May 25, 2014
Wingsuits & GoPros Over Manhattan
A Post About Elliot Rodger - feel free to skip
There's this guy who offers advice to other guys on how to get women in what appears to be consensual, non-violent ways (if not very respectful). Last week (May 20) he posted a video on Youtube in which he picked out one of Elliot Rodger's Youtube videos and proceeded to pick him apart in terms of attitude, lack of self-esteem and physical fitness. If you've had enough of mass murderers then skip this and move along. But if you watched Elliot Rodger's videos and thought to yourself "what an arrogant, obnoxious, puny little prick with a BMW," but you don't want to say that now because people have died or because you would just never say such a rude thing, then you might appreciate what "this guy" had to say before Elliot Rodger picked up his gun.
The relevant part starts at 6:48. "This guy" is rude and offensive, but it's the sort of rude and offensive that stays within legal bounds; the kind you might run into on the street or at a bar; but it's non-violent rude and offensive. He seems to think one of the major sources of Rodger's problems was he watched too much anime! If you read Rodger's "manifesto" you will see that at age 7 a Pokémon anime TV show was his favorite. But he also was obsessed with dinosaurs, had a Gameboy console, and went to the red carpet premier of Star Wars, Episode 1, so why not blame those things, too.
If you read through the men's forums where Rodger posted messages, you will have seen that several guys had the same opinion of him (except for the anime) and offered worthwhile advice (some constructive, some not), but Rodger would have none of it.
"A responsible end"
Technical Point Resolved
Plant and harvest your crops for six years, but let the land rest during the seventh year. The poor are to eat what they want from your fields, vineyards, and olive trees during that year, and when they have all they want from your fields, leave the rest for wild animals.
That's the rule for shmita and the coming year will be a shmita year. Seven years ago the Israeli medical marijuana program was small with only a single physician in charge of the whole thing. Since then the program has expanded to include nine physicians with about 9,000 patients (a different article says 12,000 patients). There are seven licensed growing facilities. IOW, it's grown a lot in the past seven years, so it draws more attention, thus leading to the question...from an IDF veteran yet:
"I receive grass as a medication," explained M., a religious man who suffers from shell shock, in a letter to the Rabbinate. "The shmita year will begin in four months, and observant IDF disabled veterans have been asking themselves whether the grass should be grown differently like fruits and vegetables."
The official answer is that it's medicine, not food, so no problem. Grow. Consume. But not recreationally. In addition, raised-bed greenhouses and hydroponic farming do not fall under the shmita rule because it's not a "field." Since all Israeli marijuana is grown under those conditions, then it's doubly-cleared.
May 24, 2014
Probably Not A Coincidence
Elliot Rodger - boring, except for that music.
Scribd for eBooks
Until this morning I knew Scribd only as that service that allows one to embed a readable PDF document within a web page. But they sent me some commercial email this morning to let me know they have added the entire For Dummies series to their collection (how's that for some pinpoint marketing!). And I'm all like "your collection, what?" I thought maybe somebody had gone bankrupt and now the Dummy books were magically public domain.
But no! It turns out Scribd has a subscription eBook service. They started it in October 2013 (had to find that on Wikipedia - Scribd ain't gonna tell ya), so maybe I can excuse myself for not hearing about it until now.
For $9/month you get to read as many of their eBooks as you want. This is not Project Gutenberg. Scribd is offering current books with living authors who get real royalties (if they negotiated the right deal). Browse here. They claim 100,160 titles in Fiction & Literature, their biggest category.
They've got apps for iOS and Android, but you can also read books in any browser. Offline or on.
If you have used the eBook service offered by Riverside County Public Library you may have found the selection disappointing and the unavailability of most books (because there's a limit on the number of copies of any one title that can be checked out simultaneously) frustrating. If you have a library card with the Rancho Mirage Public Library feel free to leave a comment telling us about how rich their eBook collection is.
For $9/month you get past the public library limitations and you spend a lot less than if you bought all your eBooks.
May 23, 2014
George & Tony's Wedding
Yesterday was George and Tony's wedding. They had a commitment ceremony 10 years ago, but now it's all legal. The wedding took place in Francis Stevens Park in Palm Springs and then we took over a nearby restaurant.
Gil, a priest, makes it official. I saw that he gave his title as "Rev," so I'll have to call him that now.
Whitewater Metal Thief Arrested
Press Release: Grand Theft
Agency: Palm Desert Police
Station Area: Palm Desert
Incident Date: May 23, 2014 Time: 2:30 AM
Incident Location: Haskell Rd. and Monterey Avenue, Thousand Palms
The Palm Desert Special Enforcement Team (SET) continued their investigation into numerous back flow valve thefts occurring within the jurisdiction of the Palm Desert Station. Information obtained from witnesses during recent thefts, led officers to focus on a suspect identified as Daniel Casillas, age 53 of Whitewater. Following a lengthy surveillance operation, Casillas was arrested during the commission of another back flow valve theft. Further investigation was able to link Casillas to numerous thefts within the cities of Palm Desert and Rancho Mirage including at least five thefts of back flow valves.
Anyone with information on this case or similar cases is encouraged to call Deputy Mushinskie at the Palm Desert Sheriff's Station by calling (760) 836-1689
He's home and unharmed. Nothing to see here. Move along.
What This Town Needs
I mean in addition to a truckload of legal tender, one thing it needs is as simple one-way communication system from the city government that can reach every resident.
Right now the current hot "I never heard nothing about that" issue is the canvassing for dog licenses, vaccinations, microchips, de-sexing; but there's always something. Perennial issues are "Nobody told me I couldn't park in my front yard" and "Whadda ya talking about, the city is full of wooden fences."
There is that Time Warner Cable channel, of course. But that goes only to TWC customers and what percentage of the city's residents is that? Judging from the number of satellite dishes, a minority are on TWC. And then, of course, you've got to know what channel it is. One ought to be able to find information about that channel on the city's website. It's such a tiny bit of data, I don't know why it isn't just on the front page: "Time Warner community channel: 17" with a link to the show times, but you've got to go down a couple of menus to get to it.
Or there's the Desert Sun. If you've finished laughing/choking at that one, what I mean is the city could pay for (well, there's your problem) a quarter page on a regular basis in which one or two city matters might be explained or announced. Beyond the cash issue, DS readership is low in DHS and there's no Spanish-language edition. Is it necessary for me to explicitly state that the DS can never be trusted to get an accurate message across? That's why it would have to be a paid ad.
A few years ago there was a little discussion about mounting an electronic message sign somewhere along Palm Drive, but that would be way too expensive at this time.
A dedicated website or a greatly revised city website could work. The front of our city's website is fairly business-like, which is good, but if you look around at some other city websites the front page may be indistinguishable from a good commercial website, focusing mostly on promoting the city to out-of-towners, whether tourists or investors. The serious city website (like ours) is one click away from the very pretty front page. That front page can be used to announce upcoming policy changes (like the animal canvassing) or remind people of code matters...and explain why it is the way it is. The drawback to this method is that we probably have a fair number of residences with zero internet access. Even if the family has kids with smartphones who could access the city website, that probably does little good for the parents.
I'm working my way down to saying that I think a plain, old-fashioned mailer (postal-wise) might be the most efficient way to reach every household with an English and Spanish message that can be read at any time by a resident of the household. Before you tell me about the expense involved, there are a couple of less expensive ways this could be piggybacked on other mailings. Mission Springs Water District sends out monthly bills. The city could pay them to insert a one-page item occasionally. The drawback to that is the district includes county areas and areas in Palm Springs, so there would be additional expense keeping the DHS mailing separate from non-DHS. Also, some bills go to owners, some to renters, meaning some households would not get the information.
But way better than MSWD would be Desert Valley Disposal. Their quarterly mailings go to every residence AND they go to every property owner! This would mean everybody who needs to know would get the info.
I'm talking no more than one sheet of paper, English one side, Spanish the other, just like the info DVD sends out. If it doesn't push the weight of the mailing over 1 ounce, then the only expense is paper and labor. The info sheet would have to be brief and to the point - probably no more than one or two matters of concern. And it needs to be written in clear language understandable by a 6th grader. And it needs to explain the why of the matter. It wouldn't do any good to say something like "Animal Control officers will be knocking on doors, and if they hear a dog barking and you're not home you can count on getting a $400 per dog citation."
Cost could be kept very low, and it would sure cut down on the number of people taking up city staff time leaving phone messages and then follow-up phone messages and then finally complaining at a public meeting. You know, that stuff costs the city money too, but it doesn't get itemized in the budget. Even Finance Director Amy Aguer couldn't be so precise as to say that last year the city spent an extra $150,000 (or whatever) because it didn't explain things to the residents in advance.
If You Steal Something Big, Where Do You Hide It?
In your front yard, if you're these guys.
Press Release: Burglary Investigation
Agency: Palm Desert Burglary Suppression Unit
Station Area: Palm Desert
Incident Date: May 22, 2014 Time: 4:00 PM
Incident Location: 13000 block of Via Real, Desert Hot Springs
On May 22, 2014, members of the Palm Desert Burglary Suppression Unit conducted an investigation related to a series of residential burglaries that occurred in the area of Pinyon Pines on May 21, 2014. Stolen property was removed from the victim’s homes to include: firearms, ammunition, electronics, jewelry and a Chevrolet Truck.
On May 22, 2014, The Burglary Suppression Unit received information, which led them to the 13000 block of Via Real, Desert Hot Springs and they observed a camper shell belonging to the victim’s stolen truck in the front yard of a residence in addition to a secondary victim’s check book. A search warrant was obtained and served at the premises and additional stolen property, methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia were seized. The recovered stolen property was linked to all three burglaries and a suspect was identified, who resided at the Via Real premises. Additionally, the stolen Chevrolet Silverado Truck was located in a parking lot of a nearby shopping center.
Members of the Riverside Auto Theft Interdiction Detail and the Coachella Valley Task Force assisted in the recovery of the stolen vehicle, which led to the arrest of two additional suspects. During the apprehension of the two suspects a foot pursuit ensued and one of the suspects discarded a loaded firearm in a citizens backyard, while the second suspect entered a business and secreted a loaded firearm under clothing items for sale. Both firearms were recovered at the scene in addition to the stolen truck.
The investigation led to the recovery of four firearms, ammunition, jewelry, electronics, computers, personal checks, travelers checks, personal property and a vehicle. The combined estimated value of recovered stolen property was valued at $30,000.00.
18 year old, Desert Hot Springs resident, Jose Ulloa, was arrested for possession of stolen property, possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.
18 year old, Desert Hot Springs resident, Aaron Schoolfield, who was on parole was arrested for burglary, possession of stolen property, felon in possession of a loaded firearm, resisting arrest, and violation of parole.
17 year old, Desert Hot Springs resident, was arrested for an outstanding felony arrest warrant for burglary, possession of stolen property and weapons possession violations. Charges related to the investigation included: burglary, possession of stolen property, possession of a loaded firearm and vehicle theft.
Ulloi and Schoolfield were booked into the Riverside County Jail, located in the city of Indio. The juvenile was booked into the Riverside County Juvenile Hall, located in the city of Indio.
Anyone with information regarding this investigation is encouraged to call Deputy Rubio at the Palm Desert Sheriff’s Station by calling (760) 836-1746
All of those charges are "catch & release" now, as I understand it, so they were home in time for dinner...or at least bedtime; so lock your doors, windows, vehicles, whatever.
North Dakota Stands Alone
In 49 states plus the District of Columbia same-sex marriage is either legal, undergoing court challenge, or has been found unconstitutional and the decision appealed.
Only North Dakota's ban on same-sex marriage remains unchallenged. But Friday is another day.
May 22, 2014
GoPro Tours NYPL
West Fork Oak Creek - Followup
Well, it's all gone. The Slide Fire, which started at famous Slide Rock in Oak Canyon, spread right up the canyon and wiped it out. Firefighters say the fire was human-caused. Here's today's map of the fire.
In this video they describe the fire as burning 500 acres. By now (Friday) it has burned 11½ square miles.
Supporters Of The Inland Empire Taxpayers Association
One man making a public comment at the most recent City Council meeting had obtained the Form 496 that had been submitted by the Inland Empire Taxpayers Association, the group that's behind the No On Measure F campaign signs. Form 496 is used to report expenditures of $1000 or more to support or oppose a candidate or measuring the 16 days immediately prior to an election. There have been two Forms 496 filed. One by the DHS Police Officers Association and the one from the Inland Empire Taxpayers Association. It appears the IETA used an old Form 496 that also asked for donor identity. They listed three donors:
|4/4/2014||AMH V LLC |
45200 Club Drive
Palm Desert CA 92210
|5/2/2014||Bible Baptist Church |
27620 Landau Blvd, Ste 5
Cathedral City CA 92234
|1/14/2014||Chris Mann for State Assembly |
4201 Brockton St, Ste 100
Riverside CA 92501
The total is $5447.27.
I don't know what AMH V LLC is, but maybe somebody who's down in Palm Desert could go by that address to see what's there. There seem to be a family law practice in the same building.
Chris Mann is the founder of the IETA and was running for the seat in the 42nd Assembly District until he dropped out in November 2013. The 42nd District is currently Brian Nestande's district. The district includes much of the Coachella Valley (south of I-10), the towns in the high desert, and cities in the Banning Pass and just west of it. But it excludes Desert Hot Springs. At the time he dropped out of the race he said he had support from Marion Ashley and John Benoit.
The address 4201 Brockton St, Ste 100 in Riverside is the address for Teaman, Ramirez & Smith, Inc., Certified Public Accountants. The current partners are Richard Teaman, David Ramirez and Javier Carrillo.
Here's the website for the IETA. It contains no information about Measure F. It's leaders include Chris Mann and Richard Teaman. At the bottom of that page they include a quote from Thomas Jefferson without attribution. Maybe they can fix that next time they edit that page.
Their Form 460 filed May 20 includes more information. It lists Mr. Teaman as Treasurer and Mr. Carrillo as Assistant Treasurer. Scroll down to page 10 where they list expenditures of $34,870.72 opposing Measure F. The document lists more donors, too, starting on page 4:
- AMH V LLC; $2,956
- Bible Baptist Church; $300
- Chris Mann for State Assembly; $2,191.27
- Camden Holdings LLC, Beverly Hills; $120
- Tami Campbell, Las Vegas; $100
- Courtney Moe, DHS; $1,500
- Palm Investment Group, El Monte; $5,000
- PER-PAP LLC, San Jose; $150
- Sheryl L. Poe, Los Alamitos; $100
- Dr. David J. Wallerstein, Brentwood; $2,000
- Wallace Whigam, DHS; $150
Total donations are given as $14,567.27. They've also got a loan of $20,000 from Ed Adkison of Riverside and a $2,000 loan from Patriot Ventures, Inc. of Banning.
The IETA has also spent $625 to support Nathan Miller who is a Trustee for Riverside Community College.
Documents filed with the Secretary of State for the Chris Mann for State Assembly campaign can be found here. His Form 460 filed in January 2014 lists his donors including Benoit For Supervisor ($1,000), Fred Noble ($250), and Harold Matzner ($3,000) among several others.
You Have Until June 5
Until June 5 to make your travel plans and get to Kansas City, Kansas, so you can go Verrückt:
The attentive reader will have already observed that was not shot with a DJI Phantom 2 or GoPro, but I'm sure the question in everyone's mind is: "Who will be the first to wear a GoPro down it?" Or maybe it's some other question.
There are sources that say it opens Tomorrow! Tomorrow! Tomorrow! but the official Schlitterbahn website says Schlitterbahn is working diligently towards completion of adjustments and commissioning of Verrückt by May 23rd, however we are postponing the grand opening events tentatively to June 5.
If the park's promotional video is to be believed...
...the ride will appeal mostly to young, blonde shirtless men. Either that, or they bought the discount CGI package and didn't want to pay extra for other ethnic groups, ages, sizes, genders, or even other articles of clothing. Still, if they promised that patrons could ride down with three of these guys, I think they'd get some business. Riders must climb the 17 stories to the starting point under their own power. No elevator or escalator. That's going to help eliminate some risks from the ride. One assumes that they've devised a less labor intensive means to get the rafts up there.
The "negative G-force" referenced in the video only means that your descent is faster than it would be if you were simply falling. I guess it's designed so the water is more than a lubricant; it's actually pushing you downhill. Riders should bear this in mind when deciding who sits where in the raft.
May 21, 2014
GoPro Over PCH
GoPro on a DJI Phantom 2 shoots Amgen Tour of California crossing Big Sur Bixby Bridge. Full-screen is best.
GoPro and Google Glass in Pyongyang
Not together, but separately. The Google Glass user was Kenny Zhu and I wish I could find out what his citizenship is. He seems to be based in San Francisco.
The GoPro video is by Aram Pan, a Singaporean. He was permitted to stick his GoPro on the front of his tour bus for a 22-minute drive around Pyongyang. You'll see a lot of the city's landmarks on that drive. The overall appearance is weirdly unreal, sort of like an idealized CGI city created by a city planner. No clutter, little traffic, no overhead power lines. People will mention the lack of public advertising, but they rarely point out that there are almost no signs on the roads at all. No speed limit signs. No signs about parking. I was able to identify warning signs for pedestrian crosswalks, but that was all. Vehicles do not yield to pedestrians in Pyongyang, even if the vehicle is running a red light and the cross walk is full of people walking there. I don't even see signs identifying the roads.
May 20, 2014
Adam Smith and Prop 13
Tonight at the City Council meeting someone making a public comment quoted Adam Smith. It sounded like it might be a misquote, so I checked. While the City Council debated the issue of whether the budget situation is very bad or really bad and who said it was really and who said it was very bad (you know, the really important stuff), I downloaded the Kindle version of An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (it was free) and searched it. Turns out the quote was correct. Here's the full quote:
The subjects of every state ought to contribute towards the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities; that is, in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the state. The expense of government to the individuals of a great nation, is like the expense of management to the joint tenants of a great estate, who are all obliged to contribute in proportion to their respective interests in the estate. In the observation or neglect of this maxim, consists what is called the equality or inequality of taxation. Every tax, it must be observed once for all, which falls finally upon one only of the three sorts of revenue above mentioned [rent, profit and wages], is necessarily unequal, in so far as it does not affect the other two.
Later in the meeting several descriptions of Prop 13 were offered, because the opponents of Measure F are claiming the measure somehow threatens Prop 13...as if we had such grand powers here in little Desert Hot Springs. The descriptions of Prop 13 were all different from each other and none were completely accurate, as far as I'm concerned. I don't know why it would fall to me explain Prop 13 to Californians who all have lived here longer than I, but here we go.
Prop 13 is now Article 13A of the California Constitution and it's not hard to understand. Right at the top, first thing:
SECTION 1. (a) The maximum amount of any ad valorem tax on real property shall not exceed One percent (1%) of the full cash value of such property.
You really don't need to read any further than that. There are details about paying off bonds issued before 1978 and special rules for school districts. Section 2 defines "Full Cash Value." Section 3 is the provision that requires a two-thirds vote in the Legislature for any tax increase, but no new ad valorem property taxes can be imposed.
The ad valorem property tax is the one that is tied to the value of the property. Prop 13 doesn't bar any other taxes. It says nothing about sales taxes, utility taxes, income tax or parcel taxes. The opponents of Measure F who are using the phrase "Protect Prop 13" to try to scare the voters are just lying.
Judge John E. Jones wrote this today: "we hold that Pennsylvania's Marriage Laws violate both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Because these laws are unconstitutional, we shall enter an order permanently enjoining their enforcement. By virtue of this ruling, same-sex couples who seek to marry in Pennsylvania may do so, and already married same-sex couples will be recognized as such in the Commonwealth." Judge Jones was appointed to his seat by President G.W. Bush in 2002, upon a recommendation from Senator Rick Santorum. He is a Republican. He ruled in 2005 that a mandate to teach intelligent design in a public school was unconstitutional.
According to the Washington Post same-sex marriage is legal in 19 states plus DC (total of 20) now; there are 21 states where lawsuits are in process but have not yet reached the inevitable declaration that the state's laws are unconstitutional. There are 7 states where the laws have been declared unconstitutional, but there is an appeal ongoing. There are still three states that ban same-sex marriage where no lawsuit is yet underway (Montana and both Dakotas). See map here.
Read the full decision here. There is no stay. It is effective immediately and people are getting married in Pennsylvania as you read this.
The issue we resolve today is a divisive one. Some of our citizens are made deeply uncomfortable by the notion of same-sex marriage. However, that same sex marriage causes discomfort in some does not make its prohibition constitutional. Nor can past tradition trump the bedrock constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection. Were that not so, ours would still be a racially segregated nation according to the now rightfully discarded doctrine of "separate but equal." See Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), overruling Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896). In the sixty years since Brown was decided, "separate" has thankfully faded into history, and only "equal" remains. Similarly, in future generations the label same-sex marriage will be abandoned, to be replaced simply by marriage.
We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history.