Thursday, June 30, 2005

Closed Doors in Boise? - KTVB

KTVB.COM - Idaho News Weather & Sports - Top Stories: "BOISE -- A closed door meeting has caused chaos for Ada County commissioners.

Civil complaints have been filed against the commissioners, claiming the manner in which the June 15th meeting was handled was wrong.

Boise City Council member Vern Bisterfeldt said he called a meeting with the Ada County commissioners to talk about their struggling relationship.

'We convened the meeting and they went into executive session, and they asked which way I wanted it and that it didn't make any difference to me because we weren't going to be making any decisions,' Bisterfeldt said. "

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Jerusalem Part I: Adventures Along The Via Del Crap

Another dispatch from Israel from a friend who is traveling there.

Saturday June 26th, 2005.

Jerusalem, the capital of the Israeli state and ground zero of both its appeal and its georeligious conflict, simultaneously lives up to expectations and confounds them. Jerusalem, like Florence or the Napa Valley, is preposterously scenic. Leaving the humid crowds of Tel Aviv, where one assumes that the British spent as much time fighting cholera as they did the Irgun, you ascend 1500 steady feet into rocky hills and ridges that are capped by the city itself. On the way, pine forests and stony fields are partitioned by olive groves and the odd vineyard.

Most every building in the city is covered in a pallid, not quite marble-like cladding, Jerusalem stone, that makes the city architecturally cohesive -- one of many contrasts to Tel Aviv. The use of Jerusalem stone was mandated by the city's former British masters, whom one suspects loved the city more than most Jerusalmites. (The Brits, however, would be chagrined to learn that Jerusalem's Arabs have improved upon simple black tea. Drenching sugar and mint in simple Lipton makes an amazingly refreshing drink, even on a hot day.) The city's uniform architecture helps lend the place a bit of a mythic quality, especially since no one who doesn't have to covers everyday buildings in stone anymore. It's also uniquely elemental -- the stone takes on a blazing, reflective glare at noon and a Homeric, pinkish-hue at dawn and dusk.

Jerusalem's Old City, with its Armenian, Muslim, Jewish, and Christian quarters, is where all the real action is and represents the most contested real estate (fine, at least outside of Manhattan) in the Western universe. Our extremely perky guide, a nice Jewish girl with an aqua-colored brocade skullcap, nose ring, and hot pink pedal pushers nearly stranded us, nineteen clueless Americans, smack dab at one of the few entrances to the Temple Mount immediately before the human tidal wave that precedes the Friday sermon -- the Muslim equivalent to fixin' to go to church time. After an excessive amount of gesturing by some itchy Israeli guards and a tantalizing look into the compound that contains the al-Aqsa mosque and the gold covered Dome of the Rock (collectively Islam's third holiest site, except for the third Thursday of the month when felafel at Joe's Shwarma Shack goes two-for-one) we navigated our way through the Muslim Quarter.

The Muslim Quarter is a place of legend within a place of legend and possibly one of the one places a gaijin like me could ever hope to living in a real life Sinbad tale. Traders used to -- and still do -- descend upon the Quarter's market, or souk, to buy and sell their various sundries. The souk is still there, and it does indeed contain wonders. Men carry massive trays of fresh bread whose smell wafts towards you and mixes with both the aroma of cooked meat and the crisp smell of incandescently fresh vegetables. Narrow stalls offer bright bins of cinnamon, green tea, curry, and cardamon. There is also a fantastic amount of crap.

Once the Israelis and Palestinians figure out their differences, I have no doubt of Jerusalem's Muslims ability to tap into the power of globalization, for nowhere have I seen such a river of schlock aimed squarely at tourists -- apparently the more Christian the better. The Muslim Quarter is the world epicenter of the plastic Jesus, the Virgin Mary Magic Marker, "real Jerusalem dirt," and prayer beads more suited to a day at Mardi Gras drinking hurricanes spiked with LSD than to the Epiphany of St. Festus. The 'Quarter also sports more than its share of garbage strewn on the streets and public urination, which seems to be a local sport. Surely the Most Merciful and Compassionate did not challenge Sinbad's smell receptors thus?

This river of commercial treacle flows uphill -- almost miraculously -- along the Via Dolorosa, the route the Christ trudged with his Cross towards his ultimate crucifixion. I'm sure the J-Man had to fend off a mob on ankle biters selling film, postcards, and purple Fanta although I hope He was spared -- unlike me -- his portrait skillfully rendered on black velvet. (Note to travelers: If you learn any Arabic in your life, make sure you master the forceful delivery of the term "imshi!", which seems to be a combination of "Beat It!" and "Don't Make Me Come Back There!")

Interestingly, the Muslim Quarter is slowly being colonized by religious Jews, who are taking to heart the command to inhabit as much of the Old City as possible, to the point of paying fabulous sums to the former Muslim owners for what amounts to a rotting hulk of stone. Ariel Sharon, certainly no lover of Muslims, owns such a house unsurprisingly festooned with enough flags and blue bunting to outfit a nice sized parade. That this practice -- where Muslim and Arab landowners sell out to Jews hell bent on reclaiming what (they think) History says is theirs -- mirrors the way both sides originally got into the current fix, seems to bother neither side at all. But of course more than they buyers and sellers of houses lay claim to this city, which may end up being a problem with absolutely no solution.

The best example of Jerusalem's parochial insanity is brought to you by the Christians at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The Holy Sepulchre is built on top of Golgotha, the hill on which Jesus was executed, and also encompasses the site of his former tomb, conveniently excavated now for your viewing pleasure. Built piecemeal during the Crusader and Byzantine periods, the Church sprawls on top of the hill and offers an array of nooks, naves, crannies, and chapels that would make an Indiana Jones movie proud. It's also falling down, owing to the division of sects; Armenian, Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Abyssinian (that's Ethiopian to you), all charged with its upkeep. Upkeep, however, implies ownership and none of the sects will tolerate any of the other getting the upper hand. The Russians, as a result, have resorted to propping up the walls of their chapel with steel I-beams while the Armenians and Greeks are currently engaged in a glacier-paced battle over the removal of a ladder perched over the main entrance that has only rested there for the past seventy years or so.

This madness is so complete that it falls to one of Jerusalem's prominent Muslim citizens to open the joint in the morning and close it at night. No doubt the old geezer's eyes have permanently rolled into his esophagus after trudging out his door in his robe and slippers every morning for lord knows how long (you can certainly take revenge with you, however, as he gets to pass the honor along to his sons). I just hope that somewhere Muhammad is getting a good chuckle over the whole thing. For all our faults, we Americans would have never let this one come about -- it would have been settled with a bake sale or a game of touch football long ago.

Next stop, Jerusalem Part II: "Jerusalem Is People!!!"

Monday, June 27, 2005

Quinn smiling in a new spring outfit. June 2005.,

Nora shows off her catch of the day from a school field trip. June 2005

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Happy Birthday John!

So I'm sitting in a board meeting this afternoon in Boise, praying it will end on time (it didn't). And I missed personally calling big brother John on his birthday, though I know the kids called their beloved UNCLE JOHN! to wish him a big birthday this morning while I was traveling.

At the end of my business meeting of the Board of Directors of Catholic Charities of Idaho, the Bishop led us in the "June 24th prayer for St. John the Baptist". At the prayer's closing, I mentioned that today is my brother's birthday, and while I never had a clue that it was also the Feast of St. John the Baptist, I said "Bishop, I'm 100% sure that my mother knows whose Saint day it is!"

Regardless of his level of sainthood, I hope the old boy knows how much he means to his little brother - much more then his little brother can say. I'll spend lots of time with other mentor figures in my life - and I have.

But no one can conjure up a much needed simple reflection on my part or speak to my moral compass more quickly and completely than brother John. And no one's approval or acceptance quite measures up to that of brother John.

We haven't lived in the same city approaching 15 years now, and life doesn't have us talking as frequently as we should. But when life hits the fan, there isn't a person alive that I'd be more comfortable calling to give me a nudge to where I need to be, whether its with a sardonic question or a knowing wisecrack, than my brother John.

Our kids are growing up in a home that is one block short of chaos at any time. But first-born Will shows more ability to carry the torch of leadership - with all that entails - each day. We don't want to put a major burden on him to be responsible for his younger siblings, but if he has any interest in learning what it means to be a world class big brother, he could do much worse than spend some time with Uncle John.

He couldn't have a better mentor.

Happy Birthday Bro!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Tel Aviv; or How The Triple-Seven Will Beat the Demographic Bomb

The following is a travelogue email I received from a friend of mine from Israel. He's a great writer and this is a great missive.


June 21st, 2005. Summer solstice.

Tel Aviv is a spotlit, glassy marvel, at least from the 11th floor of the Isrotel Tower. At ground level it's something altogether different.

But I rush ahead of myself. My very journey to Israel deserves literary attention. After being stranded for four hours by the notorious mid-summer New Jersey weather, I embarked from Newark on a Continental Boeing 777 to Tel Aviv.

Eleven hours. Middle seat.

These two factors would have made for a less than epic trip, but little did I know that my flight would be made epic in quite the opposite way.

Much has been written about how Israel faces a demographic timebomb in the form of the swiftly growing Arab populations in the West Bank and Gaza. If those populations were absorbed into the current state of Israel, Israeli Jews would, in a few short generations, face the prospect of being a minority in the their own country, at which point the Arabs would (it is assumed) take advantage of Israeli democracy and finally drive the Jews into the sea (where, it must be said, they gamboled happily last Saturday). Thus the rationale for the current Israeli policy of "disengagement" from Gaza and the territories.

Never fear for the Israelis, my friends, for the Continental 777 is winging to the rescue. My flight was filled with so many mewling children that it felt like the set of Romper Room. They gurgled, they shrieked, they wandered Flight 90's rows in search of sleeping prey. They mostly shrieked, though, they shrieked with utter Zionist abandon. Mind you, these were not last gasp children of grasping Yuppie couples with wombs like dying coals in a campfire. No, these moms had plenty of miles left in them -- "fecundity," in the mellifluous words of one of my Arab comrades. I have no doubt that my flight alone will turn the demographic tide, which I suppose is small consolation for not being able to sleep a wink while on it.

On to Tel Aviv, where we arrived on the fall of Shabbat, the Jewish holiday. As a big-time gentile, this would have normally been, as they say, No Big Whoop to me, but it also meant that the hotel's espresso machine had gone dark. Hateful! I'm sure the good Lord didn't mean for us all to suffer quite that much, but I'm a guest here so I won't quibble.

Tel Aviv is billed as a thoroughly modern city -- Israel's commercial hub with nice beaches to boot. And it is. Any American would be pleased with my hotel room and the glossy nighttime cityscape seen from my balcony.

Ground level is a different story. Every glitzy hotel is matched with tumbledown buildings -- not squalor, but the victims of some serious neglect. This phenomenon runs right to the sea, where numerous homes and businesses seem inhabited only by Tel Aviv's population of rangy feral cats.

How did this happen in a country with so little space? Mind you, we're not talking about Florentine falling down here, where you might see a lawyer and his family wedged into a corner of a barely preserved Medici palazzo, this is all postwar cement buildings, so I doubt the not-really-sentimental-anyway Israelis are preserving them for posterity. Is this bad zoning, economic downturn, a remnant of the country's semi-socialist past?

Either way, it belies Tel Aviv's claim to be a truly First World city -- it's not Lagos, but we're not talking about Pacific Heights here either. (Of course, Israel seems to have done away with First World crime, so maybe a little cat feces is an acceptable trade off.) Granted, this is only a small part of the city and every beach has its own unique skeeviness.

But it also reminded me of a recent conversation over some excellent crispy Mongolian beef about the future of Europe -- that's Europe with a capital "E." A friend of mine remarked that his travel in Western European capitals -- Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam -- left him with the feeling that they were inert societies, living off their cultural pasts and the tourist dollars that brings but unable to address the discomfort that comes with addressing difficult changes (if any of you think that's unique to the this side of the Atlantic, please feel free to visit my hometown). Is Israel the same kind of society? Is it as dynamic as it appears from the outside -- as it's people certainly seem to be -- or is it groaning under its unique set of challenges and is starting to crumble? Or do outward appearances really matter? Can a society be judged at all on its general level of griminess?

Regardless, Israel's lasting contribution to World Culture has already been decided. Of course I speak of shwarma. Five greenbacks (in shekel form) buys you a blanket of soft bread filled with juicy ribbons of chicken, veal, lamb, or turkey, along with almost limitless fixins -- onion, hommos, felfael, french fries, zingy tahini sauce (mostly olive oil and ground sesame seeds) and fire-like Moroccan harissa sauce. I think I even saw a Keebler Elf in mine. Much to the chagrin of the embassy staff, however, the best shwarma seems to be near Tel Aviv's strip club district. It's a burden I'll have to bear for the rest of my trip, for shwarma is a dusky maiden who has captured my heart. What "more cowbell" is to Chris Walken, "more shwarma" is to The O.

Next stop: the security wall, Jerusalem, and is the Dead Sea really dead?


-Mike Olander

"The genius of you Americans is that you never make clear-cut stupid moves, only complicated stupid moves which make the rest of us wonder at the possibility that we might be missing something."
-Gamal Abdel Nasser

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

photo by Gina Gayle, AP

Giant Popsicle melts, floods New York park

If I didn't know better, I would have thought this was from "The Onion", the satirical site that makes up fake news (not to be confused with CBS, of course). But it's not, it's real, and a hilarious example of the best laid plans...

Snapple couldn't buy this press if they wanted to, though, and I'm sure somewhere their marketing PR people are laughing their heads off.

Classic. - Giant Popsicle melts, floods New York park: "NEW YORK (AP) - An attempt to erect the world's largest Popsicle in a city square ended with a scene straight out of a disaster film - but much stickier. "

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Last-place Reds fire manager Dave Miley

Another former Met from the 1970's is in place managing in the big leagues. If Jerry Narron has the same luck as Lee Mazzilli has with the Orioles, the Reds fortunes should turn around quickly. - Last-place Reds fire manager Dave Miley: "Last-place Reds fire manager Dave Miley
CINCINNATI (AP) - The last-place Cincinnati Reds fired manager Dave Miley on Tuesday and promoted bench coach Jerry Narron to take over on an interim basis for the rest of the season. "

Monday, June 20, 2005

Thoughts on Nixon's Library

So last week I spent a few hours at Nixon's library in Yorba Linda, California. I'm a history and presidential buff, so the fact that the library was just a few minutes from where I was staying was a perk.

The library was fascinating, really. I went through rather fast, so I didn't read every plaque, every entry, every comment. But the overall effect was obviously very favorable to America's 37th President.

I have to admit, try as I might to be objective, some of the Watergate section seemed designed, bound, and determined to rewrite history on Nixon's knowledge, participation, and actions. Oddly I happened to be there on the 33rd anniversary of the actual initial break-in at the Watergate Hotel (DNC headquarters), something I didn't realize until later. The narrator of several of the components of the Watergate exhibits intoned deeply about how little the President knew, and how poorly served he was by his staffers. I can agree with the latter, not the former.

In following a few older ladies around the museum, I was struck by how defensive they were in talking with one another of Nixon. I don't know if they were locals or from elsewhere, but as I walked along in silence next to them they continued to talk about what the Democrats did that tripped Nixon up. I would have been more concerned if they hadn't been so completely wrong in their history of the events as I listened to them talk to one another about it. Listening to them made me aware of the Red/Blue state divide, even when it comes to history. It is perhaps fitting that when we arrived at the section on the First Lady's gowns, they lingered for a long time while I took a quick glance and moved on to the rest of the museum.

All in all the museum was well done. The preservation of Nixon's birthplace and the history of his family was very interesting. Despite the fact that it really is in the middle of a bustling town setting, at the cross-section of several state highways, it had a calm and placid feel to it. The gravestones where the President and Mrs. Nixon are buried are well-kept.

At the library now, and for the rest of this year, is a traveling exhibit of a brilliantly detailed scale replica of the White House down to the paintings on the walls. This exhibit has been around the country, and won't be at the Nixon Library permanently, but it was worth the price of admission.

Coming on the heels of the Mark Felt/Deep Throat admissions, I wasn't surprised to see no mention of that episode, but I was a little disappointed. I haven't been to Little Rock yet to see the Clinton library, but I'd be intrigued to see how it handles the impeachment. I would expect the same sort of defensiveness, but history is better served if these museums would report the facts as they are known, and update them accordingly.

Nixon, I was reminded, had a tremendous domestic and international record of success and progress. By today's standards he would be considered a political moderate and a rather effective president. But his personal demons, never slayed, proved to be his undoing. The story of Watergate has fascinated me since I was young (no explanations for that) so to finally see my first presidential library, and the fact that it was Nixon's was very unique.

Beautiful Maggie MacMoo is on hand to cheer her brother during his baseball game, June 2005.

Nora and Max stroll along a park pathway in Coeur d'Alene, June 2005.

Will playing a strong second base, June 2005.

Will prepares for a pitch in the fourth inning of Saturday's last spring Little League game.

Kathleen and the kids make another terrific Father's Day cake - Kathleen's creativity in cake-making knows no bounds.

Friday, June 17, 2005

33rd Anniversary of the Watergate Break-in

Here's proof that I, a known fellow traveler of the Democrats, went and visited the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace in Yorba Linda, California earlier today. And it was very cool. The fact that it was the 33rd anniversary of the Watergate break-in was a complete and total coincidence, a fact I didn't even know until watching Jay Leno tonight - how crazy is that? I'll blog more thoughts about it this weekend.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Tricky Dick and Me

So I'm in Brea, California on business, and my hotel is about 2 minutes drive from the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace. I have meetings most of the day tomorrow, but if I get an extra hour before my flight, instead of Disney I'm heading to see the new Deep Throat exhibit (do you think they've updated the enemies list section already?)!

Happy 4-Month Birthday Quinn!

Thursday, June 16 is the 4 month birthday of Quinn Marie. My how time flies - this shot is Quinn just a few hours old on February 16, 2005. A stunning beauty then, even more so now.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

County salary mix-up sparks hard feelings

It's official - this story has now made national news (Seattle PI/APStory linked). I actually know Linda Payne, though I haven't seen or talked with her in years. I actually didn't know she was in the public defender's office. She has a personally inspiring story of clawing and scratching her own way through college and law school basically on grit and little money. It's true that Linda didn't handle this well from an interpersonal/employee point of view. But if she were looking for publicity, then she's received it in spades.

I would be more inclined to be harder on Linda if two of the three county commissioners weren't so seemingly inept at all facets of their job (the third commissioner is new but very bright and savvy, and I'm still waiting with baited breath for her to come out and lead the other two out of the woods). From the colossal failure of the railroad refueling depot that they mishandled, to the quarter-million dollars worth of payouts to disgruntled ex-employees, to the continued blindness to the need to plan better for growth, this County Commission is one of the worst I've seen in the 14 years I've lived in Idaho. Their continued reliance on secrecy in matters that should be public, bad legal and PR advice, and basic bad judgment is really staggering.

The bottom line is that personnel and HR issues are among the most vexing in any enterprise, public or private. But the leadership of this county has been so bad that every perceived slight and every miscommunication are grounds for mutiny among the staff and fodder for the press. Working in government isn't easy. It's harder when you're either clueless or routinely use bad judgment.

So Linda may get national headlines, and management experts will criticize her gesture, rightfully so. But at the end of the day the buck has to stop somewhere. Our current County Commission keeps working to pass it wherever it will go, however they can.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: County salary mix-up sparks hard feelings: "COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho -- Kootenai County commissioners have suspended a public defender who allegedly sent them a crude message in a greeting card about a mistake in her pay increase."

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The Old House

So the powers that be are tearing down our old fraternity house to make space for a parking garage (or something equally useful). This is probably a good thing, considering the condition of the place was awful when I lived in it 16 years ago. People on the SMU campus (Dallas, Texas) always knew what fraternity you were a member of because all us Lambda Chis had a distinctive smell that you couldn't ever get rid of. I remember a friend of mine whose mother cried when he came home from break because try as she might she couldn't get the smell out of his clothes.

The administration is apparently building a new Lambda house down the road, but it won't be the same. I suspect they won't spring for the beach volleyball court and basketball court outside, though they'll probably have the good sense this time to actually put up toilet stalls instead of just leaving the toilets sitting open next to one another. There was an unwritten rule, broken by very few, that if someone else were using one of the toilets you never went "co-pilot". RIP Lambda Chi House, and RIP rotten Lambda smell that no one could ever conquer. RIP Magic Carpet Ride and RIP consistently bad food.

We'll miss you, but not that much.

Monday, June 13, 2005

This picture from a few years ago still cracks me up. President drops Barney in front of horrified youth softball team. No one was harmed in the filming, but Barney is a little less trusting than he used to be.

Live the Dream

I laughed while driving to the airport in Salt Lake City last week as I sat behind a taxi at a red light. The bumper sticker on the car read:

"Cabbies Wanted - Live the Dream"

Huh? What dream would that be? If being a cabbie is the American Dream, we've sort of defined it downward, don't you think? Of course, for a person from the third world growing up in abject poverty, being a cabbie in the US probably is a dream. Sort of depends on your perspective, I guess.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Gunfire over 'stolen Potter book'

Those nutty Brits - if they aren't getting naked protesting oil, they're shooting each other over Harry Potter. Any wonder why I'm glad to be Irish?

BBC NEWS | UK | England | Northamptonshire | Gunfire over 'stolen Potter book': "Two men are being held after shots were fired during what was thought to have been a newspaper deal to buy a stolen copy of the new Harry Potter novel. "

This gem is from August 2004, as we drove north toward home on Highway 95. While Kathleen tended to a car-sick Max, the other kids tromped down along the banks of the Salmon River.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Naked cyclists in oil protest ride

Naked cyclists in oil protest ride - Yahoo! UK & Ireland News: "It's a protest against oil dependency and car culture and the overuse of cars for unnecessary reasons. There is too much pollution, it stinks in London, and we use too much fossil fuel. I think people should be a lot more comfortable with their bodies. There is nothing wrong with the naked body."

Perhaps, but they can't be referring to the naked bodies shown in this event...

Friday, June 10, 2005

If you can beat the Red Sox, you're a friend of mine... - Cubs take out 87 years of frustration on Red Sox: "

By Rick Gano, The Associated Press
CHICAGO - Forget the curses and jinxes and all talk of bad luck. At least for one day. The Cubs simply gave the Red Sox a rude welcome on their first-ever trip to Wrigley Field in the storied teams' first meeting since the 1918 World Series. "

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Go, Shaylee!

Shaylee Welker, daughter of our good friends Dan and Shannon Welker, competes in the 50 meter dash on Tuesday during the 23rd Special Olympics held this year at Fran Rish Stadium in Richland, Washington. Congrats, Shaylee!

Cd'A finalist for $29 million Kroc grant

This is a major coup for our "not-so-little-anymore" burgh. Lots of people worked lots of hours to make this happen. And the fact that it will be just down the road from the new Kennedy compound will be an added plus! Congrats to all involved! CdA finalist for $29 million Kroc grant: "Coeur d'Alene beat out Seattle, Tacoma and numerous other cities today to become a finalist for a multi-million grant to build a Salvation Army community center.

Mayor Sandi Bloem said the city is almost guaranteed up to $29 million for a Kroc Center that will offer something to every resident in Kootenai County. The multi-purpose community center would be built next to Ramsey Park."

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Monday, June 06, 2005

Salt Lake City Driving

If you've never driven in Salt Lake City then you have no idea how confusing the numbering scheme of the roads is. I learned today, when I got lost twice in both directions in the midst of a driving rain storm. I should have remembered this from some Southern Idaho towns I've also been lost in, but in Salt Lake City all the roads emanate from, and are numbered according to, the Temple in the center of town. But the trouble begins if you don't start from the Temple (which I didn't), and you're thrust into a complicated morass of streets with very long numbers and addresses like: 3900 West 5400 South. It took me more than a few tries in my childhood to remember which streets and avenues went north and which went south on the island of Manhattan, and apparently my directional synapses haven 't matured at all since then.

Complicating all this is when you ask a local for directions, and they turn you around and direct you to "5th". And you drive away, not finding 5th in multiple back and forths, and stop again elsewhere (now late for your meeting). Then someone tells you that "5th" is short-hand for "500 Street", a fact that no one bothered to tell me earlier when directions were given. Arrrgh!

More business meetings tomorrow, and since Yahoo Maps failed me this morning with an errantly named street in the middle of the rest of my complete befuddlement, I may go pre-drive my meeting at 5:30 am.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Making Drivers Pay by the Mile in Britain?

This is the very definition of a provocative idea from our friends across the pond in Britain. It has a Big Brother feel that is creepy on one hand, but on the other - in theory - it could deal with the issue of making only users pay and not taxing others who don't use the roads much. There would have to be removal of other gas and car taxes to make it even remotely interesting, but in a small country that's growing and doesn't want to end up as Los Angeles, it's intriguing.

I suppose there would need to be public safety carve-outs and the like. And it would NEVER fly in American states in the West due to the long miles we drive to get anywhere. But I found the idea provocative nonetheless.

News: "Despite his insistence that the scheme would lead to no overall increase in the level of taxation as road taxes and fuel duties are reduced or abolished, it is bound to prompt fresh claims that Labour is waging a 'war on motorists'."

Maggie "MacMoo" and her pal Miss Piggy posing for the camera.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Ethical Journalists? Appears so...

"According to the researchers, journalists are significantly more ethical than the average adult - eclipsed only by seminarians, doctors and medical students."

Unfortunately, junior high students scored just below prison inmates on the ethical standards question. Let's hope High Schools put more emphasis on ethics in future coursework!

Ethical Journalists

Patty Duke Pearce and US Rep. Butch Otter kick off the Trust for Public Lands St. Joe River Basin Conservation Initiative

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Otter, Duke and the St. Joe River Basin Conservation Initiative

Today there was a press conference announcing that Congressman Butch Otter and Patty Duke are co-chairing the steering committee for the St. Joe River Basin Conservation Initiative. In short, this project has the Trust for Public Lands raising money to purchase conservation easements from Potlatch.

This is a terrific effort that is drawing support from all over the political spectrum, from Sen. Larry Craig and Potlatch to the Idaho Conservation League. When projects draw from that diverse a pool of groups, we need to encourage and promote them.

For more information click here: St. Joe Basin Project

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Max hides his stiff upper lip to be photographed in mid-bath. December 2004

Deep Throat III - Sex, Lies, and Politicians

(okay, no sex)...Greg Hahn is a smart reporter and a decent guy, to boot. Anyone that can appreciate and enjoy the irony of being bold-faced lied to by a major American political/journalism icon is okay in my book. -- Eye on Boise

Book written and signed by 'Deep Throat' being auctioned on eBay

The best part of this story is found in the last paragraph...

"It wasn't the only Felt-related items being offered on e-Bay. One of the others was a piece of toast that had an image supposedly of Felt above the words "I'm Deep Throat."

I love America. - Book written by 'Deep Throat' on eBay

Deep Throat - Idaho Born and Bred

Watergate had a major effect on my interest in politics. I wasn't old enough during the actual scandal to process any of it, though I do recall my 5-year old TV time being interrupted by something called "Watergate". But I voraciously read books on the subject and was enthralled by "All the President's Men". What a great story - and it was all true! I then read Blind Ambition, John Dean's second book, and it was off to the races toward reading the many trees felled since to cover the topic.

So the fact that there was an Idaho connection - unarguably the most crucial part of the Watergate reporting - was a very cool thing. In this article Dan Popkey of the Idaho Statesman reflects on Deep Throat and talks to some major Idaho figures about the importance of Mark Felt. Regardless of party, they all share a respect for his patriotism and his decision to help the reporters uncover the corruption.

The fact that Pat Buchanan is foaming at the mouth to call Felt a traitor and a criminal only confirms my feelings that the former FBI agent - and Idaho native - did the right thing.