Thursday, June 30, 2011

"Softball Case Raises Question" of hypocrisy and diversity values

Why is it that segments of society complain when others essentially exclude them from social situations yet are among those that exclude others from the same situations? It isn't anymore about a melting pot - assimilating into a cohesive whole - it is more about becoming divided and coming apart. [Softball Case Raises Question - Who Qualifies as Gay?] See too this poem.

Held to Answer - more than interesting - it is a must read

I have mentioned Held to Answer before, and have continued to follow it. It is not a daily experience - the author Pamela Fitzsimmons writes each post with great care posting when satisfied with content. The blog, maybe commentary is a better term, is carefully and thoughtfully drafted with each paragraph telling the story.

Highly recommended.

He is a dick

When did the epithet "dick" become a word subject to censorship in speech and print? A person on MNBC's Morning Joe essentially called the president a dick - actually he said "that Obama was "kind of a d--k" for blasting Republican lawmakers during a Wednesday news conference." Notice that the word dick had two letters removed by CNN - not me. [MSNBC panelist suspended after Obama insult.]

Of course there was the obligatory suspension and apology - but why?

Apparently Republicans don't see the music industry as a business

The Republican presidential contenders see it as ok to steal from popular musicians to buttress their image. It is unlikely that these politicians would get the support of the music makers like Tom Petty or support from their fan base - so they steal the songs and use them to falsely suggest their support. [Tom Petty Against Michele Bachmann, Springsteen Against Ronald Reagan: Musicians vs. Politicians - The Daily Beast.]

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Randy Leonard - good news and bad news

The good news is that Commissioner Leonard will not run for re-election; the bad news is that he has a year and one-half left. [See the Oregonian and the Tribune.] 

I am a bit facetious - in some ways I appreciate a Randy Leonard. He accomplished some things - maybe not necessarily earthshaking - that others just couldn't or wouldn't. He clearly stood out.

He seemed to disregard the public participation process, maybe recognizing that it is a sham. This contributed to his "bullying" image. But that image may say more about those who didn't and don't have the balls to stand up to him.

Now while I may like a bold no nonsense approach to solving problems - that doesn't work too well in the public arena - especially Portland. Or does it?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sustainability Center at PSU raises financial concerns - you think?

There is a good argument for government to lease or build buildings for their own purposes, especially in the downtown areas typically in need of an economic shot-in-the-arm. An excellent example is PDC's leasing in Old Town for its headquarters. While that clearly benefits the property owner - it also benefits Old Town's 5th Avenue. Frankly, without PDC's employees - Old Town would be economically dead.

But there is no good argument to invest public money into the so-called "Sustainability Center." Public agencies have no business in investing money in "cutting edge" development. Not only is the "cutting edge" suspect, the particular development is not only public supported in its construction but also in its occupation. Its prospective tenants are public not private. Bottom line: the taxpayer is footing the entire bill.

Thankfully - the Oregon House is asking the right questions - no thanks to the democrats. The house Republican co-speaker "wants university officials and developers to figure out a way to get commercial firms to rent the bulk of the space." The Democratic co-speaker "wanted to push forward with state aid to the project."

Monday, June 27, 2011

Michele Bachmann compares herself to infamous sodomite, rapist and killer

That is how Russia Today saw the recent gaffe by Michele Bachmann. It is thought she meant John Wayne - the Duke - not John Wayne Gacy.  [Michele Bachmann compares herself to infamous sodomite, rapist and killer — RT.]

This is the just another example of the lack of contenders for Obama.

Ridiculous: TSA pat-down of elderly woman and forced removal of adult diaper

It doesn't get much more ridiculous although I am sure TSA will prove that wrong. A cancer-stricken 95 year old woman was not only patted down but forced to remove her adult diaper while going through security at a Florida airport. She was traveling from Northeast Florida to Michigan. [TSA stands by officers after pat-down of elderly woman in Florida - CNN.com.]

Sunday, June 26, 2011

It is Sunday

It was only a week ago that I wrote about Sunday shootings - it is a repeat story with a death and stabbing added. According to Jack Bog's Blog the mayor tweeted "We will bring this killer to justice." As Jack says: "let's get somebody else in charge soon."

How far West will Internet censorship move?

"While few might object to blocking child pornography, what happens when the filters go after politically sensitive content? Will anyone object then?" [Web censorship moves West - Opinion.]

While the focus of Internet censorship has been on the places like China and Middle East - the Al Jazeera opinion notes that similar Internet restrictions are finding use in Australia. But the situation in Australia is much worse - there the ISPs are voluntarily implementing a sort of blacklist - after a government attempt for a mandatory system failed.

In the US, one might be cautious about Internet 'kill switch' bill will return or NSA allies with Internet carriers to thwart cyber attacks against defense firms. And worse yet is the monitoring by government. E. g., see 5 revelations from the Post’s ‘Monitoring America’ investigation. Or how about WikiLeaks' Assange Calls Facebook 'Most Appalling Spying Machine Ever' where he asserts his belief that "many major U.S.-based tech companies are actively helping the government spy on people.

It seems that Internet monitoring in the United States is far more serious than Internet restrictions introduce elsewhere.

Al Jazeera in defense of Opec - interesting perspective

"Maybe the United States, Canada and UK should really find time to criticise their independent oil companies for not producing enough oil to meet their demands or reinvest in new oil finds, renewable energy."  [I'm not defending OPEC but... .]

Monday, June 20, 2011

Yum!

DailyTech - Japanese Make "Delicious", Nourishing Steaks From Human Feces

Thanks to Bojack for the link.

London to New York in 90 minutes on seaweed

Their ambition is being fueled by some other weed. Of course with the expected fruition date in 2050 - there is a lot of time to make good on the claim or find excuses. $8,533 dollars will be your costs to fly from Paris [London] to New York. If you start saving now you could be in competition for a seat - you need only save about $18 a month, maybe more depending on th exchange rate. [London to New York in 90 minutes: is this the Concorde of the future?.]

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Flat earth? Well there is a map.

The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead
It is an 120-year-old map showing a flat earth. It is hard to believe that there were and still are those that believe the earth is in fact flat. See Salem KATU News: Is the Earth flat? Salem man donates map that says it is.

Nobel Peace Prize for Russian President - now wouldn't that be something?

I doubt that anyone of my generation would have ever expected to see those words. See Medvedev deserves Nobel Prize for Libya peace process - Tunisian FM.

Soldier who was killed in Afghanistan becomes ‘everyone’s son’

It is a present day rare example of the past that I would preserve. A serviceman appreciated much like the servicemen of the 50s and the firemen and policemen of old. Servicemen wore their uniforms with pride. The war dead were respectfully honored. Of course this was before the Vietnam War and before firemen and policemen drifted from being the humble heroes. The American flag everywhere, banks, schools, front porch, and in windows.  Flag respected and honored. I wonder where it went wrong?

Held to Answer - an interesting blog

Held to Answer: Is a relatively (to me) new blog by Portlander Pamela Fitzsimmons. I picked up the link from Jack Bog's Blog. You can read about who she is on her blog's "About" page. She bills it as "Social injustice from the left and right." It is well written and thought provoking. So trolls don't need to apply.

Ah! The Catholic Church and their gay psychosis

It is more than an "issue" or a "problem" - it is a psychosis. See Maureen Dowd's article in the New York Times: The Archbishop vs. the Governor - Gay Sera, Sera.

She notes that the fight against same-sex marriage waged by a New York archbishop has been ferocious. For the archbishop, and therefore the church, it is a perversity against nature. She laments: "If only his church had been as ferocious in fighting against the true perversity against nature: the unending horror of pedophile priests and the children who trusted them."

Amen to that.

Sunday morning - another shooting - Cesar Chavez would be proud

The police News Release notes probable gang related shooting with the apparent target a residence with 4 adults. This happened at "Southeast Ceaser (sic) E. Chavez Boulevard and Lafayette Street [Court]." I guess "Ceaser" is a phonetic spelling of an incorrectly pronounced "César."

I guess I never got over changing the name of the street to César E. Chávez Boulevard. It never seemed fitting for a host of reasons - but certainly his importance in the history of the farm workers demands better recognition than a street naming in an area where gangs can freely operate.

1 in 4 high schoolers drink soda every day - so what?

According to CBS News: CDC: 1 in 4 high schoolers drink soda every day. When I read the brief - hardly more than a regular-sized paragraph - article I wondered so what? It seems that it is good news for some because it is a reduction from 29%. But I still say so what?

It is alleged that "[s]ugary beverages have long been associated with America's high childhood obesity rate." This is from Medical News Today. It may be one of those 'don't confuse me with facts' situations but my life experience doesn't jive with those who know what is best for me.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Portland’s Jewish community expanding

It is unclear at times why certain items get "news" play. This Portland Tribune story about the Jewish community expanding in number although not in religious participation is applicable to many religions not just the Jews. Is the news interest merely because Jews are a minority? Of course it is easy to categorize people into some minority category.

While some in the Jewish community lament the non-participation by this expanding community in religious activities - others can find hope from what Bill Toll, a University of Oregon history professor, said: “Younger Jews don’t identify with (Jewish) denominations.” “They’re not raised in an ethnically divided world.” [Insert your own denomination.]

I would say that is a great plus. One shouldn't be categorized by religious beliefs. Ethnic divisions do nothing more than divide.

KGW: Police: Gang violence 'red hot' with kids out of school

KGW has a story about the gang violence and the police response. This seems to be the main, maybe only, effort: "Armed with a smile and a handshake, members of the group are trying to keep young people away from gangs." It seems unlikely to be successful. Does this approach offer a deterrent to gang violence or gang membership?

Maybe this police News Release answers that question: "The Portland Police Bureau's Gang Enforcement Team is investigating three overnight shootings that resulted in one person shot."

As KGW noted - the police department considers gang violence a "community issue." But, it doesn't seem that the police department has made the case that it has a grasp of the situation or that it is a "community issue." Community issue statements appear to be best efforts to shift blame. And, it isn't clear what community has the issue.

Thus, the police seem to be left with only an opportunity to control or contain gang violence. Frankly, it sounds like their expected approach. It is a similar approach taken to Portland's drug problems.

However, I have never seen any in depth reporting or analysis on Portland's gang violence. The media just hands out tidbits that the police PR offers, and we readers are left with little accurate understanding of the problems. How come?

Deadly E. coli in Germany

The German E coli that killed 40 people finally traced to bean sprouts now has been found in a Frankfurt stream according to The Local, an English version German online newspaper. Russia Today writes: Deadly E. coli was engineered. But one has to consider the source for the RT article - NaturalNews.com. As I noted in a previous post - maybe bean sprouts are not so healthy.

Syrian forces kill 16 protesters

"I saw people who were beheaded with machine-gun fire from helicopters" and a man tortured to death when security forces poured acid on his body." [AP:Syrian forces open fire on protesters; 16 killed.]  

Despite the excellent reputation of those like Associated Press, I never quite know whether to believe those inflammatory statements. The recent exposure of the Damascus gay blogger raises issues of the veracity of the speakers. 

I don't know what to make either of  the disparate approach by US government toward Syria as opposed to that taken with Libya. From this distance I don't see much difference between the leadership in the two countries. A singular distinction is difficult to find.  

To keep abreast of the unrest in the Middle East and Africa - I submit that the best coverage comes from Al Jazeera especially their live blogs.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Convenience of emails doesn't serve public policy

This from Portland Afoot: TriMet president: Board members shape policy by email. While one can argue that there are circumstances that may be served well enough by the convenience of email - it ought to be obvious that nothing substitutes for face-to-face discussions among board members. This use of emails seems to be nothing more than a way to avoid ordinary results that come from a truly independent board. Transparency and accountability suffers.

Public policy shaping ought to be accomplished only within an open meeting forum where attendees can experience the entire context.

A tad bit of exaggeration from Russia Today

“Russia may create advanced nuclear power system which will produce energy for the entire world as soon as in five years."

It is indefensible

This from KGW: City defends dumping urine-tainted Mt Tabor reservoir water. There is no technical reason to drain the reservoir. The ordinary processing of water would eliminate any health concern. But because of the yuck factor the city will spend $30,000. Does anyone seriously believe that this is the first time that someone has urinated in the reservoir? Frankly there must have been far worse things entering the water.

Portland's continuing big lie

Sometimes it just doesn't make sense not link to another blogger for coverage. Thus, see Portland's big lie continues (Jack Bog's Blog).See my earlier post, and some migration data.

A federal judge and jury exonerated Portland police but now the Citizens Review Committee wants a crack - give me a break

Even though the federal judge dashed the aspirations of the ever cop hating Oregonian - that reads Maxine Bernstein and the trolls that she panders to - the Citizens Review Committee, that has yet to demonstrate its worth, wants to keep the cop hating alive. It plans to review the case. It is time to move on. [See Federal judge finds for the City of Portland in former police recruit's whistleblower case.]

And, the Oregonian continues to keep their conclusion - whistleblower - in the headlines. The police recruit was far from being a whistleblower. She exposed nothing but her lack of skills and ability to be a policewoman. Frankly it is a good thing that she was self-weeded out of the police department. Talk about a misfit. One suspects that she would have never made it pass the recruit stage.

Children as play dolls

I have noticed a disturbing trend by a parent or parents dressing their children - those below the age of voicing objections - as if they were Barbie or Ken dolls. It is especially odd to see some children wearing sunglasses that in effect blinds them to their surroundings. They meander along the sidewalk looking the best they can over - under - or around but not through the sunglasses.

Sprouts the healthy alternative - not really

The German e coli problem that evaded source determination for a while ended up with bean sprouts. What is interesting is that apparently it is a common problem in the US. While the Germans finally traced the source - they have yet to determine what caused the E coli

US health-care waste chart

Another bastion of journalism is the Economist. So far it hasn't given way to blogging as a poor substitute for news. This brief article with chart is a fine example of reporting. It hits the nail on the head about US health care waste. [US health-care spending: Waste measurements]

Letter from China : The New Yorker

Letter from China : The New Yorker is a column written by Evan Osnos their staff writer living in Beijing. It is as close to an insider's view that can be expected. Typically the coverage of China is well written, focused and informative. It is an excellent way of obtaining a China view on US and international affairs and events.

Migration info

Somewhat randomly presented links on Portland/Oregon migration. The gist is that net migration and population in general is slowing. This calls into question the continued assertions of the absurd job creation numbers.

Portland State estimates Oregon's population growth slowing, with fewer migrants, more deaths than births | OregonLive.com.

Interpreting Oregon's population shift from the 2010 Census | OregonLive.com.

Metropolitan Knowledge Network | Central Oregon, Metropolitan Portland are state’s fastest-growing areas.

Metropolitan Knowledge Network | A Pivot Point? Economic Slow-down Affects Oregon’s Migration Flows.

Portland State Population Research Center | News and Presentations From the Population Research Center.

Demographic Briefs: Portland (Oregon) Index.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

NSA and Internet carriers collaboration - domestic surveillance

NSA allies with Internet carriers to thwart cyber attacks against defense firms - The Washington Post

Job creation numbers - gone far beyond hyperbole.

Thanks to the Willamette Week for not letting these absurd assertions by politicians go unchecked. 20,000 new jobs to be created by I-5 bridge? Really? Newspaper media today typically regurgitate the press releases without the skepticism that comes with good journalism  The good doctor Kitzhaber ought to have known that the numbers were more than exaggerations - they were even more than just fudging the stats - they were out right lies.

Council member Fish - a step back from accountability and transparency

It is a big step back. The Oregonian had the story -Portland City Hall roundup: Housing bureau wants power to forgive loans of up to $500,000 - but interesting not much was made of it by the other local press or bloggers. Many of the readers who commented on the story saw through the request.

It is not clear that it is good financial policy to forgive loans - I would say that it isn't - but it is not good public policy to let one person determine whose loans are to be forgiven. It smells fishy (corruption and misdeeds) something like the odor coming from Commissioner Fish's office of late. See Internal documents show Portland housing officials didn't intend to enforce housing law after audit.

BBC 'must apologise' - sounds like a slap on the wrist

Arguably BBC has no reason to find itself charged with seeding its documentary with false incidents: BBC News - BBC 'must apologise' over Primark documentary. In another one of the many "child labor" articles and TV events depicting the horrors of child labor - the BBC was charged with essentially staging incidents. While a BBC apology sounds lame - the facts seem to indicate that there wasn't enough to take it further. Of course it was only a  "rare lapse in quality." But for the BBC - the apology is much more than a slap on the wrist.

Journalists as well as advocates of social responsibility have to have the cleanest of hands. Dirt on their hands is the hardest to clean off.

Jerry Brown vetoes Democratic faux budget plan

It is California - but their legislators are not any different than any other politician entrenched in legislative houses across the country. The budget rightfully vetoed was only passed because California citizens had passed legislation to stop the age old practice in California of never passing a budget on time, They instituted a penalty - no pay. So this budget - knowing that it would be rejected - was passed to meet the technical requirement of the law.

I wonder how much time was spent in determining how best to avoid losing their pay?

Grieving New Mexico safety hauled off plane in San Francisco

Pants down to his knees. One wonders why some just refuse to grow up. This guy seems like another athlete spoiled by family, friends and university administration because of athletic ability. The article depicts him as grieving - but how grieving and his conduct is connected is a guess.

He could have easily defuse the situation with a singular action - pulling up his pants. One bets that had he been required to take an emergency exit from the plane those pants would have been up around his neck. Of course his mother sees him as a victim - she has a host of reasons not the least is racism. 

3-year college degree programs not catching on - I wonder why?

It is not about getting an education and getting on with your life. See this from the Washington Post: 3-year college degree programs not catching on. The answer comes from a 20 year old student: “I decided that you only have a certain amount of time to enjoy the college experience.”  “And I wasn’t in as much of a hurry as I thought.”

Maybe for the financially overburden parent it is a trade-off for one more year without their student child - still one at age 20 - moving back to the family abode.

Think China doesn't take the Middle East unrest seriously?

See this article Letter from China: China: Truth, Rumors, and a Basket of Fruit in the New Yorker.

England's message to jurors - don't message

Jailed contempt juror Joanne Fraill 'devastated' after finding out that she was sentenced to 8 months in jail for " . . . using Facebook and also conducting an internet search . . . [on] . . . a co-defendant, while the jury was still deliberating in his case."

Ends justifies the means in the climate change battle

With the decline in American newspapers - quality if not quantity - one has to cast the wide net to find the exercise of journalism. The Independent - an United Kingdom (London) newspaper - has a niche in the world of journalism. See this article that brings to light another bias charge against a climate change panel - the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that was "set up by the UN in 1988 to advise governments on the science behind global warming . . . ."

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Is this justice?

Hiding in a doghouse doesn't keep Hillsboro car thief out of, well, the doghouse. He is out free if he completes a drug program.

versus

5 years in prison for man who broke into Hillsboro woman's home and stole her van

Imagine - a Starbucks beer (and coffee) bar

I haven't yet been to the new Starbucks in the Pearl on Couch Street near Powell's Books. I am waiting for next week when I will go with someone that shares my interest in bars, especially beer bars. I am having a difficult time imagining how one can combine a coffeehouse and bar ambiance. Is there a bar? Or will ordering take place much like that for coffee? A somewhat decent article is here.

Monday, June 13, 2011

My name as a cost to purchase

Too many places - especially coffee shops - seem to require my name as a prerequisite to the purchase of a cup of coffee. Yet when the coffee is ready they don't call out my name, but what I ordered. It doesn't seem to dawn on them - especially the Starbucks people - that distinction.

Starbucks is the worse. It is especially prominent when there is a new employee just back from indoctrination. When I go for my cup of coffee - I am not looking to make new friends - in fact - there is no reason to consider Starbucks employees as my friends.

I have the cash - give me the coffee.

Plastic bags ban - why?

I get that plastic can be an environmental problem because of its every lasting effect, but plastic is widely used in the manufacture of virtually everything we use daily. It seems though that it is fairly clear that there is no carbon footprint advantage to paper over plastic when it comes to bags. Plastic bottles stand next to shopping bags as a pollutant and in the use of oil to produce. I submit that, as litter, plastic retail bags have little impact however measured. So why is so much energy focused on plastic retail shopping bags?

One of the arguments attempts to appeal to the Disney crowd - by demonstrating the deaths of sea mammals due to plastic bags. They want the public to believe that their shopping bag is directly connected to the death of a sea mammal like a whale. But typically it is never demonstrated where the bags that killed the mammal came from - we don't know the ocean nor when the bags were consumed - we only know where the death occurred. Of course there are many theories and suppositions, but all are unsubstantiated as to a connection.

How does the plastic shopping bag that I might deposit into the trash come to be found in the ocean? Once upon a time that was easy to answer - or at least hypothesize. The bags came from ships dumping trash or was washed out to sea via waterways, i.e., rain would wash the bags into the sewers that would then in some circumstances end up in the local waterway on its way to the ocean.

While it is true that many years ago ships would dump their trash at sea. I was in the Navy in the late 50s on an aircraft carrier that dumped all of its garbage - from 3000 plus people - into the sea. When not too far from land - it was even entertaining to see the birds feast. That isn't done anymore nor did that garbage contain plastic retail shopping bags.

There was an era when sewers emptied into the local waterways as part of the sewage system. But sewer systems of today along with litter awareness do not permit a situation where bags even if littered to end up in the waterways or the ocean. Littering of plastic retail shopping bags is virtually unknown today. Anti-littering efforts, including recycling, have reduced the once very visual plastic shopping bags.

The problem with the existence of plastic in the ocean is the result of its endurance but also of the build up prior to effective awareness of the detriment to public. Public education works, but in the case of almost  indestructible plastic there has been an accumulation. The issue may well be - how to eliminate the accumulation?

If we are to have a debate - discussion - on plastic bags it ought to be rational, that is, a proposed ban ought to have some rational connection to the perceived cause. There needs to be a demonstrated extant cause and effect. Merely to state, e.g., that a whale died because as a direct result of the swallowing of plastic bags is not rationally connected to a ban of plastic shopping bags.

As part of the rational discussion, the cause of deaths for whales (or other sea creatures) ought to be stated so that relevant statistics can be observed by all. Thus what is the death by plastic shopping bag statistic? To pinpoint individual circumstances without knowledge of all circumstances is intellectually fraudulent.

Cause related government intrusion is unwarranted and is not welcome. Legislation or ordinance banning anything needs a demonstrated cause and effect. Feel good doesn't cut it.

A few references:

The world's rubbish dump: a tip that stretches from Hawaii to Japan:

Water Bottle Pollution

Plastics in Our Oceans

Watch out Portland: Plastic bag makers aren't shy about taking their case to court

Credit card generation

For whatever reason I find Portlanders are tied to the use of the credit card for even the smallest purchases allowed. I am a cash purchaser. The card use is costly to the user and merchant, but it is never discouraged. It also appears to be a way to avoid a tip. I noticed that at Starbucks there is nothing to sign - it is the swipe of the card and it is done.

This morning a young girl looking very employed attempting to buy a coffee ran through 4 cards - all were rejected. But she wouldn't take the rejection - she continued to stand there expecting - I assume - that the store employee would give her a free one. Oddly, maybe to get her out of the line - another waiting person bought her the coffee.

How does anyone max out four credit cards such that not even a cup of coffee could be bought? And why would anyone buy that person their cup of coffee? And where is one's pride?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

TriMet Bridge is too low for many boats

KGW's New TriMet Bridge too short for many boats raises a host of issues. However, these issues never seem to be spotted by the media itself. This story is just begging for an ample dose of journalism. The bridge in question is not carrying transit vehicles. There is no dispute that some boats are affected. TriMet's arrogance is boldly displayed.

Thus, one wonders why TriMet is building a non-transit bridge in the first place. Is it really counterproductive as alleged by TriMet to raise the bridge design by 7 feet? How can TriMet unilaterally determine the height of any span across the river? Had the complainant had an opportunity to object in private or public meetings?  Aren't there federal or state standards regarding bridge height?

Sadly we will never find out any answers until maybe the inevitable lawsuits are filed.

What nonsense

Thanks to Jack Bog's Blog for the link: Portland should brace for ‘climate refugees’ They are coming because  "the metropolitan Portland region is more resilient to impacts from climate change . . . than most other communities in the United States." Thus ". . . our good fortune is going to make us a magnet."

It is difficult to be amused anymore with the lack of intelligent and rational thought expressed by those who are responsible for promulgating development, high density, transit oriented concepts masquerading as "sustainability." When the data, PSU and Oregonian, demonstrates that the net migration to Portland, city or Metro, is on the downward slope, straws are grasped to sustain their belief system. But like the end of the world didn't occur - and the "millions" often depicted by the high density,etc. development crowd flocking to the metro Portland isn't going to happen, and it was never an accurate or responsible estimate. 

The author - with the disclaimer that he is not writing in his capacity as Director of Multnomah County Office of Sustainability - clearly exposes his belief system that is much like those of the bomb shelter days or that of the end of the world preacher.

Tragically, people like this author is in position to spread his nonsense. Notice in his essay not one link to support his doom day theories. And, he will be identified as a liberal when in fact he belongs more to the tin-foil hat tribe.

Myth:Betsy Ross made the American flag

The Washington Post in its Five myths about the American flag fact checked Betsy Ross and the American flag myth. Contrary to what I was taught and probably still is being taught today - there isn't any factual evidence that she made the flag. It is an interesting article not likely to change anything though. We need myths about our colonial heritage and since there seems to be no claim to the contrary - we will leave it with Betsy getting the credit.

While myths like that above capture a certain factual flavor, they often stand next to revisionist history. One would think that Paul Revere was alone in his "ride." Battle of  Bunker Hill just didn't happen. But revisionist in nature, many myths (more akin to denials) have arisen about the slave owning founding fathers like George Washington who had a relationship with his slave much like Clark of Lewis and Clark fame had with his slave. Thomas Jefferson was pretty much the stereotypical plantation slave owner but benevolent.

Myths, while ordinarily created and spread widely, are also found in omission. The failure to admit or discuss certain historical events creates the myth that the event didn't happen. E. g., the treatment of Indian Peoples by the settlers and US government was at times genocide. Even those who argue that is too inflammatory have to admit that it was at the very least a cultural genocide. The Trail of Tears is the image used to depict the forced relocation of Indian Peoples from the South. A land grab pure and simple.

Myths often frame a positive view of history that gives America that attractive lure and gives its citizens a sense of patriotism and pride. But the failure to admit and discuss the failures leads to myths of cultural superiority.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Preservation: "Impediment to the healthy modernization of our cities"

It is New York but similar chords can be heard in Portland. The New York Times "Death by Nostalgia" depicts how a good idea and policy can get out of hand and become in fact counterproductive. 

Weiner rehab - gee who would have guessed?

Rehab sanctuary: Weiner seeks leave of absence from House. It took him longer than I thought it would. It is part of the celebrity offender's cycle. It is not hard to argue that he sees himself as a celebrity. Too bad he forgot his own admonition on the perils of self-importance.

Portland police gang violence strategy

This from the Multnomah County's gang supervision unit. "[T]he message to gang offenders is: "You are hurting yourselves. You are hurting the city. People are not going to tolerate it anymore."" It is difficult to grasp how any of the three points is relevant. A "cool down" is nothing more than a political attempt to take gangs out of the headlines. Even if successful as a means of calming the violence - typically gang on gang - it is immediate only.

Gang violence continues to reoccur year after year with no solutions to the violence nor their criminal activities. See these two KATU articles: January 2009 and February 2008. I expect if looked further back the same story would be found year after year. Is there any reason to believe that in 2012, 2013 etc. the story will be any different?

The police have no valid strategy to solve gang violence or other related gang criminality. And it is not just the police, and by police I mean the administrators not the rank and file, it is the city council who haven't a clue as to the problem much less the solution.

An excellent example of the void in city leadership is the mayor's letter to Portlander. [See Bojack's take.] It is a poor excuse of leadership in which he immediately and wrongfully attempts to shift the blame from himself (something he is good at). And of course we have the omnipresent 'it is not as bad as it used to be' attempt not only to calm the electorate but also to pat himself on the back for past successes that can't rightfully be claimed.  

The mayor's letter is long on boasting about what he has done but missing the point that none of it has worked. Results is what counts. 

Diversity - another way to implement racial quotas

Politically correct or not - hiring or making political appointments should not be based on quotas. The apparent use of the census data to determine who is to be hired is clearly inappropriate. "Diversity" should not be used as a code word to differentiate among skin colors, gender or sexual preference. [See PolitiFact Oregon | Kitz-O-Meter: Diversify (racially) his administration.]

Rather than use "diversity" factors as a basis not to discriminate - they are being used to discriminate. Goals of anti-discrimination policies and laws have become the means by which discrimination is practiced. Race, gender, sexual preference and the like should not be resume points. Can the use of one's religion as a "diversity" factor be far behind?

Arguably, the governor, and one would assume the state, is using factors that are not ordinarily permitted in the hiring process.

Friday, June 10, 2011

David Brooks: Politicians Behaving Well

Well said. Inspired or exasperated by the antics of Anthony Weiner Politicians Behaving Well is an opinion by David Brooks in the New York Times. The gist is that we ought to focus more on "what it  means to behave well." Good character has become irrelevant.

Mr. Brooks is always worth the read - this opinion is no different. I find myself to be mostly liberal but the conservative Mr. Brooks never alienates unlike the New York Times' in house liberal Nicholas Kristof.

MIT students' innovation - liquid fuel for electric cars

Planning and development in Portland is predicated on the demise of the car. The car - not the combuston engine. It seems pretty clear that cars - maybe not as large as they once were - are here to stay despite the car hating crowd firmly entrenched in places like Portland.

The automotive industry has responded positively to the need to change motive power. The electric car started off with odd looking designs at prices only the wealthy liberals could afford. Now innovation has driven car design and prices - electric cars look, maybe not sound, like real cars and many have the speed and acceleration of the large combustion engine car. Alternatives to fossil fueled cars may not yet be at assembly line prices but they are not far above.

Still a big issue with electrics is recharging. But innovations like that of MIT students [that] develop[ed] liquid fuel for electric cars may eliminate those charging station inconveniences. It is alleged to be cheaper to produce and it smaller that the lithium batteries. Maybe someday - car owners will be making that trip to places like AutoZone to buy, or have refurbished, a battery for their electric.

Electrics and hybrids engines have become another example of American innovation and entrepreneurship. One can expect further innovations that will maintain the car as an integral part of American society and culture. It will continue to be a significant economic and job producing industry.

Now if they would just sound like a muscle car.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

SWAT Raid ordered by the Department of Education

A most troubling story. It is bad enough that SWAT could be called out in these circumstances. It is even worse that it was ordered by the US Department of Education. [Credit to Bojack.]  This is more of federal intrusion that seems to have grown with programs like the JTTF.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

More on Weiner

The Washington Post like most news media has a story on Congressman Weiner. As per usual, the story is becoming more interesting as more facts come to light. I find it interesting that Representative Weiner has been has been conducting his inappropriate (subjective) Internet activities for three years. He has been married about a year.

And, he apparently made no effort to hide his identity. I don't know if that is good or bad. Anonymity is typically the norm on the Internet. Being identifiable on the net is to be encouraged, but one wonders whether he became so use to communicating with his followers that he forgot, in a sense, where he was; or was he looking to get caught. Can rehab be far away?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Whistle blower - not really

This story in the Oregonian disappointed many of the police haters in Portland. They so much wanted to believe the gist of the story as the Oregonian via Maxine Bernstein has presented it. If there is a negative slant to a story about the Portland police - one can be assured that the Oregonian will increase the slope of that slant.

Much has been made about the police recruit who "blew the whistle" on the Portland police. Too bad for her the federal jury didn't quite agree that the Portland police department retaliated against her "after she reported alleged crimes involving her coach."

Even some who somewhat swallowed the verdict with much difficulty still had to hang onto the 'there is trouble in river city" approach because statement made under oath pointed to the fault of the police department.

I don't know of many attorneys who would really put their faith in those "sworn" statements. It is good jury material and often it is all an attorney has to convince a jury.

If it had gone the other way - champagne would have been available from the Oregonian and other police haters - but it doesn't stop them from celebrating with Two Buck Chuck.



Federal jury finds Portland police did not retaliate against a whistle-blower

Go away Representative Weiner - what won't you lie about?

It didn't take a rocket scientist to know that the picture was his and that he sent it. [See the AP story: NY Rep. Weiner admits he sent lewd pix; won't quit.] He came close to successfully using the 'someone hijacked my twitter account' excuse. I wanted to believe because I know people whose personal email account had been hijacked to send "boner" pills advertisements. Even a Portland council member had her account hijacked. But Mr. Wiener's story never rung true.

Sadly his 'it is my story and I am sticking to it' caused his friends to support him, Jon Stewart [Daily Show] - an acknowledged  friend of Mr.Wiener admittedly went out of his way not to excoriate Mr. Weiner. That is where friendship will get you.

Even though Mr. Weiner was a New York representative - I liked his spirit and ideas - but throw that out the window. The best thing Mr. Weiner can do is to crawl into the wood work where he and Mr. Spitzer can keep each other warm. Maybe they can co-host a Fox show.

"The Faces of Death" - part 2 from the Tribune.

The Portland Tribune has a decent two part article that highlights the Gresham effort to stem drug flow by prosecuting those that sold the drugs that contributed to the death of the user. The "faces" refers to a binder maintained by Multnomah County deputy district attorney Ryan Lufkin that contains pictures of those who have overdosed on heroin.

One might recall that Multnomah County Sheriff's office had (and apparently still does) a "Faces of Meth" campaign. A look at a couple of the pictures demonstrates the destruction that comes from the use of meth.

Gresham police and Lufkin are not alone in the fight against heroin. The feds are involved using a federal statute (Len Bias law) to prosecute. It is not unusual to find that where local prosecution leaves much to be desired - the feds join in.

In my post on the 1st part of the article I noted that part one was well written, and was looking forward the second part where the Tribune promised: "Police and prosecutors explain why heroin is so hot in the Portland-metro area, why it’s so dangerous and what needs to be done about it.""

However, the second part requires a little digging to find the answers. Lufkin: “We [Portland Metro] are a Mecca for heroin users." One primary reason is location, location, location. It is the key factor that has led to this interesting statistic - a not wanted number one: "In 2007, Portland also ranked No. 1 in opiode overdose deaths per capita compared to San Francisco, Seattle, Kansas City, St. Louis, Minneapolis and Atlanta."

Portland's location on a drug corridor has lead to increased availability and less consumer cost, thus making heroin a hot commodity. But it is the addiction that provides the demand. Logical and rational individuals would not continue to purchase such a commodity (drug} that has a high incident of death. Never mind that it is so devastating not only to the individual but to family, friends and society in general..

A question sought to be answer was why is heroin so dangerous, i.e., use leading to death. Several reasons were offered - one was quality of the product. It is a turkey shoot. It is a drug whose mid point is "dangerous" and on either side it is "lethal." But an interesting reason comes from the decreased availability of meth. State laws enacted to reduce the manufacture of meth work, but it has resulted in some switching to heroin.

Another interesting statistic and rational: "Lufkin said 22 percent of those who died of heroin overdoses in Multnomah County in 2007 died within 10 days of being released from the Multnomah County Detention Center." That time in jail decreased the users' tolerance, thus, the same dose taken before incarceration became lethal afterwards.

Finally what can be done to combat heroin use? From the article's perspective, the failure of the criminal justice system is clear. Tribune: "Oregon’s lenient drug laws make it a Mecca not only for users, but for dealers, too." And quoting Lufkin: “Oregon is the only state I know of where you can sell heroin four times and only get probation.”

That pretty much tells the story. One can argue that decriminalization (not legalization) of drug use, i.e., relating to the user not dealer) is a solution - but that must be carefully put into context of the drug. Arguably, heroin is not pot, but is it a gateway drug? And a differentiation between dealer and user must be made as well as consideration of the effect decriminalization might have on the supply.

But recent articles (E.g., see the Willamette Week) and press release by the Portland police casts doubts that Portland and Multnomah County will prosecute heroin sales. As an aside I see a difference in how drug sellers and users should be treated. The latter are addicted - the former take advantage of that addiction. And, lack of police and county enforcement only facilitates that transaction and continued addiction.

Bridgeport High School

The article in the Columbian (Washington State) was ostensibly about the states's cut in education funds: Gregoire doesn’t promise students a future. It is a rather odd expectation - that a governor would promise students a future. What a governor - any governor - might promise is the opportunity for a decent education.

Unintentionally the governor dismissed the low income and ethnicity rationales why students don't do well in school by pointing out the success at Bridgeport High. This is a high school that is graduating 37. "Most families in the town are farmworkers, most are poor, and many parents don’t speak English."

The governor: ""They’re all going to graduate, and they’re all going to college.” Many already have earned academic credit through advanced-placement courses introduced by the faculty to boost student achievement." The school advanced-placement courses are open to anyone.

The graduation rate is 100% where it was 40%. According to the governor - the community determined: "‘We’re not going to accept a 40 percent graduation rate anymore.’ At first, students said they couldn’t pass AP courses, but they are taking and passing AP courses. … That is the kind of thing we need to replicate in this country.”

It may well be a bit of hyperbole in the governor's talk - she is a politician after all. The testing is somewhat new and its applicable becomes important in 2013 where students must pass the tests to graduate. It seems virtually impossible to compare Washington's testing with Oregon's. And Great Schools only gives this school a 3 out 10 rating.

But as with most journalism of today - statements included in the story are taken by the media at face value. However, at the very least it seems like this is a turn around story that has a change in community expectations as the primary factor.

This turnaround is evident in the commencement speech offered by Hilda Solis, Secretary of Labor. See too the press release of Senator Cantwell congratulating Bridgeport school for its achievements and its third place position in President Obama's commencement challenge - winner has him as the commencement speaker.

This community attitude is the kind of thing we need nationally - where communities and school districts - determine that their children are just as capable of learning as the next child. No excuses - no blaming themselves - no shifting of fault from the schools to the children. 

Overcoming heroin addiction to become a doctor?

Strange story in the Oregonian: Among Oregon Health & Science University's graduating doctors, a woman who overcame heroin addiction. If there is one profession that ought to have a zero tolerance for addictive drug use - past and present - it is the medical profession. I am not talking about someone's use of  pot, but I am talking about anyone who has been addicted to drugs.

The story can be said to state that drug addiction can be cured or overcome. A drug addict is one for life. There are those that have regained self-control to the point where drug use presents no issues to themselves or others. But this person hasn't demonstrated that she has that self-control. Apparently drinking alcohol was enough to set her back on the wrong track - relapse seems to come easy to her.

She was not taking drugs to get high somewhat akin to using alcohol or pot. She was facilitating drug use of others. Those she allegedly socialized with were the criminal element. In one part of the recovering/relapse part of the story, she was "involved with" a person selling drugs in Harlem. This just before going to medical school.

There is nothing in her story that would give anyone the belief that she will become a professional eschewing drugs that will be more accessible than ever before. But what I find exceptionally strange about her "life"" story is that it is not believable.

The story sounds like it was taken from some trashy novel - maybe more than one. Maybe it was the author who for the sake of brevity edited a little too heavily. There are enormous holes and much requires the reader to take the author's word for it. Might even be a script for some reality show.

One wonders whether the story has any basis whatsoever. Is it a story (not the addiction) that has helped her find a way into the medical profession? It is not too hard to argue that she displaced someone more qualified to be a doctor. And it is not too hard to argue that some pressure from the recovery industry shifted her up the admissions list.

It is doubtful that she will ever be monitored for drug use - it will only come to light when damage is done. Sorry, she wouldn't be my doctor. I could tolerate her as some other professional - but not with my health and life.

Friday, June 3, 2011

NY Times graph: Comparing Recessions and Recoveries

The Economix blog continues to visually depict economic circumstances, in this case job changes in 5 recent recessions. The graph in today's post proves the adage: a picture [graph] is worth a 1,000 words. The present economic downturn - call it recession or depression - has been severe compared to other recent downturns.

The Economix blog posts will typically remind the reader of the larger picture: "There are now 13.9 million workers who are looking for work and cannot find it; the figure nearly doubles if you include workers who are part-time but want to be employed full-time, and workers who want to work but have stopped looking."

Sarah Palin doing her Pinocchio impression

Because in general the media doesn't do it - I rely on the The Daily Show and The Colbert Report to call out the falsity of politicians' statements. A media rare exception is the Washington Post's The Fact Checker. Checkout this post on the latest Sarah Palin: Sarah Palin collects a bushel of Pinocchios on her bus tour.

This post implicitly points out the absurdity of designating virtually anyone with Fox News as a journalist especially Van Susteren. Lawyers and journalist should never ask a question that they don't know the answer to; and they should be prepared to ask a follow up question. Of course that requires listening to the answer.

I nearly forgot about PolitiFact which has a local Oregon version. A recent post published in the Oregonian takes on Mayor Adams assertion about the 30% housing set aside. But nationally I still consider my first paragraph as accurate.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Willamette Week noted another departure from the Oregonian. This one leaving like so many others in the local news industry to join the PR ranks. But it seemed to me that there is an untold story especially with the Oregonian? There seems to be an exodus without replenishment. Good people are leaving with no one to take their place. Doesn't this exodus over the last couple of years at the Oregonian point to a shift in news reporting? 

Journalism at Oregon's major newspaper, print and online, mirrors the downsized staff in quantity and quality. There are rare exceptions. But given that the Oregonian is part of Advanced Publications, the Willamette Week and others should not be besting the Oregonian in quality of reporting - but they do.


But it sounded so good - a $300 house

The New York Times op-ed contribution Hands Off Our Houses points out the fallacy in eschewing principles of capitalism to attempt social engineering - in this case to provide homes to the poor.

Well meaning "experts" competing in attempt to implement a professor's plan for the $300 home went awry. Rather than do a market analysis for a $300 home, e.g., determine the need, they assumed the need and determined in effect that if they built - the demand or need would follow.

It is important to note that plan was to import prefabricated homes to replace those deemed needing replacement. As the article demonstrates - if they had talked with the "beneficiaries" of their plan they would have saved a lot of time and effort.

They would have found that the targets of their plan didn't own the home they intended to replace, they were renters; dislocation of the target people would likely result; the equity in the homes was more than $300; and use of imported homes would harm the local construction industry;.

As the NY Times author states: "The $300 house could potentially be a success story, if it was understood as a straightforward business proposal instead of a social solution."

But a $300 house sounded so good.

Why would anyone take these drugs?

I don't get my TV from a television but from online streaming. Many of the network TV programs are available a day or so later via streaming. So maybe the ads I see are not those that are seen on TV. But these two ads appear quite often online: SIMPONI® and STELARA®. The first is for rheumatoid arthritis and the other is for psoriasis.

Both of these ads visually convey the idea that you will look and feel younger if not better. But also because they are required - they indicate the side benefits. Often it seems as though the stating of the possible side effects is as long as the recounting of the benefits.

Does anyone ever listen to the side effects - are they only for someone else to hear? Simponi - a warm and fuzzy name - warns that it affects your immune system and Stelara - another warm and fuzzy name - cautions that it can affect your immune system.

Simponi states: "There are reports of serious infections caused by bacteria, fungi, or viruses that have spread throughout the body, including tuberculosis (TB) and histoplasmosis. Some of these infections have been fatal."

Stelara is little more circumspect in a similar statement: "While taking STELARA®, some people have serious infections, which may require hospitalization, including tuberculosis (TB), and infections caused by bacteria, fungi, or viruses."

Both drugs warn of increased cancer risks. And take a look at the list of symptoms that one might expect from taking these drugs - very similar.

See too WebMD list of side effects and user reviews for Stelara and for Simponi. Both are made by the same drug company Centocor Ortho Biotech, Inc. Arguably using the same drug but split in its marketing efforts.

So why would anyone take these drugs after listening to the potential side effects and reviewing sites like WebMD?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Case against Tax-Increment Financing

Thanks to Jack Bog Blog for reference to Randal O'Toole', Cato Institute, excellent analysis on tax increment financing (TIF) that is a must read (doesn't take long). [See the executive summary.]  Property tax dollars in the guise of urban renewal, "elimination of blight," are inappropriately collected and used in Portland. It is not just a Portland issue, but this analysis contains several Portland examples.

Urban renewal financed by TIF once had valid purposes, but like most government programs when the goals of the project can be said to have been achieved or otherwise no longer fulfilling objectives the government can't stop the spending. They are addicted to the steady stream of dollars, and that addiction is further fed by the politicians' goals of office. It translates to favoring those developers who can be counted  on to "contribute" to the politician's needs. It also carries out city's - in the case of Portland, liberal agenda of social engineering neighborhoods to be high density neighborhoods.

There is no validity to urban renewal as practiced in Portland.

An excellent read: Crony Capitalism and Social Engineering: The Case against Tax-Increment Financing