Dependable Erection

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Water main breaks

Gotta love this.
The Durham County Administrative Building is closed Tuesday, November 30, 2010 due to a water main breakage in downtown Durham.

If you're on Facebook, and you follow DurhamNC, you get this additional tidbit:
Building at 200 E. Main St is still closed. Taxpayers with bills due today can go to Tax Kiosk at Northgate Mall & pay by credit card or cash.

What's that you say? You don't have a car? You walked over to the County building? Well, there goes your afternoon, huh? I suspect that those on Facebook can figure out how to pay their tax bill online. It's the ones who aren't who are going to need that info about Northgate.

Let's not even get started on how many jobs we could be creating with a real stimulus program that started upgrading our century old infrastructure.


Continue reading Water main breaks

Monday, November 29, 2010

Headline of the day



Continue reading Headline of the day

The path to our sustainable future

Green parking decks surely ain't it.
The seven-level, $40 million deck, which opened at the beginning of the year, is not just green philosophically. It’s green, literally.

The garage’s three entrances feature “green walls,” tufts of vertically growing euonymus shrubs kept vibrant by a built-in drip-irrigation system.

The walls help to reduce “reflexive heat, the warmth that bounces off buildings,” Willis said.

And although its specific sustainability benefits aren’t great, acknowledged Paul Manning, director of project management, “it softens the whole feeling of a parking garage and it does have an aesthetic benefit. It’s a lot better than a big neon sign saying ‘entrance.’”

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RIP Leslie Nielsen

The boy scout line is probably the funniest thing ever.


Continue reading RIP Leslie Nielsen

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Go whoever is playing the Cowboys.

Continue reading Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"I was not a jealous boyfriend"

Give him his gun back and send him home.
According to the police report, a security guard reported the man, Rep. Tom Hackbarth, after he saw him get out of a pickup truck in the parking lot with a loaded gun in a hip holster. The guard saw him walk into an alley near the clinic.

When police came, they handcuffed him and took his gun, which he has a concealed carry permit for. Hackbarth claimed he didn't realize he was in the Planned Parenthood parking lot, according to the police report. He said he was in the neighborhood looking for his girlfriend, a woman he said he had met online a few months before and had been on a couple dates with.

Police have not been able to track down the mystery woman. Hackbarth said he didn't have her phone number or address, as he only communicated with her via an online dating site. He also told police he didn't remember the name of the site.

Hackbarth later told the Star Tribune that he had had coffee with the woman the day before and asked her out to dinner. She declined, saying she had plans with a female friend in the Highland Park, the neighborhood around the Planned Parenthood clinic.

But he didn't believe her.

"She gave me some line of baloney, and I thought, 'well, she's fibbing to me.' You could tell, and I thought, 'well, I'm going to check it out.' and I went there to see if she was around and her vehicle was not there. And I was just checking on her," he told the local CBS affiliate.

According to the Tribune, he thought she was with another man and wanted to look around the neighborhood for her car. He didn't find it.

"I was not a jealous boyfriend," he said. "I was just trying to check up on her. It's totally a misunderstanding."

Police found maps, binoculars and more ammunition in his truck. They did not press charges, and returned Hackbarth's gun to him a week later.

Creepiest shit ever. Guy goes out stalking a woman who he's had a couple of cups of coffee with, with a loaded gun, and he gets to keep his job.

As a legislator.

When did i move to Bizarro World?


Continue reading "I was not a jealous boyfriend"

Friday, November 19, 2010

Once in a blue moon

You've really got to be a geek to find this fascinating:
On the almanac page for August 1937, the calendrical meaning for the term "blue moon" was given.

That explanation said that the moon "... usually comes full twelve times in a year, three times for each season."

Occasionally, however, there will come a year when there are 13 full moons during a year, not the usual 12. The almanac explanation continued:

"This was considered a very unfortunate circumstance, especially by the monks who had charge of the calendar of thirteen months for that year, and it upset the regular arrangement of church festivals. For this reason thirteen came to be considered an unlucky number."

And with that extra full moon, it also meant that one of the four seasons would contain four full moons instead of the usual three.

"There are seven Blue Moons in a Lunar Cycle of nineteen years," continued the almanac, ending on the comment that, "In olden times the almanac makers had much difficulty calculating the occurrence of the Blue Moon and this uncertainty gave rise to the expression 'Once in a Blue Moon.'"

Not sure i buy the reasoning that 13 became unlucky because it upset the "regular arrangement of church festivals," but there may be some evidence that the extra 13th moon is at the root of the number 13's significance. But let's leave that aside for the moment. The article goes on to precisely note the introduction into the culture of the now common belief that the blue moon is, in fact, the second full moon of a calendar month. It cites specifically a radio broadcast of a program called Star Date, from January 31, 1980, which in turn cited another Sky & Telescope article from 1946 misinterpreting the previous article referenced above.

I remember that Star Date episode - i was volunteering at the time at a college radio station that aired the program twice daily. And i pocketed that little tidbit of knowledge. And somehow i just assumed that it was something that calendar makers had been doing since the days of the Julian calendar or so, that is, denoting the occasional second full moon of a month by showing it in blue.

But that is apparently not the case. And so, in a season of 4 full moons, which happens 7 times every 19 years, the third full moon is the one which should receive the designation "blue." And since the September full moon occurred after the equinox, and the December full moon will occur slightly before the winter solstice, that makes the November full moon the third of this autumn.

Color it blue.


Continue reading Once in a blue moon

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Paging Heath Shuler

Western North Carolina's conservative Democratic representative is trying to make a name for himself by attacking the liberal House leadership of his party.

Dude, here's a much better target for you. Do something with it if you really care about your constituents and your party.
Harris spent months condemning the idea of Americans being entitled to taxpayer-subsidized health care coverage. Now that the election's over, Harris suddenly feels entitled to taxpayer-subsidized health care coverage -- and wants it immediately. (For the record, Harris and his family will probably rely on COBRA to stay insured until his coverage kicks in. COBRA, of course, is another government program that the right opposed.)

That Harris apparently sought a public option for him and his family just makes the whole story that much more hilarious.

Just to clarify, I don't actually blame the far-right congressman-elect. He wants coverage for him and his family, and doesn't want to have to worry about a 28-day gap in which he, his wife, and his kids would have no protections if they get sick.

I do, however, blame the far-right congressman-elect for failing to realize that millions of American families want the same peace of mind he's seeking.

Harris wants to know "what he would do without 28 days of health care"? I don't know, Andy, what have tens of millions of Americans, including millions of children, done without access to quality health care for years? Why are you entitled to government-subsidized health care, but they're not? What will those families do after you repeal the Affordable Care Act? Wait for tort reform to magically cover everyone?

What an embarrassment.

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Continue reading Paging Heath Shuler

Monday, November 15, 2010

Expanding the commercial district

I was walking downtown for dinner the other night with Mrs. D. Our walk takes us past the two currently vacant properties on Markham near Mangum. One is currently available through Preservation Durham; not sure what the status of the other is, though i keep hearing rumors that someone has plans for it.

PD touts the potential of their property to be restored to single family housing. At around 50 bucks a square foot, that's probably doable, though it
s been available for most of the year, so it might still need to come down again.

From my perspective, though, a neighborhood commercial use for these buildings is even more desirable. I'm thinking of a Four Square type restaurant, or perhaps a law office. Of course, the city has got to do a couple of things on that block no matter what's going to happen to those buildings. For starters, the plastic Rhino wall on the curve as you go from Markham to southbound Mangum has got to go. That was a temporary installation that was supposed to last a year or two until the city got around to the permanent modifications for that intersection. 2011 will mark the wall's 8th anniversary.

Enforcing city codes at the other 2 buildings on the block, including the apartment building that was the site of a multiple homicide a few years back at the SW Roxboro/Markham corner shouldn't be that difficult. Multiple city administrators and elected officials drive past those buildings every day on their way to city hall. You'd think someone would be paying attention to the state of that intersection. The only explanation i can come up with is that it's so dangerous to drive through there, and people are going so fast, that they don't have the cognitive ability to pay attention to much more than the car in front of them.

That's why i was so thrilled the other night to see someone with entrepreneurial spirit taking notice of this corner. On our way back from dinner, around 7:45 or so on Saturday night, i was solicited for a sexual encounter by a woman working the street. while i was walking by with my wife.

The only thing that would make this any better would be to buy the woman a T-shirt that reads "Great Things Are Happening in Durham" and let her solicit those out-of-towners who are driving through to the DPAC to see Billy Elliott. That would give them the full Durham experience.

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Circle of Life

So i spent the bulk of Sunday in the car, 11 hours driving to the DC suburbs and back to spend a few last minutes with a dying friend.

Pancreatic cancer is pretty merciless. Three weeks ago Esther finally got to visit Asheville for the first time, weakened but still able to appreciate the sights and sounds. Yesterday she was simply heavily sedated, never quite rising to consciousness.

Riley, her partner for the past 35 or so years, and husband for the past 5, told me that 10 of her 11 grandchildren had been able to visit in the past two weeks to say their goodbyes, and she'd been able to spend time with each of them. Seventy five years is, by most reckonings, a good run. she packed quite a bit into those years, and i remain inspired by her life.

I had my first long conversation with Riley in a decade or more. I got to share photos from my daughter's recent wedding (they met briefly just before she went to Central America for a Peace Corps assignment). And as always, i learned something new about the two of them.

A friend recently posted a picture of her dad in the service on Facebook for Veterans' Day, commenting that he was a lifelong peace activist. I noted that many such people came by their views the hard way, as a result of first hand experience with the military. I knew about Riley's military service, but hadn't realized that Esther also served for two years back in the 50s. So add another data point to that observation.

Riley also took a bit of time to reminisce about a visit back to his home town of Jamestown, in western New York. In the end, as he thought about it, it really hadn't changed quite as much since his childhood in the 1920s as you would expect. The fields and woods near his house that he played in have been developed, for the most part, but the population is really the same as it was 70 years ago. He recalled, as a five year old, the dirt road he lived on being paved for the first time.

And i thought about the 5 year olds in my neighborhood who, 80 years from now, will be able to tell the same story about their Durham streets being paved for the first time in 2011.

Continue reading Circle of Life

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Continue reading Silence

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Deep thought

You know, in a way i'm kinda glad that North Carolina rejected Erskine Bowles as our Senator.



Continue reading Deep thought

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Livable streets

Great, informative video from Streetsblog via KdN.


Continue reading Livable streets

Monday, November 08, 2010

Another attorney who doesn't understand the Constitution

The attorney for Andrew Shirvell, the assistant attorney general under fire for his attacks on a University of Michigan student, says his client has been fired.

A hearing that was supposed to be held Tuesday was moved up to this afternoon. Philip Thomas said he showed up for the meeting and was read one sentence.

“They said essentially that as a result of Andrew’s conduct, it’s become impossible for him to carry out his duties as an attorney general.”

Shirvell had been criticized for his blog in which he calls Chris Armstrong, the president of the Michigan Student Assembly, a radical homosexual, a Nazi and Satan’s representative on the assembly. Thomas had said his client is expressing his free-speech rights.

Nobody is saying that Andrew Shirvell, who appears to be a nut job of the first rank, cannot continue to publish his blog. His free speech rights are not being denied.

What the people of the state have Michigan have determined, though, is that someone who publishes a blog dedicated to harassing "Satan's representative" on the Michigan Student Assembly is no longer able to credibly oversee criminal prosecutions in a court of law. Shirvell may have some civil service protections, and i'd bet money that a law suit alleging wrongful termination will be filed this fall. And a job offer from Fox.

That ought to be fun.

UPDATE: This is worth watching.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Look Who's Stalking
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity

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Continue reading Another attorney who doesn't understand the Constitution

The rich? Still different

My friend JH posted this via Facebook. What you have is a guy in a car hitting a guy on a bike, driving away, and leaving the victim for dead. Then it gets interesting.
Milo was bicycling eastbound on Highway 6 just east of Miller Ranch Road, when Erzinger allegedly hit him with the black 2010 Mercedes Benz sedan he was driving. Erzinger fled the scene and was arrested later, police say.

Erzinger allegedly veered onto the side of the road and hit Milo from behind. Milo was thrown to the pavement, while Erzinger struck a culvert and kept driving, according to court documents.

Erzinger drove all the way through Avon, the town's roundabouts, under I-70 and stopped in the Pizza Hut parking lot where he called the Mercedes auto assistance service to report damage to his vehicle, and asked that his car be towed, records show. He did not ask for law enforcement assistance, according to court records.

Erzinger told police he was unaware he had hit Milo, court documents say.

When Avon police arrived he was putting a broken side mirror and a bumper in his trunk, court record say.

Meanwhile another motorist, Steven Lay of Eagle, stopped to help Milo and called 911.

Court records say prosecutors expressed skepticism to Milo at a suggestion by Erzinger's defense attorneys that Erzinger might have unknowingly suffered from sleep apnea, and that might have made him caused him to fall asleep at the wheel and hit Milo.

Pretty straight forward so far. Erzinger is the driver, Milo the guy on the bike. Erzinger doesn't deny hitting Milo, but claimed to be "unaware" of the incident. His lawyer suggested perhaps "sleep apnea" was to blame, but also does not contest that his client was driving the car that struck the bicyclist.

A little background about the victim:
Milo suffered spinal cord injuries, bleeding from his brain and damage to his knee and scapula, according to court documents. Over the past six weeks he has suffered “disabling” spinal headaches and faces multiple surgeries for a herniated disc and plastic surgery to fix the scars he suffered in the accident.

“He will have lifetime pain,” Haddon wrote. “His ability to deal with the physical challenges of his profession — liver transplant surgery — has been seriously jeopardized.”

And some about the accused:
Erzinger, an Arrowhead homeowner, is a director in private wealth management at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney in Denver. His biography on states that Erzinger is “dedicated to ultra high net worth individuals, their families and foundations.”

Erzinger manages more than $1 billion in assets. He would have to publicly disclose any felony charge within 30 days, according to North American Securities Dealers regulations.

You can tell where this is going, right?
A financial manager for wealthy clients will not face felony charges for a hit-and-run because it could jeopardize his job, prosecutors said Thursday.

Martin Joel Erzinger, 52, faces two misdemeanor traffic charges stemming from a July 3 incident when he allegedly hit bicyclist Dr. Steven Milo from behind then sped away, according to court documents.

Milo and his attorney, Harold Haddon, are livid about the prosecution's decision to drop the felony charge. They filed their objection Wednesday afternoon, the day after prosecutors notified Haddon's office by fax of their decision.

. . .

Milo wrote in a letter to District Attorney Mark Hurlbert that the case “has always been about responsibility, not money.”

“Mr. Erzinger struck me, fled and left me for dead on the highway,” Milo wrote. “Neither his financial prominence nor my financial situation should be factors in your prosecution of this case.”

Hurlbert said Thursday that, in part, this case is about the money.

“The money has never been a priority for them. It is for us,” Hurlbert said. “Justice in this case includes restitution and the ability to pay it.”

Hurlbert said Erzinger is willing to take responsibility and pay restitution.

“Felony convictions have some pretty serious job implications for someone in Mr. Erzinger's profession, and that entered into it,” Hurlbert said. “When you're talking about restitution, you don't want to take away his ability to pay.”

“We have talked with Mr. Haddon and we had their objections, but ultimately it's our call,” Hurlbert said.

Dropping the felony charge is not a revelation, Hurlbert said.

“We had been talking with them about this misdemeanor disposition for a while now,” Hurlbert said. “The misdemeanor charges really are what he did.”


Hit and run is a misdemeanor?

Not if the accident results in "serious bodily injury to any person."

How often do you hear a public servant drop the bullshit and say, flat out, this guy is being treated differently because he's rich?

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Continue reading The rich? Still different

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Brilliant rant

From First Draft:
We can fucking count, out here. We know what 51 means. We know what 257 means. We're not morons. And all the procedural whatsit you argue today, about ConservaDems and Blue Dogs, doesn't mean shit. You had it, and we worked hard to give it to you, and we see you calling things impossible which are just very hard, and we get fucking annoyed, because we don't get to get away with that shit. Not at our jobs and not in our lives.

Now, I'm not excusing the Party of I Hate You or these teabagging excuses for human beings who think education is vaguely homosexual in some sinister way, but I am saying that the lesson we're all going to take away from this is that America just isn't a Democratic nation and we should all tack to the right and us hippies should just die in a fire already, which is bullshit. The lesson we should take away from this is that America doesn't like pussies, doesn't like whiners and it sure as fuck doesn't like parties that pretend to be able to do less than they can do just because they don't want to work that hard or have Chris Matthews call them mean.

You had majorities. You had power and you told us you were powerless. Why would anyone reward that with more power? Why would anyone think that's a good idea?


Continue reading Brilliant rant

Wednesday, November 03, 2010


A quick look at some Durham numbers from the BoE.

Registered voters:
2006 Midterms - 143,450
2008 Presidential - 178,500
2010 Midterms - 166,061

Ballots cast:
2006 Midterms - 56,213
2008 Presidential - 137,358
2010 Midterms - 78,870

% Turnout:
2006 Midterms - 39.2%
2008 Presidential - 76.9%
2010 Midterms - 47.5%

Some key precincts the past 3 elections:
Precinct 5, Patterson Rec Center (registered voters, % turnout)
2006 - 3,034 25%
2008 - 5,105 62%
2010 - 4,196 16%

Precinct 22, VFW Post 2740
2006 - 3,548 25%
2008 - 4,509 73%
2010 - 4,182 39.7%

Precinct 23, The River Church
2006 - 3,945 39.9%
2008 - 5,056 73%
2010 - 4,891 51%

Precinct 43, Forest View Elementary
2006 - 5,105 52%
2008 - 5,894 79%
2010 - 5,515 56%

Precinct 35, Parkwood Fire House/South Point Village*
2006 - 5,831 48%
2008 - 6,470 88%
2010 - 6,741 56.6%

Demographics for Durham's different precincts can be downloaded from the County BoE in a PDF file here. I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader to analyze these results demographically. Make sure you look at the precinct by precinct results of the street bond in your analysis.


*Precinct 35 was split into 35-1 and 35-2 after the 2006 midterm election.


Continue reading Numbers

Tuesday, November 02, 2010


So, how long till articles of impeachment are introduced in the House of Representatives?

I'm going with April 15th, for the obvious symbolic reasons.


Continue reading Over/under?

We have a winner

In the all-time wacky ballot initiative department.
"To adopt an Initiated Ordinance to require the creation of an extraterrestrial affair commission to help ensure health, safely, and cultural awareness of Denver residents and visitors in relation to potential encounters or interactions with extraterrestrial intelligent beings or their vehicles, and fund such commission from grants, gifts and donations."

I love democracy. I'll be staying up all night to see if the good citizens of Denver approve this commission.


Continue reading We have a winner


Did you vote yet? I did. Number 144 at 9 am or so. Poll was almost as crowded as two years ago.

Oh, i voted against the street bond. Potholes are your most cost effective traffic calming device.

When the city starts budgeting for traffic calming (besides along Oval Park, that is), usable sidewalks, and traffic law enforcement, i'll vote for repaving the streets.


Continue reading Vote