Sunday, January 29, 2012

In Our Country's (Corporation's) Best Interests

In today's Spokesman Review we have another article about a pipeline for transporting Canadian tar sands oil. Some excerpts and comments.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Canada’s national interest makes the $5.5 billion pipeline essential. He was “profoundly disappointed” that U.S. President Barack Obama rejected the Texas Keystone XL option but also spoke of the need to diversify Canada’s oil industry. Ninety-seven percent of Canadian oil exports now go to the U.S. (bolding mine)

Hence the reason for the Keystone XL pipeline to take it's oil to a port on the Gulf of Mexico or a port on the Pacific ocean where it can be shipped overseas. Right now Canada is stuck selling most of its oil to the U.S.

Meanwhile, China’s growing economy is hungry for Canadian oil. Chinese state-owned companies have invested more than $16 billion in Canadian energy in the past two years, state-controlled Sinopec has a stake in the pipeline, and if it is built Chinese investment in Alberta oil sands is sure to boom.

It's a simple supply and demand issue where those with greater demand will outbid others to get the oil they need. Canada knows this and wants to use it to its advantage.

But oil analysts say Alberta has enough oil to meet both countries’ needs, and the pipeline’s capacity of 525,000 barrels a day would amount to less than 6 percent of China’s current needs.

That's not the point. Canada doesn't want to supply the U.S. and itself. Canada wants top dollar for its oil and if China--or any other country--is willing to pay more than the U.S., then that is where the oil will go.

Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers expressed her disappointment in President Obama's decision to delay the pipeline project.

This is a project that has bipartisan support, would create 100,000 jobs, and would reduce our dangerous dependence on Mideast oil.

First, the number of jobs she presents is totally bogus. It's more like 2,500 to 6,000. Second, since the purpose of the pipelines is to allow Canada to sell its oil anywhere it chooses as opposed to just the U.S., it isn't going to do squat to reduce our dependence on oil from the Middle East. Last of all, she never addresses the impact on the environment. Business is a privileged class for our politicians and the "government regulation impeding business" mantra is often used to distract from the reason for regulation--the protection of people and the environment.

Call it being deceitful, duplicitous, disingenuous or all of the above. Cathy McMorris Rodgers is not serving her district's or her country's best interests in this matter.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Lost Hearing Aid

I went for a run following the route below today during lunch. Afterwards, I was just about to get in the shower when I reached to remove my hearing aids and discovered the left one was gone. Totally bummed out, I cleaned up, got dressed and traced by steps back to where I removed my hat on Riverside. No luck.

View Lunch 4.6 mile loop in a larger map

In the unlikely event someone should be out running along that same route, here's what it looks like. And don't get me started on the cost of these things. Believe me, I know all too well.

It looks just like this but with blue writing. My initials, H.G., are also printed on it.

What Goes Around, Comes Around

For several years now, Kathy has decorated the yards of friends and relatives for their 40th and 50th birthdays. A couple of them struck back today, this being Kathy's 50th. They actually saved the decorations Kathy used for them and put them to use again.

How it looked when Steph got home.

The inside was made to look like there had been a party.

Steph made the recent WSU graduate a no sew fleece blanket.
Go Cougar!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Valentine's Day - A Day Of Purity

I stumbled across this rather creepy video about a week ago. I took a look at the whole Day of Purity message sponsored by the Liberty Counsel, but watch the video first and see what message(s) you get from it.

The Purity Fact Sheet presents of number of "facts" that aren't so much after you look into them.

Teen virgins can expect an average income that is 16 percent higher than sexually active teens from identical socioeconomic backgrounds. This will mean an increased average salary of $370,000 over their lifetime according to the Heritage Foundation.

When a woman is married as a virgin, her divorce rate is 76 percent lower than a non-virgin. For men it's 63 percent lower, according to The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States.

Among those who have already lost their virginity, two-thirds wished they had waited longer to have sex (77 percent of girls and 60 percent of guys) according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.

The Heritage Foundation study referenced by the first "fact" references another study and then draws conclusions as if the outcomes were strictly based on sexual behavior being the causal factor.

The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States sampled only 3,432 men and women whose birth year groups were divided up in 1933-42, 1943-52, 1953-62, and 1963-74. It does make the following statement:

But later on, after considering all the factors involved in the study, there is this statement:

Next, a survey by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy in which 501 young people between the ages of 12 and 17 were asked questions.
I'm not saying the responses are false, but the important part that's missing are the reasons why they wish they had waited longer. As exciting and frightening the formative teen years are, one can imagine a number of reasons why someone who had sex at 12-17 years of age would wish they had waited. By the way, the respondents generally gave their sex education high marks, recommended waiting for sex until after high school, and said that sexually active teens should have access to birth control.

More from The Day of Purity fact sheet:

Every year on Valentine’s Day thousands of students participate in the Day of Purity in their schools, youth groups, and other public locations. Some people wear white shirts or wristbands to symbolize purity. Others pass out educational fliers to their peers or have a Father-Daughter event.

Leaving the "facts" aside, what I find disturbing is the emphasis on the young lady's purity. Sure, they want young men to wait until marriage as well, but the purity message overwhelmingly applies to the girl.

This video portrays the young lady as a temptress--not a particularly enticing one, but she's the one showing that opportunity awaits--and it's the creepy sounding bear acting as the young man's conscience reminding him of his responsibility to keep her pure until the big day. It's like girls can't help themselves and must be looked after to keep their purity intact. How demeaning.

So is the "Please use front entrance" sign on the door is an accidental double entendre?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Getting Ready For The New Year

According to Steph's Justin Bieber calendar, Monday is the Chinese New Year.

"Oh my God can we make fortune cookies?"

Sure. What better way to bring on the Chinese New Year than to make a cookie characterized as "introduced by the Japanese, popularized by the Chinese, and consumed by Americans."

Pouring a circle of batter.

Adding the fortune before folding.

A glass is useful for the final fold.

Voila! Notice the cookie in the top right. Steph calls it the platypus cookie. When you remove the cookie from the sheet, it's very hot. You have to fold it quickly before it cools. I managed to fold it in half all the while feeling like my fingertips were burning off so it didn't make it to the final fold. By the way, these homemade cookies are very tasty, far better than the ones served in a restaurant.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Who Needs Cameras In Federal Court

...when you can watch it all on the Puppet Court instead? The corruption trial of a county commissioner is brought to life via transcripts and puppets.

Ain't No Stoppin' Them

Walkers. Runners. Doesn't matter.

Move To Amend - Occupy The Courts

A pleasant yet vociferous group of protesters, part of Move to Amend - Occupy the Courts, gathered in front of the federal courthouse during the lunch hour today. I hope they generate enough interest to actually get our political leadership to actually do something about the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Josh's Birthday

Josh turned 20 today. UW cancelled classes and HvZis delayed a week because of snow so he had plenty of time to do as he pleased today. But someone is looking out for him. Today he woke up to this:

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Colbert Still Rocks

Stephen Colbert and his Super PAC demonstrate the influence of unlimited money on elections thanks to the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

"Money equals speech, therefore, the more money you have the more you can speak ... That just stands to reason. That's why I believe in super PACs." - Stephen Colbert

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Exploratory Trail Ride

I've been hearing about the trails west of the Fairwood area for years now. All three of my kids have run these trails while on the Mead cross country team. So what better way to clear the mind after attending a town hall meeting than to go for a bike ride. I only drew the first part of the trail on the map. From there I went exploring.

View Fairwood-Little Spokane Area Trails in a larger map

One of the three switchbacks that take you down to the Little Spokane River area.

After descending the switchbacks, the bottom of the trail was ice covered. I stumbled across a number of babbling brooks that feed into the river. There's one right next to this. I straddled the bike and slid on my feet from the gate downward. It was strictly walkies on the return trip.

After crossing a bridge I headed north until I got to this sign. Not being that familiar with the area I decided to turn around. No sense making a property owner upset.

This photo doesn't really convey how steep this is. I was riding up this trail and when I got to the rock my front tire lifted off the ground. It's to be expected since my Elephant has a short wheel base. Anyway, the part of my brain connected to my left leg desperately trying to regain my balance by hopping backwards on the downward side of the trail was saying, "I got this. I got this." The part of my brain connected to the balance mechanisms in my inner ears laughed, "That's a losing bet." I landed on my back and the Elephant landed on top of me below that log on the left so I was hopping backwards for about eight feet. No bikes or cameras were injured. This trail turned out to be a mostly rideable loop with a couple of short technical parts I had to carry the bike through. But some fat tires and low gears should make short work of it.

One of those babbling brooks that seem to be everywhere.

Since it's a marshy area, there were parts of the trail that were ice covered. The icy parts in the trees were easier since they had pine needles and leaves stuck in them helping with traction.

Obligatory pretty bike photo shoot moment.

The Half-Million Dollar Senator

I attended Senator Michael Baumgartner's town hall meeting at the MAC this morning. He was pleasant and respectful during the very informal meeting that lasted about 1-1/2 hours.

This isn't his chart but he was using to emphasis the same things we keep hearing about the budget. Government wastes too much money; we don't need to raise taxes; collective bargaining is bad for the budget; the budget has structural issues; government worker pensions are too expensive, etc. I asked him at which point the numbers on the chart were based on the assumptions listed below. He said the entire chart was based on assumptions. Setting that strong selling point aside I asked what the historical rate of increase of state revenue was. He said last year's was 7 percent but didn't have any more numbers.

Things got a little sidetracked towards the end. Would you believe Baumgartner supports the Ryan plan? Plus he thinks Social Security contributes to the deficit--it doesn't--and should be privatized but we shouldn't call it privatized. Call it giving people a choice, which would make sense if Social Security was an investment or a savings plan. It's not. What remains a mystery is how giving people a choice makes the program more sustainable.

You'd think there'd be more interest in Mike Baumgartner's town hall meeting since he and Chris Marr spent nearly a million dollars fighting for the seat. All told, there were a dozen people present to listen to a pleasant and respectful person put a sane face on Tea Party politics.

After installing Google Earth and checking out the new legislative district maps, I find I am soon to be transferred to Legislative District 7. Sigh.

Childless Couples Contribute To Society's Downfall

Fresh on the heels of proposed legislation to allow same-sex marriage in the State of Washington, four Washington State Catholic Bishops released a letter entitled "Marriage and the Common Good - A statement on legislation to redefine marriage."

Some excerpts:

Marriage in faith and societal traditions is acknowledged as the foundation of civilization. It has long been recognized that the stability of society depends on the stability of family life in which a man and a woman conceive and nurture new life. In this way, civil recognition of marriage has sought to bestow on countless generations of children the incomparable benefit of a loving mother and father committed to one another in a lifelong union.

I'm curious as to the source of the statement that the stability of society depends on marriage that results in conception. Also note the emphasis on civil recognition of marriage which is not the same as religious recognition. Just because the state recognizes you as married, religious organizations don't have to if you're not a member.

Married couples who bring children into the world make particular sacrifices and take on unique risks and obligations for the good of society. For this reason the state has long understood that it has a compelling interest in recognizing and supporting these mothers and fathers through a distinct category of laws. Were the definition of marriage to change, there would be no special laws to support and recognize the irreplaceable contribution that these married couples make to society and to the common good by bringing to life the next generation.

Again the emphasis on married couples having children.

[Society] recognizes the value of marriage as a bond of personal relationships, but also in terms of the unique and irreplaceable potential of a man and woman to conceive and nurture new life, thus contributing to the continuation of the human race. A change in legislation would mean that the state would no longer recognize the unique sacrifices and contributions made by these couples, thereby adding to the forces already undermining family life today.

I think I see the problem here. It's the childless couples who are not doing their fair share to stabilize our society. Regardless of the reason for not having children, they are reaping the same legal benefits as married couples who have conceived and nurtured new life but without making the same sacrifices. The marriage rate in Washington state for 2010 is 6.0 for every 1,000 people. The 2010 divorce rate is 4.2 for every 1,000 people. What do those numbers mean? A lot of life-long unions aren't. But that's not news, is it?

I don't see stats on divorce rates for childless couples, but this is another area where they fail to do their part for society. Divorced childless couples don't have to make the same sacrifices when it comes to fighting over who gets the kids, when they get the kids, and explaining to the kids why mommy and daddy aren't together any more. Had they conceived the stability of our society would not be as imperiled as it is today. We need to do away with special laws that benefit childless couples who fail to make the irreplaceable contribution made by married couples who bring life to the next generation.

The letter in full - click to embiggen.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Downtown Today





More readers

Just Don't Capture The Moment

Today's Review contains an article about the US trying to contain the damage from a video showing US Marines urinating on corpses.

As the video spread across the Internet in postings and re-postings, U.S. officials joined with Afghans in calling it shocking, deplorable, inhumane and a breach of military standards of conduct. It shows men in Marine combat gear standing in a semicircle urinating on the bodies of three men in standard Afghan clothing, one whose chest was covered in blood.

It’s not certain whether the dead were Taliban fighters, civilians or someone else.


“The danger is that this kind of video can be misused in many ways to undermine what we are trying to do in Afghanistan and the possibility of reconciliation,” [Defense Secretary Leon] Panetta said at Fort Bliss, Texas, adding it’s important for the U.S. to move quickly to “send a clear signal to the world that the U.S. will not tolerate this kind of behavior and that is not what the U.S. is all about.”

So let's review.

Enhanced interrogation - acceptable.

Urinating on corpses - unacceptable.

It's all about sending "a clear signal to the world that the U.S. will not tolerate this kind of behavior and that is not what the U.S. is all about."

Every Day Cyclist Feedback

Catching the STA for the ride home after work yesterday evening, I sat next to a gentleman who looked at me and then pulled out the January issue of Out There Monthly. Pointing to the Every Day Cyclist piece, he asked if I wrote it. I told him I did.

It turns out he lives north of Spokane not far from me and he has always wished there was an easier way to get downtown by bike than following the busy arterials. He wants to ride his bike to the Centennial Trail and Fish Lake Trail instead of hauling it there by car.

He asked if there was a map of Spokane bike routes. The only maps I'm aware of are the master bike plan maps but they don't show routes, only roadways that have lanes, are shared, etc. It shows the overall plan but doesn't tell you the best way to get from one point to another. You're left to divine that for yourself or find out from someone with experience.

Since he was stoked to learn there was a good route to follow from his home to Riverfront Park, I offered to draw it up on Google maps and email the link to him. Having done so, here's the map for anyone else who cares.

View North Spokane Bike Route in a larger map

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sen Baumgartner Town Hall Meetings

My state senator is holding two town hall meetings this Saturday. One is out at Eastern University, well outside District 6, and the other is at the MAC.

The first town hall will be at 8 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 14 in the Multipurpose Room (PUB 101) at Eastern Washington University in Cheney. This meeting will be hosted by the Associated Students of Eastern Washington University.The second town hall is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 14 at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture in Spokane. The address is 2316 W. 1st Avenue.

I think I can make the second meeting.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Not The Family Feud

You have until Jan 25 to participate in a survey by one Steve Beren, a former antiwar activist and socialist who is now a patriot and a Christian, concerning the GOP picks for this election year.

1. AGREE or DISAGREE? "President Obama is not just an average statist progressive liberal Democrat. He is one of the worst presidents ever. We can't have him making the Supreme Court nominations through January 2017. We can't have him holding a veto pen when Congress repeals Obamacare in early 2013. We should support our favored candidate in the primary/caucus process, but once a GOP candidate wins the nomination, we should unite to support that candidate as superior to Obama, even if the GOP nominee is not our first choice, and even if we disagree with the nominee on some important issues."

2. AGREE or DISAGREE? "The effort to repeal and defund Obamacare will be a central 2012 campaign issue. There should be no federal or state mandates forcing people to buy healthcare insurance. The GOP needs a presidential candidate in 2012 who can persuasively, articulately, and effectively lead the effort to repeal Obamacare. We need a candidate whose candidacy would convincingly embody the citizens' opposition to government-run healthcare."

3. AGREE or DISAGREE? "President Obama lacks a victory strategy in the war imposed upon us by the pro-terrorist, anti-liberty, caliphate-seeking Islamic fascist political movement. The GOP needs a candidate who supports the traditional pro-liberty, morality-based conservative foreign policy of Reagan to reverse the Obama foreign policy of apology, weakness, retreat, appeasement, decline, and defeat."

Survey says? It's a bit over the top.

In The Alleyway

Steph says this is frightening.

Steph says this is cool.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Who You Talkin' To?

Cathy McMorris Rodgers is upset and had this to say on her Facebook page.

Like many of you, I oppose President Obama's unprecedented recess appointment of Richard Cordray as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau - I believe it is all too indicative of this President's unwillingness to work with Congress. At a time when the American people are demanding bipartisan solutions, the President couldn't have picked a worse way to start the New Year. It's time for the President and Congress to work together to address America's problems because that's the only way we're going to solve them.

Our congresswoman is severely bothered that President Obama is unwilling to work with a Congress which has been rendered incapable of legislating by a Republican party that is solely focused on making Obama a one term president and ensuring the One Percent get to keep their money all the while pretending to look out for you and me.

Not only did Obama do a recess appointment of Richard Cordray to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which is not able to completely function without an appointed director. He also appointed three people to the National Labor Relations Board which was unable to function as of January 3 when the term of one of it's members--a recess appointment from last year--ended and left it with only two people. (The Supreme Court ruled that a quorum of three is required.) With a full board it is ready to continue its work. The CFPB can now do its job of protecting consumers in the "shadow" banking arena and announced it will begin examining payday lenders and others outside the banking industry.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers is not pleased with this. Not pleased at all. Apparently she would prefer that Senator Mitch McConnell continue his filibuster of these appointments, as he has been doing for quite some time now. Recess appointments are not common, but only because the Senate has rarely been involved in a determined effort to prevent a president from making any appointments. Here is the result of such an effort since Mitch McConnell took over as Senate Minority Leader with the 110th Congress.

A cloture is the only procedure by which the Senate can vote to place a time limit on consideration of a bill or other matter, and thereby overcome a filibuster. In the meantime, around fifty people nominated for federal judge positions wait...and wait...and wait as McConnell and his fellow Republican party senators filibuster without speaking.

McMorris Rodgers is right. It is time for the President and Congress to work together to address America's problems. But I get the impression she's not directing her remarks to her own party.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012