Dependable Erection

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Traffic circle blogging - blue moon* edition

No, i don't know why, either.

But it's a blue moon. So you should get out and do something unusual also.

* These guys say it's only a blue moon for folks in Europe. I say who cares.

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Friday, June 29, 2007

Friday flower blogging


Continue reading Friday flower blogging

Blazing a trail, or "This is a nice place"

This is a tale of a trail. the tale has a beginning and a middle, but is still waiting for an ending. I tell it to this point in the hope that its authors come up with a better ending than the one it looks like they're writing.

Once upon a time, I-85 was a four lane highway through north Durham. Recognizing that projected traffic volumes would overflow a road of that size, the NCDOT developed a plan to widen the highway to 4 (or 5, or 6, depending on the exact location) lanes in each direction through the urban part of town, roughly exits 173 through 178. A small neighborhood road called Brookline Drive ran just south of the highway at about mile marker 176. It was a little neighborhood shortcut between Acadia Street and Washington Street, and although a few people missed it when it went away as part of the widening project, it wasn't a major loss.

In fact, the NCDOT promised to convert Brookline to a walking trail between Duke Park on the East, and the South Ellerbe Creek trail, which has a trailhead at the intersection of Club Blvd. and Washington.

The trail isn't exactly finished, but it's opened, and i took a walk on it the other night.

Here's a bit of what i found.

For starters, the trail doesn't extend into Duke Park, but actually terminates at the end of Acadia St. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it really would be nice if there was a trailhead in the park. There's a lovely ravine at the east end of Duke Park which could, with a bit of imagination and money, be a small nature preserve. There's red-tail hawks nesting there, and some native flora that i'm not expert enough to identify. That would make a nice spur off the Ellerbe Trail.

Down at the Acadia St. entrance, there's a few orange barrels, but no gate or bollard systm to prevent motor vehicles from entering the trail. It's possbile that those are set to be installed at some future date.

But after looking at the guard rail system that's been installed at the foot of Glendale (above), you have to wonder. The little turnout in the middle right of the photo really has nothing in place to prevent a car or pickup truck from driving over the curb onto the paved trail. And don't think that people won't be doing just that.

Things are no better at the Washington St. end of the trail, which is wide open to vehicles of any size. And given the recent headlines and listserv posts about thefts of storm drain gratings and manhole covers, that's a pretty big oversight.

There's some other problems with the Washington St. terminus of the new trail. It too, doesn't really connect with anything. The trailhead for the South Ellerbe Creek trail is on the other side of Washington, about 100 or so yards north. Which means you've either got to dash across Washington where you come out of the trail, or head north on the shoulderless and sidewalk free road itself. Washington, as those of you who drive on it or live near it know, is absurdly wide for a two lane road, nearly 55 feet across. Northbound traffic is coming around a blind curve if you're thinking of crossing there. Southbound traffic has often accelerated to make the light at Club, and seeing cars go by at 50 mph or so is not uncommon. There's a patch of woods north of the old Brookline right of way that the trail could still be constructed on, which would put you much closer to the Ellerbe Creek trail, and let you cross Washington at the signalized intersection without having to walk unprotected on the road.

On the trail itself, there are some more issues. The sound wall does a surprisingly good job of minimizing traffic noise. But it's construction has created some potential erosion problems which it doesn't look like NCDOT's planting program is going to solve. Look for washouts behind the concrete retaining wall, and especially in the area where the retaining wall ends.

And speaking of the retaining wall, well, what do you expect when you put a blank canvas up in such an out of the way, yet easily accessible place? It's taken multiple phone calls to the city this week to explain exactly where this graffiti is located, and to determine who has jurisdiction over cleaning it up. the area is still, to my knowledge, NCDOT right of way. It may actually make sense in the long term to call it a freedom of expression zone, and encourage the creation of art, because otherwise, the city is going to be cleaning up graffiti at this location on a pretty regular basis.

As the sign says, this is a nice place.

UPDATE: Graffiti had been removed by end of day Friday.

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Continue reading Blazing a trail, or "This is a nice place"

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Police chief search - what's the holdup?

Looks like Kevin beat me to the punch with a post about the Durham police chief search. I'd started writing this yesterday after reading Barry Saunders column myself, but i'm guessing that folks over at Kevin's day job are already in July 4 mode, while my co-workers have been scrambling to get ready for their vacations next week, giving me a workload about double normal this week.

But that's life, and thanks to Kevin for getting the blogball rolling, as it were.

It's been well over a month since the field of candidates to replace outgoing Durham Police Chief Steve Chalmers was narrowed down to three finalists. And it's been over three weeks since the finalists appeared at a "meet the community" forum at City Hall. City Manager Patrick Baker was quoted back in late May as saying he'd be making a decision in mid-July. I heard a rumor last weekend that the decision may be pushed back into August.

Basically, i wonder who's being served by taking that long to make the decision.

The main fork on the decision tree, it seems to me, is do you think that Durham's Police Department needs a change of direction? If you say no, then Ron Hodge is your guy. If you say yes, then he's not. Kevin makes some very good points about why the department needs a change:
Chalmers certainly didn't do the department any favors by walking, no, running away from reporters' questions every time they came up and giving the impression, warranted or not, of ducking the issues. The next DPD chief is going to be in the spotlight with the local media at the least, given Durham's "gritty" reputation.

Does this mean you want a PR wonk running the police department? Absolutely not. But I'm a firm believer that your ability to communicate effectively doesn't begin and end when the cameras and reporters' tape recorders shut off. You need to demonstrate leadership to your department, too, and part of that lies in the ability to communicate well and often to them.

Beyond communication, it's the little problem of leadership that's really at the heart of the problem with Hodge's statement. A much wiser man than I once told me that managing was about following the process. Dot the i's, cross the t's, and no matter what happened, you did things right, he said.

Leadership, on the other hand, is about the results you bring to the table. Process still matters, but there's something more important at stake -- you also have to execute and you have to make good outcomes happen. If managing is doing things right, leading is doing the right things.

Hodge's statement at the public forum reeks of a managerial mentality: check and cross-check the regs, keep your head down, don't screw up, and you're doing just fine. Technicalities over outcomes, chain of command versus being a commander. It does not demonstrate a readiness to step forward and take the reins of leadership.

My own feeling is that the need for change probably goes even deeper than Mr. Hodge's inability to come up with the right answer to a question at the public forum. The reputation of the DPD is pretty low right now in a lot of circles. Promoting from within, which i'm usually a pretty big fan of, is not going to help with that problem. And moving forward, if DPD doesn't want every single move it makes to be questioned by those with axes to grind, fixing the reputation problem should be job 1.

So for that reason, i think it would make sense for Patrick Baker to step forward earlier rather than later, and let us know what his answer to the question of whether the Durham Police Department needs to move in a new direction is. Even if he hasn't settled on a final choice, i don't think it violates protocol for him to announce that decision. Both of the out of town finalists are candidates for other positions. The longer he waits, the more likely that circumstances may tie Mr. Baker's hands.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Small progress with bad neighbors

Last week i posted about the latest batch of shitty neighbors in the house behind mine leaving a big heap of garbage behind when they moved out.

Yesterday we had a very productive meeting with the manager of the property, and i learned that the landlord is also fed up with his inability to attract renters who won't destroy his property, and is willing to sell the house.

So that's the good news. Hopefully, there's someone out there willing to make the investment in a fixer-upper on a transitional block that's not too far from downtown Durham, but that hasn't yet attracted the attention of folks looking for these kinds of opportunities. I don't know if the house is listed yet, but if this is the kind of thing that appeals to you, drop me a line at DependableErection at gmail dot com, and i can hook you up with the listing agent.

Which leads me to thinking. I've actually been a renter for the majority of my adult life. I've always paid my rent on time, and never been a burden on my neighbors, either by bad behavior or neglecting my house. (Well, maybe that time in Phoenix when i had a dog who absolutely refused to stay confined behind the fence. He was pretty big - 130 pounds - but goofy, and never hurt a fly. Except for the time i came home from work and found a mallard with it's neck wrung wrapped in his chain. It took him a couple of days to pass the feathers that he had tried to eat. Even though he was a yellow lab, he never so much as looked at a waterfowl after that. And one time when he got loose, i got a call from a friend who lived 8 miles away on the other side of town asking when i was coming to pick him up after he'd been hanging at their place for over a week. But i digress. That was a 6 month period of my life 30 years ago. Mostly, i was a pretty good neighbor.)

Is it just that so many more people are homeowners these days, leaving a smaller and more ill-mannered pool of the population to be renters? You'd think, as prices of homes have continued to skyrocket, that fewer people would be able to afford them. But that doesn't seem to be the case. And certainly, i know people now who have rented their homes for a decade or more, are comfortable being renters, and contribute to the well-being of the neighborhood.

So what's it like where you live? What's the mix between renters and homeowners? Is there any friction? How do you deal with it?

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

More inability to get the facts straight from Right Angles

Maybe it's because they're posting every fifteen minutes at the new John Locke Foundation blog "Right Angles", but this is twice in one day they've missed simple facts.

Earlier, they restated John Leo's bullshit about the resignation of Mike Pressler as Duke lacrosse coach last year without fact checking.

Now, they can't be bothered getting Senator Richard Burr's party affiliation correct.

You might almost think that the JLF bloggers learned their reporting skills at Fox News.

As the man says, though, good thing i got the screen grab before they go fixing their mistake. But since they're dissing Burr on this, i bet it'll be a while before they notice.


Continue reading More inability to get the facts straight from Right Angles

Maintain radio silence - internet version

If you're wondering why your favorite internet radio stream isn't available today, perhaps the answer is here, or here.


Continue reading Maintain radio silence - internet version

Let's stop spreading misinformation, shall we?

I'm no fan of Duke University President Dick Brodhead, as regular readers of this blog know.

But the John Locke Foundation's Right Angle blog is going after him today based on something that is just a flat out lie.

First, they approvingly quote from the ever-worthless John Leo:
But here is what Mr. Brodhead did: On hearing the first reports, he abruptly canceled the lacrosse season, suspended the two players named in the case, and fired the lacrosse coach of 16 years, giving him less than a day to get out.

As we've documented several times here, Brodhead did not "abruptly" cancel the lacrosse team's season and fire coach Mike Pressler "On hearing the first reports" of the incident.

The resignation of Coach Pressler and the cancellation of the season came after the release of team player Ryan (41) Mcfadyen's notorious email, in which he discussed inviting strippers to his residence and "killing bitches," and "proceeding to cut their skin off" while "cumming in my Duke issue spandex."

The email was dated March 14. It was made public on April 6. Pressler resigned at the same time that the email became public. Nearly three weeks after the first reports of the incident.

We can split hairs over whether Coach Pressler jumped or was pushed. But it's clear that the University was prepared to stand behind him over the rape allegations until the publication of a particularly vile email from one of his players. That was the straw which broke the camel's back.

This case makes everybody look bad without having to make shit up, so why bother?

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Continue reading Let's stop spreading misinformation, shall we?

Who was that masked man?

I wouldn't go so far as to call Durham bloggers a "tightly knit community." There's a number of people who i know in Durham who blog, there are circles of other bloggers around many of those folks, who i know by clicking through once in a while. Most of those folks blog about their lives, and since their lives are, to an extant, lived in Durham, they blog about this town occasionally. There's a smaller group of people who blog about Durham qua Durham: Gary, Kevin, Michael, Joe's food blog, (what the hell, Reyn could be in that category as well.)

I find myself on the border of that group, often well inside it, but i like to write about things that catch my eye, whether or not they're exclusively Durham.

Earlier this spring, a new star shone in the Durham blogosphere. In fact, you might say it blazed across the heavens for a few brief months. When Bullsh@t came to town, there was lots of buzz about the new guy. He had world class snark. He had intimate knowledge of Durham. He wasn't afraid to use either of them.

He created an instant topic of conversation - so, who do you think Blazer Manpurse really is?

Several people i know suspected me. And even though we shared some of the same sensibilities, that's just not the case. A couple of other names have been tossed out in my general direction, and i think one of them may be promising. (I'm not going to mention it, however.)

But now, he's gone. Two people i know have floated the theory that Bullsh@t was a viral marketing campaign for Durham Rising, probably run out of Greenfire Development. I'm not buying that one. It doesn't make sense to me.

No, i suspect that even if we are able to put a name and a face and a raison d'etre to the blogger, we'll actually not be gaining anything worth having.

Best to savor the mystery, and say thanks for the memories.

Blazer Manpurse is dead. Long live Blazer Manpurse.


Continue reading Who was that masked man?

Monday, June 25, 2007

OK, i'm stupid

Usually i can parse government speak. This, from a story about the Supreme Court dismissing a lawsuit challenging the Bush Administration's initiative to throw more money at religious charities, has me at a loss.
Jim Tooey, formerly head of the White House office, said the ruling is "good news for addicts and the homeless and others seeking effective social services."

"It's also a repudiation of the kind of secular extremism that ruled the public square for decades," said Tooey, now president of Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa.

What the fuck is secular extremism?

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Continue reading OK, i'm stupid

More screwy liberal hoo-hah from the comments

I don't get it. How did this blog become such a magnet for crazy liberal commenters like the All-Time Loser?
But your beef is not with the students as much as it is with the administration for putting students who want to party into the middle of a residential neighborhood. Nan Keohane and Sue Wasiolek, I'm looking at you.

See, the whole notion that people are not responsible for their actions, that society, as represented in this case by University administrators is the ultimate responsible party, is a discredited, liberal 60s, if it feels good, do it, concept that i thought we got rid of during the "Personal Responsibility" Reagan years a couple of decades back.

I thought we had reached the point where character mattered? You know, if you do something wrong, you take responsibility for your own mistakes, instead of passing the buck to some authority figure who "enabled" you to continue your actions.

Man, i wish these liberals would go back to their gated communities with their Volvos and Chardonnay, and leave us working class folks alone to sort out our own issues.

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Go Beavers!

Congratulations to the Beavers of Oregon State University on back to back NCAA College World Series victories.

A good year for beavers.

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Royal ice cream

Kudos to Jim Wise for an excellent article in yesterday's Durham News about the 50th anniversary of the anti-segregation sit-ins at the old Royal Ice Cream parlor on Dowd St. at Roxboro.

As usual, Gary has something worthwhile to add to the conversation.

(And speaking of Gary, don't miss his combo Durham Rising report/farewell to Bullsh@t post. He really needs to let his hair down a little more often.)

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That's why they call him Major

The Bull City's majestic new symbol, in his domain at the CCB Plaza.


Continue reading That's why they call him Major

A quick logical progression

The All-Time Loser posts in the comments:
Durham is the murder capitol of NC. Yeah, big problems with those students. Let's make them the focus of a crackdown.

This is a rhetorical device known in the trade as "moral relativism." You know, saying "why are you bothering with my crimes? Those guys crimes are much worse."

You may recall that "moral relativism" became a buzzword back in the 90s, when many conservative figures decried the "moral relativism" of Bill Clinton and his liberal supporters. (Do your own fact-checking, OK? I'm not your research monkey.)

In fact, opposition to "moral relativism" was distilled down to a simple two word bumper sticker phrase, which you can still see on the backs of certain construction company vehicles in the Durham area (and, i suppose, elsewhere): "Character Matters."

Indeed, it does.

So the logical progression is that Conservatives oppose moral relativism. Liberals support moral relativism. The All-Time Loser supports moral relativism. Therefore, the All-Time Loser is a liberal.

And we all know the relative worth of the views of a liberal, right?


Continue reading A quick logical progression

Sunday morning church marquee blogging

Highway 70, Durham, NC


Continue reading Sunday morning church marquee blogging

May the snark be with you

Blazer, we hardly knew you.

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Durham rising, or "I'd be afraid to send my kid there."

Yes, prospective Duke parents. Durham is a very scary place, and, as Joe T. points out in the comments, you'd be right to be afraid to send your kids here, as these photos will show.

For starters, we have very scary policeman on motorcycles. They cruise the city streets looking for easily identifiable Duke students, so they can arrest them on false charges, and extort money from their always wealthy parents.

Then there are the blind people in town. Who knows what they're thinking? Best to avoid them altogether. They're creepy.

Perhaps the scariest of all Durhamites is the drum majorette. You really need to stay out of her way, lest she bop you on the head with that baton.

Fortunately, she's almost always seen in the company of a spontaneous marching band, so you usually can tell when she's around and get back home safely before something bad happens.

And don't get me started on those brown people. You know how they've got the entire legal system structured to do their bidding. It's amazing any Duke students survive 4 years in Durham, let alone graduate and decide to stay here.

Probably best to stay home where it's less scary.

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Continue reading Durham rising, or "I'd be afraid to send my kid there."

A quick note about profiling

In the comments, Locomotive Breath (is he the all-time loser running headlong to his death? Turn to page 1 of your Gideon bible to find out) attempts to make the case that Duke students are the victims of police profiling, and that somehow, their presence in the arrest log in large numbers on charges of public intoxication and other similar crimes is morally equivalent to the presence on death row in Texas of a disproportionate number of African-American males.

Let's bring this strawman out into the open where, in the presence of sufficient oxygen, it can be burned to the ashes it deserves and never be resurrected again. Because it's my blog, and i can.

Let's imagine a hypothetical neighborhood, call it say, Trinity Woods, nestled up against an equally hypothetical mid-sized private university, most of whose students come from other states. We'll call that Earl University.

Now, the residents of Trinity Woods, hard working citizens all, any number of whom are actually employed by Earl University, begin to notice that there's an increasing number of petty crimes in the neighborhood. Lawn furniture is being stolen. Outdoor fixtures are broken. Noise complaints at 3 in the morning. There's beer bottles and empty cups on their lawn, even if they haven't had any parties. pools of vomit on the sidewalk. (And they know that choking on someone else's vomit is a crime for which police technology is inadequate to solve. You can't dust for vomit, you know.)

So they call the police, who respond by stepping up patrols in the neighborhood, and making a few arrests. Lo and behold, most if not all of those arrested are Earl University students. Some of them are even athletic team members. No profiling there.

Now, let's further imagine that a particularly astute community affairs officer of the local police department starts noticing, over the years, that there's a pattern to the locals' complaints. They peak during certain times of the year, and during certain days of the week. And the people that are being arrested for these petty crimes all tend to be students of Earl University. So the community affairs officer starts assigning officers to work the neighborhood during times of the year and on days of the week when complaints are likely to be highest. He keeps records of the addresses of the students arrested, and notices that the same dozen or so addresses turn up over and over again. He shares this information with leaders of the neighborhood and the University. Special attention is paid to the incoming residents at those addresses, who, being undergraduates from other parts of the country with no interest in the local political scene, or in being good neighbors, are unaware of the history of complaints that have been made against the previous residents of their houses, nor of the corresponding arrest records. When they continue the tradition of committing petty crimes against their neighbors, and are subject to arrest for these crimes, they claim they are being discriminated against, singled out, and, gasp, profiled.

Eventually, Earl University decides to bite the bullet, buy these dozen or so properties and take them out of the student rental market, and resell them to prospective homeowners who will agree to never again rent them to Earl University undergraduates.

Nothing in this scenario (which, although simplified, is a pretty accurate narrative of events in the real Trinity Park neighborhood over the past 20 years) comes close to profiling, or demographic discrimination, or any other pathetic claim of victimhood that the Earl University undergraduates might care to make.

So spare us the sophistry. Trying to compare yourselves to real victims of discrimination and injustice, which in many cases is a life and death act, is a bit, well, unseemly. It makes people gag. And try to put that mental energy towards becoming better citizens and neighbors, OK? You might find it has benefits.

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Continue reading A quick note about profiling

Friday, June 22, 2007

They write letters (pt. 2)

The Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People writes to me.

Which i guess would be appropriate if i were, you know, black.

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Continue reading They write letters (pt. 2)

Bull City Chili Challenge

Tomorrow's a big day in the Bull City. You've got the Juneteenth celebration up at Stagville. You've got Durham Rising all over downtown. (Yikes, is that a mental image to be forgotten quickly or what? At least we'll end up with two-way streets at the end of the deal.)

And not to be forgotten is the Bull City Chili Challenge in Durham Central Park beginning around 10 am. Two years ago, a tasting kit cost $3.00, and all proceeds went to the Special Olympics. I don't know what it's going to cost this year, but the charity remains the same. (A note on Craigslist syas it's still 3 bucks, but i haven't seen anything official.)

Two years ago, on a lark, i entered my grilled pineapple salsa in the "Individual Salsa" category, and lo and behold, i won a blue ribbon. Last year, i was out of town and unable to defend my title. This year i'm back, and after much internal debate wherein i weighed the advantages of retiring undefeated, i've decided that no guts means no glory, and i'm going to try and regain the crown with an updated pineapple salsa 2.0

The basic ingredients are pineapples, sweet red and orange peppers, jalapenos, poblanos and habaneros in varying combinations for heat, tomatillos and onions for texture, flavor, and color. Some of the pineapple is grilled to add a little smoke and sweetness to the mix. Oh, yeah, and this year's model has a secret ingredient that i've been experimenting with to try and get the proportions right. I think i'm there.

We'll find out tomorrow. Hope to see you there.

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Continue reading Bull City Chili Challenge

They write letters (pt. 1)

From a letter to the editor by my friend Tony M. (reprinted with his permission)
. . . Nifong's out of a job and some of us sure would like to know what in blazes was he thinking when he suppressed the DNA lab results.

That said, I want to express my disappointment in the shrill language and ugly intent exhibited by people who hate Durham and have used this incident as their soap box. You outsiders from all over the country are not fooling anybody with your veiled racism towards this city, its law enforcement agencies and its inhabitants.

It was also interesting to see how the privileged classes in this country can pull their wagons together to take care of their own. Don't worry, folks -- you're on top and you have no problem staying there!

That, unfortunately, is the lesson learned from this sad affair.

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Continue reading They write letters (pt. 1)

He wants an apology?

So former Duke lacrosse coach Mike Pressler returned to "the scene of the crime" (just kidding. He was actually at the Regulator) last night on his book tour. Fortunately, i have a life and couldn't be there, because reading about it in the N&O was enough to push my blood pressure up 10 points.
On Thursday -- in what has been a week full of news surrounding the Duke lacrosse case -- the coach-turned-author told a crowd of supporters at the Regulator Bookshop that he still awaits one thing: an apology.

"A big part of education is when you're wrong, you admit you're wrong," Pressler said.

Let's recall the chain of events that led to Pressler's dismissal last year, shall we?

It wasn't after 1/3 of his team's players had been arrested over a period of several years for public intoxication. (And as i said over at Joe's place, i've been intoxicated in public plenty of times. I'm sure you have too. But i've never been arrested for it. Do you have any idea what it takes to get arrested for public intoxication?) It wasn't after his team's captain's hosted a party featuring sex workers and underage drinking.

No, Pressler was fired after this email, which had been sent on March 14th, and which he had been aware of for weeks, was made public as part of the police investigation.

Click on the graphic for a larger version.

I've said this for the past 15 months. If you work in corporate America, and you use your company's email system to send out something like this, you will be fired. I don't care how many Bret Easton Ellis fans you work with. No company in America is going to allow the "atmosphere of harassment" that email contributes to to exist
because it virtually guarantees a lawsuit. And a manager who is aware of an employee using the corporate email system to send things like that, and does nothing about it, is also going to be fired, and justifiably so.

Pressler knew about Ryan McFadyen's email for weeks before it became public*. That was the incident that immediately preceded his firing.

Even though i agree that University President Dick Brodhead and Athletic Director Joe Alleva mishandled the entire affair on behalf of the University (see any of my posts from last year on this. I think they waited too long to both fire Pressler and cancel the season. In addition, Brodhead's attempts to portray himself as a "Durham leader" were particularly disingenuous and probably deceitful), there should be no doubt in anyone's mind that failing to discipline one of his players who had written an email like that, on the University email system, was a firing offense.

Coach Pressler's firing needs no apology. An apology from Coach Pressler to the Durham community on behalf of his team's anti-social behavior during his tenure would, however, be welcome.


* - see remarks in the comments for details on this strike-out.


Continue reading He wants an apology?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A once in a lifetime opportunity

There it is in all its glory, the beautiful, new, immaculate, permanent, gentrified Duke Park traffic circle. Conveniently located at the center of all things Durham, at the intersection of Glendale and Markham Avenues. Home to spontaneous displays of public art, visual, auditory, and unclassifiable. Just waiting for a couple of things.

Like, for someone in the city to confirm that they're really and truly done with it, and that final landscaping is up to the neighborhood association. Because we really do have some great ideas for that thing.

But it's also waiting for a name.

That's right. And here's where you, and your opportunity, come in.

The publisher of this blog, and the membership of the Glendale/Markham Cultural Coalition (Building Community One Cocktail at a Time™) are offering you the opportunity to put your name on this traffic circle.

Here's the deal. In return for a generous donation to a non-profit of our choice, this blog and the membership of the GMCC will agree to refer to the Traffic Circle as YOUR Traffic Circle, every time we mention it in print, on the web, or in conversation, for the next two years. Every press release, every blog post, every time we give directions to someone coming from Chapel Hill, we will be putting your name out there for the Triangle community (and indeed the world at large) to marvel at. We will also agree to use our considerable clout to encourage other media and government organizations to refer to the Traffic Circle as YOUR Traffic Circle.

Come on, Blazer, i know you want to do it. Just think. The Bullsh@t Traffic Circle at Markham and Glendale. Home of the Triangle's best performance art. You know you want to do it. Or how about you folks at the N&O? Don't you think that the Bull's Eye Blog Traffic Circle will help to drive, well, traffic to your site? Or maybe Mike Pressler wants to donate some of the profits from all those copies of his book that he'll be selling at the Regulator tonight in exchange for the opportunity to be remembered for at least the next two years? We could call it the Strippers and Underage Drinking Are OK In My Book Traffic Circle, just for you, Mike. Or something else, if you prefer. All it's going to take is a contribution slightly more generous than anyone else.


Drop me a line at DependableErection AT gmail DOT com, and we'll talk.


Continue reading A once in a lifetime opportunity

Bad tenants, worse landlord

The latest in a long line of noisy, inconsiderate, dog abusing tenants in the house directly behind mine moved out sometime between Monday afternoon and Wednesday afternoon. I've been communicating through a third party with the property manager about the dog tied up to the "carport" 24/7, as well as the large number of motor vehicles brought into the back yard for "repairs."

Here's a shot of what they left behind.

By my count, these are the 5th consecutive tenants over the past 6 years to tie a dog (or dogs) up to the rickety "carport" poles and leave him (or them) there to bark and howl all night. They were the firs, though, to try to run some sort of car repair business out of the yard.

Here's a couple of shots of some trash that made it to my side of the fence.

I'm going to try to meet with the property manager over the next couple of days to start working through this problem. If i don't getresults, i'll be posting some more about this, including names and addresses of the property manager and the property owner, who is really the problem here.


Continue reading Bad tenants, worse landlord

Beaver Queen Pageant - Performances - Yogi Beaver

OK, so i lied. Here's this year's Beaver Queen, Yogi Beaver, in the talent portion of th ecompetition. Yogi transforms into a Beaver Diva before our very own eyes. The camera, unblinking, captures all of it. Well, most of it. You sure can hear all of it, though. This is what it takes to be crowned Beaver Queen!


Continue reading Beaver Queen Pageant - Performances - Yogi Beaver

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Let's go Beavers!

Congrats to the Oregon State Beavers, who defeated the UC Irvine Anteaters 7-1 tonight at the College World Series. The Beavers await the winner of tomorrow night's game between Carolina and Rice. The best 2 of 3 series for the championship begins on Saturday.

Go Beavers!

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Beaver Queen Pageant performances - World Wide Beaver

World Wide Beaver 精度、強靱さ、そして使いやすさに優れ、travels the space/time continuum 世界中から高い評価を得ている「スイスミリタリー」。今回紹介する 「スイスミリタリー ELEGANT」はスポーツ、ビジネス、カジュアルなど、どんなシーンでも活躍するスマートなフォルムのデザインにメタリックで艶のあるカラーをプラス。是非、お気に入りの一本に so please enjoy!

And with this, our coverage of the 2007 Beaver Queen Pageant will essentially come to a close. If any amazing snippets of audio or video come our way, we'll put them up, and we'll remind you from time to time that you can go to Beaver Lodge 1504's YouTube page to view any of the videos that are posted. And of course, when the DVD is available, we'll tell you how to get your copy.

And stay tuned for details on the 4th Annual Beaver Queen pageant, to be held in the spring of 2008. We've already had plenty of inquiries from aspiring contestants, so it's likely that the qualifying rounds will be a lot more interesting next year.

Thanks to everyone at Beaver Lodge 1504 for allowing us to share in the joy as the Official Blog of the 2007 Beaver Queen Pageant™, and a special hug of gratitude for Ms. Katherine DeNerve, for everything she's done to advance the cause of beavers in Duke Park, and everywhere.


Continue reading Beaver Queen Pageant performances - World Wide Beaver

Cool catalog

i'm not sure how i ended up on this particular mailing list, though it may have something to do with some industrial solvents i ordered online back in the day when photography and image scanning was a physical process, but when this catalog showed up in my mailbox yesterday, i was astounded.

Astounded enough to share a couple of spreads of these tasty morsels with you all.

did you know, for example, that you can order 10 different varieties of "Drivers Must Chock Wheels Before Unloading" signs? Or that you can upgrade any of your signs to Duroshield signs for only $4.99 each? "Hairnets and Beard Covers Required" signs, too?

And finally, don't tempt me with these. My budget only goes so far.

Continue reading Cool catalog


In which Blazer Manpurse, BFA, reveals his true identity.

I can't believe he didn't confide in me first.


Continue reading Scooped!

Tempest in a teapot

Last week we noted a Charlotte Observer article about the Department of Justice beginning and the NC State Auditor beginning to look at potential voter fraud in the Tar Heel state. We mentioned that Josh Marshall, who's probably the expert on the DoJ "pursuit" of voter fraud cased, called these "trumped-up claims."

Looks like he was right.

Facing South has the details.

Continue reading Tempest in a teapot

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


I'm not trying to defend Nifong at all. But when i read shit like this, my blood starts to boil:
Also Monday, Duke University announced it had reached an undisclosed financial settlement with the three former lacrosse players, Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and Dave Evans. Duke suspended them after they were charged, canceled the team's season and forced their coach to resign.

"We welcomed their exoneration and deeply regret the difficult year they and their families have had to endure," Duke said in a statement announcing the settlement.

The players' families racked up millions of dollars of legal bills in their defense, and appear likely to file a lawsuit against Nifong.

The players said in a joint statement they hoped the agreement would "begin to bring the Duke family back together again."

"The events of the last year tore the Duke community apart, and forcibly separated us from the university we love," they said. "We were the victims of a rogue prosecutor concerned only with winning an election."

Let's see, guys. You had a team party where you hired sex workers and provided alcohol to underage teammates. (The latter is definitely a crime in the state of North Carolina.) One of your teammates sent an email out after the "party" which read in part:
'"Tomorrow night, after tonights show, ive decided to have some strippers over," the message read. "However there will be no nudity. i plan on killing bitches as soon as the walk in and proceeding to cut their skin off."' Last year, your University President said, to a Chamber of Commerce meeting:
Earlier Thursday, at the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce's 100th annual meeting, Brodhead got two rounds of booming applause when he told business and industry leaders about the university's stance.

Whether the accusations prove to be true or not, other acts of misbehavior attributed to the lacrosse team were "abhorrent," Brodhead said.

"It's not the kind of behavior we have the habit of condoning," he said.

You trashed the house you lived in and the block you lived on so thoroughly that the University paid $3 million to buy up a dozen houses (well above what they were worth on the market) on the block to resell with the stipulation that they never be rented to students again.

Anyone who pays attention to Durham politics knows that Mike Nifong's re-election was a no-brainer before your stupid party ever took place.

At this point, i think it would be best if you get on with your lives in another part of the country, and just shut the fuck up. You don't deserve to live in our town.


Continue reading Aaaaaarrrrggghhhh!

Grocery wars

Not a home run, by any stretch, but finding a can of Spotted Dick in the local Kroger, without having to search out a specialty store in Cary, counts for something. Let's call it a leadoff single in the bottom of the first. With a base stealing threat. And a chance to tie the score. After all, we're only down by a live frog.


Continue reading Grocery wars


Today is June 19th, the 142nd anniversary of the enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation in Texas, two and a half years after its declaration, following the defeat of the Confederacy.

Educate yourself, and celebrate.

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Go Beavers!

Everyone down at the lodge is pulling for the Oregon State Beavers to make it two in a row in the College World Series. They took a big step last night, crushing the ASU Sun Devils 12 - 6.

Go go Beavers.

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Sunday morning church marquee blogging

Highway 70, Hillsborough, NC


Continue reading Sunday morning church marquee blogging

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Warehouse blues - week 2

Cyril Lance, Friday, June 15th at the Warehouse Blues Series, West Village, Durham, NC.

And we all had a real good time.

Tonight's beverage: Limousines


Continue reading Warehouse blues - week 2

Traffic circle blogging

More progress on the permanent traffic circle at Glendale and Markham in my neighborhood. Concrete has set, and fill dirt has been placed, and, what appears to my untrained eye as the first temporary art installation magically appeared yesterday.

There's been a lot of discussion on the neighborhood listserv about what the final project should look like, who's actually got responsibility for making it happen, and what the restrictions are about how it can be planted. One resident landscape designer has put forward some great ideas, but lots of comments about what is allowed by the city and what isn't have muddied the waters. How tall can plants be? Are trees allowed? What about visibility?

Maybe it's just because it's summer, but it's been impossible to get any answers from anyone in a decision making position, or even to determine who, exactly, in the labyrinth of city bureaucracy, makes the call.

Regarding questions of visibility, here's a picture of one of the Trinity Park circles, clearly showing plantings rising up above the height of a typical sedan driver's view.

And as far as whether or not trees can be planted, here's a photo of another Trinity Park circle which should put that issue to rest.

Yet another reason to love Durham.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Nifong announces he's leaving

Looks like Mr. Bacon has gotten his wish.

Not the ending i would have preferred in this case, but after the Attorney General dismissed the charges against the Duke lacrosse players and said what he said, this really should have happened much sooner.

UPDATE: Michael makes a point i tried to make a lot last year, but much more cogently than any of my efforts:
Nifong served honorably and exceptionally as an assistant DA for quite a while, and the good of that service shouldn't be completely obliterated by his severe and unforgivable mistakes leading the department. It bears remembering that one of the reasons so many of us found it hard to believe that the case was going so far off of the rails is because of Nifong's long established reputation for carefulness and thoroughness.

It seemed to me, and i posted this thought not only here but in comments on a number of other folk's blogs throughout the spring and summer of last year, that Nifong had to have something to hang the case on, otherwise he wouldn't even be taking it to the grand jury.

The most difficult aspect of the case for me is that, after trying to argue for the better part of a year that it shouldn't be seen as a lens through which to view the societal faultlines of race, gender, and privilege, what's happened has served to wedge those faults further apart, to the extent that they'll continue to trap people in the future.

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Continue reading Nifong announces he's leaving

DoJ targets NC "voter fraud"

Heard about this via email earlier this morning, and now i see that Josh has noted it, with the comment these are "trumped up claims."

He's been right all along about every aspect of the DoJ's U.S. Attorney scandal, and there's no reason to believe his assessment here is any less accurate.

Here's the nub of the Charlotte Observer report:
The dispute comes amid growing national attention to suspected voter fraud. The U.S. Justice Department has devoted more resources to that area -- a decision that voting advocates say could disproportionately affect minorities and the poor ahead of the 2008 election.

In a letter two months ago, the Justice Department said it was reviewing North Carolina's voter rolls and that it found irregularities in the number of people registered to vote. Similar reviews have led to lawsuits against election officials in seven other states, including Georgia.

The second broad challenge is from State Auditor Les Merritt, whose office began a review of the state's voter rolls in January.

His staff presented preliminary findings to the State Board of Elections last week. According to the board, Merritt's staff cited 24,821 invalid driver's license numbers in the voter registration database, 380 people who appear to have voted after their dates of death and others who were under age 18 when they voted.

Gary Bartlett, executive director of the elections board, responded Wednesday with a stinging 10-page letter declaring many of the findings invalid. He accused Merritt's office of misleading the elections board and of rejecting its help.

"(Y)our office appears to have a fundamental misunderstanding about the data that was reviewed or about the federal and State laws governing the voter registration process," Bartlett wrote in the letter, which he provided to lawmakers Thursday.

For example, Bartlett said, many of the people who appear to have voted after their dates of death voted absentee and then died prior to Election Day. At least some people under 18 who voted did so legally, Bartlett said, because state law allows 17-year-olds to vote in a primary election if they will be 18 the day of the general election.

Bartlett said the state's regular maintenance of voter rolls resulted in 725,499 names removed during a recent 19-month period. Most had been inactive, moved or died.

Merritt's office declined to provide the Observer with a copy of its findings Thursday, saying it is adjusting them based on Bartlett's objections.

"This is a typical process we do in refining our findings," said Merritt spokesman Chris Mears.

The report goes on to note that "the Justice Department cited no evidence of anyone voting illegally or of voter fraud."

So, then, why the big deal? Why the double barreled shotgun blast from Republican officials at the Democratic led NC Board of Elections this time?

The only possible explanation is that they're already trying to save North Carolina from tossing out the useless Republican Senator Liddy Dole, and putting its electoral votes in the Democratic column.

Seems to me we fought a coupleof hot wars and a very long cold war against governments that practiced precisely this kind of bullshit. Some of them called it democracy as well.


Continue reading DoJ targets NC "voter fraud"

Beaver Queen Pageant - Performances - Disco Beaver Fever Dancers

Stain' alive, indeed. I hope that when they come back next year, they grace us with a rendition of "Saturday Night Beaver."


Continue reading Beaver Queen Pageant - Performances - Disco Beaver Fever Dancers

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Trash talkin', traffic calming, and other Durham goodies

I've been so busy this week, that i've fallen a bit behind in posting things i wanted to talk about. Let's try to catch up.

Earlier in the week, Ray Gronberg over at the HeraldSun posted a bit about the new city budget. Kevin did a good job analyzing some of the Parks and Rec stuff in the budget. I was more intrigued by the mention of "seed money" for creating a universal yard waste program.

Brief background - a few years ago the city switched to a subscription based yard waste pickup program. It's illegal in the state of North Carolina to mix yard waste (grass clippings, leaves, small branches, etc.) with regular household waste. So you pay 40 bucks or so for a separate brown yard waste cart, and then on top of that, you pay another 60 bucks every year to have the city pick up your yard waste. Participation in the program has averaged around 20 - 25% of Durham's households. Being generous, this means that at least 70% of Durham's yard waste is either being illegally mixed in with regular waste, swept out into the streets to clog our storm drains, or illegally dumped somewhere. I've long been a proponent of rolling yard waste pickup back into the tax program, and picking up everyone's yard waste, without forcing them to pay a separate fee.

Ray's article wasn't too clear on how this is going to work, so i emailed Donald Long, Director of the Solid Waste Management Department, to get some details. Let me share what Mr. Long said.
What was adopted (well, almost pending the June 18th official vote) is not a yard waste program, but a comprehensive program for all curbside collections. I
think it played out as a yard waste program because this is the aspect making the most dramatic change. We will collect curbside household solid waste, bulky item, bulky brush, and yard waste effective Sept. 1, 2008. It is taxed based program-no fees. The yard waste fee will stop sometime between Jan. 2008 and March 2008. We are still brainstorming the possibility of refunds.

In regards to yard waste carts, it will be the same as solid waste carts, we provide the first one and the citizen pays for any cart after that.

This is pretty good news, and an important step in keeping our streams, creeks, and stormwater drains open and flowing, and helping to clean up our town. Thank you, Donald Long.

Kevin and Michael both had things to say about the Indy's Best of the Triangle Annual, which came out this week, and especially Bob Geary's interesting article about Durham. Michael manages to wax philosophical about growing old while realizing that Bob has discovered a happening part of the Durham scene that he didn't know about. Good stuff.

He's right, to a point, that Bob didn't get to a lot of what makes Durham a great place to live.

I'd like to think that my little conversation with Bob, which extended far beyond the intivation to the Beaver Queen Pageant, and included a plea to not make Durham look too good because we don't necessarily want too many Raleigh folks clogging up our restaurants and bars, had something to do with that.

Finally, once again over at Kevin's, a new commenter has been making some rather inane remarks about urban and suburban lifestyles, and his particular right to make any neighborhood street in the downtown area his own personal speedway.

I'm not really sure how to say this any more clearly. Public streets in the urban areas of town are supposed to be shared among all users, not just those in motor vehicles. We have some serious design issues with some of our urban streets, which create safety issues for people on foot, in wheelchairs, pushing strollers, etc. In other words, a large number of people who use the streets. The problem is that the design of a number of these streets encourages drivers to use them at speeds that are not safe for people out of cars. Putting up some signs to tell drivers to slow down only goes so far. If people in all parts of Durham weren't concerned and, to be honest, pissed off by people driving too fast through their neighborhoods, we probably wouldn't need to be spending lots of money on traffic calming devices and other measures to get folks like MarcusOne to slow the fuck down.

It's your choice to live in northern Durham if you want. And your choice to work in RTP or Chapel Hill if you want. But that choice doesn't come with the right to treat other people's residential streets as though they were freeways. Don't try to shave 3 minutes off of your 30 minute commute by doing 50 mph on a residential 30 mph street. And don't try to argue that it's selfish of the people whose lives you are putting at risk when they take steps to slow your ass down.

That's just stupidity.

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He'd better bring his own soap on a rope.
A federal judge refused today to delay the start of the prison sentence for I. Lewis Libby Jr. in the C.I.A. leak case while he appeals his conviction.

The ruling intensifies the legal and political drama surrounding Mr. Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney who was convicted of perjury, making false statements and obstructing justice.

Judge Reggie B. Walton said today that he found no reason to postpone Mr. Libby’s sentence of two and a half years in prison for four felony counts. Defense lawyers had asked that he be allowed to remain free while pursuing appeals.

. . .

Mr. Libby’s lawyers made a last-ditch argument today, asserting that the special prosecutor in the case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, had been given too much independence. The judge dismissed that argument, saying that Mr. Fitzgerald was subservient to the Justice Department and thus could have been dismissed.

One telling moment came as Judge Walton referred to a motion filed by 12 law professors asserting that there were appealable issues in the case. The judge dismissed the motion, remarking acidly that it was “not worthy of a first-year law student.”

This entire administration has not been worthy of a first year law student. It's a miracle this country still exists.


Continue reading Scooter!

Bad logo update

I posted last week about the logo for the 2012 London Olympics, which is generating some controversy, mostly due to its complete suckitude.

It's picked up a supporter in Jacques Rogge, who, as the President of the International Olympic Committee (has Avery Brundage really been dead for more than 30 years?) could hardly be expected to criticize this monstrosity.
"I took a little mental effort to read the numbers, which I think is a good thing," Rogge said. "It appealed to me but I can understand why other people don't like it.

Holy fuck, he's right. It does say 2012.

I can honestly say, after 45 minutes of looking at that thing last week, it never once occured to me
that's what the logo meant.


Continue reading Bad logo update

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Traffic circle blogging

Work continues apace on the permanent Duke Park traffic circle. Some ideas are being kicked around about how best to retain the blank canvas/performance art nature of the previous temporary circle. We'll see what happens. I'm certain there will be a grand opening celebration of the kind that only the Duke Park neighborhood can throw. Stay tuned for details.


Continue reading Traffic circle blogging

Beaver Queen Pageant - Performances - "Little Bluesy" Beaver



Continue reading Beaver Queen Pageant - Performances - "Little Bluesy" Beaver

Monday, June 11, 2007

What the hell was this guy thinking?

I have no sympathy for idiots who drive through neighborhoods where people are walking and kids are playing, at 50 miles an hour. And if i'm out and somebody drives by me at some absurd speed, i have no qualms about letting them know how pissed i am.

This guy in Raleigh, though, sounds like he was firing on all cylinders.

No license? Check.

Speeding? Check.

Drunk? Check.

Deliberately running down somebody who yelled at him to slow down? Check.

In the country illegally? Check.

You know, in the great immigration debate, i generally come down on the side of folks who are in this country, legally or not, who are for the most part hard working, otherwise law abiding people who are trying to do their best for themselves and their families. But you gotta know that if you're in the country illegally, doing something this stupid is not going to make you any friends.

And don't worry. If you drive past me at 50 on Markham Ave, i'm still going to tell you to slow the fuck down.


Continue reading What the hell was this guy thinking?

Parks & Rec

Kevin asks the right questions following the publication of this article in today's Herald Sun.

Seems that a dispute is arising among several Council members over adding a few million bucks (OK, close to 12 million) in additional capital expenditures to put a new swimming pool in the Walltown Rec center, and perhaps buy the Duke Diet and Fitness Center on Trinity to turn into another rec center.

It's times like this that you have to scratch your head and ask, why are we writing master plans when we ignore them at the next opportunity? Why do we plan sidewalk and bike plans, or greenway plans, or park plans, only to discard them at the next opportunity? Why do we build facilities that overlap each others' services, even as other neighborhoods in Durham lack local options for services?

Wish i knew the answers.

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Shades of Afghanistan

A few weeks back i tried expressing some thoughts about how the Iraq War is much more like the Soviet experience in Afghanistan (1979 - 1988 or so), than it is like any conflict the US has been involved in previously.

During the course of those musings i had occasion to quote Major Gen. Rick Lynch, who is the commander of US forces in the area south of Baghdad.

Well, Lynch is back in the news again, in the context of the deadly bombing of a bridge in Mahmoudiyah that severed the main north/south highway, and what he's got to say for himself this time is perplexing, to say the least.
In Baghdad, Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, whose forces control the area of the bombing, spoke at length about U.S. efforts to draw Sunnis into the security forces.

"There are tribal sheiks out there who say 'Hey, just allow me to be the local security force. I don't care what you call me. ... You can call me whatever you want. Just give me the right training and equipment and I'll secure my area.' And that's the direction we're moving out there," the Third Infantry Division commander said Sunday in a meeting with reporters.

Lynch said contacts with the Sunnis, who make up the bulk of the insurgency, were a matter of pragmatism.

"What's the long term effect of arming members of the Sunni population? ... What I've seen over time is the Sunni population saying 'enough, we've had enough of these attacks' ... As a result you see them wanting to arm themselves so they can protect the population mostly against al-Qaida," he said. "So, we've got to reach out to them."

If you're like me, your response to this has got to be, "What the fuck?!" We've just spent most of the past 4 years fighting against the "Sunni insurgency." We've been trying to create and train "the Iraqi army." Our entire presence in Iraq is predicated on supporting the "Iraqi government" of Maliki.

Now, we're going to let a two-star General start making policy decisions about who we're supporting and arming and what side we're taking in Iraq? Don't we have an Iraq war czar, a Secretary of Defense, and a Commander-in-Chief?

Is the Bush administration in such total disarray that we're going to sign up whatever two-bit warlord has been blowing up our troops for the past 4 years, through money and weapons at them, jsut because they say they'll fight al-Qaeda for us?

The lessons of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan should be, don't do this. It's stupid, and it's going to end badly. And it's not worth the sacrifice of our soldiers.

This New York times article indicates that Gen. Petraeus and his second in command Lt. Gen. Odierno, have signed off on this program. Our friend Maj. Gen. Lynch also appears:
Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, commander of the Third Infantry Division and leader of an American task force fighting in a wide area between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers immediately south of Baghdad, said at a briefing for reporters on Sunday that no American support would be given to any Sunni group that had attacked Americans. If the Americans negotiating with Sunni groups in his area had “specific information” that the group or any of its members had killed Americans, he said, “The negotiation is going to go like this: ‘You’re under arrest, and you’re going with me.’ I’m not going to go out and negotiate with folks who have American blood on their hands.

The Times goes on to note:
The requirement that no support be given to insurgent groups that have attacked Americans appeared to have been set aside or loosely enforced in negotiations with the Sunni groups elsewhere, including Amiriya, where American units that have supported Sunni groups fighting to oust Al Qaeda have told reporters they believe that the Sunni groups include insurgents who had fought the Americans. The Americans have bolstered Sunni groups in Amiriya by empowering them to detain suspected Qaeda fighters and approving ammunition supplies to Sunni fighters from Iraqi Army units.

In Anbar, there have been negotiations with factions from the 1920 Revolution Brigades, a Sunni insurgent group with strong Baathist links that has a history of attacking Americans. In Diyala, insurgents who have joined the Iraqi Army have told reporters that they switched sides after working for the 1920 group. And in an agreement announced by the American command on Sunday, 130 tribal sheiks in Salahuddin met in the provincial capital, Tikrit, to form police units that would “defend” against Al Qaeda.

We are so fucked.

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Continue reading Shades of Afghanistan

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Sunday morning church marquee blogging

Rose of Sharon Rd., Durham, NC


Continue reading Sunday morning church marquee blogging

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Traffic circle blogging

I'm going to miss Christa.


Continue reading Traffic circle blogging

Friday, June 08, 2007

Warehouse blues series kicks off

A stellar show tonight opened the Warehouse Blues series, cosponsored by Durham Parks and Recreation and Music Maker Relief Foundation.

Here's "Cool" John Ferguson, wearing a "Cool" John Ferguson t-shirt. How cool is that?

Tonight's beverage: Cuba libres.

The Warehouse Blues series continues on Friday nights through August at the West Village courtyard.


Continue reading Warehouse blues series kicks off

Equally disgusting

From Raw Story:
The Department of Justice is investigating whether or not a Kuwaiti construction firm contracted to build the US Embassy in Iraq has carried out human trafficking with its laborers, according to a report in Thursday's Wall Street Journal.

"The Department of Justice launched the probe of First Kuwaiti General Trading & Contracting Co. after former employees alleged that workers at the company were told they were being sent to Dubai, only to wind up in Iraq instead... First Kuwaiti confiscated the workers' passports, so they were unable to depart Baghdad, these people said," wrote Yochi J. Dreazen.

The Kuwaiti company denied a Justice Department investigation was going on, and said the State Department had already found no violations of the workers' rights.

Indeed, the State Department's Inspector General reported that there was "no evidence of Trafficking in Persons violations...[workers] were being paid and had the ability to quit at any time...and return to their home country."

Still, Dreazen writes that the charges may be credible.

"While Justice may ultimately clear the company of the present allegations, its involvement suggests they are serious enough to merit investigation," he wrote.

Iraqis were not hired by First Kuwaiti for the $592 million project out of fear that they could compromise the project's security.

"Instead, it hired nationals from poor countries such as Bangladesh, Egypt and Pakistan," the Journal notes.

So the US Embassy in Baghdad is being built with slave labor.



Continue reading Equally disgusting

Doing the "Wright" thing - followup

OK, so i didn't get to meet Steven Wright the other night at the Carolina Theatre.

See, the first time i saw him, either on Johnny Carson or the Letterman show back around 1983, he told this one joke that makes me laugh every time i go the beach:

"I have the world's largest seashell collection. I keep it on beaches around the globe. Perhaps you've seen it?"

So i was hoping to give Steven one of my shells, apologize for having stolen it when i was younger, but ignorant of the fact that it was his, and ask him to sign it. Kinda like this:

I wonder if he chuckled, or if this wasn't the first time someone's asked for that particular autograph?

Thanks, Connie!

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Beaver Queen Pageant - Performances - Belvis!

The moment you've been waiting for. Belvis at the park. Catch him now, before he leaves the building.

Wanna sing along?

Here's the lyrics:

In the Meadow

As the bluebird flies
On a green and damp Carolina morn, a poor little baby beaver's born
in the meadow

And his mama cries.
For if there is one thing she don't need, it's another furry faced
slaptailed mouth to feed
In the meadow

Hey people now, can't you see, this child needs a helping hand
or he's gonna be an angry young mammal one day.
Take a look at you and me; are we too blind to see? or do we simply
turn our heads and paddle off away

And the world goes by
The peace of the forest meets the rage of the streets as they pave
another freeway to RTP
Through the meadow

And his mind is fried
For if there is one thing he can't conceive, it's a lot more tar and a
lot less trees
In the meadow

Then one day in desperation, the young beaver breaks away
He gnaws on a tree, and gets shot as diseased by the NC DOT

And his mama cries.
And on a green and damp Carolina morn, another little beaver child is born
in the meadow

Beaver Las Vegas

Bright light wetlands gonna set my soul
Gonna set my soul on fire
There's a whole lotta acres I'm just rarin' to chew, so get those
stakes up higher
And there's a thousand lady beavers, waitin' for me
To lay them underneath the loblolly tree
Where we'll dine on the pine and the flossin' is free
Beaver Las Vegas
Beaver Las Vegas

How I wish that there were more than the 24 trees in the glen
When you see those stumps, you can bet your sweet rump that you'll
know just where I've been
Oh, there's sycamore, oak tree, sweetgum and pear, all just a-waitin',
the devil they care
And I'm just a devil with choppers to spare
Beaver Las Vegas
Beaver Las Vegas

Beaver Las Vegas, with neon flashin'
One-armed beaver crashin', all those hopes down the drain
Beaver Las Vegas, turnin' day into nighttime, turnin' nighttime into day
When you've seen it once, you'll never be the same again.

I'm gonna keep on the run
I'm gonna have me some fun
If it costs me my very last dime
If I wind up broke up well
I'll always remember that I had a dam good time
Lady beaver please let the dice stay hot
I'm gonna give it everything I've got
Let me shout beaver with every shot
Beaver Las Vegas, Beaver Las Vegas,
Beaver, Beaver Las Vegas

Lyrics copyright 2007 Belvis/Jamie McClendon. Reprinted by permission


Continue reading Beaver Queen Pageant - Performances - Belvis!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Beaver Queen Pageant Performances - Be Vell Bevon

Be Vell performs an amazing torch song medley.

And check out that tail. Whoo hooo.

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Under the leadership of George Bush, the US has now descended to the level of Argentina under the generals, or Chile under Pinochet. This is the most shameful story i ever hope to read.
Six human rights groups urged the U.S. government on Thursday to name and explain the whereabouts of 39 people they said were believed to have been held in U.S. custody and "disappeared."

The groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, said they filed a U.S. federal lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act seeking information about the 39 people it terms "ghost prisoners" in the U.S. "war on terror."

"Since the end of Latin America's dirty wars, the world has rejected the use of 'disappearances' as a fundamental violation of international law," professor Meg Satterthwaite of the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at New York University's School of Law said in a statement.

The report said suspects' relatives, including children as young as seven, had been held in secret detention on occasion.

The article goes on to quote a CIA spokesperson dismissing the charges. "The United States does not conduct or condone torture," he (Paul Gimigliano) said.

Which, as anyone who watched any of the recent Republican debates, or read Andrew Sullivan's recent article on the "Verschärfte Vernehmung" as practiced in Germany under the Nazis, knows is a bald-faced lie.

What the practitioners of this form of government never seem to learn is that it always ends badly for them.


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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Doing the "Wright" thing

Well, good news and bad news about Steven Wright's performance tonight at the Carolina Theatre.

This was the last live performance before the Carolina shuts down for the summer for some much needed repairs, and they decided to turn it into a fundraiser. For an extra 60 bucks, you got a ticket to a pre-show reception at which it was strongly hinted that Steven Wright would be in attendance.

Upon arrival, Connie Camponaro reminded us that the ticket packet included a disclaimer that "celebrity appearance was not guaranteed." Actually, upon reviewing my ticket packet, i don't see anything like that. On the other hand, the publicity never really says "Meet Steven Wright at a pre-show party," so i guess i should have read much more closely. The money went to a good cause anyway, and the All About Beer folks stocked up the bar with some interesting brews, so that was good.

I'm more disappointed at not getting a chance to have an item of personal significance signed by Steven, and missing the chance to explain to him why it was significant, rather than upset by the way that whole thing went, but hopefully Connie will be able to get him to sign it and relay the story to him backstage.

The good news is, he was as funny on stage as i expected him to be, and i'm glad to have gone, but damn if i can remember any of his jokes. I wonder if he does that on purpose?

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Um, who's minding the store?

Several thousand Turkish troops crossed into northern
Iraq early Wednesday to chase Kurdish guerrillas who operate from bases there, Turkish security officials told The Associated Press.

Two senior security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media, said the raid was limited in scope and that it did not constitute the kind of large incursion that Turkish leaders have been discussing in recent weeks.

"It is not a major offensive and the number of troops is not in the tens of thousands," one of the officials told the AP by telephone. The official is based in southeast Turkey, where the military has been battling separatist Kurdish rebels since they took up arms in 1984.

The officials did not say where the Turkish force was operating in northern Iraq, nor did he say how long they would be there.

The officials said any confrontation with Iraqi Kurdish groups, who have warned against a Turkish incursion, could trigger a larger cross-border operation. The Turkish military has asked the government in Ankara to approve such an incursion, but the government has not given formal approval.

An official at military headquarters in Ankara declined to confirm or deny the report that Turkish troops had entered Iraq.

Isn't this, you know, a violation of international law or something? Is Secretary of State Rice even capable of processing this information, let alone forming a coherent thought in response, let alone a policy to implement?

UPDATE: Iraqi, US, and Turkish military officials are all denying this report.

So we can now say with a fair degree of certainty that it must be true.

UPDATE II: Muckraker 'splains today's goings on in terms a layman can understand.

Interestingly, Josh also makes a point about George Bush similar to what i said about Condi, in regards to a competely different incident. Truly, the incompetence of this administration's foreign policy apparatus is mind bloggling. They are simply not prepared to deal with the real world.


Continue reading Um, who's minding the store?

God, i am so lame

Gary's got his usual good stuff up this morning, Kevin outdid himself with his Bill Fields and Baby Bill story yesterday afternoon, Blazer has a great idea up for replacing the bridge over Main St., while all i've got this morning is a mindnumbingly dull report on the Police chiefs forum last night.

If police chief was an elected office, like Sheriff, then maybe a candidates forum would make sense. But really, the only purpose of this forum was to see if any of these guys would say something disqualifying in a public forum. My responses to the question sheet handed out (What are the candidate's strengths? What do you think the candidate brings to the City of Durham position?) are meaningless.

this is Patrick Baker's decision. He'll be receiving lots of behind the scenes lobbying. (There is one black, one hispanic, and one white candidate among the three finalists. Yeah, lots of lobbying.)

The real story, of course, will be how the various interest groups in Durham politics react to Baker's choice, regardless of who it is.

Meanwhile read the N&O story here, or the Herald Sun story here.

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Beaver Queen Pageant - Performances - The Bull & The Beaver


Continue reading Beaver Queen Pageant - Performances - The Bull & The Beaver

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Unenforceable ordinances

I alluded yesterday to the fact that Durham (city and county) has a lot of well meaning, sounds good type ordinances that are essentially unenforceable.

I may take a look at others from time to time, but today i'll just review my favorite, the noise ordinance.

You can find Durham's municipal code here.

Just a suggestion to city admins - putting a prominent link to the municipal code somewhere on the city's official webiste is probably a good idea.

Sec. 11-1. Noise--Generally.
(a) Unreasonably loud and disturbing noises prohibited: Subject to the provisions of this section, it shall be unlawful for any person or persons to make, permit, continue, or cause to be made or to create any unreasonably loud and disturbing noise in the city. For purposes of this section, the following definitions shall apply:
(1) Unreasonably loud: Noise which is substantially incompatible with the time and location where created to the extent that it creates an actual or imminent interference with peace or good order.
(2) Disturbing: Noise which is perceived by a person of ordinary sensibilities as interrupting the normal peace and calm of the area. In determining whether a noise is unreasonably loud and disturbing, the following factors incident to such noise are to be considered: Time of day; proximity to residential structures; whether the noise is recurrent, intermittent, or constant; the volume and intensity; whether the noise has been enhanced in volume or range by any type of electronic or mechanical means; the character and zoning (if applicable) of the area; whether the noise is related to the normal operation of a business or other labor activity and whether the noise is subject to being controlled without unreasonable effort or expense to the creator thereof.
(b) Particular noises prohibited: The following acts, among others, are declared to be unreasonably loud and disturbing noises in violation of this section but the enumeration shall not be deemed to be exclusive, namely.

there follows, under paragraph b, 13 specifically enumerated cases which are violations of the noise ordinance, but which do not exclude other causes of noise from being considered violation.

Here's the good stuff:
(3) The keeping of any animal or bird which, by causing frequent or long continued noise, shall disturb the comfort and repose of any person in the vicinity.

See, we have, in the County's code of ordinances, a provision for nuisance animals, animals in general being under the purview of the county government, except for bees, the keeping of which is for some unknown reason prohibited within city limits by city ordinance. (Oh, yeah, it's also illegal in the city to walk or ride your mule on a sidewalk.) Up until last summer, there was a specific definition of a nuisance animal which included language stating that a dog which barked, howled, whined or made other noises once per minute for ten minutes was a nuisance. The animal control department spent a lot of its resources responding to complaints about this particualr violation, but sadly, very few citations were actually written. Citizens, and i was one, were requested to set up videotaping devices to try to capture the noise, and an animal control officer or admin would review the tapes with a stopwatch, seeing whether or not a full minute elapsed between barks.

After last year, the Animal Control department successfully petitioned the Board of County Commissioners to drop this provision from the nuisance animal definition, arguing that the city's noise ordinance already specifically covered barking dogs.

Now, here's the catch. Most of the noises covered in the city's ordinance (loud music, machinery, cars without mufflers, etc) require a human being to be around making the noise. It's 1:30 in the morning and your neighbor's party sounds like it's in your own living room? No problem. If you ask them to turn it down and they refuse, you call the cops, assuming your name isn't D.C. Rollins. If they still don't turn it down when the cops come, they get cited for a violation and have to show up in court. (Whether or not the courts will actually enforce the violation is another story. Anecdotal evidence in Durham suggests that these violations are routinely dismissed.)

But, what about the dog who's barking all night or all day long? Chances are, he's barking because he's been tied to a tree all day while no one is home in the house. There's nothing you can do to get him to calm down (except for shooting him, which one of my neighbors tried to do to another neighbor's dog back in October of last year.) And the police are not going to be able to calm the dog down, either. Unfortunately, the police also don't have the tools to issue a citation to someone who is not present during the violation. That's right. Dog barks all day while you're trying to sit in the backyard and drink a couple of beers with your friends. You knock on the door, but no one is home. You call the police to make a noise ordinance complaint. But the police can't write a ticket to someone who's not there. Now, it's possible that the police officer can come back at a later date, with your complaint and willingness to testify, and catch that person at home and issue a citation then and there. But let's be real. Why should that happen?

Here's a solution. Issue noise ordinance violations against the owner of the property. Three clicks on the city's GIS maps will call up the owner's name and address for any residential property in town. Put the burden of paying for these violations on the landlords who rent their properties to tenants who don't give a shit about the people around them, and you'll start seeing a whole lot fewer violations by short term tenants. And in the case where it's actually an owner occupied house, well, no problem there at all, is there?


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