Dependable Erection

Monday, June 30, 2008

I Put a Spell on You


Continue reading I Put a Spell on You

How time flies

Hard to believe it's almost Christmas season already.

What's that, you say? It's still June?

Tell it to my inbox.


Continue reading How time flies

Water watch

Last night's thunderstorms and accompanying downpour did more than just disrupt another Shooting The Bull broadcast.

Streamflows at both Little River and Lake Michie climbed out of the "all-time minimum recorded" levels they were at last week. Little River especially seems to have caught a significant amount of last night's storms, with flows peaking above 40 cfs there earlier this morning. Lake Michie improved somewhat, but at 7.4 cfs is still below the 20 percentile mark fo rthis date. Expect that number to rise however, as the runoff works its way through the system.

The city has not updated its usage tables for the weekend yet. I'll post those numbers as soon as they're available.


Continue reading Water watch


Despite being a Democratic Party precinct chair, i can't say i knew the names Joy Johnson or Joseph Craig well enough to place them until Mrs D showed me the photos they have posted on their website. The allegations against the couple are serious enough, although the sketchiness of the various news reports invite more speculation than clarity.

I'll note that the accusations did not prompt a whole lot of discussion that i could tell over the weekend. Whether that's because of the timing of the news (most people i saw on Saturday had not even heard about it yet) or whether Durhamites have learned that high profile allegations of sexual assault are not always what they appear to be is not yet clear.

One wonders, though, whether the commenter at the N&O who referred to the couple as "human scum" will be organizing a cacerolazo in the Watts Hospital-Hillandale neighborhood any time soon.

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Continue reading Ruh-roh

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Euro 2008

I doubt that she wrote the headline which accompanies the piece, but even if she did, there's no denying that novelist AS Byatt understands why a billion or so people will be watching today's final between Spain and Germany for the title of champion of European football:
I watch a lot of sport on television. I only watch certain sports, and I only watch them live - I don't think I've ever been able to watch a replay of a match or game of which the result was already decided. I feel bound to cheat and look up what can be looked up. I watch for aesthetic reasons. Some are to do with real dramatic tension. There is a story, and the end is really unknown until it comes. I have worked out that I also watch as though I was watching a kinetic sculpture or abstract light show. The things I watch are all contained in quadrilaterals, concern the movement of round balls, and the shifting lines of force and energy made by the players' movements.


Continue reading Euro 2008

Euro 2008 All-Name team

In honor of today's Euro 2008 final between Spain and Germany here are the players with the names i like most to hear called by the announcers during the introductions and the run of play. As always with my All-Name squads, actual playing time during the tournament, or quality of play when on the field have nothing to do with being chosen for this prestigious honor. The only qualification is whether or not i like the sound of the player's name. We've also got a slight twist for this event.

If i could get corporate sponsorship, i'd call this first list the Snickers team. I think the reason will be obvious. Just try to imagine your local college basketball announcer having to call these names a dozen times a game.
Emmanuel Pogatetz
Christian Fuchs
Andreas Ivanschitz

Jerko Leko

Daniel Zitka

Per Mertesacker

Rafael van der Vaart

Quim Silva

Yuri Zhirkov

Andres Palop

Stephan Lichtsteiner

Tumer Metin

Now, the true All-Name squad. First, the subs.
Joachim Standfest

Luka Modric

Czech Republic
Tomas Ujfalusi

Steve Mandanda
Claude Makelele

Clemens Fritz (Honorary captain for obvious reasons)

Mario Melchiot

Gianluigi Buffon


Razvan Rat

Joan Capdevila
Alvaro Arbeloa

Gokhan Zan
Kazim Kazim*

And the starting XI
Juergen Macho

Jerko Leko

Sebastien Squillaci

Bastian Schweinsteiger

Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink

Giorgio Chiellini (Honorary captain for being the most likely to be played by Chico Marx in a scene involving a beer cart, a horse, and a befuddled referee outside a football stadium 5 minutes before kickoff.)

Dariusz Dudka

Yuri Zhirkov

Pascal Zuberbuehler
Hakan Yakin

Hamit Altintop

And the special Golden "A" award for the best name in the tournament is a tie between Austria's Juergen Macho and Switzerland's Hakan Yakin. Congratulations to our winners.

UPDATE: Congratulations to the following players for "doing the double," being named to both the official UEFA All-Tournament team and the DE All-Name team: Gianluigi Buffon, Pepe, Yuri Zhirkov, and Hamit Altintop. Your medals will arrive someday.

*There was much heated debate at the Dependable Ranch over whether to include young Mr. Kazim on the list. The ESPN announcers as well as the British newspapers refer to him as Colin Kazim-Richards which, while interesting, is simply not All-Name team material. Kazim Kazim, on the other hand, rocks. We've decided to keep him on the substitutes bench while we sort this out.


Continue reading Euro 2008 All-Name team

Sunday morning church marquee blogging

Roxboro St., Durham NC


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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Shooting The Bull

Durham City Council member Mike Woodard will join Kevin and i tomorrow on Shooting the Bull at 7:30 pm, 88.7 FM, WXDU. Listen to a live stream here, or find the podcast on iTunes on Monday.

As always, if you have a question you'd like to ask Mike Woodard, send an email to ShootingTheBull AT gmail DOT com. We also welcome your feedback on the show, ideas for topics you'd like to see discussed, and your thoughts on life in the Bull City.


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Number Nine


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Friday, June 27, 2008

She brings the rain


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Friday flower blogging


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Kevin has the details on the soon to be open status of yet another high end restaurant in the downtown, this one called Eno, which, following the Chez Panisse model, will serve only locally grown and organically produced fare.


It's not as if we have an abundance of restaurants going after that market.

But Frank Zappa, who i think about a lot these days, said, "You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline. It helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer."

Translating that to cities and downtowns, well, yeah, Durham has a beer, and we may soon have another one, if the rumors i keep hearing bear any fruit. But at the very least, downtown needs a pizza place. And Mellow Mushroom doesn't count. That's a restaurant that happens to serve pizza. I'm talking about the kind of place that you can walk up to (the best ones have take out windows that open on the street, so you don't even have to go in) and order a slice and a coke, and sit down at the nearest bench to eat and watch the people around you. The closest thing Durham has to that is on Ninth St., where there's also a somewhat equivalent falafel shop.

And the pizza place doesn't necessarily have to sell pizza. Falafel, noodles, soup, or tacos would also count. The bottom line criteria is that you've got to be able to carry it in one hand, with your drink in another, order, pay and receive your food in a single transaction, and eat it in a public space within 100 feet of where you bought it. You can't be a real downtown unless you have a pizza place and public square. It helps if you have a baseball team and some statues, but at the very least, you need a pizza place.

UPDATE: The Pizza map

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Water watch

Streamflows at both Little River (.83 cfs) and Lake Michie (3.7 cfs) this morning dropped below the previously recorded lows for this date.

Just sayin'.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Amon Düül II


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Supreme Court rules 5-4 that death penalty for raping children is unconstitutional:
Dissent from the high court's ruling reverberated around the country from Louisiana - the state where the case originated - to various levels of government.

"I think the rationale for this ruling was faulty - was absurd," Louisiana's Governor Bobby Jindal said.

. . .

And some states promised to keep looking for ways to hand down the death sentence for child rapists

That's a shot taking direct aim on the court's split five to four ruling, in Which Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority, saying the rape of a young child does not warrant the death penalty.

Supreme Court rules 5-4 that DC handgun ban is unconstitutional:
The ruling quickly became fodder for the presidential race. Sen. John McCain lauded the decision in a written statement, calling it a "landmark victory for Second Amendment freedom in the United States."

The Republican presidential hopeful criticized his rival Barack Obama's stance on the issue, saying the Democrat had refused to sign a statement calling for Thursday's ruling.

"Unlike the elitist view that believes Americans cling to guns out of bitterness, today's ruling recognizes that gun ownership is a fundamental right — sacred, just as the right to free speech and assembly," McCain said.

UPDATE: More responses to today's decision:
"In limiting its opinion to the matter of self-defense, and in saying the right is not absolute, the United States Supreme Court decision today is an explicit statement of support for cities all across America who are creating reasonable measures to limit the ability of those who will do harm, who will maim, who will buy, carry weapons illegally," Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said.

In San Francisco, which has some of the toughest handgun regulations in the U.S., Mayor Gavin Newsom said the ruling "just flies in the face of reality. You just wish the Supreme Court could spend a week in public housing and then come out with this decision. It's very easy and comfortable to stand there with security guards and metal detectors and make these decisions."



Continue reading Reactions

Dole: Offshore drilling OK if . . .

Six months ago, i would not have expected energy policy to be a hot electoral topic. So what do i know?
Sen. Elizabeth Dole said North Carolina should have the option of allowing oil exploration off the state's coast, backing away from her long-held support of a federal moratorium on Atlantic drilling.

In a statement Wednesday to The Associated Press, Dole said she supports lifting a 27-year-old moratorium that has prohibited exploration off the North Carolina coast.

"Now, more than ever, responsible and practical steps are needed to increase our energy independence and strengthen economic and national security," Dole said.

The Republican, facing re-election for the first time, said the option should be available to states so long as the exploration is safe, clean and not visible from land.

Well, i guess that last part ought to put the kibosh on any offshore drilling for a while. And if "not visible from land" doesn't qualify as NIMBY, i'm not sure what does.

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Continue reading Dole: Offshore drilling OK if . . .

Water watch

Another Wednesday, another 30+ MGD usage day. The good news is that the spikes on allowed watering days (Wednesday and Saturday) seem to have stabilized at around 31 - 32 MGD, and that the 32MGD usage on Thursday the 12th was an aberration. We even had two days this week where usage dropped below 25 MGD, probably the result of late afternoon thunderstorms keeping some folks from sneaking in a lawn watering session.

The bad news is that stream flows continue to drop. The 4.3 cfs recorded at Lake Michie is barely above the previous minimum for this date (3 cfs in 1994). Over at Little River, the .89 cfs is similarly not far above the .43 recorded in 2002. Both numbers are well below the 20th percentile, meaning that in 8 out of every 10 years, streamflows have been higher on this date. The combined 5.2 cfs translates into a 3.3 mgd inflow, or about 12% of what our average daily use has been this month.

Let's see what the next few days brings - highs in the mid-upper 90s, and only slight chances of thunderstorms. I'm predicting a spike in usage above 35 MGD on Saturday barring any significant thunderstorms tonight or tomorrow.

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"Let's do it all."

Recent discussions here about John McCain's proposals to build 45 new nuclear powered electrical plants centered on the contentions that those plants will eliminate the need for carbon emitting coal plants. Here's McCain supporter Trent Lott, former US Senator and current lobbyist for both Shell and Chevron, among other companies:
"It's time we quit fighting in America about having an energy policy. We have got to have an energy policy, and let's do it all. Let's do drill. Let's do nuclear power. Let's do clean coal. Let's do alternative fuels. Let's do solar, wind. Let's do conservation. Quit arguing over whether we produce more or conserve more. Let's do it all. That's the solution."

Of course, that's not a policy proposal so much as the ravings of a moron who should be kept far from the halls of power. But it is the essence of McCain's plan; not a choice between nuclear power or coal, but a choice between breaking the bank on coal and nuclear power, or coming up with a new way of thinking about our energy use.

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Don't talk to me about Gene Hackman

Reading from and signing copies of his novel "Escape from Andersonville" tomorrow night at Quail Ridge Books. The most amazing thing? Dude is 78 years old. Man, i hope i look that good when i'm 60.


Continue reading Don't talk to me about Gene Hackman

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

National Health


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Civics 101

Seems some of the good folks of San Francisco have decided to start honoring the legacy of President George W. Bush as soon as he leaves office:
As we near the end of George W Bush’s presidency, we think it is important to select a fitting monument to this president’s work. On matters ranging from foreign relations to fiscal and environmental stewardship, no other president in American history has accomplished so much in such a short time.

To honor George W Bush for his eight years of honorable public service, the Presidential Memorial Commission of San Francisco is sponsoring a ballot initiative this November.

It reads…

Should The City And County of San Francisco Rename The Oceanside Water Pollution Control Plant the George W Bush Sewage Plant?

We believe this is an appropriate honor for a truly unique president. If you think so too, join this grassroots movement to rename this important and iconic landmark in his honor.

What Durham landmarks or public works projects do you think would be appropriately renamed in George Bush's honor?



Continue reading Civics 101

A big chunk of change

Pursuant to several conversations, here and in real life, i've been spending my copious free time crawling through the 'tubes looking for info on steel and concrete prices. This little tidbit is being reported in the Australian press as a very positive step. I'll be curious to see what this does to finished steel prices as this perhaps indigestible lump passes its way through the snake of steel production.
TAKING advantage of soaring Chinese spot prices, mining giant Rio Tinto has been successful in its quest to secure a freight premium for Australian iron ore, locking in the biggest-ever rise in contract prices for Australia's most valuable commodity export.

Rio (ASX: RIO: quote) settled on an average price rise of 85 per cent for iron ore it sells to China's steel mills, who were led by Baosteel in the negotiations, beating the 71.5 per cent increase secured in 2005.

The huge hike in prices for the nation's most valuable commodity export will probably be closely followed by BHP Billiton (ASX: BHP: quote) and set a new Australian benchmark that will flow on to smaller producers.

Rio announced late yesterday it secured a 79.86 per cent price rise for benchmark iron ore fines and a 96.5 per cent hike in better quality lump, for an overall 85 per cent gain.

The gains came after Rio and BHP broke with tradition and declined to fall in line after Brazil's Vale (formerly CVRD) secured price gains of 65 per cent to 71 per cent.

Rio chief executive Sam Walsh said the company was pleased to reach the agreement, which reflects the continuing demand in the market for Hamersley’s products.

“The agreement builds on the valuation premium for Rio Tinto’s Pilbara iron ore business, the importance of which is highlighted as we move towards our 320 and 420 million tonne per annum goals from our expected capacity of about 200 million tonnes in 2008,” Mr Walsh said.

. . .

The freight premium equates to $7.43 a tonne over the fines price secured by CVRD, which is about half the long-term freight differential between Australia and Brazil but well below premiums of up to $60 a tonne under current freight rates.

It is also the first time different gains have been secured on quality by an Australian miner, and follows the lead set by Vale. It also illustrates the tight market for good quality iron ore as Chinese and Indian steel mills vie for supply.

Obviously the price of iron ore is not the sole determining factor for the price of finished steel. And if we're talking about imports, then even the price of steel is not the final factor, if you know what i'm saying about exchange rates. Nevertheless, it would appear likely that steel imports into the US over the next couple of years are going to be significantly more expensive than the past couple of years.


Continue reading A big chunk of change

Not so punitive?

Justice David Souter wrote for the court that punitive damages may not exceed what the company already paid to compensate victims for economic losses, about $500 million compensation.

Souter said that a penalty should be "reasonably predictable" in its severity.

Maybe we can just send them to their room for an hour of time-out?

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Bordley in a landslide

Unofficial results from the Board of Elections:
Leigh Bordley . . . . . . . 6,384 82.61
Jonathan R. Alston . . . . . 1,323 17.12
WRITE-IN. . . . . . . . . 21 .27

Turnout was under 5% in Durham County.

The word coattails comes to mind.

Statewide, Mary Fant Donnan won the runoff to face incumbent Cherie K. Berry in the November election for Labor Commissioner. Turnout was under 2%, although that was a partisan race, and not everyone was eligible to vote. Expect to see a hue and cry for a few days about the cost of runoff elections that nobody votes in, to be completely forgotten until the next time this scenario pops up.


Continue reading Bordley in a landslide

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Robert Wyatt


Continue reading Robert Wyatt

Ummm, how about Teh Google?

So this guy shows up in a small Missouri town called Gerald, claiming to be a DEA agent with a tricked out police car and some credentials. He offers to help the locals bust up some drug rings and stuff, and they arrest 17 people over a couple of months.

Turns out the guy was never a cop, and now, after a bunch of town employees, including the police chief, have been fired, those 17 people are suing.

Here's the best part:
"He had credentials. He had a badge. He had a phone number to call for verification," said Gerald Mayor Otis Schulte. "I don't know what else we could have done."

Make that soon-to-be ex-Gerald Mayor Otis Schulte, i would think.

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Continue reading Ummm, how about Teh Google?

McCain runs into opposition over offshore oil plan

I'm just gonna post these excerpts without comment for now. I'm just both glad and fascinated that energy policy is coming to the fore so early in the election cycle. I would not have expected that.
McCain appeared with California's popular Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History to promote his ideas on how to wean the United States from foreign oil and reduce greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming.

Outside the museum, a group of protesters took issue with McCain over backing offshore oil drilling, chanting "Get oil out" and holding up such signs as, "Not off our coast" and "We can't drill our way out of the energy crisis."

Inside, during a round-table discussion, McCain heard complaints from a panelist, Michael Feeney, executive director of the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County. Feeney did not specifically mention McCain, who will face Democrat Barack Obama in the November presidential election.

Santa Barbara was the site of a major oil spill in 1969.

"It makes me nervous to think about those who are proposing to drain America's offshore oil and gas reserves as quickly as possible in hopes of driving down the price of gasoline," Feeney said.

Feeney also said he opposed McCain's plan to jump-start the building of new nuclear reactor plants for meeting America's rising energy demands.

Obama, too, criticized McCain's proposal to encourage the building of 45 new nuclear reactors by 2030. He said it lacked a plan for waste storage and was among several energy-strategy ideas that Obama said were "not serious energy policies."

Obama spoke in Nevada, a state where proposals to build a nuclear waste disposal site at Yucca Mountain have generated strong opposition. He also took aim at McCain's plan to allow more offshore U.S. oil drilling.

"It doesn't make sense for America," the Illinois senator said. "In fact, it makes about as much sense as his proposal to build 45 new nuclear reactors without a plan to store the waste some place other than right here at Yucca Mountain."

Heh heh:
During a roundtable discussion on energy security at Santa Barbara's Natural History Museum, one of the panelists invited by the McCain campaign to sit onstage beside the candidate -- disagreed with the Arizona senator's energy plans and lambasted his nuclear energy proposal.

"I'm a little bit bemused that I ended up on this panel," said Michael Feeney, chair of the Santa Barbara Land Trust, a non-profit conservation group.

He excoriated a proposal McCain outlined last Wednesday to build 45 new nuclear plants in the United States by 2030 and another 55 in later years.

"I don’t understand how it’s not compromising our environmental standards to propose a crash program to build more nuclear power plants when the industry has not complied with the federal law that requires there to be safe disposal for the radioactive waste," Feeney said.

McCain responded by citing the example of nuclear technology in Europe and Navy ships powered by nuclear energy.

"My friend, the technology is there. The Europeans do it. I mean it's safe. It's being done. So, to think that that is going to require some pain on the American people economically when the Europeans-- 80 percent of the French electricity is generated by nuclear power. They are doing fine," McCain said to applause from the audience.

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Your best entertainment value

The comments section at the Herald-Sun.


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Go vote

Durham County residents have two remaining undecided races on today's ballot. All county registered voters are eligible to vote in the at-large school board runoff race between Jonathan Alston and Leigh Bordley.

Registered Democrats and independents who voted Democratic in the May ballot are eligible to vote in the runoff between John Brooks and Mary Fant Donnan.

I'll be voting for Leigh Bordley and Mary Donnan, if anyone wants to know.


Continue reading Go vote

Main Street, sunset

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Matching Mole


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Royal Ice Cream protest commemoration

From left - Mr. R. Kelly Bryant, local historian, Mrs. Mary Clyburn Hooks, Ms. Virginia Williams, Rev. Douglas Moore, participants, lower right foreground Mr. William Marsh, attorney.
The Royal Ice Cream parlor sit-in took place on June 23, 1957. Seven young African-Americans in Durham, including the three survivors pictured above, sat at the white table at the shop on the corner of Roxboro and Dowd Streets, and were arrested for violating the segregation laws in effect at the time.

It's taken several years, but the event will now be commemorated with the marker pictured above.

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It beats going to Mars

McCain calls for $300 million prize for car battery
Republican John McCain said on Monday if elected president he would challenge American experts to develop a futuristic battery to power cars and win a $300 million prize.

. . .

"Whether it takes a meeting with automakers during my first month in office, or my signature on an act of Congress, we will meet the goal of a swift conversion of American vehicles away from oil," McCain told a town hall meeting in Fresno, in rural central California.

. . .

McCain said he would issue a Clean Car Challenge to U.S. automakers.

"For every automaker who can sell a zero-emissions car, we will commit a $5,000 dollar tax credit for each and every customer who buys that car. For other vehicles, whatever type they may be, the lower the carbon emissions, the higher the tax credit," he said.

And he offered a big reward for whoever comes up with a technological breakthrough: "A $300 million prize for the development of a battery package that has the size, capacity, cost and power to leapfrog the commercially available plug-in hybrids or electric cars."

I have absolutely no confidence that McCain can bring this proposal to reality, any more so than did George Bush with his Mars trip, yet this is still an important dialog to have. Let's see where Obama goes next.

And $300 million is actually, you know, real money.

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2008 Bull Durham Blues Festival

Pre-sale tickets are on sale for this week only at a discounted price for the 2008 Bull Durham Blues Festival. This year's festival has been moved back a bit on the calendar to the weekend of September 18-20, and over to the DBAP from its traditional venue at the old ballpark. I'm assuming that the renovations to the DAP forced the move, and length of the Bulls' season forced the change in dates.

Anyway, the last week in June is traditionally the week that those in the know order their tickets at a discounted price. Tickets are supposed to be 2 for $50 this week. But i can't make heads or tails of the eTix site. I think they're selling them at that price online (2 same day admissions, or one admission for both nights, for $50.) You can always call the Hayti Heritage Center at 683-1709 to confirm. You used to be able to buy your tickets directly from Hayti over the phone, anyway. That way you can save on eTix' absurd service charge and buy an extra plate of ribbon fries at the show.

Friday night's headliners are Marcia Ball and Clarence Carter; on Saturday the 20th, catch Denise LaSalle and Taj Mahal.


Continue reading 2008 Bull Durham Blues Festival

Not in my back yard

This Ass Press article, which looks to have been reprinted in just about every newspaper in the country, talks about a letter drafted by Sen. Lamar Alexander's* (R-TN) office to the EPA. Seems the EPA wants to change rules governing how air pollution is measured in and around our national parks. Peak pollutant days would no longer be as signficant as the annual average of pollutants measured. As a result, more coal fired plants would be allowed to be built in the vicinity of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Alexander, along with Liddy Dole (R-NC) and a handful of other Senators have written a stern letter to the EPA. (Of the 4 Republicans signing the letter, 3 2 - Alexander, Dole, and John Warner (R-VA) are up for re-election in November; curiously, none of the signers currently has a text of the letter up on their websites.)

Here's my favorite part:
Alexander isn't against coal, which fuels about half the electric power generation in this country. But he worries a half dozen new coal plants are planned in Kentucky, Virginia and North Carolina, all within 200 miles of the Smokies. Thirty already operate in the region.

Here's my second favorite:
To lower $4-per-gallon-and-climbing gas prices, we have to honor the law of supply and demand. That means we have to find more, as well as use less.

. . .

States should be able to explore for more oil offshore, just as four states already do along the Gulf Coast. That would give money to the states for education, conservation, and to take care of their beaches.

One assumes that little of that drilling will be taking place off the coast of Tennessee.

* To be honest, i had no idea that Lamar Alexander was still drawing breath, let alone serving in the US Senate. I wonder if Tennesseans had the same reaction.

UPDATE: Sen. Warner is retiring after his current term expires in January.

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Shooting The Bull

You can listen to last night's show, in which we discussed initiatives in Raleigh and Durham aimed at landlords with Colin Crossman of the Triangle Apartment Association, here.


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Seven words

Shit. Piss. Fuck. Cunt. Cocksucker. Motherfucker.

And tits.

George Carlin
1937 – 2008


Continue reading Seven words

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Raleigh requires landlords to register

We're going to be talking about this tonight on Shooting The Bull. But if you've been reading the N&O the past week or two, you've probably seen some stories on the PROP (Probationary Rental Cccupancy Permit) Ordinance.

In essence, if you own residential rental property in Raleigh, come January 1, you'll have to register that property with the city. The cost is going to be $30/year for the first unit in a bulding, $10/year for each additional unit. So a duplex will cost 40 bucks a year, or $20/unit, which comes out to a buck sixty seven a month, or just over a nickel a day. A quadplex will be 60 bucks a year, or $15/unit. Which comes out to a dollar and a quarter a month, or a little over 4 cents a day.

I'm still a little unclear how an apartment complex is calculated. Does each building in the complex have one unit at $30/year, or is there just one $30 unit for the whole complex? We should be able find out the answer to that and other questions tonight.

Unsurprisingly, the ordinance is generating grumbling among landlords in the City of Oaks. Here's my favorite quote:
Gary Rooth said the property management company he uses has already informed him it would charge higher management fees to comply with such a registration requirement.

"I'll send a letter to tenants explaining that they will pay this fee," said Rooth, who owns 45 rental properties across the city. "I don't do this as a charity."

I of course take Mr. Rooth at his word. He's not doing this for charity. He's doing this to make a profit. In other words, it's a business, just like a restaurant or a law firm.

Now, if the results of the business practices of certain landlords and property managers results in increased costs to the city and county for things like additional police activity, additional trash pickup, additional housing inspectors, additional animal control officers and patrols, isn't it reasonable to expect the taxpayers of the city to seek solutions that place the burden of the additional costs on those who are creating the demand for the additional services? Isn't it reasonable for the taxpayers of the city to require that classes of business meet certain requirements in order to do business in that city?

In Durham, people who solicit funds by going door-to-door are required to purchase a peddler's permit. Want to hang a shingle offering your consultant services? Need to buy a business license. Want to run a restaurant? All kinds of licenses required to do that.

Why should landlords be a protected class of business owners? Especially when the ones that do it poorly generate a burden for the rest of the taxpayers of the city. If your restaurant consistently requires police presence because people are fighting or dealing drugs on your site, guess what? You won't be in business very long. Because landlords deal in housing, may not be practical to shut down a landlord's business so easily, because innocent people may be harmed by losing their residence. But this new ordinance seems to me to navigate the potential hazards quite well. In fact, i predict that landlords who clean up their act in order to avoid facing the penalties they can incur by violating the ordinance will do better in the long run than those whose only response to the ordinance will be to bitch about it.

Got a question you want to hear discussed on this topic tonight on Shooting The Bull? Send an email to ShootingTheBull AT gmail DOT com.


Continue reading Raleigh requires landlords to register

Sunday morning church marquee blogging

S. Roxboro St., Durham, NC


Continue reading Sunday morning church marquee blogging

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Concert tonight!

Hey y'all. Just a reminder that Durham Parks and Recreation is sponsoring a concert in our neighborhood tonight featuring Bobby Hinton and "Cool" John Ferguson.
I hope you can make it.

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UPDATE: Rained out by a stray thunderstorm. Bummer.

Thanks to Parks and Rec for trying.


Continue reading Concert tonight!

Shooting the Bull

Kevin and i will be talking about landlords with Colin Crossman this week on Shooting the Bull. In particular, we'll be discussing recent movements in Triangle municipalities regarding landlord responsibility, and how that might play out in Durham in the future.

Colin represents the Triangle Apartment Association, a lobbying group for property owners. If you've got any questions you'd like to hear raised, send them to ShootingTheBull AT gmail DOT com.

The program airs at 7:30 pm on Sunday on WXDU, 88.7 FM, and can also be heard online.


Continue reading Shooting the Bull


Earlier this week, i was back at the beaver lodge, being interviewed about how it could be a much more valued resource as parkland for the community. We were talking briefly about the grease trap issue that i highlighted here about 6 months ago. This time around, we noticed a large stain where hydraulic fluid has been leaking from a large trash compactor in the back of Compare Foods. After the interview was over, i let the folks at ECWA know about this latest development, and i'm pleased to report that, by Friday afternoon, Durham's Stormwater Services had already taken action.
Thanks for bringing this problem to our attention. Our staff conducted an investigation this morning and observed a hydraulic fluid discharge on the pavement behind the Compare Foods building located at 2000 Avondale Drive. As you stated below, the discharge originated from the trash compactor belonging to Compare Foods. Our staff also observed an oil sheen on the water surface inside the nearby storm drain and at the head of the wetland.

I have notified the property owner and business owner of the violation and required corrective actions that will need to commence immediately. Corrective actions will include at least the following:

* Clean up and proper disposal of the discharged product (on the pavement, storm drainage system, and wetland)
* Reporting of discharge to NC DENR DWQ Raleigh regional office within 24 hours of our notification
* Obtaining a spill clean up kit
* Repair of trash compactor
* Daily inspection of trash compactor area and immediate clean up of spills should they occur.

A contractor has already been hired to perform the clean-up and is expected to commence work this afternoon. We will continue to monitor this location until the clean-up is complete and the issue is resolved. Our staff will be sending a notice of violation letter to the business and property owners and will likely issue a civil penalty to one or both parties due to the prior history of discharges from this location.

Thank you to Bill Hailey and John Cox of the city's Stormwater Services Division for outstanding service.

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Continue reading Kudos

Number Nine


Continue reading Number Nine

Friday, June 20, 2008



Continue reading Gong

Racist button update

As noted recently in the comments below, the Texas Republican party has now announced that the vendor who was selling the Obama "White House" buttons is no longer welcome at GOP events, and that they will be donating the rent collected from him ($1500) to victims of the midwest floods. Good for them. I guess that answers the "how could it be offensive if nobody was offended" question.

(If you're wondering why i'm not linking or quoting for the actual story itself, read this.)


Continue reading Racist button update


The Herald Sun reports that the city is finally going to get around to weeding the medians on I-85. This is the kind of day-to-day function that makes life so frustrating around here. Take a break from overplanning projects that will never get built, and start taking care of what we have. Once we get good at that, then we can start planning better projects.

Now, if anyone in the city or county can find the money to make all of the I-85 interchanges as attractive as Guess Road and Hillandale Road, we'll be on to something.
Guess Rd. interchange

Roxboro St. interchange
And speaking of NCDOT being finished with the I-85 project, when do you suppose they'll come back and pick up the mess they left behind on Guess Road where the Pizza Hut used to be?


Continue reading Hooray!

Tiered water rates

The city's new tiered water rates are going to take effect pretty soon, and there was some discussion on my neighborhood listserv this morning over how they work.

From the city website:
Service charges for both water and sewer will also rise. These "base" charges cover the cost of meter reading and billing and other fixed costs of the water and sewer operations. For customers with 5/8 and 1 inch meters (primarily residential customers), service charges will increase from $2.58 per month to $5.11 per month for water and from $3.19 a month to $5.71 for sewer services. Customers living outside of the city limits will continue to pay twice as much as customers living inside city limits.

The new rate tiers reflect what the City charges for a "unit" of water as shown on bills, which is 100 cubic feet, or 748 gallons. Most residential customers fall in the Tier 3 range, using about eight units over a two-month billing period. A customer using four units over the two-month period will be charged at the Tier 1 rate and see about an $11 increase in their total bill. A customer using 12 units over the bi-monthly period would be charged at the Tier 1 rate for the first two units of each month, at the Tier 2 rate for the next three units of each month and at the Tier 3 rate for the remaining unit used each month. This customer's bi-monthly bill would increase about $13.

Doing our own math, we find that for a customer who is using exactly 15 units per month, the base rate rises exactly the same (from $11.54 per billing cycle to $21.64 per billing cycle) and the sewer use charge also remains the same at $98.40 per 2 month billing cycle. The water use charge will rise from $46.80 per billing cycle to $65.44 per billing cycle for a new total of $185.48. That's up a grand total of $28.70 per billing cycle, from $156.78, or $14.35 per month. Compared with a $11 per cycle increase (or $5.50/month) for the most conservation minded customers*. So water wasters are going to be nicked just under 9 bucks a month more than water misers.

I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader to determine whether this is sufficient to change behavior.

* To be fair, the tiered rates do not take into consideration the number of people living in a household. So, per person use could be the same for a 1 person household and a 6 person household, but the larger one will end up paying the surcharge. Maybe the difficulty of accounting for the difference in household size factored into the decision to keep the tiers relatively close to each other in price.

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Continue reading Tiered water rates


Via the indomitable Atrios, i learned about this speech by new Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter. Yeah, i know Durham's a smaller town than Philly. But what i wouldn't give for this kind of vision coming out of City Hall:
Coming after 16 years in which Philadelphia's mayors were generally indifferent, and sometimes hostile, to the nitty-gritty of urban planning, Nutter's speech amounted to a vindication for those who believe that planners - not developers and their lawyers - should lead the discussion of how new buildings are sited, designed and woven into the city's fabric. Nutter made it plain that a strong and assertive Planning Commission was not just good government but vitally linked to Philadelphia's economic health.

"I want to return the Planning Commission to its historic, charter-based leadership role," he told the crowd, which drew heavily from the local planning and development worlds, and which gave him a standing ovation before and after the speech.

Over the years, as developers became a major source of campaign contributions, they were increasingly able to dictate their will to city planners. Major policy decisions were made ad hoc by the Zoning Board of Adjustment, which knew little of the larger issues. Meanwhile, neighborhood groups had to hire private planners to defend their interests. The city paid the price for this laissez-faire approach as more overscaled, automobile-oriented buildings were inserted into Philadelphia's gentle, walkable streets.

Nutter vowed to overhaul that system. From now on, he said, all major development projects must be submitted first to city planners for a thorough review.

He also suggested that he would ask City Council to help him amend the Home Rule Charter to give planners more authority. The absence of serious planning can be traced directly to the charter, which describes the Planning Commission merely as "advisory."

. . .

No doubt many in the audience pinched themselves when Nutter described Philadelphia as if it were a progressive West Coast city rather than a Rust Belt survivor:

"We are a walkable city, increasingly home to bicycles," Nutter declared. "We want to preserve our urban form. We do not want the automobile and its design requirements to dominate the landscape."


Continue reading Vision

Beaver Queen Pageant performances - All Star Cast

An All-Star cast of previous pageant contestants performs the hit "Good Morning Streamshine" from the musical "Fur".

You know you want to join in.


Continue reading Beaver Queen Pageant performances - All Star Cast

Thursday, June 19, 2008



Continue reading Caravan

Grocery wars

Well, not the typical grocery wars post.

Just a note that lemons were a buck apiece at Kroger tonight.

A. Dollar. Per. Lemon.

Fortunately, a bag of 14 was only $4.50. So, even if half of them go bad before i can use them, it's still cheaper than a buck each.

Wonder what they are at Compare this week?


Continue reading Grocery wars

We get letters

From our friends at the Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association
ECWA would like to extend a

Giant Thank You to the Beaver Lodge Local 1504!

Thank you for….

Being the coolest (non rodent) Beaver Lodge on the planet

Being funny, irreverent and effective

Your tireless work on the pageant

A million belly laughs

The outstanding contestants and crowd

Supporting ECWA’s efforts to protect Durham’s water, wetlands, open spaces and trails

Uplifting ECWA with your enormous show of community support for our work

Making Durham a great place to live and raise your beaver!

Peace, love, beaver,

The Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association
Don't forget to check back in soon for more BQP '08 video hilarity.

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Continue reading We get letters

We write letters

Breaking news reports indicate that the House Democratic leadership is preparing to cave, and support a FISA bill which provides retroactive immunity to telecoms which violated longstanding US law and spied on American citizens at the behest of the Bush administration.

My letter to Representative David Price (NC-04):
I am appalled at news reports that the House Democratic leadership is going to bring to the floor a bill providing immunity from lawsuits to the telecommunications industry from their unlawful spying on American citizens at the request of the Bush administration.

There is simply no reason to supply this immunity to companies which knew their actions were illegal. I trust that you will be voting against this measure, and I sincerely hope that you will communicate to the Democratic Party leadership the absolute disgust which many Americans will feel toward them should they pass this repulsive legislation.

If you live in the 4th District, Representative Price's contact page is here. Outside the 4th district? Find your congresscritter here.

UPDATE: Glenn Greenwald is a lot smarter than me. He explains why this is so wrong.

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Continue reading We write letters


Republican John McCain would put the United States on course to build 45 new nuclear reactors by 2030 if elected president, the Arizona senator said on Wednesday.

McCain, his party's presumptive nominee in this fall's presidential election, is laying out his plan to make the country energy independent.

"If I am elected president, I will set this nation on a course to building 45 new reactors by the year 2030, with the ultimate goal of 100 new plants to power the homes and factories and cities of America," he said.

Where do you imagine we can put them? Seriously, are there 100 sites that have the necessary requirements (proximity to large amounts of water, far from population centers, etc.) to build new nukes? Are there 45? And to build them at the pace of two a year for the next 22 years? At $10 billion each, that's $450 billion. They'll certainly cost more than that by 2030. And 45 new plants, even higher capacity ones, still only replace 20% or so of our current fossil fuel generating capacity.

I may be busy today, scouring the map looking for sites that will pass muster.

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Continue reading 45

Where's your scarf, young lady?

Josh points out the obvious. Despite frothings from the likes of Michelle Malkin and the screaming loonies of the right that opponents of the Iraq War and George Bush's policies in general are conspiring with our Muslim enemies to bring Sharia law to the US, when push comes to shove, look who actually is happy to see Shari'a in effect here:
To defend itself against a lawsuit by the widows of three American soldiers who died on one of its planes in Afghanistan, a sister company of the private military firm Blackwater has asked a federal court to decide the case using the Islamic law known as Shari’a.

The lawsuit “is governed by the law of Afghanistan,” Presidential Airways argued in a Florida federal court. “Afghan law is largely religion-based and evidences a strong concern for ensuring moral responsibility, and deterring violations of obligations within its borders.”

If the judge agrees, it would essentially end the lawsuit over a botched flight supporting the U.S. military. Shari’a law does not hold a company responsible for the actions of employees performed within the course of their work.

If Shari'a saves Blackwater money, i guess it's OK then.

And you, where's your beard?

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Continue reading Where's your scarf, young lady?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Hatfield and the North


Continue reading Hatfield and the North


What are they thinking down in Raleigh?
The state Senate on Tuesday passed and sent to the House a far-reaching measure to put longer trucks, wider boats and some heavier farm commodity trucks on North Carolina roads.

Trucking and business interests have pushed for the Senate proposal to let 53-foot tractor-trailers use all primary highways -- replacing a 48-foot limit on most roads.

Hey, this is probably not a bad idea for the interstates and 4 & 6 lane divided highways. But all primary highways? Here's the N&O breakdown on the changes involved:
NOW: 48 feet is the length limit on most roads. Tractor-trailers 53 feet long are allowed on about 5,600 miles -- mostly interstates and other major U.S. highways -- and on connecting roads for three miles in each direction. Local governments can ban the long trucks on major highways that pass through towns.

PROPOSED: 53-footers would be allowed on more than 20,000 miles of primary highways -- all interstates and highways labeled "U.S." or "N.C." -- and on connecting roads for 3 miles in each direction. This covers about 90 percent of the state's road network, according to the state Department of Transportation.

Well, as long as individual cities and town will be able to decide whether or not the roads in their town are suitable for this kind of traffic, no big deal, right? After all, Alston Ave. and Avondale Dr. are NC 55 through much of Durham, and at about 22 feet wide through much of their residential areas, the city transportation department might be persuaded to tell those trucks to find another route between I-85 and NC 147. (East End Connector, anyone?)

But wait.
Local governments and the DOT would lose their power to bar long trucks. DOT officials could propose banning 53-foot trucks from certain highways where studies "clearly show" they do not belong -- but legislators would make the decision.

why is it that every time i turn around, some idiots down in the State Legislature are telling North Carolina cities and towns what they can and cannot do to regulate the quality of life within their own city limits? It's getting to be time to start thinking about changing the parts of the state charter that require municipalities to get permission from Raleigh every time they want to make a decision about what life in their own towns should look like.

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Continue reading Yikes

By popular demand

No, it's not safe for work. Yes, it's probably going to offend some people. Yes, it's the funniest thing on the internet this week. Yes, i first saw it over at Atrios. No, i don't get all of my ideas for posts over there.

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Continue reading By popular demand

Shooting the Bull - via iTunes

I don't know if this is the easiest way to do this or not, but here's how to find Shooting the Bull via iTunes.

If you have iTunes, type "Shooting the Bull" in the search window. One of your results should be "WXDU" in the iTunes U. pane. Click on that. You'll see 4 tabs in the next window, one of which is "Shooting the Bull." Click on that, and you can listen to any of the shows we've produced so far. It looks like you'll be able to actually subscribe to a podcast soon, too, although not just yet. Don't know what the holdup is. the subscribe button is there, it's just not active.


Continue reading Shooting the Bull - via iTunes


For those of you who haven't noticed, this is neither the public square nor the City Council chambers. The First Amendment to the constitution gives you the exact same rights as me when it comes to publishing your thoughts for other people to read. It does not require me to give you a forum for your idiocy, any more than the Herald-Sun is required to publish your letter to the editor. Set up your own soapbox if you want. In fact, i encourage you to take the time to do that. It's fun, and it'll keep you out of trouble. And the intertubes make it easy, too.

Meanwhile, if you keep whining, i'll be forced to break out my tiny violin again.


Continue reading Moronity

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Electric Flag


Continue reading Electric Flag

Holy fuck

From the Dallas Morning News Trailblazer blog:
While a number of speakers -- such as Railroad Commission chairman Michael Williams and Mike Huckabee -- have praised the advance of Barack Obama and what it means towards a colorblind society, at least one vendor hasn't gotten the message.

At the Republican state convention, a booth hosted by Republicanmarket was selling a pin Saturday that says: If Obama is President will we still call it the White House.

I'm speechless.

via TPM

. . . just to be clear, the problem is not that someone printed up a button like this, or that people are willing to buy it and wear it. We expect that. the problem is that this was being sold by an official vendor at the Texas Republican state convention, the Texas State Republican committee says that had they known about it, they would not have allowed its sale during the convention, and not a single conventioneer thought it objectionable enough to say something about it.

Not one single delegate to the Texas Republican convention so much as gave this a second thought.

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Continue reading Holy fuck

Welcome Tom Bonfield

I have to say, I can't wait for next year's budget process.

Having a City Manager, with a decade and a half experience in other towns at the beginning of his 5 year contract managing the budget process is going to be a whole lot different than the dog and pony show we just witnessed. And, next year is an election year for the Mayor and three members of Council.

Should be fun.

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Continue reading Welcome Tom Bonfield

Holding landlords accountable

I'll have more to say about this later in the week, and on Shooting the Bull on Sunday night, but this N&O editorial makes some of the basic points.
New rules coming up for a vote on the full City Council would require that all Raleigh rental properties be registered with the city. Their owners would pay an annual fee of $30. Own more than one unit in a building? The charge is $10 a year for each extra unit. Importantly, police could fine owners $100 for loud parties.

Despite complaints that the annual fee amounts to a de facto rent increase, these sums are reasonable and well-targeted. The money will pay for a staff to find and respond to problems related to the PROP ordinance. And all rental properties will be on record, as they should.

This is what the ordinance has needed all along, a dedicated staff, a complete list of rentals and some teeth. Solid, problem-solving enforcement will help bring more properties into good repair, and induce problem tenants to behave better. That helps renters, unit owners and their neighbors -- at 3 a.m. and all the time.

Wanna be a landlord? Guess what? You're now in business. And, like all businesses, you need a business license.

Got a problem with that?

Let me get the world's smallest violin out again.


Continue reading Holding landlords accountable


Mets fire manager Willie Randolph
Well, that took long enough, didn't it? After leaving Willie dangling for about 6 weeks, the Mets unceremoniously dumped him after last night's game.

I don't have strong feelings one way or another about whether Willie was the best manager or not for the team, but oh, my goodness did they botch his firing. Managers are pros. They know when they're hired that it's a short term gig that can end at any time. If the Mets weren't going to keep Willie, which it appears they decided weeks ago, they should have just done it then, instead of dragging it out. One wonders if Omar Minaya will survive this fiasco.


Continue reading Finally

So, has the world ended yet?

I can't wait for the day when this no longer makes headlines.
Uttering the two simple words "I do," dozens of same-sex couples were wed in the Bay Area on Monday evening as California became the second state in the nation to grant marriage rights to gay men and lesbians.

County clerks braced for an even bigger rush of couples who will tie the knot today when all 58 counties in the state begin issuing marriage licenses that no longer designate "bride" and "groom" but instead "party A" and "party B."

A crowd gathered Monday evening at the Sonoma County clerk's office in Santa Rosa, including 19 same-sex couples who had made appointments to marry. The crowd counted down the last seconds to 5:01 p.m., when the state Supreme Court's decision allowing the marriages took effect.

Mark Gren and Chris Lechman of Guerneville were the first couple to apply for a marriage license and wed.

"Now, by the power vested in me and in accordance with the laws of the state of California, it is my pleasure and honor to pronounce you married," Sonoma County Clerk Janice Atkinson told the couple.


Continue reading So, has the world ended yet?

Grocery wars

My friends in San Francisco have decided to re-open the battle of insane grocery items. Here's the latest salvo:

Yep. Canola oil poetry.

In two languages.

"Never give up. Never surrender." Stay tuned for the return engagement.


Continue reading Grocery wars

Shooting the Bull

Sunday's edition of Shooting the Bull is now online for your enjoyment. Kevin's got the link. I think we've got the iTunes setup working properly for those of you who might want to subscribe to a podcast. I'll post details later today if it is setup.


Continue reading Shooting the Bull

Monday, June 16, 2008

Blues Project


Continue reading Blues Project

A lot of that going around

A lot of observers are, rightly if you ask me, bothered by last week's news about city councilwoman Cora Cole-McFadden's apparent role in the firing of former MV Transportation general manager Thomas Hartley. MV is the contractor hired by the city of Durham to run the DATA bus system, and an arbitrator last week upheld his contention that he was "unlawfully fired . . . because of his race."

Ms Cole-McFadden had, according to the arbitrator, told MV that it "needed some diversity in [its] management ranks," which may have led to Hartley's dismissal and subsequent replacement with someone who, the arbitrator wrote, "did not meet MV's own published qualifications for the job of general manager."

Let me be clear. I think that a diverse workforce that reflects the community around it is a good thing. But you don't achieve that by firing competent workers and managers and replacing them with whoever happens to be at hand.

That said, i wonder if any of the commenters in any of the media outlets that have covered this story, including the one here who wrote "Anyone in Durham who's been paying attention, at least since March or April 2006, knows that the white man is under siege . . . " have thought about their reaction to this story:
"Bradley J. Schlozman is systematically attempting to purge all Civil Rights appellate attorneys hired under Democratic administrations," the lawyer wrote, saying that he appeared to be "targeting minority women lawyers" in the section and was replacing them with "white, invariably Christian men." The lawyer also alleged that "Schlozman told one recently hired attorney that it was his intention to drive these attorneys out of the Appellate Section so that he could replace them with 'good Americans.'"

The anonymous complaint named three female, minority lawyers whom Schlozman had transferred out of the appellate section (of African-American, Jewish, and Chinese ethnicity, respectively) for no apparent reason. And in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this week in response to questions from senators, the Justice Department confirmed that all three had been transferred out by Schlozman -- and then transferred back in after Schlozman had left the Division.

Schlozman, according to the Wall Street Journal as reported in TPM, is facing increased scrutiny from a federal grand jury for his role in the US Attorney purge scandal.

Just noting that those who have a "bunker" mentality might be well served to broaden the variety of sources they use to develop that particular worldview. It's acutally quite a bit more complicated than that.


Continue reading A lot of that going around

Animal Control followup

I noted in the comments below that i'd had a long conversation with Cindy Bailey and Melinda Duarte of the Animal Control Department. As it turns out, other neighbors were similarly bothered by the pack of chihuahuas yesterday, and an AC officer did respond after calls to 911. Unfortunately, for the dogs at least, one of them was struck and killed by a car on Avondale Drive. A second was impounded, and the other two remain at-large.

Commenter Diana, who has problems with loose dogs in her neighborhood, writes in:
If anyone would like to organize a discussion/protest/letter drive to bring up this issue to the local authorities (animal control, town council, county commission) let me know - I'm in!

I don't know that i have the time or energy to organize this, but i will make it a tad easier for anyone who wants to write by publishing the email addresses of our County Commissioners here:
Ellen Reckhow -, Becky Heron -, Lewis Cheek -, Philip Cousin -, Michael Page -

The addresses are taken directly from the County's website, so i don't feel bad about posting what appear to be personal email addresses. I would ask that if you do have complaints about loose dogs that have not been adequately addressed by Animal Control that you describe them factually, refrain from insults, offer suggestions as to how t improve the situation while also making clear that this is a serious issue that is not being adequately dealt with by the County. I would also recommend that you copy the Animal Control Department on your correspondence -

If you'd like to post your missives in the comments here, please feel free to do so, or email them to me at DependableErection AT gmail DOT com.


Continue reading Animal Control followup

The lost art of copy-editing

From Monica Chen's mostly good Herald-Sun piece* today on the recent heat wave and its implications for our water supply in the months to come:
Experts haven't put out any warnings about another possible drought this year, but the Seewaldt-Dietze family isn't taking any chances. They'll continue as they always have and try to save every drop.

. . .

Although Lake Michie and the Little River Reservoir look full and the county projects 303 days of supply, the streams feeding them are still running about 50-60 percent of normal for this time of year, according to Deputy Water Management Director Vicki Westbrook.

"The groundwater is still in a recovery mode," she said. "That's why no one at any level has pronounced the drought over."

Gov. Mike Easley again last week asked the General Assembly to approve his proposed drought legislation to modernize this state's public water systems and mandate conservation.

As of Thursday, more than two-thirds of the state's 100 counties were still in some level of drought, with 32 counties in extreme drought.


* I say mostly good, because there are a few annoying, if ultimately irrelevant errors. for example, demand for the month of June 08 is not higher than last June's 33.79 mgd, at least not yet, although it has spiked above that level on several occasions. she also writes "Meanwhile, water use, after hovering mostly below the daily figure of 25 million gallons in May, hit a high of about 36 million gallons on Wednesday, 15 million more than the same time last month," without putting in the context that water restrictions were not in effect last June, and that usage likely spiked on Wednesday precisely because it's one of the days on which residents are allowed to water their gardens. The city does not publish daily water use figures over the weekend. You need to read the daily use chart to get an idea of what those are, and the chart does not always match up to the published figures. So far, they haven't updated the chart to reflect this weekend's use. I suspect that we'll see another spike on Saturday. And if that trend continues for the next couple of weeks, especially if inflows to our reservoirs remain below a combined 10 cubic feet per second (or about 6.6 mgd) we'll see Wednesday watering eliminated in the near future.
UPDATE: graph of recent daily use has been updated. It appears that demand was around 33 mgd on Saturday, third highest day of the month.

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Continue reading The lost art of copy-editing

Beaver Queen Pageant performances - Disco Beaver Fever Dancers

The renowned Disco Beaver Fever Dancers let it all hang out with this version of "Fur" from the musical of the same name.

Scroll down for Badonna's performance of "Like a Beaver." More video later in the week. Don't forget, you can watch last year's performances, and this year's as they're posted, directly on YouTube.


Continue reading Beaver Queen Pageant performances - Disco Beaver Fever Dancers

I can haz artz funding?

City Council meets tonight at 7 to finalize the budget. Will your favorite program make the cut?

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Continue reading I can haz artz funding?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Shooting the Bull

I just discovered that if you have iTunes, and search the iTunes store for "Shooting the Bull" you can download any of the first four shows that Kevin and i have done on WXDU. Why you'd do that, i have no idea. Hopefully, we'll figure out a way to get them to appear in the "Podcast" section real soon now, so you can subscribe and listen at your leisure. Stay tuned for developments on that front.

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Continue reading Shooting the Bull


I don't watch a lot of golf, so maybe one of my readers can tell me why Rocco Mediate was wearing a peace sign belt buckle during the (not so) final round of the US Open today?
Photo yoinked from AP. Hopefully this constitutes fair use.

Continue reading Golf

Animal Control

If you call the Durham County Animal Control Department on a Sunday morning, you'll get a recorded message telling you that their office hours are from 8 am to 5:30 pm Monday through Friday. If you've got an emergency, such as a dog bite, or a dangerous situation such as a pack of animals or an injured animal, you're advised to call 911. For non-emergency situations, there's an extension at which you can leave a message, presumably for a weekend duty officer who will be paged.

If you happened to call this morning, at around 9 am, what you heard when you dialed that extension was a message telling you that the mailbox was full.

Our situation this morning involved the 4 pack of chihuahuas who live behind us. They were wandering the block in that cute/obnoxious way that chihuahuas have, bouncing and yapping excitedly. None of them have collars or tags, and i suspect they haven't received any vaccinations either. So we took some pictures of them (to be posted later when i have some extra time), and planned to email them to AC in the morning.

Until the little fuckers crawled into my backyard and chased my sleeping cat halfway across the neighborhood.

Of course, no one was home when we knocked on the neighbor's door. More distressing, though, was the "mailbox is full" message from Animal Control.

Dog catching is such a basic municipal service that it's the brunt of many jokes about politicians getting their start. But because it's so basic a service, there's just no excuse for not getting it done right. I understand that it's difficult and expensive to staff a department 24/7. But if you're going to go to the trouble of having a paging line for people to call during off hours, can you at least make sure the person responsible for it actually checks the message and keeps the line clear? Is that really too much to ask?

I prefer not to deal with my neighbor's dogs on my own. That's why i pay taxes, and that's why the county has a department for dealing with these problems. But if i can't get service from the county on an issue like this, i'll have no problem doing what i need to do.

The comedian Ron White once said "I love dogs. No, let me restate that. I love my dog. I don't give a shit about your dog."

Just so.

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Continue reading Animal Control

Separated at birth?


Continue reading Separated at birth?

Sunday morning church marquee blogging

Lenoir, NC


Continue reading Sunday morning church marquee blogging

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Get used to it

From an AP article on the flooding in Iowa:
Authorities knew the aging levee near Birdland, a working-class, racially diverse neighborhood, was the weakest link among the city's levees. A 2003 Corps report called for nearly $10 million in improvements across Des Moines, but there wasn't enough federal money to do all the work.

Ten million bucks. That's half an hour of the Iraq war.


Continue reading Get used to it

Beaver Queen Pageant - the performances

Badonna lets it all hang out with a stirring rendition of "Like a Beaver (Touched for the Very First Time)." Enjoy.


Continue reading Beaver Queen Pageant - the performances

Shooting the Bull

Just a quick note - Kevin and i are both into full on summer mode right now, and we assume that most of our listeners and readers are as well. So we'll be talking about things to do in Durham in the summer. Our guest will be Valerie of We Love Durham, whose blog is one of the best local blogs anywhere.

I had a great time listening to Tad Walters and Boo Hanks at West Village last night. Thanks to all of you who chatted me up at the show. We're looking to bring Tim Duffy, executive director of Music Maker, up to the studios in the coming weeks to talk about his work in preserving the music of the region as well as making sure the musicians who created it get a fair shake and an opportunity to make a living from their art.

Sunday night at 7:30 pm on WXDU, 88.7 in Durham or And we're getting closer to real podcast availability. Stay tuned for that.


Continue reading Shooting the Bull

Number Nine


Continue reading Number Nine

Oh dear God, no

MLB pushes to put instant replay in use by August

You know, there's going to be a special place in hell for Bud Selig. Right alongside Walter O'Malley.


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Friday, June 13, 2008



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Friday flower blogging

Green and golds


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Geez, Louise.

I'm sure we'll be hearing on the news tonight what good people they were, and how shocked everyone is that this could happen.

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Whip inflation now!

I think our next president is going out have his work cut out for him:
The Fed, which from September through April was aggressively cutting interest rates to fight a mounting economic slowdown, is now indicating that its biggest concern has changed from the threat of a recession to worries about inflation.

In a speech Monday, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said that the Fed will "strongly resist an erosion of longer-term inflation expectations." Those comments have raised expectations that the Fed's next move later this year will be to start raising interest rates.

The 0.6 percent rise in overall prices was slightly higher than the 0.5 percent gain that economists had been expecting while the 0.2 percent rise in core prices matched expectations.

So far this year, consumer prices are rising at an annual rate of 4 percent, compared with a 4.1 percent increase for all of 2007.

Energy prices are rising at a 16.5 percent annual rate, compared with a gain of 17.4 percent for all of 2007, while food prices are rising at a 6.3 percent annual rate, up from a 4.9 percent increase for all of last year.


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Streamflow dropped precipitously at Little River overnight, and are now below the previous lows for the date, recorded in 2002. It's not quite so bad over at Lake Michie, where inflows are still above 10 cfs. With virtually no rain in sight for the next 10 days, though, expect to see those numbers dropping into the single digits real soon now. Through June 11, year over year demand for the month is down 18%. Spikes on watering days (Wednesdays and Saturdays) are pushing that up, however. We'll keep an eye on Saturday's numbers.


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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Lemon Tree


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Still not dead

Racism, that is.

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Not good

Water usage in Durham spiked up yesterday to above 35 mgd, the highest use of the year, and higher than the monthly average for June of last year. We've got the odd thunderstorm in the forecast for the next 10 days, but again, you can't count on those. Current inflows at both Little River and Lake Michie are at their lowest levels in over a month (Little River in particular is getting near its all-time low for June again.) We're currently on pace to add onlyabout 8.75 mgd back to the reservoir.

Look for the city to go back to Stage IV (one day a week watering) if we don't see significant rainfall by the end of the month. I can't imagine that they will be caught with their pants down two years in a row.


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A surfeit of free music

Tons of free music in the Bull City this summer.

Parks and Rec kicks off its Thursday night series in the CCB Plaza tonight with Coolius Caesar. These shows will run most Thursdays between now and October, 5:30 - 7:30 pm.

They're also running a Saturday night series which started a couple of weeks ago, and picks up again on the 28th of June, with a jazz show featuring Stanley Baird, and on the third Friday of the month in conjunction with the event formerly known as Culture Crawl.

If that's not enough, Parks and Rec is also sponsoring a series of concerts in parks around town, kicking off in my neighborhood, at Duke Park with "Cool" John Ferguson on June 21st. These shows start at 6 and run to 8:30.

The one-off Fourth Annual Latino Festival this Saturday the 14th, which runs from 3 - 8 pm at Forest Hills Park, features the music of Orquesta GarDel, The Latin Project, and Carnavalito, among others.

Over at the American Tobacco Campus, their free summer concert series begins tomorrow night with a performance by David Wilcox, and continues on occasional Friday nights through early October. These shows start at 6 pm.

The Brightleaf Square series began back in April and continues, also on Friday nights, through late September. Shows at Brightleaf run from 7 - 9 pm, and you can dine at any of the several restaurants on the square.

My personal favorite, though, are the Warehouse Blues shows, cosponsored by Parks and Rec and the Music Maker Relief Foundation. These are also on Friday nights (see what i mean by a surfeit?) from 6 - 8 pm, at the courtyard in the West Village Apartments. If you like what you hear, make a donation to the fine people at Music Maker so they can continue their good work.


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