Dependable Erection

Monday, November 30, 2009


The most important paragraph written in the 20th century.

Once you truly understand it, you understand how contemporary leaders do what they do.
The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them....To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies — all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth.

Continue reading Doublethink

Wonder what Mike Dukakis would say

On Sunday, Huckabee issued this statement on his Web site: "Should he be found to be responsible for this horrible tragedy, it will be the result of a series of failures in the criminal justice system in both Arkansas and Washington state."

In other words, everybody else's fault except yours, Mike.


Continue reading Wonder what Mike Dukakis would say

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Not with a bang . . .

But a whimper:
A 2008 Durham case marked by sensational accounts of Satanism and sadomasochism appears to have wound to a close with best-interest misdemeanor pleas by a man first charged with rape and kidnapping, and by a woman charged with letting those crimes happen.

Joseph Scott Craig, 26, and wife Joy Suzanne Johnson, 31, have entered Alford pleas, under which defendants do not admit guilt but concede that prosecutors have enough evidence to convict them.

Durham defense attorney Woody Vann said the pleas were entered and approved Nov. 17 in Superior Court. The action brought an apparent end to a case that included testimony that defendants and victims lived in the same house, brought together by a mutual interest in Satanism.

I guess the Attorney General's office didn't think this was a newsworthy enough event to warrant holding a press conference, sending out a news release, or even issuing a statement to the media. And it's been over a week since the pleas were actually entered.


h/t to Joe

Labels: , ,

Continue reading Not with a bang . . .

Friday, November 27, 2009


For this:

And in mono!


Continue reading Thankful

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Enjoy your holiday, everyone.

Barring any action in Durham so stupid that i have to snark about it over the weekend, i'll be back on Monday.

Labels: ,

Continue reading Thanksgiving


Looks like i was wrong about this census worker in Kentucky.

Still seems like an awful lot of work to go through. Occam's Razor, and all that.


Continue reading Wrong

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Good transportation news

City press release:
To put more focus on transportation and transit issues facing Durham and the Triangle region, Durham City Manager Tom Bonfield has announced the creation of a new Department of Transportation for the City of Durham to be headed by long-time transportation manager, Mark Ahrendsen.

Mark's one of the good guys in city government. I'm looking forward to seeing some real movement on transportation issues now that it's a separate department.


Continue reading Good transportation news

The real miracle

The real miracle of the Belgian coma patient is that his government run death panel failed to do its job for 23 years.


Continue reading The real miracle

Happy birthday, Moose and Squirrel

Oh, man, how did i miss this?


Continue reading Happy birthday, Moose and Squirrel

Monday, November 23, 2009

You will never see this happen in American sports

Mets fans, take note:
Wigan's players have pledged to refund the ticket price for any of the club's fans who attended their side's 9-1 thrashing at the hands of Tottenham at White Hart Lane yesterday,

. . .

"The club have announced that the players of Wigan Athletic have decided to personally refund every Latics fan who bought a ticket from the DW Stadium ticket office for the match against Tottenham Hotspur," a statement read.

The club captain, Mario Melchiot, insisted that the team will be able to respond to the defeat, but said the fans "must not be taken for granted. We feel that as a group of players we badly let down our supporters yesterday, and this is a gesture we have to make and pay them back for their tremendous loyalty."


Continue reading You will never see this happen in American sports


For the past 40 years or so, Republicans have opposed every Democratic initiative, hoping to pick off a few "moderate" or "conservative" Democrats to vote against their party. They reason, correctly, that Americans will figure that if the Democrats can't stand up to a bunch of wheezing old fart bed-wetters, how in the world will they stand up to our real enemies.

That Blanche Linclon, Ben Nelson, and Mary Landrieu haven't figured this out yet is one of life's enduring mysteries.

Labels: ,

Continue reading Strategy

Friday, November 20, 2009

Commissioners followup

I've written and said this on a number of occasions. On its merits, i'm really agnostic about the proposed 751 Assemblage development. I'm not convinced that a high density urban core development belongs on the shores of Jordan Lake. Nor am i necessarily in favor of the lower density suburban sprawl development that the site is already zoned for.

That aside, though, it's pretty clear to me that the actions of the current Board of County Commissioners are unconscionable. Too bad it's three years before we can send some of these clowns packing.

In the meantime, the only resolution to the matter at hand is to move the issue of the validity of the protest petition files by opponents of the project to court. Either we live in a county where the rules are applied fairly to all citizens, or we don't. Certain members of the BoCC seem to feel that it's the latter.

If you want to show them that's not the case, the best way to do that now is to support a lawsuit against the Commissioners to get them to recognize the opinion of the Durham City/County Planning Department that a protest petition filed against the 751 Assemblage project was valid. Do this by sending a check (put 'Jordan Lake Protest Petition Suit' in the memo) made out to "Ragsdale Liggett Trust Account" and mailing it to Ragsdale Liggett, PLLC, Post Office Box 31507, Raleigh 27622

Want some more info on this? Send an email to mmr121570 AT yahoo DOT com with "Jordan Lake Lawsuit" in the subject line.

Labels: ,

Continue reading Commissioners followup


Last Wednesday, i mentioned in an aside to another post, that i had spent a good bit of time with an apparently stray dog in my neighborhood waiting for Animal Control to come by and pick him up. Eventually i had to go to work, but what i heard is that Animal Control eventually showed up and cited the owner. Although, according to AC, he claimed that the dog was a stray, and he wasn't really the owner. Either way, there's a pretty healthy, intact male dog running around loose for the past 10 days or so on Rand Street, near the greenway between Markham and Green.

On Saturday, i was able to get him to follow me to my house, about a mile and a half away, long enough to take these photos.

The Animal Control Department has advised me that it would be a violation of current law if i were to keep the dog myself without adopting him through the county. OK, i can live with that. As it turns out, it's been 4 years since my last dog died, and i haven't had to check how secure my yard is since then. Sometime overnight, he found a weak spot in the fence, and left.

So, how long till the Animal Control Department catches him?

This picture was taken on the greenway Thursday afternoon. It's been two weeks or more since this dog was first reported as running loose on Rand and Pamlico. How many puppies will he sire before he's picked up?


Continue reading Dog

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Closed session - UPDATED

The Durham County Board of Commissioners will meet in a Closed Session at
10:00 a.m., Thursday, November 19, 2009, in the Commissioners’ Conference Room (second floor of the Durham County Administrative Complex, 200 East Main Street) to consult with an attorney, to preserve the attorney-client privilege, and to discuss Southern Durham Development, Inc. v. Durham County; Filed in Durham County Superior Court (File No. 09 CVS 004125) pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 143-318.11(a)(3).

As one of my commenters suggested:
The subtext to Thursday's closed session of the BOCC goes something like this:

"The county is going to be sued by whichever party we rule against. One of the primary determinants of the cost of defending a lawsuit is the amount of money and time the plaintiff is willing/able to spend on the lawsuit. Southern Durham Development has already filed suit, and their client has millions of dollars in property development value riding on it. The Haw River Assembly and Southern Environmental Law Center haven't demonstrated that they can or will bring the same firepower to the courtroom. So, the best way to save the county a bunch of money is to deny the protest petition and hunker down."

Just so.

UPDATE: County Commissioners emerged from closed session about 45 minutes ago, and County Attorney Lowell Siler stated that the Board's action on October 12th, in which a 3-2 majority approved moving the critical watershed boundary around Jordan Lake, would be upheld, despite the Planning Department's opinion that a protest petition filed against the move was valid. The County Attorney's office will argue that one of the signatures on the petition, belonging to the president of a homeowners association, is not valid due to the lack of standing of that person to sign on behalf of the property owned in common by the HOA. He further stated that the matter could only be decided in Superior Court, inviting additional lawsuits against the county from private citizens and other groups that have been opposing the redrawing of the watershed boundary. Commissioner Becky Heron indicated that the board was not unanimous in supporting that position, although no vote was taken during the closed session.

I'll have a full report on this development tonight on Shooting the Bull, 7:30 pm, on WXDU, 88.7 FM.

Jim Wise at the N&O, Samiha Khanna at the Indy, and Matt Milliken at the Herald-Sun also have reports on today's developments.

Labels: , ,

Continue reading Closed session - UPDATED

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

France . . .

Had better not win the World Cup next year.

Just sayin'.


Continue reading France . . .

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

An open letter

To our County Commissioners.

Dear Durham Board of County Commissioners:

I know you've all got a lot on your plates this week, what with the Jordan Lake fiasco and probably having to justify not overturning an illegal vote and all that. Or maybe you feel you don't need to even talk about it with your constituents. That's OK. I don't want to talk to you about Jordan Lake anyway.

No, I want to talk to you about what i think is a pretty big hole in Durham County's animal ordinances. You see, if i go to the County animal shelter to adopt a dog, i have to be vetted personally, my home has to be approved as a place that's safe for a dog, and i have to agree to pay for spaying or neutering the dog. Those are all good things.

We don't want the county in the business of giving animals to people who are going to abuse them, or conduct experiments on them, or allow them to run all over town making litters of unwanted puppies that we're not going to be able to deal with in the future.

So why is it that, if i already own a dog that's running around loose in town, i can go to the county animal shelter and pick him up without having to be approved as a dog owner? Why am i allowed to recover that dog without demonstrating that i have a safe, secure location to keep the dog in? Why don't i have to get that dog spayed or neutered? I mean, the owner of an intact dog that's been picked up by the Animal Control department has already demonstrated that they're not concerned with the potential of unwanted litters. Wouldn't it make sense, both morally and financially, to require owners of dogs that have been picked up loose in town to have them spayed or neutered as a condition of their release?

Or do you believe that putting down 400 animals per month at our dog shelter is a good use of resources? Maybe it's that none of you live in places where animals are mistreated or allowed to wander streets on their own. Or maybe it's simply that you've got other things on your minds. I understand that. The Jordan Lake debacle has showcased so many flaws in our development process that trying to fix them must be nearly a 24/7 endeavor.

But if you get a few minutes, perhaps you could consider making this minor change in our animal ordinances. Thousands of puppies, as well as the technicians whose job it is to kill them, will thank you.

As will I.

: City of Los Angeles spay/neuter law:
All dogs and cats must be spayed or neutered after the age of four months. Exemptions are provided for animals used in show and performance competitions, service animals, animals whose health would be endangered by the procedure, and animals with breeding permits.

Note that this applies to all dogs and cats, not just those being retrieved from the custody of the city or county. I assume that third rate legal challenges to this ordinance have been tried and failed.

Note also that i am not advocating for this position at all. I think it's much better that people become educated enough that they realize the benefits of spay/neuter on their own. Perhaps those who make their living breeding dogs can, instead of the discount they currently receive from the county of Durham for owning multiple unspayed/intact dogs, actually pay licensing and business fees that would support the kind of outreach programs necessary to implement near universal voluntary spay/neuter.

What i am suggesting is that, given that the county requires all animals adopted out of the shelter to be spayed/neutered, it similarly requires all animals released from impoundment to their owner to be spayed/neutered.

Labels: ,

Continue reading An open letter

Monday, November 16, 2009

Yikes! Jordan Lake case gets ugly

Pass the popcorn:
If valid, the petition would have required a 4-1 "super majority" vote to approve the rezoning and amendment. However, the planning department ruled it invalid because the signatories represented less than the necessary 20 percent of affected acreage, and the changes passed 3-2.

After the vote, the SELC reviewed ownership records and claimed the planning department had been mistaken and that the changes failed to win approval.

In an email this morning to County Manager Mike Ruffin, Durham resident Steve Bocckino said Medlin's report "deemed valid" the petition.

"Now that the long-overdue verdict is widely known (and it is!), it is the appropriate time to formally announce the previous error," Bocckino said.

This comedy of errors would be funny if it didn't affect, you know, the entire future of development in Durham County.

How long will it be before Commissioner Bowser tries to fire Steve Medlin?

Labels: , ,

Continue reading Yikes! Jordan Lake case gets ugly

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Prisoner

Was better than i expected.

Hooray for sweeps months.


Continue reading The Prisoner

Friday, November 13, 2009

Deep thought

For a couple of months there, i actually believed that the crazy this country has been living under since we first elected Richard Nixon to the presidency in 1968 might be coming to an end.

Good times, man. Good times.

Continue reading Deep thought

I miss Pogo


Continue reading I miss Pogo

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Conservatives - the new liberals

Who knew that the conservative brand was so tarnished that conservatives have to claim they're really liberals to attract followers?

From the so-called Concerned Citizens of Durham website:
This mini essay is about the Durham Citizens Coalition (DCC), formerly called the Durham Conservative Club. The founders considered other names including Durham Liberal Club. The big problem was that the meanings of words change over time and some are even hi-jacked such as "liberal". In Europe today, "liberal" still means what it did in the 18th century, i.e. open government, free trade, and freedom of individuals to seek their fortune without a maze of regulations restricting opportunity. Even currently in The Netherlands, the Liberal Party is the most conservative of Dutch parties. In England the Liberal party is a moderate conservative group distinguishing its supporters from the Conservative party.

Actually, in England, the Liberal Party is a moderateley progressive party distinguishing itself from the more objectively left-wing Labour Party. And the fact that Liberals are the most conservative party in the notoriously conservative Netherlands bears no relationship to American politics, where even the most liberal national parties are far to the right of their European counterparts.

How ironic that a movement which has spent the past 40 years attempting to hinder and hamper all attempts to regulate industrial destuction of our environment can make the claim "(h)ow can one who embraces conservation of nature, including entire ecological systems, not be called a conservative?"

You want to know how?

Because fucking conservatives have been all for eliminating every effort that liberals and progressives have made, including the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, and the Endangered Species Act, over the past 40 years, to pass on to our kids something in our earth that's worth saving.

You guys are a bunch of fucks, and you can't even stand up under your own banner any more. Don't even think of claiming ours.

Christ on a crutch, it's as if you guys think we never read Orwell or something.

Labels: ,

Continue reading Conservatives - the new liberals

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy birthday

Brontosaurus Durhamite!.

See you all on Sunday.

Labels: ,

Continue reading Happy birthday

PACE Car followup

Would have posted earlier this morning, but i spent an hour waiting for an Animal Control officer to come by and pick up the dog i found wandering on Rand Street in the rain this morning. Eventually had to leave and head for work, so no idea whether or not this guy is going to have to spend another day of his life neglected by his owners.

Anyway, to followup on the PACE Car announcement below. I've known for a couple of weeks that the program was being re-established, but was waiting for an official announcement. I guess an officer handing out magnets at a public meeting counts.

The website sign up form is not yet functional. To me, that's the first priority. Second priority is publicity. I can help, and any other bloggers and neighborhood folks who support this program can as well. Talk it up. All it is is a commitment to follow traffic laws when you're driving on city streets. Speed limits, stop signs, yielding to pedestrians, etc. The yellow magnet on the back of your car tells other drivers that's what you're doing.

Third priority is to make sure that every city owned vehicle sports one of these, and that the people driving them are instructed in following the traffic laws while they're behind the wheel of a city vehicle. When you're working for the city, and you're driving through town in a car that says "City of Durham" on it, you're an ambassador. You represent the city, so you may as well make people glad to see you.

My goal in this is to start changing the culture of driving, which privileges those behind the wheel at the expense of those walking, biking, in wheelchairs, or otherwise moving from place to place without a car. No doubt it will be a slow process. Before the program was allowed to lapse last year, it had almost reached the level where you would see multiple PACE car stickers on every trip around town. Shouldn't take more than a year to get back to that. If you see three or four cars with PACE car stickers on every trip to the mall, the dentist, the grocery store, the vet, or whatever, you'll start to figure out that people in Durham want you to slow down when you're behind the wheel.

And we do.


Continue reading PACE Car followup

Really good news

DPD Chief Jose Lopez was our guest at the neighborhood association meeting last night. While i was getting ready to harangue him on the speeding issue, Officer Bayne stopped by with a fresh supply of PACE Car magnets and an announcement that the program was being restarted.

Really good news. It seems like half the problem of dealing with unsafe streets has been getting DPD leadership to recognize that this is important. Fortunately, we weren't treated to the "other neighborhoods in Durham wish that speeding was their biggest problem" line that's been handed out on other occasions.

Probably helped that, of the 30 or so people in attendance, almost everyone raised their hand in response to the "have you had your house broken into in the past year" question. We know what our problems, and our priorities, are.

So, Officer Bayne, and everyone else at DPD who's working on this issue, thank you.

Labels: ,

Continue reading Really good news

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

How did that happen?

My little sister is a grandma?


Continue reading How did that happen?

Sunday, November 08, 2009



We busted our asses between 04 and 08 to get a solid Democratic majority in the NC Congressional delegation.

I hope Larry Kissell remembers how much money he raised for his two campaigns from progressives all across the state when he tries to figure out how to replace it in his re-election campaign next year.

And don't get me started on Democrats who voted for the Stupak "Women are second-class citizens" amendment. Fuck Heath Shuler and Bobby Etheridge.

Labels: ,

Continue reading Democrats

A couple more words about Troika

D-Town Brass!

Holy moley are these guys amazing. Brecker Brothers meet Sun Ra with a side of Liquid Liquid. Catch 'em now before they move to Hollywood to be the house band for some hipster talk show in the next 12 months.

Continue reading A couple more words about Troika

Friday, November 06, 2009

Two words about Troika

Pink Flag!


Continue reading Two words about Troika

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Deep thought

Greedily is the ugliest word in the English language.


Continue reading Deep thought


Durham's homegrown music festival, Troika, returns for its annual celebration of local music this weekend. Things kick off with a free show at 7 pm at Durham Central Park on Thursday, featuring The Beast, and Megafaun. From there, things expand to venues all across the city for the 3 nights. Festival passes are 20 bucks for access to all shows, or you can go for a single night for 8 bucks. There are also free early shows at West End Wine Bar (my daughter's band Tea & Tempests is playing there Friday night at 7 pm) and late at Bull McCabe's. Click on the link in the sidebar for a full schedule and info on how to pick up your pass and support Durham musicians.

Melissa Thomas of 307 Knox records will be joining me and Kevin on Shooting the Bull tomorrow night, 7:30pm on WXDU, 88.7 FM. Tune in, and you may be able to score a festival pass for free.

Labels: ,

Continue reading Troika!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Election returns

Two years ago, Kevin, Michael, and i were in Alivia's, liveblogging a very exciting municipal election night. Mayor Bill Bell beat back a very strong challenge from former Councilman Thomas Stith, who had received a lot of backing from national right-wing groups; and the at-large race for Council went down to the wire, with just a couple of hundred votes separating Farad Ali and David Harris.

This year?

Not so much. So, with 0% of the vote tallied, and exactly 0 precincts reporting, i'm calling the election for all 4 incumbents.

Have a good night.

Labels: ,

Continue reading Election returns


I had no idea he was still among us until today.


Continue reading Lévi-Strauss

Election pondering

Municipal primary turnout in previous 7 elections:
Date Offices Registered Voted Percentage turnout

10/10/95 Mayor, City Council 92,265 14,272 15.4%
10/7/97 Mayor, City Council 115,326 15,843 13.0%
10/5/99 Mayor/Council 124,740 20,400 16%
10/9/01 Mayor & Council 127,858 15,387 12.03%
10/7/03 Mayor/Council 104,384 16,993 16.28%
10/11/2005 Mayor/Council 118,376 13,103 11.06%
10/09/2007 Durham City Council at Large 121,026 12,875 10.64%

This year's numbers:
10/06/2009 Council Ward I and II 139,980 6,097 4.36%

Couple of things to keep in mind. 2001 and 2005 were Ward primary elections; 2003 and 2007 were at-large primaries. I can't recall which of the ward seats were primaried in previous elections, outside of 2001 when my neighborhood association president finished 2nd in the primary ahead of incumbent Jackie Wagstaff. So it may not be a true apples to apples comparison. Also, that 139,980 registered voter number looks pretty good compared to two years ago, up almost 19,000 voters, or just over 15%.

Unfortunately, that's also down almost 40,000, or about 22%, from last year's number.

Since 1995, general election turnout in off years has increased from the primary turnout by anywhere from 40% to about 100%. Even if this year we end up at the high end of the scale, we're still looking at less than 10% turnout, or about 13,000 voters in the entire city making decisions about our leadership.

Hope you're one of them.


Continue reading Election pondering


Following up on yesterday's brief note about road paving and elections, i received an email from a friend yesterday entitled "Canadian speed control device."

While i doubt that's what's represented in the pictures (note the "Feels Like Pioneer Suspension" text overlaid on the photos), i think they would do the job of getting people to slow the fuck down on our neighborhood streets.

UPDATE: As i suspected.


Continue reading Potholes

Go vote

If you want to bitch about shit in Durham, the least you can do is cast a ballot.


Continue reading Go vote

Monday, November 02, 2009

Election Day

When i was a kid, my dad used to point out to me just how many road paving projects were started (and completed!) in the weeks leading up to Election Day.

Good to know that some things never change.


Continue reading Election Day


I could have been sitting in a jury room in the Federal Courthouse in Winston-Salem today, waiting to see if i was going to be spending a bit of time on a panel. Got a call last week, though, informing me that "the court session for which I was summonsed" had ended without the need for empaneling a jury.

I guess that's good news, for my employer, at least.

Wonder if it had anything to do with this?

(Warning - the comments may make your head explode)


Continue reading Coulda

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Our house

It's a very fine house.


Dr. Axel Mellinger of Central Michigan University gets the credit for assembling this montage of the Milky Way.


Continue reading Our house