Bootstraps? What if you don’t even have boots?

November 18th, 2014

A post I made to my Facebook page regarding the minimum wage turned into a pointless discussion about how the poor, lazy SOBs should just get better jobs. Yeah, I know … predictable. I know enough to not fan those flames but I came away from it really wondering what it might take for conservatives who subscribe to that point of view to really grasp what life is like for the working poor. Would spending 24 hours with a struggling single mother help them to see that the poor aren’t lazy? If not that, then what?

There is a force in play in our universe called karma. Those who mock the plight of the poor may one day find themselves in the same predicament. I would hope it wouldn’t come to that but honestly I’m not sure what might open their eyes. How can I help them understand?

More light rail

November 18th, 2014
NCDOT's Engine 1792, "The City of Raleigh"

NCDOT’s Engine 1792, “The City of Raleigh.” This is heavy rail.

Continuing the spotlight on light rail reporting, today’s editorial in the N&O expressed support for light rail, which is good:

“Transit has been a topic of discussion for so long that advocates of light rail and commuter trains in the Triangle had been on the verge of giving up – on light rail and on the possibility that Wake County residents would be given a chance to vote on a small transit tax, already approved in Orange and Durham counties.

But now light-rail advocates are taking heart with a study of rail lines and crossings in West Raleigh and eastern Cary, with an eye toward the day when there will be light-rail stations and accompanying development.”

I have to make somewhat of a correction myself, as there will indeed be light rail on part of the NCRR corridor between Cary and Raleigh. This is in addition to the “heavy rail” commuter rail service proposed between Cary and Durham on the existing tracks.
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N&O makes “light rail” goof on front page

November 17th, 2014
Light Rail? Umm, no.

Light Rail? Umm, no.

While we’re holding the N&O under a microscope, I tsk tsked over my coffee this morning when I read the headline that accompanied the print edition of this story…

RALEIGH — In West Raleigh and eastern Cary, government planners are laying the groundwork for the development and traffic that may accompany a string of proposed passenger rail stations.

A coalition of local governments and others has put half a million dollars toward a study of the roads between the two municipalities, aiming to improve safety and traffic flow at a half-dozen places where rail lines cross pavement.

I re-read the story again just to be sure and the conclusion is that these hearings have nothing to do with light rail. Heavy rail, yes. Light rail, no.
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I told the cabbie, “take me to Midtown”

November 17th, 2014

… said no one, ever.

The News and Observer ran this story last week about changes to Enloe High School’s base. As you know, changes to Enloe are of high interest to me, so of course I read it. I didn’t get too far before something really irritated me:

CARY — Enloe High School is among nine overcrowded schools that Wake County school administrators have identified for possible limits on enrollment.

In a briefing for the school board’s facilities committee Wednesday, school planners also suggested keeping enrollment caps in place at 10 other schools, including Combs and Hunter elementary schools in the Midtown area during the 2015-16 school year.

See that? The “Midtown area?” What the hell is the “Midtown area?” Hunter Elementary is firmly in Southeast Raleigh and Combs is out on the southwestern edge of Raleigh. Neither one would be considered “midtown” in anyone’s estimation.

“Midtown” is an invention of the News and Observer to create a new outlet for its advertising. Have you ever in your life ever heard anyone say “I’m from Midtown?” Have you ever heard any other media source refer to Midtown? No? Me neither.

Maybe it’s time to give up on this moniker since no one outside of the newspaper has any idea what it means.

via CARY: Enloe High School near downtown Raleigh could see enrollment limits | Education |

Don’t blame the voter

November 16th, 2014

It’s been about two weeks since the last election and I’m about as tired now of the Monday morning quarterbacking from my fellow Democrats as I was of the campaign mudslinging. I keep hearing “if only so and so group had voted.” “I don’t understand why this group didn’t vote.”

Can I ask a favor? Can we please stop blaming the voter? If a voter wasn’t moved by our message it’s not the voter that needs fixing, it’s the message. We Democrats have to either sell what people are buying or convince them to buy what we’re selling. If our product isn’t compelling then we need to come up with either a better product (a.k.a., candidates or platform) or better marketing (a.k.a. spin).

This really isn’t rocket science. It starts with knowing the voter, knowing what it takes to get her off the couch and into the polling place. If you don’t understand why a particular voter doesn’t vote that sure ain’t the voter’s fault.

Peter Eichenberger on 9/11

November 14th, 2014

I was thinking again today about a local writer whom I respected, Peter Eichenberger. It was about this time of year four years ago that Peter wrote this post on the 9/11 event on his blog. He died just three days later from the brain injuries he suffered in a bike crash several years prior. I figured I’d repost it here in case ever got around to deleting his blog.

Vowing to myself not to succumb to a knee-jerk reaction over the passing of the date of the most significant post-WW ll event I kept it buttoned back in September. Were it so until a November 17th piece by Kevin Ryan in Foreign Policy Journal, an expanded look at well reviewed (overseas) evidence of insider trading upstream of 9/11 that added some weighty bit of ballast to the mounting pile of evidence pointing toward a new, actual investigation. Ryan’s piece added to the fuel provided by W’s aka Whistledick’s claim to have ordered the launch of interceptors following the hit on the South Tower, a claim that the prudent analyst must entertain is based in truth. That fancy leaves 2 troubling possibilities; that both the Air Force and Air National Guard failed at their duty, or “someone” else lower in the chain of command chose to countermand a President’s executive orders. Either event in another dimension would have resulted in the military inquiry that never happened here. Read the rest of this entry »

Talking trance

November 13th, 2014

Man, I don’t know what happened but it sure was interesting! I returned from my Digital Connectors talk tonight around 6:50 PM. I then settled down to catch up with some of my friends’ activities on Facebook. When I got up from my chair about 20 minutes later it had seemed to me as if two hours had passed. I could not believe the clock was moving as slowly as it was. It was as if I were in some kind of a trance!

I know I get energized when talking with groups (and especially kids) but to have time draw out like that for me was really amazing. Not sure what went on there but I’m glad it did!

Reconnecting with the Digital Connectors

November 13th, 2014
These young people are going to change the world

These young people are going to change the world

Recently I was invited to give another talk to the Raleigh Digital Connectors and I delivered that talk tonight to a roomful of attentive young people at the St. Monica’s Teen Center. My experiences with blogging was again the topic of conversation, so I spent about 45 minutes going over the highlights (and some of the lowlights) of my twelve years of blogging experience.

It’s hard to boil down so many different posts over so many different years so I mentioned some of the posts that got noticed or those that mean a lot to me. I also had fun comparing blogging to Facebook and trying to show that they’re not the same.

Given a little more time, I would have mentioned a few other things, too. Near the conclusion, I was trying to make a point about how I speak my mind here and if you find what I say to offend you then it’s your fault. If you come into my proverbial home, don’t be shocked when you find me being myself. Many of my friends and family find agreement with things I write and many do not. That doesn’t bother me because I feel obligated to the world to always call ‘em like I see ‘em, regardless of whether my opinions are popular or not. I hope I’ve demonstrated that characteristic throughout my years as a blogger.
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The fall of the Berlin wall, 25 years ago

November 10th, 2014

Yesterday, the fall of the Berlin Wall turned 25. I wrote about the fall of the Wall back on its twentieth anniversary. It remains one of the most astonishing things I have ever seen on television.

As I wrote five years ago, it was quite satisfying to be serving in the military at a time when peace was “breaking out all over.” Somewhere, in a parallel universe, that peace became permanent.

Bridging the rural gap

November 9th, 2014

Last week’s election overall didn’t look good for North Carolina Democrats. I have been reflecting on the Raleigh Elites post I wrote two years ago. Looking at the map where Tillis won versus where Hagan won, there is still a huge divide between urban versus rural voters.

The upside this time around is that Democrats did exceedingly well in Wake County, which was the source of frustration in my post from two years ago. The difference, I think, is messaging. The combined campaigns of Hutchinson, Burns, Holmes, and Calabria offered a coherent plan. They articulated why they should be elected and I think that helped cross the divide. It looked like they were competent, at least, and I think that is valued more now in political leaders.

Did Kay Hagan offer a compelling reason to vote for her? When I listened to her stump speeches, all I seem to remember is “Koch Brothers this” and “Koch Brothers that.” I cringed when I heard it. Most of the electorate has no clue who the Koch brothers are. If you’re going to run a campaign based on a boogeyman, at least make it one everyone is frightened of.

These are the challenges that face whomever opts to rebuild the state Democratic party. I hope we find someone who can inspire voters because that’s what we seem to be missing.