August 30th, 2006

The Stranger Endorses Stephanie Pure for the 43rd!

Just like I knew they would!

The obvious standout in this crowded field is Stephanie Pure, a longtime aide to Seattle City Council Member Peter Steinbrueck, who is making her first run at elected office. (Ed Murray, whom she’s looking to replace, also started out as a council aide, as did current King County Executive Ron Sims and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels.)

Pure, a quick study, has a long history of working to preserve the rights of people who aren’t often heard in politics: tenants (Pure organized the citywide Renters Summit with Judy Nicastro in 2000) and youth (she was a founding member of the Vera Project; she served for several years on the city’s Music and Youth Task Force to overturn the Teen Dance Ordinance; and, as an aide to Steinbrueck, she worked to increase library hours).

To winnow the candidates, the SECB held our own “primary,” narrowing the field to three: Pure, Preston Gates & Ellis attorney Jamie Pedersen, and former City Council Member and Superior Court Judge Jim Street. Pure, who’s focused on density and smart growth, is most in line with the SECB (and her district) on a wide range of issues. She supports public financing of campaigns; she says full marriage equality, not just civil unions, is her goal; and, saying the city’s commitment to meeting Kyoto standards “seem[s] to stop short when we talk about the viaduct,” she supports the surface/transit alternative for replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct. (Pure’s opponents all support the mayor’s unaffordable, environmentally unsustainable $4 billion tunnel.) And Pure was the only candidate of the three to mention education and reproductive rights among her top priorities.

Voters in the district should not be swayed by the desire to “send a message” to the supreme court by sending Pedersen, who is gay, to Olympia. Pedersen—an attorney who will stay on the Preston Gates payroll even if he wins a seat in the legislature—is too compromised and middle-of-the-road to be truly effective. (During the SECB’s interview, Pedersen argued credulously that money has no influence on politics. “I don’t think there’s a problem with the system,” he said.) His constant bragging about “saving” PacMed on Beacon Hill (work he did in his paid role as a lawyer for Preston Gates) also turned us off. Street, who initially struck several members of the SECB as the brainiest and most knowledgeable of the pack, quickly started to grate on us with his know-it-all demeanor. We’re worried he’ll turn off his potential colleagues in Olympia, too. Pure, a young woman who has lived in the 43rd (mostly on Capitol Hill) her entire adult life, best represents the full diversity of her district. A smart, effective young woman would be a great addition to the Ed Murray–Frank Chopp power axis in the 43rd. Vote Pure.

I love it! And let’s face it, we all love Stephanie Pure. I’m so looking forward to saying “I knew her when!”


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August 30th, 2006

Yglesias calls BS on the Iran Menace

Over at Talking Points Memo:

…David Ignatius is in Iran and reports that though “you might expect that Tehran would feel like a garrison town” its actually surprisingly relaxed. But why might you expect that Teheran would feel like a garrison town? Well, you would if youve been following the medias dubious, highly-spun coverage of the issue. But you wouldnt if you asked yourself some basic question. For example, if Iran is preparing to mount a Hitler-style bid for world domination they must be engaged in a big military build-up, right? But there is no such build up. Maybe theres no need for a build-up because the Iranian military is already so vast and mighty? Well, no. Iran has a defense budget of about $6 billion a year.The United States spends over 50 times more than that. But perhaps comparisons to the USA are misleading. Lets compare our would-be regional hegemon to its neighbors. Well, Israel spends $9.6 billion and Saudi Arabia spends $25.2 billion. Pakistan, immediately adjacent to Iran and nuclear armed, actually has engaged in a recent defense buildup. What kind of quest for hegemony is Iran supposed to be on? Ignorant American pundits and television personalities may be unaware of these facts, but surely Iranian military and intelligence officials have noticed that Iran has no capacity whatsoever to conquer the region.

Read the whole thing… it’s really important that we all understand the poker W is playing with Iran so that we can all call his reckless bluff.


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August 29th, 2006

Get a free grande Starbucks every day for the next month

It sure as hell looks like your typical internet coupon hoax, but it’s for real. If you take this coupon to your local Starbucks you can get a free grande iced drink! For our coffee-drinking friends this could be a real saving over the promotional period — it lasts until 9/30. Apparently this was a local promotion that got emailed around the country, and Starbucks HQ has agreed to honour it nationwide. Many digg readers have reported enjoying their free coffees. Expanded to the entire US, this could cost Starbucks a fair bit — I wonder how much trouble the regional promotions manager got into over this.

Update: The promotion has been cancelled. (Thanks to Annett for the heads-up.)


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August 25th, 2006

In Soviet America, Flag Flies You

So apparently it’s state law in Colorado that “any person who displays any flag other than the flag of the United States of America or the state of Colorado or any of its subdivisions, agencies or institutions upon any state, county, municipal or other public building or adjacent grounds within this state commits a class 1 petty offense.” And because of this, a geography teacher showing the Mexican, Chinese and UN flags in class and refused to remove them has been put on leave.

In other news, evolution has mysteriously disappeared from a list of acceptable fields of study for recipients of a federal education grant for low-income college students. They say it was just a “clerical error”, but in the current climate of intelligent design and flag-banning, that seems unlikely to me.


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August 25th, 2006

Piledriver at CHAC

If you think you don’t want to see a play about semi-pro wrestling, one that has an overtly homoerotic subplot, well, to my stunned surprise, you’re wrong.

Last night I was lucky enough to catch Piledriver at the Cap Hill Arts Center. I found it wildly entertaining. Oh, sure, it’s obscene. It’s rife with profanity. It openly represents and explicity discusses gay sex. And there’s a whole lotta body slammin’ going on – after all, it’s about semi-pro wrestling. But tangled in all the showy head banging and theatrical bouncing off the ropes, there’s a good story, rich character development, and loads of laugh out loud humor.

The unlikely hero of the show is the writer. Harvey is a lumpy, aging, ex drag queen with crazy hair who sets up all the story lines around each night’s show. My friend K – who invited me to tag along – is an editor and writer and the two of us cheered like crazy when ever they made writing gags. (I didn’t mention the whole audience particpation thing.) Something that had us both hysterical? A scene where the wrestlers are arguing about the plot line. Harvey interupts with something like:

You don’t like the plot line? You don’t like where things are going? Well, F**K YOU! It’s my show. I’m the writer and you’ll follow the story EXACTLY THE WAY I TELL YOU TO.

Close enough.We were also big fans of this classic bit of ridiculous snark:

Do I look smaller to you? That’s because I’m WALKING AWAY!

The play is funny, raunchy, well staged, well acted, engaging, and, simply, a really good time. But hurry up, it’s only on for two more nights at CHAC. Get tix here.


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August 24th, 2006

Web 2.0 Is What, Now? What? Huh?

I have a confession to make, Nonfamousi, and I hope you will not think less of me for it. Here goes…

I have no idea what Web 2.0 is.

There, I’ve said it. Whew.

Look, I’m not a total techno-illiterate. I have a WordPress blog and I use the Performancing Plug-in for Firefox to do my authoring. I use – and love – Flickr. I participate in blogging community sites like this one and BlogHer. I do almost all of my blog reading via RSS. I use Technorati tagging. I know what MySpace and Del.icio.us and Digg are and I know what a lens is. I had a 43Things account for a while, I’ve made a podcast and listened to others. All that technology name dropping aside, I still have no idea what Web 2.0 is.

I tried to read the O’Reilly presentation and the Wikipedia entry about Web 2.0, but I’m also reading Dickens right now and there’s only so much wading through complex language that a person can be expected to do in their free time.

I’m beginning to suspect that Web 2.0 isn’t a real thing. It’s a label that some academic type applied to the social networking phenomenon that’s becoming part of the technology mainstream. “Look, people are talking to each other and sharing ideas via user editable technology! We gotta call that something!” There are whole conferences devoted to Web 2.0. There are papers and marketing initiatives and there are jobs for strategists that will asssist companies with their Web 2.0 plan.

But I do not know what Web 2.0 is.

Does anyone remember when XML was the silver bullet? I remember it very well because XML’s ascendency was followed by a large packet of papers announcing that my stock options had been cancelled and were officially worthless, thank you very much. I’m only mildly bitter about that, but I did learn a thing or two.

Like, one should find out what the technology really is before hitching their wagon to what’s supposed to be the next rising star. So I turn to you, Nonfamousi. Can anyone tell me what Web 2.0 is? My future probably doesn’t depend on my knowing the answer to this question, but I won’t know that until I know what Web 2.0 is.


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August 24th, 2006

Very Funny Ads

Here’s a great site of funny TV spots from around the world. Some of my favourites come from France, including this
hilarious spot for … well … it’s best you don’t know until the end.


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August 23rd, 2006

Bush Strategerizes

Great article in Slate on Monday’s press conference with the prez. It’s just so clear he doesn’t get it. Fred Kaplan really nails it here, though:

As for Iraq, it’s no news that Bush has no strategy. What did come as news—and, really, a bit of a shocker—is that he doesn’t seem to know what “strategy” means.

Asked if it might be time for a new strategy in Iraq, given the unceasing rise in casualties and chaos, Bush replied, “The strategy is to help the Iraqi people achieve their objectives and dreams, which is a democratic society. That’s the strategy. … Either you say, ‘It’s important we stay there and get it done,’ or we leave. We’re not leaving, so long as I’m the president.”

First, it’s not clear that the Iraqi people want a “democratic society” in the Western sense. Second, and more to the point, “helping Iraqis achieve a democratic society” may be a strategic objective, but it’s not a strategy—any more than “ending poverty” or “going to the moon” is a strategy.

I’d add that “we’re not leaving, so long as I’m president” clearly isn’t a strategy anyway, unless your strategy is “let the next guy clean up the mess”.


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August 23rd, 2006

Game Over, Cupcake

I just thought this was cute and very original. See what happens when you recreate 80’s video games with cupcakes and other household items in this short video.


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August 21st, 2006

My new favourite TV show

… isn’t even on US TV. It’s an Australian comedy program called “The Chaser’s War on Everything”, and they bill themselves as follows:

George W. Bush waged a war on terror, but only The Chaser has had the vision and courage to wage a War On Everything. Over 27 weeks, from February 17 at 9.45pm, no target will be spared in the satirical team’s new comedy show on ABC TV. The hitlist is comprehensive: John Howard, Telstra, the Pope, the Dalai Lama, Mother Theresa, Kim Beazley, Simone Warne and – most of all – those annoying people who write feeble hyperbole in TV press kits.

With the blessings of government-funded television, you can download recent episodes for free as a vodcast from the ABC website or via iTunes. Better yet, good bits from older episodes are available at the official site or on YouTube (just search) as bite-size 1-3 minute chunks, perfect for those interstitial moments in the day. My favourites so far: taking in full-size Trojan Horse to restricted areas (apparently, no-one but the Turkish Embassy has learned the lesson of history); boarding a flight under the name “Al Kayder” (where only the Virgin Atlantic agent notices the homophonic irony).


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