NC lawmakers move to make graffiti a felony

May 28th, 2015

State lawmakers are moving to make repeat graffiti charges a felony. I have reported more graffiti in Raleigh than probably anyone (I am on a first-name basis with Raleigh’s graffiti team), however making graffiti a felony will not put the brakes on graffiti. It will, however, put more people in prison that honestly don’t need to be there.

As annoying as graffiti is, we do not need to make felons out of people for such a simple crime. A better approach would be to increase funding to the NCDOT and to municipalities to fund anti-graffiti efforts. That’s not seen as being “tough on crime,” though, and it also costs money. But hey, effective solutions sometimes require spending some money.

Graffiti vandals could land in prison under a bill, which received preliminary approve in the NC Senate, that would make repeatedly marking up buildings a felony.

The state Senate gave preliminary approval in a 42-7 vote to a proposed law that expands and toughens graffiti penalties. A final vote is expected Wednesday in the Senate.

Current law covers statues, monuments and public buildings. Tagging public property is a Class 2 misdemeanor, with the stiffest penalty for five or more convictions two months in jail.

House Bill 552 would extend the protection to any property. The severity of the offense is stepped up to a Class 1 misdemeanor, with a minimum $500 mandatory fine.

China’s little emperors – the children without siblings | Life and style | The Guardian

May 27th, 2015

One day in October 2001, I made my way to Heathrow airport to pick up the son of a family friend. This was in the days before Chinese students had started coming in numbers to the UK and a tall, skinny Chinese youth standing at the airport exit was quite noticeable.

Du Zhuang, frail and as insubstantial as plasterboard, was pushing his suitcase with one hand, and holding his phone with the other. He was not looking around, but listening to the person on the other end with single-minded devotion. On his face was the serious, almost devout, expression of someone receiving an edict from the emperor.

It was only when I was standing right in front of him that he finally looked at me, and smiled. In those days, Chinese people did not hug or exchange pecks on the cheek, while shaking hands was for grownups only.Instead, Du Zhuang passed me his mobile phone, saying, “My mother’s been waiting to speak to you!”

Hearing her shout down the phone it was as though she had jumped out in front of me. I will never forget his mother’s first words that day: “Xinran, my son is in your hands now! Remember to help him to open his suitcase, he can’t do anything!”

Source: China’s little emperors – the children without siblings | Life and style | The Guardian

The Psychedelic Furs

May 25th, 2015

The Psychedelic Furs play Raleigh's Lincoln Theatre.

The Psychedelic Furs play Raleigh’s Lincoln Theatre.

Months ago, Kelly and I bought tickets when The Psychedelic Furs announced they’d be playing at Raleigh’s Lincoln Theatre. Last night was that night and I was on Cloud Nine. Kelly was initially ambivalent about going but once the Furs took the stage she really got into it.

I made jokes on Twitter about being in an older crowd and, truly, it was a more mature crowd. Richard Butler and his bandmates didn’t slow down, though, as the Furs played the many hits they’ve racked up over the years. What a show! The faces may be older and there might be some new bandmates, but other than that it could’ve been a Furs show in their heyday.
Read the rest of this entry »

Another canceled credit card

May 15th, 2015

We got an email from earlier this evening, alerting us to fraudulent charges on our credit card. Someone has apparently programmed our credit card number onto another card and gone on a shopping spree.

It began with a swipe in a food vending machine owned by Berkshire Food, Inc. somewhere in Connecticut. Berkshire is in Danbury but there’s no way of knowing whether the transaction was there or the payment was processed there. The first tranaction was $1.60. I’ve heard that thieves will usually start off their spree with a small amount and increase as they gain confidence in their card.

Our thieves then began to get hungry, so they stopped into L.C. Chen’s, a Chinese restaurant in Fairfield, CT, at 6:19 PM. The two women bought Pad Thai and a drink, one signing the receipt as “Vanessa Smith,” according to Linda, the nice lady I spoke with.
Read the rest of this entry »

Keeping Secrets — STANFORD magazine — Medium

May 15th, 2015

WHAT IF your research could help solve a looming national problem, but government officials thought publishing it would be tantamount to treason? A Stanford professor and his graduate students found themselves in that situation 37 years ago, when their visionary work on computer privacy issues ran afoul of the National Security Agency. At the time, knowledge of how to encrypt and decrypt information was the domain of government; the NSA feared that making the secrets of cryptography public would severely hamper intelligence operations. But as the researchers saw it, society’s growing dependence on computers meant that the private sector would also need effective measures to safeguard information. Both sides’ concerns proved prescient; their conflict foreshadowed what would become a universal tug-of-war between privacy-conscious technologists and security-conscious government officials.

Source: Keeping Secrets — STANFORD magazine — Medium

Underwater Test-fire of Korean-style Powerful Strategic Submarine Ballistic Missile | 38 North: Informed Analysis of North Korea

May 14th, 2015

The imagery and information released by KCNA would lead an observer to conclude that this recent test was conducted from the SINPO-class experimental ballistic missile submarine based at the Sinpo South Shipyard. This, however, may be incorrect … It would appear to be more reasonably in line with assessed North Korean capabilities, however, that the test launch was conducted from a submerged barge—possibly the one seen at the Sinpo South Naval Shipyard.

Source: Underwater Test-fire of Korean-style Powerful Strategic Submarine Ballistic Missile | 38 North: Informed Analysis of North Korea

Seymour M. Hersh · The Killing of Osama bin Laden · LRB 21 May 2015

May 12th, 2015

On Sunday, Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh published an account of the bin Laden SEAL raid that differs markedly from the official account. Hersh insists that Pakistan knew of the raid and that the Obama administration’s is a “lie.” Hersh’s reporting is now being called into question as he relies heavily on a single anonymous source.

I’ve been a fan of Hersh’s work, but these are extraordinary claims which demand convincing evidence. Unless Hersh can provide stronger sources I will have to wonder whether his account is trustworthy.

It’s been four years since a group of US Navy Seals assassinated Osama bin Laden in a night raid on a high-walled compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The killing was the high point of Obama’s first term, and a major factor in his re-election. The White House still maintains that the mission was an all-American affair, and that the senior generals of Pakistan’s army and Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) were not told of the raid in advance. This is false, as are many other elements of the Obama administration’s account.

Source: Seymour M. Hersh · The Killing of Osama bin Laden · LRB 21 May 2015


May 11th, 2015

Waking up to a Florida sunrise on Amtrak's southbound Silver Star

Waking up to a Florida sunrise on Amtrak’s southbound Silver Star

Good morning, Jacksonville! I am passing through Jacksonville, Florida, now. Jacksonville is the largest city by population in Florida and the largest city by area in the contiguous United States.

This city holds a special place in my heart. Why, do you ask? Why would America’s most sprawling city captivate me? It’s the rich history of the city as well as the months I spent here in 2000, working on a deal when I was working at NeTraverse.

I was working on a deal at AllTel, implementing a proof of concept of NeTraverse’s Win4Lin product. I stayed at a charming bed and breakfast within walking distance, owned by two characters (is there any other kind of BnB owner?). My hosts were an English professor of economics and a former Alabama beauty queen, an unlikely pairing. Yet they were so welcoming! I’ll always remember this home away from home.
Read the rest of this entry »

Train happenings

May 10th, 2015

Groundbreaking of Raleigh Union Station

Groundbreaking of Raleigh Union Station

I raced out of work Friday morning to see the groundbreaking of Raleigh’s new Union Station. Mayor McFarlane, Gov. McCrory, NCDOT Secretary Tata, Rep. David Price, and Federal DOT and Amtrak officials were there to break ground on this new multi-modal station. Looking around the crowd of spectators, many of whom were sweating under the strong sun, I wondered how many of them had ever actually ridden Amtrak. I’d bet the closest most have come is the hundred yards to the tracks where the NCDOT’s version of Amtrak, the Piedmont, was right then pulling into Raleigh.
Read the rest of this entry »

Text of Brian Dyson’s commencement speech at Georgia Tech, Sept 1991.

May 10th, 2015

This is the full text of the speech given by Brian Dyson, former CEO of Coca-Cola Enterprises, at Georgia Tech’s 172nd commencement on September 6, 1991, as reported in the Georgia Tech Whistle faculty newspaper. See my previous post to learn how I tracked this down.

Coca-Cola CEO’s Secret Formula For Success: Vision, Confidence And Luck

(Brian G. Dyson. president and chief executive officer of Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. was the featured speaker at Georgia Tech’s 172nd commencement on Sept. 6.)

I think the ingredients for success, or as we would say at Coca-Cola. “the secret formula,” is a combination of three things: vision, knowing what you want to be when you grow up; confidence, knowing who you are; and luck, or what I would call being in the right place at the right time.

With those three ingredients and your Georgia Tech diploma, you have the formula for success. You have a first class education from a world class university, and I really congratulate you all on your achievement.
Read the rest of this entry »