Archive | November, 2009

I Will Stay If… Buffalo December 3rd

24 Nov

A press release from the Great Lakes Urban Exchange, whose mission is to right the Failboats along the Great Lakes.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — For some, it’s lower taxes. For others, it’s a commitment to a green economy or sustainable city. Many simply need good-paying jobs. Still others want to see a revitalized waterfront.

A coalition of young leaders wants to know what it will take to keep their friends and colleagues in Buffalo. And they want to take that message to the region’s elected officials.

On Thursday, December 3, the public is invited to participate in the “I Will Stay If…” campaign of the Great Lakes Urban Exchange (GLUE) with an event at Century Grill, 320 Pearl Street in downtown Buffalo. The event begins at 5:30 and is being organized locally by representatives from Buffalo 2032, The B Team, Buffalo Niagara 360 and other community organizations. Sponsors of the event include Century Grill, Flying Bison Brewery and Douglas Levere Photography.

The Great Lakes Urban Exchange was founded to catalyze conversations across Rust Belt cities on topics of mutual concern, including the loss of population and sustainable economic activity. The “I Will Stay If…” campaign is an attempt to involve a diverse crowd of people to participate in a vital conversation about the future of our cities. The campaign collects visually powerful data about what residents want most from their cities. Similar events have taken place in Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Cleveland and are being planned in other Great Lakes cities.

“We know what a great community we have in Buffalo and Western New York and we want to be part of the solution in making it even stronger,” said Sara Emhof, one of the event organizers. “Our elected leaders in Washington, Albany and locally need to make informed decisions about Western New York’s future. The concerns and ideas of their constituents need to be considered.”

Those attending the “I Will Stay If…” event at Century Grill will be asked to lend their thoughts on the reasons they want to stay in – or come back to – Western New York. The answers given throughout the night will be captured in a photographic exhibit that will be shared with policymakers.

“By organizing this event, we not only want to celebrate everything we love about our hometown, but also to capture the conversation we have all had so many times about staying committed to Buffalo and the great future we all want to see here.,” said Phil Pantano, another organizer of the local “I Will Stay If…” event.

Food and refreshments will be served and a nominal donation to support GLUE is requested, but not required.

The Great Lakes Urban Exchange (GLUE) is a growing network of young leaders committed to revitalizing the cities of the Great Lakes region through story-telling, constituency building, and political advocacy. After two years of hosting multi-state conferences, building networks online, and creating opportunities for urbanists across the region to connect with a variety of policy and organizing experts, GLUE launched its I Will Stay If… (IWSI) campaign in Detroit earlier this year to answer the question: “what will make young people stay?” For more information, visit www.GLUEspace.org.

Three Point Two Billion Dollar Deficit [UPDATED]

24 Nov

That’s what our alleged legislature in Albany is arguing about.  How to cut $3.2 billion from a bloated budget using an out-of-control, petulant adolescent of a legislature.  They all hate each other, says Fred Dicker in the New York Post.  Who needs Republican opposition when the Democrats run the state, and they hate each others’ guts?

I saw someone write a blog post somewhere about receiving a piece of literature from Assemblyman Mike Jim Hayes, a Williamsville Republican, and in it he patted himself on the back for fighting the Democrats and their free-spending, high-taxing ways.  That’s all well and good, and to be expected from an Albany politician, because Albany is all about facile, lowest-common-denominator politics.

Consider the fact that Washington is resembling Albany more and more each day.  Fucking douche chills, right?

The blog post I can’t find and therefore can’t link to (I thought it was Burton’s Briefs, but I don’t see it there), went on to become an open letter to Assemblyman Hayes, and therefore by extension all Albany politicians.  Don’t send us lit telling us how you’re fighting Shelly Silver tooth and nail.  Don’t tell us you’re halting the Democrats in their socialist tracks.  The state budget crisis is very palpable and real, and now is the time for Albany politicians to start acting like fucking grownups.

Sorry, let me rephrase that.

It’s time for Albany politicians to snap out of it and stop acting like Albany politicians, and start acting instead like intelligent adults (to the extent possible) and reach across the aisle, and find some common ground to reduce the size, cost, and scope of state government.  $3.2 billion is just 2009’s problem.  It’s believed that next year’s problem will be three times that amount.  We obviously can’t, for instance, force a rapprochement between the state Senate’s African-American caucus and its Latino caucus (the rift, incidentally, that brought about the absolutely imbecilic “coup” attempt”.  We can’t force politicians to stop facilitating casual corruption.  Not now, anyway.

Stuff like this almost-there-authority-reform shows that they know exactly what the problems are, but they don’t have the political will to do everything that’s needed to fix them.

Albany is such a pile of fail that its politicians who have recently made attempts to run for political office in competitive races have failed pretty miserably.  Jim Tedisco and Dede Scozzafava remain in the Assembly, and they were supposed to be sure bets for congressional seats, both.  It’s not just the fact that Albany is no record to run on, but that gerrymandering ensures their easy re-election to their Albany seats over and over again.

So, it’s time to pay attention and start evicting the troublemakers and the cretins.

New Yorkers are like battered spouses.  Albany keeps giving us a shiner, but we always tell the ER that we fell down the stairs, and then take our abuser back. WTF.

UPDATE:  A commenter wonders whether this is “bipartisan” “ire”.  Last I checked, Albany featured failed leadership from both parties, and I’ve never shied away from making the point that everyone is to blame for the pond of tar and shit that Albany has figuratively become.  The reason I used Jim Hayes as an example is that I saw a blog post somewhere that I can’t find that specifically mentioned him by name.  Maybe it was on Speakup.  I have no idea, but that was the genesis of this post.   The use of my Maziarz photo has to do with the fact that (1) Maziarz gets away with the same crap everyone else in Albany gets away with, yet he also gets away with fronting like he’s a reformer; and (2) there’s like three levels of Fail shown in that photo.  I consider it to be a masterpiece.

Our Government is a Panoply of Historical Figures!

24 Nov

From the teabag crowd who endorsed local candidates in the last election:

You are a government of the government, by the government, for the government. You have perverted all ideals put forth by your creators.

You are now a combination of Robin Hood, Dracula, Adolph Hitler, Attila the Hun, Marie Antoinette, and Karl Marx.

Gosh, all because the working poor and middle class should have an easier time getting health insurance, and current policyholders are to be treated more fairly.

Give thanks on Thursday that you’re not completely deluded.

Open Monday Thread

23 Nov

Slow, short week.  I got nothing.  Some of you saw Bruce last night.  Some of you watched the Curb your Enthusiasm season finale.  Some of you heard Maziarz on Dave Debo’s show yesterday.  What’d ya think?

Tyler's Toy

22 Nov

Via Fark, this story of Tyler Shipman, a dying high school senior from Minnesota whose last wish is that his beloved 1986 Pontiac Fiero be restored.  The wish was made on a Fiero enthusiast’s forum, and the response was as overwhelming as the badass yellow restoration that resulted.

The car was finished today, and Tyler even got to drive it for a while.  You can see pictures of the restoration, and the final result, here.

There is a PayPal donation button here.

Not All Information is Good Information

21 Nov

John Cole at Balloon Juice wraps up our contemporary discourse, and Republican political & messaging strategy, in one perfect nutshell. He argues that the GOP’s aim is to leave the country ungovernable, and one way to do that is spew a bunch of utter bullshit, and they’ve found the perfect bullshit vessel.

Sarah Palin is cheaper and far more effective than all the bullshit factories the Koch Foundation and others have been funding for decades.

And our media elites, desperate for access and a way to fill a 24 hour news cycle, comfortable with their village status, and cowed by decades of being called liberal, rather than calling obvious lies for what they are, will instead sit by and act like play by play announcers and color commentators at a football game, with a he-said she-said approach: “Sarah Palin claims mammogram guidelines are legally binding, Kathleen Sebelius says this is not true. What do you think? Our roundtable next with Stephen Hayes, Karl Rove, and James Carville, where we will discuss what this means for Obama and the 2010 midterm elections.”

Just depressing. On any given day, if you just quickly read a newspaper or watch cable news for fifteen minutes, there is a very solid chance you will leave the experience knowing less than when you started.

Astroturf

21 Nov

The Buffalo News covers its policy on Astroturf letters to the editor here.

For one thing, we don’t do third-party thank-you letters, preferring to allocate scarce space to the public debate of issues. For another, the same sort of letters went to editorial pages and editors all across the country, triggering nationwide warnings of “astroturf,” our industry’s shorthand for fake grass-roots letters. One letter we got even noted that “several organizations” wanted their talking points relayed to newspapers. The mybarackobama.com site seemed to be prominent among them. A colleague at another paper got one that didn’t even bother to fill in the blanks for a representative’s name. We still consider all letters sent to lettertoeditor@buffnews.com . But letter-senders have a better chance of getting published if they’re actually letter-writers, expressing their own views in their own words. Simple agreement with somebody else’s words is not enough, even if it saves work

Hopefully this practice will end on all sides, and people who have a sincere and strong opinion on a particular contemporary topic will put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and write the damn thing themselves.

Vicious Gangs of Medians

21 Nov

There’s been a spate of incidents on the renovated Main Street where undisciplined, brutal gangs of medians have jumped out in front of various vehicles.

This is reminiscent of, among other things, the vicious gangs of keep left signs that attacked unsuspecting pedestrians in Bolton, UK in the early 70s.

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Al Gore as Skeptic

20 Nov

At some point being a climate change advocate turned into a matter of faith. Perhaps its because the climate deniers choose not to “believe” in climate change, and thus the frame has been co-opted into a belief vs non-belief structure. Perhaps its because the evidence of climate change is not obvious, and either hidden in far off places (the arctic), or buried in layman-unfriendly scientific papers. Faith is an assurance of things one can not see.

However it happened, this faith-based advocacy has led to a streamlined sales pitch that identifies “unbelievers” as ignorant knuckle-dragging “deniers.” The meme goes something like this: “You don’t want to give up your F-250 pick up truck because you don’t believe in climate change.” Or “If you believed in climate change you’d support solar energy subsidies.” Or “Why don’t you compost and reduce your carbon footprint – do you deny climate change?”

Somewhere along the line, “believing” in climate change got lumped into endorsing a specific solution: reducing our carbon, and specifically CO2, footprint. Can’t have one without the other. To question the usefulness, scientific backing, or efficacy of setting an arbitrary 350 ppm CO2 goal is to question climate change altogether. 

Under this tortured logic, may I present to you Al Gore, Climate Change Skeptic.

Al Gore Quote

Newsweek recently ran an extended, largely positive, profile of Al Gore and his current climate change advocacy efforts. He’s written a new book. He’s training others to give the Inconvenient Truth lecture. And he has quietly held summits of experts in various fields and asked uncomfortable science based questions. Some of the results are surprising in their intellectual honesty and non-partisan conclusions.

Here’s one nugget: 40% of our CO2 increase since the 1800’s is attributable to deforestation. Even now, it accounts for more for of the CO2 buildup (23%) than all the world’s cars and trucks. Farmers mulching and not-tilling would sequester 12 percent of all emissions. Further soil management could grab another 15 percent, and reduce our CO2 ppm count by 50. The logical conclusion to this?

“If we feed the biology and manage grasslands appropriately, we could sequester as much carbon as we emit,” says Timothy LaSalle, CEO of the Rodale Institute, who presented at two summits. 

Why isn’t this solution given more air time? According to Gore’s advisors, who tried to downplay the findings – the political cost. Tell people we can manage our farms and forests to eliminate emissions issues, and they’d stop buying Prius’ and agitating for mass transit. And the tree-huggers wonder why the knuckle-dragging deniers say all this climate change talk is more about controlling behavior than helping the environment. . . .

Here’s another nugget: we’re still figuring out what causes climate change. Or to be more specific, we’re reordering the relative effects of various greenhouse gases. Scientists at the Goddard Institute of NASA reported in Science that methane accounts for 27%, halocarbons 8%, black sooty carbon 12%, CO 7%, and CO2 . . . 43%. 43% of the effect but nearly 100% of the public discussion. Never mind that targeting CO2 is the most cost intensive to reduce, and that “removing one ton of black carbon will have the same effect as removing 2,000 to 3,000 tons of CO2.” Where does black carbon come from? Highly regulatable diesel engines, fixed by a $250 filter. Methane emissions could similarly be cut by filters on highly regulatable oil wells. Forget tax incentives and regulations – the United States could BUY AND GIVE AWAY these filters for every diesel engine on the planet for a fraction of the cost of the climate change package working its way through Congress or at Copenhagen. Once again, is this about changing and controlling behavior, or pragmatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions?

To his credit, it was Al Gore himself  teased out these solutions and contradictions, and let the science, not politics, lead his way. In this he seems quite unlike his fellow climate change agitators.

So let me present you with a more nuanced, thinking man’s skepticism on climate change, that focuses on two related issues.

First, we don’t know as much about climate change as we think we do. My proof of this is the yearly varied reports of the potential impacts, effects, and how long they will take to occur. Climate is complicated. Something bad is probably happening. We don’t understand enough of why or how that is.

Second, we know even less about our “solutions”  to climate change. Hard to come up with a solution if we are still defining the problem. For proof of this, I don’t need to get all Michael Crichton and pull out eugenics. I can simply look to 15 years ago, when corn-based ethanol was being highly touted, pushed, and subsidized as the solution to not only our shortage of foreign oil, but climate change as well. Wait, you mean to tell me we now understand that corn-based ethanol produces MORE CO2 in its lifecycle than extracting oil from the ground? Oops. The Law of Unintended Consequences appears to be on overdrive as our push for corn-based ethanol not only produces more carbon than it saves, but caused riots in the Third World because of food shortages. 

Many climate change advocate politicians like to refer to the “All of the above” approach, meaning we don’t know what the solution is, so we’ll just fund everything. In a fantasy land of infinite resources, this makes sense. But we don’t live in that world. President Obama is testing its limits now, by running a deficit equal to his 43 predecessors combined, but eventually, the government runs out of borrowing ability. Before the world spends tens of trillions of dollars on solutions to stop global warming (a sum that may be able to lift the entire world out of poverty), don’t policy makers have some obligation to know if the funded solutions will work? We don’t need 100% clarity. But we do need solutions that are not proven detrimental only ten years later.

The Internet News Business

20 Nov

Dilbert.com