Dependable Erection

Saturday, August 28, 2010


You can get a lot of different good beers in Asheville.

Including Fullsteam Rocket Science IPA at the Thirsty Monk, if you're missing Durham.


Continue reading Travellin'

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Two news helicopters circling overhead very near my house. Wonder what's going on?

UPDATE: Ah, WTVD tells me that southbound I-85 is closed due to a wreck. Can't imagine that anyone would have been speeding on that stretch of road.

Durham, N.C. — All southbound lanes of Interstate 85 are closed in Durham at Duke Street due to a wreck, the state Department of Transportation said.

The closure began at about 5:25 p.m. and was expected to last until about 7:30 p.m.

Police have said that the wreck involves a tractor trailer and multiple cars.

Traffic was at a standstill, backing up from milemarker 176. Authorities advised drivers to avoid the area if possible.

Looking at the traffic cams, it appears that traffic is backed up beyond the 70/I-85 split southbound within the first half hour of the wreck. If it takes another two hours before the lanes are opened, how long will it take to clear the jam? Can't believe my queueing theory skills have deserted me?

Continue reading Choppers

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What I missed

A minor accident cut us off from the intertubes and cable TV for about 36 hours at the Dependable Ranch yesterday.

So i missed this last night.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
The Parent Company Trap
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Continue reading What I missed

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The kids are alright

Tea & Tempests shows off their new 4 piece configuration tonight at Pinhook. It's an early show for you working people - doors at 6, music sometime around 7. Greensboro's Secret Message Machine, and Run On Sentence from Portland, OR round out the bill.


Continue reading The kids are alright

Friday, August 20, 2010

Here's a thing

You probably saw earlier this week a new poll suggesting that 18% of the American people think that President Obama is Muslim, which prompted all sorts of people to weigh in with their take, and the White House to issue a statement that the President is not only a Christian, but prays daily.

So, what do you think the reaction will be now that we know that nearly 60% of the American people oppose the war in Afghanistan?


Continue reading Here's a thing

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Dear Sarah Palin

I understand you'd like to hold an office someday for which you'd be required to raise your right hand and swear an oath to uphold the Constitution.

Perhaps you ought to familiarize yourself with it first.
"Dr.Laura:don't retreat...reload! (Steps aside bc her 1st Amend.rights ceased 2exist thx 2activists trying 2silence"isn't American,not fair"),"

Dr. Laura's First Amendment rights no more ceased to exist than did Dan Rather's or Phil Donohue's when they lost their shows. First Amendment guarantees the freedom of speech; it doesn't guarantee the right to host a radio program. Her sponsors and employers made a decision not to renew her contract. From what i've read about Randian and libertarian philosophy, the contract is the "sacred document." It's an agreement between two parties to conduct a specific business.

That agreement no longer exists. Dr. Laura remains free to spew whatever nonsense finds its way between her brain and her tongue.

It's amazing that in the same week Palin can propose denying a religious group their First Amendment rights, while conferring non-existent rights on a private celebrity.

And she wants to be president?


Continue reading Dear Sarah Palin

Bestest comment ever

Seen today at TPM:
If the protesters don't want a mega-mosque on the sacred grounds of the World Trade Center, would they compromise and be agreeable to a community center in a vacant, former Burlington Coat Factory retail store?

Continue reading Bestest comment ever

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Dear Dr. Laura

I'd like you to meet my friend, Dan Rather.

Continue reading Dear Dr. Laura

Monday, August 16, 2010

Harry Reid grows a pair and stands up for the Constitution

In a forceful statement, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, today announced his support for upholding the first amendment's guarantees of religious freedom. "It's not a matter for political discussion where anyone chooses to build a house of worship," the Senator, who has a slight lead in the polls for his re-election campaign, said today. "As long as local building and zoning codes are respected, the government has no business poking its head into that conversation."


That was Bizarro Harry Reid who said that?


Our Harry Reid:
"The First Amendment protects freedom of religion. Senator Reid respects that but thinks that the mosque should be built some place else," said a statement from Reid spokesman Jim Manley.

Pretty soon Press Secretary Gibbs will issue a statement blaming more of President Obama's problems on the professional left.

Labels: ,

Continue reading Harry Reid grows a pair and stands up for the Constitution

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Deep thought

Now that we're going to have the awesomest new Total Streets mixed use development down in th south end of the county generating all kinds of new tax revenues, maybe our County Commissioners will fund the Animal Control Department at a level that will allow them to respond to roaming dog packs before 8:30 am and after 5:30 pm, and on weekends.

Oh, who am i kidding? Providing basic services doesn't seem to be part of the BoCC's world view.


Continue reading Deep thought

Friday, August 13, 2010


Opens today with a series of private parties for friends, families, investors, and kewl kids during the afternoon, and to the general public at 6:14 pm. There's something significant about that time; perhaps Quentin Tarantino will use it in his next flick.

Durham faves Wigg Report take the stage at 7 or so.

Drink up.

UPDATE: Sean posts that the bar pushed through 17 kegs last night. By my count that's a bit more than 2000 pints, accounting for some spillage.

Not a bad 1st night, i would think.

Labels: ,

Continue reading Fullsteam!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Work in progress

h/t to County Attorney Lowell "Encyclopedia Brown" Siler who helpfully pointed out at Monday's BoCC meeting that while Southern Durham Development's actions in the 751 South rezoning case may not have passed the smell test, they were legal. Since the BoCC feed on local cable is not hi def, i couldn't be sure if he was smirking when he said it.

UPDATE: And this.

Continue reading Work in progress

Not an instruction manual

I remember being on the radio back in 2002 or so, and in conversation with a caller saying something like "When Orwell wrote 1984, it was a warning, not an instruction manual."

But these guys take doublethink to a whole new level.

Tuesday, Reps. Peter King (R-NY) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) called Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf -- best known for his work with multicultural Cordoba Initiative to build a mosque and community center in Lower Manhattan -- a "radical" and criticized the Obama Administration for including him on a Middle East speaking tour. That tour, which includes stops in Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, is designed by the public diplomacy office to explain to Muslims abroad what it's like to be a Muslim in America.

. . .

If one were to hearken back to the halcyon days of the Bush Administration, one would remember that, when Bush adviser Karen Hughes was appointed Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy, the Bush Administration saw improving America's standing among Muslims abroad as a part of its national security strategy. And, as such, Hughes set up listening tours, attended meetings and worked with interfaith groups that -- shocking, by today's Republican standards -- included actual Muslims.

One of those people was Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf.

Contemporary press accounts indicate that Rauf and Hughes were part of the February 2006 U.S.-Islamic World Forum in Doha, Qatar. He was part of a delegation that met with her in March 2006 and held a joint press conference. A letter to then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in November 2007 indicates that contacts with Hughes and Under Secretary for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns had continued apace.

Fortunately, as a member of the professional left, i'm allowed to notice.

Labels: ,

Continue reading Not an instruction manual

Go Speed Racer, Go!

A Swedish man has been handed what is believed to be the world's largest speeding fine, which is expected to cost him £650,000.

The 37-year-old man was driving at two and a half times the speed limit in his £140,000 Mercedes when he was pulled over by traffic police in Switzerland.

They said he was traveling so fast it took him some distance to stop.

The motorist was traveling faster than any other person to be caught speeding in the country, according to prosecutors.

In Switzerland, speeding fines are calculated using a formula that takes into consideration on the income of the motorist and the severity of the speed.

The article goes on to note that most of the radar guns that the police have were not even capable of recording the actual speed of the car, which was eventually clocked at 186 mph. It doesn't say whether or not the driver grew up in Durham, but it does note that he claimed that typical North Carolina speeding excuse: "I think the speedo on the car, which is new, is faulty."


Continue reading Go Speed Racer, Go!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Pass the popcorn

Durham County Attorney Lowell Siler may have concluded that the state Department of Transportation had no authority to un-accept a land donation from a Durham, but NCDOT is sticking by its guns, so to speak.

Even if the business goes to court, DOT spokeswoman Greer Beaty said this afternoon.

"We stand behind our actions," she said. "We took legal action we had the authority to take."

Perhaps K&L Gates, which apparently provided County Attorney Lowell "Encyclopedia Brown" Siler with the legal advice he needed to reach his conclusion, will pick up the county's court costs?

The only good thing that's going to come out of this clusterfuck is a clean slate on the Board of County Commissioners. Too bad that can't happen till 2012.

Labels: ,

Continue reading Pass the popcorn

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

More on Siler

Samiha's doing her homework over at the Indy:
Before presenting his legal opinion (PDF) Monday night that the N.C. DOT didn't follow the proper procedure in abandoning a piece of land, Durham County Attorney Lowell Siler consulted five law experts on their opinions in the matter.

. . .

The input sent to Siler's office during the past two weeks was divided, and of the five lawyers and legal experts, only one was an apparently uninterested party: Charles Szypszak, a retired professor from the UNC School of Government, who provided a one-paragraph opinion stating he was "reluctant to conclude that the state's revocation was ineffective."

The others Siler consulted with included the State AG's office, an attorney representing some of the opponents to the rezoning application, and two others, including the ubiquitous Patrick Byker, who represent various members of the development team.

I'm not sure i agree with Samiha's description of the AG's office as an interested party, but that's a minor quibble. Read the whole piece.


Continue reading More on Siler

Deep thought

Civility is overrated.


Continue reading Deep thought

Number one reason to live in Durham

"It may not pass the smell test, but it's legal." - County Attorney Lowell "Encyclopedia Brown" Siler, at the Durham BoCC meeting, 8/9/10.

Nice to know we've set the bar so high.

Labels: , ,

Continue reading Number one reason to live in Durham

Monday, August 09, 2010

Liveblogging the County Commissioners!

Oh, who am i kidding. Page's bullshit about not granting the delay request is enough to push my blood pressure into the danger zone.

Hey Mr. Chair - this process has gone on for two years. If you haven't heard enough to make a decision yet, maybe public service isn't your calling.

UPDATE: Brenda Howerton just lost whatever respect I may have had for her.

UPDATE: Hey Commissioner Bowser - the last speaker was referring to the bending of the rules when the watershed boundary protest petition was ruled invalid for your vote, then ruled valid later, and your vote was allowed to stand. That's a violation of the standards set forth in the UDO. So get off your high horse and do your job.

UPDATE: Nope, didn't see that coming.

UPDATE: Chairman Page might want to look at a map when he gets home. He might find that China and India are two different countries.


Continue reading Liveblogging the County Commissioners!

Is that Lowell Siler I hear giving his opinion about the NCDOT revocation?

Actually, no, it's not. Two weeks after saying his office needed two days to review, and a whole weekend after receiving the state AG's decision on the validity of the easement revocation, County Attorney Lowell "Encyclopedia Brown" Siler is still silent on whether NCDOT's revocation of an easement given by Southern Durham Development is valid or not. The validity of the revocation is directly proportional to the validity of a protest petition filed against a rezoning request by SDD - if the revocation is valid, the petition is valid, and SDD looks set to come up one vote short for their rezoning request. If the revocation is invalid, then so is the petition, and SDD will probably have enough votes at the Board of County Commissioners. Add to the mix is that Planning Department Director Steve Medlin is the official who actually makes the call on the validity of the petition, and he is not obligated to follow Siler's opinion. A correspondent informs me that as of 4 pm today, Medlin had still not heard from Siler.

Gee, i wonder how this will play out?

Labels: , , ,

Continue reading Is that Lowell Siler I hear giving his opinion about the NCDOT revocation?

751 decision tonight? Billboards on the agenda?

Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey's Greatest Show on Earth Durham Board of County Commissioners meets tonight with two, count 'em two, pressing issues on the agenda, although one might get dropped.

First up, a continuation of the hearing begun 2 weeks ago regarding the rezoning application for the proposed 751 South development project down near Jordan Lake. Since we last checked in with the Commissioners, County Attorney Lowell "Encyclopedia Brown" Siler has received his answer from the NC Attorney General's office regarding the legal grounds the state believes it has to revoke the NCDOT's acceptance of a land easement from the developer, Southern Durham Development, Inc. The 41 foot wide strip of land was just wide enough to push the boundaries of the property far enough away from that of many of the signatories to a protest petition against the rezoning, which would have had the effect of invalidating the petition.

Of interest to note in this process is that one of SDD's attorneys, Patrick Byker of Keystone Kops law firm K&L Gates, was quoted by NCDOT officials who originally accepted the easement as saying the gift was made to "show good faith." Byker's client, Alex Mitchell, was subsequently quoted by area reporters as saying the easement was given specifically to invalidate the petition. It's precisely this action by Byker that has a number of local residents, according to some rumors we're hearing, considering filing complaints with the NC Bar Association. Stay tuned for developments on that, which i'm sure will be lots of fun if they turn out to be true.

Anyway, it's up to Siler to render an opinion on whether or not NCDOT's revocation of the easement passes muster. Planning Department Director Steve Medlin can then accept Siler's reasoning or, as i understand it, issue an independent judgment on the validity of the protest petition. Either way, expect to hear from one or the other party tomorrow night that further legal action is being prepared.

Also on the agenda, maybe, is the proposed amendments to Durham's Uniform Development Ordinance to make billboards legal again, and invite new hi tech digital billboards into the county. Fresh on their stinging 7-0 rebuke at the hands of the City Council last Monday, though, Fairway Outdoor Advertising and their attorney, Patrick Byker of K&L Gates (dejá vu, anyone?) have asked for a one month delay in having the BoCC consider the billboard issue. Byker was quoted by local media as saying the request was based out of concern for the Commissioners having to deal with too many difficult issues in one night.

I give about as much credence to that as i do to his statement about "showing good faith" with NCDOT, to be honest.

The fun and games kick off at 7 pm at the County Commissioners chambers in the Old Courthouse, 200 East Main.

Or you can stay home, make a big bucket of popcorn, and watch proceedings on Time Warner Cable channel 8. Let's hope Chair Michael Page watched Mayor Bill Bell manage the billboard issue at last week's Council meeting. Another fiasco like the BoCC's meeting two weeks ago and Durham might start to develop a reputation, if you know what i mean.

Get all the background you need from Samiha Khanna at the Indy's Triangulator blog; Jim Wise at the N&O's Bull's Eye blog; Ray Gronberg at the Herald Sun; and Kevin and Rob at BCR. Search on 751 or billboards when you get to their sites.

Labels: , , , ,

Continue reading 751 decision tonight? Billboards on the agenda?

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Remember when?

Remember when County Commissioner Joe Bowser called NCDOT's rejection of SDD's easement a "prank" and suggested that it didn't count because they weren't elected?

Good times.


Continue reading Remember when?

Friday, August 06, 2010

Ark of the Covenant located at last!

Samiha at the Indy reports that W. Richard Moore at the NC Attorney General's office has given Boy Detective Encyclopedia Brown County Attorney Lowell Siler a letter outlining the state's authority to reject Southern Durham Development's gift of an easement along NC 751.

The easement would have invalidated a protest petition filed against a rezoning request by moving the boundary of the land more than 100 feet from a number of signatories on the petition. By rejecting the easement, the state seeks to step away from Durham's internal processes and allow the case to be decided by current law. I imagine that Siler will have a busy weekend looking for holes in the State's document.

Keystone Kops Law Firm K&L Gates attorney Patrick Byker, representing SDD has threatened to sue the state if they give the land back. That ought to be amusing.

I swear, you can't buy entertainment like this at any price.

Labels: , ,

Continue reading Ark of the Covenant located at last!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

The dog ate my homework

The Indy and BCR are reporting that Keystone Kops Law Firm K&L Gates, attorneys for Fairway Outdoor Advertising, are requesting a postponement of Monday's scheduled public hearing and vote by the BoCC on Fairway's billboard rezoning request. The postponement request comes on the heels of Fairway's loss at the City Council on Monday night.

The Indy sez that Byker has concern's about the BoCC's ability to manage two contentious issues in one night.
The reason for the request is to relieve county commissioners of having to deal with two very contentious issues—changes to the billboard ordinance, and a rezoning case that would allow a controversial development—on the same night, he said. Both are scheduled for public hearings during Monday's meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. A meeting just about that controversial development, 751 South, pushed past midnight two weeks ago.

"I don't think it's fair to county commissioners to have to deal with both on the same night," Byker said. He indicated there was no other reason for asking for the delay, including any benefit to the firm itself, by giving it more time to prepare.

This, of course, is the same Patrick Byker who told NCDOT that his other client, SDD, Inc., was giving a 41 foot wide strip of land as an easement to the highway people to "show good faith," while his client was telling newspaper reporters that the easement was created specifically to invalidate a protest petition that could very well derail the rezoning SDD needs for the project.

Given that, we can assume that Mr. Byker probably had other concerns on his mind than the well-being of our County commissioners.

Labels: , ,

Continue reading The dog ate my homework

Brave new world

From a Guardian article on why foreign investors are so keen on purchasing English football teams:
The new Arsenal Media brand reflects the paradigm shift from a traditional television-centric approach to one that is focused on creating broader, multi-platform content and programme formats that can be effectively delivered and reappropriated across different broadcast and media channels," its chief executive, Andrea Radrizzani, said.


In other words, sure you can watch the game on your Droid. Twenty bucks. Buy the whole season for $350.

Where's Guy DeBord when you really need him?

Labels: ,

Continue reading Brave new world

So many lawsuits, so little time

According to Jim Wise at the N&O, K&L Gates attorney Patrick Byker, representing Southern Durham Development, Inc., is threatening to sue the NCDOT if they don't rescind their revocation of their acceptance of the easement that Byker gave them back on July 13 of a 41 foot wide strip of land. NCDOT says that Byker claimed he was giving the easement to the state to "show good faith," but his client was later quoted as saying that the gift was intended to push the boundary of the land far enough away from the folks at the Chancellor's Ridge subdivision that their signatures could no longer be counted on the protest petition that's been filed against this rezoning request.

Reader RH writes to me to say that this very technique was used a decade and a half ago in Chapel Hill to get approval for the Hogan Farm subdivision; before my time, i think, so i'll leave it to you as an exercise in Google to see what happened in that case, and who the attorneys might have been.

But what's Byker going to sue on? He's claiming the revocation is "unlawful." If it is, then i'm sure that Boy Detective Encyclopedia Brown County Attorney Lowell Siler will figure that out in the nick of time before Monday's BoCC meeting, and rule the petition invalid, at least long enough for the commissioners to vote 3-2 in favor of the developer. If Siler can't find the grounds to invalidate the revocation, and lord knows he's spent enough time looking, then Byker's just blowing smoke, and he knows it, and so does NCDOT. A lot of folks i talk to believe that Siler will come up with something around 6:00 pm on Monday night to make the determination that the protest petition is invalid.

That, though, will almost certainly invite a second lawsuit against the county, since, as yoiu may recall, Siler similarly ruled a protest petition invalid last fall, allowing a 3-2 vote to be recorded accepting the new watershed boundary, only later to determine that the petition was in fact valid, but that no new vote needed to be taken.

Will recent history repeat itself Monday night?

My money says yes, but i'm just a cynical old fart with no faith in the goodness of humanity.

Labels: , ,

Continue reading So many lawsuits, so little time

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Rewarding incompetence

Good thing i spent a relaxing day at the beach yesterday, cause something like this could really get my blood pressure up.
Southern Durham Development admittedly attempted to foil a second petition that included Chancellor’s Ridge homeowners last week, by donating land rights to part of its property to the North Carolina Department of Transportation. When the N.C. DOT realized its acceptance of that land would nullify the citizens’ petition on a technicality, the department attempted to revoke its acceptance.

The last-minute maneuver also pushed back, yet again, county commissioners’ attempt to vote on 751 South, an event that has been scheduled and rescheduled since last spring.

On July 26, when commissioners were on the verge of voting, Durham County Attorney Lowell Siler asked them for more time to consider whether the N.C. DOT’s revocation, which was written by lawyers at the attorney general’s office and filed in court, is legally binding.

Siler’s decision is expected Aug. 9, when commissioners meet at 7 p.m. to vote on whether to allow 751 South to go forward—a move that could put the issue to rest, at least for the time being.

Jumping Jesus on a pogo stick, Lowell. You said you needed 48 hours last Monday to make a determination as to whether NCDOT's revocation of the easement passed muster. Indiana Jones found the Ark of the Covenant in less time than it's taken you to try to find a hole in NCDOT's revocation. I mean, what the fuck else could you possibly be looking for, since the attorneys at NCDOT and the state AG's office have vetted this document as valid? Are you sure you're being objective here, or is your office actually being used to try to sway the outcome of these hearings?

If you do find a way to declare that NCDOT's actions don't count, and as a result the opponents' protest petition is invalid, and the rezoning application has enough support on the County Commission to pass, you do realize that your name will be forever linked with shady and dishonest dealings in Durham County lore, right?

But i suppose that, like former County Commissioner Lewis Cheek, there's probably an office with your naming waiting over at K&L Gates.

Labels: , ,

Continue reading Rewarding incompetence

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Deep thought

I watched this movie over the weekend, and i realized that the true miracle of the 20th Century wasn't flight, or moon trips, or splitting the atom, or radio, TV or the internet, or defeating fascism or most other forms of totalitarianism.

No, the true miracle of the 20th Century was that Charles Bukowski became a poet, and not a serial killer.


Continue reading Deep thought

7-0 baby

Just back from a quick 2 day trip to Wrightsville Beach (see last week's series of kvetches about and i hear our City Council unanimously rejected Fairway Outdoor Advertising and K&L Gates request to amend Durham zoning regs to allow some of them newfangled 60 foot digital TVs on our highways.

Here's the thing that caught my eye, from Ray's piece in the Herald-Sun:
"Honestly, we came to Durham first because we thought Durham was the most open-minded and progressive city" in the Triangle, said Paul Hickman, Fairway's area general manager.

The word progressive also came up a lot in last week's presentation to the County Commissioners, also stage managed by K&L Gates on behalf of their client Southern Durham Development, Inc., for a rezoning application for the 751 South (nee 751 Assemblage) development.

So in addition to the pattern here, i'm wondering just who is defining "progressive" here, and why are we letting them do that?

More thoughts about what might constitute "progressive" in Durham later this week, after i soothe my sunburn.

Labels: , ,

Continue reading 7-0 baby