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Overhead in Seattle

That title could be a misnomer. It’s not really overheard when one person is screaming loudly enough to be heard for blocks. Still I was fortunate enough to witness a man loudly breaking up with his girlfriend after he caught her walking down the street holding hands with her ex-boyfriend. Somewhat shockingly the girl was trying to keep him around, saying that it wasn’t what it looked like. Amusingly, the guy asked if it was what it looked like that other time when he saw them kissing. Relationships can be a confusing thing, no doubt about it, but that this one ever existed for a minute is mind-boggling.

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An Obama Nation?

The media and blogosphere is a-twitter with the latest Swift Book campaign by the uber-right. This one, a delight play on words that is supposed to align with abomination. Historically, discourse in politics has never been at a high level, and every generation feels that theirs is when things start to get break down. I’d like to take another spin on this topic, why can’t this be the generation and time when there is a focus on straight talk? Is there a reason why one side of the mouth urges bipartisan cooperation and the other side repeats vapid characterizations and falsehoods of the other partisan’s lies? The reason why there likely won’t be a generation like that for some time is that such campaigning works. John Kerry showed the danger in trying to take the high road with a campaign. Despite an enormously unpopular opponent, he managed to lose by more than the margin in the previous (disputed) election.

Oh, and you wonder about the high level of discourse in the book in question? This is one of my favorite claims, aside from the talk of the apocalypse, secret Muslim (GASP) ties, and of course is the antichrist (no, sadly I’m serious). Perhaps the best quote is: “Obama wants to will all the white blood out of himself so he can become pure black.”

Until there’s evidence that repetitive slander doesn’t bias opinion this will be the way of the world. Personally I doubt humanity is up for it. If Putin is the most popular guy in Russia and the Chinese government has no problems putting up a firewall there’s no real reason to expect much better in this country.

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Seattle, land of coffee, or is it?

I’ve finally arrived and started going through the boxes in my new Seattle apartment. I love the easy access to great coffee, I’m literally surrounded by coffee shops, at least during the day. One hitch I discovered on my way home last night to go through some more boxes is that coffee shops actually close. In addition to a Rite Aid that closes at 9 pm (unfathomable), there is no actual cafe open that serves coffee at night. Woe is you who wants a latte after sundown, at least in Belltown.

Thus, I thereby conclude that Seattle’s reputation as a town for great coffee is only partly deserved. After all, if I can’t get coffee at 9 pm, it doesn’t quite matter that the coffee is fantastic at 6 am. While I am tempted to continue my rant into the area of stereotypes and reputation, I will save that for another time. I’m off to get an Americano before they shut the town down on me.

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Going Pacific

Time that is. I am now a resident of that western time zone, and officially changed the clocks over to say it. Of course when I did that I noticed that all my calendar appointments in Outlook were suddenly screwy. Since when is a birthday from 2 a.m. to 2 a.m.? Thankfully my new employer has provided a tool to fix things up in Outlook when you switch time zones. There’s an even a free little app to display the time in multiple areas, although that’s of somewhat dubious value. The whole thing would be unnecessary if Outlook had better support for all day appointments (note that is a day, not a time) and time zones.

Anyway, all that might be slight off topic, but I for one am I excited to watch a full day of football and still have most of the day left.

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I Shall Return

My recent tour of Colorado and whirlwind drive through Utah has me convinced that I will return. Not just because of the incredible amount of fun enjoyed in Colorado, or the parks I drove past in Utah, but because of a magnetic draw back. That’s right, I forgot to buy magnets in Colorado and Utah. There’s something of a family tradition that a tacky magnet must be purchased to commemorate visiting a US state or foreign country for the first time. Only the first Sabow to step into such lands can make such a purchase, thus I am taking a serious risk that someone else will get to Utah before I go back. While problematic to forget to stop off at a tourist trap’s gas station’s magnet display, in a way it expresses a karmic promise to return. And I shall…

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Terrorists and the housing crash

While cruising along I-90W I found myself at a moment when my playlist was over and I shifted over to the radio. This is usually a nice thing as I can grab some NPR, some local flavor, or get a burst of energy by becoming angered at conservative talk or religious right ranting. One note of caution is that you may have the desire to ram your car into a cement post to end it all.

Anyway, I’m hearing what I think is a business report, and then I realize that it’s a radio preacher explaining why it is the duty of good Christians to support the housing bailout as an essential part of the war on terror (oh, and part of the fight against usury, too). The preacher then goes on to explain that housing collapsed after the terrible attacks of September the eleventh, two thousand and one (he pronounced it so slowly that it ought to be spelled out). Without examining his facts (which are wrong), or his theological argument (which I don’t care about), I’m more interested in the incentives.

Incentives, both positive and negative, are powerful. While this action might have been a necessary delaying action for the American economy, by refusing to allow failure to occur then we increase risk-taking behavior beyond what the free market would otherwise bear. What we need to recognize is that these markets were not, are not, and will not be free in the typical sense that any economist would use the word. While our preacher friend talked about correcting the market that the terrorists had unfairly damaged (to do otherwise would to let them win!), what he really is arguing for (besides his McMansion or vacation McMansion that is probably underwater in an ARM) is that we should prioritize today. Not thinking about consequences appears to be a time-honored tradition in this country (and in human nature), having incentives to restore that balance might not be a bad thing.

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Golly green

What would you do when you are stricken with despair at having missed the chance to see the Spam Museum and you see a sign inviting you to see a 60′ tall green giant?

The answer is obvious, follow the directions.

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He sure is big and green.

If you’re interested in the places where the Volvo and I have been, check out the the map of the past (above), present (a lovely motel not good enough for roaches) and future (Seattle).

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It’s been a long time…

What once was (and shall remain hidden in the depths of the Wayback machine), now is back again. I’m off to drive across the badlands, the pantheon of our presidents, the glorious home of the Denver Broncos, through a field of salt and wind up in Seattle. Should be a fun trip, and what better way to start writing than to get on the road?

I hope everyone reads and argues here, just remember, “you’re going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.”

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