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Mr_Blog’s Left Turn
December 20, 2007
Driving There

Traffic maven answers your questions

Wiseline Institute NW is pleased to introduce a new semi-regular feature: Driving There, in which a real City of Seattle transportation expert will answer your real questions!

Question: Mrs. Thelma K. Frandle of Greenwood writes that it is difficult for her to cross North 85th at Linden Avenue N. to catch the 48 bus. Mrs. Frandle says: "Not a lot of people cross the street there because there's no crosswalk. Can't the city put in a crosswalk?"

Answer: Wade Wince, traffic specialist for the Seattle Department of Automobile Transportation, says Frandle is wrong. "People aren't not crossing the street because there's no crosswalk, there's no crosswalk because people don't cross there."
       "We've done the study," says Wince. "The data shows people just don't cross 85th Street where there's no crosswalk. Creating more crosswalks would slow down traffic, and would be expensive. We're not going to spend that kind of money on white paint just so one old lady can cross the street."

Question: Mrs. Frandle says she often goes shopping downtown. "I can't walk very fast at my age. When trying to cross the street the Don't Walk light will start flashing before I get to the other side, and I nearly get hit by turning cars. Why can't people be educated that they can't turn if people are in the crosswalk?"

Answer: Wince suggests two solutions for Mrs. Frandle: sign up with a health club and get in shape so she can cross the street faster, or get a driving license since there is no maximum age limit.

Question: Mrs. Frandle writes that she travels to the Wallingford Bartell Drug Store east of North 45th and Wallingford Avenue, because she likes the pharmacist. "But ever since the new crosswalks were put in front of QFC it hasn't seemed safe," she says. The dark red pattern inside the new crosswalks isn't very visible, and the white squares on the edges aren't large enough. Frandle asks, "Will the city repaint the crosswalks to be like the old ones?"

Answer: "Painted white crosswalks have had decades to prove they can get the job done," says Wade Wince. "Yet cars still hit people. Obviously, traditional crosswalks are too visible, too white and too reflective," he said.
       "Seattle is leading the way in new crosswalk marking techniques," Wince proudly says. The new crosswalks are made by melting DuraTherm -- a durable plastic-like material -- into depressions in the asphalt. "We've succeeded in making crosswalks more expensive, as well as slowing down installation by using a technique that requires special skills and materials," Wince said.
       Pedestrians will actually be safer, Wince believes: "The reddish-brown color means drivers have to look harder to see the crosswalk -- therefore they'll be paying closer attention to their driving."

iNews Friday on Thursday

From the iNews 9000 Turbo Wi-Fi Headline Translator —

Headline: Researchers discover giant rat, tiny possum species
Translation: Iran must not acquire giant rats, Bush warns

Headline: Scientists discover fearless giant rat
Translation: Bush doesn't believe in giant rat -- "scientists don't agree it exists"

Headline: Giant Rat of Sumatra, Alive and Well
Translation: Exclusive photos: 'Ratatouille' star piles on pounds!

Headline: Researchers discover giant rat, tiny possum in Indonesian jungle
Translation: Disney signs newest stars

Headline: Senate Set to Give Retroactive Immunity to AT&T and Other Telcos
Translation: OJ Simpson files papers to become a phone company

Headline: Lieberman backs McCain
Translation: Giant rat backs McCain

Headline: Mariners, Silva agree to terms
Translation: Mariners agree to trade Silva to Yankees after 2010 for single-A prospects

Headline: Fire torches Cheney's office complex
Translation: Reichstag burns when Cheney's pacemaker short circuits

Season's Greetings

Well that's all for MBLT for 2007, we will return in January. On behalf of the entire staff and contributors -- Tim Snide, William Penney, Kim Jong Il, Fawn Craven, Tony Slow, Stan Dardeviasian, Wade Wince, and The Frandles -- Happy Holidays and all the best in the New Year.

Sorry, but as a Secular Progressive I am not allowed to say Merry Christmas everybody!

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Posted December 17, 2007
Dear Leader
by Kim Jong Il

Dear Leader,

How has the Writers Guild strike affected you? Signed, J. Leno, Burbank, CA.

Dear J:
       The strike is an incredible hardship for me. As Leader, I am automatically head of both the Writers Guild Far, Far East chapter and Movie & TV Producers Alliance/Asia. On a number of occasions I have been unable to leave my compound, for fear of crossing my own picket line. I can't even take a meeting with myself, unless it's to negotiate about the royalties I should pay myself on new media. It's very confusing.
       The strike has seriously impacted North Korea's economy as well. Unlike sophisticated American entertainment relying on advanced, unscripted reality programs, our economy is heavily dependent upon writers. For example, fully 34% of the DPRK's gross national product is in the hour-long drama format. Another 27% is from situation comedy. As a result, hard-working comrades have nothing to watch in prime time except musty documentaries about agriculture, steel refining and toilet paper.
       Making matters worse, our state network, TV-K, is at the level of your PBS. Except we don't have Gillian Anderson hosting Elegantly Costumed Capitalists Oppress Our Ancestors (our version of Masterpiece Theatre).
       In short, our economy is susceptible to the slightest shift in the West's entertainment industry. This cannot be allowed to go on. Therefore I am launching a new Five Year Plan to bring North Korea's television up to the level of the West, and even surpassing it.
       Our first effort is called M.A.D. -- Musical Assured Destruction. Pretty cool title, huh? I'm really excited about it. Planned as a 12 week series, M.A.D. pits a dozen teams against each other in a race to build a nuclear-powered karaoke machine rivaling anything coming out of General Dynamics, Raytheon and Boeing. Each week, the national TV audience will watch teams of ordinary scientists import uranium, develop an enrichment program, select a playlist, and rehearse. There will also be celebrity team members like A.Q. Khan, Condoleezza Rice and Vanilla Ice, which should be a ratings grabber. Colin Powell and Richard Simmons will be roving color commentators.
       Each week's program will conclude with a performance round in which teams will sing their best numbers. The judges -- Mohamed El Baradei, John Bolton and Simon Cowell -- will offer critiques, and one team will be eliminated. The rivalries will build to a fever pitch by week 12, when the last two teams face off for the top spot. The prizes will be fame, of course, and a development deal with a yet-to-be-determined government.
       Some interests oppose our development of M.A.D. They say our peaceful nuclear karaoke program is concealing a secret weapons program. I say they just want to protect their reality television advantage. Well, if they want to buy the rights to M.A.D., I'm willing to entertain offers.
       I'm going to want cash up front, a percentage of the gross for 15 years, dinner with Gillian Anderson, and executive producer credit for M.A.D. and any spinoffs.
       My agent is Ed Limato at ICM. We're waiting.

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Posted December 13, 2007
Thompson is greenest GOP candidate

12-15 daily naps saves most energy

Findings contained in a new report give Sen. Fred Thompson the highest rating for energy conservation, out of all the Republican presidential candidates.

The report, from the think tank Perino Institute for History and Industry, surveyed all eight major GOP hopefuls and concluded Thompson uses the least energy.

Institute founder and director Dana Perino said all the candidates rated about the same in greenhouse gas emissions from motorcades, air travel, bus charters and oration. The green tie breaker, she explained, came when comparing the number of hours each candidate stays awake.

"We like did this sciencey stuff? Attaching GPS transmitters and motion things to all the candidates? And like plotting their activity on a graph," said Perino.

"Thompson showed like over a dozen periods of inactivity every day where he was like using no energy? We checked his daily schedule and found that not only does he not move around a lot, but he takes lots of naps," she said, as many as 12-15 times a day.

The study noted Thompson's energy usage surged every 7-10 days, which Perino said probably indicates sexual activity. "It's like an energy spike? But not enough to affect the scoring," Perino said. "It's similar to a microwave oven? It like uses a lot of energy when it's on, but it's so fast it's never on for very long."

Thompson himself was unavailable for comment. His wife Jeri Kehn Thompson said he would be available to the media between 8:30 and 9:30am, 11am and noon, 1 and 2pm, 3:30 and 4:20pm, 6 and 7pm, and 7:45 and 8:20pm.

But Thompson's Iowa campaign office issued this statement: "Fred Thompson pledges to sleep at least 20 hours a day as president to conserve even more energy. A Thompson administration will be distinguished by the highest-ever levels of energy conservation in the Oval Office. Following Ronald Reagan's example, he'll even sleep in Cabinet meetings."

"Fred Thompson puts the conserve in conservative. We want all Americans to say 'I'm in bed with Fred'," the statement concluded.

The Perino Institute also issued a paper today on the Cuban Missile Crisis, calling it "perhaps the greatest inventory shortage in the history of rocketry."

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Posted December 10, 2007
Disaster area

Bush Administration eligible for federal relief funds

President Bush today heeded requests to declare Washington a disaster area. Bush said the designation will give his administration billions of dollars in aid it needs to recover from winter storms of controversy.

He said the first priority was helping people displaced by the hurricane of Blackwater, such as State Department Inspector General Howard Krongard.

The Bush administration has been buffeted by numerous storms of criticism for the last two years. But the tipping point came last week, when torrents of bad political weather arrived over successive days:

  • News that top White House officials continued to paint Iran as a threat to peace, despite intelligence that country had ceased nuclear weapons development in 2003,
  • disclosure that the CIA had destroyed videotapes of interrogations of suspected terrorists, a possible obstruction of inquiries into the government's use of torture, which brought a call -- from Sen. Joseph R. Biden (D-DE) -- for appointment of a special prosecutor,
  • Jenna Bush's Dec. 4 phone call to the president from the set of the Ellen Degeneres Show.
    Tour of devastation
    Democratic Senators Patty Murray (L), Maria Cantwell, and Chris Berman of ESPN view the Bush Administration from the back of a national guard helicopter.

    The latest deluge -- on top of earlier floods of damaging disclosures about warrantless surveillance, setbacks in the war on terror, an audit questioning the effectiveness of the Department of Homeland Security, the falling dollar, and the deepening mortgage lending crisis -- is being seen as the 'big blow' leading the administration to recognize it cannot recover without federal help.

    Bush said the relief funds would allow his administration to purchase much-needed credibility, rebuild distractions it can use for political shelter, and other necessities.

    However, critics such as Erik Wilson, a senior scholar at the Barbar Foreign Affairs Institute, predicted the administration's response to its disasters would itself be disastrous.

    "Look at the first day of the recent Annapolis middle east peace conference," Wilson observed. "Bush was stranded at the negotiation table for three hours waiting for a rescue helicopter."

    "I would be greatly surprised if these geniuses can recover from a disaster. It would take more than just a few billion dollars," Wilson said.

    Mariners celebrate Winter Meeting success - Team poised for World Series by 2140

    Seattle Mariners officials were celebrating last weekend after their return from the Major League Baseball winter meeting in Nashville.

    Team officials said spending only $50,000 -- for Rule 5 acquisition RHP R.A. Dickey -- achieved the club's number one goal of staying within budget.

    "The signing of only one player leaves us exactly in the position we hoped to be in at this point of the offseason -- having plenty of money in 2008 to spend on our popular, offbeat TV commercials," said General Manager Bill Bavasi.

    Bavasi, nicknamed 'Einstein' by the overworked Seattle bullpen, said the Mariners remain on course to win the World Series no later than the year 2140.

    By that time, global climate change will give Mariner pitchers an advantage, said Bavasi. "Safeco Field will favor pitchers even more than now because the ball won't travel very far under water," he said.

    Fans are ecstatic. "I can't wait for the time when our great great grandchildren will be able to see the M's win it all," said smiling fan Zack Frandle, 23, a programmer for a startup video game company. "Me and my old lady are going to start reproducing as soon as we can, possibly this Saturday night after clubbing in Belltown."

    Permalink | Comment

    Posted December 7, 2007
    Peanut butter, pickles go together

    Romney would not favor any one condiment

    Responding to public questions about his personal belief system, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney gave an impassioned speech yesterday saying his preference for pickles would not affect the domestic policies of a Romney administration.

    The purpose of Romney's nationally televised address was to reassure Americans fearful that he would lean toward pickles to the detriment of peanut butter. "I believe in putting pickles in my peanut butter sandwiches," Romney declared, but emphasized, "I would not favor any one condiment over another."

    "Peanut butter requires pickles, just as a pickle requires peanut butter," said Romney. "Both come in jars that can be hard to open, but we have the freedom to open those jars and discover many combinations. Peanut butter and pickles endure together, or perish by their sell-by dates," he said.

    "If you go back, back into history you'll see that we have always had pickles," Romney observed. "Yet it was not until the angel Moroni appeared in a vision to George Washington Carver, giving him the golden recipe cards on which were written the process for making peanut butter, that this uniquely American delicacy became possible."

    "Now, I know a lot of people are allergic to peanuts. So, to show how ecumenical I am I would have Jehovah's Witnesses pray with the allergic to prevent anaphylaxis," Romney said.

    Romney also mentioned that peanut butter with pickles are often craved by pregnant women, a signal to Republican social conservatives that he is genuinely opposed to abortion.

    No iNews this week

    Permalink | Comment

    Posted December 4, 2007
    Bush sees new threat

    George Lucas plans planet-sized battlestation

    Iran may have suspended its nuclear weapons program in 2003, but that is no reason for the United States to let down its guard. Such was President Bush's assessment this morning of a newly released National Intelligence Estimate report.

    While saying the U.S. should stay on guard against a future Iranian nuclear weapon, Bush also called attention to a previously unknown threat, described in a classified appendix to the report.

    Bush said the appendix names filmmaker George Lucas as a serious threat to national security. Lucas, the president said, has a plan for a huge orbital battlestation.

    "This potential threat should not be underestimated," said Bush. "Imagine some time in the future, you're out walking on a warm summer evening. You look up in the sky, and you say 'oh look, it's the moon.' But you'd be wrong."

    "That's no moon," he said, "but a planet-sized weapon that could blow your world to smithereens."

    Asked by a reporter whether he was indulging in "melodrama," Bush accused the journalist of "practicing psychology 101, which was a hard class, hard work."

    The world needed to view Lucas' six Star Wars films as "a warning signal," Bush said, and the United States would not renounce the option of a military response. "The Death Star is dangerous, if made real," he said, using the Pentagon's code name for the battlestation.

    "I think it is very important for the international community to recognize what Lucas could do with this knowledge," said the president. "Lucas could transfer it to storyboards, and start clandestine screenplay development. He could secure financing, shoot test footage, hold casting sessions, develop new effects techniques, generate buzz -- leading to a huge blockbuster," Bush said.

    "It could lead to more Ewoks, and I think we all agree no one wants to see that."

    Mr. Bush said that earlier in the day he had spoken at some length to President Vladimir Putin of Russia, but Putin has not seen Episode VI and would need to be fully briefed before deciding whether to support Bush's Lucas policy.

    Permalink | Comment

    Posted December 3, 2007
    Iran Offers No Concessions in Nuke Talks

    "No Milk Duds, no meeting," Bush says

    Diplomatic negotiations on Iran's uranium enrichment program have broken off with little expectation of restarting. Representatives of the European Union and Iran ended their Friday meeting amid signs that Tehran had offered no new concessions to ease Western concerns that Iran plans to develop nuclear weapons.

    When informed of the lack of concessions, President Bush publicly urged Europe to stand firm. "Europe is right to have concerns," said Bush.

    "Iran needs to make concessions -- people can't sit and talk for hours and hours without Pepsis," he said. "And folks gotta eat, yet Iran won't even come up with any popcorn, soft pretzels, or cheezy nachos?"

    "No Milk Duds, no meeting," Bush said.

    Iran has maintained that its nuclear program is for peaceful civilian purposes. The office of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei today repeated earlier offers to coöperate with additional visits from the International Atomic Energy Agency, "any day of the week, afternoon matinees only $6."

    Permalink | Comment

    Last Month | Next Month

    There are 3 comments
    January 02, 2008 - 01:00
    Subject: Driving There

    ... Just wanted to pop by and wish you a Happy New Year!

    December 11, 2007 - 00:29
    Subject: Peanut butter, pickles go together

    Or he's pregnant! ;-)

    December 05, 2007 - 05:47
    Subject: Bush sees new threat

    Can't you just imagine Colin Powell showing stills from the movie and describing WMDs?! Hilarious. I think Bush has more to fear from Lucas' contingent of stormtroopers, ahem I mean lawyers. We all know that one little exhaust port can put this thing out of commission, but the marketing rights from a lawsuit against Bush could be moneymakers for years.

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    3 Iran Offers No Concessions in Nuke Talks
    4 Bush sees new threat
    7 Peanut butter, pickles go together
    10 Disaster area
    10 Mariners celebrate Winter Meeting success
    13 Thompson is greenest GOP candidate
    17 Dear Leader by Kim Jong Il
    20 Driving There

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