Thursday, August 21, 2014

War With Drugs

It was recently reported that some Amtrak employees were acting as confidential informants for the DEA funneling passenger information to our government's drug overlords on the sly. Upon learning of this executives at Amtrak were furious. Just not for the reasons you might think.

Amtrak has always been a Jekyll-Hyde organization claiming to be either an independent business operation or a government bureaucracy whenever the situation best suits their agenda. In this case they wanted to be more government and less business. That's because what incensed them about the CI's on their payroll wasn't that it compromised passenger privacy and in so doing impugned the organization's reputation and damaged its brand--oh no--what had them upset was that the DEA did not come to them with an IGA--inter governmental agreement. Why is that such a big deal? Because had the DEA entered into an IGA that would have given Amtrak a portion of the money from DEA assets confiscated from Amtrak passengers.

What we have done in this country is allowed the government, at all levels and in all areas, to declare a made-up war on a social calamity, create criminals where there were none before and create a revenue stream that would make Mexican Cartels jealous. Government confiscation of Americans' assets has become big business and as everyone in business knows business must either grow or die. This one is growing like a cancer.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Setting Expectations

While there is the theory of unmet expectations and the injustice of low expectations what we are witnessing in Missouri is people meeting expectations. Just not the expectations we would hope for.

By militarizing thieir police forces governments, large and small, are clearly setting the expectation that mere citizens are untrusted combatants. We are the[ir] enemy. It is not surprising to find that mere citizens react like combatants when treated like combatants yet these police statists use that behaviour for a post-facto justification of their inciteful tactics and policies.

There is some hope.

The ongoing tragedy in Missouri is peppered with such gross missteps by the local LEOs that is becoming clear that we should no more be giving these folks this kind of fire power than we should ISIS. And it is by no means certain which group intends to do the average American more harm. This has been so blatant that it has gotten the attention of politicians across the country and on both sides of the aisle. Perhaps now someone will investigate this ill conceived plan to militarize U.S. police forces and pull the plug on this insanity.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

New City 101

What starts our as something small but intense:


Grows into something bigger and potentially more dangerous than you thought possible:


Take care. This all happened in Dunwoody.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Carts And Horses

Well over three years have passed since this city (AKA, Hutmacher and his Staff) identified the need for automated CAD-to-CAD integration and rapidly closing in on three years since it was supposed to be operational. It isn't and Hutmacher has gone on to much greener pastures (which includes appointing a ChattComm board member) and has left us holding his bag. Who's the douche now? Given his rather pathetic track record with technology it is not surprising that this project is way over on  time and budget. After all, it does require actual work rather than merely cutting a P.O. for your buddies.

And it has gotten worse. So bad in fact that Staff recommended that Staff be removed from the hot seat and instead Staff would hire a consultant. Heat and kitchen but let's not mix metaphors. This should have been done in the first place or, as former Councilman Ross pointed out, the City could have taken IXP up on their $120,000.00 offer to make this happen. For whatever reason Staff didn't like that. But then, as now, Staff leads the Mayor and Council around by their shoat rings so only now do we have technical help. Because now Staff says so.

This rather recently retained consultant has done many of the things, like requirements analyses and technology assessments, that should have been done before any development plan was penned. It gets better. Though Staff long ago identified the NEED our consultants are now assessing whether or not an automated CAD-to-CAD interface is even feasible:
"Given the recent transition to Kimball for project management, we are still diagnosing the feasibility of project completion."
Perhaps they should investigate the feasibility of project cancellation. We are three years late and the budget and schedule are out of control and Staff still doesn't know if the project is feasible.  How smart is that?

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Parks And Recreation


Dunwoody's famous linear park is still going strong.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Nasty Ole Constitution

It has been reported in the blogosphere and the legitimate press that the Top Cop in neighboring Brookhaven wants to ensure that law-abiding citizens with a valid Georgia Weapons Carry License cannot bring any of their weapons to City Hall. Some say this is an odious (but legal) effort to undermine the intent of the recently passed Georgia Law and circumvent a Constitutional Right of the citizenry. Perhaps, but we will leave that to greater minds.

This is happening in Brookhaven, not Dunwoody so the immediate impact is minimal. But whilst Dunwoody is a self-proclaimed Smart City it has never demonstrated or claimed to be capable of even minimal originality. Consequently the likelihood of a copy-cat crime of authority is quite high thereby making observations about Brookhaven relevant.

Most important is the meaning behind the words and deeds. Prior to July 1 the only folks bringing weapons to City Hall were criminals (due to lack of screening) and the exempt elites who some refer to as "the only ones" (as in "the only ones who should be allowed to possess a weapon").  With the law in effect citizens with a valid Georgia Weapons Carry License are allowed to carry a weapon into government facilities that are not properly screened for weapons. No part of the law requires licensees to carry. And it is important to note that these individuals have passed an FBI background check and have their fingerprints on file. We believe this to be the same FBI that does background checks on cops.

So the Brookhaven Top Cop is saying:
The threat of a Bad Guy[tm] bringing in a weapon is and continues to be insignificant posing no risk whatsoever to the Mayor, Council, Zoning Board members or any members of the public attending events at City Hall, BUT licensed law-abiding citizens are such a clear and present threat that immediate measures must be taken no matter what the cost.
Pogo lives! He has met the enemy and the enemy is us!

The pervasive banality of Dunwoody all but guarantees we will talk the same talk and walk the same walk so we at The Other Dunwoody would like to offer a few suggestions should Mayor and Council like to salvage any moral or intellectual integrity:

  • come up with a really good story as to why a law allowing licensed carry at City Hall pulls the trigger on weapons screening in spite of the fact it was never necessary to catch the oft-mentioned Bad Guys[tm] who are otherwise used to justify everything from SWAT Teams, to APCs, to anti-terrorism junkets
  • explain the costs upfront and keep detailed records of costs going forward and report these costs on a quarterly basis
  • detail your commitment to your responsibility should anything tragic happen to one of our citizens in your semi-gun-free zone (explained below)
And the real kicker is:
  • If you are going to make a "gun-free-zone" make it a 100% gun-free-zone with no exceptions. Absolutely none. That means no exception for the Mayor, Council, Judges, board members and most importantly police. That's right. In passing the checkpoint cops drop their Glocks in a box. Tasers in a basket. Clubs in a tub. If this gun-free-zone is safe enough for us then it is safe enough for you and we, the citizens you allegedly serve, don't need you, our servants, bringing weapons into an area that you seem to think attracts Bad Guys[tm] so they can take that weapon and use it on us. And we, the citizens, know that is a likelihood with precedent and if you don't believe it then Google "Brian Nichols" and tell us why we should feel safe because you're bringing in a gun that a Bad Guy[tm] can grab. If you're so worried about tempers flaring at a zoning meeting what about when you discuss police budget and raises? And while you're at it you can explain how this semi-gun-free-zone is safe enough for us but not safe enough for you. Is that because YOU have the guns?

At the end of the day this chazerai is a lot less about guns than it is about the arrogance of government, even at the local level and their increasingly fascist behaviour.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

InterWeb Alzheimer's

The European Union seems a bit scatter-brained of late. They would like you to be as well.

As we move thru the interweb age to a world where our intellect is crowd-sourced we find that the web doesn't forget as well as humans. Folks in the EU would like to fix that. Sort of. See, they don't want the interweb to forget, the just want Google to forget where things are. Alzheimer's for the interweb.

It works like this.

Suppose you are a now famous and powerful politician with an indiscretion in your distant past--something along the lines of driving your Citroen 2CV off a bridge, a nasty accident made all the more tragic because your mistress drowned in that lightweight but non-bouyant car. Should have been driving a Beetle. Anyway, this event was plastered all over Le Monde just as one might expect given that you come from a well known family who made their fortune in pastries, donuts in particular.

But that was then and this is now. Now you are a powerful member of the socialist party and have done many, many great things for your country and fellow citizens. Can't exactly remember what they are but you're pretty sure they are really important. But this interweb thing is a real problem because every time someone does an interweb search for your name the first five pages of results are about the wreck, pictures of a drenched and besotted younger you and more recently morgue photos of THAT girl, what was her name...yes, Marie Josephine (sorry, had to google it).  And you think that is just plain wrong and since you are now a powerful politician what you think counts for a lot.

What you'd like to do is not only expunge the unflattering record but rewrite it in glowing terms, but realistically you know that is not going to fly. In fact, you're all but certain you cannot have the records actually hidden away. But what you can do is make that nasty ole google-thingy forget where that stuff is located. So you trot your ass down to the EU and you push thru rules that require internet search engines to forget where things are. But only those things you don't like. While you cannot make all those things go away the interweb search engine is our window to your world and therefore you can control which things we can find to look at.

Pretty sweet, huh? Just like a donut. Warm and sticky and missing something in the middle, it is that petite je ne sais quoi that makes your life seem so much better than it ever was.

Monday, July 28, 2014

We're Walking. We're Walking.

There are pedestrian friendly places and then there are pedestrian centric places. With the former you have a pretty good chance of crossing the street without getting run down. With the latter as you approach the curb at a marked crossing auto traffic actually stops while you cross. There is a town that would best be categorized as one of the latter within a reasonable distance of daVille, but we're not going to tell you where*.

But we will tell you what it is like and offer a few reasons why Dunwoody will never be like this.

It is a town, not a city with a population of around 12,000, so about one fourth that of Dunwoody. It covers approximately 6 square miles putting it just below one half of Dunwoody's 13. The town was founded in the early to mid 1800's celebrating its sesquicentennial before Dunwoody was envisioned. Except in the outer fringes bordering a lake the houses are older with ample yards and blessed with trees that were planted before any of the current residents, no matter how old, were even born. A tall building downtown is two stories and while some residences might reach three it is a stretch as you'd have to count either the basement or the attic or both. The downtown definition of "apartment" would translate here as "house for rent" and multi-tenant rentals top out at "duplex."

The approach to the town from the nearby highway requires visitors to traverse not one but two roundabouts. And these are not the sprawling wastes of space we see in Roswell but are double lane (in the circle) yet quite compact. This facilitates pedestrian traffic by keeping crosswalks close by. It also gives visitors a gentle clue about priorities in this little town. The highway also separates the newer lakeside area from the older, more historic town center.

While Dunwoody has Perimeter Center to fill its coffers this little town has a real Main Street with many small shops and restaurants in buildings that come right to the sidewalk so by and large the locals actually pay for their own town. Where there is parking it is parallel or slant-in and free of charge. For most businesses along Main Street, particularly restaurants, outdoor dining is behind the building between the building and parking at the rear (where most parking is located). Some restaurants do not have a street front presence at all and while this makes them harder to find they are well worth the effort. Like Dunwoody this town hosts a college but one that is significantly smaller than Dunwoody's Perimeter campus and is a significant component of downtown. Also like Dunwoody it appears to be relatively free of homeless bums and blessed with enough Mexican labour to keep the place neat and clean.

This little town grew organically over an extended period of time. It is mature, even old. Where we start our pontifications with "I've lived in Dunwoody for X-number of years" it is not uncommon for adults in this town to be fourth or fifth generation and they generally do not feel the need to brag about it. It is their town, their birthplace and their ancestral home. Dunwoody is a neo-bettendorf with a better name and a serious identity crisis.

It is, as most small Southern towns, built around a single dominant industry. People who gathered around that industry joined together sharing common interest and formed the town. Dunwoody is the byproduct of the greed of suburban transients whose anger was born of sending tax money southward and receiving less than we felt our due in return.

But this is about walkability.

The little town has a relatively flat aspect. While this is the South and heat is unavoidable, mature trees provide ample shade (which does nothing for the humidity). Sidewalks are where they need to be and go from curb to storefront on Main. Streets that would be four lanes of traffic in Dunwoody are two lane with parallel parking at the curbs which are then separated from traffic by bike lanes. Pedestrian centric goes foot in stirrup with bike friendly.

Crosswalks are well marked and never more than a city block apart--if that far. On each side is a small pole with a container for orange flags. Should a pedestrian be worried that they are not seen they take a flag on one side and deposit it in the container on the other side after completing their journey.  You are your own crossing guard but the fact is you don't really need to be.

Drivers making a left turn are required to yield to crossing pedestrians. And the crosswalk light that would cause this to happen turns to "walk" at the same time as the left turn signal goes green and if there are enough pedestrians or they take long enough to cross then you're just not going to make that turn.

You're probably wondering how this can be anything but Redneck Frogger. Perhaps you think it is a form of that Southern Malady that causes folks to pull over for a funeral procession. Maybe it is something in the water. It is actually much simpler. This town has two speed limits: slow and slower. To be more precise some areas sport a blazing fast 25 MPH speed limit while most areas, including Main Street are set at 20 MPH. And these limits are universally observed and no one seems to believe that their horn is directly connected to the gas pedal of the car ahead of them. The chicken-egg dilemma is whether the limit is observed due to diligent enforcement or if observance obviated the need for enforcement. In any event you don't see speeders so you don't see them pulled over.

You could say this town is an "existence proof" that true pedestrian communities can be built. Perhaps. But not here.

In Dunwoody the flags would probably be red but it wouldn't matter as they would quickly be stolen. In this little town folks don't lock their doors or chain their bikes. One renter lost his keys and rather than get replacements simply left his doors unlocked. For the last six months of his lease.

There are 25 MPH postings in Dunwoody and not just at key hours in a school zone. But outside of those school zones these limits are never enforced or observed. They are rarely enforced in school zones. The simple fact of the matter is Dunwoody would never tolerate the perceived cost in time and convenience required to achieve what this little town has. Consider the public comments should someone suggest that Chamblee Dunwoody and Mount Vernon in daVille suffer a 20 MPH speed limit. Three minutes is not enough.

This town is not a product of the bureaucratic fa├žade we call Complete Streets and was not built by Federal grants according to a distant, detached, dictatorial social architect's blueprint. Instead this is a cohesive community willing to accept the costs in time and money to make a pedestrian centric community a reality with a long term commitment to keep it that way. And it is the citizens who for the most part pick up the tab. This is not in Dunwoody DNA.

This town is nearly heaven on earth for those who live there--as close to Mayberry as  you're likely to find.** If we're being truly honest and self-aware all of us in the Wold know we'd rather watch Mayberry on TV than actually live there.



* This unanimous decision was reached by the TOD editorial board with almost no discussion whatsoever. To a person the board is "American by birth and Southern by the grace of God" and have just about had it with many of the finest places in the Southland being ruined by carpetbaggin' Yankees and we'll have no part in the ongoing destruction of our homeland. 
** We admit that we have not done an exhaustive search. But we're working on it.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sleeping Thru Class

Researchers have finally proven what every parent has always known: children who do not get enough sleep do not learn as well as those students who've had a good night's rest. Furthermore their research shows that naps just don't cut it. What students really need for peak performance is a solid eight to ten hours of high REM sleep.

With researchers characterizing America's childhood sleep depravation a crisis the White House leapt into action. Obama has directed the Education Department to craft a pilot plan to expand some existing schools to create public boarding schools and is redirecting funds to provide grants to kick-start these efforts. The grants are expected to cover all startup costs and increased operational costs for the first three years and while the money will originate with the federal Department it will be allocated by each state's Department of Education.

Initially these schools are expected to operate where identified need is greatest but a spokesman for Arne Duncan made it clear that "this affects more than just traditional at-risk children--this is an issue that cuts across all segments of America," adding "we expect these programs to take hold throughout each and every state." Further comments indicate that the DOE sees this program as imperative to fostering a well educated population that can support civic engagement and become productive members of society who can actively engage in our democratic society.

When asked how this might impact parents the spokesman replied "parents are welcome at all school events that are open to the public and will certainly maintain visitation at most holidays and key events like birthdays. Furthermore all religious events, like confirmations and bar mitzvahs will be held offsite with parents attending by invitation." He made it clear that this was in the best interests of the student and well within the purview of public schools in America: "when we find children being abused we protect them, when hungry we feed them and when they come to use too tired to learn we will take them in and ensure they have adequate rest. That's what public schools are for."

Supporters of the program tout the educational advantages and point out that there is no cost to the participating schools and suggest that local systems would be foolish to walk away from Federal grant money. Though few in number some outspoken critics see this as an unnecessary expansion that will overburden public schools that are already taxed to the limit.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Like A Trolling Stone

A recent photoessay in the esteemed Rolling Stone Magazine is an attempt to bring sister publication Jane's weaponry related information to the masses but sadly misses its target. To help clear up matters we at The Other Dunwoody would like to play "Good Gun" to RSM's "Bad Gun" by providing some concrete examples of guns that we (and all other sane individuals) will allow you to possess. To assist the average gun-nut we will provide an acceptable example as well as examples that have been modified by gun-slinging anarchists in ways that make them wholly unacceptable.

It is summertime so let's get started with the community pool favorite--the water pistol. Acceptable:


Isn't that just the cutest thing? Looks like a fish that spits--like that archer fish you've seen on the National Geographic channel.

Unacceptable:



Wow, what can we say.  Just too damn realistic -- this is known as the "appearance test" which this squirter fails in epic fashion. Furthermore it looks like a scary gun. Huge magazine...semi-automatic...Darth Vader black...all bad things.  Just keep in mind: if it looks like something a LEO might have, on the beat or in full SWAT regalia, then you should not have anything that even looks like it.

Also, under no circumstances should a water pistol be loaded with booze and shot into anyone's mouth no matter who at the frat party thinks it is a good idea. That is one of the few occasions where a real gun is useful if only to improve the gene pool as we're convinced that only stump water drinking southerners would do anything so stupid in the first place. And who needs them anyway?

Now we come to the dart gun. Remember those? With the little suction cup on the end that wouldn't stick to the TV even if you licked them? Acceptable:


Just like we all remember.

Unacceptable:


Don't let those pink tips fool you, this is one menacing assault weapon lookalike. Are you seeing the beginnings of a trend here?

A modern derivative of that ole time favorite is the nerf gun which launches (we don't like to say "shoots") harmless little bits of foam. Good fun for all the family. Acceptable:


There's lots to like about this sweet little toy. First it is brightly colored with "Nerf" plastered across the side minimizing the chance your little darlin' will get herself shot impersonating a "Bad Guy[TM]" and make for entertaining courtroom drama should a 'roid ragin' officer knock her off anyway. An additional advantage is the fact that it mimics a revolver and as we all know that is not a semi-Automatic. And that's a Good Thing.

Unacceptable:


Seriously folks. A machine gun? Can't we simply explain the origins of "the whole nine yards" to the little nippers? Do we really need manipulatives?

Then there is the hometown favorite--the rubber band gun. Acceptable:



This is by far our favorite. Easy to operate--so simple a child can use it. Intuitively obvious in setup. Excepting for thalidomide babies we recommend this for children of all ages. For those and folks who just must handle an object we prefer this:


Dirt simple and downright pretty.

While we could pick on the machine gun or gatling gun versions of the rubber band gun that would be too easy and quite frankly obvious. Clearly those are instruments of the devil. But what we do find unacceptable that you might find enlightening is:



While this is quite similar in appearance to the acceptable version of the rubber band gun this is designed to fire multiple times in succession without a manual reload operation. This clearly crosses a line and we feel it is impossible to justify this level of firepower.

And finally the venerable cap pistol. Acceptable:


These guns depict a limited capacity revolver of questionable accuracy (and who really wants to encourage accuracy?) and is equipped with a red barrel extension clearly indicating this is a cap pistol. This is for operator safety should they be playing cowboys and indians (politically incorrect but a matter for another blog) in near proximity of one of our paramilitary peace officers who tend to shoot anything that moves, even shadows.

Unacceptable:


In spite of the barrel indicator this fails the "appearance test" as it just looks like a weapon of mass destruction. Again, who needs such firepower?

And absolutely unacceptable:


This is not to be confused with a cap pistol in spite of the misleading name of percussion cap pistol. This is a potent firearm capable of dropping an opponent at twenty paces (ten apiece) with a success rate of at least one in four. If you own one of these you should hand it over the next time your local APC patrols the neighborhood but for safety's sake please wear only your underwear and make sure you keep your hands held high. It makes for a cleaner center of mass shot minimizing unintended fratricide and there won't be a hole in the suit they bury you in.

So there you have it. An everyday guide to common sense gun control.