November 30, 2003
Save Baker Park totem pole
The totem pole in Baker Park is suffering from dry rot, and the Whittier Heights Community Council needs your help to repair it. Please give what you can.
Posted by awm at 03:13 PM
November 29, 2003
Seattle Comprehensive Plan
In 1994 the city of Seattle created a comprehensive plan to manage growth in the city until 2014. It defined a number of categories of living areas, set targets for growth (which should really be named "estimates") and tried to predict where people would live and work in the future. One underlying goal was the desire to reduce the number of trips in single occupancy vehicles as a percentage of total traffic, a goal I generally do not agree with because it is usually used by bureaucrats to justify restricting residents' choice of transportation in the name of "progress."
Another goal was to make it easier for people to live near their jobs by establishing "Urban Villages" with commercial and high density residential mixed neighborhoods. I like the idea of mixed used buildings, but it is unrealistic to assume very many people will decide to live very close to their jobs, especially if they are corporate employees. People like to have some distance from their workplaces so they can develop a life outside of work.
The comprehensive plan is slated for amendment in 2004. I attended a workshop two weeks ago to get community input on what should be considered in the amendment process. It was interesting to learn how neighborhood leaders are thinking about the plan and what they value in it. Most of the comments were about how to address neighborhoods that have exceeded their growth targets, whether that should trigger automatic reassement of their needs under the plan. Slight consideration was given to neighborhoods that are under their targets (such as Crown Hill). No real consideration was given to changing the location, shape and size of the urban villages, something that needs to be done as the city evolves to meet the needs of its residents.
One of the major benefits of going was getting a complete copy of the comprehensive plan on CD. Because of its size, I am not going to post it here. It is available at the city's website, and you can get your own CD from the Department of Planning and Development. It is worth a quick look through: all the neighborhood plan goals are referenced, and there are maps of utilities and other points of interest (I found out that my house is near a major high-pressure gas line). Here are the sections, with links:
Table of Contents / Comp Plan's Legislative History, Vision, and Application
Land Use - part 1
Land Use - part 2
Neighborhood Planning - 1
Neighborhood Planning - 2
Neighborhood Planning - 3
Neighborhood Planning - 4
Appendices - Table of Contents
Land Use Appendices - 1
Land Use Appendices - 2
Capital Facilities Appendices
Posted by awm at 09:23 PM
November 28, 2003
Bush in Baghdad: Iraqi reactions
Now that Bush is back in the US after his Baghdad trip, it is interesting to read the reactions of Iraqi bloggers to the visit. I have been making it a point to read several Iraqi blogs regularly. They give a different perspective than the ones in the regular media. Being blogs, they don't keep up a pretense of objectivity; all of them are actively hostile to Saddam and al-Qaida, but they vary on their reactions to America and our presence in their country. Of course, since I don't read Arabic I only read the ones in English, and I'm sure that skews my perspective somewhat. But it is important to read primary sources, and nothing is more primary than a journal of one's own experiences and emotions.
Posted by awm at 09:16 PM
November 27, 2003
Ten member Seattle Monorail board
I have to agree with the comments to this entry in Shark Blog (Some laws are more equal than others). The law is the law and Seattle residents should pay the monorail tax. Those who oppose it should work to overturn it.
However, everyone should obey the law, the taxpayers and the Monorail Authority. If you look at the board of directors, you'll note that there are ten of them. But the petition creating the authority only allows for nine (section 4). Where does the tenth come from? From the bylaws, which specifies the ability to create a non-voting ex officio seat for a Seattle legislator (section 2.10). This is a wise political move, but is contrary to the enabling petition and to the voter's intent, and the board should not be able to add members using the bylaws. If they are allowed to, there is no limit to what size the board could grow. Board members, even non-voting ones, have priviledged positions, and the board should be restricted to a size established by law.
Posted by awm at 11:57 PM
November 26, 2003
I just had a couple of beers with Stefan Sharkansky. He and his family moved to Seattle in May and he has begun to engage on the local political scene. His major issue local issue is charter schools, but his greatest potential for a contribution is through the general influence of his blog, which is nationally recognized through links from Instapundit and other majors.
We talked about local political organizing, the monorail, the Republican party. In particular, we discussed how to effect change in Seattle toward personal responsibility and fiscal conservativism while retaining social liberalism (gay and minority rights, choice on abortion, freedom of religion, etc.), basically the "eagle" position as articulated by Andrew Sullivan. Perhaps the best idea we developed revolved around volunteerism. Stefan has been looking for volunteer opportunities, and I suggested that could be coupled with political organization to amplify the impact: outsiders (which in Seattle include Republicans and other non-collectivists) can legitimize themselves by demonstrating commitment to both their principles and the needs of society. Volunteerism is the key for those of us who believe that private activity is more efficient at delivering services than government agencies. (BTW, I don't know if Stefan would express it exactly this way. Hopefully he'll comment directly.)
I enjoyed our meeting, and I'm glad to have his voice contributing to political discussion in the Emerald City. I think local opinion makers are beginning to listen.
Posted by awm at 11:56 PM
November 25, 2003
Eighteen months ago my friend Max and I launched the Blogarithm service to allow readers to track updates to their favorite blogs. Earlier today we registered our 1000th user. Collectively they are watching over 3000 pages, blogs and otherwise. Our users seem to track specific subcultures of the blogosphere: knitting, Christianity, Brazilian and Malaysian sites seem very popular.
Most sites we track have only one subscription. Unsuprizingly, the sites most watched are those with a Blogarithm sticker on them like the one in the left hand column. The most popular blog is LibertyThink with 68 subscriptions, followed by Search Engine Lowdown, Catalogablog and Magonia. By contrast, this blog has only two, one of which is me!
Max and I have a whole list of improvements to Blogarithm we hope to add over 2004 which will make it more accurate, help it scale to 10,000 users and make it easier for users to keep track of their subscriptions. One we are actively developing is a new set of stickers that are easy to adapt to different site colors, and to fit in smaller spaces. Look for that by the end of the year.
Posted by awm at 09:57 PM
November 23, 2003
Check this out
My friend Desiree Leigh and her husband Richard lead off this article in the Seattle Times. Erica met Desiree when the two of them worked at Network Commerce a few years ago. It was a pleasant surprise to see the her and Richard in the paper this morning.
Posted by awm at 11:18 PM
New Whittier Heights site
Since January I have been the president of the Whittier Heights Community Council. Recently the domain whittierheights.org became available to use, so I have just created a new website there for the council. This will replace the old site, which had a cryptic URL and had restrictions on the amount of data we could store. The new site is on my home machine, and its size is effectively unlimited. Plus Movable Type can be used to manage the site and make it simple to update. Please check it out and send me any feedback you have.
Posted by awm at 11:08 PM
November 22, 2003
The Best Thing
Genghis Khan famously described the best thing in life was "to crush the enemy, to see him driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of his women." After reading Steven Den Beste's article on what is it to be American, I believe this is the "best thing:" to know yourself and to make the world accept you on those terms.
The first half of this is about honest introspection. Knowing yourself is a difficult undertaking, and it is often much easier to let others define what you should be. But I don't believe anyone can be truly happy if he does not know what motivates him or if he find that and forgets it.
The second half is about action, taking concrete steps to live in ones own way. This is in direct contradiction to waiting for someone to give approval, or to self-constraining actions in order to spare giving offense. And this second half is necessary, for to know is not enough. It is better to be. And one cannot be if defined by another.
UPDATE: Max suggests another formulation: to know and be yourself, with respect but not deference to the rest of the world. In both phrasings, there is an acknowledgement that the world and you will disagree, occasionally or often depending on the divergence between your views and the mainstream. I wanted to highlight the satisfaction that comes from being acknowledged and accepted, and thus emphasized the process of making that happen.
Max adds the need to respect the opinions of the rest of the world. I would say "with consideration but not deference" instead. Every part of the world is worthy of consideration, but large bits of it are not worthy of respect, IMHO. But in general I accept his formulation as an improvement, especially from a civic point of view.
Posted by awm at 06:24 PM
I'm back blogging again. Who knows, maybe this time it will stick. Third time is the charm, eh?
Over a year ago blogger lost my template, which I had highly customized. They did not seem to be able to recover it from backup, either through indifference or incompetence. I determined to switch to Movable Type, and in fact got it running for other sites I host, such as monorailwatch.com and 15thAveNW.org. But because of the differences between how blogger and MT organize their templates, it was a pain to convert and still keep the same look to the site. After a number of false starts, I have finally got the main page the way I want it, although the archive pages still need some work. Thanks to Stefan Sharkansky for stumbling on andy-macdonald.net and encouraging me to begin again.
Posted by awm at 03:17 AM