Blacknell.net

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

Month: October 2007 (Page 1 of 4)

Things That Don’t Fit In

Zombies on the Orange Line

Ah, the joys of an Orange line commute.  And just wait until the Tyson's extension is connected! Seriously, isn't that a great picture?  James Calder caught it  at the DC Zombie Lurch this past weekend. Other bits that don't fit anywhere in particular:
  • Flying While Brown: still not (yet) a crime, still not a hassle free activity.
  • My interest in the technical aspects of operating systems disappeared long ago, but I found this review of the new OS X version (Leopard) so well written that I didn't even skim over the bits about the kernel.  Recommended if you're considering upgrading (I think I'll hold off for a while) or if you'd just like to see what a well written technical article for a popular audience looks like.
  • I wish I were a size small.

DCCX – DC Does Cyclocross!

DC enjoyed its first organized cyclocross event, this past Sunday. DCMTB/City Bikes did the heavy lifting in organizing and managing the races, and the U.S. Armed Forces Retirement Home (the new name for the U.S. Soliders' and Airmen's Home) provided an absolutely beautiful venue. I felt a little lame heading out there without even thinking of having a go myself, but it was so much fun to watch I pretty much left that feeling at the gate. I hope they can pull off turning it into an annual event - it's the sort of racing that makes me positively evangelical about the sport. Gwadzilla, as usual, has the better words. Pictures from the Men's 3/4 & U18 race are available here. I'll upload the rest of the afternoon races as I get a chance. Updated: Scott talks about his race, and then his son Jake's race. If I'm recalling things correctly, Scott got at least another lap and a half out of the day, keeping up with Jake (but on the other side of the tape . . .). Women's 1/2/3 race photos here. Betsy Shogren blew away the rest of the field by 2:30. Junior's (U16) race here. These kids rocked the course. Is your form this good?

Further Updates:
  • VeloNews summarizes the A races here.
  • Josh considers the 1x9 approach.
  • Darren Bigg captures the morning races.
  • And instead of lending a hand to his fellow DCMTB'rs and taking pictures of DCCX, Joe is . . . lazing about in Patagonia?

Opt-out (or: Recall^H^H^H)

Some instances of stupidity make me consider reconsidering my stance against the death penalty. To be clear: if you should ever be brave enough to be a whistleblower, you should never count on the competence or decency of the people that you are contacting to protect you.

Small things are big

Went to my law school for a lecture this evening.   The route there took me past the Cart Lady.  I don't know her name.  She doesn't know mine.  Our command of the other's language is limited to nonexistent.  So we don't really know each other.  But she did feed me one out of every three meals for nearly three years.  And even though that started over 10 years ago, she recognized me.  She stopped me, said that it had been a long time, asked if I had a good job, and offered me a free one of my old favorites. How could that not make anyone's day?

Rural Serenity

When I turned onto this road during a bike ride this weekend, I remarked to a friend next to me, "And this is where you bring someone to shoot them and dump them in the woods."  A few moments later, we came upon this:

Television.  It's an okay thing to waste.

No Sympathy for Metro Atlanta

Gov. Sonny Purdue's going on about about a disaster, now, and is asking the Federal government for help.  Well, Sonny, water's been a problem in Georgia for a damn long time, and Georgia hasn't done much about it.  Between the unchecked sprawl and seeming fetish for vast green lawns, this is a noose they put around their own necks.  Let them figure out how to take it off and step back from the edge.

Tour du Port this Sunday

If you've got an open Sunday and have been thinking that you ought to get to know Baltimore better*, you should check out the 2007 edition of the Tour du Port.  I and a good number of friends will be hitting the 40 mile route.  Say hi to the guy in the Bike New York jersey. *Stop laughing.  B'more's a cool town.  Just took me years to come around to that realization.  I should have known, though.  Any place that can produce John Waters has to be worth checking out.  Plus, new episodes of The Wire don't start until next year.  Get your fix here, hon.

Changes Afoot on Wilson Boulevard

Things are always changing on Wilson Boulevard in Arlington. It's come a long way since I first moved here, with the Vietnamese restaurant in the shape of a boat (with Christmas lights on it!) at the corner of Wilson & Nelson. And just last week, the last buildings (on the north side of Wilson) that were here when I arrived have come down. While there have been inevitable disappointments (the loss of Indian Spices Gifts & Appliances, broken promises about street level retail, etc.), it's generally been a positive progression. I'm not so sure I can say that about the latest couple of changes, though. Both changes are aimed at improving the pedestrian experience.  The crosswalk in front of Ballston Mall has been replaced with a light. The other project involves the sidewalks along Wilson Boulevard (between North Oakland and North Monroe) being widened. And since I'm in my car 1/100th of the time I'm on foot, you'd think that I'd be happy. But I don't think either is going to work out as planned. First, the Ballston crosswalk - with a unique pedestrian activated light system - has worked out pretty well as is. Sure, there's the occasional car that doesn't defer to pedestrians, in that it rolls through the crosswalk when someone is waiting to cross - I've not seen a near-miss in years of watching. To insert yet another light on that short section of road will only snarl traffic a bit more (esp. if things continue as they were today, with the lights completely out of alignment). The new lights seem like a solution in search of a problem. Second, the sidewalk project involves a significant narrowing of Wilson Boulevard. Same number of lanes, much less space. And extended corners with enormous radii. This, of course, has a traffic calming effect. You know in that calming = increased slowness and frustration way. I'm not sure that one of Arlington's primary thoroughfares really needs calming. The leaves very little room to manoeuvre around the cars making the inevitable left-hand turns. Wilson is becoming a pretty busy alternative commuting corridor, and this will only make things worse. Last (but definitely not least!), this makes Wilson even more unattractive for cyclists, who are already pretty squeezed on this road. I'm all for improved pedestrian access and safety, but I think Arlington went about it the wrong way this time. Let's hope I'm shown to be incorrect.

Democracy Hurts: Bhutto’s Motorcade Bombed

I harbor no illusions about Benazir Bhutto, but she doesn't - Pakistan doesn't - deserve this:
[T]wo blasts in Benazir Bhutto's motorcade were suicide hits and have killed more than 52 people while injuring close to 80 [it has since reportedly risen to 85 dead]. The dead and the injured include security personnel and PPP supporters who had come to welcome Benzair from across the country including those from Lahore.
The motorcade was on its way to visit the mausoleum of the father of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah:

Jinnah Mausoleum

Would that everyone involved had paid more attention to Jinnah's words and principles. Update: NYTimes puts the dead at over 100. Further update: I'm going to post my take on Pakistan's current political situation here because it's as good a place as any to post it. That said, there are far more informed and interesting places for a real discussion to take place (not that I'm going to point you to any of them. If you think partisanship makes discussion hard in the US . . . ). So, that said, here's my take as distilled for a comment over at dKos:

 

Both Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif are crooks. Pervez Musharraf's a strongman who may have had the right intentions, but found that he quite likes being a dictator. The imams hover in the background (and while serious, they are not the enormous threat some would like everyone to think). And the other options are mostly political unknowns (hi, Imran!). So, all in all, a real mess. But it's a mess mainly of Pakistan's making, and I don't think that the US ought to get involved in picking a winner in this battle (not that it really could, if it wanted to). Bhutto's recent reemergence in Western political circles can be ascribed to 1) a general assumption that a woman in Pakistan has to be a good thing (thus they overlook what a crook she was/is), and 2) an incredibly well orchestrated (and funded) PR and lobbying effort of late. She's got (a lot of) supporters, to be sure, but she's no Second Coming (so to speak).
The picture above is from a rather peaceful day.  To see the awfulness of today, click here.  And imagine that that is your city.

Dems Cave on Telecom Immunity?

[Update: Let's put the Senate hold to a better use than porkbarrel politics - call Sen. Chris Dodd and urge him to put a hold on the FISA bill.] If this Washington Post story is right, the Democrats have just hit the bottom of the credibility and effectiveness barrel. Handing out a blank Get Out of Jail card to telecom providers on the basis of the say-so of the Bush Administration? On *any* basis? That makes them not only fools, but dangerous fools. This country was founded and has thrived on the rule of law. That is, the law is publicly known, and applies equally and predictably to all. You may scoff, thinking of some recent criminal case of injustice, but the rule of law really has been at the foundation of America's success. It has provided for the certainty and safety of its people, who were not subject to the secret (and not so secret) whims and graces of individual men. And now both the Republicans and Democrats are throwing that out in favor of . . . of *what*? What can possibly be gained by this? They're still going to get their telecom industry contributions if they don't do this. They're not losing any safety - remember, this is *retroactive* immunity. So what is it? The sheer pleasure of knowing that you're playing an integral part in deconstructing America? Didn't want to let Bush get all the credit for that? Fools. (When this comes down to a vote, I look forward to matching up those who vote for telecom immunity against those who voted against "amnesty" for illegal immigrants. Should be some interesting contrasts in rhetoric coming from the same people . . .).

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