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29.Sept.2009 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Memoir of a quitter Permalink to this item

Looks like Sarah Palin found work she's actually interested in: talking about herself to "collaborator" Lynn Vincent. Way more interesting than that chief executive thing, which got stale over the summer.

"treat seriously every small detail" Permalink to this item

This Money Mule thing has scam written on it five ways to Sunday, but in the current economy, the right combination of credulity and desperation are probably available in profusion. It's more subtle than the Nigerian Finance Minister email, but it amounts to pretty much the same thing. Dangle a promise of money for (almost) nothing, and let the fish's greed do the hard work of making it all sound plausible.

"Please strictly follow my instructions, do your best to perform your functional duties properly, be responsible and careful and the results will not take long to appear!"

It's as old as the Red-Headed League, at least. Beware the business opportunity with exclamation points.

We prefer insurance companies between our decisions Permalink to this item

The caption quote from State Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota is precious: "All I'm trying to do is protect the individualís right to make health care decisions. I just donít want the government getting between my decisions with my doctors."

And toward that end, he's hoping to amend the state constitution to outlaw the requirement that nearly everyone buy insurance or pay a penalty. He also doesn't want the government getting between his health care insurance company's decisions about what they'll offer to cover, how much to charge, and even whether they'll offer to cover him at all. Freedom!

Here in Idaho, we haven't heard it from any of our legislators—yet—but Wayne "Freedom Foundation" Hoffman weighs in with the literalist argument from the U.S. Constitution. States freedom!

Nemesis answers: "Supermanís Kryptonite is NOT the Constitution. It's the narrow minded people who have theirs, and apparently think politics is a zero sum game." (More answers in the Huckleberries Online thread.)

28.Sept.2009 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Little Miss Torture Permalink to this item

Like father, like daughter, so maybe we will have a President Cheney someday? Be still my heart. And shut up about the stupid "ticking time bomb" already, will you? Jack Bauer can always torture what he needs out of just the right terrorist, but the non-fiction world doesn't lend itself to such simple plot devices.

As far as defending this great country... well, let's just say I'm happier having the Cheneys as free-lance bloviators than holding any position of actual responsibility.

We're safer that way. (Even if Liz gets the Elliott Abrams "fun person" seal of approval.)

25.Sept.2009 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Collateral damage in the war on ACORN Permalink to this item

Looks like there are two possibilities: either the Defund ACORN Act is to be taken on its face, and it's going to lead to defunding of many, many more organizations that include miscreants (and miscreant organizations); or, it's unconstitutional. (Or what the heck, why not go for both?). Glenn Greenwald:

"The irony of all of this is that the Congress is attempting to accomplish an unconstitutional act: singling out and punishing ACORN, which is clearly a "bill of attainder" that the Constitution explicitly prohibits—i.e., an act aimed at punishing a single party without a trial. The only way to overcome that problem is by pretending that the de-funding of ACORN is really about a general policy judgment (that no corrupt organizations should receive federal funding). But the broader they make the law in order to avoid the Constitutional problem, the more it encompasses the large corrupt corporations that own the Congress (and whom they obviously don't want to de-fund).

Meet your G-20 Permalink to this item

A pie chart of the G-20 countries' GDP Just who are these people, anyway? We don't know the whole gaggle of elites meeting in Pittsburgh by name, but we can at least list the 20 32 countries represented. (The European Union, with 27 member countries, is one of the members, but 4 of its members were already in the G-7.) it started with the G-7, the USA, Japan, Germany, France, the UK, Italy, and Canada. Tough to exlude China from an economic summit, what with the world's 3rd largest GDP these days. Add a handful of $trillion-GDP players and another handful of sizeable sub-$trillion countries, and you've got a way to slice up the $53 trillion (or so) bulk of the planet's economic activity.

Just for grins, I retyped the statistics from the NewsHour's snapshot of the G-20 economies' GDPs and baked this here pie for you.

Sampling anarchy Permalink to this item

We're a long way from Pittsburgh, and the snippet on last night's Newshour of the protestors at the G-20 summit (following the conversation with Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva) was mildly comedic, ahead of the civil disobedience.

PROTESTOR: I mean, I could throw out a lot of things that have, like, become, like, clichéd statements, like ending global capitalism and all that, which, ultimately, like, I am for, and if there was a button that could just, like, wipe the whole thing out, yeah. But, man, I always blow it in front of the camera.

Things sound considerably calmer today, not so many police helicopters, gunboats and Humvees darting to and fro, or broken windows, smoke canisters, sound cannons and stun grenades.

Sounds like a trade show for the latest in crowd control technology, "4,000 police officers from all over the country" coming to the city, by one account.

Forrest Church Permalink to this item

Unitarian Universalist minister, author, son of Frank and Bethine Church, passed away at age 61 yesterday. In memoriam, from the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, Jill Kuraitis on, and the Idaho Statesman.

"After the initial diagnosis [of esophageal cancer in October 2006], Church completed two books; saw his daughter, Nina, marry; and managed to reach his 60th birthday, which neither his father nor grandfather had done..."

He visited Boise and spoke at the UU Fellowship during that time, on the subject of one of those books, a timely history: So Help Me God: The Founding Fathers and the First Great Battle Over Church and State.

Update: Diane Ronayne's column in the Sunday (9/27) Statesman adds a beautiful personal note to the memories of Church's life, along with a serendipitous announcement of the October 2 silent sunrise walk on the 140th anniversary of Gandhi's birth.

Update #2: William Grimes' obituary in the New York Times.

"[In 1978] he interviewed for the post of parish minister at All Souls [Church in New York City], where he delivered tryout sermons so moving that he won the job over 24 other candidates.

"His speaking style was direct, and he expressed his religious philosophy in simple terms. “Do what you can,” he often said, “want what you have, and be who you are.” When he took the job, church attendance hovered around 100 on Sundays. Today, it is not uncommon for 1,000 worshipers to attend."

Giant digester eggs Permalink to this item

Boise's Watershed is a fascinating little side trip in our neighborhood, a sort of Exploratorium meets sewage treatment plant. A little weird, but wonderful, actually. Still, Boise's approach has nothing on New York City's, as depicted by the inimitable Maira Kalman in her latest blog entry, For Goodness' Sake. (Good lighting never hurts.)

24.Sept.2009 Permanent URL to this day's entry

A target-rich environment Permalink to this item

Now that we've just about buried ACORN (as evidenced by RNC chair Michael Steele gleefully jumping on the bandwagon, and Idaho GOP Chairman Norm Semanko piping up with "me too!"), perhaps it's time to do some more thorough housecleaning, and defund Blackwater as well. The so-called Defund ACORN Act is broad enough to deal with a multitude of sins. "Any organization that has filed a fraudulent form with any Federal or State regulatory agency" comes under its purview.

Think there might be any fraudulent forms involved in a $73 million no bid security contract with DHS for the aftermath of Katrina in New Orleans? Or perhaps some of the other ten figures worth of feeding at the government trough that Prince and the gang have done in security contracts since 2003?

"[A] recent federal audit of Blackwater, compiled by the State Department and the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, suggests the company may have to repay some $55 million to the government for allegedly failing to meet the terms of just one federal contract in Iraq, which, it is important to note, is $2 million more than the total money allotted by the federal government to ACORN over the past 15 years."

Beats walking Permalink to this item

Honda promo image of their servo unicycle Unless of course you need the exercise. The Segway was rolled out with a ton of mystery hype, and failed to take the world by storm. Honda's geekily named U3-X just popped into view with pretty much no hype, let alone expectation. But check out the video: as useless little techno toys go, this servo-controlled "unicycle" (it has small wheels packed inside a bigger, main wheel) is a hoot. Can't wait for the off-road version.

Could be some wait, however: "Unfortunately Honda President Takanobu Ito said the machine was still 'a proposal,' and the company has no sales plans, pricing or firm ideas on where or how it will be used." Beyond getting attention at press conferences and trade shows.

You knew somebody had to say "gob-smacked" Permalink to this item

sooner or later, talking about a huge Anglo-Saxon gold hoard found in Staffordshire, England. Maybe 1500 pieces altogether, waiting 14 centuries for somebody with a metal detector to come by.

"It has been declared treasure by South Staffordshire coroner Andrew Haigh, meaning it belongs to the Crown."

That was easy!

Update: here's more of the story, from the NYT. The "Crown gets the treasure" part is true, but they also pay for it! Half to the guy with the metal detector, and half to the farmer.

23.Sept.2009 Permanent URL to this day's entry

What, you can't pitch a tent in your yard? Permalink to this item

We've only got a fraction of an acre, and no one ever complained in our neighborhood. Donald Trump's got hundreds of acres, so if Moammar wants to camp out, what's the big deal?

If you ask me, those people in Westchester County are pretty stuck up. Necessary permits, plural, in order to put up a tent? Please.

"Since Coney Island needs attention and needs development and since we're circus-friendly, I for one would welcome him here," Mr. Zigun [the unofficial mayor of Coney Island and impresario of its sideshow and museum] said. "Politics aside, it would bring tourists to Coney Island and thatís what we need."

Hoffman actually has a good point here Permalink to this item

Since the Otter administration saw fit to reduce health insurance benefits for part-time employees of the state to save $10 $5.5 million a year, that change should apply to our part-time legislators too.

It's not a ton of money at issue by his count: "Idahoans pay around $780,000 a year to insure members of the House and Senate (a small portion of that amount is for the staff of both chambers)." If we were to save half of that, it's not going to fix the big budget trouble we're in at the "business is good but unemployment is stil high" end (we hope!) of the Great Recession, but fair is fair, right?

Iowa: Bizarro Idaho Permalink to this item

Our states get confused a lot, what with three syllables and the same vowels and our geographic proximity (when viewed from east of the Appalachians), and here we see there may actually be another reason. Their long-time, Reagan Revolution, small-government conservative, Chuck "they're going to pull the plug" Grassley is turning out to be insufficiently right-wing for the "social conservatives" that are feeling their oats in the GOP. He couldn't even get elected as a delegate to their last state convention. (Don't U.S. Senators get in free?!)

But get this: they have a "well-known conservative" named Bill Salier, reporting "so much talk of primarying Chuck Grassley." Someone even more Sali than our own Bill Sali!

Iowans also know how to use "bupkis" in a sentence, and employ easily-understood farming metaphors:

Among Democrats, a former state legislator, Bob Krause, is talking of running against Mr. Grassley, saying it has been "a long time to go without rotating crops."

Equinox Permanent URL to this day's entry

From a billion miles away Permalink to this item

Saturn, at its equinox, from Cassini With suitably exquisite timing and a dramatic flair, the Cassini Imaging Team's leader, Carolyn Porco introduces the thrill of discovery from the best-looking gas giant in the solar system:

"From high above, the silent explorer captures one sweeping view of the scene below: planet and all its darkened rings, at sunset... one of the most enchanting spectacles this solar system has to offer.

"Before too long, the sun will rise again, lavishing its brilliance everywhere. To the vehicle orbiting above and its remote companions, all hints of shadows and hidden dimension will magically vanish."

The New York Times has a nice feature about Porco today, too, including a segment of its 20-minute podcast for Tuesday.

"She was a studious child and a spiritual seeker—'13 going on 80'—who lived a lot in her head. Later, as a student at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, she said she spent two years as a chanting Buddhist and even went on a two-week pilgrimage to Japan, where she was the majorette in a Buddhist marching band, wearing hot pants. 'Now, THOSE were the days,' she wrote in an e-mail message."

19.Sept.2009 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Double-buffered DirecTV Permalink to this item

I came late to the DVR (Digital Video Recorder) party, well after TiVo was a household name. We never actually did TiVo, but have DirecTV's DVR, and dust collecting on the old VCR and all the old tapes.

If you're not there yet, my condolences; it's just a better way to watch TV, if you do any of that. It makes it possible to watch what you want, when you want, and to skip over all the junk. 60 Minutes, for example, only has 40-some minutes of content. You don't want to watch (most of) the ads, you don't have to. In addition to the "recorded earlier" shows, it improves "live" viewing, once you have enough buffer to take care of all the non-viewing. We keep the channel set to PBS, which gives us the previous 90 minutes of whatever's been on, starting from when we turn on the TV.

Just recently, DirecTV rolled out double-buffering for their DVRs, which I guess TiVo had all along (or at least for a while, called it "Dual Live Buffers")? I saw the announcement about it just after the software had been downloaded, but didn't pay attention at the time. Today I went to actually use it, and found that their instructions didn't make it clear how to actually make it work to follow two shows "live."

One of their customers posted a better explanation in a discussion forum, and on the off-chance one of my current (or future) readers needs a little help, here's the essential information:

1. Press the DOWN arrow twice (below the orange SELECT button) to activate the feature. The channel you were watching stays in the buffer, and a second buffer is started on channel 201.

2. Change the channel (with the number keys, or Guide, or Channel UP/DOWN) on this second buffer to the other channel you want to watch.

3. Now the DOWN arrow will toggle between the two buffered channels, and you can pause, rewind, fast forward "as usual" on either one.

The feature times out after 2 hours of no activity on the remote control. (What, did you fall asleep?) If you want to know more, more, more, check out this FAQ.

18.Sept.2009 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Now this is a witch hunt Permalink to this item

Snippet from movie poster for 'Little Caesar' Kevin Richert says he's not sure "how much of these czar wars are really parliamentary, and how much of it is simply partisan," so let's see: who started the campaign, anyway?

David Weigel is more sure than Richert, and deconstructs the supposed Russian Court that Obama has assembled, homework that the Republican Senators' staffs might have performed before they dictated the right-wing talking points into a letter to the President.

Should we laugh or cry that Republicans are now prepared to ask the President to "reconsider [his] approach of centralizing authority at the White House"?

Oddly enough, the letter says they've identified 18 "czar" positions they don't like, but Crapo's press release, at least, didn't actually list the positions they feel are a bridge too far. Maybe there was just a hyperlink to Glenn Beck's deeply pointless buffoonery on YouTube?

17.Sept.2009 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Semanko: take the fall, Minnick! Permalink to this item

Are we having an election in November or something? Who let the dogs out? This just in, call it "Idaho Republican News" ('cause that's what the Idaho Republican Party said it was, not even authorized by any candidate or candidateís committee), Chairman Semanko Calls on Minnick to Take Responsibility for the Actions of the Democratic Party.

I'm not making this up, and I didn't get that from The Onion, even though they don't have it up on the broadsheet just yet.

And Norm and the Grand Old boys are going to take responsibility for... what, exactly? Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and teh crazy?

Boehner: Rebellion is OK with me Permalink to this item

I try not to let the fact of the House's Minority Leader's obsessive grooming bias me against him, and even though I disagree with most of the positions he holds, I'd like to give him the benefit of the doubt. But every time I hear him speak, I question his honesty, and his sincerity.

Today's interview with John Boehner on the Newshour is the latest example. He talks about the (lack of) Republican support for health care reform as if he has nothing to do with it ("I don't think, from what I can see, that it's going to garner any Republican support"), trots out "big government takeover" as if that were fact, rather than a biased description of the latest proposal, and distorts the context we're in by speaking for everyone with an opinion that is by no means universally shared: "Democrats and Republicans understand that we do have the best health care system in the world."

I get that same disingenuous feeling when he talks about people being "involved" in democracy, "but they ought to do it in a civil tone." It's rebellion by his assessment, "I've never seen anything like this," and he's got nothing to do with it, really? It's just happening around him while he's adjusting his tie and spraying his hair?

BOEHNER: ...And so this conversation that's underway is healthy for our democracy. It was Thomas Jefferson 220 years ago who said, "A little rebellion now and then is good for our democracy."

JEFFREY BROWN: Right, but "rebellion" is a charged word, of course, because the rebellion back then was a serious matter.

BOEHNER: It was. But having Americans engaged in this public debate is healthy. And I would hope that it would continue, but continue in a civil way.

Yes, let's all hope together.

Barking up the wrong tree Permalink to this item

Timothy Egan: Working Class Zero.

"Where was the Tea Party movement when the tax burden was shifted from the high end to the middle? Where were the patriots when Wall Street, backed in Congress by Senator Phil Gramm of Texas, rewrote securities laws so that the wonder boys of Lehman and A.I.G. could reduce home mortgages to poker chips at a trillion-dollar table?

"Where were the angry 'stiffs' when the banking industry rolled the 2005 Congress into rewriting bankruptcy law, making it easier to keep people in permanent credit card hock?"

Get your shot, or get on the bus Permalink to this item

Taking crazy to a whole new level:

Rischy Rich Permalink to this item

Not that it's actually news that Idaho's freshman Senator Jim Risch is quite wealthy... despite the flannel rancher persona he used in his campaign materials. Most of his tally is indeed in "ranch and farm properties in Idaho, totaling 284 acres, which together amount to at least $16 million."

$56,000 an acre is some nice lookin' ranches and farms, ain't it?

The dustier sort of rancher around here tends to talk more about hard work and scraping by, the only wealth beyond measure the great feeling you get from riding the range on the occasional pleasant morning.

In the category of "strangest choice of words by a spokesman" we have Kyle Hines' observation that "He fills out the forms, as you know, and the numbers kind of lie where they lie.... He filled out the forms correctly and accurately."

We presume that's "lie" as in let sleeping dogs, rather than "lie" as in rebuke-ready breach of decorum (and shouldn't that be "lay"?)

Religious counterpoint to that Permalink to this item

The pastor of Boise's Vineyard Christian Fellowship, Tri Robinson, delivered the opening prayer in the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday, at the invitation of Idaho's CD-01 Rep., Walt Minnick. I haven't been a student of House prayers, and I'm generally lukewarm to public expressions of piety, but given Robinson's good works, and the appropriateness of the exhortation in Paul's epistle to the Phillipians, I was able (on the second try) to get the message in spite of its wrapper.

Would that members of the House could hear as well, and "let [their] hearts be tender, and compassionate, agreeing whole-heartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and one purpose."

"We pray as Paul prayed, for pure motives, for selflessness, not trying to impress others, but thinking of others as more important than ourselves. We pray that we wouldn't look out for our own interests, but represent the interests of those that we're called to serve."

The Un-Religion Permalink to this item

The Secular Student Alliance at BSU is offering the chance to make your own unreligious statement, with debaptisms. Just a spritz of unholy water in-your-face, a reverse prayer, and you're all unset. (And Pascal's got nothing on SSA: "just in case we're wrong," the debaptized receive a Get out of Hell free card.)

16.Sept.2009 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Speaking of environmental threats Permalink to this item

Is it too soon to be alarmed when we find out that 33% percent of the smallmouth bass in a wide scale study have mixed gender characteristics, or that "in regions of the southeast, 70 to 90 percent of the fish were found to be intersex"?!

Snake River Alliance at 30 Permalink to this item

Nathaniel Hoffman provides a retrospective of southern Idaho's environmental watchdog, 3 decades from its inception. I know enough of the people he talked to, it sounds like homecoming or something.

You can get a taste of the action yourself, at the 30th anniversary party on October 10th.

15.Sept.2009 Permanent URL to this day's entry

A splash of blue in Idaho Permalink to this item

Nice to see our state represented in the roll call for the vote to chastise Representative Wilson for his breach of decorum the other night. Most of his party didn't go along to the final tally of 240-179, led by John Boehner, calling the proceedings a "partisan stunt" and a "witch hunt." (Not really much hunting in this, Wilson has an assigned seat with his name on the desk, right?) Boehner complained that Dems were "demanding an apology from a man who has already apologized," but he did not, in fact apologize to the body whose decorum he violated.

Hell, even Serena Williams figured out the proper form of an apology on the third try or so. It really is OK to apologize an extra time or two, lest we suspect the contrition is feigned.

Flying the flag's a little risky Permalink to this item

When you're flying the flag of counter-dissent among the dissenters. It's a BYOB crowd: bring your own bullhorn. Second video on the Tea party hangover. The louder you shout, the better your point of view, right?

Kevin Richert has a choice lament and random observation on this subject of civil discourse (right next to civil discord, you notice).

"Aside from noticing his shirt, I also couldn't help notice that my fellow shopper had a case of an item called Smart Water. I can only hope it was the fast-acting variety."

The Joe of Courage Permalink to this item

He's apologized to the President and now he will not be muzzled! No apologizing to Nancy Pelosi, or the other 533 Members of Congress whose rules he breached! One apology is plenty!

For more information on this important subject, click on Joe's ad on TPMMuckracker's story, Did Joe Wilson lie about having been an immigration lawyer?

(H/t to Left Side of the Moon.)

The new .99: asterisk pricing Permalink to this item

Snippet of part of hp's 'free' promo When is "FREE" actually $12.99 and a "pig" a pig in a poke? Why, when there's an asterisk behind it, or, as in the promo email in the inbox this morning, a footnote. Or two.

The first footnote on "FREE" says, and I quote: "Actual software upgrade is free- this does not include a $12.99 processing and handling fee." The second says "Systems may require upgraded and/or separately purchased hardware and/or a DVD drive to install the Windows 7 software and take full advantage of Windows 7 functionality. See" blah blah blah on another website.

And the third footnote in that one litte sentence says "Information about Windows 7 is preliminary and subject to change. Some product features of Windows 7... may require advanced or additional hardware. The features and functionality you find in the pre-release product may not appear in the final version of Windows 7. Windows XP Mode requires either OEM pre-installation or post-purchase installation of Windows XP Mode (which runs on Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate) and a virtualization technology such as Windows Virtual PC. Windows XP Mode will be available in early 2010...."

One of many CableOne asterisks Then when your new PC is all set (and possibly upgraded) and your O/S upgrade is shipped and handled and installed on top of XP Mode which won't be available until 3 months or more after your upgrade ships... you can try connecting to the Internet for only $99 a month!

CableOne's marketing department is no slouch: they've got the 99 and the asterisk going.

14.Sept.2009 Permanent URL to this day's entry

KKK: Next Generation Permalink to this item

When you're part-way through a connect-the-dots picture, there comes a moment when the image pops out from the sketchy background. That's the feeling I got reading Nathaniel Hoffman's entry on CityDesk, responding to the local Sept. 12 Tea Party event. As TUBOB (I think it was) said, "if the sheet fits, wear it."

Having the John Birch Society selling literature at the "party" shouldn't be a huge surprise either: we found out during the 2008 Legislature that at least one of our legislators is channeling the JBS program.

13.Sept.2009 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Honey, I shrunk the financial sector Permalink to this item

Snapshot from the NYT Interactive, at market trough When the internet bubble was inflating, I got interested in tracking market capitalization, and my Top 100 Market Cap tracking was one of the most searched-for things on for many years. My interest waned mostly because the site I was scraping data from got less and less reliable, and I didn't care to do a lot of manual rework. Plus, a "top 100" chart updated from time to time really wasn't that compelling to look at, even with sortable columns. Too bad I stopped looking right about the time the real estate bubble was fully inflated, and I didn't collect the numbers during the financial meltdown last year.

Leave it to whiz kids Karl Russell and Shan Carter at NYT Interactive to hit this challenge out of the park, with their interactive graph of the market capitalization of the 29 biggest financial firms from the Oct. 2007 market peak (when their combined stocks toted up to almost $2 trillion), through the nadir in late winter ($290 billion), and to last Friday, with their "recovery" to about half of the peak value.

"...Wall Street's landscape has been permanently altered. Lehman Brothers, gone. Bear Stearns, gone. Merrill Lynch, gone. Main Street's landscape has also changed. Wachovia, National City, Washington Mutual and Countrywide, all gone. These venerable financial giants all crumbled under the weight of the financial crisis.

"Those that were left shrank down to a fraction of their former market capitalizations by early 2009, but since then, they all have grown. While most are nowhere near their former size, two—JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo—are slightly larger than they were at the market's peak."

12.Sept.2009 Permanent URL to this day's entry

RiverSweep 2009 Permalink to this item

9am put-in above the Glenwood Bridge, Boise R. We were in Liz Paul's 30-volunteer boat contingent, searching out and picking up trash along the Boise River between the Glenwood Bridge and Eagle Road. The total effort on the day had almost twenty times as many volunteers!

We enjoyed a perfect late summer morning, no hint of a cloud, warm enough to make the cold water enjoyable, and a beautiful, quiet stretch of the river that few people experience. It alternates overgrown willows and cottonwoods and peeks into expensive yards built on the premise that flooding on the Boise River is a thing of the past.

While we did fill dozens of trash bags with outright rubbish and recyclables, the rather good news is that the river and its banks were pretty clean even before our work today. If the people who drink crummy beer and various other containerized beverages would learn some manners, maybe the sweep could relax to every couple of years.

11.Sept.2009 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Three-quarter million dollars per word Permalink to this item

That's assuming it's splits evenly between "You" and "lie!" for Joe Wilson's astounding outburst directed at the President speaking to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday. $500,000 and counting raised for his opponent, Democrat Rob Miller in the 2010 election.

And the DNC road Wilson's coattails for another $million collected since 9:30pm EDT Wednesday.

That Joe Wilson knows fundraising!

Jim Chu's estate auction Permalink to this item

The material wealth of a life cut short is up for sale later this month, managed by Corbett Auctions on Thursday, September 24, out in Eagle. Jim Chu was killed on his bike this spring, and honored by local cyclists in his passing.

There's some wonderful stuff in his estate: a Santana tandem, a little John Deere tractor, good quality woodworking equipment, and so on. Lisa Hecht wrote: "We would be honored to have some of the items Jim treasured go to his friends, and so invite them to come. It will benefit his daughters, Sara and Jenny."

10.Sept.2009 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Old school Permalink to this item

Last light and last demonstrators at Cole Elementary Driving by the busy intersection of Cole and Fairview this weekend, I noticed the new chainlink fence around the old Cole Elementary, and a sign for Ideal Demolition Services, "a full service demolition contractor." I rode my bike down Tuesday evening to see what the light would do for a photographic subject not long for this world, and came upon the protestors who want to save the historic building that finds itself in an awkward spot, 107 years after it started being a school out in the country, west of Boise. (The school itself was established in 1888, 14 years before the current building was put up.)

I suppose if I'd gone to school there I'd have fond memories that I wouldn't want demolished, but it's been a hulking anachronism for some time, it seems to me. Janice Stevenor Dale, writing on, derides the "audacity" of the plan "to reduce history to rubble."

Talk of "the importance to the neighborhood" (let alone its "aesthetic") is heart-warming, but overlooks the fact that there hasn't been a "there" there at Cole and Fairview for some time; it's the collision of the endless Fairview strip mall with an overworked arterial that has no way to expand without huge changes along its route.

Morley Nelson Elementary entrance While singing the praise of the past, Stevenor Dale bludgeons the most recent design and construction work to cope with Boise's growth, referring to nothing in particular as "concrete block buildings that would double as a prison." That's not what I saw when we went to the open house for the new community center at Morley Nelson Elementary earlier this year.

If there's a case to be made for "adaptive reuse," by all means, let's consider it. The question of whether that could make sense is one of fact, while the motivation to bring a sign out to the street corner or to write a testimonial to a building that has "served valiantly" is one of emotion. "Save Our School!"—if it makes sense, not as a quaint memento on the corner.

9.9.9 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Teachable moment Permalink to this item

I imagine the barking dogs of the rabid right have applied makeup to cover the egg on their faces and are moving on to the next item on the outrage to-do list, now that the President has spoken to (most of) our children and the sky is still overhead. I pity the 5 students at nearby Fairmont Junior High who were pulled out the event by their parents, but at least they had company.

Only one student was pulled at Lincoln Elementary in Caldwell, sent to political solitary confinement by her parents. Then there was the mass delusion in the whole Bonneville Joint School District in eastern Idaho "flooded with phone calls from parents who were upset over the address, which they called an attempt to promote a political agenda."

For parents and school official with sufficient reading aptitude, the speech was available for preview. Did they forget to do their homework? Or is it really a partisan concern that kids might be exhorted to work hard, stay in school, and understand the critical importance of education to their future?

There's definitely more to learn here than the obviously good advice the President dispensed. It has to do with credibility and reputation of those who let their own partisanship blind them to what is our common purpose. The very idea of having a common purpose has apparently been thrown off the bloviator bus in the rightmost lane, as it teeters on the verge of the breakdown lane.

It's a wake-up call to the Eastern Idahos of the country, but it remains to be seen whether they've slept through the alarm again.

It was a different world Permalink to this item

My dad liked the numbers in his birthday, 90 years ago today.

The Boston police force went on strike that day, more than 1100 officers (3/4ths of the force) walking off the job and leaving the city to chaos and riot. Governor Calvin Coolidge called out the entire Massachusetts Guard to restore order and emerged a hero.

World War I had just ended, with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. Curly Lambeau had just founded the Green Bay Packers in his home state. Afghanistan had just gained its independence from the United Kingdom. A dirigible, the British R34 had just made the first crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by air.

Also born in 1919: J.D. Salinger, Andy Rooney, Nat King Cole, Pete Seeger, Sir Edmond Hillary, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

Good luck / bad luck Permalink to this item

The original battery in our not-quite-a-clunker Windstar lasted 15 years! But yesterday, halfway through an errand, it went flat. Wouldn't even tickle the starter with a jump.

But the two of us were there, with our other car.

It happened right outside an auto parts department! But it was a car dealer's parts department.

They had a replacement in stock! But it was really expensive.

(Not as expensive as the set of rims a young couple was shopping for while I waited by the counter though. $700, and neither the clerk, nor the guy, nor the missus reacted as if that were a ridiculous amount of money to spend on wheels.)

Labor Day Permanent URL to this day's entry

Sharpening the resistance Permalink to this item

Sisyphus has a little pep rally with a reminder to arm yourselves with the truth to resist those demons in the dark. Good post, good links on 43SB.

Banging drums just outside the firelight Permalink to this item

David Roberts has some rather bleak thoughts on Van Jones' resignation and what it might portend for our political discourse.

"This basic, gut-level fear of loss, fear of tribal obsolescence and irrelevance, is all the 25%-and-shrinking right has left. It has been overwhelmed by its most paranoid, bigoted elements. Not activists, not online petitioners, but U.S. senators and Republican thought leaders say the president wasnít born in the U.S.; that he wants to kill old people; that he is not fit to speak to school children. They are banging drums and chanting just outside the campfire circle of rational civic discourse. Their din makes it impossible to think, to plan, to govern. They can not lead, but in their twisted fear they can prevent the rest of us from going anywhere either."

Jeremy Scahill reports that Rep. Mike Pence, Republican of Indiana, who led the charge to get Jones fired is a big Prince fan—Blackwater's owner, Erik Prince.

Back to school Permalink to this item

The text is out, and Obama's radical socialistic indoctrination for the nation's school children is there for all to see. Looks good to me, lots of fine exhortation, but for an audience from kindergarten to seniors in high school, it might be a little on the long side.

"Don't be afraid to ask questions. Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn't a sign of weakness, it's a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don't know something, and to learn something new. So find an adult you trust—a parent, grandparent or teacher; a coach or counselor—and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals."

4.Sept.2009 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Wingnuts jump the shark Permalink to this item

It seems too kind to the nuts, and to cruel to the Grand Old Party to connect the dots, but yes, some of these wingnuts are indeed Republicans, and even office-holders, who fear? loathe? the idea of the President speaking directly to their children.

Is there anything that can't be politicized for an advertising dollar? P.T. Barnum must be jiggling from the echoes off of Fox "News."

State Sen. Steve Russell of Oklahoma is worried about a "cult of personality." The Governor of Texas is concerned that the President didn't tell everyone more about what he'd have to say. Florida GOP chairman Jim Greer said he was "absolutely appalled that taxpayer dollars are being used to spread President Obama's socialist ideology." (Wow, is Greer from Idaho or something?) The Associate Director of the Cato Institute's Center for Educational Freedom has "alarm bells" going off, but it might just be tinnitus. (Does Cato provide health insurance?)

Our Superintendent of Public Education had questions and got answers, and they all seem pretty darn bland, and he's all about reassurance and understanding, and mild promotion of the event. (You can't be too careful, with all the socialist ideology running around these days.) Writing to our superintendents, principals, charter school administrators, and public information officers, Luna says:

"I believe this will be a unique opportunity for all school children, including Idaho's students, to hear from our country's highest elected official."

3.Sept.2009 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Dear Senator Risch Permalink to this item

I saw in Kevin Richert's blog at the Idaho Statesman that you said you're hearing from "300 to 1,500 constituents a day" with 85% saying no to "Obamacare."

That's so strange, given that Obama, so far, has not given much in the way of specific guidance to the committees in the House and Senate who are working on health care reform.

For my part, I haven't yet written to you because everything I see about what you're saying tells me that your mind is closed on the matter and you're just toeing the Republican Party line, saying no to anything and everything the Democrats propose.

According to Richert, you say you want reform to be "market-driven (not government-driven), patient-centered and quality-focused." We have a market-driven system for the most part, and that is WHY we need reform. The market cannot drive reform, it can only drive for profit, and that's the problem: it's leaving out tens of millions of people who need insurance. It IS up to the government to apply appropriate regulation, to change the path we're on, with INDUSTRY-centered and PROFIT-focused "health care."

I hope that you and the rest of Idaho's Congressional delegation can provide some leadership, and not just keep saying no to everything that's proposed.

(Don't miss the comment section of Richert's blog post, where former Representative Larry Larocco notes that our other Senator is doing more than Risch.)

Welcome to democracy, sort of Permalink to this item

Supporters of health care reform organized a rally here in Boise yesterday, and the Just Say No crowd turned out a small mob to do their best to shout down the idea of pretty much any health care reform, it sounds like. They're against all the current proposals, any new proposals, and all the made-up strawman proposals to boot.

Use the smallest effective dose Permalink to this item

So I'm not actually going to raise my alchohol consumption to 4 drinks a day to keep from losing my mind. I've taken my share of "vitamin I" but not so much since I gave up soccer. Without any particular studies to inform me, I did decide that it would be better not to take anything that masks pain before playing. Pain's an important signal, and I want to know what my nervous system has to tell me, in general. Do I need to protect something? Put on a brace? Quit for the day? Find a different sport?

Now there's some science to support my personal intuition: prophylactic use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory painkillers (NSAID) such as ibuprofen is a uniformly bad idea.

Beartender, another round! Permalink to this item

Good news for good times, the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry added up 15 studies and found that people over 60 who consume moderate amounts of alcohol have a reduced risk for dementia. And...

"The studies variously defined light to moderate drinking as 1 to 28 drinks per week."

How about... a finely crafted Pilsner? Nice to see someone rescue the category from industrial brewing.

Health care heats up Permalink to this item

I was going to wait to see how Obama's public appeal to Congress turned out before saying more, but then this outstanding statement of opinion from the MountainGoat Report, getting frank with Walt. Part of our ongoing electronic town hall meeting, and the Congressman (or one of his aides) can respond right there in the comments if he'd like.

2.Sept.2009 Permanent URL to this day's entry

A horsey and a ducky Permalink to this item

Oregon vs. Boise State Boise is in a fever about the Biggest Game Ever to come to town. Whoopie. The Statesman's printers must be running short of blue and orange ink by now. I won't be driving, parking, shuttling, tailgating, or caring about it, but I will make a prediction: Bronco fans will be insufferable for some time to come if they manage to pull off a non-upset (the Ducks are rated two spots lower than BSU at this point) win, and beat Oregon for the 2nd year running.

But then... you know.

Circus comes to town Permalink to this item

Timothy Egan gives us the right coast perspective on Idaho's wolf hunt, now underway:

"For years, Idaho officials have been trying to convince businesses that their state is not a hotbed of hate-filled rubes, gun-toting racists and assorted nut jobs getting their information from Glenn Beck."

Substitute Fox "News", and you'd be closer; Mr. Beck is a relative newcomer on the assorted nut job informant scene. The real problem with the task before Idaho officials is, as far as anyone can see, the state's nether regions are a hotbed of hate-filled rubes, gun-toting racists and assorted nut jobs.

Those of us of a different ilk see it as a mixed blessing: it helps keep the tourists at bay, but then tourists are a big part of our economy.

Aside from shooting wolves, the recent comment by the man who puts the "goober" in "gubernatorial candidate," Rex Rammell, have helped propel our state into the active awareness of east coast liberals for 15 minutes, at least. The Republican top dogs lined up to denounce his "joke" (or as he later deemed it, his courteous response to the woman who brought up the idea of hunting tags for assassinating the current President), and Rammell proceeded to milk the publicity he was getting for all it was worth.

Today we have the dual spectacle of Rammell's refusal to apologize for his remark and blaming GOP leaders for that, and Rammell's lawyer disagreeing with his client, on the record no less, concerning another threat of personal destruction, this one aimed at Rammell's bid for Governor.

"Mincemeat" hasn't come up in the conversation yet, but it should fit somewhere, especially with the coming holiday season. It's all gravy for the GOP leadership, though. You can't help but look reasonable (to say nothing of sane) in a contest with Rammell.

Update: all kidding aside, there are some reasonable people in these parts. Rocky Barker is one of them, and his column today provides a serious look at the issues concerning wolves and their management.

1.Sept.2009 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Oh good, I can just skip it then Permalink to this item

The Medium reports on a Facebook exodus: does it make you nosy, is it a scene turned desperate, are there stalkers? Privacy compromises? (Is the Pope Catholic?) Is it abusive, disillusioning, beholden to corporate interests? "A third wave of dissenters appears to be bored with it, obscurely sore or just somehow creeped out."

"Is Facebook doomed to someday become an online ghost town, run by zombie users who never update their pages and packs of marketers picking at the corpses of social circles they once hoped to exploit?"

My complaint is simple: I see these "invitations" to check something or someone out on Facebook, and the link goes to a login page. There are just so many interesting things to see and do without getting another account somewhere.

Setting the record straight Permalink to this item

Jeremy Cahill's good at that, such as in this roundup of seven points about Dick Cheney and torture. They bear repeating, since Dick Cheney hasn't given up on his self-promotion, misinformation and book tour to convince us all that only he knows how to protect the country, and torture is the way to go.

"And, with the cooperation of a lazy and pliant media, Cheney continues to run his own televised miseducation camp. And letís be honest: It ainít just Fox News. The Washington Post now appears to be a private little Pravda for Cheney and his tiny group of minions formerly employed by the CIA. 'The Post management, it seems, is determined to return to its past practice of acting as stenographers for the CIAís PR machine,' [Ray] McGovern, former CIA analyst, recently wrote."

V for Victory, and X for a finger in your eye Permalink to this item

Anita Moore, Esquire, and OPL besides just had to mention that The Ada Co. Assessor's map of the Jaycee's parcel the fluorescent-lighted Table Rock cross is one of "Idaho's gems." To her, the old complaints about a religious monument on public land were just "some idiot atheist," and how much better to have a shining symbol to provide "a rebuke to the unbelievers" instead.

I wasn't around here when the Jaycees worked their "foresight" to purchase the tiny parcel from the County (?) so that the monument could stand unfettered by the Constitution. Just out of curiosity, I looked up the information for the parcel in question, #S0918243550, on the Assessor's website. It's 0.07 acres, or just over 3,000 square feet, which is quite a bit less than the c. 70' x 120' yellow rectangle I get from their map generator. But the "funny" thing is that the yellow rectangle isn't under the cross. Whoopsie!

I guess getting it accurately carved out of the 245 acre parent parcel wasn't considered all that important? The oh-so-special 0.07 acres is real close to where the crosses are, at least. Add "crosses" to the list including horseshoes and hand grenades.

There seems to be a special tax deal, too: in 2000, the property was valued at $1,000 (by the "market" method), and no tax was assessed. The value has run up to $6,600, and taxes are now most of $100 per year.

Shine on, you crazy diamond.

It may be easier to screw it up... Permalink to this item

than it will be to fix it, even though some people have concluded that geo-engineering is "feasible". If you accept the hypothesis that human activity is an important driving factor in the climate change going on now, we are already involved in this "geo-engineering," probably not in a good way.

Since engineering (like all human enterprise) proceeds with a substantial component of trial and error, there are some risks involved with modifying one's life-support system on the fly. Maybe this is an argument in favor of Mars missions: we could go practice on another planet before trying stuff here. Best if we could "terraform" Mars first, and make it more earthling-friendly... but then we'd like to have it for a backup, right? Except there'd be colonists, and they'd get uppity sooner or later, and then they wouldn't be keen on a bunch of carpetbaggers moving in.

So, back to earth, and all the hair-brained and/or brilliant ideas for fixing and/or modifying the climate. The Beeb says that "the report also highlighted an inadequate international legal framework for cross border projects."

"The greatest challenges to the successful deployment of geo-engineering may be to social, ethical, legal and political issues associated with governance rather than scientific issues."

If we're desperate enough to do something "quick"... will we find supra-national political will? Or will one hyperpower or a few technologically advanced countries (or one crazy one) simply take matters into their own hands and do what they think will work? (The article didn't mention any solutions involving nuclear weapons, but I'm sure that will occur to someone sooner or later.)

If we're not desperate, it's hard to see what will motivate a coherent international action. Interesting times.


Tom von Alten      tva_∂t_fortboise_⋅_org

ISSN 1534-0007

Thursday, 01-Oct-2009 10:27:17 MDT