Dependable Erection

Friday, October 31, 2008


Studs Terkel 1912 - 2009.

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"Tis the season

Back in the day, oh 1978 or so, i managed a Christmas tree lot on Long Island a couple of seasons for a guy named Charlie King. Charlie was in his 50s then, so if he's still around he'd be in his 80s. No idea if his business is still going. Charlie ran a pretty high class operation. We were getting 35 bucks or so for Douglas and Frazier firs from the North Carolina and Pennsylvania mountains. Some of the lots were small, tucked into unused corners of strip mall parking lots like the one i managed on Route 25 and Patchogue - Mt. Sinai Rd. in Selden. We had a pretty good year, i was a pretty honest guy (not easy to come by in a business that's all cash, with no inventory or sales records.) The next year i got to manage the flagship lot in front of the old Modell's on 112 and Sunrise Highway. I think we grossed about 60K that season. Hard to say because an ex-Marine named Don (or maybe Ron) would swing by about every 3 hours to pick up the cash. Charlie rented about 15 or so spaces across Long Island to sell his trees. The small ones were maybe 5000 square feet. The Modell's lot was probably closer to an acre. It wasn't confined to the parking lot, but spread out across a pretty good chunk of lawn as well.

The two years i worked for Charlie, we started setting up the lots on the Friday after Thanksgiving. We had these cups, sections about a foot tall or so cut from corrugated pipes (and not the plastic ones, either), nailed onto two-by-fours like a miniature railroad track for standing trees up on the asphalt. For the lawns, he'd rent a tractor with an auger and drill a few hundred holes in the ground that we'd pop corrugated sleeves into to support the trees. He'd hire one person to run the small stands, two for the larger ones, and we were free to hire our own temp help for tying out once we settled in.

I mention this because the twenty or so of us got all 15 of the lots ready for business between the day after Thanksgiving and that Sunday, when we sold our first trees. Including stringing the lights and attaching to the electrical system, and getting the stands ready for anywhere from 150 to 400 trees.

Anyway, it seems like you need to get started a little earlier these days.

That's the TROSA lot on Hillsborough Rd., in the Advance Auto lot. It'll be open for business on November 26th.

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I had forgotten

"If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations," Palin told host Chris Plante, "then I don't know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media."

I had completely forgotten that the raison d'etre of the First Amendment was to protect politicians and government officials from a hostile media. Thanks, Sarah, for reminding me.

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Durham One-Call

I've been pretty critical of Durham One-Call in the past, probably more so in real life than on the blog. So i wanted to take a minute and note that the last two times i've used the service i've gotten prompt results. Call 560-1200, or click here for an online request form.


Continue reading Durham One-Call

Early voting ends tomorrow

If you're not yet registered to vote, and you want to participate in this historic election, you've got two more days. You can register and vote at the same time through tomorrow, but after that, you're out of luck.

Click here
for a list of polling locations and hours in Durham County. Note that the state Board of Elections has allowed polling sites to stay open until 5 pm tomorrow, no word yet on whether Durham sites will take advantage of the extended hours.

My experience is that lines were moderate for early voting - 10 minute waits were the norm.


Continue reading Early voting ends tomorrow

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Drinking Liberally

Tonight from 7-9 pm at the Broad Street Cafe. Stop in and say hi. Look for the DL table tents to your left when you walk in.


Continue reading Drinking Liberally

Rockin' the vote

I heard a rumor about this show, but now that it's been confirmed, here's the details: Billy Bragg, Superchunk, The dBs, and a whole host of local bands (including personal faves Regina Hexaphone) will be doing a free show on Saturday at Graham Terrace, next to Morehead Planetarium on the UNC campus in Chapel Hill. It's an early vote/GOTV rally and as far as i can tell, it kicks off at 11 9 am.

More details when they're available.

UPDATE: Caught up with one of the performers tonight at BSC (Hi Peter!). Portastatic is supposed to kick things off at 9am, The dBs will be on right after Billy Bragg at 12:45. So if you want to see Billy, i'd recommend arriving by 10:45.

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A new website opposing the light sculpture installation that the city recently approved at the DPAC claims to be "Operation Funded By The Citizens of Durham, NC - The City of Medicine"

From the N&O:
According to Chris Waldrup of Apex, a member of Stop the Durham Light Tower, opponents consider the sculpture wasteful of energy; harmful and distracting to wildlife and nearby human residents; and a "gratuitous light pollution."

An "Open Letter" at the group's e-mail site describes it as "several environmentally aware citizens in central NC." The e-mail list had five subscribers as of Wednesday afternoon.

The group also contends that an environmental impact study should have been done before the council suspended its normal procedure to vote on the donation during its work session Oct. 23.

"We have no problem with the sculpture," Waldrup said in an interview, "only the light beam that would emanate from it."

Hey Chris? If you're going to start a group of Durham citizens opposed to something going on in Durham, you could at least try to get a spokesperson who, you know, actually lives in Durham.

For starters.

This reminds me of that Dallas Woodhouse guy from Raleigh who's opposing the prepared meals tax in Durham because it's "regressive" while fronting the anti-tax, rabid right-wing "Americans for Prosperity." Dude wouldn't know a "progressive" tax if it crawled out his asshole and sang the aria from Carmen. And Chris Waldrup? Yeah, maybe there are some issues with a light sculpture. But you sure as fuck aren't raising any of them with that sorry ass website of yours.

UPDATE: Ross points out in the comments that i may be misreading the "Stop the Light Sculpture" website, and that "Operation funded by the citizens of Durham NC" refers to the sculpture, and not the opposition. Maybe he's right. If he is, i apologize. But it certainly seems to me that they're claiming to represent the "citizens of Durham" in their opposition. But hey, i've been wrong before.

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Redistributing wealth

Exxon Mobil Corp., the world's largest publicly traded oil company, reported income Thursday that shattered its own record for the biggest profit from operations by a U.S. corporation, earning $14.83 billion in the third quarter.

Yet numbers contained within the company's most recent financial report revealed production numbers that continue to sag, and shares slipped 3 percent in midday trading.

The Irving, Texas-based company has reported unprecedented back-to-back quarters, the end of the most recent coinciding with a rapid plunge in crude prices. Benchmark oil prices fell another $2.91 to $64.59 Thursday on the New York Mercantile Exchange, about 56 percent off record highs in July.

Exxon said net income jumped nearly 58 percent to $2.86 a share in the July-September period. That compares with $9.41 billion, or $1.70 a share, a year ago.

The previous record for U.S. corporate profit was set in the last quarter, when Exxon Mobil earned $11.68 billion.

Revenue rose 35 percent to $137.7 billion.


Continue reading Redistributing wealth

McCain fail

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Shooting the Bull

Stephen Mancuso, the Transit Administrator for the Durham Area Transit Authority (DATA) joins us tonight at 7:30 on Shooting the Bull, WXDU - 88.7 FM for a conversation about the future of transit in Durham. Very timely, we hope, in light of this article in today's Herald-Sun.
Neighborhood activists, architects and environmentalists have banded together to push the idea of resurrecting the streetcar system that linked residents to downtown Durham in the early part of the 20th century.

Supporters have been meeting quietly over the past few months and are talking up the idea with officials in the city government, with Duke University and with Triangle Transit.

The next step is to see if there's enough interest to assemble an ad-hoc committee to drum up more backing for the project, said Jeff Ensminger, a southwest Durham resident who's involved in the effort.

Ensminger and another supporter, Old West Durham Neighborhood Association leader John Schelp, said the discussion so far deliberately has avoided settling on specifics such as routes and technology.

"We don't want to get locked down early on [things like] routes," Schelp said. "We want to talk about ideas and get as many people involved as possible."

But the impetus for the discussion is clearly a wish to link downtown more closely with outlying neighborhoods.

One suggestion, for example, is to establish a system that connects Duke University, the Ninth Street and Brightleaf areas, downtown and N.C. Central University.

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I will entertain your thoughts as to what this means.

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Continue reading Stumped!

Liddy Dole is an asshole

I'm sure you've all seen, or at least heard about, Liddy Dole's latest attack ad on Kay Hagan, the one where she claims that Kay is spouting "There is no God" in exchange for money raised by a member of a groups called "Godless Americans." In any other part of the western world, a campaign that attempted this line of attack would be laughed into oblivion, but this is North Carolina, where Jesse Helms once won reelection to the Senate with an overt appeal to white racism, so we can't simply laugh this off.

What we'd like to do is sit Liddy down with a copy of the US Constitution, you know, the one she swore to uphold and defend 6 years ago upon taking office. The one that says "but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

Maybe Liddy wants to put the bible above the Constitution as the supreme law of the land, but if that's the case, she needs to get up publicly and say that the Founding Fathers were wrong in the way they organized our republic. Let her repudiate the Constitution, loud and clear. Let her make the case that, like the Taliban, she wants a nation ruled by religious decrees.

That said, Team Hagan's response leaves, in my mind, much to be desired. Here's the email she sent out yesterday:
Elizabeth Dole should be absolutely ashamed of herself. I can't begin to tell you how outraged I am that she has attacked my Christian faith.

Her latest ad is fabricated and pathetic.

Our nation is in a crisis and the only solution Elizabeth Dole has to offer is mud and slime and more of the same. Wall Street was just bailed out and our economy is in shambles and Dole is doing whatever she can to talk about anything BUT the issues.

Enough. This kind of politics will not be tolerated.

Help me respond by paying for an ad directly addressing these claims attacking my Christian faith.

We already have two response ads -- watch them -- and please donate $100, $50 or $25 to help me directly respond to Dole's desperate, divisive and deplorable ads in a third ad.

I don't know what things were like when she grew up in North Carolina, but the North Carolina I raised my children in would never condone this kind of personal slander.

I was raised going to Sunday school and church every week and I raised my children that way. The Hagan family has attended the First Presbyterian Church for over 100 years -- that's where I've taught Sunday school.

If Senator Dole wants to pass judgment on my faith, that's her right -- but that's not the kind of response MY faith teaches.

Join me in taking a stand against the same old tired rhetoric that divides people by contributing today.

Your support at this critical time is imperative to our success.

But even more so -- your support right now is imperative to change the politics of our country.

We need a new direction -- leadership that will bring people together, not tear people apart. Leadership that offers new solutions, not the same old, tired rhetoric.

The people of North Carolina have had enough. No more. It's about time for a change.

Kay Hagan can, of course, respond to Liddy Dole's sleaze any way she wants. But if she's going to come to me asking for money, she has to at least acknowledge that there's a whole 'nother level on which Liddy's attacks are repulsive. It's not simply that Hagan's being called an atheist when she's not. It's that atheism is being attacked as somehow un-American. That people who don't believe in magic sky-beings are not entitled to participate in the American polity. That we are second class.

We're not.

And Kay, you've got my vote, primarily because Liddy Dole is a complete asshole. But if you want my money, you've got to do better than that.

UPDATE: Got a phone call from the Kay Hagan campaign tonight asking for, yep, money to run the response ad. So i got a chance to give them an earful. Hopefully it gets back to the candidate.

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Continue reading Liddy Dole is an asshole

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Raynor and Holloway

I stopped by the intersection of Raynor and Holloway yesterday for a first hand look at the "scene of the crime." Raynor, Holloway, and Miami Blvd converge in this area to make one rather large commercial district, with a strip mall (that has one of the few grocery stores in East Durham), a ton of fast food restaurants, a drug store, and a couple of auto parts stores. All 1.8 miles or so from City Hall.

Looking south/southwest across Holloway to Raynor. There's a painted crosswalk on Raynor, south of Holloway. It's the only crosswalk in the entire section of the map above.

Looking west across down Holloway across Raynor. There are curb cuts at all the intersections, and a sidewalk along the south side of Holloway, but no crosswalks or "Walk" signs.

South across Holloway to Raynor. Is there a stop line on westbound Holloway? If there is, that car is well past it. Again, curb cut for wheelchair access, but no crosswalk.

South/southeast down Miami across Holloway. Sidewalks and curb cuts, but no crosswalks or pedestrian signals.

South across Miami and Holloway to Gary St., where the bus is coming up. That's a pretty vast sea of asphalt to get across, isn't it? Again, curb cuts for wheelchair access, but no crosswalks or indication that a pedestrian or someone in a wheelchair has any business being on this street.

Looking west on Holloway across Miami. I have no idea where you would cross this street.

A few steps further north on Miami than the last picture. Again, no way to get across Miami on foot or wheelchair over here.

Take a look at that map again. There's a lot of people living, working, and shopping in this commercial and residential district. There should be a whole lot more foot traffic around here. (There should be more people shopping at the grocery store than grabbing a delayed heart attack at the McDonald's as well, but that's a different, although related, problem.) Holloway Street is also known as NC 98, so i'd assume it's a state maintained road. I'm guessing that Miami Blvd, which turns into US 70 about a mile or so to the south, is also a state maintained road. NCDOT has demonstrated time and again that it's main concern is moving as many vehicles from point A to point B in the least amount of time as possible. I've spoken with some engineers and planners at NCDOT who would dispute this, and who seem to know the vocabulary, at least, of pedestrian safety issues and planning for walkable communities. But when the rubber hits the road, this is what we always end up with. Large swaths of asphalt, and people in the hospital, or the funeral home.

Some folks in the city's transportation department have a better understanding of how to do this right. Unfortunately, when it comes to places like this, they've got virtually no say.

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Killer ad


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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Another man done gone

Gerard Damiano 1928 - 2008
Gerard Damiano, director of infamous 1970s pornographic film Deep Throat, has died in Miami at the age of 80.

Made in 1972 for £25,000, it was the first "porno" widely seen in cinemas and made an estimated $600m (£382m).

The title - a reference to fellatio - was subsequently used as a pseudonym for the whistleblower who spilled the beans about the Watergate scandal.

Quote of the decade:
"My father never dreamed that it would get that kind of attention," said Damiano Jr.

For all its success, however, Deep Throat was not his father's favourite. "He was fond of it for what it was," he continued.

"But in terms of film-making he would never call it a great film."

I've managed to make a few acquaintances in the adult biz over the years. Here's an appreciation of Damiano from one of them:
"Deep Throat" No More

by Carl Nutsak

Gerard Damiano, the man who wrote, produced and directed "Deep Throat," died from complications of a stroke at age 80.

According to the trade journal Adult Video News (AVN), "Gerardo Rocco Damiano was born Aug. 4, 1928 to an Italian-Catholic family. His father died when he was six, and his mother never remarried. Damiano joined the Navy at 17 and served for four years, later studying X-ray technology on the G.I. Bill."

By 1956 he owned a beauty parlor New York. The conversations among his female clientele led Damiano to the belief that there was a market for sexually explicit movies for mainstream audiences. Or at least the ladies who had their hair done in his part of The Bronx.

"Deep Throat," an adult film first released to theatres in 1972, is why you can even talk about porn today, let alone access it. It was sassy, clever and low-budget. Along with "Behind The Green Door" and other "golden age" films made years before the VCR, these films combined humor, plot and wildly explicit sex. Mainstream critics hailed it as "porno chic." It can be argued that because of these films' entertainment value, prosecutors, judges and juries found it harder to called these movies "obscene." For a brief time, porno chic was the subject of conversation on TV talk shows, cocktail parties and of course––magazines like Playboy and Penthouse.

"Deep Throat" was shot in six days in the Miami area for next-to-nothing and frankly, parts of it look it. This may be independent film-making at its grittiest. It is believed the film has grossed over $600 million in screenings, VHS/DVD sales and rentals. Damiano allegedly sold out his interest in the film for $25,000.

Linda Lovelace starred in "Deep Throat," the film was written specifically for her and her ability to, as I like to say, "do stuff."

"Deep Throat" entered popular culture during the Watergate era as the handle for FBI informant W. Mark Felt, as described in the book and movie "All The President's Men." Felt did not disclose his status until 2005, but I don't think it was because of Linda Lovelace.

I first saw "Deep Throat" on 3/4" U-matic tape at a back office in a cable-tv company I worked at in the mid-1970's. I was eighteen or nineteen, and being able to watch this stuff in mixed company was quite a novelty. It's still a funny movie.

A year or two later I saw other Damiano films like "Devil In Miss Jones" and "Story of Joanna" in Times Square. Believe it or not, one of the screenings was a combination date/class assignment. My then-girlfriend was taking a communications class at Hofstra University and each student was instructed to take in at least one adult film. Now that's a liberal education.

Damiano the actor makes a brief appearance in "Devil In Miss Jones" as a nut case with no interest in sex, locked up with a perpetually horny Georgina Spelvin. Even with such a down-beat ending, films like "Devil" had their tongue planted firmly in cheek. There was a festive air to what was going up on that very large screen.

Because of ever-narrower market niches and "tastes," I'm not sure if a lot of today's porn has the same effect. A lot of it is pretty gross. However, I am looking forward to seeing "Who's Nailin' Paylin?" on a DVD screener sent to my attention. It's a Larry Flynt production, so you know it'll be classy.

In case you're wondering what kind of a life a pornographer like Damiano had, AVN adds, "Damiano married porn actress Paula Morton in 1975, and the couple had two children, Christar and Gerard, Jr. The family moved from New York to Fort Myers in the '70s. Although Damiano and Morton eventually divorced, they remained close until his death."

Rest well, Gerry. You've seen it all and shown it all.


Continue reading Another man done gone

Bud Selig

With the possible exception of Scott Boras*, Bud Selig has been the most negatively influential figure in baseball in my lifetime.
Seriously, in the 20 minutes commissioner Bud Selig addressed postponing Game 5, he spent as much time talking about weather forecasters as he did the fact that he was prepared, on the fly, to change a well-hewn rule. While Selig was interested in informing the public that the three weather services MLB contacted said the rain would abate, everyone wondered how he planned to handle the situation had Carlos Pena not driven in B.J. Upton in the sixth inning with the Rays’ tying run.

Selig said he discussed such a scenario before the game with general managers Pat Gillick of the Phillies and Andrew Friedman of the Rays, allegedly telling them the rule stating that a game is complete after 4½ innings did not apply.

“It’s not a way to end a World Series,” Selig said. “And I think there’s enough, and I have enough authority here, frankly, so that I think I’m not only on solid ground, I’m on very solid ground.”

It would have been the right call, of course, though it sets a dangerous precedent – just how far does the commissioner’s in-the-best-interests-of-baseball clause go? – and was made even shadier by the fact that nobody but the brass seemed to know. Fans were clueless, as were the players, who wanted no part of it.

I'd be wishing for his resignation or retirement, but for one thing. There's an old prayer in which the supplicant acknowledges to the Lord that yes, things are mighty bad these days, but he knows they could always be worse, but please Lord, don't enlighten him as to how. So, who would replace Bud Selig if he leaves?

* Boras is the agent for, among other players, Alex Rodriguez. The one who, in the middle of last year's World Series, announced that ARod would be invoking that clause in his contract that enabled him to become a free agent. Even though Rodriguez didn't, you know, really want to do that. I'd be interested in seeing some baseball stat wunderkind put together the scoop on correlating pennant and World Series winning teams with the number of Boras represented players on each roster. ARod may be the best third baseman ever to play the game (doubtful, in my book, but Boras writes his own books), but the Yankees won a lot more World Series with Scott Brosius at third than they have with ARod, who never took Seattle or Texas that deep into the playoffs, either.


Continue reading Bud Selig

"I'm walkin' here!"

Yesterday wasn't a good day to be a pedestrian in the Triangle.

A woman was hit in the crosswalk by a turning bus in Chapel Hill.

(Image lifted from WRAL)

A commenter at the WRAL site has posted that she died from her injuries. That's a damn shame. What's got me pissed off about it is the commenters at the WRAL site, blaming the woman for walking in front of the bus. God damn it, people, there are no circumstances under which a pedestrian in a crosswalk doesn't have the right of way. Take your fucking foot off the gas pedal. Even if it means you have to wait 20 seconds to get through the turn. The police have got to start enforcing that law.

As it turns out, pedestrians in North Carolina have the right of way crossing at most intersections, even if there isn't a crosswalk, which appears to be the case in another pedestrian accident, this time on Holloway Street in Durham.
A pedestrian was struck by a car and critically injured Monday morning in the 1700 block of Holloway Street near the Raynor Street intersection, Durham police reported.

The man, whose name was not made available Monday, was taken to Duke Hospital after the 9:57 a.m. accident.

Police said the man stepped into the path of a Lexus driven by Cheri Craun, 36, of Durham. Craun was treated at the scene for minor injuries from glass fragments.

There was no indication that Craun was speeding, police said. No charges were filed.

I particularly like the "she wasn't speeding, therefore no charges were filed" logic expressed by the police. There aren't any pictures of the scene of the accident that i can find online, although i did see some footage on TV last night while waiting out the World Series weather delay. It didn't appear that there are any crosswalks at Holloway and Raynor, although i'm going to try and head out there myself this afternoon and check. But again, pedestrians have the right of way under most circumstances if they're crossing at an intersection just like sailboats have the right of way over motor boats on open water.

I spent two weeks in a much more heavily trafficked city last month where this fact was acknowledged by drivers, pedestrians, and law enforcement personnel. I felt safe walking across the street at any time, and any intersection. Yesterday, i was back in Carrboro at lunch time, and crossing the street with a walk signal, in a crosswalk, three cars made left turns right in front of me, the last one damn near hitting me. I finally had an opportunity to do my Dustin Hoffman in Midnight Cowboy impersonation.

But really, law enforcement people. Are you paying attention? You need to start writing some fucking tickets for failure to yield to pedestrians and crosswalk encroachment. That's the only way some of these yahoos are going to get educated about their responsibilities to pedestrians when they're behind the wheel.


Continue reading "I'm walkin' here!"

Monday, October 27, 2008

Read this

I mean it. Go read it. Now.


Continue reading Read this

Junior Johnson sez

Dear Barry,

My family and I have given this election a lot of thought.

Our country is in a rough spot, and we're going to need some serious change. There's only one candidate ready to deliver it -- and that's Barack Obama.

Every day I talk to someone else who's never voted for a Democrat, but now they're voting for Barack Obama. They realize that Barack understands what we're going through here in North Carolina. And they're ready for change.

So I've made up my mind, and I'm ready to get involved. I know that I could never have won a race without my pit crew, and I know Barack can't win this one without us.


Continue reading Junior Johnson sez

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Rogue state

US helicopter-borne troops have carried out a raid inside Syria along the Iraqi border, killing eight people including four children, Syrian officials say.

The official Syrian news agency Sana said the raid took place in the Abu Kamal border area, in eastern Syria.

It said that American soldiers on four helicopters had stormed a building under construction on Sunday night.

The US says it is investigating. It has previously accused Syria of allowing foreign militants into Iraq.

Syria has summoned the US and Iraqi envoys in Damascus to protest at the raid.

Seriously. WTF?
U.S. military helicopters launched an extremely rare attack Sunday on Syrian territory close to the border with Iraq, killing eight people in a strike the government in Damascus condemned as "serious aggression."

A U.S. military official said the raid by special forces targeted the network of al-Qaida-linked foreign fighters moving through Syria into Iraq. The Americans have been unable to shut the network down in the area because Syria was out of the military's reach.

"We are taking matters into our own hands," the official told The Associated Press in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the political sensitivity of cross-border raids.

If by "political sensitivity" you mean violation of the UN charter and international laws against, you know, attacking sovereign nations.

Jesus H. Christ in a hot tub, these guys really do want to fuck things up beyond repair.

Late thought
: "We are taking matters into our own hands." I thought we had a Commander-in-Chief? Isn't that his job? Since when to "military officials" publicly make foreign policy decisions?

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Bonus marquee blogging

Jones Ferry Rd, Carrboro, NC

Bonus points if you can say exactly where this picture was taken:

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Sunday morning Church marquee blogging

Antioch Baptist Church, Old Greensboro Rd., Orange County, NC


Continue reading Sunday morning Church marquee blogging

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Josh Marshall:
It is time for the McCain campaign to come clean about what role any of its staffers may have had in hyping or pushing the press to hype the charges stemming from Ashley Todd's vicious and reprehensible hoax.

As Greg Sargent reported yesterday, McCain Pennsylvania communications director Peter Feldman pushed reporters on a highly incendiary version of Todd's hoax -- providing reporters with quotes from the fictitious attacker and telling them the the "B" scratched on Todd's face stood for "Barack." As the Washington Post's Eugene Robinson aptly put it, Feldman's actions showed "not just a willingness to believe it but an eagerness to incite a ... racial backlash against the Obama campaign."

Our reporting did not find any direct evidence that the McCain campaign's national headquarters played a role pushing the story.

However, the national campaign has now come forward and lied about what happened in Pennsylvania. McCain campaign spokesman Brian Rogers has now told NBC that alleged quotes from the McCain campaign in early reports of the story were actually the product of "sloppy reporting" and that they were actually quotes from the Pittsburgh police.

This is simply not credible.

Initial reports specifically quote the McCain campaign. And at least two sources involved in the contemporaneous reporting have come forward and said on the record that the quotes came directly from the McCain campaign. To believe that two separate local news organizations made the identical mistake with the same quotes and are now both covering it up is simply not credible. But that is what Rogers is now claiming.

The McCain campaign's after-the-fact lie about its role in this hoax makes it essential that it provide a complete and honest account of both the local and national campaign's role.


Continue reading Awesome

Friday, October 24, 2008

On the case

Your search - Liestoppers "ashley todd" - did not match any documents.


Continue reading On the case

Worth repeating

Greg Mitchell, at HuffPo:
Earlier today, John Moody, executive vice president at Fox News, commented on his blog there that "this incident could become a watershed event in the 11 days before the election. If Ms. Todd's allegations are proven accurate, some voters may revisit their support for Senator Obama, not because they are racists (with due respect to Rep. John Murtha), but because they suddenly feel they do not know enough about the Democratic nominee.

"If the incident turns out to be a hoax, Senator McCain's quest for the presidency is over, forever linked to race-baiting."

Ashley Todd, 20-year-old college student from College Station, Texas, admitted Friday that the story was false and was being charged with making a false report to police, said Maurita Bryant, the assistant chief of the police department's investigations division. Police doubted her story from the start, Bryant said.

$22K worth of makeup ain't gonna be enough lipstick for this pig.


Continue reading Worth repeating

Missing child

A pregnant 12-year-old girl who had been missing since Saturday was found this morning in Durham, police said.

Durham police officers found Tekenya Wooten on Gordon Street at about 11:45 a.m. today, according to a news release. She appeared to be unharmed, according to the release.


There's a 12 year old girl missing in Durham. Her name is Tekenya Wooten. Pam wants to know why Durham police haven't issued an Amber Alert.

Good question.

More info here, here, and here.


Continue reading Missing child

Didn't see that coming

Pittsburgh police say a McCain campaign volunteer who said she was held down by a black man who cut the letter "B" in her face has changed her story.

Police spokeswoman Diane Richard says investigators gave the 20-year-old woman a lie-detector test and are "looking at some inconsistencies" in her story.

The student, Ashley Todd, of College Station, Texas, initially said a black man robbed her at knifepoint Wednesday night and then cut her cheek after seeing a McCain sticker on her car.

Police say bank surveillance footage doesn't show her at an ATM where she says she was attacked.

Todd, who is white, now says she was knocked unconscious and doesn't remember being cut. She now says she only discovered the wound later.

No arrests have been made.

In related developments, Michael Savage has not yet referred to the woman as a "dirt-bag."

UPDATE: Oh, dear:
This afternoon, a Pittsburgh police commander told KDKA Investigator Marty Griffin that Todd confessed to making up the story.

The commander added that Todd will face charges; but police have not commented on what those charges will be.

Via HuffPo:
Earlier today, John Moody, executive vice president at Fox News, had commented on his blog that "this incident could become a watershed event in the 11 days before the election. If Ms. Todd's allegations are proven accurate, some voters may revisit their support for Senator Obama, not because they are racists (with due respect to Rep. John Murtha), but because they suddenly feel they do not know enough about the Democratic nominee.

"If the incident turns out to be a hoax, Senator McCain's quest for the presidency is over, forever linked to race-baiting."

Deep Thought

Really shoulda gone with the 'O'...


Continue reading Didn't see that coming

Opie sez . . .



Continue reading Opie sez . . .

Ruh roh

Uncensored version:


Continue reading Ruh roh

Headlines you don't want to read before your morning coffee

Markets in Tailspin

Global Shares Plummet on Gloomy Data

Stock Futures Frozen After Steep Plunge

Guess i won't be retiring before i'm 98 after all.


Continue reading Headlines you don't want to read before your morning coffee

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Drinking Liberally

7pm tonight at Broad Street Cafe. Stop in and say hi.


Continue reading Drinking Liberally

Construction at the DAP

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Continue reading Construction at the DAP

Shooting the Bull

John Schelp, neighborhood activist and all around good guy, joins Kevin and i tonight for a conversation about the history of public transportation in the Bull City on Shooting the Bull, 7:30 pm on WXDU, 88.7 FM. Or listen online here.


Continue reading Shooting the Bull

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mea culpa

Actually, i voted already.


(Damn. Sorry about the autoplay. None of the code that i've tried inserting to turn it off seems to be working.)


Continue reading Mea culpa

Another bus

The Blues Bus

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Continue reading Another bus

David Price

Via email, local activist Milo Pyne takes issue with some Durhamites who are willing to dump congressman David Price over his stand on the Butner Bio-Lab facility. Representative Price may be on the wrong side of this issue, but, argues Pyne, his opponent is wrong about a lot more.
I want to express my views to the voters of the Fourth Congressional District on our congressional election. I am a member of the Durham People’s Alliance and help facilitate the operation of its PAC. I am also a member of the NC Democratic state executive committee and an opponent of the siting of the National Bio-Ag Research Facility (NBAF) in Butner. I firmly support David Price for reelection in November. Here are a few aspects of his record that are important to me.

David Price was an early opponent of the Iraq War. He has worked to rein in abuses by private military companies working in Iraq. He has also introduced legislation to prohibit contractors from performing interrogations of prisoners in the custody of intelligence agencies. He is also the author of legislation to reform the public financing system for presidential campaigns. He supports reproductive rights and equality for gay and lesbian folks.

David was able to block the Navy’s plans to locate a jet landing strip in eastern North Carolina next to the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is significant for hunting, fishing, and recreation and is home to large winter populations of swans and geese. The siting of the landing field there would disrupt migratory bird movements and pose serious risks to the pilots.

I do not agree with Congressman Price on every aspect of his long and distinguished record. I am disappointed with his views on the NBAF. However, I trust in the long run that North Carolina common sense will flow from David to the Department of Homeland Security rather than DHS’ corrupt and dysfunctional nonsense flowing the other way.

The bottom line is that I am a Democrat, and I vote for Democrats. Despite not agreeing with David on some things, I am not about to reject him in favor of an inexperienced anti-choice Libertarian who I do not think could provide effective representation for the Fourth District. In addition, I am voting for Barack Obama and I want there to be a wide Democratic margin in Congress so he can implement his program efficiently.

It is easy to dissect the record of an accomplished sitting congressman and find things that one could disagree with. Mr. Lawson has no comparable record that we can examine. I occasionally admire fringe candidates (having been one myself on occasion), and with half a million dollars they may shake up the system, but this is not the time to take a chance with our congressional representation.

Milo Pyne


Continue reading David Price

Epic fail

William Kristol:
One thing McCain undoubtedly had in mind was Obama’s failure to pick Hillary Clinton. As The Times’s Patrick Healy reported Friday, “If the election remains close, the next president could very well be picked by what Chris Lehane, a Democratic strategist, calls ‘Wal-Mart Moms’ — white working women with children living in the exurbs and in rural parts of battleground states. ...”

McCain didn’t just pick a politician who could appeal to Wal-Mart Moms. He picked a Wal-Mart Mom. Indeed, he picked someone who, in 1999, as Wasilla mayor, presided over a wedding of two Wal-Mart associates at the local Wal-Mart. “It was so sweet,” said Palin, according to The Anchorage Daily News. “It was so Wasilla.

A Wasilla Wal-Mart Mom a heartbeat away? I suspect most voters will say, No problem. And some — perhaps a decisive number — will say, It’s about time.

Wal-Mart mom:
According to financial disclosure records, the accessorizing began in early September and included bills from Saks Fifth Avenue in St. Louis and New York for a combined $49,425.74.

The records also document a couple of big-time shopping trips to Neiman Marcus in Minneapolis, including one $75,062.63 spree in early September.

The RNC also spent $4,716.49 on hair and makeup through September after reporting no such costs in August.

via TPM


Continue reading Epic fail

Another bus design

From reader TM.

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Continue reading Another bus design

Buses - money where my mouth is

Mrs. D's effort to liven up the new bus designs (below) got me thinking i should probably do more than just kvetch about how ugly they are.

So here's some possibilities.

first, in response to Tony in the comments, who wants to see a Camo bus.

Next, reader NS emails to say that the new designs don't let anybody know that the new buses are more environmentally friendly.

Or this one, which is the beaver lodge behind Compare Foods off Avondale and I-85:
My problem with the proposed designs is that there's absolutely nothing Durham about them. (Some folks might argue that the lack of identity is a Durham quality. I say those folks should STFU.) Here's some Durham-centric options.

And, finally, a crowd shot at the Durham Holiday Parade, from 2007.

Contemporary printing technology allows for very short run printing to be adhered to buses, making lots of different designs feasible. Surely a city with the world class aspirations of Durham can do better than the generic blandness proposed below. click on any of the photos to see a (slightly) larger version.

Got any ideas of your own? Email 'em to the address on the right sidebar, and i'll post 'em, you betcha.

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Continue reading Buses - money where my mouth is

Bus survey

Hot on the heels of the city's successful contest to name its official dildo (sorry, Operation Green Light road paving project mascot), they're now asking for input as to how the new hybrid buses, due to hit the streets next year, should be painted.

Seriously. The city wants to know which of these marginally different curvy stripey designs will make you feel better about living here. (Ooops. Designs C and D don't have any curves. They're just stripey.) Where are the choices that have stars in them? Or the choices between full panel home oxygen canister ads and full panel ambulance chaser ads?

Or better yet, how about a survey that asks how often you'd ride the bus if it came by more than once every half hour, had a destination other than the main bus depot, and you didn't have to stand in the mud and rain waiting for it?

UPDATE: Mrs. D weighs in with another option.

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Continue reading Bus survey


Didn't see that coming.
Al-Qaida supporters suggested in a Web site message this week they would welcome a pre-election terror attack on the U.S. as a way to usher in a McCain presidency.

The message, posted Monday on the password-protected al-Hesbah Web site, said if al-Qaida wants to exhaust the United States militarily and economically, "impetuous" Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain is the better choice because he is more likely to continue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"This requires presence of an impetuous American leader such as McCain, who pledged to continue the war till the last American soldier," the message said. "Then, al-Qaida will have to support McCain in the coming elections so that he continues the failing march of his predecessor, Bush."


Continue reading Endorsements


How many real Americans get to drop $75K of someone else's money on a Nieman-Marcus shopping spree?


Continue reading Wonderin'

Fair weather fans?


Continue reading Fair weather fans?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Welfare mom

Gov. Sarah Palin charged the state for her children to travel with her, including to events where they were not invited, and later amended expense reports to specify that they were on official business.

The charges included costs for hotel and commercial flights for three daughters to join Palin to watch their father in a snowmobile race, and a trip to New York, where the governor attended a five-hour conference and stayed with 17-year-old Bristol for five days and four nights in a luxury hotel.

In all, Palin has charged the state $21,012 for her three daughters' 64 one-way and 12 round-trip commercial flights since she took office in December 2006. In some other cases, she has charged the state for hotel rooms for the girls.

This really wouldn't be such a BFD if the Republicans weren't running a campaign based on working people not having to, you know, buy shit for other people. But they are.

I wonder how much Joe the Plumber is gonna kick in for little Piper's hotel stay sthe next 4 years if his heroes get elected?

But wait, there's more!

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Continue reading Welfare mom

Robin Hayes - A liar and a moron

I've stayed out of the NC-08 rematch between Robin Hayes (R-Neverland) and Larry Kissell so far. It's not my district. But Hayes really dug himself a big time hole over the weekend when he was reported to have said that "Liberals hate real Americans" at a John McCain campaign rally. He dug a little deeper when he denied making those remarks.

Now it looks like he's buried in the hole he dug.

Tired yet of right wing morons who think the only way they can hold onto power is by claiming the rest of us aren't "real Americans?"

Do something about it.

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Continue reading Robin Hayes - A liar and a moron


Obama +3 in latest Rasmussen poll. Only one NC poll in the past two weeks has had McCain ahead.

I'm curious if anyone has gotten any of the McCain robocalls. We've had a couple of occasions the past few days at the Dependable Ranch where the phone has rung and there's been that 4 second delay when we pick it up that usually indicates a recorded message or even a live marketer on the other end, but no one has ever come on the line.


Continue reading Polls

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sicker people

A dead bear was found dumped this morning on the Western Carolina University campus, draped with a pair of Obama campaign signs, university police said.

Maintenance workers reported about 7:45 a.m. finding a 75-pound bear cub dumped at the roundabout near the Catamount statute at the entrance to campus, said Tom Johnson, chief of university police.

“It looked like it had been shot in the head as best we can tell. A couple of Obama campaign signs had been stapled together and stuck over its head,” Johnson said.

University police called in N.C. Wildlife Resources officials to remove the body and help in the investigation. Bear season is currently under way in Western North Carolina.

Core values, i guess.

UPDATE: WRAL has a story saying this was a prank, and that a bunch of WCU students "found" the bear, already shot, in the woods. The Obama signs were picked up at random and wrapped around the head wounds to keep "blood from spilling into the bed of the truck they were driving."

WCU chancellor John Bardo is quoted in the story as saying "I am pleased to hear that this situation appears to be a stupid prank."

Yeah, right.

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Continue reading Sicker people


One thing i've noticed about Republicans over the years. The more they accuse their opponents of underhanded tactics, the more likely it is that they're the ones engaging in them.

Looks like "voter registration fraud" falls into that category.


Continue reading Ruh-roh

Fantasy league update

It's not the most important item on my plate this month, but here's a quickie update on my fanatasy soccer team, The Dependables.

Over at the EPL site, some injuries set my boys back a bit at the beginning of the month. I've climbed back up to about 40,000 out of 1.6 million players (top 3%) with a decent weekend, and i've still got two players active in today's Newcastle v Manchester City match. In our local bar league, i dropped out of first place earlier in the month, but i'm holding on to second. With a good day today, The Dependables could be back on top, but a poor showing and i could drop as low as third. A 0-0 draw today is my best outcome, as i've got defenders from both teams in my squad.

In the Guardian League, i'm up to 6700 out of about 85,000 players, or top 8%. I'm also 97th out of about 1000 self-identified US players. (In the EPL league, i come in at 850 out of 52,000 or so US players. That's top 1.6%) The good news there is that i finally had enough funds in the bank to pick up Wayne Rooney, who seems to be getting ready to go on a hot streak and score a couple of hat tricks in the coming weeks. In the EPL league, where transfers are limited to one per week, it's going to take a couple of weeks to maneuver my way into that position. Maybe Jermaine Defoe can get back to scoring a goal or two until then.


Continue reading Fantasy league update

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Is it too late for John McCain to step aside and let Joe the Plumber become the Republican nominee for president? He seems to be the most qualified person in America for the job.


Continue reading Ticket

Sunday morning church marquee blogging

Highway 64, Plymouth, NC


Continue reading Sunday morning church marquee blogging

Friday, October 17, 2008

Levi Stubbs


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Continue reading Levi Stubbs

Friday flower blogging

Swamp sunflower

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Continue reading Friday flower blogging

Gas prices

My money says gas prices get below $2.69 by Election Day.

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Continue reading Gas prices

Herald-Sun misses the action at Palin's Elon rally

You wouldn't know it from reading the two articles the Herald-Sun published about Sarah Palin's appearance at Elon College yesterday, but all is not sweetness and light in "pro-America land."
I sidled up to one of the Obama supporters and asked why they were there, what they were trying to accomplish.

As he was telling me a large, bearded man in full McCain-Palin campaign regalia got in his face to yell at him.

"Hey, hey, " I said. "I'm trying to interview him. Just a minute, okay? "

The man began to say something about how of course I was interviewing the Obama people when suddenly, from behind us, the sound of a pro-Obama rap song came blaring out of the windows of a dorm building. We all turned our heads to see Obama signs in the windows.

This was met with curses, screams and chants of "U.S.A" by McCain-Palin folks who crowded under the windows trying to drown it out and yell at the person playing the stereo.

It was a moment of levity in an otherwise very tense situation and so I let out a gentle chuckle and shook my head.

"Oh, you think that 's funny?! " the large bearded man said. His face was turning red. "Yeah, that 's real funny…" he said.

And then he kicked the back of leg, buckling my right knee and sending me sprawling onto the ground.

But keep up the good work, HS. Republicans need more outlets to let people know how much they're being victimized by the "left-wing" media.

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Continue reading Herald-Sun misses the action at Palin's Elon rally

"Pro-America," bitches!

Yesterday, at a fundraiser in Greensboro:
Palin also made a point of mentioning that she loved to visit the "pro-America" areas of the country, of which North Carolina is one.

I guess secessionism can count as "pro-American' these days.

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Continue reading "Pro-America," bitches!

Early voting

Chatted with a guy last night at Drinking Liberally who mentioned he was voter number 1635 at the main BoE location yesterday.

That's one thousand six hundred thirty five early voters. At one location.

The N&O reports that over 6200 people voted in Durham yesterday.

Durham County early voting locations and hours here.


Continue reading Early voting

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Drinking Liberally

Tonight @7 pm, Broad Street Cafe. Stop in and say hi.


Continue reading Drinking Liberally

Shooting the Bull

While Kevin Davis is out of town, i get to indulge my radical anarcho-syndicalist tendencies in a wide ranging interview with Joe Bageant, author of Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War.

Also joining the conversation are David Fellerath, Arts Editor for the Independent Weekly, and Katja Hill, Associate Managing Director for Manbites Dog Theater. David and Katja are adapting Joe's book for the stage, and a series of readings from the work in progress opens tonight at Manbites Dog. Curtain is at 8:15.

Shooting the Bull airs Thursday nights at 7:30 on WXDU, 88.7 FM, and is also available as a podcast from the iTunes store, usually a day or two after the broadcast.


Continue reading Shooting the Bull

Wow. Just, wow.

Josh Marshall flags this response from John McCain during last night's debate:

So, basically, John McCain thinks if you're a woman, you're just a container for your uterus.

Fuck you, John McCain.

And what's that shit trying to mock Obama's "eloquence?" Christ on a cracker, is there now something wrong with being able to speak in clear, coherent sentences that express thoughts slightly more complex than "you evil, me good?" Come on, John, let the eagle soar a bit, OK?


Continue reading Wow. Just, wow.

It's all fun and games

Until someone loses a country.

UPDATE: I swore to God i wasn't going to link to this photo.

So sue me.

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Continue reading It's all fun and games

You can't make this up

And as Mrs. D said when i sent her the link, satire is officially dead.


Continue reading You can't make this up

Early voting begins today

There are seven locations around Durham for you to cast a ballot between now and November 1st. If you're not yet registered to vote, same day registration only applies for early voting. You can't show up at the polls on November 4 and register and vote on the same day.

So get your ass out the door if you're not registered. And if you are, voting early means that you're one less person the campaign has to reach to get to the polls.

And don't forget the Obama Straight Flip. Everyone's doing it.


Continue reading Early voting begins today

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Oh, the irony

The comments section in the Herald-Sun's article today on duplicate voter registration forms being submitted to the BoE.

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Continue reading Oh, the irony

Staff reports

The N&O doesn't have anyone actually covering Durham these days, does it?


Continue reading Staff reports

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

"Deer Hunting With Jesus"

A staged reading of a new play by Indy editor David Fellerath, from the book by Joe Bageant, opens Thursday night at Manbites Dog.

UPDATE: I should also mention that Joe Bageant will be reading from Deer Hunting With Jesus tonight (Wednesday) at the Regulator on Ninth St., 7pm.

Joe will be my guest on a special edition of Shooting the Bull, Thursday night at 7:30, on WXDU, 88.7 FM, while Kevin Davis is on vacation. Joe explores the inner reaches of redneck America, and while i don't always agree with his "dispatches from America's class war," anyone who writes like this deserves to be read.
When it comes to excelling in certain endeavors, my own people, the Scots Irish, excel at killing dark skinned peoples on distant shores and being intractable lovers of the surliest forms of freedom, plus worshipping a fundamentalist God that means real business. We all have our talents and liabilities. In any case, we mean-spirited seed of John Calvin, who produced George W. Bush of Kennebunkport, Texas, not to mention nearly every stump jumping redneck demagogue preacher and politician in American history, should at least get credit for producing Mark Twain and Robert Mitchum. Bill Clinton and Jane Fonda too, though both are starting to smell a little too gamey to claim of late.

We're all Americans, some of whom attempt to think and some of whom refuse to, which in either case leads to its own prejudices, depending upon the socio-political pressures of the times. It appears now that among thinking Americans the last acceptable prejudice is anti-Christian fundamentalism -- along with anti-redneckism, (but we ‘necks could give a shit and have even become defiantly proud of the label. Question: How many NASCAR Jesus born again American flag stickers can fit on the bumper of classic "I don't have the money to restore it yet" Ford Galaxy? Answer: twenty one, if you overlap them at the edges. I'm not shitting you here. That's an actual count. The result of redneck exploration of spatial relationships.)

Tune in.

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Continue reading "Deer Hunting With Jesus"

Sicker people

Man, i thought locking dogs in the trunk of a car to fight to the death was sick.

Little did i know:
When is someone going to question how these associations must have warped Obama's views and render (sic) him unstable, and unsuitable for the Presidency?

Prolly the same time people will start questioning whether John McCain's years as a POW must have "warped his views and render him unstable."


Continue reading Sicker people


Driving home last night i noticed the BP stations on Guess Rd. had dropped the price of gasoline to $3.39, and i thought, wow, that's getting pretty cheap.

Then i thought about it some more and realized, not so much.

Then, i reconsidered.

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Continue reading Conditioning

Monday, October 13, 2008


Troika passes are now on sale. $20 for all three nights, including the big Friday night show at the Carolina Theater.

Cash only at Chaz's Bull City Records or OffBeat Music, or online here with your credit card.

Durham Performing Arts Center management take note. They've managed to put ticket sales online without a 25% "convenience fee." In fact, there's no surcharge at all for ordering online.

How do they do it?


Continue reading Troika

I don't get it

From Ray Gronberg's article today in the Herald Sun:
Public Works Department engineers want the City Council to scrap part of Durham's bicycle plan that calls for putting bike lanes on a stretch of Fayetteville Road that's due for a city-funded widening in three years.

The move would save up to $4.5 million and make sure the department doesn't have to rework existing plans for the widening, they say.

But the department's request is running into opposition from the city's Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission, which wants elected officials to uphold the 2-year-old bike plan.

It favors a design change that would make room for the bike lanes by narrowing the road's new travel lanes by a foot, saving $2.25 million in the process.

Here's what i don't get. Didn't we just spend real money developing a bicycle plan? Didn't developing the bike plan (not to mention the pedestrian plan, the Comprehensive Plan/UDO, the Parks and rec master plan, etc.) take a lot of time, money, and energy, and provide the means for Durham to lay out a series of documents describing how we want Durham to grow, what we want Durham to look like, and how we want to get around in Durham in the future?

Seems like every time i turn around, there's a new project being built that doesn't adhere to the guidelines we just developed.

Why bother developing them, then?


Continue reading I don't get it

Sick people

From a local listserv:
Please take a moment to Google 'trunking dog fighting'
Become educated about this terrible problem that has made it easier for dog fighters to evade authorities.

Trunking has left the cities and is now happening in suburbs and rural areas. 'Refs' take two fighting dogs, usually pit bulls, and put them into the trunk of a car to fight to the death. They turn the music up very loud in order to conceal the dogfight. Once the fighting stops, they reveal the winner and usually throw the dead, defeated dog on the side of the road. The 'winner' is usually mauled and injured too. Often Trunking takes place in parking lots, sometimes they drive around while the dogs are fighting.

Whenever you are out and hear loud music, if you can safely do so, listen to see if you can hear a dog fight too. Please notify the local authorities with whatever information you can safely obtain; make of the car, tag, description of people, location, date and time of the incident, etc.

Together we can make a difference. Please pass this on to other animals lovers.

And a response from Durham County Animal Control:
Well the description you see below is accurate. They also have races with two cars involved going to a particular site. The first one there with dogs in the worse shape win. Also, keep in mind, they are having dog/hog fights now where the dogs fight will boar. They are having stallion fights where they pit two stallions together and using a female horse (mare) in heat to tease, cause the horses to fight. All of these are brutal sports. There have been several cases of “trunking” caught in Charlotte. I am not sure what other cities are seeing it, to the point they can catch it happening. It could easily be happening right around us without our knowledge. As with anything vigilance and knowledge in our communities is our best deterrent. Thanks for your continued support of Animal Control.

Perhaps this will give our law enforcement personnel the impetus they need to start pulling over cars which are already in violation of our city and county's noise ordinances?

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Continue reading Sick people

Is it a new dance craze?


Continue reading Is it a new dance craze?

I knew there was a reason we love her so much

Boston Globe:
Wasilla today reflects the results of her free-market approach to development. Running for a second mayoral term in 1999, Palin cited as one of her greatest successes luring a Fred Meyer mega-supermarket to Wasilla. The zoning plan, adopted over then-councilwoman Palin's opposition, proved no impediment for the store, which went up just a few feet from the banks of bucolic Lake Wasilla, with a parking lot that contains Kentucky Fried Chicken, Blockbuster Video, and Carl's Jr.

. . .

As a vice presidential candidate, Palin has suggested that a similar attitude toward growth would prevail nationally if she were elected. "We will get out of the way of private-sector progress," Palin said last week at a Colorado rally. "It's the small business, the mom-and-pops, that are the cornerstone of America."

The municipality Palin repeatedly heralded as a classic "small town" in her convention speech has no discernible center and a Main Street in name only. To its critics, Wasilla has become a famously bad example of suburban growth even by the standards of Alaska, a place where city planners have long noted a dangerous combination of too much land and too few rules about how to build on it.

"Every time we meet with people for the first time, they say, 'We don't want our town to be like Wasilla,' " said Thea Agnew Bemben, a planner whose firm has worked in neighboring communities.

"You'll hear that a lot of times in meetings. They're afraid Wasilla is coming their way," said Kathy Wells, executive director of the pro-planning Friends of Mat-Su. "The joke now is: Can we put a wall around it and not let it spread?"


Continue reading I knew there was a reason we love her so much


Mr Krugman teaches economics and international affairs at Princeton University in New Jersey, and also writes a regular column for the New York Times.

He has long been a fierce critic of US President George W Bush's administration, arguing that its economic policies have helped spark the current financial crisis.



Continue reading Krugmania!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sunday morning church marquee blogging

Kill Devil Hills, NC


Continue reading Sunday morning church marquee blogging

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Crank it up!

She ain't Santa Claus, is she?


Continue reading Crank it up!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Coffin, nails

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is guilty of abuse of power, according to a probe by the state legislature.

The Republican vice-presidential candidate was accused of sacking a senior state official, Walter Monegan, in connection with a family feud.


Continue reading Coffin, nails

Only 47 more to go

Connecticut's Supreme Court ruled Friday that same-sex couples have the right to marry, making that state the third behind Massachusetts and California to legalize such unions.

The court ruled 4-3 that gay and lesbian couples cannot be denied the freedom to marry under the state constitution, and Connecticut's civil unions law does not provide those couples with the same rights as heterosexual couples.

It's the end of the world, i tell ya.


Continue reading Only 47 more to go

That's what we're afraid of

Bush went to the Rose Garden of the White House Friday morning to reassure Americans that the government is doing all it can to cope with the problem.

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Continue reading That's what we're afraid of


Race once tied, now McCain trails by 5 points

Raleigh, N.C. – Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama has opened up a 5 point lead in the race for President in North Carolina according to a new poll released today by the Civitas Institute.

According to the live telephone survey of 600 likely General Election voters, Obama leads McCain 46-39 among those who initially voiced support for a candidate. However, when undecided voters are asked which way they lean, Obama’s lead shrinks to 48-43. Libertarian candidate Bob Barr receives two percent of the vote. Seven percent of voters remained undecided.

“The amount of money Obama is spending on television in North Carolina is finally paying dividends,” said Francis De Luca, Executive Director of the Civitas Institute. “Obama’s ability to capitalize on the financial crisis and to outspend McCain in North Carolina gives him a strong advantage.”

Obama’s advantage comes from his increased share of unaffiliated voters where he has now opened up a 9 point lead (49-40). He has also begun to solidify his base Democratic vote, shaving the percentage of Democrats voting for McCain down from 22% two weeks ago to 17% this week.

“One of the theories we’ve advanced is that for Obama to win North Carolina he needed to obtain 37% of the white voters. In this poll he is now receiving that amount,” added De Luca. “McCain has a lot of ground to make up and not much time to do so.”


Continue reading Polls

Music for our times


Continue reading Music for our times

Sic semper tyrannus

Why am i being lectured about how much Bill Ayers hates America by people who think that John Wilkes Boothe was a hero?


Continue reading Sic semper tyrannus

I'm OK, you're OK

This is rich:
Trying to head off a potentially embarrassing state ethics report on GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, campaign officials released their own report Thursday that clears her of any wrongdoing.

Sen. John McCain's running mate is the subject of a legislative investigation into whether she abused her power as governor by firing her public safety commissioner. The commissioner, Walter Monegan, says he was dismissed in July for resisting pressure from Palin's husband, Todd Palin, and numerous top aides to fire state trooper Mike Wooten, Palin's former brother-in-law.

Lawmakers are expected to release their own findings Friday. Campaign officials have yet to see that report — the result of an investigation that began before she was tapped as McCain's running mate — but said the investigation has falsely portrayed a legitimate policy dispute between a governor and her commissioner as something inappropriate.

That sound you just heard? Richard Nixon turning over in his grave, wondering, "why didn't i think of that?"


Continue reading I'm OK, you're OK

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Turning the tables

Back in August, i wrote:
I don't know if this qualifies as any special insight. I'm sure others have seen this as well. But i was realizing the other night that, at least since 1968, Republicans have run the same campaign when it comes to presidential elections. And you'd think that after 40 years, Democrats would wise up.

The campaign message is simple. "My opponent is a pussy." The facts, the policies, the image of the US in the world, the economy, none of that matters. Once a significant enough portion of the electorate has absorbed that message, Republicans win.

That's why it's so good to see this.


Continue reading Turning the tables


A draft report by American intelligence agencies concludes that Afghanistan is in a “downward spiral” and casts serious doubt on the ability of the Afghan government to stem the rise in the Taliban’s influence there, according to American officials familiar with the document.

The classified report finds that the breakdown in central authority in Afghanistan has been accelerated by rampant corruption within the government of President Hamid Karzai and by an increase in violence by militants who have launched increasingly sophisticated attacks from havens in Pakistan.

The report, a nearly completed version of a National Intelligence Estimate, is set to be finished after the November elections and will be the most comprehensive American assessment in years on the situation in Afghanistan. Its conclusions represent a harsh verdict on decision-making in the Bush administration, which in the months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks made Afghanistan the central focus of a global campaign against terrorism.

In case the words aren't clear enough, here's the picture.

You can talk about the surge until the cows come home, but here's the real problem. We've spent $650 billion fighting an unnecessary war in Iraq the past 5 years. That's money we could have probably used for a few other things. And at the end of the day, Afghanistan is going to be as much of a failed state as it was in 2001. Whether the surge worked or not is pretty much irrelevant.

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Shooting the Bull

Neighborhood activist Cheryl Sweeney Shiflett joins Kevin and i tonight on Shooting the Bull. 7:30 - 8:00 pm on WXDU, 88.7 fm. We'll talk about some of the delays associated with spending 1996 bond money on improvements to Northgate park, among other topics.

By the way, check out 'XDU's spiffy new web site. The link to listen online is now on the front page, in the top right corner.


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Drinking Liberally

Tonight, 7-9pm at the Broad Street Cafe.


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What's Plan B?

The good news is, that even with our current losses, i'll still be able to retire at age 98.
NEW YORK, Oct 9 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks fell further in choppy trade on Thursday as persistent fears that the widening credit crisis will tip the global economy into recession derailed an attempted rebound, with financials leading the slide.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI slid 124.96 points, or 1.35 percent, to 9,133.14. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX tumbled 16.01 points, or 1.63 percent, to 968.93. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC shed 6.31 points, or 0.36 percent, to 1,734.02.


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Wednesday, October 08, 2008


My friend Mike Woodard, who serves on Durham City Council, took issue last week with a post i wrote suggesting that it was a failure on the part of "Durham leaders" to allow the NCDOT's plan for widening Alston Ave. to be approved. Mike ably documented the work done by himself, some other members of Council, and city staffers to mitigate the impacts on the community of NCDOT's design for this road, which will pretty much eliminate the possibility of a pedestrian-friendly, mixed use corridor emerging along Alston Ave. He also mentioned that NCDOT "finally checked into possible economic justice issues related to Los Primos. And DOT reported at the meeting that the Feds are likely to grant some relief for the store, which will likely mean that the store moves nearby but does not disappear."

Fair enough.

I should have probably been clearer that my reference to "Durham leaders" was not necessarily in this case directed at elected officials or staff, but at other community leaders who have been on the wrong side of this issue, particularly folks in the NECD (North East Central Durham) and PAC1 organizations.

But the leadership question on pedestrian issues specifically, transportation issues in general, and the overall vision (or lack of vision) of Durham in the 21st Century remains.

Durham's UDO, for instance describes Residential Compact neighborhoods as:
"The RC District is established to promote well-integrated new residential and civic development close to designated and future regional transit stations. The district is intended to ensure that new development takes advantage of compatible, higher density, transit-friendly design opportunities in close proximity to transit systems. New development in this district requires both pedestrian orientation and human scale in architecture at the street level."

It further describes the Compact Neighborhood Tier as:
The Compact Neighborhood Tier -- That area within � mile of the identified sites of transit stations that is covered by Station Areas Plans, within which development is intended to be transit-, bicycle- and pedestrian-oriented to enhance the street level experience and provide a mixture of goods and services near transit stations. Auto-oriented and low intensity uses shall be discouraged.

As far as i can tell from reading the Zoning Atlas maps, most of the area in question falls within the CN tier. It should be abundantly clear that if the vision requires discouraging auto-oriented uses in the CN tier, we're not doing a good job in providing the kind of leadership needed to implement this vision.

Here's a few simple questions. The answers to these will, i think, tell us a lot about whether the kind of leadership needed to make Durham a desirable place to live in the 21st century exists.

Within the Urban Tier, how many signalized intersections still lack basic pedestrian features such as "Walk" lights and crosswalks? How many non-signalized intersections lack crosswalks? What's the plan for remediating this situation.

Pedestrian activity goes hand in hand with decent transit options. How many bus stops in the Urban Tier still lack basic amenities such as benches, concrete pads (so you're not standing in mud puddles waiting for the bus), trash cans, or shelters? What's the plan to address this lack? Buses currently are on a half hour schedule, even during peak work commute hours. Is there a plan to increase the frequency of buses to a 12-15 minute schedule during peak commute hours? Currently, all buses in Durham have the same destination, the downtown bus station. Is there a plan to develop a new bus map that better moves people from one part of town to another, especially if they don't need to be at the downtown bus station?

Many cities around the country are doing away with, or at least reducing, minimum parking requirements in their zoning codes, especially in downtown and urban zones. Where's Durham at with this?

Anyone who walks with any frequency in Durham knows that most drivers either ignore or are unaware of the law that gives pedestrians in crosswalks the right of way. (In fact, state law gives pedestrians the right of way in some circumstances where there are no crosswalks, as well.) What is Durham's policy on enforcing this code? How many citations have been issued in the past 12 months for failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk, or for encroaching a crosswalk when stopped? How many of those citations were issued in cases in which no injury actually occurred?

Council approved the Durham Walks! comprehensive pedestrian plan a little over two years ago. I'll be honest. I can't make heads or tales out of this status report. It appears that very little work has been done implementing the plan. Around this time last year i was asked to be on a citizens committee that would both publish a scorecard and advocate on behalf of implementing the plan, but after only a couple of meetings, the city employee who was heading up the effort was transferred (or took a new job somewhere else, i really can't recall) and the group stopped meeting. So, what's the status of implementing even the most basic pedestrian amenities as called for in the plan? How are we doing? Do we have any regularly scheduled updates being put out so that people can see progress being made on this front? (And on a more personal note, how many times do i have to ask Council to put some goddamn sidewalks on Avondale Drive? I know that no one on Council ever actually walks on that street, but Jesus H. Christ, it's one of the main gateways into Durham. Or funding a permanent solution to the mess that is Roxboro, Markham, and Mangum? The DPAC is going to open Real Soon Now, and plenty of people from out of town are going to be getting off I-85 to make their way to our new theater. Do they really need to be getting their first impression of Durham as a set of decrepit water filled plastic Rhino walls at an impossible to comprehend intersection?)

for those of us who are modestly invested in goings on around town, it feels like everything that happens here happens on an ad hoc basis. Put out this fire, and then deal with the next one. Not a good way, if you ask me, to run a city.

UPDATE: I rewrote this post 4 or 5 times in the past 4 days, which i usually hate to do. Part of my impetus for publishing this blog is the immediacy it offers to catprue my thoughts at the moment.

But rewrites are sometimes necessary, although one paragraph that i really wanted to include got left off inadvertently.

Back in 2005, when i was on the committee overseeing the work of the Louis Berger Group, the consultants who wrote the Durham Walks! pedestrian plan, we came across a document from the city of Durham, from sometime in the mid 90s. It was perhaps associated with the 1996 bond issue, which some of you may still remember. What i recall of this document is that it set a goal of constructing or completing sidewalks on at least one side of every major thoroughfare in the city of Durham. That was twelve years or so ago. One of the reasons i get so pissed off when i look at Avondale Drive is that it, you know, doesn't have a lot of people advocating for it. Many of the houses are rentals, owned by landlords whose disdain for investment in their properties is obvious. The folks who do own their own homes are, for the most part, hard working people who really don't have the time or energy to attend City Council meetings, or the money to self-assess for a sidewalk. They count on the city to show leadership when it comes to providing the kinds of services that folks who live along, say, Club Boulevard and Oval Drive, take for granted. Alas, they don't see that too often. And as a result, their property taxes are regularly invested in other parts of the city, making other people's lives more pleasant, and increasing other people's return on their investment. And Avondale Drive isn't the only corridor in the city for which this is true. It just happens to be the one i spend the most time on.

Yeah, i know. That's what local politics is all about, isn't it?

UPDATE II: From Bull City Rising:
The City Council today is expected to kick off the upset bid process for a structure in this targeted neighborhood commercial area, with the Bill Bell-linked nonprofit UDI placing a bid of $30,000 for the structures at 727 N. Mangum St.

Preservationists, neighborhood activists and some nearby developers have expressed concern that UDI may want to demolish the neglected structures and replace them with more suburban-oriented development, hurting the chance for urban infill development and revitalization. (Reportedly, a gas station was one of the uses UDI had in mind in their initial application for $190,000 in City funding to build a "gateway" to the city in this area.)


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