|"I give you this one rule of conduct. Do what you will, but speak out always. Be shunned, be hated, be ridiculed, be scared, be in doubt, but don't be gagged. The time of trial is always. Now is the appointed time." -- John J. Chapman, Commencement Address to the Graduating Class of Hobart College, 1900
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Project information at zardoz.net.
July 24, 2002
Monorail forum recap: Earlier I mentioned the Monorail Forum sponsored by the city council. Erica and I were there, along with Marianne Scholl and Kay Ogren. Moderator Enrique Cerna moved rapidly through the audience, and Marianne and I each had a chance to make a statement. She asked about the impact of the track and stations on the pedestrian environment, and the general consensus from those on the panel who responded was that the monorail initiative should add funds for mitigation for improvements to make using the system more attractive for pedestrians. Others in the audience made similar points. I talked a bit about my experience on the Las Vegas Monorail, and panelist Grant Cogswell replied that whatever system gets built will need to have bigger trains than Vegas, which he believes is currently the plan of the ETC. Cogswell, who helped write the monorail initiative, and Tom Weeks, chairman of the ETC board, were the only two panel members solidly in favor of the coming monorail ballot issue. None of the others was outright hostile to the plan, but each had reservations relating to cost, resident and business impact, or view corridors. Many in the audience were hostile, much more than in any previous meeting I have attended, including the Whittier Heights meeting attended by businesses on 15th Ave NW. I would say that a third of the audience had strong objection to the system and about the same number were strong supporters, if the questioners were representative of the general audience. Most of the concerns were similar to those of the panelists. Richard Conlin is not known for being a monorail supporter, so it is no surprise a forum he organized would be more balanced than one organized by the ETC. If the vote were held today the monorail would be approved, but the opponents are gathering and the final fate is clearly in doubt.
Posted by awm at 05:33 PM
July 23, 2002
Ballard Calendar: Rob Mattson from the Ballard Neighborhood Service Center has mailed out a new calendar of Ballard events. The next Ballard District Council meeting will by August 14th at 7pm, in a location to be announced. (It is usually at the Ballard High School, but that is probably closed for the summer). Other events:
- July 24, South Ballard Transportation Corridor Study Project Advisory Committee, 7:30 - 10:30 AM @ Neighborhood Service Center in Ballard
- July 25-28, Downtown Ballard Sidewalk Sale
- July 27-28, Ballard Seafoodfest
- July 30, Kick Off Public Meeting - Bergen Place Park Improvements, 7 - 9PM @ St. Luke's Episcopal Church Sanctuary
- August 2, Deadline for Seattle Tree Fund applications
- August 6, National Night Out Campaign (block parties and a children's bike parade will be held in Whittier Heights).
Posted by awm at 05:13 PM
More Viaduct open houses: The Alaskan Way viaduct project is hosting more open houses. Here is their project calendar. The Seattle city council and the Washington DOT have both endorsed the expensive route options, so now is a good time to get reconnected to the project if you are interested in deciding if your tax dollars should support this.
Posted by awm at 05:09 PM
July 19, 2002
Hillary shouts down Russ: Senators Clinton and Feingold apparently had a closed door shouting match where Feingold came off the worse. This doesn't surprise me. Last December, Erica and I visited the Other Washington and got Senate gallery passes from Sen. Murray's office. There were about two dozen senators on the floor, standing in groups of three or four chatting and dealing. The only exception was Russell Feingold, who moved from one group to another. He would stand nervously on the periphery of a group, and when it was clear he wouldn't be admitted to the circle, he moved to the next group. He looked like the nerd who accidentally gets invited to a party and spends the whole evening unsuccessfully trying to mingle. I suspect most of the time Feingold isn't shouted at he is being ignored.
Posted by awm at 10:25 AM
July 17, 2002
Somali grocery vidicated: The Seattle Times is reporting the dropping of a case by the USDA against the Maka Mini Market in the city. This Somali grocery had its license to accept food stamps revoked this winter. Earlier the store had been raided by the FBI because it was adjacent to a wire-transfer service that was suspected of tranferring money to terrorists.
It seems now that the aggressive moves against the grocery were not justified, that it has no links to terror. While this is undoubtedly traumatic for the owners, employees and customers of the store, we should expect to see more of this over the next few years until terror networks are significantly destroyed, and government officials cannot be faulted too much for their actions in the light of suspicions about the transfer service. However, they can be faulted for refusing to compensate Maka for confiscated supplies and lost business. The public will tolerate mistakes, but only if justice is ultimately done for those wronged.
Posted by awm at 02:07 PM
July 16, 2002
Dan Savage gets it: Here is Savage on the war. He makes the best liberal case for it, not only why we need to fight al Qaida but why we must reckon with Iraq and other states that agressively sponsor illiberal values. And he points out that nation-building will be necessary to make the coming peace a lasting one. Other articles in the same feature are less combative, but show much more thought and less kneejerk anti-Americanism than is usual for The Stranger.
I have long thought that The Stranger is the best Seattle paper because it shows its biases honestly and is willing to explore the cracks in the city's culture rather than papering them over. I agree with its stands on the monorail (for), light rail (against), stadiums (should be privately funded), and the teen dance ordinance (let the kids have fun). This is not to say I agree with The Stranger always -- it far too often supports government intervention as a solution to economic problems and bases it editorial judgment on an outdated postmodern, multi-cultural orthodoxy, equating power with evil and antiestablishmentism with good. I'm happy that they realize things are not that simple, that American power applied in support of noble goals is good and that not everyone who wishes us harm has been harmed by us.
Posted by awm at 11:36 AM
Monorail townhall meeting: This Thursday from 7 to 9pm, the Seattle City Council will host a forum on the monorail, hosted by Enrique Cerna of KCTS. This is sponsored by a number of local groups, including the Ballard District Council, and will include a panel discussion and questions from the audience. As a sponsor, the BDC was able to get time for representatives to ask questions of the panel and has selected Marianne Scholl (of 15th Ave NW fame) and me to do the asking. The two of us and Kay Ogren, president of the council, will be in attendance on Thursday, and hope you will show up to express your opinions, too. I expect it will be crowded, so come early.
Posted by awm at 11:09 AM
July 12, 2002
Possible al-Qaida cell in Seattle: That is what a grand jury is probing, according to this AP article. More detail in the Seattle Times. The only person in custody is one Semi Osman. His attorney denies he was involved in anything, but says "it's true he was a member of a mosque where it's clear there were some things going on that probably bear some investigation." That from a defense attorney! I hope the city is planning some anti-terror training for neighborhood watches, but it will probably be long in coming.
Posted by awm at 02:34 PM
July 11, 2002
About bloody time: House Passes Bill Permitting Pilots to Carry Firearms (Need NYTimes registration)
Posted by awm at 03:37 PM
Strange coincidence: Yesterday I had a strange Velvet Underground craving, causing me to dust off my old "Best of" CD. Today I learn that Lou Reed is headlining Bumbershoot 2002, playing on Saturday. Stanley Jordan plays that day, too.
Posted by awm at 02:41 PM
July 10, 2002
If I were a Dead Russian Composer, I would be Igor Stravinsky.
Known as a true son of the new 20th Century, my music started out melodic and folky but slowly got more dissonant and bizzare as I aged. I am a traveler and a neat freak, and very much hated those rotten eggs thrown at me after the premiere of "The Rite of Spring."
Who would you be? Dead Russian Composer Personality Test
Posted by awm at 06:21 PM
Why to write: Silflay Hraka has a cool piece on why to blog, basically arguing that the best thing a noncombatant can do in this war is fight with ideas. This is very true: from home we can't fight terrorism, unless we happen to be lucky and catch someone trying to shoot up an airport and be able to intervene, but we can help sway those who might give terrorists aid by using the power of ideas. A lone blogger won't have much effect, but the collective action of many of us will generate the ideas to convince the "Arab street" to support freedom, not oppression and get those ideas into the mainstream media where they can be heard. All of this is said much better in the linked article.
And another cool thing about it: the phrase silflay hraka comes from Watership Down, a novel expostulating about hero-journeys masquerading as a story about rabbits. Read it.
Posted by awm at 05:03 PM
Better late than never: cut on the bias has a report from April on racial preferences in Seattle schools, specifically mentioning Ballard High School. Apparently the principal resigned in protest after the 9th US Circuit Court ruled Seattle can't use race as a determining factor in assigning pupils to schools. Without knowing the specifics of the case, the court's ruling seems wise to me. If racial equality means anything, it means not allowing the government to make decisions based on race, preferring one to another. This might be allowed in exceptional circumstances to correct gross predjudice, but that hardly applies in Seattle today.
Posted by awm at 01:50 PM
July 05, 2002
Nano Solar System: For a few months now, I've had an idea kicking around my head for a one-billionth scale model of the solar system, a nano-solar system, if you will. Searching around the web, I found a link to a page called Interstellar Scale with the same idea, and a handy table at the bottom with the scale sizes of everything. Earth is about 1/2 inch across, Pluto is almost four miles from the sun. I am drumming up support to build such a model in Seattle, with the sun located in some prominent place, and the planets in schools or public buildings at an appropriate distance from the sun. This would be useful as an education tool and to give children and adults a sense of the awesome size of space. Seeing how tiny Earth is compared to the sun and the distance between will counter the impression left by most science fiction movies that everything is close together and easily travelled to.
Posted by awm at 04:33 PM
July 03, 2002
Ballard District Council: Here are my notes from June's meeting. I should have had this done weeks ago, but didn't for one reason or another. This is my abbreviated list, leaving out bits that are no longer relevant.
- Seattle Transportation, having recently changed its name from SeaTrans, has changed again. New name: Seattle DOT.
- Report on the industrial economy of Seattle, a much overlooked but important part of the city, with quite a large presence in Ballard. Industrial employment is apparently still increasing here -- the speaker said by 51%, but didn't give a time frame, so I don't know if that is outpacing job growth in general. He mentioned that besides the obvious airplanes and fishing (40% of US total comes through our ports), Seattle has a high concentration of ship building, fish packing and vegetable distribution companies.
- Laurel Davis from the Seattle Livable Communities Coalition spoke about her organization's plans to get the city to improve neighborhood streets by taxing commercial parking lots 15% on all revenue. Laurel is enthusiastic but naive -- she expected approval for what appears to be a program to benefit neighborhoods, but was the plan was roundly criticized for an ill-defined plan that would penalize commuters and small businesses without clear benefits. BDC board members expressed skepticism that any of the $20 million expected to be raised each year from the new tax would actually be used to improve neighborhood streets, given the record of Sound Transit, which was supposed to use part of its money for that purpose.
- Lt. Paul Adams from the Seattle Fire Department spoke about the new mandate from the chief for stations to become more involved with the neighborhoods they serve. He is looking for suggestions for ways the stations could reach out, giving as examples CPR training or assisting in street address illumination. I brought this up at the last Whittier Heights Community Council meeting and volunteered to make contact for WHCC with Station 35, the one on Crown Hill. In response to questions, he mentioned that training for response to weapon of mass destruction attacks started for the SFD five years ago. He also mentioned the Online 911, where residents can track 911 calls. However, you can't make an emergency call online.
Posted by awm at 07:49 PM
Viva Las Vegas: Erica and I spent last weekend in Vegas, city of dry heat, clanging slots and bright lights. My brother Bob's wedding was the occasion; he married his girlfriend of three years, the former Dori Burns. Hearing that they were going to be married in Nevada made us a bit apprehensive, given the reputation of the state. Bob and I went to high school in Reno, and are therefore disabused of the wilder myths about the silver state, but not having ever been to a casino chapel wedding, I still didn't know what to expect. But Erica and I needn't have worried -- the chapel at Caesar's Palace is quite lovely, away from the noise of the casino floor, the justice of the peace quite polished, the ceremony very tasteful. This should have been expected, given Bob and Dori's understated natures -- no rhinestones and Elvis impersonators for them. Here is wishing the best to the new Mr. and Mrs. Robert J. MacDonald.
Vegas cabbies are very cynical about marriage. When told why we were visiting, one asked if it was a second or third marriage (first for both, thank you very much), another expressed surprise when Erica said it would last forever. So I guess the reputation of Nevada is partly true -- many unwise marriages must be started there. Or it could be that cab drivers see more of the seamy side of life.
Toy monorail: While in Las Vegas, I took time to ride their monorail for comparison to Seattle's. The ETC folks make a big thing of the Vegas monorail, touting it as an example of using a monorail for true mass transit in an American city. I have a few observations. Let's start with the plusses:
- The guideway is indeed much less obtrusive than the current Seattle one. The columns are much slimmer, and the rail looked smaller, too. I can't say much about the column spacing.
- The Vegas monorail was very quiet pulling in and out of the station, certainly less noisy that a Seattle city bus running its diesel engine. The noise on the monorail wasn't bad either -- my family and I were able to carry on a conversation, even my 78 year old aunt who is deaf in one ear.
- The train as a whole gave the appearance of a toy. It had little compartments, each with its own door to the platform seating ten people. You had to duck your head to get in, and then had little leg room. It was comfortable for the five minute run between the current two stations, but would be too restrictive for commuter use.
- While it was moving, the train rocked from side to side, violently enough for Erica to complain. In fact, quite a few of our party did not feel safe. Erica said it reminded her of the Disneyworld monorail, which she hated as a child, and we later found out that the train was a refurbished one bought from that park.
To be fair, the Vegas monorail now existing is only the first step in their ultimate plan. Currently only two hotels are served, Bally's and the MGM Grand. The final system will be much longer. Also, the trains will be upgraded to ones more worthy of a serious mass transit system, with proper headroom and seating, and hopefully less tendency to rock. Still, my ride made me less likely to vote for the ETC's plan in November, not more. I want to be sure that the Seattle monorail will be something I am proud to show visitors, a long-lasting, serious solution to transportation problems, not a toy approved because Seattle believes monorails are cool. This can be done, but it will take more information from the ETC board, especially adding a standard for rocking to the Operating Requirements Document.
Reaction: I spoke on Monday to one of the ETC board members about my Las Vegas concerns. He said about his own ride on the system: "it was a real eye-opener, in a bad way," and complained about the little compartments. I mentioned the rocking -- he had noticed too, but said he didn't mind it -- and let him know my family didn't like it. He expressed a generally negative opinion of Bombardier, who made the Las Vegas train.
Posted by awm at 06:36 PM
July 02, 2002
Parable of the Guppies: If you think you aren't creative or a leader read this.
Posted by awm at 04:48 PM
July 01, 2002
Dec. 6, 2000 - June 29, 2002
Our very much beloved pet rat, who spent the last ten months of her life struggling with a respiratory problem. She finally succumbed on Saturday, while we were out of town. We were hoping she would be able to hold out until our wedding in August and are very sad that she is gone, but are also grateful that we were able to get more life from her than we could ever expected after she got sick.
Posted by awm at 10:04 AM