Friday, August 31, 2012

Great Johnson LTE Yesterday

This letter to the editor of the Times- Standard was one of the best I've read lately. Wouldn't you just love to meet the guy that wrote it?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Online Only Rent Payment?

I normally loath Democratic State Senator Ted Lieu, but I'm with him on this one. He's sponsored a bill that would make it illegal to require rent only be paid online.

It's the result of a landlord in Southern California who started requiring tenants to pay rent online only- no more checks, I guess. One older tenant there didn't feel comfortable with online payments, there being a number of security issues with online transactions.

Normally I'd say rental agreements should be between the tenant and the landlord. If someone moves in to a place and agrees to pay rent online, that's fine. If someone is already renting, though, I'd have to object to the landlord all of the sudden changing the deal.

I happen to be one that pays all my bills online but have to wonder why a landlord would even want to accept online payment? My personal experience is that it costs more to accept online payments, at least as a business, since banks take a percentage of it.

It might work if you just paid rent with Paypal and sent it to the landlord by name. I used to accept Paypal for my business until they figured out I was a business and started skimming 3% off the payment. I went back to the old fashioned way and it's actually easier.

Seems to me a landlord couldn't refuse a check if you showed up at their door to pay them, could they? Makes me wonder just why the landlord in question came up with the online payment idea and if there are any other details to the story we're missing?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Joe and Jill Sixpack in a Focus Group

Short but Interesting piece in the National Review here about swing voters. Republican strategist Frank Luntz interviews a group of average voters to see what they're thinking, how to appeal to them, what works and what doesn't.

I feel safe in saying these swing voters are the reason for political polls bouncing up and down the way they do. My opinions don't change all that much on many issues over time. I'm always dismayed to see polls change- sometimes overnight it seems- just because a new set of TV ads come out.

And let's not hear from Democrats that this is the Republicans trying to lie or manipulate the public. Democrats do the exact same thing for their candidates just as any company does when trying to sell their product.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Stop The Ethanol Mandate

The Washington Examiner has a good commentary on the insanity of the ethanol mandate. Corn is in short supply because of the drought, yet over 40% of the nation's corn is being diverted to produce ethanol- a gas additive that even environmentalists are beginning to view as a sham. Food and gas prices are rising as a result.

Obama could suspend the mandate if he wanted to, but he hasn't and likely won't. I doubt Romney would, either. Too much money lining certain interest's pockets. When will this ethanol insanity end?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Poll: Best Humboldt Blog

John, over at the Like You've Got Something Better To Do blog is asking for help. He wants everyone to go to this North Coast Journal poll and vote him in as the Best Humboldt Blog. I'll go along with that. I find his blog entertaining- pictures are often hilarious, albeit sometimes overdone- and he posts often enough.

I can't really vote for this blog, can I? It would be a bit tacky to vote for one's own blog, although it is tempting.

Problem is, none of us can take the poll as I write this. When you try, you get a message that you've already taken the poll which I most certainly haven't! My guess is that the poll was mistakenly set up to recognize cookies from prior visits to the NCJ web site as meaning you've already taken the poll? Then again, I'm not sure that the others have been to the NCJ site before as I have so maybe that's not it?

I'm sure they'll fix that after reading about the problem here. Once they do, I hope you'll join me in voting LYGSBTD as the #1 Humboldt blog.
As an aside, Marc Matteoli stopped by last night and asked me if I knew of any "conservative" Humboldt blogs. Not sure why and didn't ask. I was stumped by the question, though.

Hmmm??? I'd forgot about Rose's Coffee Shop blog, but I'm not sure that's what he was looking for. I think Marc wanted something more local.

I finally came up with John Chiv's blog- wherever that one is- but pointed out that was just a collection of opinion pieces he wrote in the Times- Standard and didn't accept comments. I don't think that's what Marc was looking for, either.

I'm still stumped. Am I forgetting one? Help me out here.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

You Can't Let THEM Win!

This fun piece in Reason magazine does a great job of showing what myself and others (that often watch from afar) see among fraternal partisan types during elections.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Just Say No To Awareness Campaigns?

I've always been skeptical of efforts to deal with drug problems. The Times- Standard reports some local people and agencies are concerned about prescription drug abuse. No doubt we'll be seeing some sort of educational or awareness campaign towards that end in the months to come.

I suppose any good that comes from such programs could outweigh the bad. My personal experience makes me wonder.

Some of you might remember the Datura scare of some years ago. People found that a local ornamental plant had intoxicating properties. One of the local news stations did a story on it one night that featured a Datura plant in a front yard of a house down on Eureka's west side. The next morning much of that plant was missing- someone having come in the night to take some home for their own use.

They might not have known about that plant's psychedelic properties before the news cast. They did after.

My personal experience with drug awareness programs goes back to around 1969. I was in 8th grade at C.E. Utt Jr. High School in Tustin. They had anti- drug programs in school even back then and simple possession of marijuana was a felony at the time. I hadn't even smoked pot yet and had no first hand experience with illegal drugs.

Some drug identification brochures were given out during a class one day. As someone who was fascinated by all I'd read and seen on TV about drugs, I couldn't put those pamphlets down. All the pictures of barbiturates, amphetamines, pot and opiates looked so enticing. I wanted some!

After class I got together with an acquaintance and pointed out some of the things in the brochures I thought I'd seen in my mother's medicine cabinet. The one I was sure of was called Dexamyl- an amphetamine/ barbiturate compound I would later find out. Dan (won't use last names here) said  he wasn't sure, but he'd check the medicine cabinet in his house for things on the "list".

The next morning we met and went out to the school's sports field to check out our booty. I forget who found what. I know I'd grabbed a bunch of the Dexamyl (I found out later it was prescribed to my mother for weight loss but she'd stopped taking them years before). We also had an assortment of tetracycline (antibiotic), estrogen (female hormone supplement) and some other stuff that wasn't on the list- anything we could find. Pretty silly, really.

Time came to go to class so I told Dan to hold on to the stash. He refused, not wanting to get caught with it. I didn't want it, either, so we put it all back in the paper bag and I tossed it over a fence at the far side of the field. We could pick it up after school.

Problem was, Mr. Kempton, our P.E. teacher was watching us. He went out to the fence, found the bag and took it to the school office. The Tustin Police were called.

I got called to the office and a detective questioned me. He used that old tactic of, "Dan says....". He suggested I brought the stuff to school and tried to sell it to Dan, or so said Dan. Naive as I was, I believed it, but I just told him exactly what happened: We'd seen the pills in the drug brochure, found some at home and brought them to school.

To make a long story short, we were both arrested and charged with felonies- the Dexamyl I'd brought being the biggie. The rest of the stuff would have just been misdemeanors. I ended up being charged with Possession of a Dangerous Drug. Later that would be reduced to Possession of a Hypnotic Drug Without a Prescription, a misdemeanor.

I have no idea what they charged Dan with or what happened to him. Some years later I saw him briefly from a distance when I first started attending continuation school. He must have saw me, too, as I never saw him again. Maybe he did say I was trying to sell the stuff to him, got scared when he saw me and hightailed it out of that school?

Anyway, all that, thanks to what would be considered the Drug Abuse Resistance Education at the time. I don't know that I would have ever known about Dexamyl or gone rummaging through the medicine cabinet had it not been for those drug pamphlets we were given. I'm not suggesting I wouldn't have done drugs eventually, but that awareness campaign piqued my interest and got me involved quicker.

So much for awareness and educational campaigns, at least for me.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Audit The Fed?

I'll admit my eyes gloss over when hearing about some financial issues, the Federal Reserve being one of them. But, I keep hearing people I respect bring it up over and over so I felt I had to watch this short YouTube video (less than 5 minutes)explaining the Fed. Nicely done, by a news commentator.

Still, even after watching the video, I have to ask: What do we do about the Fed? Would things be any different if the money supply were run by congress or a government agency?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Meth Lab: OH, MY GOD!

Sorry, but I think the story on this supposed meth lab that was found not far from my house in Eureka is a bunch of hype. The cops find it during a probation search, then claim it's so bad they have to call in help from out of the area to clean it up. Right.

It doesn't sound like there was much hazardous material there. If you look at the list of the items they found, most were just common household items, the exception being hydrochloric acid. The guy they arrested was living amongst the stuff unprotected, yet the police are shown in hazmat suits.

Not saying they shouldn't wear protection, but it seems to me it would be easy enough to dispose of most of that stuff. The small amount of toxic stuff could have been put in some sort of container and hauled off. Actual disposal might be a problem, but there didn't seem to be that much of it. Not that big of a deal the way I read the story.

Since they mentioned lack of funding for dealing with this sort of thing, I'm assuming this is more of a not- so- subtle plea to raise taxes?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Eureka Police Chief Search: Starting from scratch?

For unknown reasons, the City of Eureka's first choice for a new police chief declined the offer. I would expect the powers- that- be might take the 2nd and 3rd choices into consideration but maybe that's not the way it's done?

I don't know, but I did see something similar happen with officer recruiting at Eureka P.D. years ago. Not quite the same thing but close enough.

When I was going through the College of the Redwoods Police Academy back in '84, EPD was hiring. Myself and a few other guys applied and went through the oral board. I failed horribly, as always, but one guy came in first place. Then they announced they were starting the hiring process over again.

I don't recall if they started the whole process over again. Maybe it was just the oral testing. The guy who came in first couldn't understand it but he went through the process again. I don't remember if I bothered.

The guy takes the oral board again and comes in #1 for the second time. Eureka P.D. announces they're starting over again for the third time. I remember him asking then Captain Harpham what the problem was and Murl just told him to go through the process again, avoiding any comments regarding the guy's performance- good or bad- during the oral board.

We were talking after Murl left and the guy just couldn't get it. He's wondering what he did wrong that he had to start over after being #1 on the board twice in a row. I just told him to take a hint and that there was something about him that the higher ups didn't like. I suggested he give it up and look elsewhere.

I don't remember if he took the oral again or whatever became of him but he was never hired.

What I didn't tell him is that he was just not physically impressive in the least. He was a small guy: a bit shorter than I was, real skinny and had probably the skinniest arms I'd ever seen- weenie arms, or toothpicks, I've always called arms like that. I'm not saying smaller guys can't be tough but I just couldn't see him getting physical with anyone.

No doubt in my mind that's why they kept looking for someone else when he kept coming in #1 on the oral board. I realize things might have changed and now hiring is more diverse in most departments, but I'd have a problem considering a little guy like that for a police job- then or now.

Makes me wonder if there's something along that line going on with the police chief search, although I'm not saying physical attributes have much bearing on an office job. Sounds as if they might have wanted someone local all along and the #1 candidate turning down the job gave them an opportunity to look again?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Is Humboldt Bay's Entrance Big Enough For World Class?

Discussion once again over at Humboldt Herald about improving Humboldt Bay's access to ships. Some think we can make Humboldt Bay a World Class Port. I'm skeptical of that and pointed out how small the entrance to the bay is. I can't imagine more than one decent sized ship going through it at a time.

So I decided to check around the state and see how wide other entrances to ports and harbors are. Using Google Earth and its "ruler" application, I measure a few of them and was surprised at my first two picks:

I grew up in Orange County so spent some time around Newport Harbor. Newport Harbor is by no means a world class port, being used mostly for recreational vessels. It measured about 257 yards across the mouth of its entrance.

The surprise was measuring Humboldt Bay. Just from memory, I figured Humboldt's was about the same as Newport. Nope. Humboldt Bay's entrance is just over twice as wide at about 600 yards.

San Francisco Bay's entrance at the Golden Gate Bridge is 2,149 yards. Now that's world class size!

Then there's Long Beach which I haven't really been to except having swam in the ocean there maybe once (yucky water). Looking at the picture (couldn't figure out how to paste Google Earth pics here), Long Beach has three entrances.

The biggest seems to be about 500 yards across, smaller than Humboldt. The other two are 377 and 318 yards. All smaller than Humboldt's entrance. Is Long Beach considered a world class port? I've always thought so.

There's certainly more criteria than just width of the entrance to a port- channel depth, being one. Still, I guess I wasn't quite right in thinking Humboldt's entrance isn't wide enough to be world class.

I still think it's too small for ships to do much once they get inside the bay. I'll be more than happy to be proven wrong.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Safe State Elections And The Wasted Vote

Something we don't often consider in presidential elections is that those elections aren't really nationwide in the sense of a popular vote.

Each state has their own election for President. The results determine which candidate gets that state's electoral votes. The 50 state's electoral votes determine who wins the White House.

Why does this matter? I look at it as a way of addressing the "wasted vote" argument, at least in what are called "safe" states as opposed to swing states.

A safe state is one where political leanings are considered strong enough to guarantee victory for one candidate. For instance, California- a strongly Democratic state- is a safe state for President Obama. There's little question he'll win this state even without trying.

This became an issue a few days back when I was reading comments on a story in the Sacramento Bee. One fellow commented that he liked Libertarian Party Presidential Candidate, Gary Johnson, but was worried about him "taking votes that would otherwise go to Romney".

I reminded him that, first of all, he's assuming Johnson voters would automatically vote for Romney. Second, it's the state vote count that matters, not the popular nationwide vote. Here in California there's pretty much no question Obama will win and thus take the state's electoral votes.

In a sense, since there's no chance of Romney winning this state, you could argue Romney votes are wasted votes. You could probably say the same with Obama voters: He's gonna win, anyway. Does your vote really count?

That's especially true for those who would prefer to vote for someone else but vote mostly against a candidate. How many times have you heard someone say he'd vote for some third party candidate but he's afraid of the Rep or Dem winning? I hear it all the time.

In safe states it really shouldn't matter. Since Obama is all but sure to win California, your vote is wasted if you vote for either Obama or Romney. The result, as far as the statewide election and its electoral votes, is all but assured.

The news keeps reporting that many voters want more choices and would be willing to vote for a third party candidate for President, but they rarely do. If you think of the race as a state race and live in a safe state, there's no reason not to vote for your real choice. Doing otherwise really is wasting your vote.

Just another reason to vote for Gary Johnson if you live in California.

Addendum: Pertinent section from Wikipedia on the Electoral College. Caps are mine for emphasis:

 "...all states except Maine and Nebraska (explained below) use a winner-take-all system (as opposed to a majority electoral system) where the candidate who wins the most popular votes in a state wins all of that state's electoral votes. Under this system no advantage is gained by winning more than a plurality of the vote, nor is there any advantage gained by winning additional votes in a state that will still be lost. In other words, Presidential candidates have no incentive to spend time or resources in states they are likely to win or lose by a sizable margin."

I rest my case.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Thompson Endorses Ciarabellini?

Congressman Mike Thompson endorsed Melinda Ciarabellini in her quest for another term on the Eureka City Council. Wow! How exciting!


I suppose there's nothing wrong with touting any endorsements she can get, but I question whether a congressman should be making city council endorsements in the first place. Never mind that Mike Thompson isn't even our representative in congress anymore.

I certainly wouldn't have wrote a letter to the editor announcing it. I'd save that letter for a more impressive endorsement. Maybe from someone a bit more local?

Monday, August 06, 2012

An Environmentalists' Argument Against Draining Hetch Hetchy

I've commented before opposing current proposals to tear down the O'Shaughnesy Sam and drain the Hetch Hetchy Valley. That dam and its lake being a major source of water for the San Francisco Bay Area. In short, this state needs more water storage and infrastructure, not less.

We can't keep shutting off water supplies and count on "alternative sources". It's insane to think we can shut off one of the main sources of water for one of our largest populated areas without serious consequences. They'll have to get their water from somewhere. What other source in the state will they get it from?

I was glad to see an environmentalist make my argument, and others, against the draining of the Hetch Hetchy.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Iran: A Reminder

I bring this up because I'm tired of hearing the main stream media suggest over and over that Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons. As reminds us, nearly all intelligence agencies believe Iran abandoned their nuclear weapons program some years ago.

And what if Iran actually developed a nuke? We might not be talking about attacking them if they did. When was the last time we attacked a country that could actually fight back?

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Sex Offender Registry Abuse

This piece from The Economist magazine is probably the best I've read on state run sex offender registries and their abuse. They also point out that most attempts to change the system end up in reformers being labeled supporters of child molesters. I've found that true even if you simply criticize it.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Rolling Up And Replacing Dead Blogs

A number of blogs, local and otherwise, haven't been updated in months. Among them are Bob Huck's, Chocolate Covered Xanax and Lynette's NorCal History blog. Special shame with Lynette's as I really enjoyed the local history.

I'm sure we'd all prefer they get those blogs up and running again but it looks unlikely after two months or more. As I've written before, it's time to roll 'em up and shut 'em down. No use clogging up cyberspace with a dead blog.

The biggest bummer is the Classically Liberal blog. It held the honor of being listed on the sidebar here. Great commentary and one of the best at debunking claims by the global warming crowd and other political correctness.

I posted a comment to his blog a few weeks ago asking what was going on. He hadn't posted since April. No response. I guess that means the end of Classically Liberal. What to do now about his link in the sidebar?

I could just remove it, but I wanted to replace it with more great thought. I'm giving the honor of taking his place to Glenn Greenwald. I've only paid close attention to him lately since he's been featured on

Last week he posted another great piece where he made the case that Obama is more likely than Romney to attack Iran. He makes a good point, contrary to how I'd been thinking about it.

His writing and thought is very similar to my old favorite, Radley Balko, so he's the perfect commentator to fill the shoes of Classically Liberal.