Dependable Erection

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Stupidest idea ever

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig appears to be increasingly in favor of proposing more playoff teams during collective bargaining with the union next year, which will determine the postseason format for 2012 and beyond.

“We have less teams than any other sport,” he said last month. “We certainly haven’t abused anything.”

One more mark on the Bud Selig is the evilest man alive tally. If the union goes along with this, Michael Weiner can join him on that list.


Continue reading Stupidest idea ever

Friday, October 22, 2010

Deep thought

The words "standing up to the right wing" and "NPR" really don't belong in the same sentence.


Continue reading Deep thought

Sunday, October 17, 2010


There are some incredibly stupid people in this world.

Don't think these guys are in that subset, though.

Continue reading Deadbeats

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Your best entertainment value

WRAL commenters.


Continue reading Your best entertainment value

A small, but necessary, step in the right direction

From my old stomping grounds. Is this even on our Durham Board of County Commissioners' radar?
Suffolk County, on the eastern half of Long Island, moved to create the nation's first animal abuse registry this week, requiring people convicted of cruelty to animals to register or face jail time and fines.

"We know there is a very strong correlation between animal abuse and domestic violence," said Suffolk County legislator Jon Cooper, the bill's sponsor. "Almost every serial killer starts out by torturing animals, so in a strange sense we could end up protecting the lives of people."

There's no immediate benefit to Durham County coffers, so i can't see the clown show making an effort in this direction. But don't you think that improving the quality of life in the county will have more long term benefit than shitty development that may very well end up vacant in 15 years?

Suffolk county also, about 5 years ago, responded to the first known cases of rabies in the wild with an aggressive program to eradicate the disease by providing oral vaccines in salt licks in the area where the outbreak occurred. Here in Durham, where rabies is endemic in our raccoon and fox populations, the county's preferred solution is to tell you to avoid contact with wild animals, and where rubber gloves when disposing of any carcasses you find on your property.

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Continue reading A small, but necessary, step in the right direction

80 years

Pretty amazing to think that in 80 years we've gone from this:
Yes, as through this world I've wandered
I've seen lots of funny men;
Some will rob you with a six-gun,
And some with a fountain pen.

And as through your life you travel,
Yes, as through your life you roam,
You won't never see an outlaw
Drive a family from their home.

To this:
CitiMortgage modified D’Amelio’s mortgage but she defaulted anyway. Now she claims that Citi cannot foreclose upon her because Fannie Mae is the owner of her mortgage. Her lawyer argues that the mortgage was improperly assigned to Citi, and is contesting the foreclosure on those grounds.

And that so many people seem to agree with the "throw her out on the street" sentiment is testimony to how successfully the class war has been waged over the past 3 or 4 generations.

Continue reading 80 years

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I confess

I've been way too caught up in what's going on with the sale of Liverpool FC to blog about something so trivial as neighborhood convenience stores conveniently acting as fences for neighborhood thieves.

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Continue reading I confess

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

That screwdriver

That screwdriver that fell out of the back of your pickup is gonna end up costing me about $250.

Just sayin'.

Continue reading That screwdriver

Sunday, October 10, 2010

One of those days

Continue reading One of those days

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Happy Birthday, John

Continue reading Happy Birthday, John

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Random church marquee blogging

I guess Jesus is coming this weekend. On his Segway.


Continue reading Random church marquee blogging

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Walk to School Day

I went out yesterday morning, along with Rob from Bull City Rising, to accompany these young folks on their daily walk to Club Blvd. Elementary school. I wanted to follow this route in particular because of the special significance it holds for me: 17 years ago, my then 8 year old daughter was attending Club Blvd. school, and we attempted to have her walk along this route. At the time the city and county districts had not yet completed their merger, so Club was still a neighborhood school for the Northgate Park and Duke Park neighborhoods. It took me all of about 5 minutes of walking down Washington Street to make the determination that there absolutely no pedestrian safeguards, especially to make it possible for a school age child to walk unaccompanied. It didn't take that much longer to determine that Durham Public Schools bus system was unreliable enough that i couldn't simply leave her at the bus stop, and go to work, secure in the knowledge that the bus would actually arrive*. So, i ended up joining the ranks of parents who drive their kids, barely a half mile trip in my case, to elementary school.

So, what's changed in 17 years?

Why, not a blessed thing.

So, as mentioned previously, i met up with Michelle and Tammy and their children, on Englewood Ave. just east of Washington.

Because there are no sidewalks along the east side of Washington, Michelle has gotten her neighbors' permission to cut through their yard.

There's really no need to document the litter along the non-residential portion of Washington. This is Durham, and like anyplace in Durham, people throw their trash wherever they feel like it. Including used condoms. Here, crossing the old Brookline Ave. turnout, which is now, supposedly, a pedestrian trail**, vehicles often duck in for a quick U-turn without checking for pedestrians. In the evening, judging from the detritus in the area, it's a party spot.

You can get a sense from this photo just how wide Washington Street is at this point - almost two full lanes in each direction. This unnecessary width is a major contributing factor to the speeding problem on Washington. It could have been addressed by the city of Durham using a little common sense when drawing up its sidewalk plans for Washington Street. Sidewalks on both sides of the street, into the centerline from the curb, along with striped bike lanes, could have narrowed the road to 12 foot lanes with no problems. Instead, we're going to get a sidewalk along the west side of the street only, out from the curb and into peoples' lawns further south on the street, with no bike lanes currently in the project.***

This is the first notification that anyone driving north on Washington Street has that there's a school nearby, and that there may be students walking in the area. It's about 25 yards south of the intersection. Maybe there are state and federal guidelines as to how far away you're allowed to notify drivers about schoolkids, i don't know. I'm pretty sure, though, that you get them a lot farther away from, say, George Watts school in Trinity Park neighborhood than this.

Doesn't really matter, though, if school zone speed limits are never enforced. There have been several conversations regarding speeding through the Club Blvd. school zone on the PAC2 email list this year. I didn't see any patrol cars in the area yesterday and i don't really recall seeing any enforcement of school zone speed limits during the entire public school careers of my children. Both Brogden Middle and Riverside High had law enforcement officers on foot at the actual entrances directing traffic, and traffic often backed up enough to make speeding impossible, but there are plenty of missed opportunities to remind drivers that pedestrians, especially those on their way to school, need to be respected.


**I want to post one additional photo looking south along the east side of Washington. On the left side of the photo is the trail head for the Brookline trail. Brookline Ave. used to connect Acadia Street with Washington Street. NCDOT claimed it for use as a staging area during the I-85 widening project, and with the new sound wall ald all, it was no longer suitable for vehicle traffic. So it got turned into a trail.

Which, wonderfully, empties out onto Washington Street with no pedestrian amenities or signage indicating that the Ellerbe Creek trail, which leads all the way to downtown, is only 100 yards or so to the west. In fact, if you want to cross over to pick up the trail head at the southwest corner of Club and Washington, you can see that there's a blind curve to your left, and with the 26 foot wide lane at that point, you can be sure that no one coming around that turn is doing less than 40 mph. The other option is to turn right and walk along the east side shoulder to the corner. But since it's unsigned, how would you know to do that?

*If you go into the Herald-Sun archives for, i think, September 1995, there's a front page Section B photo of me and my two daughters sitting on the hood of my truck, taken on the first day of school around 9:30 or 9:45 am, waiting in vain for a school bus that simply never arrived.

***I spent about 2 years as the InterNeighborhood Council representative to the advisory committee that helped steer the development of the Durham Walks! pedestrian plan back in 2005 or so. I was influential in getting the criteria for establishing priority sidewalk projects weighted in such a way that proximity to schools and parks counted more than, say, number of people in a neighborhood requesting sidewalks. My reasoning is that some neighborhoods are better able to organize requests for city services than others, but that this was a subjective factor, whereas proximity to venues used by children was a need regardless of neighborhood activism. specifically, I argued against installing sidewalks on only one side of the street on approaches to schools and parks. In the Washington/club case, putting sidewalks only on the west side of Washington now creates two additional crossings of Washington by people who live on the east side, one of which has to take place mid-block, with no pedestrian safety features at all. It is a recipe for a traffic fatality in the worst case; at best, it creates a pedestrian amenity which will simply not be used.

There are a lot of other reasons why Washington Street should have had a more extensive pedestrian and bike friendly overhaul, which i'll get into at another time. For now, though, the best you can say is that as much as some segments of our city leadership may talk the talk on bike and pedestrian friendliness, when the rubber hits the road, they sure don't walk the walk.


Continue reading Walk to School Day

Froot Loops

Why not tell NC Representative Larry Brown what you think of him by making a donation to Equality NC in his name? For every donation, ENC will send the Rep. a box of Froot Loops.

Don't forget to keep House Minority Leader Paul Stam in your thoughts as well.

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Continue reading Froot Loops

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Notes on noise

From an NY times article on wind turbines producing too much noise:
Maine, along with many other states, puts a general limit on nighttime noise at 45 decibels — roughly equivalent to the sound of a humming refrigerator. A normal conversation is in the range of 50 to 60 decibels.

Emphasis mine.

From the Durham NC Code of Ordinances:
(d) Particular standards established:
(1) In addition to the violations established by subsections (a) and (b) of this section, no person shall cause, produce, or allow any mechanically or electronically produced or amplified sound that: (i) exceeds the levels set out in subsection (d) of this section as such sound is measured at any point beyond the boundary of the property from which the sound emanates, and (ii) is not authorized by a permit issued pursuant to the City Code or state or federal authority; or otherwise exempted from regulation by the exceptions established by subsection (e) of this section;
(2) No nighttime (11:00 p.m.--8:00 a.m.) sound level shall exceed 50 dB(A);
(3) No daytime or evening (after 8:00 a.m.--before 11:00 p.m.) sound level shall exceed 60 dB(A);

Got that?

Durham has a law which states that you can't make any mechanical or amplified sound that is audible beyond the boundary of your property louder than a typical conversation, and at night it can't even be that loud, unless you've got a permit.

Does every car that rattles my windows have a permit for amplified music? Or is this just another feel-good ordinance passed by our elected officials to tell themselves how wonderful the quality of life is here in Durham? Is there any enforcement mechanism for this section of the ordinance?


Continue reading Notes on noise

Words fail

Read this:
In this rural section of Tennessee, Gene Cranick’s home caught on fire. As the Cranicks fled their home, their neighbors alerted the county’s firefighters, who soon arrived at the scene. Yet when the firefighters arrived, they refused to put out the fire, saying that the family failed to pay the annual subscription fee to the fire department. Because the county’s fire services for rural residences is based on household subscription fees, the firefighters, fully equipped to help the Cranicks, stood by and watched as the home burned to the ground:

Now, you can bloviate all you want about conservative values and the Founding Fathers. But i'm pretty sure it was Ben Franklin who put the notion of universal firefighting into action, at a time when most communities had exactly this kind of subscription based firefighting services.

I've joked at times that the current crop of conservatives want to take us back to he 50s, the 1850s that is. The reality is they'd be happy with the 1650s.

For those of you wondering, it appears that no people were injured in this incident, just pets.

Which doesn't make me feel better at all.


Continue reading Words fail

Walk to school day

Today Wednesday is something called International Walk to School Day, which is, i guess, designed to get people thinking about things like childhood obesity, car culture, overprotective parents, and i don't know what all*. Can't find any mention of it on the DPS website, though, and not much on the Durham site either, outside of a 2 year old press release.

I suppose that's a good thing, actually. Probably better to ignore the issue completely than to make a one-day wonder of it. ( does have a link to why you should vote for a $20 million bond for repaving our surface streets, though.)

I'll be walking to school with a neighborhood family later this morning, along the same route that i tried to have my kids walk 17 years ago when i first moved to Durham. We'll see what's changed in that time to make that walk safe.

UPDATE: Three DPS schools have registered events with the Walk To School website: Club, Watts, and Morehead. Curiously, all three are magnets, which means that the bulk of their population lives outside what is normally considered a walk zone, half a mile.

Here's what Club Blvd. officials have to say:
Since we are a magnet school and located next to a large park, we are having the buses drop students off (and requesting car drivers to do the same) on the other side of the park so they can get almost a 1/2 mile walk in on this day. We will have city officials and mascots to greet students as well as fresh fruit and water. This is the start of many events and changes in the school to encourage more biking and walking.

For starters, they could be pushing the city to put sidewalks on both sides of Washington Street, and use the sidewalks to reduce the 25 feet per lane width of that road, stripe some bike lanes, and urge the police to enforce the speed limit and observe the pedestrian right of way in crosswalk laws of the state.


*Do i get bonus points for the stealth Andy Griffith reference?


Continue reading Walk to school day

Monday, October 04, 2010

Deep thought

Outside of Saudia Arabia or Iran, is there another country in the world besides the US where a fucking moron like Jim DeMint could hold a position of influence and power?


Continue reading Deep thought

Nice pre-emptive touch

"Unless, like al-Qaida, you feel there's something abnormal about the American people, what these data say is, 'This is normal — everything in there is normal.'"

That's Dr. Denniss Fortenberry of Indiana University's Center for Sexual Health Promotion, one of the lead authors of a new comprehensive survey of the sexual habits of Americans, heading off criticism from the American right-wing by implicitly linking those who are afraid of sex to terrorists.

Well played, Fortenberry. Well played.

Continue reading Nice pre-emptive touch

Sunday, October 03, 2010

A sock and a sock and a shoe and a shoe

Thought about this today, for some reason.


Continue reading A sock and a sock and a shoe and a shoe