June 2005
   Comments (remove NOSPAM)


Go to Current

Posted June 29, 2005
2 Guys Facing South

Wow, it's as if the Weekly's Knute Berger is channeling Mr_Blog's June 26 late-night journaling:

Mossback: Kids Love Trains
Blarchive: Revote (June 26)

Back | Comments (remove NOSPAM)

Posted June 28, 2005
Four Items and a Funeral

1. So according to Rumsfeld the insurgency could last 12 years. That's basically three Presidential elections and four midterms in which the Resmuglicans can use the Stay The Course slogan.
     It occurs to me that I can only think of one insurgency in history that's ever been put down: the Contras, who played a home schedule split between Honduras and Nicaraugua. They have several things in common with today's Iraqi insurgents, namely John Negroponte, Elliott Abrams, Richard Armitage and Otto Reich. Except now those four horsemen are anti-insurgent. The Contras also had the disadvantage of having Congress working against them...

2. Yeah... the Ten Commandments are just monuments (nudge-nudge wink-wink). Daddy, what's a 'graven image'?  

3. The Downing Street Memo is now a series (collect all eight!). "The rewards from your visit to Crawford will be few," UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw wrote in a "Secret and Personal" memo on March 25, 2002, as Tony Blair prepared to visit Dubya down at Southfork. Blimey, I should have gotten a Fred Meyer* "Rewards Card" instead!...

4. Don't be so hard on the newly-dubbed entitlement generation (so-named by the AP, June 26). Success early in life and being accustomed to instant gratification is a bad thing? How is that different from being the Baby Boomer who thinks that daddy handing him everything on a silver platter, followed by four years as Governor, qualifies him to be President?

5. Speaking of voodoo economics, isn't that the moral equivalent of the Seattle Monorail Project's funding plan? What else do you call making huge purchases, backed by a revenue source you know is inadequate, debt financing the rest, and spreading the burden out to future generations? SMP head Joel Horn was on KUOW yesterday, and what I thought I heard him say (I can't put myself through listening to it again) was that the debt costs only seem high because of future inflation—and therefore there will also be plenty of cartab revenues because the prices of new cars will keep rising. Will a map of the Monorail line show it to be shaped like a Laffer Curve?

One Billion Per Mile

Also: seen today--
a bright yellow Nissan convertible, license number "FFFF00"

* you might know it as Kroger

Back | Comments (remove NOSPAM)

Posted June 26, 2005

"Seattle's monorail can no longer rest on votes of the past or promises made, it must deal with the reality of a stunning debt the city cannot afford." Source

That's how the Seattle Times concludes an editorial in this morning's Sunday online edition. Preceding this sentence, the editors recount the history of the monorail project and the four votes that led to the current plan—and the pro-monorail side won the fourth ballot by less than 1,000 votes.

I've made no secret of my ambivalence for the Green Line. To me, the local fascination for "light rail on a stick" has been a civic version of the thirtysomething yuppie who, with a few bucks in the bank, hits Ebay to buy all the cool toys, now retro-cool, his parents couldn't afford when he was a kid.

The original monorail initiative was the brainchild of a cabbie who was annoyed he couldn't drive faster in traffic—other people should take a monorail so I can drive! Some of the more vocal boosters don't even live in Seattle, hobbyists from all over the country who follow monorails with the same mentality that some poor, lonely men stalk Avril Lavignepony up a few billion so I can come to your city and take videos of myself riding the monorail!

Most of all, my ambivalence comes from my knowing there's a much simpler, cheaper, more advanced alternative, Personal Rapid Transit, which I've been promoting. I watched as the Green Line project was taken over by bureaucrats who know how to run a project and devise revenue streams, but not how to transport people. As they allowed the people of Seattle, in love with a technology, to transfer onto it all their expectations born out of frustration with traffic:

Modern! In fact it's been around since the 1890s.
Congestion reducing! How does 70,000 riders a day make a dent in this region when there are millions of car trips every day?
Fast! Well... it's just as fast as old, pokey light rail, 25 mph. And you'd still have to take a slow bus to and from the stations.
Citywide! Going back and forth in a corridor is not "citywide."

Then we watched as the bad news was kept bottled up inside SMP, under the cover of bid negotiations, and reports of rising cost estimates despite cost-cutting redesigns.

You could almost smell the desperation coming out of SMP.

Time to wake up and look at the figures in black and white: $11 billion including debt service, and an underperforming revenue stream based on a tax now to last 50 years.

It's time for a revote, and time to put this project, this beautiful, impossible dream, to sleep. And before you scream about already voting four times, those votes were for planning authority. A fifth vote would be the first with a budgeted construction plan.

What's more, the Elevated Transportation Company (ETC), SMP's predecessor, promised us a vote if the project got out of hand:

If the measure is approved by voters, ETC Chairman Tom Weeks has promised that if the project can't be built for the anticipated cost, it will not proceed. He expects construction bids would be received next year.
"It's all or nothing," he said. "If we can't do 14 miles, we're going to go back to the voters." When asked what cost level would prompt a revote, he said, "We don't have a drop-dead number yet." Source

Yes, Weeks was ambiguous as to whether he meant cost or number of miles. So we have to assume he meant both, right? Besides, I think $11 billion is a drop-dead number if ever there's been one.

Back | Comments (remove NOSPAM)

Posted June 24, 2005
Baby where did our law go?

There seems to be some disagreement over whether the Supreme Court's decision in Kelo v. New London is good news for communities, or good news for the rich and powerful.

Regardless what the vox populi eventually settles on, the outcome of the eminent domain case is nothing but roses for the Seattle Monorail Project. Beset by new disclosures of ballooning cost, lengthier financing period and calls to stop the elevated train project, the Supremes open the door to a unique extension of their Kelo logic. Namely, if you can exercise eminent domain over private real property for private redevelopment, why not use it for any kind of property, for public purposes?

It won't be long before the monophiliacs in Yahoo Groups urge SMP to apply Kelo to every aspect of the project, then lowball Cascadia and landowners on the compensation. Second & Yesler? Obviously eminent domain. The local supply of concrete? Eminent domain. Millions of tons of steel? Eminent domain. Architecture & engineering services? Sorry, Intellectual Property is still property—eminent domain.

All told, I estimate the post-Kelo Seattle Green Line is now going to cost about 3 million bucks after legal fees, contractor entertainment, and Joel Horn's salary.

Progressives start coming out against Monorail 1, 2

Now accepting donations. The most obvious thing about the photos I took at this year's Fremont Solstice Parade is that my camera, a 2001 Fuji Finepix, really sucks if the subjects are moving in bright sunlight. This means that the only thing people want to see in an FSP photo, the nude bicyclists, turn out all fuzzy. And I don't mean the pubic hair.

Here are the few shots I managed to salvage, and remember: all Mr_Blog wants for Christmas is a Fuji Finepix S5100.

El Sol


LDS Missionary

Hobo minstrels

Flame On





Biker Trio



Oh, I nearly forgot: there were two minor parade entries that were, for my money, fall on your ass funny. The first was the Pregnant Bride, who would go up to spectators, glare at them in a seen-it-all way, and say, "You look familiar to me, sir." The other was a Devil, who would go up to the littlest children in the crowd and offer, "Free cigarettes for the kiddies? Aw c'mon mom and dad, lighten up!"

Photogs with better cameras:
John Cornicello
Bill Simpson
Larry Henion
Fremont Arts Council photo index

Back | Comments (remove NOSPAM)

Posted June 21, 2005
Curious George Goes to 'Nam
(or, This One Writes Itself)

Prez'dent Bush is finally goin' to Vietnam! How would that go, in order for Dubya to really get the full, authentic active-duty Army experience he missed in the Sixties? Yes... Yes... it's coming... I think I can see it...

•George bids tearful goodbye to Laura at induction center
•Head gets shaved
•Months of grueling basic training (no mountain biking!)
•Wound Tom DeLay in target range shooting accident
•Air Force One stripped of furnishings, painted Army green; seated next to Walter Cronkite or Dan Rather entire flight
•Arrives in Hanoi, passes Jacques Chirac who is leaving with a bad case of Dien Bien Flu
•In country accommodations: sandbag bunker with no air conditioning (or open foxhole during monsoon season)
•Tour Mekong Delta region in small open patrol boat while enjoying constant low-altitude saturation fireworks display
•No motorcade, either walk everywhere or take kidney-shaking chopper ride (iPod must be programmed with Wagner)
•Introduction (yeah, right) to a number of entry-level drugs
•John Bolton strangles prostitute during alcohol & drug-induced freakout
•Cower in ditch while buddies get hit with questions from independent media
•Frags Dick Cheney near Hue
•Returns to the U.S.; no welcoming parade. A shattered man, but intent on practicing war no more
•And from now on, don't ever come up on him from behind, man

Bush to Visit Vietnam Next Year

Back | Comments (remove NOSPAM)

Posted June 20, 2005
Fool me once Link This

I really can't stand Sen. Joe "I like you, you're the real deal" Biden (D-Del). Because in 1987 I did some campaign work for him in Seattle. He professed the right liberal positions in an articulate way; he seemed Kennedyesque. Maybe it was because, it was eventually learned, he cribbed a lot from Robert Kennedy. But that was after I had already quit his campaign in disgust after Biden was caught plagiarizing a speech by then-British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock.

Apologists will say: Biden made an innocent mistake on the Kinnock plagiarism thing: he used to quote Kinnock a lot, and forgot to attribute it just once. Pull the other one. What Biden actually said was,

"I started thinking as I was coming over here, why is it that Joe Biden is the first in his family ever to go to a university?" Source

Not "a friend of mine was thinking," not "the British politician Neil Kinnock was thinking." He said he, Joe "Howard Dean doesn't speak for me" Biden, was doing the thinking. How is that omitted attribution?

Now Joe "I love the credit card companies" Biden says he'll run for the Democratic nomination in 2008 as long as he has a chance of winning.

Joe, you might as well know now: you don't have a chance. Not as long as there are Democrats like Mr_Blog who remember your last disastrous run.

Biden talks a good line when it suits him, but when it comes to major policy he lines up with the Resmuglicans. Joe "4 of the 10 biggest credit card companies are based in my state" Biden is just slightly to the left of Joe "Honorary Republican" Lieberman.

Why did you drive to Microsoft in Redmond today? Why didn't you take the bus or a car pool? It was because, once you get to the bus stop or drop-off, it's too inconvenient to get to and around the campus. Now the group SoundPRT has a video of what a Personal Rapid Transit shuttle would look like at Microsoft. While trains and buses have their uses, PRT is the link we've been missing in the campaign to get more people to leave their gas guzzlers at home, and take transit instead.

I took a lot of photos at the the Fremont Solstice Parade on June 18th, but I haven't had time to optimize them for web viewing. Until I get to the task, here's a list of albums of photos taken by much better photographers (keep an eye peeled for Wonder Woman and The Incredibles):

John Cornicello
Bill Simpson
Fremont Arts Council photo index

Back | Comments (remove NOSPAM)

Posted June 17, 2005
A Tale of Two Stories
or, Repeat Offenders Link This

Story AStory B
East Room
The White House

Q: Thank you, sir. On Iraq, the so-called Downing Street memo from July 2002 says intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy of removing Saddam through military action. Is this an accurate reflection of what happened? Could both of you respond?

BLAIR: ...No, the facts were not being fixed in any shape or form at all. And let me remind you that that memorandum was written before we then went to the United Nations.
BUSH: ...And somebody said, well, you know, we had made up our mind to go to use military force to deal with Saddam. There's nothing farther from the truth.
...And this meeting, evidently, that took place in London happened before we even went to the United Nations -- or I went to the United Nations. Source
Interview Room 2
NYPD Precinct 15

SIPOWICZ: Okay, youse two guys say you were at the movies when the liquor store was being robbed?

SUSPECT "JIMMY": That's right, we saw Revenge Of The Sith.

SUSPECT "WILLY-G": Star Wars, that's right.

SIPOWICZ: Well we just happen to have a video tape that your running mate, "Jerome," happened to make the day before the robbery. Greg, can you hand me the TV remote?

MEDAVOY: Sure Andy, here it is.

SIPOWICZ: Thanks. *starts tape*

JIMMY (TAPED): Okay boyz, here's the plan. We go into the shop at 6:50, and we do the job! Then immediately we get a cab to the Cineplex, where my lady Shayla will be waiting with tickets for the 6:58 showing of Star Wars. We watch the movie, and if the Man asks, we say we got to the theater at 6:30.

WILLY-G (TAPED): 6:30, that's right.

SIPOWICZ: *stops tape* So, what do you two have to say about that?

JIMMY: Easy. That tape was made before we went to the movie theater.

WILLY-G: What?

JIMMY: Chill, Will, you gotta be Presidential about it.

WILLY-G: Uh-- oh! Yeah. Some people say we had, uh, made up our minds to knock over that store. But it ain't true! And that tape, like Jimmy says, it was made before we got to the movie, before I got to the movie. Evidently.

SIPOWICZ: Well that makes sense.

MEDAVOY: It certainly does. I guess that means you two are free to go.

JIMMY: Cool, so if you'll excuse us, we'll be-

SIPOWICZ: Siddown you hosebags, you ain't goin' nowhere.


Tamestream Media® finally looking at Memo
Also today: Public Enemy #1?
I Love Typos: Group claims "552,000 million" rode new Minneapolis LRT line in March

Back | Comments (remove NOSPAM)

Posted June 16, 2005
541,000 signatures, and all we get is this lousy room in the Capitol basement

The John Conyers "meeting" on the Downing Street Memo, which started out as a "hearing," and then became a "forum" in search of a room, will be on C-SPAN 3 today, at 2:30 EDT (11:30 PDT). Watch It!

Other readings:

Vote to cut book-snoops defies veto threat
Greg Palast on the other memos
No job is too tough for Mr. Fix-It!

Elevated journalism. When did The Stranger, formerly the counterculture Avis of Seattle free alternative weeklies, become the official organ of gentrification and public works boondoggles? Check out The New Deal by Erica Barnett in last week's issue:

Sitting behind a low conference table in a nondescript meeting room in the basement of the Seattle Monorail Project's downtown headquarters, SMP director Joel Horn looked, of all things, nervous as he announced the most positive news to come out of the agency in months...

I'm confused. Is this piece supposed to be a news story, or a feature story? Because at the top there's their new tagline, "Seattle's only news section," but the story itself is softer than a Jamie Moyer strikeout pitch.

All the rosy pro-SMP spin is up front: $1.6 billion, fewer stations cut than rumored, and even a bulleted list that could have been taken straight from the official news release. Clouds don't appear until the 7th paragraph, where SMP's Cindi Laws voices dissatisfaction with the new, "blah," cookie-cutter station designs (so much for fantasies of retail inside stations). Then a passage mentioning the "tourist trains," which were supposed to generate revenue, are dropped too.

Barnett saves for very last the announcement of the true $2 billion price tag. That the new total cost was released "on Tuesday, as The Stranger went to press" seems to be the excuse. Give us all a break: even if the June 9-16 edition went to press June 7, the NIMBY group OnTrack broke the story on June 4th.

I'll grant that Ms. Barnett was busy with other assignments—such as Great Heights ("great" meaning Tall, or Good?), in which she reports that The Stranger's favorite mayor's Broadway densification plan will not include an amendment, opposed by that mayor, that 20% of new housing be affordable.

Back | Comments (remove NOSPAM)

Posted June 15, 2005
Stop the spam

Those spammers are diabolical! Not only am I getting emails with domain-filter-beating spellings like v:agr:a, cialess and medicaments, now the Seattle city government is sending out election-year campaign PR disguised as official business. Here's a clip from a culprit that just arrived in my inbox:

Please join me at the 9th event of the 2005 Urban Sustainability Forum. This topic is particularly timely for Seattle ... with Mayor Nickels' success with his Climate Protection Agreement (received unanimous support at last week's U.S. Conference of Mayors) and Seattle's receipt of the "2005 City Livability Award" at the same conference.

It was signed "Diane M. Sugimura, Director, City of Seattle Department of Planning and Development." I doubt Ms. Sugimura writes the PR for her department, so for this visibility piece we taxpayers are contributing to Nickels's campaign the time for (at minimum) (1) a PR specialist, to write the thing, (2) the specialist's manager, to review the work, (3) Ms. Sugimura, to approve the final version, (4) a staff of, what, 5? 6? to plan the Forum Series and schedule it for maximum political effect, and (5) the Municipal email system, to send it. What would you call that—a $5000 contribution? $10,000? How generous of us. And no thank-you letter...

Blues not music to GOP ears. The Weekly has a tear-stained feature about Republicans living in Seattle. Basically, the wittle beebees are whining that nobody is nice to them when they display their W signs or talk about being a Resmuglican. The theme seems to be, "people are intolerant because they hassle me about my politics." Well vocal disagreement isn't intolerance, it's freedom of speech. So what if the verbs get rough sometimes? Yours are the partisans who still call the Clintons murderers, drug smugglers, and worse. I don't recall any Seattle Republicans calling for moderation, the only thing I heard were shameful incidents such as KVI groupies shouting down Hillary Clinton at Westlake Center.

Your whining is typical of a political movement that equates dissent with treason, that regards opposing views as attacks on your right to hold yours. Your problem is that you want people to like you for your support for lying, cheating, fascist warmongers. Your problem is that you really want to be living in Kansas.

You like the Bushies? Fine, tell us why you support the lying, cheating, fascist warmongers, and why you think their lying, cheating, fascist warmongering is good for the country. And above all, have the courage of your convictions. Don't come crying "nobody wikes me" when you get a chilly reception.

Red In A Blue City

404, Terror Suspect Not Found

In Le Carré novels from the Cold War, the spies depended on their memories. George Smiley, the spymaster with decades of experiences tucked away in his brain, had no need for computers. But protecting us from terrorists, mislaid packages and news today requires enormous computing power. But if you've ever tried to set up a database or get through to Dell customer support, you know that computerization does not come without technical difficulties.

Watch list IT management feeble
A new report from the Justice Departmentís inspector general said the government's center for consolidating information from various terrorist watch lists, known as the Terrorist Screening Center, has suffered from poor IT management.
"...we found that the TSC's management of its IT, a critical part of the screening process, has been deficient," the report said. "From its inception, the TSC's IT Branch--staffed with numerous contractors--did not have strong, effective and focused leadership... [and] experienced significant difficulty in hiring qualified staff..."
Center officials launched [the version known as] TSDB 1A March 12, 2004... this first version of the database ...included many duplicates from the multiple watch lists. Center workers updated TSDB 1A manually... Each day, center workers would overwrite the data in TSDB 1A with the new data file because that process was the only means to update the terrorism-related information. "However, this process eliminated the ability to retrieve historical information from the system," according to the report. Source

DIDYA GET THAT?— "eliminated the ability to retrieve historical information from the system."

It's probably a good bet the problem was discovered the way database errors of this type are often found—records were lost, and when the workers tried to restore them: POOF, gone forever.

The implication is that people who ought to be on the watch list, aren't. Of course, it is also possible that people who shouldn't have been aren't either. So it's good news if a lost name was, say, Murray O'Mara of Peekskill, NY—but bad news if it's Mullah Omar of Somewhere Near Kabul, Afghanistan.

Hey... maybe this is why Dubya never mentions the Mullah—or Osama: computer error!

Good Air America news. The ratings for Spring, Period 1 came out earlier this month, and Seattle's KTPK 1090 continues to hold its own—while dittohead favorites KVI and KTTH declined dramatically (source: Radio & Records; previous quarters' data seem to have been adjusted since first reported). "Christian Talk" KGNW seems to have vanished from the ratings book altogether.

Station Fall 04 Winter 05 Spr 05 P1
KPTK 1.0 1.5 1.3
KVI 3.3 2.9 2.5
KTTH 3.5 3.0 2.7
KGNW 0.5 0.5 ?

Down The Street Memo. Congratulations to the thousands of Seattle DIYers who have followed this spring's 18-To-24-Inch Front Yard Retaining Wall Memo. Extra credit to the 33% who sprang for rough, natural stone. There's nothing like individuality!

Council gets on Allen's "frill" ride. -Link This- That $48 million, 30-35 riders per hour gift to Paul Allen and other gentrification promoters is one step closer to reality, as the City Council's Transportation Committee (with some dissent) voted to send the thing to the full Council for a vote. Since it's a train, instead of an up-or-down vote, we'll call it a back-and-forth vote. Some choice bits from today's P-I story by Kathy Mulady:

Billionaire Paul Allen's desire for a streetcar, a key part of plans to transform South Lake Union into a hub for biotechnology, is on track and headed for City Council approval in two weeks.
     Yesterday, the council's Transportation Committee, led by Councilman Richard Conlin, approved a plan to pay for construction, operation and maintenance of the streetcar.
     Construction is expected to start in April on the 2.6-mile line running to Westlake Center and would cost $47.5 million. The streetcar could be running by fall 2007.
     About $25 million of the construction cost would be paid by forming a local improvement district to tax property owners along the line who will benefit most from the streetcar. The rest would come from public transportation grants.
     ...Councilmen Nick Licata and Peter Steinbrueck voted against the ordinance.
     "There was some backroom deal-making that I didn't appreciate," [Steinbrueck] said... I don't think it is the most cost-effective solution, especially in a place lacking residential density.
     "What other sacrifices will we have to make for a streetcar that runs every 15 minutes and picks up one person at each stop?"
     Steinbrueck said he wants $1 million of that money to be used on other transportation improvements as it was originally intended, including bikeways, sidewalks, paving and other improvements in the neighborhood.

DIDYA GET THAT? Streetcar money is coming out of biking and pedestrian facilities. Hey fellow environmentalists: are you sure you want to be part of a "pro-transit" coalition that throws your money at trains, gentrification and developers, at the expense of feet and pedals?

"I had a tentative agreement with some of my colleagues, and that was negotiated away overnight with the executive, and that's what I was steamed about," said Steinbrueck.
     Redeveloping South Lake Union has consumed much of Mayor Greg Nickels' attention.

DIDYA GET THAT? Mayor Horizontal is spending his time catering to billionaire Paul Allen's pet project.

"The streetcar will help spur much-needed job and housing growth in one of Seattle's most dynamic neighborhoods and connect thousands of riders to buses, monorail and light rail in the heart of the city," Nickels said yesterday.

30-35 riders per hour; "thousands of riders". A certain mayor has got a truth problem.

Jim Falconer, who co-chairs the Build the Streetcar Committee with Ada Healy, Vulcan's vice president of real estate, said he hopes the streetcar can be replicated in other neighborhoods.
     Falconer is president of Vance Corp., which has properties in Denny Triangle, on the downtown end of the proposed track...

DIDYA GET THAT? Falconer has got His. He "hopes" you can get Yours. But you're going to be paying for His; what do you think are the odds he'll be returning the favor?

"We have a $500 million backlog in transportation needs that are being ignored," said John Fox, with the Seattle Displacement Coalition.
     "This isn't a transportation improvement; it is a frill designed to enhance the value of Paul Allen's properties."
     Three sleek, modern streetcars would be bought from Inekon, a company in the Czech Republic that provided cars for systems in Portland, Tacoma and, most recently, Washington, D.C.
     Maintenance and operation is expected to be paid for by business sponsorships, advertising and fares, though there is no firm cost estimate. Later, a share of the King County Metro hours used for buses and other public transportation could be used for the streetcar.
     Licata said he's concerned the streetcar would use too many of the future transit hours, leaving some neighborhoods with reduced bus schedules.
     "One mile of streetcar shouldn't suck up 20 percent of the new Metro hours for the city," said Licata... Source

Hey Seattle: come on and take a frill ride!

Blarchive: Speaking of Transit

Also today: The Other Frill under the microscope

Back | Comments (remove NOSPAM)

Posted June 13, 2005
Mayor Has Gas Worries

I'm back. We saw eagles land in the surf and pick over a dead seabird.

On a similar note, it's good to see Greg Nickels's relentless PR machine lost no momentum in my absence. You've got to hand it to him—of all our recent mayors, Nickels has the most inertia. How does he do it? Well, an abundance of mass is usually how it happens.

A while back (see Heart of Glass) I decried the obviously political motivations behind the then-impending, now implemented changes to Seattle recycling rules. And not hazy, feel-good political—it was for the personal political benefit of our Chicago-Way mayor.

I believe what I wrote at the time was, "we're enacting a significant new public policy basically so Nickels can look good with the US Conference of Mayors." So I had to laugh when I saw the latest stop for Nickels's Reëlection Express (and check out the angstrom-thin layer of humility):

Mayors conference names Seattle most livable U.S. city
Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels' stance on environmental protection is paying off big for him at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Chicago.
      Yesterday, Seattle was named the country's Most Livable City greater than 100,000 because of the mayor's [self-]promotion of his Climate Protection Initiative...
      Nickels also got the nod from the conference environmental and energy committees for his proposal that cities represented at the gathering agree to meet goals of the Kyoto treaty for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. Both panels adopted Nickels' resolution unanimously, and the full conference will vote on it tomorrow.
      "Seattle is looked at by other cities as an innovator," Nickels said about the livability award. "So it isn't a surprise that we won, but it is an honor."
      "I think it says two things," said Steve Nicholas, the mayor's environmental adviser. "I think it's a recognition that global warming is a local issue. Second, I think it's a recognition that Seattle has a great program."
      Nicholas also said he was surprised that the Kyoto proposal, formally called the U.S. Mayors' Climate Protection Agreement, was passed so handily by the committees.
      Under the agreement, cities would voluntarily try to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 7 percent of 1990 levels by the year 2012, as called for under the Kyoto treaty.
      ...Nickels said, "This is a great step in terms of a grass-roots action." Source

"Grassroots action" that originated in and was relentlessly promoted, top-down, by his office.

Greenhouse gases are a local issue. Seattle voters can reduce them by shutting down a major source of gaseous emissions coming from the executive offices of New City Hall.

Speaking of gaseous emissions. Remember how Seattle monorail boosters were promising us that the Green Line was going to cost $1.6 billion, leaving plenty of room under the $1.75 billion cap (if you extend the financing wayyyyyy out past 40 years)? Well now the price is up to $2 billion, and director Joel Horn is basically telling us that's how much it's gonna cost, get used to it—

Cost Of Planned Monorail Climbs To $2B
It will cost more than expected to build the planned new Seattle monorail, but the Seattle Monorail Project's director says that's what it takes to give taxpayers what they asked for. The latest price tag is $1.94 billion, plus $200 million for construction contingencies... overhead and... additional land for monorail stations. Source: KIRO TV, 6/9/05

You know what? If you split the trains into little pods, you could shrink the size of the elevated rail, to the point where it would be cheap enough to build enough of it to reach every part of the city, and give every neighborhood a station. You would then have a personalized rapid transit network, capable of providing non-stop, A-to-B travel without waiting, timetables or transfers. But the people who want Disneyland-style transit see no double standard in likening such a "travel-ator" system to The Jetsons. And we're going to be the poorer for it. About $2 billion poorer.

Other Headlines Not About the Downing Street Memo. I'm saddened and appalled like everyone else about Natalee Holloway. But does it really help that Holloway's mother seems to have taken lessons in diplomacy from John Bolton? Has State cut the budget for embassy babysitters?

Mom of missing teen narrows suspects to 3
The mother of a missing Alabama teenager said Sunday that... Aruban authorities should pressure the young men to reveal what they know ... "All three of those boys know what happened to her," [Beth] Holloway Twitty said. She declined to say what she thought the three, who have been detained, did. Source: Chicago Tribune, today

Though on the extreme right, WorldNetDaily's Barbara Simpson today says the whole thing is the parents' fault (look it up, I'm not giving the wingnuts the linkage points), so maybe I'd lash out too...

Back | Comments (remove NOSPAM)

Posted June 8, 2005
Substitute, Me For Him

*We interrupt our scheduled programming...*

Good morning Blogosphere, this is Tim Snide in the New York studios of Mr_Blog, and this is a special edition of the Peabody Award-winning Slam Book.®

Dubya continues his campaign to disassemble the English language, as well as insist that his reform proposals will be good for the future of Social Security... The White House also announced an exclusive sponsorship deal, in which all Bush speeches will be sponsored by Kumon Math & Reading Centers.

The president responded to an ABC/Washington Post poll, showing a clear majority of Americans think he is not paying attention to their concerns, by announcing he and visiting UK PM Tony Blair would be going on a cycling tour of Cornwall.

Ted Kennedy is talking about the Downing Street Memo. "The contents of the Downing Street Minutes confirm that the Bush Administration was determined to go to war in Iraq, regardless of whether there was any credible justification for doing so," the Massachusetts senator said, becoming the first senator to speak out on the document. Unfortunately, no reporters were there to cover the event, as they were all in Santa Barbara at the courthouse, waiting for the Jackson verdict. Except for FOX, which went wall-to-wall with a developing story,
Mary Jo Kopechne Lovechild Discovered; Assistant Manager at Montana Wal-Mart.

New hope for failed Washington Republican goober-natorial candidate Dino Rossi. He's retracted his concession, and instead of appealing Monday's Superior Court decision to the state Supreme Court, Rossi says he intends to return the election to Nordstrom for a full refund.

When asked whether he has any hard feelings left over after the extended election controversy, Rossi replied, "you're not gonna have Dino Rossi to kick around anymore."

Meanwhile, King County Elections chief Dean Logan announced a plan to improve his department's accuracy—King County will go to an all-mail-in election system in 2008. Voters would mail-in ballots that will be printed on 4x6 cards and distributed in election-week editions of Seattle Weekly, The Stranger, and Evergreen Monthly. Voters would be able to put candidates into office for a 10-week trial, 6 months, or a full 208 weeks, along with options to pay in full now or be billed later.

Mayor Greg Nickels's latest idea for greening Seattle: renaming the Space Needle the Jolly Green Giant. Mayor Horizontal was last seen at the Seattle Center, about to go vertical with an aluminum extension ladder and a can of paint.

Picking third in this year's baseball draft, the Mariners chose Jeff Clement, a catcher out of USC. Clement, 6-1 and 210 lbs., batted .347 last year, with 13 home runs and 50 RBI. A spokesman said the Ms had no alternative but to take Clement, as this year's college crop was thin on washed-up 37 year-old burnouts.

From London: Christie's auction house today plans to sell off the first world map to show 'America,' created in 1507 by German cartographer Martin Waldseemueller. The map also shows a chemical belt around Baghdad, and WMD caches east, west, south and north of Tikrit. However, scholar and darling of American conservatives Stephen C. Meyer cast doubt on the map's authenticity, as it shows the world as being round.

From the world of showbiz: rumors are running rampant about Katie Holmes's hot new romance with Watergate sensation W. Mark Felt. The couple was seen at New York's Cafe Des Artistes, feeding each other broth and snow peas.

Finally today, Mr_Blog has gone the slacker route, he's off on a 4-day vacation which, frankly, he has in no way earned.

That's all for now from the Slam Book.® This closing reminder: if celebrities really wanted to be left alone,
they'd fire their publicists. This is Tim Snide... Good day?

Blarchives: The Slam Book®

Back on Monday.

Back | Comments (remove NOSPAM)

Posted June 7, 2005
'Nickels to make Seattle greener'

Our Chicago-Way meaty municipal maven is always searching for environmental cred. After rolling out new mandatory recycling rules earlier this year that covers residential kitchen waste, it has been widely anticipated that he would jump on board a worldwide treaty of environmentally-conscious mayors. And now here's the publicity offensive!--

Nickels... signing treaty for greener cities
Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels joined dozens of other mayors from around the world yesterday in signing an international treaty calling for... 21 specific actions that can make cities greener. Source

What does it actually accomplish? It's nonbinding, so the answer is: nothing. Except garner publicity for His Girthness. And before you start getting all huffy with me, Mr_Blog is on the record as an environmentalist and household recycler. And composter. So all Nickels's new rules get me is a great big honkin' lime-colored 96-gallon yard waste cart (it would be a tight fit in NASA's Vehicle Assembly Building), that I don't have room for on my new-last-fall brick storage pad, and the privilege of having two kitchen garbage cans (one for each kind of garbage) under the sink, where I only have room for one.

Oh, I nearly forgot: I get to buy lots and lots of baking soda to use as deodorizer! And rinse out the Green Monster regularly, when I thought we were in the middle of a summer water emergency. And let's not forget my senior citizen neighbor—I'll get to wrangle her yard waste cart to the street too (I would write "to the curb," but the city hasn't seen fit to grant my neighborhood curbs or sidewalks, although I still get to pay for street maintenance, and starting in 2010 we will be able to travel above the unimproved right of way in a shiny new, obsolete monorail. But don't get me started...).

But what does this mean for Nickels's #1 priority, namely How will this affect Paul Allen??? He doesn't live IN the city—but he keeps his yacht moored here. Oh god, will he have to buy one with a larger galley that has room for a second garbage can??? Somebody appoint a commission.

Nickels's proposals for greening the city:

  • Dept. of Planning & Development issues free coupons for Dutch Boy's Autumn Artichoke
  • Seattle-Dublin sister city accord
  • Official beverage changed from coffee to Guinness
  • Density of Irish pubs to be increased to 56 per square mile, up from the current 42
  • Every neighborhood an Urban Golf Course!
  • Cops will look pretty in Kelly-green Utili-kilts
  • New city motto: "Kiss me, I'm Irish and composting kitchen trash under threat of municipal fines"
  • . For Mayor Horizontal it's not just environmentalist publicity, at some point in the last couple of years the website was been redesigned into a great big honkin' non-lime-colored Nickels advertisement. His name, mug, and latest Happynews are at the top of the home page, and he pops up on each departmental page too, posed with the department head—smiling, ubiquitous and omnipresent, like some kind of Central American caudillo (an actual hermano mayor!) For their part, the poor department officials smile like nervous hostages.

    Also today: Post/ABC poll- Bush ignoring public's concerns Watch for the diversion, such as a report that Jennifer Wilbanks attended an Al Qaeda training camp!

    Also (ran) today: The concession. 7 months later, Dino Rossi's first classy act still classless

    Back | Comments (remove NOSPAM)

    Posted June 6, 2005
    Dino Rossi, you may already be a... loser

    Christine Gregoire was hard at work on the people's business, but Washington's Democratic governor figuratively emerged from a Wenatchee court victorious. "A resounding decision that knocked down every one of the GOP's claims," reports the Seattle Times, while the P-I reports Judge John Bridges "said there was no evidence that Gregoire benefitted from the illegal votes." What makes it sweeter is that the Resmuglicans went judge shopping across the state, finally selecting in Bridges a jurist they thought would look kindly on defeated crybaby Dino Rossi.

    But Bridges's decision couldn't have been more humiliating for the Fundamentalist Party:

  • "An election such as this should not be overturned because one judge picks a number and applies a proportional deduction analysis"
  • Irregularities, but "not substantial evidence, by clear and convincing evidence, that improper conduct or irregularities procured Ms. Gregoire's election"
  • "no evidence that ballots were changed, the ballot box stuffed or that lawful votes were removed from either candidate's ballot box"
  • "There is no evidence in this record that Ms. Gregoire received any illegal votes"
  • no evidence that problems in King County were due to "intentional misconduct or someone's desire to manipulate the election," or "partisan bias"
  • "There is no evidence before the court to question ballot security"
  • "No evidence exists as to which candidate may have received a vote from the provisional ballots not associated with a registered voter."
  • No evidence that felons who voted, voted for governor-- or how they voted. Bridges took felon-votes, documented by Democrats, away from Rossi
  • Cry, Chris Vance, cry ya baby. Now before he heads to an appeals court, a look at some of the reasons the Resmuglicans failed in Washington, where they had prevailed in Florida and Ohio:

    Florida, Ohio Washington
    Election officials also officers of Bush campaign WA Sec. of State Sam Reed an R, but not a frothing partisan
    Systematic disenfranchisement Few organized shennanigans
    Widespread e-voting Only 1 county relied heavily on the black boxes
    Bush v. Gore stopped the vote counting; electoral votes confirmed before Ohio recount completed Every vote was counted, recounted

    And in this Washington, "conservative judge" still means "independent who rules according to the law."

    GOP's hand-picked judge upholds Gregoire's election:
    David Postman blogs from the courtroom
    Seattle P-I coverage
    Seattle Times coverage

    We don't think you could do it every day, either. Please, please, please: STOP asking bicycle commuters...

    "How far do you ride?"
    "Where do you live?"
    "Which way do you take?"
    "Does it take a long time?"
    "Isn't that too dangerous?"
    "Do you change clothes when you get here?"
    "What do you do when it rains?"
    "Do you get a lot of flats?"
    "Are you really healthy?"
    "I bet you don't eat junk food, do you?"

    Back | Comments (remove NOSPAM)

    Posted June 3, 2005
    Thumbs Up Link This

    Wim Wenders has never been a filmmaker who conveys an impression of being in a hurry to get to the denouement. His films unfold at their own speed, characters mosey through their on-screen lives doing what they do, and the experience is almost always enjoyable for the audience. Lisbon Story (1994) is no exception.

    I've been sort of a fan of Wenders for some time, but not the sort who obsessively searches online for filmographies. So when I stumbled upon Lisbon Story while looking up material on the different versions of Until The End Of The World, I added it to my mental checklist.

    I admire cosmopolitan films in which a number of languages are spoken. And I respect films where the director unapologetically doesn't subtitle the non-English dialogue. This is a fixture of Wenders's films, but Lisbon Story takes it even further.

    Phillip Winter (Rudiger Vogler, who has played the character for Wenders a number of times, including End Of The World and Faraway, So Close) gets a message from colleague Friedrich (Patrick Bauchau's voice)—SOS, I need your help with my film, come to Lisbon.

    Over the opening credits, Winter drives from Germany to Portugal. German, French and Spanish on his car radio mark his progress. During the drive he practices Portuguese from a cassette. He talks to himself in native German. What's being said? It doesn't matter.

    The story unfolds. It is revealed Winter has a broken foot; during the drive he is shown to be something of a klutz, a personality quirk that runs through the film. And yet a resourceful klutz: he loses his spare tire but repairs the flat tube; he buys soft drinks from tourists to pour into his overheated radiator; he trades the broken down car for a ride into the city.

    He manages to locate Friedrich's house, but he's not there, just a group of neighborhood urchins who seem to have appointed themselves Friedrich's 2nd and 3rd camera units. And the revelation is the owner of the house, the fado group Madredeus. Fronted by the luminous Teresa Salgueiro, the group performs several wonderful songs within the film's loose structure. Winter listens, falls in love with her, and I think we do too.

    We learn Winter is a movie sound man and foley artist. The scenes of him performing for the children are enchanting. Expeditions to record natural sounds are pretexts for him to explore the city, tape recorder and boom microphone in tow. The equipment signals us that hearing this movie is as important as seeing it; the sounds of Lisbon become as integral to each scene as the visuals. Scuttlebutt is that Lisbon Story was commissioned as a travelogue; if so, this aspect works.

    As he settles into a routine, Winter reads poems in German and English; he tries to converse with locals in their language. In these scenes, as in life, there are no subtitles. In an extended scene, Winter records a monologue by silent filmmaker Manoel de Oliveira (86 at the time, still making movies today, talkies, at 97), who seems to be talking about the history and beauty of Lisbon. What exactly is being said? Relax, control-freak mainstream moviegoer, and enjoy the rhythms and inflections of his voice.

    Weeks drag by; Salgueiro returns from a tour and lights up the screen a final time. Friedrich is still a no-show, the only clue a video recorder, Friedrich's "sketch pad", containing "notes" about some kind of "experiment." During his recording jaunts, Winter retraces his friend's trail (shades of his later vocation as a detective in set-in-1999 End Of The World). Is he in trouble? Did he cross local gangsters? All the leads are dead-ends.

    Except for a mysterious non-speaking boy who keeps showing up. Winter follows him one day, and finds Friedrich (the actual Patrick Bauchau) hiding in an abandoned movie theater. The director has gone a little nutty, and obsessive-compulsive, expounding on a mad idea that the bias of a director's eye ruins the truth of the images he is trying to capture. So he is walking around town narrating his movie into a mic, with the camera strapped to the middle of his back so he can't see what is being recorded. It seems to be Wenders's dig at auteurs who take themselves too seriously.

    There is no Big Climax, no Showdown Between Competing Artistic Visions. No one has a breakdown and checks into rehab for some Soul-Searching. There are no shouting matches or montages of people Soul-Searching. Winter merely recognizes Friedrich has lost his way, and provides a gentle, corrective shove.

    Simple? Sure. Anti-climatic? Maybe. A boring waste of time? Certainly not! The fun of Lisbon Story is in the getting there.

    Lisbon Story is available on VHS from Fox Lorber, and online as an .avi if you know where to look. A version of this review also appears at Epinions.

    Also today: The Other Bomb Drops (The Nation)

    Newsbits: Skate Mom
    Sound & Fury - Randi Rhodes & Air America

    Back | Comments (remove NOSPAM)

    Posted June 2, 2005
    New Product Development

    First there was Flightsuit Dubya.
    Then there was Anorexia Ann Coulter.
    And now, Tim Snide Enterprises in association with Mattel presents:

    Snowflake Baby

    • Just like a real baby!
    • Comes with its own 527 group and Immortal Soul!
    • Endorsed by Focus on the Family™
    • Day care and health insurance not included.
    • Accessories (sold separately)- 1:3600 King James Bible, 3 free issues of National Review For Kids, 'Nine Month Filibuster' t-shirt.

    Ages Ovum to Adult
    Microscopic parts- choking & cell membrane fistula hazard

    Actual Size

    Also today: Mossback samples Paul Allen's Kool-Aid "those who have alternative visions must find a way to get them out there in a form as compelling"
    Snookered in Seattle: The WTO Riots Ex-chief tells all

    Back | Comments (remove NOSPAM)

    Posted June 1, 2005
    Scott McClellan's Believe It: Or Not!

    The US was invited to enter Afghanistan!
    Colin Powell said we could begin leaving Iraq this year—but we're building permanent bases!

    There have been Koran-desecration stories for two years—but a recent Newsweek story is to blame for riots!     

    Time's Matt Cooper could go to jail for what this man published!     

    This man received daily passes into the White House for two years. We didn't know he was a male escort!

    Back | Comments (remove NOSPAM)

    ©2005 Mr_Blog