Atlanta Out Loud

Politics and rantings and just stuff that catches my attention.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Sometimes I've been known to criticize GLB organizations for become distracted by getting involved in issues that have nothing to do with being gay. This may be the most ridiculous example.

From GridSkipper via FlyerTalk: The National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce has come out against the Wright Amendment.

(Washington, D.C. - October 26, 2005) - Today the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) endorsed the resolution recently made by the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce to oppose repeal of the Wright Amendment.

Justin Nelson, Executive Director of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber, applauded Texas’ gay business leaders for urging the entire community to unite on this divisive issue and for effectively communicating the concerns of gay-owned businesses and residents in North Texas who felt the direct impact of this debate. “We are pleased to stand by our Dallas business leaders as an influential, respected voice among all minority business leaders in the region.”

Nelson added, “We see our mission two-fold. By promoting economic growth and prosperity, we are fully committed to ensuring a seat at the table for many economic policy debates - and whenever possible, to partner with our local chambers to amplify their efforts. We also applaud American Airlines for more than a decade’s leadership to fair-minded principles that serve the community equally and respectfully.”
Now, the Wright Amendment is a horrible piece of trash that was put in place to put Southwest Airlines at a disadvantage to other airlines in Texas. If you don't know much about it, go read about it:

But how the hell is this a Gay issue? General consensus is that it is a favor to American Airlines for their support of Gay folk over the years. But, geez.... FOCUS PEOPLE!

Committee on Ways & Means :: U.S. House of Representatives The deadline to submit comments for the Congressional Record on alternative tax proposals, like the FairTax, is November 29, 2005. I'm working on mine.
“It doesn’t require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people’s minds.” - Samuel Adams (1722-1803), principal organizer of the Boston Tea Party, member of the Continental Congress, & signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Kaiser Foundation Daily HIV/AIDS Report | Senate Rejects Coburn Spending Bill Amendment To Transfer $60M From CDC Construction, Renovation Project to ADAP Tom Coburn (R-OK) is quickly becoming one of the greatest heroes American taxpayers have ever seen. Coburn now has his eyes set on $60 MILLION that is earmarked for the CDC to build "a Japanese garden and a stream on the agency's Atlanta campus." So we have Saxby Chambliss defending a $60 MILLION "gazebo of some sort" which would be "a nice place where employees [of the CDC] could go out in the open air and have lunch."

How nice.

Coburn, on the other hand, would like to give that money to ADAP which provides HIV medications to low-income, uninsured people who are HIV+.

Unfortunately, Coburn's efforts failed 14-85 with even the vast majority of Democrats -- who are supposed to be champoins for the poor, less fortuate and who say they want to make health care for eveyone a basic human right -- voting to kill the amendment.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Gays a force in council races |
In a strongly worded letter to Georgia Equality criticizing the group's recent political endorsements, Keisha Sean Waites called the state's largest and most influential gay rights organization "defunct, impotent and ineffective.
The AJC calls us "No longer an oddity" I think that's funny.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Boi From Troy | Nunez Nixes Nuptuals for Next Year But I'm constantly told by my lefty friends that the Democrats are champions of our rights and will always stand up for us. Yeah, just like Clinton did.

Daniel Weintraub: United Nations moving to curb free expression
Two big projects incubating deep within the United Nations should give pause to anybody who values political and personal freedom.

The United Nations is busy trying to regulate two key pillars of free expression: content and the means to communicate it. In this case, that means popular culture and the Internet.

One project is the longstanding goal of the Convention on the Protection of the Diversity of Cultural Contents and Artistic Expressions. That Orwellian mouthful is cover for a proposed policy to use governments to prevent individuals worldwide from gaining access to whatever culture and art they prefer to see and hear.

Although it is being done under the guise of protecting the people of developing countries from the influence of first-world - namely American - culture and art, many first-world governments, including France and Canada, have been enthusiastic supporters. They see it as a way to protect their national identities, as defined by their governments and frozen in time.


Still, with overwhelming support in the United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (UNESCO), the culture policy seems destined for approval this week. Only the United States and Israel stand opposed. The United States won't have to comply directly with the policy's edicts if our government does not ratify the agreement, but artists here who value a worldwide audience for their works still could suffer.

The latest draft of the policy is vague enough to justify pretty much any governmental intervention. It says, for example, that parties to the agreement may take "all appropriate measures to protect and preserve" their countries' culture once they deem it "in need of urgent safeguarding."


Will U.N.-sponsored thought control prove futile in the age of digital communications? One would think that with access to the Internet, people all over the world will eventually find a way to obtain any kind of art or cultural expression they like, even those their governments have deemed unacceptable. That's where the other United Nations project comes in.

The Working Group on Internet Governance has been toiling for years on a policy to shift control of the Internet from the United States, where the 'Net was created and nurtured, to an international body.


Chinese Web-loggers, who already must register their journals with the government, were recently dealt another blow when Microsoft agreed to block the use of words offensive to that nation's dictators - including "freedom," "democracy" and "demonstration" - on blogs composed on Microsoft's MSN service. And Cuba's Fidel Castro recently cracked down on librarians seeking to provide access to banned books. Does his government have an interest in keeping the Internet free?

American conservatives have long been suspicious of the United Nations, in part because too many of its members are nations run by tyrannical thugs, not democracies. For some reason that hasn't bothered those on the left who say they value human rights and freedom for oppressed peoples.

Now that the U.N. is moving actively to justify restrictions on free expression and to take over the technology that promises to level historic barriers to communication, perhaps even those who have looked the other way for too long will recognize that the only way to truly protect cultural diversity is to allow every person on the globe the freedom to think, write, hear and express themselves in whatever way they like.
Don't ya just love the UN???!?

Leave no TV behind: Senator wants $3B for subsidy program Ted Stevens is at it again. He just can't keep his grimy hands out of the taxpayers' wallets. His latest fiasco is to sock me and you with a $3 BILLION tab to ensure old TVs will work when cable's transition to digital TV is complete.

From my Reason Express email today:
Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) wants to spend $3 billion to pay for converter boxes for older TV sets so they will still work after broadcasters switch to digital signals. It's in the Bill of Rights, you know.
Even more surprising is that Senators like John Sununu and John McCain are OK with it... albeit with a smaller price tag.
0 comments :: The tax report by Bruce Bartlett
Clearly, the easy thing to do is support elimination of the AMT. It is stupid to have two separate tax systems operating simultaneously. However, I think the tax commission missed an opportunity to use the AMT creatively to implement radical tax reform. Instead of keeping the regular income tax and getting rid of the AMT, the commission should have considered getting rid of the income tax and keeping the AMT.

National spotlight is back on mayor Shirley deserves this. It's nice to have the "national spotlight" on Atlanta in a positive way instead of the way it was during the days of Bill Campbell. Shirley is probably doing more to "brand" this city than the $4.5 million spent by the Brand Atlanta campaign.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Reason: The Root of the Problem: The what's missing in the debate over U.S. vs. U.N. control of the Net
It's not hard to see why the U.N.ternet lacks fans in the U.S. The organization has been doing what President Bush might call a "heck of a job" at such diverse tasks as peacekeeping and administering oil for food aid programs. And an organization where Libya can be elected to chair a human rights commission may not seem the ideal oversight entity for what is probably the most free and open medium the world has ever seen.

Gay rights group gives nod to Fauver | Overall we've got it pretty good here in the Gay-T-L. And when we've got it so good, we can afford to nitpick a little bit.

But Georgia Equality apparently thinks things are pretty much Shangri-la in Atlanta for gay folks. With only one exception, GE's endorsements for upcoming City of Atlanta elections encourage us to maintain the status quo on Trinity Street. I've written before about gays in this ciity being asleep at the wheel when it comes to elections. Most gay people just go with the flow and don't take the time to learn what the candidates are really about.
“I was amazed and appalled at the incumbents who have worked against equality for Lesbian, Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Georgians and then turned around and asked us to endorse them,” said Chuck Bowen, executive director of Georgia Equality.
I'm more amazed at the incumbents who have worked against equality for LGB (sorry, I STILL REFUSE to include the T) Georgians and Georgia Equality endorsed them anyway!

For Mayor, Georgia Equality predictably supports Mayor Franklin. Even though I still contend that she is not the heroine of the gay community that she would like us to think she is... or that the gay community drools over hoping she is... she is definitely an easy victory. She's a great mayor by all accounts -- including my own -- but she doesn't measure up when you look strictly at her record on gay issues. In such a sure race, why doesn't GE just remain silent unless there is a truly compelling reason to go all out for the candidate. Shirley courted our vote and then turned her back on us in the Druid Hills case. She also allows her Police and Fire departments to harrass us in our own community -- or at least remains silent while they do so. Recent weeks have seen her police officers and firemen essentially raid Metro and Blakes over "fire code" overcrowding. I wonder if they also shut down East Andrews?

But I digress...

Georgia Equality gives a nod to Lisa Borders for City Council President -- another easy win with no real competition. But, hey, she marched in the gay pride parade, so she MUST deserve our support.

Uncontested incumbents Carla Smith from District 1 (a no-name "yes woman" at City Hall if there ever was one), Natalyn Archibong of District 5 (Do they even have gay people in District 5?), and Felicia "I'm Confused" Moore of District 9 get a thumbs-up from GE.

District 2 has an interesting race, all with unknown entities since Debbie Starnes isn't seeking re-election. In this race, GE did what it had to do... how could they NOT endorse someone named Kwanza?

I really wish I knew more of the story in District 4. I like the incumbent, Cleta Winslow with her hair that reminds me of Grace Jones and her manly mustache. But, this is one race where GE says throw out the incumbent and elect Kevin Edwards (who I know nothing about).

Probably the most intriguing race for gay folk is District 6, where most of us live and we have two gay candidates going head to head. GE wants us to overlook the fact that Anne Fauver sold us down the river in the Druid Hills case and tucked her tail in shame of us in the bar closings legislation. They'd like for us to re-elect her.

Howard Shook gets the shaft in District 7. Even though he's running unchallenged, GE did not endorse him.

C.T. Martin of District 10 refuses to answer the questions put to him by GE so he gets the cold shoulder too. There's a gay man running against him, but he's probably a liar.

I do hope GE gets their way in District 12. Derrick Boazman is a dispicable representation for our city, but having him at City Council meetings is just so much damn fun. GE is willing to sacrifice lesbanian Keisha Waites for the entertainment.

The most amazing endorsement of all by Georgia Equality has to be that of Mary Norwood. She's happy to wave to us in the gay pride parade as long as we don't get too close and she can run back to her lovely little straight life behind the picket fence of Buckhead when she's done. SHE'S THE ONE who shut down Backstreet, closed our bars just when things are starting to get interesting, and practically eliminated Sunday night partying because nothing good ever happens after midnight in Mary's world. She'd also like for us to stop having sex if it wouldn't be too much inconvenience.

So GE hopes things will remain the same for Mayor, City Council President, Districts 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11, 12, and At-Large Posts 1, 2 and 3.

And they probably will. Yaaaawwwwn....

As boring as things seem, there was something really radical and exciting about the endorsements... something so cutting edge it will blow your mind. Gerogia Equality's own press release calls it an "unusual twist." Are. You. Ready. For. This!??!?! Georgia Equality endorsed "at least two Republican candidates."

Friday, October 21, 2005

Taxpayers of the United States lost in the Senate yesterday 82-15! Senator Tom Coburn tried to be a hero standing up for the American taxpayers by introducing an amendment to take a way the funding for the infamous "bridge to nowhere" in Alaska. He rightly reasoned that taxpayers should not spend $4.46 million dollars PER PERSON for 50 people to have this bridge. It would have also saved $229 million for a bridge to UNPOPULATED wetlands.

A HUGE added bonus was that Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska (the man who takes home more pork per capita than any other elected official in Washington) promised to resign if the amendment passed. Now THAT would have been a windfall for the taxpayers!

Unfortunately, the Senate did what they always do and shafted the taxpayers. Eighty-two senators, including our own Johnny Isaakson and Saxby Chamblis, told the American Taxpayers that it is more important to take their money by force and send it to those 50 people in Alaska than it is to reduce the nation's deficit and eventually let the Taxpayers decide how to spend that money themselves.

Interestingly, Mary Landrieu, voted YEA (one of 3 Democrats to do so) even though she's in the running for top Oinker of the Year too. She no doubt was salivating at the possibility of grabbing that money for Louisiana (Coburn had agreed to send $125 million to Louisiana).

This is the first time members of the Senate have gone after each other's pet pork projects. Instapundit reported on a interview by Jed Babbin on Hugh Hewitt's show with Senator Coburn after Sen. Patty Murray of Washington (who sits on the Appropriations Committee) threatened to take a "long hard look" at any projects in a state represented by anyone who voted for this amendment:
JB: Well, does that bother you, Senator? I mean, are you worried so much about Oklahoma projects?

TC: No. I don't ask for any projects. I ran on a platform of saying the biggest problem we face in our country is financial and economic, and cultural in Washington, that if we don't change that, I promised you I will not earmark a thing until the budget is in surplus.

JB: Wow.

TC: So I don't have any earmarks. So I don't have know, there's no power over me to withhold earmarks, because I have none.

JB: Well, how tough is it going to be, though, to undo this culture of pork? I mean, the porksters are all around you. I mean, we're not naming names, but you're outnumbered there pretty solidly, so...

TC: Look, when the American people want things to change, they will change. Just as like in 1994, they changed?
Club for Growth has a statement from Coburn telling us that another amendment also failed:
Dr. Coburn offered another amendment to block funding for three special projects; $200,000 for an animal facility in Westerly, Rhode Island; $500,000 for a sculpture park in Seattle; and $950,000 for a parking facility for a private museum in Omaha, Nebraska. The Senate voted to table, or kill, the amendment by a vote of 13 to 86.
The only glimer of hope is that three Coburn amendments did pass the senate:
The Senate did accept three Coburn amendments. One amendment required that all earmarks be included in the bill’s conference report. This amendment helps lift the veil of secrecy that conceals the process of inserting special projects into appropriations bills. Similar amendments have been attached to the Agriculture, Military Construction and Department of Defense Appropriations bills.

Another amendment limits the amount HUD can spend on conferences to $3 million. Last year the Department spent $13.9 million on conferences.

The other Coburn amendment that was accepted requires the Community Development Block Grant Program run by HUD to cease violating a law that requires them report on their rate of improper payments.
What's the Repbulican-controlled Senate for again????

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

An update from Congressman John Linder:
From mid-May of this year through the end of September-more than four months-not a single member of Congress added his or her name to the FairTax bill. Yet, in just the last 45 days, amid a flurry of constituent phone calls, letters and town hall meetings, seven Congressmen and Senators have asked that their names be added.
The seven new co-sponsors are: Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), Congressman Henry Brown (R-SC), Congressman Dan Burton (R-IN), Congressman John Carter (R-TX), Congressman John "Jimmy" Duncan (R-TN), Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-CO). All Republicans.

Progress... slow but sure.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

I watched the Brand Atlanta pep rally held at City Hall on Monday (AJC coverage here). Everything about it just made me yawn. It seemed awkward and poorly planned. And what was up with Lisa Borders trying to talk so ghetto during her speech???

If the campaign committee really looked at over 100 logo designs, I would hate to see the losers. This logo doesn't covey ANYTHING about the city. Before you can brand something, you have to have a product. We have a great airport that makes it easy to travel here for conventions. But what else? Exciting night life? Nope. A cultural mecca? Nope. Beaches? Nope. Gambling? Nope. An aquarium and Coca-Cola are not going to pull people from around the world here.

The city's lack of character and excitement falls directly in the laps of the mayor and city council for the devastating blows they have dealt to anything exciting in this city. Shirley can compare this campaign to "What happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas" but my prediction: this will flop miserably.

Tax Reform Panel Flops You Want Real Change? Support the Fair Tax:
"Obviously they haven't read the book, or they're lying about it, because the Fair Tax protects poor people as well or better than the current system does. What the Fair Tax doesn't protect are the special interests that depend on the existing behemoth tax labyrinth for special treatment by Congress."

Friday, October 14, 2005

Thanks to Joseph for pointing this post out from DecaturGuy.

Atlanta Public Affairs: Atlanta City Council Takes Chicken Shit Approach. Interesting observation. I don't know if holding the vote on the day before election is chicken shit or courageous. I think the people for whom this is really a pivotal issue will take the initiative to find out how their council person voted. We'll know instantaneously on Channel 26 and it'll surely be on the 11pm news that night.

DecaturGuy also has some interesting observations on the District 6 Council race here and here. I'm still undecided in this race. Generally speaking, I vote against incumbents... and I definitely have my disagreements with Anne Fauver. But, she's done a good job on the budget and she supports the parking deck and the Beltline (both of those projects are pluses in my book).

Most gay people are blind politically. Anne Fauver has good name recognition. And most gays I talk to still think Shirley Franklin is a gay heroine. So, I think Anne will be victorious. But, we shall see...

It's very disappointing, but not surprising that the Tax De-Form Panel has taken the weak, easy way out. They did not reform anything. They did not do what the President asked them to do. And, they did not do what the people want.

Bloomberg has a good summary of what the did(n't) do here.

Regarding the FairTax, Connie Mack, Chair of the Panel, said "I get the sense -- I've picked this up since the first meetings we've had -- that this is an area the panel does not want to pursue." AMAZING!

So essentially, it was a done deal from the beginning that the panel was going to ignore all of the evidence for the FairTax and deliver another window dressing to the American People. They first put out a report titled "America Needs a Better Tax System" and then basically kept the same system with a few tweaks. They didn't simplify the tax code or promote economic growth. They essentially said there is nothing wrong with the current tax code except for the alternative minimum tax.

Fortunately, members of Congress are elected by VOTERS, not by panels or the National Retailers Association. The revolution is well underway. There are some on the GaFairTax YahooGroup who see that as the silver lining. The panel dumped the whole tax reform ballywick back in the lap of Congress. Therefore, the fence sitters can't hide behind the Panel any longer.

Someone has suggested that the panel members be fired and sued for fraud by the taxpayers who are paying them to REFORM the tax system. I'd go along with that.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

In an email today from The Beltline Partnership, they extended the following thanks:

Thank you for the overwhelmingly positive turnout at the City Council Public Hearing. In the 4 hour session, 4/5 of the speakers expressed their support for the BeltLine and the BeltLine TAD.
But last week's AJC story didn't sound so optimistic about the Beltline...

Advocates had hoped the Atlanta City Council would vote Oct. 17 to create the tax district.

But the Beltline ran into a mountain of questions last week during 10 hours of discussions by council members. The council scheduled additional fact-finding meetings for Thursday and dates to be announced. Now, the earliest expected voting day is Nov. 7, the day before city elections.

Whether the council will consider such a controversial issue before the election is anybody's guess.
So which account is correct? Probably somewhere in the middle. I rarely trust anything the AJC says, but perhaps the "mountain of questions" the AJC refers to came from eternally-confused council members like Felicia Moore:

"I like the pretty pictures," Moore said. "But how do we make amendments to the legislation?"
Poor Felicia, she can never seem to understand the parliamentary procedure and how the meetings are run.

President's Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform The Tax "Reform" Panel has caved. Indications are that their "tough choices" and "courageous reforms" will amount to nothing more than tax increases on the filthy rich and evil businesses.

Here's the email from this morning:

-----Original Message-----
From: FairTax []
Sent: Tuesday, October 11, 2005 8:17 PM
To: Adam
Subject: FairTax to tax reform panel: Your report of our death is an exaggeration.*

Hello, Adam:

Yes, today the tax reform panel showed it was simply a "Washington-as-usual" panel.

How shall we react?

You might be angry. I am.

So let's direct our anger at the correct target.

Direct that anger at the panel -- and nowhere else.

But don't bother to communicate with the panel.

They have shown their true colors.

I suggest you communicate with the office of your congressman, Rep. John Lewis.

To be perfectly clear, let me say that a different way.

Do not direct your anger at your congressman, but do communicate to your congressman or his/her tax aide how fed up you are with the lack of leadership from the panel.

Tell them you are now looking for that leadership to come from your congressman.

You are looking for leadership from the House of Representatives and its Ways & Means Committee.

Tell them that "tinkering-in-the-margins" tax reform will not fly with you. We've already had that and it only makes the situation worse. It only makes America less free, less competitive in world markets, and costs jobs.

That Steve Forbes can't sell his flat tax, just like he can't sell his flat tax book, in your backyard.

That the French value-added-tax (VAT) will never serve this freedom-loving land.

That you want leadership from your congressman to get us the FairTax.

If he/she is a co-sponsor, time for leadership.

If he/she is not a co-sponsor, time for leadership!

Then go buy 10 more "The FairTax Books" and send them to 10 more friends.

Very best regards,

Thomas A. Wright
Executive Director

*I stole Mark Twain's idea with the subject line quote. The exact quote from Twain was, "The report of my illness grew out of his [a cousin's] illness; this report of my death was an exaggeration." Humor is important to successful communication. You may be angry but keep your good humor.
Incidentally, if you do contact Congressman Lewis' office, he will LIE to you regarding what the FairTax will actually do to our economy. In his letter to me, he told me how H.R. 25 (The FairTax bill) will deprive this government of much needed funding for critical programs -- ignoring the FACT that the FairTax is revenue-nuetral and will provide the same level of funding. So, politicians will still be able to build bridges to no-where. He will also tell you that the FairTax rate is really 30%, not 23%, ignoring simple rules of basic mathematics.

I've requested a meeting with the Congressman to discuss these lies, but he has ignored my request.

'For Service, Speak English' What's wrong with that?

The Ohio Civil Rights Commissions says it violates an Ohio law that makes it "unlawful for any proprietor of a place of public accommodation to deny the full enjoyment of the accommodations based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age or ancestry."

Does anyone see "language" in that list???? I didn't either.

I remember once a shopkeeper in Brussels yelling at me as I was trying to puchase a diet coke and didn't understand how much it was: "WHAT DO YOU WANT?!?! FRENCH? GERMAN? ITALIAN? SPANISH? ENGLISH?" So, in one of my best smart-ass-white-boy moments, I replied "Nihongo, o kudasai!"


Road Rage Cards This is hilarious. My favorite:


Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Ig Nobel Prizes have been announced.

The winners

Physics: John Mainstone and the late Thomas Parnell of the University of Queensland, for an experiment that began in the year 1927, in which a glob of congealed black tar has been slowly dripping through a funnel at a rate of around one drop every nine years.

Medicine: Greg A Miller of Missouri for inventing Neuticles - artificial replacement testicles for dogs

Literature: The internet entrepreneurs of Nigeria, for using email to distribute a bold series of short stories, thus introducing millions of readers to a cast of rich characters, each of whom requires just a small amount of money so as to obtain access to the great wealth they will share with you.

Peace: Claire Rind and Peter Simmons of Newcastle University for electrically monitoring the activity of a locust's brain cell while it was watching selected highlights from the film Star Wars.

Biology: An international team of scientists and perfumiers for smelling and cataloguing the peculiar odours produced by 131 different species of frogs when the frogs were feeling stressed.

Economics: Gauri Nanda of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for inventing an alarm clock that runs away and hides, thus ensuring that people get out of bed, theoretically adding many productive hours to the work day.

Nutrition: Yoshiro Nakamats of Tokyo for photographing and then analysing every meal he has eaten over 34 years.

Chemistry: Edward Cussler of the University of Minnesota and Brian Gettelfinger of the University of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin, for settling the scientific question: can people swim faster in syrup or in water?

Agricultural history: James Watson of Massey University, New Zealand, for his scholarly study, The Significance of Mr Richard Buckley's Exploding Trousers.

Fluid dynamics: Victor Benno Meyer-Rochow of International University Bremen, Germany, and the University of Oulu, Finland; and Jozsef Gal of Lorand Eotvos University, Hungary, for using basic principles of physics to calculate the pressure that builds up inside a penguin, as detailed in their report Pressures Produced When Penguins Pooh - Calculations on Avian Defecation.

Beltline discussion ratchets up a notch | I'm a strong supporter of the Beltline. It represents a golden opportunity for this city that only comes along once. It could transform Atlanta from the sleepy hollow it is now to a vibrant city with character and excitement.

My fear, though, is that Atlanta will somehow find a way to take this terrific nearly perfect plan and screw it up royally. There are those in Atlanta, especially the activists in the NPUs that will automatically oppose any change, no matter how good it is. Some people just want to keep things the way they are. But, none of the great cities of the world became that way by not having a vision.

Atlanta is really like four, five, or six different cities existing side by side. People living in Southwest Atlanta have an entirely different experience from people living in Buckhead, or Downtown, or the Highlands. Each neighborhood has it's own attitude, but those neighborhoods are sometimes shy about showcasing what makes them all different -- out of fear in my opinion, that one neighborhood may get some advantage over the others.

The Beltline will be the engine that links us all together as Atlantans. The poorer neighborhoods will always remain poor if there is no reason for other Atlantans to go there. And even if there is a reason, there also has to be a WAY to get there. Atlantan's don't wander. I think of times I've been in New York, or Paris, or Tokyo and there are so many examples when I've been lucky enough to stumble upon something wonderful in those cities just because I was out wandering about. The Beltline will allow us to wander and discover great things about the "Other Atlantas" that we never knew existed.

But, people like Khalid Kamau oppose it anyway. He can't understand why trash piles up around his building because he's waiting for the Atlanta Development Authority to come take it away. Keep waiting, my friend. Khalid opposes the Beltline, not because it's a bad idea, but because the ADA is going to run it. The ADA will not screw up the Beltline because there are too many big players with huge capital invested to allow them to do so. So, Khalid can sit on his pile of garbage and wring his hands and wonder what to do while the rest of us turn this city into something great. And, some of that greatness might just flow down to Mechanicsville and miraculously the trash will disappear.

The Beltline is bold and exciting, and yes, risky. But keeping things the same is far more dangerous. The people like Khalid, who "would prefer the Beltline just disappear" should just get out of the way.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

e-Plate | electronic vehicle identification Is there anyone that can think Electronic License Plates are a good idea?

Found at Strange New Products
E-Plates are license plates that contain an electronic tracking system. As you drive your car around, the e-Plate will register itself with sensors mounted on bridges, overpasses, and other structures throughout streets and highways.

What this means is that we'll all be driving much more safely, the world will be less reliant on fossil fuels, our local governments will no longer be in debt, and insurance companies will know better how to serve us.

* Transportation departments will be able to monitor traffic flows in real time. They can identify places where traffic is flowing much faster than the posted speed limits, and law enforcement officers can be dispatched to those areas, ensuring that all commuters are getting to their destinations safely.

* Insurance companies will be able to view travel history for any specific automobile, noting miles travelled and speed limits breached, and adjusting premiums accordingly.

* Taxation and revenue departments can even use this information to determine which drivers consume the most gasoline, allowing them levy tiered tax rates on the most glutton of drivers.

* Motor vehicle departments can easily identify moving automobiles whose registrations have expired, generating an automated citation, and providing local governments with an easy method of boosting their revenues.

You think I'm being absurd? Take a look at the company's website, click on "Government", and read what it says.
Although presented in a happy, utopia sort of way, this can never be a good thing. Why don't they just imbed the tracking devices in our bodies? Oh.... that's probably next.

Friday, October 07, 2005

How America's gay rights establishment is failing gay Iranians| The Quiet Americans Amen! As Instapundit would say, read the whole thing. But, if you don't, here's the money quote:
Activists are more than willing to condemn the homophobic leaders of the Christian right for campaigning against gay marriage; but they are weary of condemning Islamist regimes that execute citizens for being gay.
Our gay leaders attempt to distract us. First up, Matt Foreman, Executive Director of the NGLTF:
"There wasn't a peep about the execution of juveniles in Texas. ... Let's not have double standards because it's a different part of the world."

"If we think that psychological torture and physical torture and rape and inhumane conditions are not part of our own criminal justice system, than people don't have a clue about the reality of our nation, let alone the conditions of Guantánamo, let alone the sanctions to keep prisoners in Afghanistan."
Next comes Faisal Alam, founder of a US organization for gay and lesbian Muslims:
"While we condemn the executions of gay teens in Iran, we must remember that until March of this year, our own country was one of only five in the world that executed juvenile offenders."
Those might have been seen as "hallelujah" comments if we were talking just about juveniles and the death penalty. But are these two men suggesting that the state of Texas is executing juveniles FOR BEING GAY?!?! The age-old trouble with our gay and lesbian lobby is their inability to stay focused on GAY RIGHTS.

The internet will never be the same again. This is scary! Giving control of the internet to the U.N. will never turn out to be a good thing. It's a proposal by the EU to give control of the "root servers" to some sort of UN council. David Hendon, representing the EU, wants us to trust him on this one:
The really important point is that the EU doesn't want to see this change as bringing new government control over the internet. Governments will only be involved where they need to be and only on issues setting the top-level framework.
When has that EVER turned out to be true? Read that again: "Government will only be involved where they need to be..." Can anyone think of one example where that is the case?

Milton Mueller, author of Ruling the Root gets it right:
It's not clear to me that governments know what to do about anything at this stage apart from get in the way of things that other people do.
Does anyone think that members of the UN -- like China, and the Arab world -- give a damn about the freedom we enjoy today on the 'net? Hell, the UN Declaration of Human Rights even says all the rights it grants can be taken away instantly if they interfere with the goals of the UN. This is just the first step in a slippery slope to stomp all over the concept of Freedom of Speech. That internet sales tax hoax that has persisted for years? It's more real now than ever before.

And, frankly, the bottom line is we built the damn thing. If they want to control it, they can BUY it from us.

Ashley Smith surprised at reaction to drug story | Is she really as stupid as her words and actions indicate? So, she's a woman of God, will be signing her book at the "Family Christian Bookstore," and believes that God sent Terry Nichols to her. Yet, somehow she just happened to have a little crystal meth on hand to help take the edge off?!? Admittedly, I have not read her book, and won't, but WTF?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

I blame President Bush for a lot of our countries woes. But, I've been in a debate with some of my friends lately about the Bush policies effect on Global Warming and how that may have led to disasters such as the tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. I wasn't armed with the facts until my buddy Walter E. Williams helped me out.

Major categories 3, 4 and 5 hurricanes are relatively rare. If you check out the website of the National Hurricane Center, you'll find that the most active hurricane decade was 1941-50 -- recording 24 hurricanes, with 10 of them being giant category 3, 4 and 5 hurricanes. The peak for major hurricanes (categories 3, 4 5) came in the decades of the 1890s, 1930s and 1940s -- an average of nine per decade. Of the 92 giant hurricanes that have struck the U.S. mainland between 1851 and 2004, 61 of them occurred before 1950, long before global warming was an issue.
So, using the logic of the "Blame Bush for Katrina" crowd, the facts indicate that global warming is actually the fault of Franklin D. Roosevelt (a Democrat) and Harry S. Truman (a Democrat).

Those damn facts just get in the way.

Saturday, October 01, 2005