Monday, May 31, 2010

Nation & World | Officials: Oil leak may last months | Seattle Times Newspaper

As BP shifted from the "top kill" effort to its latest fallback plan to stop oil gushing from one of its Gulf of Mexico wells, the Obama administration, the company and scientists conceded Sunday that the crude could continue flowing until August.The Seattle Times | Officials: Oil leak may last months
The end of the era of oil has arrived sooner than the government anticipated. The hope of an orderly transition over the next decade has been cut short.
Comparing it to natural disasters just does not fit most likely because there is nothing natural about it. A natural reaction, accepting that winds blow, or waves sweep up on shorelines, usually cuts short our ability to create preventive measures, but not this time.
We all know we can do something to stop this, or at least slow it down.
This will be transformative.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

I blame Steve

I watched the video like any armchair ethnomusicologist. I was hoping for a one song Rough Guide of mid-1970's popular American music.
Thanks Steve for posting this on Facebook but now I have a problem.

A few days later I brought something home to 2010 that I am having a hard time washing off my mind, the musical hook, FM radio's revenge.

Ok, make it stop. What removes this musical hook from my mind?

Clearly, I am open to suggestions.

Ezra Klein: How to build your condos (in China)

This nice little suburb, it turned out, had been built in 2006. And like a lot of things in China, it was built all at once, on top of a village that already existed.

Photo and story by Ezra Klein of the Washington Post, click here to read the rest of How to build your condos (in China)

I would say terrible, horrible, things about China if I did not see the exact same thing right here in Seattle. Converting unused manufacturing space (upzones) into "mixed use, walking communities" is usually a good idea. But often enough it is little more than a crass execise in capitalism, displacing low income housing for pretty condos.

In China a "walkable" community that is bicycle "friendly" isn't urban chic, but a way of life. But, they are not coming down from a century-long automobile high.

Here in Seattle there are new patches of vacant land that should be reclaimed, that do not displace poor people in favor of less-poor people, empty car lots.
When the economy went into the ditch, dragging the car companies with it over their tipping point, I was left with urban blight. Go to the corner of 130th St and Aurora Avenue North there are two vacant car dealerships on the NW and SE corners. I do not expect the car dealership "industry" to return anytime soon. Parts of Seattle, and likely parts of most American cities of any meaningful size, have an "auto row" or some other shorthand for land zoned for car dealerships. That land should be rezoned, and reclaimed as living space.

It doesn't take a village idiot to point that out.

Books | 'Chuck Close: Life': The Northwest native painter who brought the portrait back to modern art | Seattle Times Newspaper

Books | 'Chuck Close: Life': The Northwest native painter who brought the portrait back to modern art | Seattle Times Newspaper
Prestel Publishing, 368 pp., $34.95

Painter Chuck Close's early works are still his most well-known: startling close-ups of human faces on immense nine-foot canvases. Created in the 1960s and '70s, the black and white paintings — many of them self-portraits — are harsh and discomfiting, and helped establish Close as one of the preeminent artists of his generation.

In "Chuck Close: Life," longtime friend of the artist and former museum curator Christopher Finch has written a comprehensive biography that blends an exquisite rendering of Close's unique genius with details of his personal life.

. . .
Read the review, and the book.

Giving my blog a fresh coat of pixels

I have written here and a few other places over the past few years. As things have changed for me I have gravitated toward writing for somebody else, on my own, or commented on other people's work. To a great degree I have returned here think out loud, in front of strangers, and a few friends.
About "Friends", I only have a few, I do not collect them like baseball cards, or free phone apps.
The strangers drop by here in numbers that are greater that the number of people that I actually know in real life, few comment in public, actually more send me "off the record" emails.
I guess if you are going to visit then I might as well do you the honor of playing host to what I am really thinking about.
On the right side of the page and wrapping around to the bottom is almost exclusively politics, a social construct.
On the left, here, is what I am thinking about. I have changed the format to allow a larger video window. That is where the world is going, I hope to retrieve some clips for you.
The color change was selected with the King County Metro buses in mind, and the late 20th century Supersonics, and the early 20th century Metropolitans
I hope that one day soon I can wear a green Seattle sweater everyday during Winter, tip off, or dropping the puck.

I hope you find some use in the news feeds on this page, and my musings. When I go too far just exclaim "JOEL CONELLY!" in the comments section (anonymously).

Have a fantastic day,
Mr. Baker

Saturday, May 29, 2010 Costco will make enemies as it goes after liquor sales Costco will make enemies as it goes after liquor sales. This may be the case for those making money off the monopoly. For those of us that have a cocktail once in a blue moon, retaining the monopoly will be a tough sell.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

"plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles", Presidential Memorandum on Fuel Efficiency Standards

Last Thursday, May 21st, 2010, President Obama announced a continuation of fuel efficiency policy for Americas autos.

As advocates for mass transit will point out, there is a likely decline liquid fuels. As with most predictions, the oil industry should be having a going out of business sale. They probably should, but for other reasons. #1 is our hot planet, #2 is that the people with oil control much of our economic and foriegn policy decisions, #3 the demand from emerging markets for oil will drive the price up.

Where the light rail folks sometime miss the bus is seeing that mobility can not be completely solved by light rail, but the secondary goals can be solved by right sized modes of transportation for a given situation. The light rail vs car is more than the tailpipe. It is not to the exclusion of either, and this is where advocates sometimes fall down.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Seattle Times: McGinn could veto tunnel agreement if overrun issue unresolved

It does not really matter what the subject is, just read the quote to really understand who Mike McGinn really is.
Emphasis mine:
"I think the mayor saying now that he's going to veto it before we've even completed our work affects the atmosphere of the negotations in a negative way," Rasmussen said.

Seattle Times, McGinn could veto tunnel agreement if overrun issue unresolved.

Now you know why he will get less done as mayor than the believers think he can. He builds an opposition to him as a person and not to subjects he is fighting, making his arguments weak.

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

Sent from my iPhone
Visit me here:

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Seattle Times: Kemper Freeman is suing to stop light-rail expansion to Eastside

In today's episode of the Seattle Times, Bellevue developer Kemper Freeman Jr explains his opposition to light rail.
Freeman thinks light rail is a waste of taxpayer money, and there are cheaper, faster ways to solve our transportation problems. He wants to expand the area's freeways, but also says he supports bus-rapid-transit, free bus service and increased use of van pools.

He is an outspoken critic of Sound Transit, believing it represents the worst kind of big spending, unaccountable government agency. "They just plain plow on, irrespective of anyone or anything," he says. With characteristic hyperbole, he adds: "It's in the culture of the place. I won't call 'em crooks, but if it goes on long enough, it's the makings of something worse than Chicago."

A conservative Republican, Freeman is suspicious of big government projects. But he's not the only one; some Democrats have questioned the wisdom of rail as well.

"Kemper has had important insights about transportation," says Doug MacDonald, the former secretary of the state Department of Transportation, who thinks light rail makes sense along the heaviest-traveled sections of Interstate 5, but not as a way to solve traffic woes on the Eastside.
. . .
Freeman says he spends 30 percent of his time "community-building" — trying to make Bellevue a better place. He counts his activism on transportation issues as an extension of that work, and he hopes that if the lawsuit is successful, Sound Transit will be forced to dust off its own reports and invest in bus-rapid transit and van pools. He believes it could be done in three years, be built for half the cost and move 200 to 300 percent more people.
Seattle Times, Bellevue developer Kemper Freeman Jr

His point is that we do not have the population density to justify running trains around Puget Sound.

But what motivates Freeman may have been best expressed by Ben Schiendelman, of Seattle Transit Blog
So while I always hear the question – “Why does Kemper Freeman Jr. fight light rail?” – there’s a reason. It just doesn’t help him – he’s already built most of what he can. He makes ideological arguments about freedom and prosperity because they resonate with voters, he makes comments about the “type of people” he wants at his mall, and I’m sure his ideology informs his decisions, but his actions do make sense to his bottom line.

The yang to Freeman's yin are folks like Dan Bertolet of's HugeAssCity
The upside to all this—yes, there is an upside—is that creating urban environments that are less car-dependent will deliver a host of social and environmental benefits beyond those related to energy and greenhouse gas emissions.  Meanwhile, more and more people are becoming dissatisfied with car-dependent lifestyles, and demand for “walkable urbanism” is growing.

So, what motivates Dan Bertolet?
Dan Bertolet, according to his LinkedIn profile is an Urban Designer at GGLO.
What does GGLO do?
GGLO exists to forge innovative solutions that elevate the quality and spirit of life. We help create and revitalize communities—building-by-building and block-by-block.


On either end of the I-90 and SR 520 bridges we have developers. Freeman wants to build towers and needs more people getting in and out of Bellevue as soon as possible. GGLO needs something to replace those ugly buses with pretty trains to make those walkable community block-by-block upzones as profitable as possible.

Too bad all this has little to do with why people commute.
How many people commute from a poorly connected home to a computer screen?
What is it that they do at places like MicroSoft on the East Side of Lake Washington, and Adobe/Google/etc on the West Side?
The people that work at such places can not usually afford (monitarily, or socially) to actually live next to those work places. Even if they could afford it the idea of life long employment is a thing of the past, like the tail pipe, and train.

Ask why we commute, not where do you want to make money developing land.

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

Sent from my iPhone
Visit me here: