Thursday, September 29, 2011

Obama Worst For Civil Liberties?

I was surprised to see this piece in the Los Angeles Times. The author criticizes Obama's record on civil liberties claiming Obama has been a disaster in that regard.

I'm certainly no Obamaton but I've mostly thought of Obama's record on civil liberties as simply a continuation of those from past administrations. Maintaining the status- quo for the most part. The writer is correct, though, in that the civil liberties as well as the anti- war movement seems to have been muted under Obama.

Take the L.A. Times commentary as you will, but don't try and accuse the writer of being some right- wing shill. Wikipedia shows him to be well known as a "...champion of liberal and progressive causes".
As an aside, perhaps the reason I haven't been too critical of Obama's civil rights record is that, while troubled by post 9/11 anti- terror efforts, I tend to concentrate on more "home" type issues such as people being arrested by police for recording police officers while in the course of their duties or being told what they can or can't eat (yes, I consider food and drink restrictions a civil rights issue).

Along that line, here's a petition to the White House asking that all police departments receiving federal aid be mandated to record police actions with the public. I've signed the petition but can't help but wonder that if such a law was passed it may come back to haunt us?

Might a court somewhere rule that- assuming this law was passed- since the police are required to record their actions, private citizens have no reason to and thus could still be subject to arrest?

Sunday, September 25, 2011


No, I didn't just kick the neighbor's dog.

Some of you might be familiar with Yelp as that online tool that enables people to review different businesses. I see it all the time when checking out places to stay on trips down south. One of the first links that usually comes up is Yelp where you get to see what other people think of that particular motel or hotel.

I became reacquainted with it yesterday when I did a search for Big Louie's Pizzeria. We were looking for the ingredients to their Baja pizza and came up with Yelp first. Unlike my other visits to Yelp, this was the first time I decided to do my own evaluation. I thought I might already have done a Yelp review but was asked to register first. No biggie. I registered and wrote a quick evaluation of Big Louie's.

The slightly unpleasant surprise was they're linked in with Facebook and Twitter and I was asked it I'd like to have my Facebook info added to Yelp. I thought I chose not to but, within an hour of registering, I received a "Friend" request from one of my Facebook friends who also uses Yelp. A few hours later I received another. I really didn't want to get in to that.

I guess it's no big deal but why does everything have to revolve around Facebook? Still, the site works easily enough and should be a useful tool for people to review and evaluate businesses. As long as they pay particular attention to my reviews since I don't have an axe to grind as some of the others seem to.

Friday, September 23, 2011

GQ Does Gary Johnson

Gentleman's Quarterly has a really nice piece on Gary Johnson, the ignored Republican candidate for President. Much of it deals with exactly that: How the media picks your presidential candidates for you and what it's like being on the losing end of it.

Hat tip to Radley Balko for the link.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Free The Bees!

I was pleased to see this North Coast Journal piece on local beekeeping and its related legal problems. All the local city councils should get onboard the effort to allow beekeeping within city limits. It's a no- brainer.

As an aside, the Eureka Animal Control officer that insisted the fellow in the story remove his hive immediately rather than wait for nightfall when the bees are inactive showed extremely poor judgement. Does he handle all his cases like that?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

NO on Sidewalk Trees

I found a green door hanger on my front door yesterday afternoon. It was from the Keep Eureka Beautiful (KEB) folks. Local busy- body and past candidate for Eureka City Council, Ron Kuhnel, was listed as the contact. They were offering to tear up squares of my sidewalk and plant trees in them, all for the low price of $75.00 each.

I'm sure they mean well, but this is a dumb idea for a number of reasons.
There's no shortage of either trees or shade in Eureka but more trees, especially in the sidewalks, will cause problems- limited visibility, being one.

That's considered an advantage by the KEB folks because trees along streets slow traffic down. Why is that? Because trees reduce visibility so most people slow down because they can't see as well. But that also increases the chance of a child or pet not being seen when they suddenly appear from behind a tree.
I suspect street trees could make streets more dangerous because of the drivers who speed regardless of conditions.

Limited visibility also makes it easier for thieves and other criminal types to go about their business undetected. Security experts always recommend less trees and shrubbery around a home, not more.

Trees make messes. One thing people who plant trees discover is they can be a hassle just because of the mess they make. All trees, whether deciduous or evergreen, shed leaves. Some shed leaves all year long. This ends up costing everyone for clean up and unplugging storm drains.

I recall driving down I Street last year when leaves were dropping. Between 5th and 6th Streets on the west side there's a number of sidewalk trees in front of businesses. Leaves were covering the sidewalk. That really looked the mess. I'm not one normally bothered by the "wild" look of leaves on the ground but who's gonna clean that up?

I know in my business Fall leaves can be a real headache. Try mowing a lawn with a 6" layer of leaves over it and see how fun that is. Sometimes there's more leaves than can be hauled off in one truck load. Often the city ends up footing the bill for removal as leaves end up out in the street.

Leaves can also be a safety hazard. I've slipped on piles of leaves before. A few years ago, the leaves from our chestnut tree piled up behind the tires of my truck after it rained. When I returned home the leaves were still there. As I slowed down and stopped, the wheels stopped on the leaves and the truck skidded about 3 feet. If the wife's car was still parked where it normally was I would have hit it.

What about the sidewalks themselves? There's three properties (one being the Arkley's) with fairly recently installed sidewalk trees within half a block of my house. I'm not impressed with any of them. I wouldn't go so far to call them ugly, but I cringe every time I see them. I can't help but think what a pain it would be to park my car or have to unload large items from a truck next to those trees.

I have yet to see one property with street trees that wouldn't be fine or even better off without them.

Sidewalk trees are not a good idea. If someone wants to go ahead and plant trees in their sidewalk, then have at it. I certainly won't. We have enough trouble with the trees we already have.

Let's hope few people fall for this idea or that those who do won't be able to afford the $75.00 per tree. Let's not go out of our way to create problems that needn't be.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Nice T-S Bone Marrow Transplant Story

A nicely done story on the front page of today's Times- Standard regarding "bone marrow" transplants. This time they seemed to cover all the bases. Bone marrow is rarely used in transplants nowadays. That's why I placed it in quotation marks.

A year or two or three ago, the Times- Standard had a similar story about some gal from Hoopa(?) that was looking for a bone marrow donor. That story gave the impression that bone marrow was actually used for the transplant. Understandable, since even organizations involved in the process still use the term.

While not made too clear in today's story, the transplants are nearly always made today using stem cells taken from a donor's blood. They rarely extract bone marrow as they did years ago.

What they do is kill the patient's bone marrow using radiation or strong chemicals. The donor's stem cells are infused into the patient pretty much like a blood transfusion. The stem cells then create new bone marrow, hopefully minus the disease.

When that last story was published, I went to what were then the Times- Standard's Topix comments and simply pointed out that they use stem cells from the blood, not bone marrow. What followed were a bunch of quite nasty remarks in which I was accused of interfering with the girl's quest for a donor.

No matter how I tried to explain it, the folks who commented (with the exception of one who knew what I was trying to explain) really went after me. One told me that maybe my wife was special and got some special kind of treatment but (in so many words) I shouldn't interfere in other's efforts to get a bone marrow transplant.

I still can't figure out where they were coming from. Maybe it was the way I wrote my comments? At any rate, this latest story proves that my comments back then were correct and I feel vindicated.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Endorsing The YES Vote

The Sacramento Bee's Dan Walters pointed out the other day how most of the bills that go through our state legislature- especially the ones towards the end of the legislative session- are essentially junk, and shouldn't see the light of day.

Then we have another piece in the Bee pointing out that many Democrats have a hard time voting No on any bills. At least a couple have voted Yes on any bill that came before them.

Lastly we have a SecBee editorial where the editors suggest the Governor mercilessly veto the vast majority of bills that are coming before him now, with the exception of a few of the editorial staff's favorites.

It's a breath of fresh air to see the Bee admit most of these bills shouldn't be passed. It's pathetic that while all of these bills were introduced and placed on the Governor's desk by Democrats, you can bet the Bee editorial staff will be endorsing these same Democrats next time they're up for election.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Eureka Online Water Billing Works Now

Yet one more thing the post office will be delivering fewer of. I just received my water bill and noticed a billing web site included. Some of you might recall I tried their online billing some years ago and couldn't get it to work. Now it does. If you live in Eureka, give it a try.


Actually, not too big of a deal but what was believed to be a great white shark was spotted near Crescent City. Some fishermen actually got a video of it circling beneath their boat and posted it on Youtube. Not the best video but if you watch the whole thing you'll see it a few times in the lighter water. One shot shows pretty good detail.

What I thought was cool about The Triplicate's reporting was they actually provided the search words to find it on Youtube. I've noticed some local news web sites sometimes don't even provide links to web sites that they mention in their stories.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

All About Fracking

I thought this Popular Mechanics piece on fracking was nicely done. All you ever wanted to know about that controversial method of natural gas drilling.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Support Your Right To Record

We need to see more commentaries like this one by Glen Reynolds standing up for the right of people to record police in the course of their duties. A recent court ruling affirmed the right of people to do such things but many police departments and prosecutors have ignored that right in the past and continue to.

Radley Balko, over at The Agitator, has covered the issue extensively for some time. Here's his latest piece on citizens being harassed, beaten, arrested (or all three) for simply recording instances of what they believed to be police abuse.

I certainly agree with Balko that the police actions in this and other instances amounts to criminal behavior. We really need to turn this around and pass specific laws at the state and federal level criminalizing police interference with peaceful recording of their actions.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Giving Press+ A Try

I went ahead and bit the bullet the other day. I signed up for a $2.00 (actually $1.99) a month online subscription to the Times- Standard. I used up my 5 free story views and wanted to link to one for my last blog post so went ahead with paying.

Rather silly of me to use a link that so few others can use. Probably even sillier to pay $2.00 for it!

Press+ is the outfit/ application that manages online subscriptions. It seemed a little confusing to sign up for, at first. Maybe it was because I kept switching pages and confusing their system. Seems ok now since it recognized me this morning without having to log back in with them.

Link What I don't like is the subscription is limited to just the Times- Standard. I tried to view a story in the Ukiah Daily Journal (same parent company as the T-S) and was asked to pay another $2.00. I'd feel a lot better about this if the subscription fee covered more than one paper's web site.

Regardless, I'm not going to pay for access to the Ukiah Daily Journal. I just don't use it that much.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

POP's E Street Bust Fizzles

It was a long time in coming but I guess the Problem Oriented Policing unit's bust of a house on E Street in Eureka didn't amount to much. Such a shame. I'm guessing the house with the brick chimney in the picture was the house that was raided. It's just a couple houses up on the other side of the street from ours and we've dealt with the goings on there for years.

I had no idea, except I saw four or five police cars parked a block down the street as I went to work Wednesday morning. No cops in sight and I couldn't imagine why the cops would be stopped out in front of Carol's house. I guess they parked down there so they could sneak up on them. I didn't know what happened until I read it in the paper.

Looks like it fizzled. The only arrest was for some warrant plus the gal that owns the house got cited for illegally turning her garage into a living space for some guys she's putting up. That cite for the code violation not exactly being something a libertarian should relish although if it succeeded in cleaning that house out you wouldn't hear me complaining.

So did it work? Is the neighborhood quieter and safer now? Doesn't seem like it. We suspect residents of that house of going into the Matteoli's yard on Tuesday night and stealing beer from a cooler left over from a party they had that same night. The next night- I believe the night of the day they got raided- they came back and took the cooler. They also broke the back gate when they couldn't figure out how to open it.

I was unaware of that until yesterday when I noticed we got ripped off, too. I didn't notice the garbage can I store my flattened aluminum cans in was gone from our back porch until I went to use it. I smashed a can in my can smasher, turned to toss it in the garbage can and noticed the can wasn't there. I thought something looked different earlier but hadn't paid much attention until then.

I asked Connie if she did something with it. That's when she told me she hadn't and that the guys from the drug house that stole the Matteoli's stuff probably took our can, too.

The first thing I noticed earlier that morning was the 5 gallon propane tank we had sitting in the center of the patio had been moved to the middle of the sidewalk. I just figured Connie moved it for some reason. When we realized the garbage can had been stolen (half full of flattened aluminum cans) we thought maybe they'd planned on taking the propane tank, too, but changed their minds. Or maybe they'd come back again and steal the tank and our barbeque? It wasn't in the way of the garbage can so there was no other reason to move it.

I put both the tank and BBQ inside the back room for the night, closed the back gate as best I could and blocked it with some old rotten stumps. We were hoping if they did come back we'd hear them.

They didn't come back last night but we were treated to an hour or so worth of loud yelling from them around 11 o'clockish. Some guy yelling "F**K Y**" at the top of his lungs over and over again. Not unusual at all for that place. We expect that sort of thing. I'm just hoping the stealing isn't going to start being an ongoing issue.

About the only way I can think to get rid of them is to hope for a good enough bust that they all end up in jail or maybe figure some way to seize the house using asset forfeiture laws (another issue that should bother a libertarian). All we can do is hope, but I hate the idea of having to put anything remotely of value behind locked doors every night.

In fairness, I also need to remind myself and others there's always the possibility that it might have been someone else that did the stealing. It's not like this is the first time we've had thieves in the neighborhood.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Alfred "Fred" Salinas: 1936-2011

Here's to Fred Salinas, who died the other day at age 75. I hadn't seen him since back in the days of working at the Humboldt Bay Power Plant in the '80s. A friend e-mailed me yesterday to tell me he saw his name in the Times- Standard obituaries. A sad obituary it was, too, consisting of only a few sentences with no information about him. He deserved better than that.

Fred came to be a fellow guard at the power plant after being laid off at one of the mills out on Samoa that closed. I forget which one but he started there way back before the Samoa bridge was built.

He always had good stories to tell of those times, including taking the ferry across the bay to work. Back then it launched from the foot of West Del Norte Street. I particularly enjoyed the ones of the occasional fights that would break out over one thing or another on the ferry between a couple mill workers on the way to work. He'd seen it all.

He grew up in Texas and spent some time there both as a kid and an adult. I used to kid him about being of hispanic descent and the Border Patrol agents chasing after him. He didn't seem to mind, knowing me for the clown I could be.

We got to talking about the Border Patrol more seriously one day. He told me they were really good at picking out illegals. One time he was in a bar with some friends and the Border Patrol came in. They didn't give him and his group a second glance. They looked at the back of the bar, saw a group of Mexicans sitting, seemed to know they were illegals and arrested them. Somehow they could tell, Fred said.

I remember one time we were working the same shift together during a stormy day- one of those rare days when we get a bunch of thunderstorms here. He was patrolling the upper hill area of the plant- P1, we called it, for Patrol Area #1.

A bunch of squalls came through and I became a bit uncomfortable with some of the swirling cloud formations approaching the plant from the southwest. I'd seen similar things on TV before and they looked like how tornadoes formed. First time I'd seen something like that up here.

When we were done with our outside shift and came inside I commented on the weird cloud formations. Fred replied, "When we'd see something like that in Texas, we'd head for the cellar". Made me glad to know I was right to worry a bit.

A great guy, he was. Everybody like Fred. I believe he worked with us until most of us got laid off around '88. I never knew what happened to him after that but he never seemed concerned about the future prior to the layoffs. He used to say, "You'd be surprised how things seem to work out".

Since the obituary in the Times- Standard was so poor and was only up for one day, I'll let this post be my part in honoring a great guy.

Update: A nicer obituary for Fred in today's Time- Standard.