Blacknell.net

Politics, technology, and society. And the seasonal incursion of pro cycling.

Month: January 2007 (Page 1 of 3)

Arlington Sun Gazette To Be Sold

I just noticed, a bit late, that the parent company of the Arlington Sun Gazette has agreed to be sold.  I don't know if the new owners intend to take an active hand in things, but if they're looking for suggestions, they should start by replacing the current editorial board.  As I've noted before, they're an embarrassment to Arlington.

Is it absurd enough, yet?

So, Boston's mistaking a cartoon promotion for a terrorist threat gives us two choices: 1) we can realize how utterly ridiculous it is to treat everything under the sun as a "security threat" or 2) we can sharpen our pitchforks, light our torches, and start looking for witches. Any bets on which way it'll go? Sigh. (For those who haven't seen them yet, these are the "suspicious devices" that shut down one of our busiest (and generally very smart) cities.) Update: shocker.

Back on the road


Thankfully, this will not be my mode of travel (tho' it might feel like it, in those American Airlines seats in the back of the bus . . .). (Taken in Karachi, Pakistan on January 1, 2007) Updated, while I wait for my cab: Ask the Pilot is one of the reasons I pay for access to Salon. This column, on flight cabin design, is great (if you're not a subscriber, you'll just have to endure a brief commercial before viewing). Be sure to click through to the photos. As you might have guessed, I quite enjoy the subject of flight and travel epherema.)

What is my contribution accomplishing, again?

Chris Bowers highlights a recent Center for Public Integrity study of campaign finance reports. Some noteworthy extracts:
  • About 600 professional consultants were paid more than a combined $1.85 billion in the 2003-2004 federal campaigns.
  • Media consultants, who offer political and strategic advice and handle political advertising, were paid $1.2 billion, or 65 percent of all consultant spending.
  • Direct mail consultants billed the second-largest amount, $298 million, totaling 16 percent of all consultant spending.
  • Consultants routinely pitch campaign plans that rely heavily on their own specialty because there is a financial incentive to do so.
  • Fundraising consultants, whose services are necessitated in large part by the rising amounts campaigns spend on other consultants, cost candidates at least $59 million.
That's a little shocking, in the aggregate, but it's something to keep in mind when Chris says this:
When it comes to political contributions and the progressive movement, the flow of money is almost entirely one-way. To the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, it is sucked out of the movement, and pocketed by the establishment.
It's something we should all keep in mind, the next time we're asked for a contribution.

The “First Americans”?

This magazine cover caught my eye, today.  It's a story on the 400 year anniversary of Jamestown that is curiously titled "The First Americans."  Is U.S. News & World Report telling us that there was no one living in North America before 1607? It's a very strange choice of title, indeed.

Virginia Bike Commuter Tax Credits

I'm a bit conflicted about using the tax code to promote certain behaviours, but I'm nonetheless passing along this information about a pending proposal for a Virginia tax credit for individuals who commute to work by bike.  Lifted almost wholesale from a WABA email: Act Now: Support HB 1826 for Bicycle Commuting Tax Credits The Washigton Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) and the Virginia Bicycling Federation (VBF) urge all Virginia cyclists to support HB 1826 which is now before the Virginia General Assembly.  HB 1826 would promote bicycle commuting by encouraging employers to provide bicycle commuting accommodations at the workplace and by offering a modest income tax credit of $15/month for employees who commute by bicycle on 10 or more days per month. HB 1826 proposes two different types of income tax credit for expenditures related to bicycle commuting:
  1. an employer tax credit up to $5,000 for expenditures to provide employee bicycle parking racks and/or showers at the worksite and
  2. an employee tax credit of $15 per month for commuting by bicycle at least ten days in any given month. 
WABA and VBF strongly support both proposed tax credits, but we have suggested expanding the employer credit to include rented as well as purchased facilities, to include all types of suitable bicycle parking facilities (not just racks), and to include employee clothes changing and storage facilities as well as employee showers. The bill has been referred to the House of Delegates Finance Committee and will reportedly be heard by Finance Subcommittee #3 on Wednesday, Jan. 24 and by the full Finance Committee as early as Monday, Jan. 29.  A favorable fiscal impact statement has already been issued by the Virginia Department of Taxation. HOW YOU CAN HELP:
  1. Ask your Virginia delegate to co-patron HB 1826 before the bill is heard by the full House Finance Committee.  You can identify and contact your delegate here.
  2. Ask your delegate to vote for HB 1826 at every opportunity.  If your delegate (or a nearby delegate) is on the House Finance Committee and/or on Finance Subcommittee #3 ask them NOW to vote for HB 1826 when it comes before Subcommittee #1 (on Jan. 24) and the full House Finance Committee (possibly on Jan. 29).
LINKS TO MORE INFORMATION: HB 1826 bill history HB 1826 text as introduced

You’re Warned, WAMU

Yes, I see things are afoot at your end of the dial, with WETA heading back to classical, and WGMS (now WXGG-FM) picking up some of your public radio programming. So I'm sure you'll see this as an opportunity to reshuffle your own programming a bit. Fine, have at it. But there are two things you better not do:
  • Do not mess with Kojo Nnamdi (I am still shocked (and quite selfishly pleased) he hasn't been snatched for a national show), and
  • Do not even dream of touching Ray Davis.
Okay, enough with the demands. Now to the requests:
  • Please find some space for Farai Cheideya. I don't care what you do with Tavis.
  • Do not be tempted by Prairie Home Companion.
Note to DCRTV: I'd really like to link you for posts like this, but your site structure is atrocious. It's a shame, considering how easy it is to fix that, and how valuable your content generally is.

2007 DC Area Cycling & Adventure Racing

Last year I waited entirely too long to actually take a look at all the regional and sport calendars or put some thought into what I really wanted to accomplish. So over the past couple of weeks, I've put together calender to help me and a few friends figure out what we wanted to do this year. As I look at it, though, I realize that it might be useful to other people in the region. So I'm throwing it up here. This listing is not at all comprehensive - it's just a list of DC area cycling or amateur athletic events that I either want to participate in or go just go watch. If you're in the DC area, I hope that you'll give it a read and see if something catches your interest, either as a competitor or spectator. A fair number of the events listed book up pretty quickly, and lots of them seem to open for registration on January 22. Just FYI, it's a list that makes me seem far more ambitious or in shape than I really am. I won't be a competitive threat to anyone in any of these events. Except, perhaps, for the Lanterne Rouge. I just aim to finish and have fun. The calendar is broken down into events for which the date has been set, and events for which the date has yet to be announced. Also, if you're reading this any day but January 22, 2007, please note that this information could be out of date.

Read More

What a difference an election makes . . .

I'm still getting used to not cringing when I hear the voice on the radio start a story with "The House voted to . . ." or "Senate leaders are . . ."  Been down so long, I'm still not used to up. But things most certainly are looking up.  In just a couple of short weeks, the House has already acted to:
  • increase the minimum wage
  • broaden stem cell research
  • allow government bargaining on Medicare drug prices
  • cut student loan costs
  • adopt recommendations from the Sept. 11 Commission and
  • roll back energy company tax breaks
And it doesn't stop there.  In the Senate, I've gone from having two Iraq war cheerleaders to two Senators who publicly oppose Bush's Iraq plans.  Now, I expect much more than this from my representatives, but this is a damn good start . . .

A Reminder

Markos reminds us:
Remember, the primaries are less than a year away. And what a year it will be. It'll be non-stop bashing of blacks, women, Muslims, trial lawyers, and brown people south of the border. And the GOP's hatred for anyone who isn't a privileged (by birth) white male will be in full display. With Iraq burning out of control, the GOP senses its imminent 2008 disaster. It's a cornered, wounded animal with little chance of escape. And those are the most dangerous of all.
What prompted this?  Oh, just some harmless little speculation on Fox about Barack Obama's being schooled by terrorists . . .

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