The Silver Bullets of the 357

March 29th, 2011

So, like everyone else, I haven’t had much time to post here, but now that I’m in my second week of unemployment, that excuse is getting lamer by the hour. Anyway, I still know how to fill my calendar even without a day job, so I was down at the Walmart in Covington this afternoon collecting signatures for I-1149, this year’s attempt by Sensible Washington to get marijuana legalization on the ballot.

At around 2:30, these two older guys came up to the entrance, saw my sign, and the one guy just says, “anything with marijuana is a no” and walked into the store. I figured it would be entertaining when he came back out of the store, and I was not disappointed. When he came back out, he started talking to me about how you “pull it out by the root”. I asked him how you do that with a market that supplies 30 million American customers. He says – and I’m not making this up – “with a 357″. And he pretended to shoot my sign with his finger as a gun. Looking back, I should have clarified whether his strategy involved shooting people, plants, or just signs, but I missed my opportunity to crawl into this man’s noggin and really get lost.

Sensing that I didn’t buy their theory that a 357 could end marijuana use in the United States, the second man then asked me why there have never been any wars fought on U.S. soil. I reminded him of both the Civil War and the War of 1812, to which he clarified “a war where foreigners invaded us”, to which I once again mentioned the War of 1812. In return, I got a look that was part confusion, part exasperation.

For a closing act, the second man then said something about how important it was that we have rights, and then a second later threatened to go to the store manager to have me removed (Walmart – to its credit – is very good about allowing people to gather signatures in front of their stores). It turns out he knows as much about our rights as he knows about the War of 1812.

Nuclear power

March 12th, 2011

- posted by demo kid

Japanese official says pumping system caused nuclear plant blast

Personally, I think the problem is that they didn’t consult with Dixy Lee Ray before building their nuclear reactors…

Guzzo’s Book

February 14th, 2011

ou guys, this is real. I didn't think it was real, but for whatever reason I searched for it at Powell's again, and there it was. And I just plunked down some hard earned money for it. Expect me to go chapter by chapter through it at some point either here or at HA. It'll be a while, as there's a long queue of non shitty books ahead of it, and it hasn't even shipped yet. But oh my God, I'm so excited

And I Didn’t Even Make a Blowjob Joke

February 10th, 2011

post by Carl

Pastor Hutch plans to sue the state for teaching evolution. And that’s bound for failure and all, but I’d like to focus on a phrase he keeps using.

Dear Prayer Warrior,

That’s me! How can I go to war?

Put your prayer knee pads on.  I think God is leading me to raise support to sue the state of Washington Board of Education for teaching a known lie, evolution.  Let’s see how we can win this battle and then take it to the federal level.

Seriously, how many sets of knee pads do you think I have?

Does Dino Know he Lost?

February 6th, 2011

So, I know this is super mean spirited and all, but I noticed a while ago that Dino Rossi's last tweet of the campaign said that there would be more information forthcoming. In early November. This is a worse blackout than here recently.

Surely when the campaign worker posted that, they were aware that Patty Murray would probably win. Couldn't he have done the classy thing and said good things about Patty or the classless thing and somehow blamed the state supreme court?


February 4th, 2011

Erica C. Barnett already picked apart this editorial in The Seattle Times. But I'd like to add a couple things.

Perception about parking is almost as important as the rates themselves. There is no good reason for Seattle to have rates among the highest in the nation, which, at $4 an hour, is exactly what we will have.

If perception is so awful (and matters more than the facts!), why not praise it? Why not talk about the low low prices? And I thought The Seattle Times was for user fees now (um, for small government).

A very good example is Pioneer Square. The latest plan would set rates at $3.50 an hour. Yes, the neighborhood is close to the stadiums, but $3.50 an hour is too high in a place trying to reinvent itself following the loss of Elliott Bay Book Co., which moved to Capitol Hill last year. Do not forget, construction is expected to begin later this year on the deep-bore tunnel replacement for the Alaskan Way Viaduct and that compounds Pioneer Square's woes.

Remember how you fought to push through the tunnel that McGinn doesn't want? Now you're saying he has to keep rates lower because the tunnel will fuck Pioneer Square up? I assume this doesn't mean we're seeing a sudden change of heart on the part of The Seattle Times.

And not being able to find parking when there's a game is somehow not a problem for Pioneer Square businesses?

I Don’t Really Disagree, But

January 27th, 2011

Post by Carl Ballard

Joni Balter has the kind of inside baseball piece that justifies the existence of local papers. I mean the NY Times and USA Today aren't going to cover this, and so I'm glad it is being covered. Even if the coverage is poorly written.

Democrats are bungee jumping with joy after learning that the Washington State Republican Party selected, as one Democrat put it, “The Rush Limbaugh of Washington” as its new party chairman.

Bungee jumping with joy? The bungee part seems pretty unnecessary. The rest of the piece doesn't explain why they would be joyful enough to jump off a cliff, so we're left with simply a terrible metaphor.

Most Washingtonians, mind you, could not name the chairman of either party and wouldn't cast a vote in the 2012 governor's race based on such a thing. The selection of former KVI radio host Kirby Wilbur is very insider-ish, but has ramifications for state Attorney General Rob McKenna, widely considered the Republican front-runner for governor in 2012, and a very promising one.

Rob McKenna is widely considered by the Seattle Times to be liked by The Seattle Times. Anyway, then she points out how it'll be tough to thread the needle between the activist base and the people who vote.

Should McKenna pander to the Teabaggers and the inevitably nutty platform they'll put in place, he risks alienating himself from the centrist swing voters every Republican candidate desperately needs to win statewide in WA. But neither can he afford to disillusion the rank and file party faithful manning the all important GOTV campaign. I'd say the smart money is still on McKenna in 2012, but without Esser in place to run interference, those odds certainly just got longer.

Hmm, that's an interesting if a bit caustic paragraph, Joni Balter. Wait, you know what I did, I accidentally copied and pasted from something Goldy wrote several days earlier.

McKenna is the best GOP candidate in years, but 2012 could bring another Democratic tide of young voters supporting the president. McKenna needs Wilbur to raise money like, well, a newly adjusted Seattle parking meter. If independents and Democrats are to vote for McKenna, it will be because of his moderate demeanor and nuanced stance on issues.

Hmm. Other than a terrible parking meter joke, that's a pretty similar analysis. Now granted, there are only so many things you can say about the selection of a party chair. If anything, I blame bloggers for being on time instead of several days late to the party.

And frankly, Goldy's piece had neither the parking meter joke nor the bungee jumping. All it had was good writing and several days advance. Yep, it sure is good The Seattle Times still has opinion writers.


Those Poor, Defenseless Drivers

January 27th, 2011

Posted by Robby

So, while it is not generally my habit to mock Publicola posts here (frankly, it hasn’t really been my habit to mock any posts lately), they’ve got an opinion piece today from Michael Ennis complaining about how all the mean bicyclists in Seattle are totally screwing the rest of the region.  I’m sure that Ennis’s piece will get called out all over the local blogosphere and there’s a debate on Tuesday about this very issue, so I’m not going to go into too much detail, but I just couldn’t let his piece go without some comment.  I just want to comment on two specific aspects of his writing that I found particularly grating.

First, he drew out the tired old stat about Seattle being the most congested city in America:

In a recent study released by a national company that uses travel and speed data from its GPS customers to measure traffic, Seattle ranks number one as the most congested city in America.

This is remarkable when you consider that Seattle is only the twenty-third largest U.S. city in terms of population.

I have no idea what study he’s referring to.  There’s no link, so I googled it.  I searched for “Seattle congestion first” and I didn’t really find anything that said Seattle had the worst congestion in the country.  That said, there was a recent study by the Texas Transportation Institute that suggested that Seattle’s congestion ranked 10th in the nation, which I suppose isn’t very good.

Still at Publicola, Erica Barnett did a pretty good job explaining why the TTI study is not really very useful.  Basically, the problem that she points to is that the study is based largely on data about how quickly cars move on a given road.  Are the cars moving 60 MPH?  That’s good for the TTI study.  Are cars moving at 25 MPH?  The TTI study doesn’t care for that at all, even if it’s on a residential street.  Basically, the TTI study has a built in bias against urban living.

Living in the city close to where you work and shop may very well result in your car generally moving slower than it otherwise would, but that doesn’t mean that it will take you longer to get where you need to go.  Reflecting on my own life, there is only one place I go regularly that takes me more than half an hour to get to, and that’s on bike.  (I don’t even own a car, which is a whole other thing that’s nice about city living.  My entire transportation budget, including a pretty generous allowance for bicycle costs comes in under $100 a month.)

Of course, that may not be the study that Ennis is referring to here.  We may never know.

My other problem is with this sentence in his last graph:

Officials seem more worried about bicycles, street cars and not filling potholes than dealing with the actual needs of a super-regional city.

I want to state, as emphatically as possible, that bicyclists want those potholes fixed.  To suggest otherwise is ridiculous.  In fact, I would bet that your average bicyclist cares more about potholes than your average cager (that’s the word we all use for people in cars.  Don’t you feel included?).  If I’m going at a decent pace and I hit a pothole that I didn’t see, there’s a decent chance that I’m on the ground pretty quick, and not because I felt like taking a nap.

That is a sort of long winded way of saying the entire idea of a “war on cars” is bullshit.  Would I like it if fewer people drove?  Sure.  I would also like it if fewer people refused to give me a job.  That doesn’t mean I’ve declared war on people who have taken my resume without offering me a paying gig.

Ultimately, cars, bicycles, transit, and pedestrians have more to agree on than we have to disagree on.  We want the roads maintained.  We generally want to have roads that allow pedestrians a place to walk without interfering with traffic and, believe me when I saw this, we would like a way for cyclists to exist that don’t get in the way of cars.

If there is a difference between people who drive exclusively and the people who rely on the other modes, it is that the other modes are usually cool with everyone else existing.  Ennis’s primary point seems to be that cars should always take priority over other sorts of transportation.  Indeed, for Ennis, they should not just take priority, they should be the only source of transportation.  Anything that makes driving less convenient so as to allow the existence of people who don’t want to drive is interpreted as a “war on cars.”

I have a friend who lives in Duvall.  I would like to ride my bike there, but that isn’t really an option because the only good way to get there is by going down a very steep hill without any sort of bicycle facility.  I could take the bus, except that the bus doesn’t run to that part of the county on the weekends.  I’m not asking for transit to Duvall on the weekends (I get that it wouldn’t be used be very many people), but I would like to be able to ride my bike there.

I’ll make a deal with Ennis right now.  I will halt my war on automobiles if he agrees to advocate for bicycle facilities on NE 124th into Duvall whenever that road has major maintenance performed on it next.  Admittedly, my side of the deal is easier (I’m actually ok with cars), but I’m curious if Ennis will accept that I have a right to ride my bike to Duvall without risking my life.

Your Inturrupting our Pointlessness is Pointless

January 9th, 2011

This is about the most perfect paragraph ever. by Jim Miller

Pointlessly.  American voters delivered reasonably clear messages to Congress in last November’s election; they want limits put on the national government.  And the voters want Congress to work on the business of the country, not play partisan games.  Democrat Jay Inslee, among others, is unhappy about those messages.   That’s the most likely explanation for the silly obstructionism shown in this video, where Inslee goes on and on, trying to delay the reading of the Constitution.

Yes, the Republicans decided that they were going to start the session wasting time. Jay Inslee decided to point out that the time wasting reading of the Constitution didn’t include some of the difficult bits. JAY INSLEE IS TEH OBSTRUCTIONIST!!!!!!!!!!!!!! QED!!!!!!!

Working on It

January 3rd, 2011

An error happened here before Christmas, and I haven’t been able to fix it, but while I was under the hood, I just installed the latest version of WP, and at least now I can type words so hopefully I’ll get the archives and the rest of the team back. Sorry for the interruption.

I remain an idiot.

Carl out