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October 31, 2007

Okay To Taze, Bro

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigated the tazing of Andrew Meyer at John Kerry's appearance at the University of Florida. And, guess what, they said it was okay! The full report can be read in this PDF, in which you will not fail to notice, the names of Mr. Meyer and other students have been redacted by someone who had a really dull black crayon and never learned to color inside the lines. Basically, it looks like a kindergarten class was in charge of the formatting.

Filed under Libertarianism | permalink | October 31, 2007 at 10:33 PM | Comments (0)

Buried Lede In Desert Sun

The buried lede in this Desert Sun story is that councilmember Mary Stephens responded to an inquiry from the newspaper!

The rest of the story is that an $80,000 check from Landmark Holdings LLC, the Palmwood developers, to the city of Desert Hot Springs that was intended to reimburse the city for its expenses in the lawsuits over the development bounced. Michael Crosby, who is Landmark Holdings LLC, sent an email to city manager Rick Daniels last week:

"I have been abused and misused long enough," Crosby's e-mail stated.

"I am associating myself and Palmwood with the county from this day forward. ... My relationship with DHS is over."

Since that heated message, however, Mr. Crosby has retracted his words and believes "the future of the city is very, very bright and further believe[s] Palmwood can become the city's shining star." He also covered the $80,000 check, blaming it on a bookkeeping error.

Finally, city manager Daniels had this to say:

Daniels said it's typical for cities to require a deposit from a developer for expenses the city incurs related to a development. The account is then restocked by the developer as necessary, he said.

Desert Hot Springs officials, however, last year chose to incur Palmwood-related costs and bill the developer - "for reasons I don't understand," Daniels said.

I suspect Mr. Daniels is being diplomatic but, if in fact he doesn't understand why the financially strained city bore the expenses, I think he will begin to understand it more as he continues to work for the city. Let's hope full understanding doesn't come in a surprise "job review" with the city council, as it did for Ann Marie Gallant.

Filed under Desert Hot Springs | permalink | October 31, 2007 at 08:55 AM | Comments (0)

October 30, 2007


The Eye-Fi card, $100 at Amazon
. Looks just like a 2 Gb SD card. Same dimensions as an SD card. But it costs so much more than other 2 Gb SD cards because it includes Wi-Fi and access to the Eye-Fi servers.

You can configure the card so that when it comes within range of your wi-fi network, the card automatically uploads your photos to your computer or preferred photo sharing site like Flickr.

Article at Technology Review where they like the Eye-Fi card, but point out that the automated system can't determine the subject of the photo, nor its quality. So you'll need to be careful with nude subjects, and you'll need to rotate and edit after the photos are uploaded.

Eye-Fi's own website.

UPDATE: Digital Photography Review gives their impressions of the Eye-Fi, including some screenshots of the setup process.

Filed under Photography,Technology | permalink | October 30, 2007 at 10:25 PM | Comments (0)

5.6 Near San Jose

A magnitude 5.6 earthquake was reported at 8:05 PM tonight, epicentered near San Jose. USGS map:
Earthquake 5.6

Google map of epicenter.

Filed under California | permalink | October 30, 2007 at 09:20 PM | Comments (0)

Boy Playing With Matches

Buckweed Fire
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's department says that a 38,000 acre fire near Santa Clarita was started by a juvenile boy playing with matches
. No further details were given, and the article does not mention whether the California law that lays the expense of extinguishing the fire on the person who started it has any exceptions for juveniles.

Filed under California | permalink | October 30, 2007 at 09:01 PM | Comments (0)

A Reason To Vote For Yvonne Parks

Follow along and tell me if I'm wrong...

After the election Yvonne Parks will still be on the Desert Hot Springs city council, either as mayor or as councilmember.

Each of the candidates for mayor have some fine characteristics (even Yvonne - really!), but all are less than ideal. However, the field of candidates for city council includes several good, well-rounded, fully qualified individuals.

If Yvonne is elected mayor, then we draw three new city councilmembers from a field of good people (I'm not going to even entertain the idea that Mary Stephens or Hank Hohenstein will get re-elected). End result is a city council made up of Yvonne, Scott Matas and three new good people.

If she's not elected mayor, she's still on the council, still getting one vote (same as the mayor). We would have two good, new city councilmembers, plus a mayor with drawbacks.

The deciding factor is whether you think your preferred mayoral candidate would be better on the city council than the third most popular candidate for city councilmember.

Filed under Coachella Valley,Desert Hot Springs | permalink | October 30, 2007 at 08:47 PM | Comments (0)

Good News/Bad News At Disneyland

The good news is that Disneyland's Small World will be shut down for a year beginning in January! The bad news is that it will re-open a year later after the waterway is deepened and the buoyancy of the boats is increased in order to accommodate today's heavier Americans.

Filed under California | permalink | October 30, 2007 at 04:33 PM | Comments (0)

Origins of HIV

A scientific study released yesterday says that HIV first entered the human population in the 1930s in Africa. It got to Haiti about 1966 and then moved on to the U.S. about 1969.

Filed under Health | permalink | October 30, 2007 at 03:13 PM | Comments (0)

Visit To The DHS Spa Hotel

"Chasing Bluebirds" did a weekend at the Desert Hot Springs Spa Hotel to celebrate her birthday and enjoyed the waters, in spite of the crowd of fire evacuees that were also staying there. Her story and photos here.

Filed under Coachella Valley | permalink | October 30, 2007 at 12:50 PM | Comments (0)

Nothing To Do This Saturday?

If you've got nothing too important scheduled for this coming Saturday and would like to enjoy a day of sun and fresh [maybe] air with other friendly, happy people here's your chance: volunteers are needed to help clean up the Salton Sea this Saturday. It's the bi-annual clearing of the dead fish and trash. They are looking for donations of tools, rakes and garbage cans. Really, really big garbage cans. BYO facemask and lavender scent.

It starts at 6 AM (yikes, they are serious!), and afterwards the volunteers are treated to a big, old-fashioned fish fry hearty thanks!

Filed under Coachella Valley | permalink | October 30, 2007 at 11:25 AM | Comments (0)

Desert Water Agency

I got a mailer from Tom Kieley who is running for re-election to the Desert Water Agency, which I thought suggested some inefficiency and waste, since I don't live in their district. Anyone else in 92240 get that mailer? So I went to the Desert Water Agency's website to see if a finger of the district came up to 92240 somehow and I found this odd map.
DWA Boundary Map

It's labeled "Desert Water Agency Boundary Map," but what it actually shows are the municipal boundaries (as of 1999) of Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs and part of Cathedral City all almost completely surrounded by a field of blue which the key identifies as "DWA Boundary." In other words, it looks as though our MSWD had simply disappeared. But if you download the PDF and zoom in you will see the words "Mission Springs Water District" embedded in the blue in the proper location. I can't find a line to show a boundary between the DWA and the MSWD.

So, do you think the map designer was limited to just four colors plus black and decided to incorporate MSWD within DWA rather than ask for some money to add a fifth color?

UPDATE: Here are the borders of the MSWD. The DWA is somewhere else.

Filed under Coachella Valley | permalink | October 30, 2007 at 10:46 AM | Comments (0)

October 29, 2007

Mac Notes

According to PCWorld the fastest Windows Vista notebook they've ever tested is a MacBook Pro. It's also the lightest, weighing only 6.6 pounds. Those tests were done using Tiger (OS X 10.4).

Here's a guide to whether you should upgrade to Leopard (OS X 10.5).

And here's a list of problems with Leopard. This is such a short list of relatively minor bugs compared to the hell unleashed by a Windows upgrade that it's almost cute. SuperDuper! may not work until it's upgraded, and Time Machine won't make bootable backups. You can't use Time Machine to back up to a wireless AirPort Disk. Filemaker needs to be upgraded to work properly. The iPhone still doesn't sync to text documents on the desktop. And Classic Mac OS doesn't work.

I suspect something like this has been said before, but Don Reisinger thinks that Leopard will actually outsell Vista.

As for my own experience, all I can say is that Amazon was a lot more efficient this time than when Tiger was released. Back then I pre-ordered it from Amazon and expected it to ship the day of release (or maybe the next day), but they didn't actually send it to me for a long time (well, maybe ten days or two weeks). Leopard, however, was shipped on the release date and sits here now, waiting for me to install it.

Filed under Technology | permalink | October 29, 2007 at 11:37 PM | Comments (3)

A Solution For Roadside Piss Bottles

SuperSlab 100 Generic Brown
The unfortunately named "SuperSlab 100" is designed to be used as a portable urinal while traveling
. Inside it is something looking like kitty litter that absorbs the urine and becomes a "solid," they say. I suspect it becomes something more like a gel or oatmeal. This discreet brown version is $1.75 each or you can pay $1.95 for the red, white and blue version. The website seems to suggest there are better prices for buying large quantities, but I can't find them.

The front page of the website offers up this YouTube video explaining the product. An entrepreneurial person will notice that they do not yet offer a modified version for the female traveler.

Filed under Travel | permalink | October 29, 2007 at 02:17 PM | Comments (7)

Burning Man Arsonist Returns

Paul Addis, who was arrested for the unscheduled burning of The Man at Burning Man, has been arrested for planning to set San Francisco's Grace Cathedral afire. He was found on the steps of the cathedral last night with a small amount of explosives. He was free on $25,632 bail from Nevada and is now being held on $488,000 bail.

Filed under Burning Man,Religion | permalink | October 29, 2007 at 01:54 PM | Comments (0)

16 Gigapixels of The Last Supper

Last Supper
"HAL9000" is now hosting a 16 to 17 gigapixel image of Da Vinci's Last Supper
. [The link has music, which you can switch off.] The interface that allows you to zoom in and pan around the image works well.

Story here.

Filed under Photography,Technology | permalink | October 29, 2007 at 01:46 PM | Comments (0)

"Atlas Shrugged: The Movie!" Update

Robert James Bidinotto provides us more information as to what the film will (and will not) contain; information he got at the Atlas Shrugged 50th Anniversary event in Washington. Yeah, I neglected to mention that the 50th anniversary of the book's publication came and went this month. He includes this jaw-dropper: "The iconic dollar-sign cigarettes, as un-PC as they may be, will not only appear in the film: They will play an important role in the plot."

On a related point, there were 50th anniversary celebrations worldwide, including this one in Mumbai! Look! They had cake!

Filed under Film/Movies,Libertarianism | permalink | October 29, 2007 at 11:25 AM | Comments (2)

LADWP Survey Markers

Here's a web page documenting the LADWP placing a survey marker in Johnson Valley for their proposed Green Path North project, the plan to run power lines from Desert Hot Springs to Upland via Lucerne Valley and Hesperia. The page includes photos of the landing of the helicopter with the survey crew, and this letter from LADWP explaining what they're doing.

Filed under California,Green Path North | permalink | October 29, 2007 at 10:34 AM | Comments (0)

October 28, 2007

The Missing Minutes

Back on October 16 in my report on the DHS city council meeting I mentioned Rick Daniels' announcement that no city council minutes had been written up for nine months. The story only made it to the Desert Sun today after they tried to contact all the members of the city council. Yvonne Parks accepts some responsibility for the gross oversight:

"I have to accept some responsibility for that," Parks said. "I really am ashamed. I should have recognized there were no minutes in the consent calendar (the group of items councils typically consider for approval without reviewing them individually).

"Why it never registered with me, and why I didn't question it, is beyond me."

Yvonne Parks is running for mayor, and she seems to have a good grasp of how to respond on an embarrassing issue, although her last sentence sounds too close to Hank Hohenstein's comment that he "just woke up stupid" when he neglected to recuse himself from a vote.

Mayor Bias says he commented on the lack of minutes many times, but the other city council members did not allow him to demand them. If he did comment on it, then other city council members ignorance of the subject wouldn't be believable. I do wonder why Mayor Bias kept this important issue so quiet and never mentioned it in a city council meeting and never went to the press with it.

Scott Matas says he didn't know there were supposed to be minutes. If true, it's evidence of the downside of electing business people rather than experienced politicians. Not that I'm saying we should elect experienced politicians. We've already got too many of those.

Hank Hohenstein with his trap-like mind said this: "I remember, I'm not sure who asked, but somebody asked about that some time ago, and we were assured they were being worked on." Uh-huh. From the little I know of Hank Hohenstein, I don't think he ever woke up forgetful or stupid.

"Mayor Pro Tem Mary Stephens did not return a message seeking comment Friday." the Desert Sun should have that sentence as a standard line to be inserted with only one keystroke in any article about Desert Hot Springs. They only need to change the day of the week.

In summary then:

  • Beyond me.
  • Minutes?
  • Somebody, somtime, somewhere.
  • No answer.
  • I knew all about it and kept my mouth shut.

The unfortunate rule of law allows us to throw out only three of these bums on November 6. As Dot Reed says, "Vote the way you should vote."

UPDATE: In this other article about the city of Desert Hot Springs donating money to needy organizations there is this sentence: "A message left with Mayor Pro Tem Mary Stephens was not returned Friday." See what I'm saying?

Filed under Desert Hot Springs | permalink | October 28, 2007 at 07:55 PM | Comments (5)

October 25, 2007

"The Desert Is Cool"

Mark Brady of Santa Barbara found himself in Desert Hot Springs this week and liked it.

Filed under Coachella Valley | permalink | October 25, 2007 at 05:28 AM | Comments (1)

October 24, 2007

This Is Twisted

I thought only Mayor Bias was in favor of Proposition J in Desert Hot Springs, which would raise the "transient occupancy tax" (i.e., the hotel bed tax) from 10% to 12%. The city council put the proposition on the ballot under the mistaken impression that local hoteliers favored it, which they did not. After that it was too late. Now EVERYone (except Mayor Bias) is opposed to the proposition, which would give DHS the highest bed tax in the valley.

But now Mayor Bias has company: the editorial board of the Desert Sun! Fine company, indeed.

Filed under Coachella Valley | permalink | October 24, 2007 at 10:46 PM | Comments (0)