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July 2006


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This Month:

5 Big 'n' Beefy
7 Watching the Detectives
13 The non-survey survey
19 Whistled for Traveling
20 Sanctity of Human Profit
25 And then go home
27 Why we shouldn't elect Justices
31 Foxy News
Posted July 31, 2006
Foxy News

An article in this morning's P-I about the Mayor's use of the Seattle Channel for political purposes. It's essentially catch-up with the story originally broken by Seattle Weekly's Rick Anderson.

The city's ethics rules say the mayor and City Council members may use taxpayer-financed resources as much as they like to essentially campaign on upcoming political contests right up until the ballot question is made official. That happens when the council votes to put the question on the ballot or a citizen files an initiative petition with the city.

But city ethics watchdogs have found that Nickels violated that timing-based standard before. Last fall, the Seattle ethics commission ruled he'd gone too far when he produced an eight-page self-promotional booklet during election season. Source

Even though His Royal Mayorness and I come from the same side of the political spectrum, I've long since parted with him on the issue of consensus-building: I'm for it.

Using the Seattle Channel as a propaganda organ is just another example of Greg Nickels's creative use of public resources for publicity purposes, some of which have been remarked about on this page (1, 2, 3, and "www.strongman.com," 6/7/05)

Where's his sense of fair play? I mean, imagine if George W. Bush had his own TV news outlet, one that obediently reported whatever he told them to repo- oh wait.

What Nickels must be careful of is overreaching, of getting caught too many times spending tax dollars hawking his political agenda. Pretty soon people might stop believing a single word he s- oh wait...

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Posted July 27, 2006
Why we shouldn't elect Justices

Gay marriage opponents celebrate victory

Mike Urban / P-I
Rev. Joe Fuiten and Pastor Paul Stoot Sr. prepare to give each other a sweaty, masculine embrace yesterday.

Opponents of gay marriage had a FABulous celebration after the Washington State Supreme Court upheld the Defense of Marriage Act. The court held that the Legislature has the right to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

Rev. Joe Fuiten of Bothell, head of Washington Evangelicals for Responsible Government, was jubilant. "Now that the fight to keep marriage for heterosexuals is over, we're headed back to the closet," Fuiten told "Wholly Holy!", the magazine for conservative Christian gays who haven't come out yet.

Fuiten and another gay marriage opponent, Pastor Paul Stoot Sr., also performed an impromptu victory dance, the "Bump," as their attorney Kristen Waggoner looked on. "I'm just so pleased to be the hag in this relationship," said Waggoner.

"The forbidden fruit- uh, aspect, of the closet helps us keep the Magic alive," Stoot explained.

Supreme Court Justice James Johnson had this message about the narrow 5-4 decision for Traditional Marriage supporters: "Thank you for your campaign contributions."

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Posted July 25, 2006
And then go home

It's high season for tourism here in Seattle. Hi everybody, and welcome to town! The Emerald City has a lot to offer: in addition to our world-class® scenery we also have shopping, fine dining, cultural events and, for now, professional basketball.

Here are a few simple rules to help make your stay in our fair city a pleasant experience for visitors and residents alike.

1. Driving. It's faster to walk through Pike Place. Don't drive your non-hybrid rental car there. We know it's one of Seattle's Top 2 attractions, but really now: "let's drive over and see the Market" is an idea that is a guaranteed vacation-ruiner.

2. Walking. Seattle is not a pedestrian-oriented city, but our Mayor is workin' hard on it all the time. Until he gets his act together, use this system Mr_Blog has worked out: The half of the sidewalk on the curb side is for local residents only, the "Seattlite lane." This lane is two-way. The other half, the one next to all the interesting store windows, is for visitors, and the direction of travel around the block is counter-clockwise only!
       Subsection: Periodically you will wish to stop in front of something touristy, such as Starbucks Store #1. Such areas, clearly marked by the presence of people with cameras, are Tourism White Zones. You may stand in a White Zone for no more than 20 seconds, after which you must move along.

3. Shopping. When standing in line and the clerk asks "who's next?", you must speak up or, alternatively, raise your hand. Failure to do this means you miss your turn.
       Subsection: Don't lie. Complaining "we were here before everyone else" doesn't work when others have been paying attention, and especially if you're standing at the back of the crowd.

4. Dining. Visitors may not eat at -----'s Café, which is restricted to local residents. It's so restricted that I am not even allowed to use its name, or disclose its location. Just don't go there; if you go there, you'll tell someone else about it, then they'll tell someone, that someone will tell someone else, and pretty soon Mr_Blog won't be able to get his regular table on Saturday mornings.
       Subsection: If you happen to stumble upon -----'s, know that just down the street and around the curve there is a touristy salmon restaurant that is perfect for out of town visitors.

5. Weather: Don't talk about it. The temperature has been in the 90s lately. We're not used to it. Mr_Blog knows where you're coming from, because he's been to Sacramento in August. But hearing anything from you like "the weather here has been so pleasant!" will just set us off, and no one wants that to happen.

6. Sorry about the Monorail.

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Posted July 20, 2006
Sanctity of Human Profit

With us today in the Mr_Blog studios is Tony Slow, Presidential press secretary and, now, doing double duty as Director of the President's Office of Biomedical Ethics. Welcome, Mr. Slow.

Thanks for having me.

Tony, there's a great controversy about the president's veto of the stem cell legislation. Spell out the bottom line for us.

It's a moral question. The president is against taking something alive and making it dead. We must protect Blastocyst-Americans.

But proponents point out that there are 400,000 frozen blastocysts that would be thrown away. Isn't that "dead"?

Look, there's a clear difference. One is humane disposal, the other is not.

The president's way means dead "Blastocyst-Americans"!

I don't want to choke the chicken here, but consider the difference between kicking a dog to death-

What does the Vice President have to do with this?

-and putting the dog to sleep. One is animal abuse, one isn't.

You're equating medical research with animal abuse?

Look, I don't think that's the choice that the President has presented. What the President has said is that he doesn't want human life destroyed.
      The President believes strongly that for the purpose of research it's inappropriate for the federal government to finance something that many people consider murder; he's one of them.
      There is nothing that makes embryonic stem cell research illegal. I daresay if people think that there's a market for it, they're going to support it handsomely. The simple answer is he thinks murder is wrong, and he has said.
1

Tony Slow, thanks for stopping by. I understand you have to rush off now?

Yes, the president has another busy schedule for today. Featured is a ribbon cutting ceremony, where the president will be opening a new Halliburton stem cell research facility.

Well that sounds interesting, and very timely.

Yes, those Halliburton folks are business geniuses or something.

Or something.


Mr_Blog is brought to you by the Heaven Post-Life—eternity's #1 news weekly!

In this week's Post-Life, read Hedda Hopper's first interview with new arrival Ken Lay. How did he become the Son of God's favorite tycoon?2 And what are his plans for the afterlife?

Jack Anderson covers the recent power brownouts that have dimmed the Holy Spirit. The Archangel for Energy blames a new trading scheme, but what's the real story?

Read about Halliburton's new contract to upgrade Heaven's power grid, the hot oil massages at Mary Magdalene's new dayspa, and eternity's hottest new celebrity diet—death!

Plus Arts coverage of the Buddy Holly-Syd Barrett harp concert, and "Jesus Christ: Superstar" continues its record-setting run—but does the 4,262nd cast really know how to love Him?

So pick up this week's Post-Life, on newstands everywhere.


Welcome back. Joining us via satellite is Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to comment on President Bush's recent European trip. Good morning, Governor.

Gut morning.

The president's impromptu groping3 of Chancellor Angela Merkel raised a lot of eyebrows, does this pose a problem?

Nah, you call that a grope? I'm an expert groper, I've been sued and things like that, and let me tell you, Angela Merkel is not grope-worthy! Franka Potente, now there's a grope-worthy German!

The star of "Run Lola Run" and the "Bourne" films.

Jah! The president is just trying to build comraderie among the G-8, und massage is one way of doing it. It's borrowed from the corporate retreats that help build the teamwork and these sorts of things. The president even has his own portable massage table, he practices. Last time I vas in Crawford, he gave me the works—acupuncture, cranio-sacral, hot stones, you name it-

We're up against a break, Governor. Thank you for being with us.

Keep supporting Bush, America! Put your hand in the hands of the man who soothes the Allies! Heil Dubya!

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Posted July 19, 2006
Whistled for Traveling

I won't miss the Sonics after the 2007 season. I will miss the old Sonics.

Spencer Haywood, Fred Brown, John Johnson, workhorse Jack Sikma, quiet man Dick Snyder. Slick Watts! They come from an era when you could see differences between the clubs, and each one reflected something in the personality of their home cities. When you think NBA playoffs of the early 70s, you think Kareem, you think Havlicek, and you know which teams were in the big show and their styles of play. Today's teams have lineups that to me appear virtually identical. Swap uniforms at halftime and, unless there's a LeBron or Shaq in the game, I wouldn't know the difference.

I will miss the Storm though. The WNBA are in the tradition of the old NBA. When I see #40 in purple I know immediately it's Lisa Willis of the Sparks. You can't help but recognize Lauren Jackson, but when she goes down on the floor to fight over a loose ball, the warrior-like competitive drive is palpable.

And WNBA players actually work on shooting free throws.

Art Thiel's column on the Howard Schultz ownership group's intention to sell the Supersonics and Storm leaves out one other thing the owner's have forgotten. The profit from owning a modern pro sports franchise is realized on gain in total net value when it is sold, not on its operating revenues. The $150 million increased value shows this.

The sad but utterly predictable thing about Schultz? The arrogance. He is yet another example of someone who has had success in business, so now he acts as though society owes him something—gratitude, obeisance, praise, I don't know which.

But as he is a tycoon whose rewards in business have been measured in profits, I suspect that Schultz expects (consciously or not) the something to be money.

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Posted July 13, 2006
The non-survey survey

What do you call it when the City asks you to nominate the worst streets in Seattle for repair, but it turns out they already had a list?

Mayor Greg Nickels held a news conference Wednesday to announce the "dirty dozen" -- 12 sore spots on the city's streets... the mayor's dirty dozen didn't correspond exactly with the people's picks.

Other than North 45th, the other 11 projects were among those identified in the survey but were not necessarily the top vote-getters, said Gregg Hirakawa, a spokesman for the city Department of Transportation.

Instead, the projects were those for which money was available or that were on the city's priority list for street repairs already, he said. Source

How does "blatant political ploy" sound? It reminds me I should take a very close look at the fine print of Mayor Horizontal's planned $1.8 billion transportation ballot measure.

It sort of reminds me of what the City does when a neighborhood requests something basic like sidewalks. The City first distracts by asking residents to do a traffic count. Then one of the two speed radar readerboard trailers might be parked on the street for an afternoon; it might even be the one that actually records the data. And the result of this process is always a traffic circle.

Ben Schiendelman is probably a good, liberal guy. But that didn't stop him from basically calling me a liar in the Seattle P-I Local Transit forum (message 900577)—and then fail to provide anything in the way of proof. Or an apology.

Bear this in mind when you read his guest column in this morning's P-I, on the subject of sending light rail to the Eastside (he's for it). When you read it, keep these questions in mind:

1. Who decides which property owners will reap the economic benefits of the "permanence" of long-term transit-oriented development, who won't benefit, and is this fair?

2. Ditto for which neighborhoods get a station and become "walkable, healthier," and which ones won't, who gets to keep driving to get to the station, and is that fair?

3. Is rail an "upgrade" if the first steam locomotive debuted in 1804?

Background: I'm not anti-transit, I'm not even anti-rail. I just believe it should be one of a number of tools (such as BRT and cutting edge automated peoplemovers) in the transit toolbox, not the only one.

Last month a meth lab was busted about two blocks from my house (and a stone's throw from the hostage house). I hope this is not an example of the kind of economic development the Mayor has been trumpeting. A good new business in Greenwood is DaVinci's bakery-café (N. 100th & Greenwood Avenue). I had a really great breakfast sandwich there last weekend: pesto, goat cheese and a poached egg on a light, almost crumbly panini/ciabatta roll. It was about $4. In an old house in the Leilani Lanes area, DaVinci's has indoor and outdoor seating to go with a selection of quality pastries. Oddly, not much bread in evidence.

Who'll Stop the Urine? Yesterday's rain was refreshing, but when I got down to the West Edge district it seemed that everything smelled like urine. It was as if the rain washed everything downhill to First and Western avenues. Which brings me to the subject of runoff.

Most of us know that automobiles should be checked regularly for leaks, as oil and fuel can get into the street and mix with stormwater, flowing into lakes, streams, rivers and Puget Sound.

But last week the KUOW reported about a spike in the price of asphalt—because it contains petroleum. The possibility had never before occurred to me. A quick Google confirmed: asphalt contains oil and petroleum distillates. Rain falls on asphalt, mixes with oil, and off it flows—not the kind of oil I want with my salmon.

Why is Seattle, a city trying to be a model of sustainability, continuing to use asphalt for street paving and patches? And what about those newer asphalt sidewalks, so popular due to lower cost (less than concrete)? Not that concrete is totally without problems—it contains lime. So stop rinsing it into drains. "But Mr_Blog," you might ask, "why don't you ask the City what the policy is?" I did ask; the relevant policy person is on vacation. So more on that another time.

The solution could be adoption of "porous asphalt," atop a deep stone sub-base that keeps the asphalt above the groundwater. Early data from the National Asphalt Paving Association (boulder-sized grain of salt time) indicates it is able to filter oil and other suspended solids.

Asphalt Pollution at 1HOPE.org

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Posted July 7, 2006
Watching the detectives

HONK if you like bikers. A few more observations about the deputies of the Metro Transit road rage posse.

  • The official story is now that the big 'n' beefy ones first identified themselves as police by honking their horn. Bikers are now supposed to think everyone who honks at them (my annual bike mileage is now topping 3,500 miles) is a cop? Everyone's going to be doing it.
  • The deputies also say they ID'd themselves by sounding the siren on their unmarked minivan. How is anyone to be sure where the siren is coming from if there isn't a marked police vehicle or blue flashers in sight? And did they give the siren a good run, or did they just give it one of those rapid squawks* that sounds more like some jackass put a bullhorn under the hood of his car?
  • The official story also goes that the deputies then identified themselves (I'll assume they mean verbally) and wore their official bling on chains around their necks. Yeah, REAL authentic. That's how Don Johnson and Phillip Michael Thomas did it on "Miami Vice."

    Some recent history. I live less than a block from something Ms_Blog and I call "the hostage house." A few years ago a man-woman couple who lived there got it into their heads to take their SUV down to the Seattle Center area, try to pick up a woman on the street, then impersonate vice cops and "arrest" her. These geniuses brought their captive back to their house, where their planning for the upcoming molest-a-thon distracted them long enough for her to make a cellphone call to 911. A standoff ensued and the house went on the market soon after. This is a long (and, Dear Reader, hopefully interesting) way to make the point that it is stupid to automatically accept that any bozo(s) in an unmarked car are the police just because they say they are.

    Especially when their actions are clearly an inappropriate response to the alleged infraction. When motorists gridlock an intersection downtown, they get a ticket, not a body-slam.

    * Often less of a safety warning, and seemingly more like a gag to startle the crap out of you.

    Also today: It's on the ballot- NO on I-933
    Blarchive: Take this

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    Posted July 5, 2006
    Big 'n' Beefy

    Let's play catch-up on news that transpired over the long holiday weekend.

    1. Road Rage linked to badge-lard interaction!
    I know this must be true, because while many lard-ass drivers may want to pile out of their cars, tackle and pummel cyclists who dare cause seconds of traffic delay, the fact is that they (nearly) never act on that urge. Finally we have photographic proof that it is possession of a law enforcement badge that, when added to said lard, removes the inhibition to remain behind the wheel, sedentary.

    KCSO critical of biker mass
    Tangle
    Point 83 discussion thread

    2. North Korea shoots off a few!
    This was on my voice mail this morning:

    Hey Mr_Blog, it's the Kimster! Hello? You there? Pick up if you're there. Pick up. Pick up! Pick uuuuuuuup. Guess you're not there. Anyway, you shoulda seen the fireworks show we put on over the Sea of Japan to honor your Fourth of July holiday! I had some of my intelligence people pick up some good stuff, from your neck of the woods actually. Secret: go to that fireworks stand on tribal land, you know the one I mean, and request "the really loud ones." And remember, if anyone asks you didn't get 'em at Boom City.

    It was a great show. All the displays were America-themed. There was "Bush v. Gore" (a big blue shower that just hangs there, then changes to red), "Pandering To The Base" (trial-balloon shaped starbursts that appear to deflate), and my favorite, a truly massive one called "National Debt" that seemed to keep growing and growing like it would never stop.

    And so on, blah blah friggin' blah. The guy talks forever now that he has Skype.

    3. Kenny-Boy Croaks! No, it wasn't suicide. That would have been the honorable thing. One is tempted to feel sorry for him, until you realize he's now beyond the need to worry about material things—unlike the Enron employees with worthless pensions. To mourning Neocons: think of Kenneth Lay's death as a kind of eternal pardon from Jesus.

    4. Mariners a game outta First!
    Uh oh, then they run smack into teams in our own division. Oh well.

    5. Tour de Dopes
    With most of the favorites ousted by a doping investigation, I hereby predict that the 2006 Tour de France will be won by Henri Lelonde, a 57 year-old turnip farmer. Lelonde will ride his 1964 Peugot down to the boulangerie to buy a baguette, and get caught up in the peloton.

    6. Circular logic
    Yes, Woodland Park Zoo is about to debut its 1918 carousel and, yes, a carousel seems like a throwback to the days when zoos were more amusement park than serious scientific institution, but come on: I hear it's going to be called the Conservation Carousel. And besides, it was a gift, they can't give it back.

    7. Little blue pill key to pullout
    Did you hear? Rush Limbaugh's recent pharmaceutical mixup has inspired the White House's Iraq policy. When Halliburton finishes rebuilding the water supply systems in Iraq, they'll add Viagra to the water instead of fluoride. This will enable Iraqis to stand up, so we can stand down.

    8. But it's not like Vietnam...
    It seems we have to destroy the village downtown Ramadi in order to save it.

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