Archive for February, 2008

29
Feb
08

Armaggedon Mixed Bag

Interesting news happening around the world and in my backyard as I sip the morning espresso… Vermont wants to lower the drinking age, Iraq has given a green light to executing Chemical Ali, The FBI is now investigating the Clemens affair (somebody has to be lying), and it would appear that my oldest teenaged daughter has decided that dating the captain of the varsity football team would be a good idea. He’s polite and he knows how to do Flash animation. I give it six weeks. Arghhh.

28
Feb
08

What Are Chucks?

Both daughters came home from shopping with wifey yesterday. They kiddies (16 and 11) got matching pairs of Chucks. I said “nice Chucks!” to them and was answered with a blank stare. “The shoes, they’re Chucks.” “Who’s Chuck?” “Nevermind.” I didn’t even bother to tell them to Google it.

28
Feb
08

Houston Sprawl

One of the many things immediately noticed about the Houston area is how spread out it is. We invented urban sprawl. The next thing that you notice is an almost complete and total lack of zoning. There’s a residential community, followed by a strip mall, next to a liquor store, a high school, a church, another mall, gas stations, another mall, apartments, houses, office building, mall… get the picture? You would think that folks in Houston would be all for a more efficient, more planned use of space. Not so much. Nothing gets people’s blood boiling like a new development. Hi-rises are a chic form of living anywhere… except Houston. Yes, we have them and they do command top dollar. But building a new one is a major Bataan Death March for a developer. You see, nobody wants their view or their community impacted.

The Ashby High Rise is one such development project. It would be a 23 story building with 226 residential units, shops, a restaurant and a five-story parking garage at 1717 Bissonnet by the adjoining Southampton and Boulevard Oaks neighborhoods. Two things stand in it’s way (well, a lot more than 2, but let’s start with those): wealthy neighbors and houston’s crappy infrastructure. The adjoining subdivisions are filled with upwardly mobile folks with pricey homes and foreign cars. They don’t want the ambience of their neighborhood destroyed or their views obstructed. And the main artery that serves these neighborhoods and the proposed development (Bissonnet) is just a two-lane road. So it becomes a political football.

The mayor of Houston, Bill White, was planning on creating some new ordinances to force the developer to adhere to new traffic impact rules. Instead, he has trotted out the Houston Driveway Law that dates back to the 1940’s. It gives the city the power to reject site plans where driveways connect to public streets and:

  • A location where 60 percent or more of the properties within a 500-foot radius are residential
  • Driveways that feed onto local or collector streets instead of a major thoroughfare
  • A net increase of 50 additional vehicles going to and from the development during rush hours

Great. Using this approach, new laws do not have to go through City Council, the developers will get to propose (and likely pay for) widening of city streets and the addition of turning lanes, and the price of the residential living spaces will rise (a lot). Oh, and the existing community residents will still complain because their view is obstructed and they live next to an evil high rise… in a city with no zoning. They can take solace in the fact that there’s at least a dozen places to get all liquored up about it within walking distance.

27
Feb
08

Moon Slam

NASA scientists are planning to slam not one but two spacecraft’s into the moon. Ostensibly, the plan is to see if traces of hidden water ice can be revealed by whacking the moon’s south pole. But what if the moon breaks apart because of this, sending bits of debris hurtling toward us at supersonic speed, causing earthquakes, tsunami’s, flooding, firestorms and the end of life as we know it?

27
Feb
08

Vegas Douchebag?

The internet portal of the Las Vegas travel industry is apparently giving truth in advertising a spin. http://www.vegas.com/douchebag/

27
Feb
08

Global Warming My Ass!

Snow cover over North America and much of Siberia, Mongolia and China is greater than at any time since 1966. The U.S. National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) reported that many American cities and towns suffered record cold temperatures in January and early February. According to the NCDC, the average temperature in January “was -0.3 F cooler than the 1901-2000 (20th century) average.” China is surviving its most brutal winter in a century. Temperatures in the normally balmy south were so low for so long that some middle-sized cities went days and even weeks without electricity because once power lines had toppled it was too cold or too icy to repair them. There have been so many snow and ice storms in Ontario and Quebec in the past two months that the real estate market has felt the pinch as home buyers have stayed home rather than venturing out looking for new houses. In just the first two weeks of February, Toronto received 70 cm of snow, smashing the record of 66.6 cm for the entire month set back in the pre-SUV, pre-Kyoto, pre-carbon footprint days of 1950. And remember the Arctic Sea ice? The ice we were told so hysterically last fall had melted to its “lowest levels on record? Never mind that those records only date back as far as 1972 and that there is anthropological and geological evidence of much greater melts in the past. The ice is back.

So I swiped this from the National Post. I’m not really advocating for the fact that global warming exists or doesn’t. What I do believe in my heart of hearts is that global climate is a very complex, fluid system that is currently beyond man’s ability to understand or influence. With all due respect to the inventor of the Internet: Mr. Gore, you are an alarmists poo blossom that has absolutely no proof whatsoever that what humans have done has altered the climate in any way and that we can do will have any effect, as well. Matter of fact, all you carping about alternative fuels may have caused the recent massive jump in tainted beef production:

Fascinating piece in Consumer Reports looking at why “more than 25 million pounds of beef believed to be tainted went to market in 2007, up from less than 200,000 pounds the year before.” It seems that at least one theory is that the blame can be traced to increased production of ethanol. According to the story, “Government regulators and beef industry officials have been scrambling to explain the increase in beef contamination. Among the theories: rising oil prices have encouraged greater production of ethanol, which creates a corn byproduct that increasingly is being used as cattle feed. This feed appears to make the animals’ digestive tracts even more hospitable breeding grounds for the toxic strain of E. coli bacteria, says Kenneth Petersen, an assistant administrator in the Office of Field Operations at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Droughts in some regions might also have contributed to the survival of more virulent forms of the bacteria, and better investigation methods now can link far-flung cases of beef contamination to a single cause.

Saving the world, one diarrhea cramp at a time…

26
Feb
08

Gun Buyback Truth Revealed

 

They don’t work. As a case in point, take a recent large scale buy back in Oakland. State Senator Don Pereta (a misguided Democrap) offered to buy handguns and assault weapons for $250 each, “no questions asked, no ID required.” The “One Less Gun” buyback program attracted so many eager sellers that the money quickly ran out, but instead of closing up shop, the police handed out IOUs good for a future buyback. The Oakland police are now stuck with a bill for $170,000.

Now let’s have a look at the details of this little government giveaway. Hey, the Oakland police bought a dozen guns from seniors living in an assisted living facility. That’s a relief. And was anyone surprised when a lot of the folks standing in line were licensed gun dealers? Maybe. Because nobody thought to find out what a cheap gun was going for these days. There were lot’s of dealers standing in line ready to make a profit off of another government program… legally. I’ve done this, too. I bought several cheap little .22 pistols (otherwise known as Saturday Night Specials), that I had no intention of using, for $50 a piece. My area had a gun buyback at $100 per that got you Wal*Mart gift certificates. Sold all three of those pistols and bough $300 worth of ammo from Wally World. But I digress. I just wanted to point out that people are not as stupid as the government hopes they are.

Some basic rules to help understand the whole gun thing:

  • Criminals, by definition, do not obey the law. As such, laws don’t work on them. Telling them they cannot have a gun is just as effective as telling them they cannot steal your car or burglarize your house. They break laws.
  • The sickos that walk into a mall and start shooting them up are breaking many laws. Do you honestly think that banning guns (or anything else) will prevent a criminal or psycho from acting like a criminal or psycho?
  • Since heaping on more legislation seems to not be working so well, do you suppose that stronger enforcement of existing laws is in order? Maybe if folks new that they would really be punished for robbery or killing somebody…? It doesn’t matter where the gun/car/knife/bat came from. Break the law, get punished.
  • Ah, forget it. Some of you understand this stuff. Some of you never will.