Woman charged again after she rides her bicycle on busy U.S. 27

Last week Cherokee Schill appeared in court to answer several charges of obstructing traffic. Even though she was obeying what I thought was a reasonable interpretation of the law the judged fined her several hundred dollars. The prosecutor was also asking that she be banned from riding the stretch of highway, US27 in Jessamine Co., Kentucky, she had been ticketed on. The judge didn’t go that far.

This week Ms Schill was arrested for riding the same section of road on her bike, this time for second-degree wanton endangerment which is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail.

The report says Cobb “observed several vehicles braking hard and switching lanes erratically in an attempt to dodge the violator. Violator was wantonly engaging in conduct she knew would create substantial danger to the motorists attempting to avoid her.”

via Woman charged again after she rides her bicycle on busy U.S. 27 | Jessamine County | Kentucky.com.

So if other people’s reaction to a cyclist riding in traffic is to start driving erratically it is somehow the cyclist fault? How about if they slow down and wait to pass until they can do it without erratically changing lanes?

Here’s a video from the back of Ms. Schill’s bike. I wouldn’t want to ride on that shoulder either.

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Apple’s “warrant canary” disappears, suggesting new Patriot Act demands — Tech News and Analysis

Dan points me to this article about Apple’s Warrant Canary going missing. “What’s a Warrant Canary,” you ask? It’s a tool used by companies and publishers to tell people that they so far have not been served with any subpoenas or warrants that would prevent them from telling whether or not they had been served with said subpoena or warrant.

Apple put out its first transparency report on government activity in 2013 and it contained the following footnote:

“Apple has never received an order under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act. We would expect to challenge such an order if served on us.”

via Apple’s “warrant canary” disappears, suggesting new Patriot Act demands — Tech News and Analysis.

Subsequent reports, in the last half of 2013 and the first six months of 2014 does not contain this language so you can figure that they have since then been served with an order under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act.

<sigh> — I really don’t like living under a government that makes Warrant Canaries necessary. I don’t think our founding fathers would like it either.

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Domestic Violence is Trending Down

The NFL’s mishandling of the Ray Rice domestic violence incident has brought the spotlight onto the problem of domestic violence. I applaud this happening. No one should ever feel anything other than being safe in their own home and anyone who uses violence against a loved one to express frustration or anger is not worthy of being called a human being.

However, there is some good news. Domestic violence appears to be trending down.

  • From 1994 to 2010, the overall rate of intimate partner violence in the United States declined by 64%, from 9.8 victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or older to 3.6 per 1,000.
  • Intimate partner violence declined by more than 60% for both males and females from 1994 to 2010.
  • The rate of intimate partner violence for Hispanic females declined 78%, from 18.8 victimizations per 1,000 in 1994 to 4.1 per 1,000 in 2010.

via Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) – Intimate Partner Violence, 1993-2010.

Still, domestic violence continues to be a  problem in the U.S. even though the trends look good. I think one question we need to be asking ourselves is what have we done to date that is responsible for this declining trend and how do we leverage what we find out to reduce violence even more.

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Because any company that works to legally decrease their tax burden is alright by me.

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I had lunch at Burger King for a couple of reasons. The first is that I think the Whopper Jr. is the best tasting fast food burger out there for under $2 and second because I think the uproar caused by the Burger King corporation creating a corporate office from which to manage both the Burger King and Tim Horton brands in Toronto is much to do about nothing.
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Bruce Levenson to sell the Hawks

Bruce Levenson wrote an email two years ago questioning how to improve attendance at the Atlanta Hawks games among suburban dwellers here in Atlanta. In doing so he divided fans into the black inner city fans and the white suburban fans and contrasted the likes and interests between the two groups. While it wasn’t intentional it came off as racist and offensive.

Mr. Levenson apologized at the time but his email and what he has done has been eating at him for the past two years. He’s selling his controlling interest in the team for the team’s best interest.

If you’re angry about what I wrote, you should be. I’m angry at myself, too. It was inflammatory nonsense. We all may have subtle biases and preconceptions when it comes to race, but my role as a leader is to challenge them, not to validate or accommodate those who might hold them.

via Atlanta Hawks owner Bruce Levenson to sell team.

Well, Bruce, at least you didn’t tell your mistress to stop hanging around with black people.

Seriously, there is a huge difference between what you did, generalize in an email about concerns about the lack of diversity of fans, which accidently pushed some sensitive, stereotypical buttons, and exhibiting explicit racial bias by forbidding someone you are in some sort of relationship with from being seen with people of a particular race.

Bruce, the fact that you have agonized over this email for two years and are now ready to sell the Falcons because of it is exactly the reason the league needs you to remain an owner. You care.

Bruce, do what you feel you need to do but if you proceed in selling the Hawks you stand a chance of doing them more harm than your one email could ever have done.

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Free Scotland?

I’ve sort of been following the independence movement in Scotland. A few months ago it looked like a long shot but a recent poll showed a 51%/49% split with the “Yes” vote ahead. These results did not include any undecided voters but it does show that this referendum can not be called. The election will be held on September 18.

The British Parliament is pushing for a “No” vote on the question but with this latest poll it has George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Second Lord of the Treasury, offering the Scottish Parliament new powers and more autonomy if the referendum is overturned but then has a warning if the vote is for a free Scotland.

“[Voters] should be in no doubt about the consequences of this decision – one of which is that Scotland will not be sharing the pound as an independent country with the rest of the UK if the separatists win the vote.”

via Scottish independence: George Osborne offers Scotland fresh powers, but says no chance of sharing the pound – Scottish independence – UK – The Independent.

It sounds like Great Britain is worried but see no real answer to resolving the issues driving Scotland’s need for independence. I’m wondering how long it will be before Wales looks for independence and Great Britain is no more?

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Mom’s Demand Full Control Sets Their Sights on Kroger #Gunsense

Rather than just run a Twitter campaign or circulate a bunch of Facebook memes Shannon Watts and her band of sycophants are actually spending money to force a corporate change with the nation’s largest grocery store chain, Kroger. Mom’s Demand are taking out ads online and in print across the country showing people doing various things that Kroger asks people not to do in their stores standing next to someone who is open carrying a long rifle and asking which of these two things is not allowed in Kroger.

Kroger, like many of Shannon’s targets before them, had a gun carry policy that followed along with state law. In response to Shannon’s demands Kroger released the following statement.

“Our long-standing policy on this issue is to follow state and local laws. … We know that our customers are passionate on both sides of this issue, and we trust them to be responsible in our stores.”

via Kroger grocery chain targeted by gun control groups – CBS News.

Kroger, just as Starbucks had done (and actually still does) allowed open carry in their stores basically because they didn’t want their employees getting into a confrontation with someone openly carrying a firearm. That situation does not seem to register with Ms. Watts it seems. She would have a barista, armed only with a liberal arts degree, confront someone openly carrying an AR15 and demand they “get out of town” so to speak.

However, since Kroger is a commercial concern and not an ideological concern I would suggest that they amend the above statement with the following addition:

“….but we would certainly appreciate it if those members of the open carry movement who are carrying their long guns for a purely philosophical reason to not drag  us into this fight and check your guns while shopping in our stores.

We would also request that members of Mom’s Demand stop insisting that we provoke a confrontation between an unarmed store employee and a visibly armed customer by insisting we request that they leave.”

This makes a lot of sense to me, especially since out of the 2,640 Kroger locations in the US a person open carrying a long rifle while shopping is a rare occurrence.

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I know, Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys But…..

It’s very difficult to read what Putin says in the news and not think, “You belligerent liar, how can anyone even begin to trust anything you say.”

The Russian plan to end hostilities comes after a week in which Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine made rapid strides to retake territory, after apparently receiving an infusion of support from Russia. The Kremlin denies aiding them, although rebels have said that Russian soldiers have been using vacation time to fight on their side.

via Putin says he and Ukrainian president agree on outlines of a peace deal – The Washington Post.

Putin denies giving any aid to the Ukrainian rebels all the while we see pictures of Russian convoys pouring into Ukraine from Russia. You call him on it and he just denies it again even in the face of overwhelming evidence of the support.

I need to just stop reading or watching the news.

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Rogue Cell Phone Towers Could Hack Your Phone

They are popping up across the country and no one is admitting to know for sure who is operating them. What is “they”? Rogue cell phone towers called “IMSI catchers” that can turn off encryption on your phone without your knowledge and more:

To show what the CryptoPhone can do that less expensive competitors cannot, he points me to a map that he and his customers have created, indicating 17 different phony cell towers known as “interceptors,” detected by the CryptoPhone 500 around the United States during the month of July alone. (The map below is from August.)  Interceptors look to a typical phone like an ordinary tower.  Once the phone connects with the interceptor, a variety of “over-the-air” attacks become possible, from eavesdropping on calls and texts to pushing spyware to the device.

via Mysterious Phony Cell Towers Could Be Intercepting Your Calls | Popular Science.

Edward Snowden even warned that through these towers your phone could be made to look like it is off when in fact the mic is live and transmitting. I think I’m ready to invest in carrier pigeons.

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Burger King Looks To The Great White North.

Burger King is looking to merge with Canada’s Tim Horton’s. I say good for them. I’ve always liked Burger King’s burgers, the vegetables on their burgers always seemed fresher than at other fast food places. And I’ve been in a few Tim Horton’s and those stores always seemed nice. I hope this merger allows both brands to grow.

However, some folks don’t see it this way. Sen. Bernie Sanders sees the merger as a tax dodge while MoveOn.org is threatening a boycott. And that’s a shame because it looks like this merger has nothing at all to do with a tax inversion.

Tax and business planning attorney Paul Gilman of Chicago-based law firm Aronberg Goldgehn Davis & Garmisa expects that Burger King’s U.S. tax rate won’t change much “because they derive most of their income from franchisees, and those in the U.S. are still going to be subject to tax,” he said.

via Burger King, Tim Hortons merge into whopper-size firm.

The sad part is that most Burger King Restaurants are franchises, mostly mom & pop businesses that employee a lot of low wage workers. During the “Great Recession” I saw a number of these close down due to the drop in business. A boycott is going to hurt the franchisees much worse than the corporation and for what looks like just a knee jerk reaction by some very irrational people.

Look, even if Burger King is looking to this merger for tax relief that ought to tell you something about our tax burden on corporations if a company thinks Canada will give them a better tax deal.

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Colorado lawmaker seeks marijuana tax review amid disappointing sales

Colorado is disappointed in their actual tax receipts for recreational marijuana. The projected a tax income of $33.5 million for combined marijuana taxes but actually only took in a little more than $12 million. They are blaming it on the lower tax on medical marijuana.

“I think our original assumption about the cannibalization was wrong,” Colorado Legislative Council economist Larson Silbaugh said at Tuesday’s committee meeting.

The result, suggested David Blake of the Colorado attorney general’s office, is that the resilience of the medical-marijuana market “is being driven by avoidance of that tax.”

via Colorado lawmaker seeks marijuana tax review amid disappointing sales – The Denver Post.

Ya reckon? A look at tax receipts in border towns where one state has a substantially higher tax than its bordering state should have told them this.

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Civilians in Abandoned McDonald’s Seize Control of Wandering Space Satellite

It sounds like the premise for a “B” movie but this if for real. A crowd-sourced group of researchers has turned an old abandoned McDonald’s into a command center for taking control of an abandoned NASA satellite. The satellite has a dead battery but is still 98% operable through its solar panels. Even though it has been abandoned for over twenty years signals from the satellite can still be picked up.

The challenge is not in receiving the signals but in talking back to it:

Since the satellite went offline, the team had retired, the documentation was lost and the equipment was outdated. They could still hear the satellite out there talking, but they’d need to build the equipment to talk back.

via Civilians in Abandoned McDonald’s Seize Control of Wandering Space Satellite | | Betabeat.

I feel their pain. I have had to work with automation systems in the past that had been installed and worked flawlessly for so long that no one knew where the documentation was or how it was configured. Trying ti figure out how to integrate new equipment in with it was a nightmare.

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We Build Cities For Cars, Not People

Dan posted the quote, “We build cities for cars, not people,” yesterday as a set up for his punch line, “which means we already serve robot masters, but not hyper intelligent ones.” However the quote intrigued me enough to google it and find what might have been the original source:

We build cities for cars, not people. This means that we spread out much more than we have to, and consequently end up paying more for transportation than we do for housing. Our grandparents could afford higher quality houses than we can because they spent so much less on transportation.

via Houston’s also living in post-Katrina time – Houston Chronicle.

Reading that quote in context got me thinking about how much we spend because of transportation cost imposed on us by the way we plan and build our communities. We end up compromising other areas in our lives because we put so much of our personal resources into our transportation needs.

The entire article is well worth the read.

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How Cable TV Illustrates the Pitfalls of Pure Libertarianism

My wife shared this on Facebook last week and I meant to comment on it then but never got around to it. Then yesterday Dan shared the same article on Flutterby and I started to comment on it there but this all ties in together with a connected concern I have.

Business Insider has an article titled “City In Tennessee Has The Big Cable Companies Terrified” that talks about how my home town of Chattanooga has invested in Internet infrastructure without the help of the big name ISPs. I think this article perfectly illustrates why I can’t be a libertarian purist.

Around twenty years ago Chattanooga’s Electric Power Board (EPB), an electric utility owned  by the City of Chattanooga, looked at the current state of they way they read their power meters and looked at the future of electrical power meters and saw that they needed to invest heavily in upgrading their power grid in ways that would give them a more efficient method of collecting power data and controlling their grid.

There were a couple of technologies coming online at that time that created the perfect environment for forward thinking individuals at the EPB to decide that connecting their power meters back to the business office with fiber optics was the perfect technology to use to create their SmartGrid network. Someone also had the wherewithal to recognize that pulling a dozen fiber to each meter was no more expensive than pulling two and that someone might one day want to use that extra fiber to connect to the Internet or the phone network.

It’s a good thing they did too, because even though they faced a lot of pushback from people who felt that the City of Chattanooga should not be using tax dollars to compete with private companies like Comcast or BellSouth (now AT&T) fast Internet would have been a long, long way off in Chattanooga without this competition that EPB offered.

Comcast put off plans to outfit southeastern Tennessee with high-speed internet, essentially forcing the city to look for internet solutions elsewhere, Motherboard reports. This is actually a trend. Though Chattanooga’s internet is notable for its blinding speed, many small communities around the country are similarly taking on high-speed internet without the help of big-name ISPs.

via Chattanooga Tennessee Big Internet Companies Terrified – Business Insider.

Why should Comcast invest in offering fast Internet if there was no competition? Fast Internet competes with television programming delivery and opens up options to cable subscribers that could entice them to abandon expensive cable TV in favor of rabbit ears and streaming video from Netflix and Hulu and others.

I could feel for the Cable companies on this if it wasn’t for the fact that we now live in a time that fast Internet is essential to compete in the business world and withholding affordable fast Internet options from home users puts the self-employed and independent contractors at a huge competitive disadvantage. Fast Internet is essential for the economic prosperity of a community.

Competition is good for the consumer but not so much for a single business entity like Comcast or AT&T. Most businesses have to adapt to competition from new technologies and that competition is not only good for consumer but also for an industry overall. Broadcast TV faced new competition from the cable companies and cable networks much like the cable companies and cable networks are facing from Internet TV. However, broadcast TV adapted and found ways to compete with the cable networks.

Around ten years ago the cable company lobbies got laws passed in numerous states preventing municipalities from selling services that rely on publicly owned infrastructures. The reasoning behind these laws had some merit but they also put communities at the whim of private companies for receiving necessary services that weren’t being delivered in a timely manner from private entities.

Around twenty states still have such laws on their books. The FCC has begun helping communities not receiving the services they need to get around these laws. Earlier this month, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) proposed an amendment that would make the FCC’s move illegal.

This is where I see pure libertarianism fail. If a community wants a service that private enterprise will not supply that community with it must be an option for that community to supply that service to itself. Using government intervention to prevent the community from receiving the service and to enhance the profits of the private company is a use of force against the community that libertarian philosophy rejects as much or more so as taxpayer dollars being used to compete against private enterprises.

It is equally troubling that the cable companies are attempting to use government to reduce retransmission fees being paid from cable companies to local broadcast TV companies. What cable companies are actually wanting is to be able to buy programming directly from the broadcast networks in order to cut the local broadcasters out of the local advertising revenue.

A couple of months ago I got tired of paying well over $100 a month for TV programming that I mostly didn’t like. I attached a pair of rabbit ears to the TV in my bedroom and discovered that I was getting 80% of what I was watching for free. I quickly decided the other 20% was not worth the price it would take to receive it and cut out my cable TV service while keeping my broadband connection with my cable company, Charter Cable.

Charter will sell you Internet alone at a price that’s less than Internet/TV service. I understand Comcast won’t.

Broadcast TV is an essential community service in my opinion. It is how local news is quickly disseminated to the community, it is how we are kept aware of local issues and how government is addressing those issues. If the cable companies succeed in getting the retransmission rates dropped then the revenue used to produce those local news shows will dry up. This is something we can not allow to happen.

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