care would be for us, mainly because of the lack of choice of health care providers and waiting lists that would result in order to keep costs down. Also, McMorris Rodgers is concerned that Obama's public option could be forced on people who already have private insurance.

When the subject of her medical insurance came up, McMorris Rodgers clarified that she had the same choices as every other federal employee but added that it was a pretty good deal. She complained about using her husband's TriCare coverage for their son because she couldn't choose her pediatrician. So she switched her son to her Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Having been a long time TriCare user myself, I have few complaints about it.

A small business owner said he didn't know how much longer he could provide health insurance for his employees because it costs so much. Then he segued into complaining about illegal immigrants which was completely unrelated to his problem. Nobody addressed the issue of why the cost of the insurance keeps rising.

One person asked why the hospital accepted $3,000 from his insurance company when his bill was for $15,000. She said the low reimbursement Medicare and Medicaid rates force private insurance companies to accept lower rates and forces hospitals to try to make up the difference by trying to charge people more. She also said that Medicare will go bankrupt in 2017 but did not say that it's because of the rising hospital costs forcing it to pay out more than it collects by then. Are you following this?

Overall, McMorris Rodgers succeeded in keeping the issue murky. At no time did she provide a clear strategy for dealing with health care other than saying no to government control. On a related note, although she would like the Shriners Hospital to stay open, nothing she proposes would have any effect.

Most inane moment: An elderly caller complained about the "donut hole" (Medicare Part D) that forces her to pay full price for her prescriptions. Our congresswoman said that not all plans have donut holes and suggested she talk to someone about switching plans. Hmm, but not addressing the cost of those plans. Anyway, that must be how choice works.

Most bogus poll: She asked, What is your biggest concern of the proposed government insurance option?

49% - Fear it will grow the size of government
21% - It will take longer for a medical test or procedure
13% - It would be harder to see you doctor
17% - Favor this type of option

It's so easy to craft these so you can get the answer you want, especially when people have little or no knowledge of a subject which is presented ambiguously anyway. I thought I'd make one up of my own as an example.

What is your biggest concern of the proposed lengthening of home-use chainsaw blades?

- Fear it will increase injuries causes by kickbacks
- It would require more maintenance
- The increased weight would make it awkward and uncomfortable
- Favor this type of option

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Captain Cy Show

Last night I saw the Review article about the death of David Cyrus Page. Over forty years ago I and six of my younger siblings were on that show. (The youngest was an infant so she missed out.) Just like other locally-made programs across the country it was a place where kids would be kids but with lots of people watching. So it was not unusual to see someone picking their nose, scratching their butt, and pulling, pushing or hitting a sibling. There were two memorable events from our visit that stuck with me over the years.

One of my sisters had a black eye courtesy of the youngest brother. Remember the wooden toy with the wooden pegs and hammer? You hammer the pegs through to the other side, flip it over and hammer them back. He nailed her with that wooden hammer. Of course, Captain Cy had to ask how she got the black eye. "My brother hit me with a hammer," was the reply. He moved on the to next child.

All the kids there were given a piece of bubble gum and we had a contest to see who could blow the biggest bubble. I won but I was loudly accused of cheating by two of my brothers who said I had two pieces of gum--which I did. Regardless, I was brought up front and center to show off my bubble blowing prowess. Seeing a TV camera pointed right at me with Captain Cy at my side patiently encouraging me and with my brothers in the background complaining about my cheating, I choked. I couldn't blow a bubble to save my life.

At least I didn't pick my nose.