Monday, September 27, 2010

A proposed budget speech for Mayor McGinn of Seattle

It may well be that hell would freeze over before this speech was given, with delta flights of porcines gracing the skies, but nonetheless...

Good Morning.

A year ago, I was elected and brought passion and enthusiasm to the office of Mayor, with a vision of where I believed we as a city wanted to go. Then I was briefed on the budget.

I had been aware that the economy was in a recession, and that the city was affected. I was not, and do not believe anyone not immersed in the City Hall morass, fully aware of how badly we were affected, nor why.

Even before my predecessors eight long years of petty vindictiveness, interdepartmental infighting, and actual encouragement of empire-building within city departments and organizations, Seattle was a high risk city, financially.

Not through any inherent malice or evil, but worse in some ways, through excesses of kindness and optimism. Our elected officials in the last few decades and we, as citizens of Seattle, fell prey to the belief that we could fix anything if we just threw enough regulation, funding, and counseling at a problem. That our City departments under their various names over the decades knew better where folks wanted to live, work, and how folks could best get get around far better than the folks themselves.

Times were good. The economy was booming and it seemed there was nothing our city couldn't do or weather. We thought it would last forever. We bought more government, services, and hand-holding than we could afford in normal economic times, let alone during a recession.

Then Greg Nickels, with a punishing recession as a chaser, hit.

We still enjoy that recession, and despite any spin to the contrary, I have seen no signs of any alleged recovery - on the best days, it seems that things aren't getting any worse. I treasure those days.

Regrettably, as leaders, we've leaped from one trap into another. Last year we were able to juggle and save most city services and jobs. We used up our margin with a near hiring freeze and other measures, and now, facing a 70 million dollar deficit even with last years cuts in place as we begin the 2011 budget process, only cuts remain an option.

Police, Fire, and EMT Services. Street repair. A functioning Sewage system and a Water system. And, perhaps, the continued provision of electricity via Seattle City Light. These are the core services of a city. A second tier, where things like a Building Department live (to ensure that proposed structures and renovations/improvements don't blow up, burn down, fall over, flood out, or turn to cheese), a Parks Department, and a Facilities division (to keep city buildings sanitary and from falling over) seems prudent.

The trap we've jumped into is that of trying to bully already stressed voters into raising taxes yet again using a policy of "cut core services first and with great lamentation" while leaving various pet programs and sacred cattle largely undisturbed. After all, it's always worked in the past - if we scared you enough, you'd give us pretty much whatever we asked for.

The time for using fear as a bludgeon is past, as is that for most other game-playing. I have asked the Police Chief to review all non-commissioned positions using the standard "would the department stop functioning or crime significantly increase without them" - and whenever the answer is "no", recommend that position to me for termination. I have made similar requests of the leaders of the Fire Department, Seattle Transit Department, Seattle City Light, Seattle Public Utilities, Planning, Parks, and Facilities.

It is my hope that we can achieve, through layoffs and use of volunteers such as reviving the long-abandoned Police and Fire reserve programs, savings of up to 20% without loss of core function. In other areas, I will be questioning whether we can afford entire areas of city endeavor - laying off entire departments is an option clearly on the table outside of core functionality. I formally placed my office this morning on a personnel spending freeze - for each new position hired, a similar number of budget dollars must be cut from other positions via either termination or reductions in hours. If someone leaves, I will be actively questioning if we need to fill their position or if we can somehow limp along with that desk unfilled. I urge Council members to do the same.

As of today, I am also donating 10% of my salary back to the city and encourage other city employees and elected officials to do the same for the duration of this recession or until we have two non-deficit budget years in a row, whichever comes first.

My goal is simple. To cut deeply enough that in 2012 that Seattle enters the budget process at break-even or running a small surplus that I would suggest be used to start refilling our rainy day fund.

I urge those who want to save or support programs to begin raising money for them - as the City doesn't have it now, and looks to have it even less in the near future if the last two cycles are any indicator. I would appeal to organizations such as the Gates Foundation and faith organizations to step forward and resume their rightful role in society, taking up again the tasks that in our zeal to do good, we usurped to our own destruction and if someone doesn't pick up these tasks we can no longer perform, to the injury of many.

I ask the Council to join me in easing the regulatory burden on business in Seattle, all business, not just green businesses. Our citizens need jobs, and we can't hire them all to work for the city, particularly when our revenues are imploding. We need business growth, not business flight to the suburbs. In some cases, we will be best served by suspending some regulations for a period of years, and in others abolishing them all together. We need to give our business community back the room to breathe, make money, and hire workers - and allow new businesses to sprout.

The time for interventionism and micromanagement is past. Now, largely, is the time for us to step out of the way of the people of Seattle and let their native geniuses run free to create wealth and entrepreneurial success..

In other words for us to give up the dream of "making it all better" as government officials, and seize the thorny reality that the most we can hope for is to restrain some of the more egregious abuses and to assist the defeated and injured until they can rejoin the fray.

I'm seizing upon reality. I invite you to join me.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Wilsonville meets Cabela's, Shoots self in foot...

It's not often I'll visit or link to Victoria Taft's little blog. Similar to Michelle Malkin, it's a depressing case of someone being socially skilled, delightful, and a good conversationalist until you stumble across the one issue where they just go batshit nuts, acting and advocating at complete variance with the rest of their delightful personality.

This isn't so bad when its on some generally unobjectionable topic, like spiders or snakes. Or mice. Or multi-legged critters. One can simply shrug, acknowledge the irrational response from a normally rational person, and move on - and if generously inclined, help peel the phobic off the ceiling.

The laissez-faire live'n'let live thing stretches a little thin in these parts though when the irrationality involves designating a group of folks as somehow unworthy of human rights or equality before the law, and when that group is the LGBT makes it harder to play nice.

That said, a link took me over to Victoria's blog and I found an interesting post - seems the City of Wilsonville and their 10% unemployment rate are just *too good* for Cabela's. It would encourage folks to drive there from Portland and spend money and cause folks to be employed in a morally wrong kinda retail and accept minimum wage rather'n live on unemployment or welfare....

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Prosecutorial madness? Or is that just elitist ambition and petty vindictiveness I scent?

Over at PNW Local News, and again over at the Kitsap Sun noting the decidedly...suspect... actions of the Kitsap Prosector Russell Hauge in repeatedly pursuing a rather dubious (imh0) criminal case hanging fire since 1999 (three dismissals should be a hint...) against Kitsap Rifle and Revolver Club executive Marcus Carter and now trying to shut down the Kitsap Rifle and Revolver Club range (in operation since 1926) in a separate civil lawsuit in which Carter's wife is named as co-defendant.

Now, as reported, both cases seem rather dubious to this lay reader - and the sequence alone seems a bit, shall we say, prejudicial. Combine that with the fact that said Prosecutor is in the midst of a grand effort to get re-elected in a profoundly anti-incumbent cycle, and I believe it is yet more reasonable to suspect that motives other than justice and public safety are in play.

Read the links for yourself, and make up your own mind. Prosecutor Hauge has yet to emerge at a press conference in full Darth Vader costume, madly cackling in full-out evil villain style, declaiming to club members, the press, and the public at large that he is out to get them and their little dog(s), too - but I begin to wonder if it's only matter of time and obviousness....

DADT on the ropes?

Todays Federal District Court decision in Tacoma may well heteorodyne with the decision out of California the other day in a case brought by the Log Cabin Republicans, resulting in a potential injunction against the US Military worldwide prohibiting discrimination against LGBT folks in the ranks.

Not everyone will agree, but I'm thinking this is a step in a good direction. Once DADT is gone, and same sex marriage is a national reality, two of the biggest reasons for political lockstep in the LGBT community will be pretty well accomplished, and we may see a bit more political diversity as a result.

Here's hoping...

Friday, September 24, 2010

Late to the party, but...

Seems one of the opponents of logic, fact, and reality over at the Brady bunch figured they could play 20 questions with the public and score big points. Not so much.

Given the smarmy "I'll let what comments I deem fit survive" approach proclaimed from square one over there, it seems a fair bet that anything that trounced their viewpoint wouldn't make the cut...

'Course, that doesn't really take into account that commentors can cut'n'paste, and/or post their responses in venues they actually control. Oopsies.

Lawdog opens a can of logical and factual whoopass all over them in his own inimitable style - and then, on View From Northern Idaho and in the Bradyites blog comments proper (cross-posted, I assume, to preserve the chain for posterity), Joe Huffman chimes in with his own special brand of slice'n'dice calm logic and surgical analysis...

I must concur with Joe, when it gets to the point where you point out that "dead is dead, and the implement isn't the issue" and your opponent just keeps jumping up'n'down shrieking "it is! it is!", it's time to gather such dignity as is available and walk away...while planning their political obliteration.

Part the First

The dwindling treasure of privacy...

For two administrations now, we've seen an out of control Justice Department seek - first in a panicked pursuit of new powers to invade American privacy at levels not seen since J. Edgar Hoover under the Patriot Act (and sundry litigious and administrative efforts) in a frantic effort to avert further large-scale terrorist attacks, and then for more questionable purposes under the current administration.

Each increasingly deep incursion into the fundamental right of Americans to be let the hell alone by their government - whether warrant-less searches, "National Security Letters" that recipients can't even legally *talk* about coercing the booksellers/internet service providers/ librarians of the nation to disgorge the reading selections and emails/browsing habits of Americans to authorities who may or may not have good reason - and blind trust of government not to abuse information or authority has NEVER worked out terribly well.

Ironically, this plays into the hands of the very terrorists we profess to oppose in our War on Terror - with each incursion pushing us further from freedom, democracy, privacy, and other hard-won American values... and towards some yet to be determined variant on totalitarianism in the name of "safety", in a sort of "backing into defeat" our current President seems to celebrate.

The latest in this trend is news of the Obama Justice department seeking to persuade courts that they don't need to *bother* with warrants or judicial review before dropping GPS devices on persons or vehicles and tracking them over the long term (the courts have already permitted such unsupervised misbehavior in the short term).

Excuse me? What part of the fourth amendment to the U.S. Constitution "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no Warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." does this (short term OR long) fail to violate?

Just what makes it so VERY burdensome for an agency to submit to judicial review, as required by any rational reading of the Constitution, that fundamental expectations of privacy are violated before warrant-less tracking devices are planted upon citizens?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Re-Post/REminder - Blogpour


April 8-11 Seattle WA

There's gonna be shooting, dining, conversation, beverages, exploration and more...including the Underground Tour and the Big Walk to SPD to get outta towners CPL's (or at least ask nicely).

Preferred Lodging:

Moore Hotel
Toll Free


Local Rules:

Bar Carry: NO
Open Carry: YES
Fun Switch: NO
Cans: NO
Knives: 3.5" blade length limit. "Big No-No" does not apply to bars for knives.

Big No-No's:
Secured portion of mental hospitals, jails, courtrooms (and often surrounding area), and that portion of any food service establishment (Yes, this includes taverns) from which persons under the age of 21 are barred.

Force of Signage:
No legal penalty for entering a "not a Big No-No" area while carrying. If, however owner/lessee/authorized agent then requests you to leave and you decline to do so, you may be cited for trespass. Frosty politeness for the win. Icy derision for bonus points.

Evening Festivity Facilitation: For those not commissioned LE, there will be a vehicle w/ a secure trunk available for storage whilst folks go in to forbidden entertainment zones. If commissioned LE, do your research for compatibility with the local Idiocy Statutes.

Range space is still being looked into. Pistol Space is for sure (we have multiple options), rifle space is for maybe at this point. If folks express an interest in rifle/shotgun, more effort will be expended.

Limited space, so e-mail me before making plans.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


I've followed, intermittently, for some time the Day-By-Day 'net cartoon and found it both amusing and thought-provoking.

Finally could be bothered to add it, but don't like the way it integrates with the header - lopsided, one might say.

Still and all, it's worth sharing. We'll see how it works out.

Dating phases...

In conversation w/ a friend, the importance of communication in romantic (and other relationships) came up...and it's my observation that while most folks are either less over-analytical about it or less formal in their statements, that there's a pattern here...

1) Coffee is nice
2) WOOHOO wild sweaty sex is GREAT
3) Um..are we a thing or just having hot sweaty naked fun?
4) Monogamy or other mutually agreed upon arrangement
5) Hire attorney, cautiously create legal structure to protect both parties in relationship and ensure proper ability to mutually support each other...(among the heterosexual, this is dramatically less complex, at least in the set-up phases - I believe they call it "marriage").

Steps 2-4, without LOTS of communication (should things get that far) are at best dreadfully confusing and where an awful lot of potential relationships tend to come flinging apart.

That will be all.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The obsolescence of Cities

In a world where more and more jobs can be performed remotely with equal verve and success from the home, and where productivity is increasingly an intellectual endeavor rather than an industrial one - the utility of large cities may rightfully be called into question.

Descendants of the walled towns of yore (long obsoleted by the existence of modern artillery), the modern city of today is a product of the industrial age - where for efficiency, large quantities of individuals and raw materials would be located at a major center of cargo lines such that goods might efficiently be manufactured and shipped out to wholesalers and retail locations, and ultimately consumers.

Movers and shakes of industry and government would gather where they might personally inspect and supervise their works, and hangers on (lawyers, judges, hoteliers, restaurateurs) would in turn gather to support the workers and the titans of commerce and government (at a tidy little profit).

When a product travels over a fiber optic cable at the speed of light, a phone or conference call brings folks together from the world over, and when products and goods are delivered with increasing efficiency in the real world...the need to concentrate large numbers of individuals in ant-like hives diminishes.

Given that, historically, the larger the number of people per square mile in a given region the greater the amount of misbehavior per capita (and as a corollary, the greater the amount of expensive effort to deter/suppress/punish said bad behavior) - this is a good thing.

Population density would appear to be inversely proportional to quality of life, and as it becomes less necessary to sustain a modern lifestyle we must reconsider whether promoting greater density is a good and worthwhile project.

A paen to a decent auto shop....

It's not often I get to shower praise upon a worthy target. But here goes...

If you still have a gas-burner, Budd & Co is the place in Seattle - professional, kind, and courteous to a fault. Friday night on the way home my transmission dies. Monday I drop off the car, and for a replacement transmission+clutch+flywheel including labor I was given an estimate of $1770+/-.

This morning I called to check on the rig, and they shamefacedly told me that the previous mechanic (another shop) had failed to bolt things back together properly after a clutch replacement and that while the clutch+flywheel was needed, the already-installed new transmission *wasn't* and I wouldn't be charged for it, as they should have spotted that before opening things up.

Out the door at $1,067.84. I have *no* complaints about Budd & Co and have used them on other vehicles - getting consistently better prices and service than I am accustomed to. Budd for the win!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Waking up is hard to do...

Governments across the land - City/County/State (the Fed, too, but when you own the printing press down at the mint, it's *less obvious*) are running out of cash as revenues drop and the cost of well-meaning promises and expensive capital projects rises.

At the same time, the electorate, feeling the pinch of the Great Recession, is not terribly receptive of any hint of new taxes - there's a whole new national political party in the making, the Tea Party, largely based on fiscal reform (less spending, fewer taxes) that's winning at the polls.

Establishment sorts, in the usual "only cut what folks like, then they'll agree to more taxes to keep fire and police services..." strategy are, not surprisingly, cutting parks/emergency services/etc rather than reducing administrative overhead and regulatory activity.

This time, however, folks may just be waking up and seeing through the smoke-filled haze generated by such they warm up to visit the polls.

Something to think on.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

It's YOUR body...

At the end of the day, it's YOUR body. Realistically, as a consenting adult, whatever you put in is fundamentally your own business.

Similarly, as long as all parties are consenting and competent adults, what sexual acts you engage in and why you do so are simply none of the governments business. Consent, competence, and (at a minimum) the local definition of adulthood are the critical variables that may be legitimately questioned.

Nothing in this relieves you of any responsibility for the results of your acts - if, while chemically altered, you engage in criminal acts - you are no less responsible than if stone cold sober. Similarly, if while engaging in physical friskies with a pleasant partner(s) you manage to damage yourself or playmate(s), you bear criminal and civil liability for your bad acts resulting in physical injury.

To the extent we fail to realize this fundamental truth in favor of bigotry, distaste, or "because gawd said so", we fail both ourselves and our nation. We fail the cause of freedom, upon which this nation was founded.

Prohibition has demonstrably failed spectacularly - both in version 1.0 (Alcohol) and 2.0 (the Drug War nee' "The War on Civil Rights") on two occasions in our country - perhaps, like the man hitting himself in the head with a baseball bat, we should stop and enjoy how good the cessation of pain truly is.

I am all for treatment, punishment of bad conduct (assault, rape, homicide, arson, etc ad nauseum) - but spending huge sums to prop up a violent black market with obscene profit margins, where the true addicts end up feeding their self-destructive hungers regardless...perhaps not so much. If we must have addicts, what say we do it without the far more destructive black market?

Similarly, on sexual matters, there exist practices and reasons for sexual interaction that many find repugnant or just icky. That's not a legitimate reason for a law. Neither is "Gawd said so" or "it's immoral". It is neither our business nor societies why two or more competent and consenting adults voluntarily get together for genital frolics; similarly what acts they perform so long as medical mishap to which one or more involved parties objects do not occur - it's simply none of our business, short of corpses turning up.

Self-ownership - wacky idea that it is, may just cut way down on the misery in the world.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Oversensitivity and more..

In a striking blow to freedom of speech, the current administration has apparently banned a UK teenager from the United States for life for referring to Obama in uncomplimentary terms in an email.

I'm not seeing this as a ringing endorsement of freedom of speech, and then when Michael Barone reports on Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius threatening statement to insurers "There will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases" when referring to comments by insurers that Obamacare would force them to raise rates and in some instances cancel policies. She goes on, according to Barone, to threaten federal action against those who would dare to criticize, or even fail to enthusiastically support, Obamacare.

Now, just as many others, I'm forced to point out that medical services/supplies/infrastructure don't happen for free - if more is supplied, more must be paid for lest the supplier decide that retiring to an interesting life of hang-gliding is more fun and no less profitable.

The overarching theme of this post is to point out, yet again, the complete willingness of this administration to suppress any dissent or criticism they find vaguely threatening - and a fair amount that they don't (a UK teen? Please....).

Keep it in mind this November as you approach the polls. And use your votes to slap this administration down.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Well, so much for the LGBT hall of fame...

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A few words for a young bi/gay man...

Today someone prodded me about "what would you tell a young man hovering on the edge of gay/bi? what should *I* tell them?" I gave some answers, and then pondered.

Be grateful. Today, in the United States, is a better time than it's ever been before to be gay or bi with more tolerance, acceptance, and safety than prior generations have experienced. It's not paradise, but it's a screaming improvement over when I first came out 20 years ago, and when I came out the situation had already gotten vastly better than it had been for my elders.

It's still not a bed of roses, and there are more than a few inequalities and downright instances of flat-out bigotry scattered about, but both of us - I in my mid-40's, and you rather younger - have a lot to be grateful for, and predecessors to whom we owe gratitude.

Be respectful of yourself, your partners, your friends, and your family.

No matter what you do, you have to wake up with yourself every morning. That is much harder when you've cheated on a lover, knocked up a girl, or unknowingly passed an exciting new infection to a partner only to discover it later. Guilt can eat you alive.

When a partner confides in you, outside of a tiny number of exceptions (see: violations of law, medical sanity, etc), keep their confidence. In general, if it happens with clothes off or with them about to come off - it's private and embarrassing, and poor form to gossip about whether your partner is male or female (or they surprise you with their gender "but...I thought you were a girl/boy!"). If you're able at all, talk to your parents or trusted family friends - they can help you to avoid a huge amount of "painful stupid" by sharing their own experiences and that of their acquaintances.

Don't use sex to gross out your friends, make them envious, or any combination of the two. It's a fast path to ostracism and the return trip ain't easy. Similarly, don't try and make your friends be "just like you" - they have their own biological imperatives that will shortly become clear to both them and everyone in their vicinity, and the best course is to respect them. Only tease friends about such matters that you are *sure* know you well enough to know you are teasing and are thick-skinned enough that their fragile little psyches won't implode.

Be careful. You are worth more than your looks or your perky ass or your allegedly amazing schlong. Don't let anyone tell you different. The gay and bi male culture is wrapped up for the foreseeable future in "youth is pretty" at a near addictive level. There are few things sadder than an ignorant and uneducated "boy" that's been discarded at 20/25/30/45/60 without any discernible life skills beyond making an adequate martini. Get your education, figure out who you are, and until you do both, regard dating as dancing naked in a minefield. Don't sell out your education, your mind, or your values for the sake of anyone and "because I lurve him/her" is usually a really dumb reason - if they give a damn about you, they will be cheerleading for you to take over the world.

If you can, hold out on the getting naked bit until you have your emotional turmoil well nailed down. If not, play with partners your own age and in a scrupulously lawful fashion.

Be yourself. It won't always be cheap, but don't choose your politics, profession, or passions based on who you like sleeping with. The "because I'm gay/bi I must believe and act in a certain fashion" meme is naught but a vat of rotting and maggot infested bullshit. Ask questions, demand reasons, and always be ready to reevaluate. Who you sleep with is a part of who you are and what you like...what you like and who you sleep with is not who you are.

Learn self-defense. The world ain't sunshine and roses all the time, and it's a bummer that it's not - but you'll be vastly better able to deal with it with a black belt (which will serve you well right through high school) and later, the ability to drive tacks up a gnats ass with a .45 at 250 yards.

Martial arts have the additional benefit of keeping you all hot and sexy for your preferred partners (flab, in our culture, is rarely considered a bonus in dating selection), but if you should run into a bully or basher...better that s/he go to the hospital than you. Never throw the first punch, but cherish the ability to bring an attack to a screeching halt.

The earlier you begin target shooting, the more time you have to get good. If you are younger, by the time you can legally get your concealed pistol license, you will be scary good. That's not enough, though - you need to be scarily responsible as well. Bad things happen - to mutilate a quote "I don't care how big'n'scary a basher is...a couple of rounds of .45acp JHP center of mass will seriously disrupt their plans".

Be safe(r). No safety measure is 100% (and it's perfectly legitimate to point and laugh at anyone who tells you that they are), but you can hugely hedge your bets. Use a condom if it involves an orifice is a *good* rule, but with all kinds of enthusiasm be sure to use a condom if the proposed activity involves any orifice other than your mouth.

Get every single vaccination you can against disease, both the ones available today and ones that come out in the future - rubbing mucous membranes together can be grand fun, but it is *also* one of the more effective ways to spread the sundry diseases out there.

HIV is the big scary one that everyone talks about (for which there is neither cure nor vaccine, merely a number of varyingly effective palliatives), but the Hepatitis series is still out there and several of those can be vacccinated against.

Get prompt treatment. If weeping sores, painful urination, new skin growths, or other "gee, my body is doing something new" stuff pops up, go visit the nearest clinic *promptly*. The embarassment of getting fixed (when that's an option) is absolutely minor compared to the chat "well, guess what I found out I need to go see a doctor" kind of chat...particularly and especially in a dedicated and allegedly monogamous relationship.

Enjoy. Be careful, but enjoy. Cherish your friends, choose your boy or girlfriends carefully and remember that you CAN dump them if they turn into jerks (and that if they turn into jerks, it's probably not your fault, and you probably can't turn them back into not-jerks while you're dating them). Be kind to your parents.

Meet at least one bitchy little queen. Study them hard (and they can be fun as friends, and even as lovers, on occasion) and don't become that person unless it really truly is you. Gay/Bi does not mean that "bitchy little queen" is a mandatory role, nor that civilized conduct is impossible for you.

It's not a guarantee, but look at the Gay/Bi folks that are happy and successful. Ask them how they got there. Some of what they tell you will be utter crap, some will just want to get in your pants (a bad idea), but there are nuggets of truth or experience for you to learn from - but don't forget that part of what you're learning is at least as much "dear god, don't let me be THAT stupid" as it is "gee, that sounds like really good information".

Good luck, young Jedi

Go forth and make NEW mistakes, not the same old stupid ones that so very many of us have repeated.

[Note: permission to link, with attribution, is granted to all and sundry. Quotes should likely be under a paragraph or two w/o permission - hey, I need blogreaders too! The section on safer sex was added in response to a comment on 10/12/10 that made sense - other comments were good, but I'd missed touching on that because I'd already, with the parent in question, hit that one in private conversation...but if I'm not addressing a specific person I've already covered that with, that does need to be included. ]

Burning Korans & Other Waste Paper (Found on Facebook)

Burning books, in general, is bad. However, as long as the burner *owns* the books, having lawfully purchased or received them prior to the event, it isn't and shouldn't be unlawful - just the subject of scorn and derision.

However, since the printing press was invented, the notion of burning any one copy of a book whose copies in print run in the notably less obnoxious. If the said book is posted on the internet, it is created and destroyed hundreds of times daily as hard drives across the land are re-written, de-fragged, and re-formatted. Burning a copy, or even a couple of hundred copies, is meaningless in any logical world barring sentimental value or some unique characteristic of a specific volume.

It is in other words, magical thinking, an endeavor to be firmly discouraged (particularly and especially when participants live in a world of fantasy and get violent when the folks around them fail to go along with their particular mythology). Magical thinking enforced by violence has never worked out terribly well, historically. Remember the Crusades.

Further, if a bunch of religious sorts whose skin is so thin and faith so fragile that the mere burning of a non-unique volume sends them into a literally violent hissy fit...then, in the same manner we must deal with a rabid dog or a zombie invasion, I suggest the appropriate response to a public hazard of this sort is to fix bayonets and hunt over bait until one runs out of crazies.

That the more enthusiastic followers of this particular version of woo-woo thinking killed off 2,974 Americans (roughly as many as were killed at Pearl Harbor, and disproportionately civilians) nine years ago today - does not inspire me to any greater sympathy for their tender delicate feelings in the matter.

I find book burning reprehensible, but in this one instance, particularly in light of the threats and bullying, am a lot less offended than usual (though I find the individual at the center of all this rather offensive, and in my opinion based on his media appearances and actions, a loon). Emulating Neville Chamberlain and his policy of appeasement does not seem a good idea - at what point does one stop paying the danegeld and become simply owned by the dane?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A few words on grim responsibility...

Some situations are simply no win, but ethics demand you do your best. I've wandered through this particular adventure once, and observed others about the project.

Someone passes, and you're the one tasked with staying sane/responsible...or worse yet, you're the executor in a morbid bonus round.

First, somebody is going to be pissed at you no matter what you do. Accept that, and reduce your stress level by half. There will be no pleasing everyone, and that's just too bad. Move on, suck it up, you have work to do.

From the moment the decedent passes and you find yourself in charge, there are duties that need attention. Most hospitals will not release the body until a family member or next of kin has taken possession of any immediate belongings, particularly and especially jewelry and such.

My experience was that a nurse helped me, and we inventoried as we went, and cross-signed verifications in an attempt to head off any ugly little questions. There is no need to rush right up to the grieving widow or family, but conveying said personals along with a *copy* of the inventory within 24 hours is a *really* good idea.

Again, the best way to avoid drama is to ensure that the preconditions simply don't exist.

Once the body is released to the funeral home du jour (this assumes one has been selected in advance - you've selected yours and made sure the proper folks know, right?) see about a will (if any). Then talk to the formula was "Decedents wishes first, spouse/partner 2nd, all others rate 3rd tier or below...and it seemed to work for most decisions.

Odds are good you'll be *making* a lot of the funereal decisions, but to the extent practical, do so in deference to the formula above. Then, to the extent practical, go class every step of the way.

A service should comfort the family, not traumatize. You'll be faced, more than likely, with a conflict between the kumbayah crowd and the formalists - each want to take comfort and reassurance in rituals that fit their image of the "one right way".

Compromise, default to tradition where you can, and if you must, arrange separate services. One compromise can be found in the formal service, followed by a casual reception with the best food you can afford (cater if you can...this is NOT the time to burden yourself or the family with a big cooking frenzy)....and in many cases, a full bore wake later in the evening for those that believe in *celebrating* the passage of family or a dear friend to a better place, and the joy and love they brought to the lives of those around them.

Then comes the "disposal of the crud". I suspect that between 75% and 90% of what we surround ourselves with, while really neato to us, to most of the rest of the species is just detritus and crap. And that's just fine. While we are still kicking we enjoy it, and once we're gone it's not our worry.

But when we pass, particularly if we haven't made our wishes clear (and legally binding), sorting out what has sentimental value to who and what is just crap...gets REALLY challenging. And then there's whats offensive or heartbreaking. Uncle Bob may not want his last memento of Cousin Willie to be Willie's Earwax and Toe Cheese Sculpture collection...but he might want that beat up old work shirt of Willie's that Willie wore just before he saved Bob's life in the big crotch alligator incident. And that's before we consider Aunt Sassy and the spoiled grand-daughter Melchior.

Assumptions are bad. If anything is left after the instructions in the Will (if there is one, otherwise just skip ahead here), start asking privately and doing the negotiation dance. Kindness and consideration for the win - you've just been nominated to get only what nobody else wants, unless everyone explicitly consents. There may be keepsakes you miss out on, but the drama you avoid is worth every moment of regret.

Do your best. Be honorable as you understand the notion. Set aside your personal interests in the interest of fairness.

You'll piss SOMEONE off, almost certainly. But you'll sleep well at night.

YMMV. IANAL. Seek professional advice as needed. And if you're on the other side and someone else is in charge? Don't be a jerk. Be helpful, don't sweat the small stuff, and don't start multi-generational pissing matches.

Besides...the high road is better ground from which to hurl offal upon those who annoy you, later.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Show Concept

Watching RuPauls Drag University for the first time...and a thought occurs...

R. Lee Ermey and Ru Paul co-starring in a new reality show "Ladies Fashion Defense Attire" or some such...

Think it'd sell?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A new project for a friend....

Found on the side of I-5, near Mt. Vernon.

You know who you are :)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

NW Blogger Event

April 8-11 Seattle WA

There's gonna be shooting, dining, conversation, beverages, exploration and more...including the Underground Tour and the Big Walk to SPD to get outta towners CPL's (or at least ask nicely).

Preferred Lodging:

Moore Hotel
Toll Free


Local Rules:

Bar Carry: NO
Open Carry: YES
Fun Switch: NO
Cans: NO
Knives: 3.5" blade length limit. "Big No-No" does not apply to bars for knives.

Big No-No's:
Secured portion of mental hospitals, jails, courtrooms (and often surrounding area), and that portion of any food service establishment (Yes, this includes taverns) from which persons under the age of 21 are barred.

Force of Signage:
No legal penalty for entering a "not a Big No-No" area while carrying. If, however owner/lessee/authorized agent then requests you to leave and you decline to do so, you may be cited for trespass. Frosty politeness for the win. Icy derision for bonus points.

Evening Festivity Facilitation: For those not commissioned LE, there will be a vehicle w/ a secure trunk available for storage whilst folks go in to forbidden entertainment zones. If commissioned LE, do your research for compatibility with the local Idiocy Statutes.

Range space is still being looked into. Pistol Space is for sure (we have multiple options), rifle space is for maybe at this point. If folks express an interest in rifle/shotgun, more effort will be expended.

Limited space, so e-mail me before making plans.

Friday, September 3, 2010

It's a free country, but I wish it weren't...

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick appears to have indulged in inadvertent honesty the other day in discussing his views of the Glenn Beck rally, sharing that "it's a free country, but I wish it weren't".

This seems to be a common theme of Democrats of late, with another recent incident at North Dakota State University where U.S. Rep. Pomeroy's campaign called up the U and asked them to take down a campus GOP club game...something about it not showering him with praise...

Freedom of Speech, anyone?