May 25, 2013
You Could Live At Napoleon's!
Boston's former Napoleon's Club, one of the city's oldest gay bars until its sudden closing in 1998, is for sale as a residence at only $1.85 million.
May 24, 2013
Moon Over Desert Hot Springs
The Most Worthy Kickstarter For Burning Man
Es ist das Bierbike. Students from the University of Nevada at Reno are building this. No hoity-toity claims about spirituality, art, or creating new kinds of community. It's going to be a bar that serves beer and music. Pretty routine so far, eh? But it will be on wheels and powered by six beer-drinking bicyclists. I think it would be interesting to put a GPS on it and record its speed and direction. I imagine a ride would start out a bit slowly as the beer got handed out and the cyclists got the hang of pedaling, drinking and not falling off. Then the speed would skyrocket as everybody got all synched in. But then you'd begin to see a slow down with an increase in pointless meandering, finally ending in a dead stop somewhere out on the playa with the former riders passed out in the dust.
Eagle Mountain Landfill Still Dying The Slow Death
On Wednesday this week the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County voted to cease escrow negotiations with Mine Reclamation LLC.
May 23, 2013
Judge Vaughn Walker in Palm Springs
This morning I attended the Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast in Palm Springs. One of the speakers was Jesse Solorzano who is with College of the Desert Gay/Straight Alliance. He's 20 years old and graduated from (it almost goes without saying) the best high school in the Coachella Valley. I think he said he came out when he was a junior, but I'm not sure I heard that clearly. My math says Mr. Solorzano was born 10 years after Harvey Milk was assassinated.
But the big draw at this year's breakfast was Judge Vaughn Walker. Since retiring to private practice he has found that what people want to talk to him about is Prop 8, so he has surrendered to the pressure and is now doing public speaking engagements on the subject. Here's the audio recording of what he had to say. His introduction is by John O'Connor, Executive Director of Equality California.
On the subject of the U.S. Supreme Court hearing on Prop 8, Judge Walker wanted to point out one answer and one question.
The answer came to a question from Justice Sotomayor addressed to Chuck Cooper, attorney for the Prop 8 proponents. "Outside of the - outside of the marriage context, can you think of any other rational basis, reason, for a State using sexual orientation as a factor in denying homosexuals benefits or imposing burdens on them? Is there any other rational decision-making that the Government could make? Denying them a job, not granting them benefits of some sort, any other decision?"
Charles Cooper: "Your Honor, I cannot. I do not have any -- anything to offer you in that regard. I think marriage is -"
Judge Walker pointed to this as evidence of the progress that has been made since 1962 - when homosexual behavior was a felony in all 50 states. In 2013, the Washington attorney for a conservative group could think of absolutely no other possible legal distinction between gay people and non-gay people except the single issue of marriage. In that attorney's opinion this, then, is the last legal barrier.
The question was that peevish utterance from Justice Scalia:
JUSTICE SCALIA: "You -- you've led me right into a question I was going to ask. The California Supreme Court decides what the law is. That's what we decide, right? We don't prescribe law for the future. We -- we decide what the law is. I'm curious, when - when did -- when did it become unconstitutional to exclude homosexual couples from marriage? 1791? 1868, when the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted?
"Sometimes -- some time after Baker, where we said it didn't even raise a substantial Federal question? When -- when -- when did the law become this?"
Judge Walker pointed out that if Justice Scalia would have recalled his own words in his dissent on Lawrence v. Texas he would have had an answer satisfactory, at least, to Justice Scalia.
From Scalia's dissenting opinion in Lawrence v. Texas [March 2003]:
One of the benefits of leaving regulation of this matter to the people rather than to the courts is that the people, unlike judges, need not carry things to their logical conclusion. The people may feel that their disapprobation of homosexual conduct is strong enough to disallow homosexual marriage, but not strong enough to criminalize private homosexual acts--and may legislate accordingly. The Court today pretends that it possesses a similar freedom of action, so that that we need not fear judicial imposition of homosexual marriage, as has recently occurred in Canada. At the end of its opinion--after having laid waste the foundations of our rational-basis jurisprudence--the Court says that the present case "does not involve whether the government must give formal recognition to any relationship that homosexual persons seek to enter." Do not believe it. More illuminating than this bald, unreasoned disclaimer is the progression of thought displayed by an earlier passage in the Court's opinion, which notes the constitutional protections afforded to "personal decisions relating to marriage, procreation, contraception, family relationships, child rearing, and education," and then declares that "[p]ersons in a homosexual relationship may seek autonomy for these purposes, just as heterosexual persons do." Today's opinion dismantles the structure of constitutional law that has permitted a distinction to be made between heterosexual and homosexual unions, insofar as formal recognition in marriage is concerned. If moral disapprobation of homosexual conduct is "no legitimate state interest" for purposes of proscribing that conduct and if, as the Court coos (casting aside all pretense of neutrality), "[w]hen sexuality finds overt expression in intimate conduct with another person, the conduct can be but one element in a personal bond that is more enduring," what justification could there possibly be for denying the benefits of marriage to homosexual couples exercising "[t]he liberty protected by the Constitution"? Surely not the encouragement of procreation, since the sterile and the elderly are allowed to marry. This case "does not involve" the issue of homosexual marriage only if one entertains the belief that principle and logic have nothing to do with the decisions of this Court. Many will hope that, as the Court comfortingly assures us, this is so.
TL;DR - In 2003 Justice Scalia warned that the Lawrence v. Texas decision would open the way for equal marriage rights.
No! That Is Not A Drunken NJ Transit Employee
The public is reassured, and I am convinced, that the obviously drunken man wearing parts of a NJ Transit uniform and directing traffic on 10th Avenue in Manhattan is NOT a NJ Transit employee. He's a homeless guy who was paid to do that and run errands by a NJ Transit driver who sleeps in his bus nearby. So, it's all good, right?
That's Why They Call It "Yahoo!"
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer said there will no longer be a "Pro" option at Flickr because "there’s really no such thing as professional photographers anymore." Just like there are no professional CEOs anymore. Ms. Mayer has spent her time since then apologizing for her misstatement.
As I read the language on Pro accounts and the new pricing structure it seems there are four membership categories now, not three. The three they talk about are
- Free (with ads)
- Paid ($50/year - no ads)
- One extra terabyte ($500/year) - this one has to be a joke, unless they will actually install a dedicated terabyte drive with my name written on the outside - and if they do that, there had better be a 24-hour camera on it so I can look at it and watch the lights blink
But there is one more option:
- If you are a Pro with automatic renewal, your automatic renewal will continue ($25/year) and your level of service will be the same as the $50/year members.
Refunds are available now if you "downgrade" to free.
May 22, 2013
Sometimes Jesus Is No Help At All
She was endorsed by Jesus himself, for Christ sake! But still lost. Out of 6,799 votes cast in the North Miami mayoral election, Ms. Pierre received only 56, or 0.82%. This put her in last place of seven candidates. The next more popular candidate got 116 votes.
Ms. Pierre told Channel 10 News that she had received three signs of endorsement by Jesus. And what were they, you may ask. "Well, I'm going to keep them private," she answered. Probably didn't want to appear to be proud.
This May Be Better Than Chocolate In Your Peanut Butter
Marijuana in your pork. William von Schneidau at BB Ranch Meats in Seattle is feeding medical marijuana leftovers to pigs. A lot of additional research is needed to find out if the pigs get high, does the meat taste different and does the pork-eater get high. A lot of research. If a Seattle-ite would like to bring one or two of these hams to Burning Man for research, I'm sure the gift would be very much appreciated.
One More Step In The Perfection Of The Internet
We Have Signage
Here's a straight on shot of the sign, if you want the contact info. Construction is supposed to be starting soon, like June-ish, I believe.
May 21, 2013
The Formation Of Yesterday's Oklahoma Tornado
Video by an amateur photographer who, it would appear, learned one mistaken rule of photography in his life and is going to stick by it: "Always keep the horizon in the middle of your photo." I wanted to reach through and grab that camera from him. About two-thirds of the way through this video he realizes his error in photocomposition and adjusts his aim.
And then you get twits like the guy in the white van who, having all of Oklahoma to move around in, decides the best place to be is directly between our camera and the tornado.
Stephen Fincher Knows His Bible
Republican Congressman Stephen Fincher of Tennessee, who supports cuts to the program, had his own Bible verse from the Book of Thessalonians to quote back to Vargas: "The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat," he said.
One might wonder why food is served to members of Congress. Go here to read the quote in context which warns against idleness.
As the debate continued Representative Conway argued that the Bible instructed individuals to be charitable, not the government. I'm glad that's clarified because we all know the government doesn't represent people (at least now what Jesus meant by "people") and the government never does anything the Bible says. This will greatly simplify the course of government as we proceed.
Rep. Fincher, knowing that anybody can toss out a single Bible quote, came up with another from Matthew 26: "the poor will always be with us." The more complete quote is "For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me," which has a slightly different meaning, IMO.
What it boils down to is that I'm glad that Republicans can find passages in the New Testament to justify cutting two million people off of food stamps, because otherwise I would think this was just a crazy world.
May 20, 2013
4th Street at Dusk
Hike In Whitewater
Here are a couple of photos from a recent Great Outdoors hike in a canyon that branches off of Whitewater Canyon. As we started up the canyon it was as bone-dry as any other canyon, but eventually we encountered water running on the surface and grapevines thick enough to make us stumble. We stopped when we came to an actual wet waterfall.
We had to ran out of the Exploratorium and grab something to eat here because we were starving but did not want to eat too much because we had dinner plans somewhere else.
This place is like a small cafe, but the clam chowder is surprisingly good. I think the mostly have pastry and sandwiches.
Riverside County Deaths
Riverside County is "well above average state rate" in deaths by
- Heart disease
- Lower respiratory disease ("Chronic obstructed pulmonary disease, emphysema, chronic bronchitis and other respiratory illnesses are all grouped together under the name chronic lower respiratory disease.")
The county is "slightly above state average" in deaths by
- Liver disease
- Motor vehicle crashes
It is "at or below state average" in
May 19, 2013
What Will The Flaming Lotus Girls Give Us This Year?
Something monumental, of course. This Kickstarter will give you an idea.
May 18, 2013
Most Amazing GoPro Video Ever! (so far)
GoPro ought to send a case of free cameras to this photographer. Maybe they already have.
Fantasy or Reality?
The future night time skyline of "Sky City" to be built in an empty field in Changsha, China. It will be the world's tallest building at 2,749 feet (the Burj Khalifa is 2,722 feet tall). Construction is expected to start in June 2013 and be completed in September 2013! Chinese building standards applied to the fastest, tallest building construction ever. What could go wrong? Broad Group, the builders, have constructed two (2) buildings before this, both under 30 stories.
The linked article says that in addition to the elevators, there will be a ramp running from the 1st to 170th floor that will be 6 miles long. Depending on how they deal with fire safety on that ramp, it could be the scene for some pretty awesome skateboarding videos.
Their justification for such a tall building is efficiency and sustainability, but they don't provide enough data for me to see if they are as far off the mark as I think they are. They seem to be concerned about saving land for future population growth. But there is no looming shortage of mere land. The shortages of energy and clean water are much more immediate. Stacking parking lots and apartments vertically does save land, but have they taken into account the energy that goes into the steel and concrete? The energy that will be required to move people, goods and water against the pull of gravity? Making all the lighting LED does not offset the huge amount of electricity that will be required to continuously pump water up to that height.