Friday, December 30, 2005

Downtown Revitalization

The reason that there has been recent talk about revitalization downtown is because that happens to be the part of town where politicians and newspaper editors work. Let's face it. Unless you drive to Pine Valley or Waynedale everyday, you aren't going to do much thinking about those parts of town.

So now our local leaders want us to do business in the same part of town that they do business in. Do they think that Clinton St, Lafayette St, Washington Blvd, and Jefferson Blvd need more traffic? Sometimes downtown you can see the light change from red to green and back again, and you have only advanced five car lengths.

Traffic and parking set the limit on how much business can grow in a certain part of town. Downtown businesses may be already doing all the business it can this time of year. During the summer months it could attract pedestrian and bicycle traffic. When I get my bike fixed up, it would be my pleasure to be a part of such a trend.

But multimillion dollar hotels do not attract pedestrian traffic! Actually they do, but its usually homeless people asking to use the bathroom. The occupation rates for existing hotels already hovers around 50%, so there isn't much of a market for this service.

No, the goal is to attract conventions. Fort Wayne will have an extra empty building in the hope that the Summit City can play host to a bunch of people wearing Spock ears or dressed like D+D characters.

Many insist that if we attract conventions, Fort Wayne will be on the map. Do we want to be on the map? Fort Wayne has a balance of big city amenities and a small town feel, which is what most people cite as their reason for living here even when they have the option of living elsewhere.

Really, all they really want is a big expensive building that they can claim responsibility for. In that case, I propose that the Reservoir Park hill be converted into a giant pyramid in which to entomb city councilmen in when they die.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

BSN: Sleigh, Reindeer Shot Down Over White House Airspace


A sleigh pulled by 8 reindeer apparently capable of flight was shot down by F15's when the vehicle entered the White House's no-fly zone. When the Air Force attempted to contact the sleigh to warn it away, the pilot's cryptic response was "Ho, Ho, Ho! Merry Christmas!" The NSA has translated this to mean "God is Great! Death to infidels!"

Under intense interrogation the pilot has confessed to being Sharia Claus, the shadowy leader of the Scandinavian terror group, Elf Qaida. Sharia Claus was carrying a large bag of a unknown lumpy black substance. It is not known what the purpose of the substance was.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Domestic Spying is Still Wrong

It has been pointed out to me that the federal government has been spying on US citizens since before the time of J. Edgar Hoover. The fact that it has gone on for so long, during both Republican and Democratic administrations, does not make it anymore right today than it was back then. It means the wrong has gone on for far too long.

There have been some early calls for impeachment over this issue. It is doubtful that such proceedings will take place even if the Democrats gain control of both Houses of Congress in the next election, because there are Democratic fingerprints in the same cookie jar that we caught the GOP hand in.

It is rather like as it is with speed limits. If the speed limit is 65 and everyone drives 70, then nobody gets ticketed for driving 5 over the limit. But those old speed limits were arbitrary safety standards set both in DC and Indy that had nothing to with how fast was actually safe to drive. Nobody is suprised or shocked by warrantless wiretaps for the same reason, but the right to be safe and secure in your own home, the right to not have to testify against yourself, and the right to say what ever you want over the phone without a governement agent recording it make those wiretaps unconstitutional and illegal.

While it is unlikely that anyone will go to jail over domestic spying, (except of course those who are being spied upon) people need to start holding politicians responsible for this. You can't ignore something like this even when the perpetrator is a member of the same establishment party as you.

I strongly suspect that I will only have to change the wording of this post slightly if and when I republish it again when a Democrat is president.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

NSA Wiretaps

Does anyone feel safer now, listening for pop and cracks on the phone line, watching what you say and who you say it to? Do you think that the man wearing sunglasses in the black sedan parked across the street is there to protect you?
Will there be anyone to protect you from your protectors?

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Shoot First Law in Indiana?

I recieved a email asking me to sign a petition opposing a "shoot first" law being enacted in this state. I will not sign that petition.

The store near where I live has been robbed a number of times this year. The store may have to be closed down. I asked one of the clerks if she was going to get a gun. She said that she wasn't that she was worried about getting arrested or sued if she shot a robber. I tried to tell her that the shooting would be considered justified. She did not seem to agree. She must not have taken the same "Intro to Law" course that I took in college.

Many store clerks like her are placed in serious danger in their line of work. Most stores have a policy that tells employees to just give the robber the money. Most of the time, that is the safe, prudent thing to do. However, Tookie Williams had shot a clerk after he had given him the money. Store clerks should be allowed to use their judgement in any given situation. Most stores prohibit employees from having a gun to protect themselves with. Those stores are more concerned with getting sued by the family of a dead crackhead than they are worried about the safety of their own employees. While I support the right of business to set their own policies (Yes I know about the Oklahoma law that make employers allow guns at work, and I am opposed to that law.) regrading firearms in the workplace, frivilous lawsuits have forced these companies to adopt these policies in order to keep insurance coverage.

Let business set their own workplace policies regarding guns without having to worry about getting sued, and let employee choose which stores they want to work at.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Terminating Tookie

Tookie Williams received his state mandated dose of potassium chloride this morning. He deserved it. As often occurs whenever somebody famous gets the needle, the question of whether or not the death penalty is just comes up.

In addition to the four killings that he was convicted of, Williams founded a criminal organization that has killed countless others. He ranks right up there with Charles Manson, Timothy McVeigh, and Osama Bin Ladin. Men like him are why there should be capital punishment.

Yet there are some reasons why states should be careful with capital punishment. Sometimes innocent people are put to death. Sometimes depressed people commit murder just so the state will put them down, and capital punishment becomes an incentive rather than a deterrent. Judges and juries need to take these factors into consideration.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Bear and Bull 1990-2005

In 1990, Mom had brought home a puppy. It looked like a German Shepard. It had already possessed the common dog name of "Bear". Bear was given to Mom by somebody she worked with. The puppy would eat anything that would fit in his mouth. He seemed to like used tissue paper, always fishing it out of the trash. Sometimes in his stool there were bits of newspaper with the print still legible.

Mom brought a little black puppy a few days later. Both puppies were from the same litter. The previous owner named him "Runt" but Mom didn't like that name. We went with the name "Bull" to go with a Wall Street/ Chicago sports team theme. It also turns out that "Bear" and "Bull" are NATO reporting names for two different type of Soviet bombers.

Bear seemed like more of an extrovert. When he liked you, he'd run up to you to be petted. If he didn't like you, he growled at you and bit you. Bull was a bit more stoic. He prefered to attack small animals. Sometimes we would find a flat mouse carcass on the floor. It turned out that he would step on it the mouse with his front paw.

Bull passed away in January. Bear was very upset by this. He would howl and I would have to comfort him. Bear passed away yesterday.

I first met Bear, Bull, and Misty when all of our lives were just beginning. Now they are all dead from old age and my life is still beginning.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

US military on college campuses

The US military should allow gays and lesbians to serve. Right now recruiting shortfalls are such that they cannot afford to turn an otherwise qualified candidate away. Any person who is the most qualified applicant for a particular government job should not be turned down for reasons unrelated to the task at hand.
In my case I would need a waiver because I have Attention Deficit Disorder. That's fine, because I am perfectly content to stay in the private security business for the time being, and ADD could be a serious liability in a combat situation. ADD causes me to have this issue of losing focus at the task at hand and start talking about something totally unrelated. One of my tires was going bald so I had it replaced. I should get them rotated more often. The car drives a lot better on slick surfaces now that I got that fixed. But that's another post.

I also feel that college campuses should do without federal funding. The federal tax rate should be lowered, and states can for the time being raise their own rates so that such funding can continue on a state level. But that's another post

The "don't ask don't tell" policy is one particular flaw that some law schools have decided is grounds for excluding military recruiters from their campuses. But the US military is still as much a force for good as lawyers are, if not more. If there were no US military, there would be no federal government to provide them the funding in the first place and no US courts for their graduates to practice law in. Law schools should either turn down federal funding, or allow the military to recruit on campus.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

New Libertarians?

Bartleby happens to be the first known person other than me to refer to me by name in a blog. It seems that he is accusing us of being too much like Republicans for the purposes of winning elections and that the "new Libertarians" are nothing like the "old Libertarians".

The only thing that makes me "new" is that I was born after the founding of the LP. If you want to know what an "old Libertarian" thinks, ask John Hospers, the first Libertarian ever to run for president.

Last year, John Hospers endorsed George W. Bush for president, on the ground that he felt that a Kerry administration would be too horrible to contemplate. I disagree with that, and I voted for Badnarik. I have heard from Libertarians who said that had they lived just a few miles east of here on the other side of the Ohio border, inside the belly of the battleground state, that they would have voted for Bush or Kerry because the other one was so much. If I lived in Ohio in 2004, the first thing I would have done is move back to Indiana and failing that, vote for Badnarik anyway. But it illustrates that even by the standards of those who first joined this party that its still too weak to win elections. We need to include, attract, and invite those who aren't pure. We have hawks and doves, prolifers and prochoicers, but we all agree on many principles. The current conflict will be over soon, and the abortion rate has been steadily declining. We need to look forward to the future.

For your convenience, I have posted a link to the only online copy of Mr Hospers's statement that I could find. It is not meant as an endorsement of that blog or the statement itself.

"Brain Drain" and "Brain Gain"

I finally got around to reading November's issue of the Fort Wayne Reader. It had an article about a program called "Brain Gain" in which recent college graduates with degrees in engineering or computer sciences who agree to remain employed in Allen County get part of their college loans paid off.

$70, 000 of John Crawford's own money and $62,000 from the County Income Development Income Tax is being used to fund this project. Only less than half of it comes from taxpayer funds, but expect that ratio to get worse.

Only three people are selected each year to recieve the grant. Of the thousands of college graduates in Allen County, exactly three are recieving $2,500 a year for the next four years as incentive not to leave Allen County.

Is 2.5K all that is keeping them here? Either they all like it here and would stay even if they weren't being paid or they are going to leave the moment a company offers them a 3k annual raise to move to Durham.

What John Crawford does with his own money is his own business, but using county funds is a unjustified waste. The best financial incentive to remain in Indiana is the low cost of living. I am renting a house for $350 a month here, far less than what I would pay to rent a studio apartment in New York City. The crime rate and climate are about equally bad if I'm not mistaken. The best way for the government to keep the cost of living low is to lower taxes. Government scholarships artificially drive up the cost of tuition because colleges know what ever they charge it will get paid somehow. It keeps lower income kids with low grades out of college while rich kids with bad grades get in because their dads are contributing alumni.

We can also look at the intangible reasons why people who can afford to live elsewhere decide to live here. I seem to recall that during my senior year, many of the overacheivers on their way to college vowed to get as far away as possible and never come back. So I shall put the question out there. What the hell are all of you still doing here? Do you want to know why I still stay? I heard about a guy who just got released from federal prison and then threw a brick through a post office window. He immediately turned himself in, then asked the judge for a prison sentence. It seems that he had spent so much time in prison that he couldn't be comfortable anywhere else. Its the same with me and Fort Wayne. I spent 25 years here.