Last week I explained in this column how President Donald Trump, despite facing serious political challenges over his murky ties to the Kremlin, was fortunate to have opponents more motivated by partisanship than truth-telling. As long as that state of affairs continued, the commander-in-chief was likely to avoid the thorough scrutiny which his apparent links to Moscow actually merit.
A lot has changed in just a few days. Last week began promisingly for the president, with his joint address to Congress on Tuesday evening earning better reviews than many had anticipated. Then it all unraveled the next day, when it was reported that Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a key member of the White House inner circle, had two discussions with Sergei Kislyak, the Russian ambassador in Washington, during the 2016 election campaign.
It’s hardly abnormal for sitting senators—as Sessions was last year—to meet with foreign diplomats, even Russian ones, but the precise capacity in which he chatted with Kislyak suddenly became important. Was Sessions parleying with the Kremlin’s emissary as a senator or as a top advisor to Donald Trump?
N&O reporter Will Doran took a stab at estimating crowd size, rightfully pointing out that Fayetteville Street isn’t long enough to hold the 80,000 demonstrators some claimed were at Saturday’s HKonJ rally.
Blending the Howard Jacobs-method of estimating crowd size that Doran used with the National Park Service’s official SWAG method (“scientific wild-ass guess”), I’ve done my own calculations, based on the drone shot I took and shared in the previous blog post and measuring streets and spaces using Google Maps.
Here’s what I came up with:
South Street area between Salisbury and Wilmington, curb to curb: 600 x 33 ft = 19,800 sq. ft.
Wilmington between South and Davie: 1224 x 34 ft. = 41,616 sq. ft.
Davie between Wilmington and Fayetteville: 300 x 38 ft. = 11,400 sq. ft.
Fayetteville St. between Davie and Morgan: 1429 x 99 ft. = 141,471 sq. ft.
Now, based on my drone photo there is a huge crowd still in front of Memorial Auditorium at 10:35 AM. The area they’re in totals 71,500 sq. ft, give or take. It looks packed.
Going by the 5 sq. ft. per person Jacobs model and assuming all of these areas are that full, I get a high-end guesstimate of 57,157 people. The low-end estimate assuming the 10 sq. ft model (and that Memorial is 5-level full) is 35,729 people. A middle estimate that assumes Fayetteville was closer to slightly half-full gives me 44,168 people.
So, did the rally attract 80,000? Not even close. Still, the numbers it did attract are still quite impressive by any measure.
Supporters of Saturday’s protest march in downtown Raleigh, the 11th annual HKonJ, said more than 80,000 people attended.Organizers including the N.C. NAACP announced the massive crowd size, then it began circulating on social media and was picked up and repeated by several national news outlets covering the event.
The march was held to oppose President Donald Trump and to voice support for a laundry list of causes, ranging from supporting Planned Parenthood and the Affordable Care Act to opposing gerrymandering. HKonJ stands for Historic Thousands on Jones Street.
But many questioned whether the crowd was really as big as organizers and attendees claimed, and some asked PolitiFact North Carolina to look into it.
Crowd size estimates are a handy way of gauging people’s interest – or lack thereof – in the big topics of the day.So understandably, estimates often inspire emotional reactions from both sides – especially in highly politicized contexts like this weekend’s HKonJ.
I sent this letter to the editor to the N&O last week when I saw the paper was recirculating the video Jill Knight shot of Hallie and Travis pounding our neighborhood officer, Officer Boyd, with snowballs. This past fall, Officer Boyd broke the news to me that he was leaving and announced his replacement at the November 21st East CAC meeting. I am sorry to see Raleigh lose such a talented officer and wanted to do something about it.
It was bittersweet to see the N&O reshare Jill Knight’s video of my kids pummeling Raleigh Police Officer J.D. Boyd in a snowball fight. Sadly, there will be no rematch: Officer Boyd has quietly left RPD for another area police department. Unfortunately, he is one of many.
Retaining first responders with deep knowledge of the areas and people they serve is critical to our safety. It’s time for the City of Raleigh to offer truly competitive pay and benefits for our men and women in uniform.
The N&O hasn’t run it yet and I don’t know if I am thankful for that or not. With this week’s dismal snow and ice only now melting around the city, few people would’ve seen it had it been run. But will it see the light of day? Who knows? I hope so, though, because I think city leaders need to hear it.
The paper might also not be thrilled with me for loudly tweeting that they missed four days’ worth of deliveries to me to start off the year. I did get my paper the day but have been paperless due to the storm up until today. I hope the N&O and I are still BFFs, though, because I think what they do is important.
Raleigh Agenda wrote about my public domain photos of Raleigh today.
I first met Mark Turner on the corner of McDowell and Hargett streets for a mysterious “field trip,” as he had called it.
“C’mon, there’s something I want to show you,” he told me, motioning up the street toward DECO. He seemed eager to push past the handshakes and how-do-you-dos, so the adventure could begin. Inside the gift shop, he directed me toward a little basket filled with postcards.
“See that?” he asked, holding up a pack of cards that featured a colorful, sketch-like rendering of the Raleigh skyline. “These are based on the picture of Raleigh that I uploaded to Wikipedia. All the streets line up.”
Sure enough, the skyline sketch—captured from the Western Boulevard overpass, looking northeast in 2008—employed the same angle and details as the picture that accompanies the Raleigh, North Carolina Wikipedia entry. Even a red minivan was echoed on the postcard, eternally stuck in traffic. That’s Turner’s shot, free to anyone who wants to use it.
How Facebook divides us.
Since we feel uncomfortable when we’re exposed to media that pushes back on our perspective (like that weird political uncle you see at a family reunion), we usually end up avoiding it. It requires a lot of effort to change opinions, and generally it feels gross to have difficult chats with people that don’t agree with us. So, we politely decline the opportunity to become their friend, buy their product, read their magazine, or watch their show.
We insulate ourselves in these ‘information ghettos’ not because we mean to, but because it’s just easier.Our own Facebook feed is no different. It is a manifestation of who we are. It was created by us: by the things we have liked in the past, by the friends we have added along the way, and by people that tend to have opinions a lot like ours. It is made by us.
This is self-segregation, and it happens naturally. But the success of Facebook’s algorithm has effectively poured gasoline on this smoldering innate bias.
ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith gave Colin Kaepernick a brutal verbal beatdown Wednesday after he learned the San Francisco 49ers quarterback decided not to vote at all in the 2016 presidential election.
In a fiery and lengthy rant, Smith argued Kaepernick has delegitimized everything he tried to accomplish by first sitting then taking a knee during the national anthem in protest of “oppression” in America.
“As far as I am concerned, Colin Kaepernick is absolutely irrelevant,” Smith said. “I don’t want to see him again; I don’t want to hear from him again; I don’t wanna hear a damn word about anything he has to say about our nation — the issues that we have, racial injustices, needing change, etcetera, etcetera. He comes across as a flaming hypocrite.”
Jane Porter’s story on the seemingly never-ending construction on Glascock Street ran in today’s Raleigh Agenda. It’s a fair piece and properly highlights the frustration neighbors have been feeling.
To give a little context to my remarks, I also told Jane that I’m happy that the City is bringing much-needed investment to East Raleigh (after all, there are still two actual, honest-to-God unpaved dirt roads that connect to Glasdock). I only wish the city had done a better job of setting expectations for how long this project (these projects) would take.
Being that I was East CAC chair at the time (or had just been), I certainly knew that the project was gearing. I was not aware, though (and I don’t think any other neighbors were aware), of the time it would all take.
What I would like to see for future projects is the city not only telling us when a project is expected begin but when it is expected to be completed. Put up a sign at the work site with this information. Include a URL (or QR code) that points people to the project webpage. This would do a lot to keep neighbors comfortable with the process.
A good example of why this is needed is the construction that has temporarily closed Old Louisburg Road. A sign appeared over the weekend of October 8th, which tells drivers that the road would close on the 10th. The sign does not tell drivers when the road will reopen! Because Old Louisburg Road is the main way people in my neighborhood get to downtown Raleigh, it being closed is hugely disruptive.