Dependable Erection

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Oh, sorry, wasn't paying attention

Distracted driving is the subject of a two-day summit that the Department of Transportation kicked off today.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood warned more than 200 attendees about the dangers of distracted driving and pledged to take action at the federal level to combat this "menace to society."

. . .

"We need a combination of strong laws, tough enforcement and ongoing public education to make a difference," he said. But "in reality, you can't legislate behavior . . . taking personal responsibility for our actions is the key for the solution."

But whatever approach is chosen, one is needed soon, say experts. In 2008, 5,870 traffic fatalities, 16% of all road deaths that year, occurred in crashes involving distraction, said Bruce Magladry, director of the Office of Highway Safety at the National Transportation Safety Board. In the year before, 12% of fatalities came from crashes involving distraction.

This data comes at a time when traffic fatalities are otherwise on the decline, which is a pretty remarkable accomplishment when you think about how many more of us are driving these days compared to, say 25 years ago. Probably attributable to safer cars and increased awareness of (and enforcement of) drunk driving laws. Speeding and driving while distracted are the two next big targets.

Labels: ,

Continue reading Oh, sorry, wasn't paying attention

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Of course not

If you get hit by a car and killed crossing the street in Durham, it's always your own damn fault.
A pedestrian was struck and killed by a vehicle early this morning while trying to cross U.S. 15-501 at Mount Moriah Road, Durham police said.

Eric Franklin Simpson, 27, of Estes Drive in Carrboro, was crossing the highway toward New Hope Commons Shopping Center when he was hit by a vehicle driven by Vernon Chris Worley, 31, of Mebane. Worley was in the far left eastbound lane.

. . .

No other details were available. The investigation is continuing, but investigators said no charges were expected. Anyone who saw the accident is asked to call Investigator Larry Cox at 560-4935, extension 29409.

Mrs D left this comment earlier:
Wow, this week I've stopped traffic, including cabs and buses, on busy multi-lane streets just by setting one foot in the crosswalk.

OH WAIT! I'm in San Francisco, not Durham. Oops.


Continue reading Of course not

Deep thought

When they teach Driver Ed. in North Carolina high schools, do they leave out the part about tailgating being a bad idea?


Continue reading Deep thought

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Deep thought

I shouldn't have to move to Cary to live in a neighborhood where i don't have to worry that my cat will be killed by some some idiot's wandering pit bulls if he goes out in the yard.

: Animal Control Department says it has caught a black pit bull believed responsible for the Lynch St. cat killing.

Labels: ,

Continue reading Deep thought

Pride 09

A few images from yesterday's parade.

Labels: ,

Continue reading Pride 09

Construction zone?

So about 5 or 6 months ago we noticed that one of the empty lots on Markham Ave., just east of Washington, was being cleared, probably in preparation for some infill development. I don't generally have a problem with infill, but a branch of the Ellerbe Creek runs right through this particular patch of land, and i've found that it's already been used as a dump site for used tires and other auto parts. So i got in touch with ECWA, and they called the city, and sure enough, the person doing the clearing had never bothered to file for a building permit with the city/county, and a stop work order was issued.

Couple or days ago, i noticed some stakes with pink ribbons on the site, and an Thursday, a backhoe appeared. Still no sign of an "Inspections" placard on the site, though. Wonder if the guy just decided to go ahead and finish clearing his land and build his house? This being Durham, he probably figures nobody from the city will ever stop by to check up on him.

UPDATE: As of 4 pm on 9/29, the backhoe is gone.


Continue reading Construction zone?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fuck Michelle Bachmann

A U.S. Census worker found hanged from a tree near a Kentucky cemetery had the word "fed" scrawled on his chest, a law enforcement official said Wednesday, and the FBI is investigating whether he was a victim of anti-government sentiment.

Congress falls all over itself cutting ties with ACORN, but when one of its own indulges in right-wing fantasies against a government agency, do they even notice?


Continue reading Fuck Michelle Bachmann

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

We're number (thirty) one!

Congratulations to the Durham Bulls on beating the PCL champs Memphis Redbirds to win the Triple A Championship.

Anybody else notice a complete lack of Durham boosterism during the game? I saw commercials for Louisville, Utah, Toledo, Memphis, Albuquerque, Nashville, and Red Rock freakin' Texas during the game, but nothing from DCVB, the Bulls, or the city. What's up with that?


Continue reading We're number (thirty) one!


Amazing storm today. I counted three lightning strikes within 100 yards of the back door this afternoon.

Amazing that anyone would leave a dog outside in that kind of weather.

Even more amazing that Durham doesn't seem to have either the resources or the authority to take a dog away from someone as unqualified to have one as that.

Labels: ,

Continue reading Amazing


Still confused about the new curbside recycling program changes in Durham? Get the first hand scoop from Larrisha McGill, the Waste Reduction Coordinator for the city, at tonight's Inter-Neighborhood Council meeting. INC meets at 7 pm in the community room at the Herald Sun building on Pickett Road, just off 15/501.

By the way - blogging is going to be pretty light this week and next as i get to use manly power tools on not one but two renovation projects around Rancho Dependable, aka Soggy Bottom. Y'all stay out of trouble.


Continue reading Recycling

Friday, September 18, 2009

Who gives a fuck?

Actual Reuters headline: Conservative Christians assail Obama agenda0. This was true all last year, and yet nearly 70 million Americans still voted for Obama by a 53 - 46 majority.

I've been hearing this most of my adult life. Get over it. Conservative Christians and the positions they espouse are a fringe group in this country, despite their ability to command the headlines, the front pages, and the talk radio bullshit that surrounds us. Time we stopped letting them control the conversation.


Continue reading Who gives a fuck?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Crystal Lee Sutton

1940 - 2009

I'm ashamed to admit that i had no idea she was living just 25 miles down the road the entire time i've lived in North Carolina.


Continue reading Crystal Lee Sutton

Irony - still dead

And its mummified remains are on display in the museum formerly known as the US Capitol Building:
Protesters who attended Saturday’s Tea Party rally in Washington found a new reason to be upset: Apparently they are unhappy with the level of service provided by the subway system.

Maybe the FTA's regulation, issued in January of 2008 under the Bush administration, prohibiting local municipal transportation agencies from offering services for special events so that they wouldn't compete unfairly with charter bus companies has a little bit to do with this?

The regulation was designed to foster free-market competition and clarifies when special transportation services for sporting events, stadium concerts and other events should be handled by private companies. Local transit authorities can no longer offer shuttle services if the service is not part of the regular schedule, if the fee is higher than the regular fare and under other specified conditions.


Continue reading Irony - still dead

Mary Travers


Continue reading Mary Travers

Da Bulls

A couple of private conversations over the past few days convinced me to head over to the DBAP for the Bulls final home game of the 09 season. It's game 2 of the Governor's Cup, the International League Championship series, which the Bulls are now leading 2 games to none over the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees.

A sparkling double play started by Bulls shortstop Elliot Johnson in the second inning, which kept the game in reach, was the on-field highlight.

In the stands, though, the spontaneous "Yankees Suck!" chant started by fans along the left field line in the 8th and 9th innings warmed the cockles of my heart, and disproved my theory that Bulls fans were incapable of making any noise whatsoever unless directed to by the electronic scoreboard. Well done.

In other Bulls news, look forward to May 10 next year when the Bulls will take on Cpl. Klinger's beloved Toledo Mud Hens in a Monday night game at the old, but recently refurbished, Durham Athletic Park. No word yet on how the Bulls are going to handle ticket sales at the old park, which only seats a couple of thousand people. I'd imagine that season ticket holders are going to get first dibs on these, which makes it highly unlikely that you'll be able to walk up to the window on game day and buy a ticket. So be prepared.


Continue reading Da Bulls

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

County Commissioners in hiding on Jordan Lake Project?

From the Herald-Sun:
County Commissioners have instructed their lawyers to oppose an environmental group's attempts to intervene in a lawsuit filed against them by the would-be developer of a tract off N.C. 751 next to Jordan Lake.

. . .

The dispute between the county and the developers has turned on whether former City/County Planning Director Frank Duke was right to change the buffer based on the findings of a developer-financed survey of the lake's boundary.

Also, the developers have faulted county leaders for insisting on holding a public hearing on the buffer change. They contend that local law allowed Duke and would allow his successor, Steve Medlin, to make the change on their own authority.

Siler's predecessor, former County Attorney Chuck Kitchen, insisted that a public hearing was a necessity under state law.

Commissioners are split on the project, with three appearing to favor it and two against. They removed Kitchen from office last month, by their own admission because of his role in the Jordan Lake dispute.

Siler said the commissioners were split 3-2 in opposition to the Haw River Assembly's intervention in the case. Commissioners Chairman Michael Page confirmed that.

Page said commissioners nonetheless "decided to move ahead with the advice of our attorneys at this point."

Neither he nor Siler identified the commissioners in the majority and minority factions.
But it's known that commissioners Becky Heron and Ellen Reckhow are more critical of the project, while commissioners Joe Bowser, Brenda Howerton and Page are more receptive. Howerton sided with Heron and Reckhow only on the procedural question of whether to hold a zoning hearing.
Do i understand this correctly? County Commissioners took a 3-2 decision on a legal issue involving the county, and are not revealing which commissioners voted which way?


Presumably that's legal in some fashion, but Christ on a crutch, aren't the voters entitled to know how their elected representatives are, you know, representing them?

Labels: ,

Continue reading County Commissioners in hiding on Jordan Lake Project?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


From an email on my neighborhood listserv today:
For Sale by Owner! A 1756 sq. ft. brick ranch in the trendy Duke Park neighborhood just minutes from downtown Durham. Minutes from great restaurants and cultural venues, Duke Medical Center/Duke University, and eclectic Ninth Street! Research Triangle Park is a mere 15 minutes and RDU is a short 25 minutes. Your neighbors will be physicians, professors, and graduate students, and of course families.

They left out that you can walk to the Joy Mart and two pawn shops in our local shopping district.

Oh, and me. I'll be one of your neighbors.


Continue reading Trendy!

Monday, September 14, 2009

People who died

Jim Carroll.

I hope he was happy.


Continue reading People who died

Friday, September 11, 2009

So sorry

Read about this earlier in the week. I'm speechless.
Gordon Brown has said he is sorry for the "appalling" way World War II code-breaker Alan Turing was treated for being gay.

. . .

In 1952 Turing was prosecuted for gross indecency after admitting a sexual relationship with a man. Two years later he killed himself.

Alan Turing was given experimental chemical castration as a "treatment" and his security privileges were removed, meaning he could not continue to work for the UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).

He is most famous for his code-breaking work at Bletchley Park during WWII, helping to create the Bombe that cracked messages enciphered with the German Enigma machines.

However, he also made significant contributions to the emerging fields of artificial intelligence and computing.

In 1936 he established the conceptual and philosophical basis for the rise of computers in a seminal paper called On Computable Numbers and in 1950 he devised a test to measure the intelligence of a machine. Today it is known as the Turing Test.


Continue reading So sorry


This Box of Vision thingie is pretty cool, too.

Labels: ,

Continue reading Mono!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Shooting the Bull

I'm going to pull my head out of my, oh, actually, i'm going to stop listening to my new Beatles in Mono box set long enough to join Kevin on the radio tonight. Joining us will be Gary Kueber from Endangered Durham. We'll be talking specifically about the Graybar Building on Duke Street, and why tearing it down may not be such a hot idea. Tune in to WXDU, 88.7 FM, at 7:30, or listen online here.


Continue reading Shooting the Bull

Just sayin'

I'm imagining the 24/7 Fox News outrage had some Democratic backbencher called George Bush a liar during one of his addresses to Congress back in 2003, during the run up to the Iraq war.

You know, when he actually was lying.


Continue reading Just sayin'

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Not safe for work

My nominee for funniest story of the year:
Michael Duvall is a conservative Republican state representative from Orange County, California. While waiting for the start of a legislative hearing in July, the 54-year-old married father of two and family values champion began describing, for the benefit of a colleague seated next to him, his ongoing affairs with two different women. In very graphic detail.

It gets even better.

The sad thing is we let these people make the rules for the rest of us.

: Holy cow! He resigned!

Labels: ,

Continue reading Not safe for work

Good morning good morning

It's 09/09/09.

Do you know where your Beatles are?


Continue reading Good morning good morning

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Winning the hearts and minds of the American people

Something tells me this ain't the way to do it.
Americans would be fined up to $3,800 for failing to buy health insurance under a plan that circulated in Congress on Tuesday . . .

How fucking stupid can these people be?


Continue reading Winning the hearts and minds of the American people

Spotted what?

6:17pm UK, Tuesday September 08, 2009
"Childish" remarks about top British pudding Spotted Dick has forced a council in Wales to change the name on its menu.

They will now call it "Spotted Richard" or "Sultana Sponge".

The decision was made by canteen staff at Flintshire County Council after they became fed up with immature comments from customers choosing the pudding.

A spokesperson from the council says staff just wanted to put an end to the childish comments they received every time they served Spotted Dick.

But John Midgley, the co-founder of the Campaign Against Political Correctness, told Sky News he thinks the council "will be made a laughing-stock of" and that the move will be "completely and utterly counter-productive".

And when Sky News asked food critic Michael Winner about the decision he said he found it "absolutely ridiculous beyond belief".

He added: "Spotted Dick is a classic and lovely name for a traditional British dish."

I'm already on it, chief.


Continue reading Spotted what?

UPS develops instant teleportation device

Tracking details for a package i'm expecting this week - After sitting in the Laurel, MD distribution center for the entire holiday weekend, it left this morning at 6:12 AM, and arrived in Greensboro at 6:13 AM. What's UPS been hiding from us?
Date Time Location Event Details
September 8, 2009 06:13:00 AM GREENSBORO NC US Arrival Scan
September 8, 2009 06:12:00 AM LAUREL MD US Departure Scan
September 5, 2009 01:36:00 AM LAUREL MD US Arrival Scan
September 5, 2009 12:33:00 AM LAUREL MD US Arrival Scan
September 4, 2009 10:25:00 PM NEWARK DE US Departure Scan

UPDATE: UPS now says my shipment arrived in Richmond at 9:13 AM, not Greensboro.

Continue reading UPS develops instant teleportation device

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Traffic enforcement

I want to thank commenter eah919 for pointing me to Tom Vanderbilt's recent article in, In Praise of Traffic Tickets.

I've emailed copies of the article to our Police Chief, City Manager, and Council members. If you agree that the article makes some very good points, particularly the analogy of speeders and other driving violators as mobile "broken windows," (a point which Michael Bacon and i have both made on numerous occasions) please consider letting our elected and appointed officials know.

Email them at:
Tom.Bonfield@DurhamNC.Gov; Jose.Lopez@DurhamNC.Gov; Council@DurhamNC.Gov.

Some excerpts from the article:
The consequences of not issuing tickets were shown in a recent study of traffic violations in New York City. From 2001 to 2006, the number of fatalities in which speeding was implicated rose 11 percent. During the same period, the number of speeding summons issued by the NYPD dropped 11 percent. Similarly, summonses for red-light-running violations dropped 13 percent between 2006 and 2008, even as the number of crashes increased. As an alternative approach, consider France, where the dangerous driver is as storied a cliché as a beret on the head and a baguette under the arm. As the ITE Journal notes, since 2000, France has reduced its road fatality rate by an incredible 43 percent. Instrumental in that reduction has been a roll-out of automated speed cameras and a toughening of penalties. For example, negligent driving resulting in a death, which often results in little punishment in the United States, carries a penalty of five years in prison and a 75,000-euro fine.

The "folk crime" belief helps thwart increased traffic enforcement: Why should the NYPD, whose resources and manpower are already stretched, bust people for dangerous driving when they could be going after murderers? Well, apart from the fact that more people are killed in traffic fatalities in New York City every year than they are in "stranger homicides," there is the idea, related to the link between on-and-off-road criminality, that targeting traffic violators might be an effective way to combat other crimes. Which brings us to the third benefit of traffic tickets: increased public safety. Hence the new Department of Justice initiative called DDACTS, or Data Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety, which has found that there is often a geographic link between traffic crashes and crime. By putting "high-visibility enforcement" in hot spots of both crime and traffic crashes, cities like Baltimore have seen reductions in both.

The program recalls the "broken windows" theory, made famous by James Q. Wilson and George Kelling, which argued, using the metaphor of one broken window on a building inexorably leading to more, that not enforcing smaller, "quality-of-life" issues encourages larger transgressions:

Window-breaking does not necessarily occur on a large scale because some areas are inhabited by determined window-breakers whereas others are populated by window-lovers; rather, one unrepaired broken window is a signal that no one cares, and so breaking more windows costs nothing.

Both broken windows and data-driven policing have offered as at least partial explanations for New York City's declining crime rate, and it would seem logical that a similar program would help reduce the level of traffic deaths and injury. One person driving fast, or going through a red light, or even failing to signal, is essentially a broken window—a sign that no one cares. But again we come up against social resistance in equating aggressive driving with crime. This was nowhere more evident than in a review of my book Traffic by James Q. Wilson himself, who opened with the statement: "I drive my car very fast." Now, I have no way of knowing how fast "very fast" is or where he does this fast driving. And even though the review is a nice one, I couldn't help but notice the irony that this behavior is presumably against the law, and the fact that he does it without reprimand contributes to a lessened respect for traffic law and perhaps the law itself. ("We suggest," as it was put in the broken-windows article, "that 'untended' behavior also leads to the breakdown of community controls.")

Labels: , ,

Continue reading Traffic enforcement

Thursday, September 03, 2009

More on speeding

Or it that morons speeding?

Noticed yesterday afternoon that the fire hydrant right up near the traffic circle on Markham/Glendale was no more.

Clearly, someone was distracted by the possibility of an angry neighbor with a paintball gun lurking in the bushes, so, at 12 miles an hour, they crept through the traffic circle, but drove over the fire hydrant..

Oh, come on.

Someone tried to take the circle at 50+ mph, and missed. Probably the third or fourth time the hydrant's been taken out in the past few years. Fortunately, no one was walking there at the time.

I happened to catch the Public Works crew when they showed up this morning to replace the hydrant. They were pissed that the top part was missing. Scrap metal, or souvenir?

My money's on the latter.

Anyone want to take a stab at how much it costs to replace a fire hydrant vs. how much it costs to write a goddamn speeding ticket or three?


Continue reading More on speeding

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Man v Food

So i go to dinner in Raleigh (sue me), and i come back, and my inbox is full of notes telling me i have to watch Man v Food on the Travel Channel tonight at 10.

Just so long as they don't call Ninth Street "Raleigh-Durham," i'll be happy.

UPDATE: Backyard BBQ and Wimpy's! Good job.


Continue reading Man v Food


Schedule for this year's Troika Music Festival is now published. Twenty bucks gets you in to all the shows.

My younger daughter's set is on Friday at the West End Wine Bar. Maybe Main Street will be open by then.


Continue reading Troika

You can get paid for this?

If i didn't have to work for a living, this is what i'd do.


Continue reading You can get paid for this?