Whither Seattle? [UPDATED]

Just another fun Summer in Seattle:

…Thank goodness for our barn-burning tech sector.

The irony is best laid out by a commenter on this blog post by Seattle Times food writer Nancy Leson:

I don’t think the “tax” makes any sense, especially since the money will apparently be going towards increased advertising about the city’s recycling/composting program, which,in essence, means they’ll be spending the money on a bunch of printed materials that will invariably end up in the trash. Oh, the irony!

Ironic indeed.  Intelligence like would take a village; a village made up of those inhabiting Seattle City Hall.

At least the Green Fairy is making a comeback.  Pacific Distillery will be introducing Pacifique by Christmas.  Thank God… after November elections I’m sure we’ll need it around here.


Family Squanders Charity and Prizes

The press would call them “the latest victims of the sub-prime meltdown”.  Argh. No, this is simply another prime example of what has contributed to our current economic state.

Things couldn’t look better three years ago for Milton and Patricia Harper of Lake City, who giddily accepted the keys to a small castle, plus enough money to pay taxes on it for 25 years. It was a product of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”

Now, the Clayton County house is a two-story, turreted example of how things can go wrong. It’s in foreclosure.

The Harpers used the house at 5489 Ahyoka Drive as collateral for a $450,000 loan, Clayton County mortgage records show. Records at the law firm handling foreclosures for the lender, JPMorgan Chase Bank, say it is in foreclosure. The four-bedroom house with decorative rock walls and a three-car garage is scheduled for auction on the Clayton County Courthouse steps Aug. 5.

The Harpers, who declined interview requests when reporters knocked on their door Friday, told WSB-TV they got the loan for a construction business that failed.

It gets “better”…

Materials and labor were donated, but the home would have cost about $450,000 to construct.

That was not all. Beazer Homes’ employees and company partners raised a quarter-million dollars in contributions for the family. The sum included scholarships for the three Harper children and a home maintenance fund.

The Harpers, whom ABC chose from among 15,000 “Extreme Makeover” applicants, spent the week in Disneyland while 1,800 people swarmed about the site. The family returned to a new home, plus contributions worth about $200,000.

So they blow through all that cash in two years? “Squandered” does not begin to describe their breathtakingly stupid series of decisions.

Personally, this is why I have been trying to think of the money I earn as God’s money.  Groan all you want, but you won’t see me squandering my cash on the latest car, big/stupid-expensive trip, or 60 inch plasma TVs.  It’s all about stuardship.  When you treat the money like it’s not yours, that it’s a blessing, you’re less likely to put it to complete waste.

When your attitude is, “gonna gets mine,” or some other form of entitlement mentality, you could have all the money in the world funneled to your coffers and it would all go to waste.  Why?  BECAUSE YOU CAN’T HANDLE MONEY TO SAVE YOUR LIFE!

You know, we could play Robin Hood Extreme in this country and rob even more from all the high and medium income earners.  In three years, I would wager that all of it would be back in the hands of “the rich”.  Why?  Again, because the poor are often poor for this reason: they can’t handle money.  In fact, they aren’t allowed to: the government does it all for them.

So, what are we going to learn from this latest government bailout?  That if things get bad enough, the government will step in and apply a financial gauze.  No one really gets hurt… JUST JOHN AND SUZIE-Q TAXPAYER WHO WERE RESPONSIBLE ENOUGH TO SCRIMP, SAVE AND AFFORD (OR WAIT TO AFFORD) A HOME WITHIN THEIR MEANS!

Pissed?  Doesn’t begin to describe how I feel.

Sound and Fury

That’s what carbon credits are made of… from Face the State (please DO visit the web site):

The DNC has contracted with Vermont-based NativeEnergy to offer delegates “Green challenge” carbon offsets to soften the environmental impact of convention travel. That money is then invested in carbon-free “green” energy sources around the country, including a wind turbine installed this year by the Wray School District RD-2. But a Face The State investigation reveals the district’s turbine has never produced marketable energy due to massive equipment malfunctions.

The school district held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the wind turbine February 15th. Officials soon discovered, however, that the turbine was incapable of producing its intended output. “We flipped it back off and on about 10 times since then,” said Superintendent Ron Howard. “It has run, it will run, but it won’t ramp itself up to full capacity.”

In the meantime, the project has been touted by Gov. Bill Ritter‘s administration as an example of government innovation in clean energy, with district officials still attempting to reassure residents of the technology’s long-term potential. Area residents tell Face The State the blades do turn some days, even though the turbine is not producing electricity. The district Web site reads, “As you note the blades turning evenly in the wind…this ‘dream turned into reality’ is providing an environmentally safe source of power to our community.”

*sigh*… well it’s the thought that counts, right?  And, to some Democrats it seems, intentions are all that matter.

Critical Stupidity

Let me make this very clear: I like bicycles and I like the idea of biking to work/elsewhere without having to use gas and getting/staying fit in the process.  In fact, I would REALLY love to start riding to my local Park&Ride instead of driving (it’s only 4-5 miles away).  However, I DO NOT like Critical Mass.

Critical Mass originally existed to draw attention to how unfriendly cities were to bicyclists.  It has now become a way to simply intimidate and piss off drivers.  This is most recently evidenced by a report in today’s Seattle Times.

Just after 7 p.m. Friday, the group of at least 100 bicyclists was moving en masse down East Aloha Street when a man and his girlfriend in a Subaru station wagon tried to pull out of a parking spot, said Seattle police spokesman Mark Jamieson.

For years, Critical Mass has held monthly public bike rides through Seattle to demonstrate for bicyclists’ road rights. The riders commonly engage in what they call “corking,” in which several bikers block cars while the mass of riders passes.

According to Jamieson, witnesses told officers that as the Critical Mass group moved down the street blocking traffic, some riders got in the way of the Subaru and prevented it from leaving. Some bikers sat on the car and were banging on it, he said.

“The driver was pretty fearful that he was about to be assaulted by the bicyclists,” Jamieson said.

There is an alleged eyewitness account of the rider of that smashed bike.  It’s in the Seattle Stranger (aka Seattle’s Sex Rag), so you have to take it with a grain of salt.  If it were in the Seattle Weekly, I’d give them the benefit of the doubt.

Other eyewitness accounts point out pretty clearly, to me, that the guy was being illegally detained and intimidated.  He just wanted to move on and likely didn’t understand what was going on… not that he was required to know what was going on.  Sure he may have been yelling, but he just wanted out of there.  He probably grazed a cyclist.  I’ve heard of these CM participants going ape and kicking idling/waiting cars, so you can imagine the tizzy some might be sent into if they *gasp* were bumped by an evil vehicle they were detaining.

The whole thing clearly flew apart at some point.  Whatever the driver did, it did not justify ANY other cyclists smashing in his windows and assulting him through a window.  That is vigilantism and certainly not civil disobedience; much more like anarchy.

Anyway, my message to cyclists: we are aware of you. I spend most of my time downtown as a pedestrian and I get to observe many cyclists, drivers, and their interactions.  Their interactions are mostly good.  I see both run red lights, both occasionally going the wrong way down streets, and both, at one point or another, have nearly run me down/over when I have a clear right of way.  What else I see cyclists doing: flying from street to sidewalk to street (something cars can’t casually do), yelling at cars as they’re cutting them off (drivers typically do this other drivers), flying through red lights long after it has turned (traffic cams now issue citations – can’t do so for cyclists).

Congratulations: you have nearly reached parity.  Enough demonstrations.

Ford Gets It

Nice to see an American auto company that gets it.  Now if they could just increase their reliability and match the electrical-system quality found in Honda and/or Toyota!

Ford Motor, which devoted itself for nearly 20 years to putting millions of Americans into big pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles, is about to drastically alter its focus to building more small cars.

The struggling automaker, reacting to what it sees as a rapid and permanent shift in consumer tastes brought on by high gas prices, plans to unveil its new direction on Thursday, when it will report quarterly earnings.

Among the changes, Ford is expected to announce that it will convert three of its North American assembly plants from trucks to cars, according to people familiar with the plans.

And as part of the huge bet it is placing on the future direction of the troubled American auto industry, Ford will realign factories to manufacture more fuel-efficient engines and produce six of its next European car models for the United States market.

Honestly, they should have been doing this already.  I mean, look at the way the Honda, Toyota, and Kia manufacturers have absolutely dominated that market!  As one analyst states the obvious.

Industry analysts believe Ford cannot wait any longer to reshape its manufacturing operations and step up production of smaller cars.

“Trucks and SUV’s have been so central to their strategy for so long, but the bottom line is that consumers have moved on,” said David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Duh.  Let’s go, my fellow citizens, and be modest with our money and means of transport.  Not because I suggest so or because the government makes you, but because it’s just a good freaking idea for all of us.  It’s called stewardship.

So, when do we get to see the modest European Mondeo that Bond drove in Casino Royale?  I own an older, American version (known as the Contour).