Sunday, February 21, 2010

Supreme Court Matters

"The laws that forbid the carrying of arms .... disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants. They serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man."
Thomas Jefferson
We now have nearly two generations of Americans increasingly comfortable with redacting, in effect if not in fact, portions of the Constitution with which they take issue. This is exemplified in a recent letter to the AJC in which the author states: "No matter what [...] the Supreme Court say...", followed by the writer's conclusion that not only were the Founding Fathers flawed in their thinking, but the framework they established for our governance and the current Supreme Court are equally flawed.

He and others like him play fast and loose with Constitutional interpretation as it suits their needs, yet are unwilling to argue their position within the context of that very Constitution by seeking remedy in the amendment process. History will judge this hubris harshly. Those now turning their backs on our Constitutional liberties and the rights that maintain them not only dishonor our Founding Fathers but are condemning the United States to death by a thousand cuts, and by their actions all those who have died will have died in vain.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Gandering Goose

In a recent edition of the Dunwoody Fan Magazine, a state representative pontificates on the matter of a "City of DeKalb", suggesting that all the presented reasons favoring a unified city/county government are not only borne of faulty logic, but are, in essence, evil.

He points out, and rightly so, that by way of incorporation DeKalb would gain access to franchise fees, a clear grab for other people's money many of whom do not live in DeKalb, cannot vote in DeKalb, and gain none of the enormous benefits DeKalb will shower upon its residents with this ill gotten revenue.

And yet, he rather conveniently fails to point out that many of his own constituents tap into this equally ill gotten source of revenue without finding themselves in any moral quandary. In fact, the editor of the Dunwoody Fan Magazine, when it was pointed out that Dunwoody, screeching "Taxation w/o Representation" in its drive to cityhood, might not be on firm moral ground in adding a new tax against non-citizens, replied with "it has been in the plan all along and we cannot afford the city without it." Even more astounding is that this arrogant self-righteousness, a fine quality in the City of Dunwoody, is magically transformed into a heinous evil once outside the city limits.

Perhaps arrogance and self-righteousness simply don't travel well as well to Decatur as to the State House.

But our representative's bashing of the Dark Overlord, DeKalb County, was not complete. Revealing the true reason behind his objection, that incorporation would prevent annexations by Dunwoody, Doraville and Chamblee, he presented a fairly uncompelling case of "this land is our land, this land's not your land", harking back to a day when other, real live human beings were things to be owned and bargained for---mere property to be acquired and collected.

North DeKalb and its newest city have yet to pass the smell test, and they seem little concerned about their neighbors downwind. Were they, as individuals and collectively, to have an "ethical epiphany" they should work towards:
  1. a system whereby all utilities paying any city any franchise fees, would collect those fees only from the residents and businesses within that city's limits; and
  2. the free association of any residents in unincorporated areas to form, as they themselves have,  their own city, be it the City of DeKalb, some new independent city, or to join with a neighboring community.
Do these ideas originate from and are they supported our local statesman? Hardly. In fact he intends to use the DeKalb delegation to deny citizens of unincorporated DeKalb the opportunity to form their own city, though when that same delegation sought to block the City of Dunwoody, that was considered wrong.

Isn't it amazing? Where Dunwoody is involved what's good for the goose is almost never what's good for the gander.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Some Things Never Change

"How to Make a STRIKING SUNDIAL, by which not only a Man's own Family, but all his Neighbors for ten Miles round, may know what a Clock it is, when the Sun shines, without seeing the dial."

Choose an open Place in your Yard or Garden, on which the Sun may shine all Day without any Impediment from Trees or Buildings. On the Ground mark out your Hour Lines, as for a horizontal Dial, according to Art, taking Room enough for the Guns.

On the Line for One o'Clock, place one Gun; on the Two o'Clock Line two Guns, and so of the rest.  The Guns must all be charged with Powder, but Ball is unnecessary.  Your Gnomon or Style must have twelve burning Glasses annex'd to it, and be so placed as that the Sun shining through the Glasses, one after the other, shall cause the Focus or burning Spot to fall on the Hour Line of One, for Example, at one a Clock, and there kindle a Train of Gunpowder that shall fire one Gun.  At Two a Clock, a Focus shall fall on the Hour Line of Two, and kindle another Train that shall discharge two Guns successively, and so of the rest.

Note, There must be 78 Guns in all.  Thirty-two Pounders will be best for this use; but 18 Pounders may do, and will cost less, as well as use less Powder, for nine Pounds of Powder will do for one Charge of each eighteen Pounder, whereas the Thirty-two Pounders would require for each Gun 16 Pounds.

Note also, That the chief Expence will be the Powder, for the Cannon once bought, will, with Care, last 100 Years.

Note moreover, That there will be a great Saving of Powder in cloudy Days.

Kind Reader, Methinks I hear thee say, "That it is indeed a good Thing to know how the Time passes, but this Kind of Dial, notwithstanding the mentioned Savings, would be very expensive; and the Cost greater than the Advantage."  Thou art wise, my Friend, to be so considerate beforehand; some Fools would not have found out so much, till they had made the Dial and try'd it ... Let all such learn that many a private and many a publick Project, are like this "Striking Dial," great Cost for little Profit.
B. Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack for 1757

Monday, February 8, 2010

Dunwoody Gets Cobblestone Streets

You may be wondering why, over a year into official citydom, no road work has been done. Not even the former Dark Overlord's works-in-progress have, well, progressed. Turns out, that's because you don't know "work" when you see it.

Refusing an interview, a City "payrollee" described what he called a "radical innovation" in road maintenance gleaned from a peculiar and serendipitous series of events.

Apparently a council-person was reading their grandchild a bedtime story about Ole Virginie, from whence they hail. Skipping the chapter about how the poorest settlers were forced to raise smelly, noisy chickens to survive, this dotty doting grandparent leapt ahead to the "History of Beige". But a sad combination of chocolate and soft drinks held at bay the hypersomnia this story so often induces, forcing the storyteller to advance to a heretofore unread chapter: "Williamsburg and Cobblestones". A riveting tale that inspired that city leader to conclude:
Dunwoody's Williamsburg makeover will not be complete until all our streets are cobbled. 
This city founder, no stranger to politics, knew just who to call upon for guidance: the Mayor of Bug Tussle Alabama, a brother-in-law, former cousin and friend none-the-less.  It was all but certain that Bug Tussle held interesting parallels from which Dunwoody could learn, discovering how to advance it's roadways into the 18th century.

As many already know, Bug Tussle is virtually identical to Dunwoody, only in a different state. And it doesn't have a major retail and business center like Perimeter. And they didn't adopt "beige" as the city color, prefering the weathered, unpainted barn look. And their farmhouses are still on farms. We'll also have to ignore the inconvenient fact that they actually have the iconic southern small city downtown. And then there's that trailer thing they got backwards: none at the schools and some folks actually live in them. Other than that, Bug Tussle and Dunwoody are two peas in a pod.

And as expected, the Mayor of Bug Tussle was well versed in all matters cobble. Their fair city had tried road surfaces of sand (too small to be proper cobble), then gravel (better but not quite there), then, like all too many others, they were seduced by asphalt. While smooth, easily installed and fairly durable, it simply would not maintain itself.

Or so they thought.

By way of significant, unintentional delays in the care and feeding of their asphalt roads (they had to pay for pensions first), Bug Tusslers found that car and truck traffic, in combination with weather, renders asphalt into "chunks". Chunks virtually identical in size and shape to cobblestones. As it happens, neglect is the philosopher's stone of asphalt. Now Bug Tussle has cobblestone streets that are the envy of many--especially the powers that be in Dunwoody.

Clearly the City of Dunwoody, smart folks that they are, intend to emulate the Bug Tussle Miracle. What else can explain the condition of Chamblee Dunwoody in the Village, or Ashford Center Parkway? These roads alone are proof positive that the Dunwoody plan to cobble our streets is well into the execution phase.

"Not so fast!", you think. Certainly this plan is not well received throughout the community. 

Au Contraire, Mon Frère!

After refusing to be quoted, Sue "Green Jean" Steinibel, LEEDer of the local Left Wing Nut Tree Huggers said:
"I'm all for it. It reduces both the number of cars and the speed of those venturing onto these streets."
What about other traffic calming measures?
"Well I can see how some might like that, and I for one am impressed as this is clearly a zero carbon solution, but I've not found Dunwoody that receptive to, shall we say, 'out-there' ideas."
"Anyway, the City's approach has other benefits. It turns an impermeable surface into a virtual drywell. I'd have to say it's the next best thing to no road at all. And if it hadn't been for the county, we'd already have the kind of roads we deserve, the kind of roads our City leaders are finally giving us."
As expected, no one at the Police Department would speak on the record, but someone "in the know" represented the mood of the department with:
"What do we care? We're getting an APC and a SWAT team. And when we get the Narc Squad, we're talking no-knock warrants. We can go wherever the hell we want and do whatever the hell we want."
"And who's gonna stop us? Some pasty faced voter in a Hummer carrying a SEMI-automatic pistol? A couple of three round bursts from our AR-15s and that ``poser'' Hummer is gettin' towed right back to Obama General Motors."
The same general "citizen friendly" attitude prevails at the City's Public Works Department:
"Look, we have pensions to fund and those defined benefits programs cost money. Big money. But I guarantee, if Bug Tussle can pull it off then so can Dunwoody. No way are the folks in Bug Tussle one whit dumber than Dunwoody. After all, there is a reason folks at City Hall call it Dumbwoody. Plus we got the whole Williamsburg-Cobblestone thing going for us."
But what about the fact that the City gets a big chunk of money the County never did and you still canno...
"Can you not hear the words coming out of my mouth? Get with it: pensions first! After that I really don't care because I'm retiring--early, thank you very much--and moving to a gated golf community in Florida where the only driving hazard is on the fairway. And you wanna know how much time I'll be spending worrying about pavement in Dunwoody?"
Well, it could hardly be any less.

So there you have it. It looks as if Dunwoody will leapfrog Bug Tussle on the list of "Places to be From".