Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Google to the Broadband Rescue?

Posted By on Wed, Feb 10, 2010 at 10:54 AM

Today on the official Google blog , the company announced plans "to build and test ultra high-speed broadband networks in a small number of trial locations across the United States." Two obvious questions:

1) How fast is "ultra high-speed"?

2) How many babies must we sacrifice to participate?

Google says their network will deliver speeds more than 100 times faster than what most Americans currently experience -- over a gigabit per second. That's fast enough to download a high-definition, full-length movie in less than five minutes or stream live video in 3-D.

Can we be their guinea pigs (oh please oh please)? Maybe. Google is seeking feedback from interested state, county and city officials before deciding where to test these fiber-to-home connections. They'll even allow plebes like us to have a say .

We don't know what the company's criteria might be, but the survey linked above encourages the submission of YouTube videos and other creative doodads. I don't need to remind you of our local fiber woes . If you want to get aboard the Google speed train, spread the word.

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Monday, February 8, 2010

Goddamn! Another Lawyer/Plagiarist!

Posted By on Mon, Feb 8, 2010 at 5:12 PM

Goddamn! Another Lawyer/Plagiarist!: We have long been fascinated with the topic of attorneys thieving the words of others for use in the public presses, and have a pet theory that something in the professional culture encourages or at least enables such theft. Now Jack Shafer convicts another barrister turned "investigative reporter" -- Gerald Posner of The Daily Beast.

Help us out, now -- is G. Posner at all related to the far more prolific Richard Posner, federal appellate judge and speed typist
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Delta Bails

Posted By on Mon, Feb 8, 2010 at 3:14 PM

Delta Airlines is giving up on the Arcata-Eureka airport. A press release from the Humboldt County Department of Public Works this afternoon announced the bad news.

The Atlanta-based carrier started twice-daily regional service from here to Salt Lake City, Utah, just 15 months ago. They were enticed here via a concerted effort from the Redwood Region Economic Development Commission -- an effort that included $500,000 in Headwaters Fund-backed revenue guarantees for the first year of service as well as several hundred thousand dollars worth of pre-purchased travel from local businesses.

Delta ultimately lost money during its first year of service, and so the $500,000 in Headwaters Fund money essentially disappeared. "Well, that depends on how you look at it," said RREDC Executive Director Gregg Foster. "Either it disappeared or it got us 15 months of service."

Foster attributed Delta's decision to structural changes at Delta and to the fact that "they just don't get the local market here." In June of last year, citing the slow economy, Delta half-bailed on us, announcing it would suspend service during the fall and winter.

Now they're gone completely and indefinitely. Foster said Delta officials ignored advice on how to make the most of our local market, instead focusing only on the red ink on the bottom line. Delta did ask for local airport officials to continue providing them with passenger data and other market info, but I wouldn't suggest holding your breath.

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Ballon Track: It's On

Posted By on Mon, Feb 8, 2010 at 2:09 PM

The sound of one big-ass shoe dropping...

PLF sues Coastal Commission for blocking cleanup of contaminated Balloon Track property

PLF attorneys represent organization of Eureka citizens promoting environmental cleanup and protection

WHAT: Press conference announcing PLF's lawsuit against the California Coastal Commission for blocking plans to clean up the Balloon Track property along Humboldt Bay near downtown Eureka, a former railroad facility that is contaminated from years of industrial use. The lawsuit contends that the Coastal Commission has no legal authority to interfere in the matter, because the cleaup plan has been approved by the regional water quality control board (the Eureka City Council has also approved). In the lawsuit, PLF attorneys represent Citizens for a Better Eureka, an organization of a cross-section of Eureka residents, formed to promote environmental protection.

WHO: PLF attorney Damien Schiff, lead attorney in PLF's lawsuit against the California Coastal Commission. Gary E. Bird, president of Citizens for a Better Eureka (the organization represented by PLF attorneys in this lawsuit), and other members of Citizens for a Better Eureka, an association of environmentally concerned local citizens.

WHERE: 34 Waterfront Dr., Eureka (near the corner of Commercial and Waterfront; adjacent to former Go Fish building).

WHEN: Tuesday, February 9, 2010, 11:00 a.m.

About Pacific Legal Foundation
PLF (www.pacificlegal.org) is the nation's leading litigator for limited government, property rights, and a balanced approach to environmental regulations. For three decades, PLF has litigated successfully against abuses of power by the Coastal Commission, at all levels of the judiciary, including the landmark U.S. Supreme Court property rights victory, Nollan v. California Coastal Commission (1987). Watch a video about PLF's history and mission, with comments by former U.S. Attorney General Edwin J. Meese II, and a description of the Nollan case: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnBSlRQwxKU.

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Saturday, February 6, 2010

Separated At Birth?

Posted By on Sat, Feb 6, 2010 at 8:43 PM

Graciously leaping into action after seeing our crappy stock photo of Paul Hagen earlier in the day, the candidate's campaign team sent us a copy of their man's official portrait.

Thanks, guys. But we gotta say, we can't for the life of us understand what it is you're trying to accomplish, here.

Tom Hagen

Paul Hagen

hagenhagen.jpg

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Paul Hagen Announces

Posted By on Sat, Feb 6, 2010 at 4:52 PM

paulhagen.jpg

Crappy photo of DA candidate Paul Hagen, taken with an iPhone at last month's EyeBall.

Worst-kept secret finally revealed: Former environmental prosecutor Paul Hagen announced today that he will stand for Humboldt County District Attorney in the June election. Hagen joins (announced candidate) Kathleen Bryson and (unannounced but highly probable candidates) Allison Jackson and incumbent Paul Gallegos in what will be 2010's second-hardest-fought race.

tom_hagen.jpg

Just to call dibsies on the joke, we will say that Hagen is unrelated to Corleone consigliere Tom Hagen (right).

Press release after the jump.

HAGEN ANNOUNCES BID FOR DISTRICT ATTORNEY

Local attorney Paul Hagen has announced his candidacy for Humboldt County District Attorney.

“The job of the District Attorney is to protect the community and ensure public safety by delivering justice,” said Hagen. “Humboldt County deserves a capable and competent District Attorney and that is what I offer.”

Hagen served as a Deputy District Attorney in Humboldt, Del Norte, Mendocino, and Lake counties for more than eleven years, and is now in private practice. He served as a circuit prosecutor in three of those counties simultaneously, where he established and led a multi-agency task force in each county, investigating and successfully prosecuting public health and safety violations and crimes against the environment.

“I have a track record of delivering effective, even-handed justice, whether prosecuting small-time violators or major multinational corporations,” he explained.

Hagen has worked under seven different District Attorneys and believes that his broad experience will serve him well as Humboldt County DA.

“I know how a well-run DA’s office is supposed to operate,” he said. “The DA must listen carefully to the people, be accountable at all times, and exercise professionalism and sound judgment at every turn.”

Hagen emphasizes a common-sense approach to prosecuting crimes that threaten the safety, security and liberty of people in communities throughout Humboldt County.

“Violent crimes are not being properly addressed and that must change,” he said. “Plea bargains have their appropriate place in the legal system, but the plea must be relevant and proportionate to the crime.  A plea bargain should only be used as a shortcut to a just outcome, not an end-run around it.”

“Victims of crime and their families must be treated with greater respect and compassion,” he added.
 

Hagen, who received his law degree from Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, has lived in Arcata since 1999 with Janet, his wife of 25 years.  They have two daughters.

Hagen has organized and presented a series of State Bar conferences on environmental and land use law.  He also has extensive experience teaching law at universities and seminars, volunteers his time as a mentor for the Humboldt Teen Court, and is a graduate of the Cascadia Center for Leadership.

He currently serves on the Arcata Planning Commission, on the Humboldt Working Group of the PG&E WaveConnect project, and is a member of the Eureka Rotary Club. In his free time, he is an avid open-water swimmer and triathlete.

Hagen believes that political campaigns should be about the community’s common future and are the highest expression of the will of the people in a self-governed society.

“I’m looking forward to a positive campaign based on values, vision and the ability to lead,” he said.

 

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Friday, February 5, 2010

Mavericks Brand Clothing

Posted By on Fri, Feb 5, 2010 at 9:37 AM

NCJ alums Japhet and Yulia Weeks report on a new surf-related clothing venture for the Wall Street Journal :

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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Another Shaker

Posted By on Thu, Feb 4, 2010 at 12:49 PM

ShakeMap Initial reports scored it a magnitude 5.4. It has since been upgraded to a 6.0, though as the map above [ source ] states, the data has yet to be reviewed by human. [Update: It was dowgraded ever so slightly to a 5.9.]

This map suggests the temblor occurred along the Mendocino fault zone. The USGS recorded it at a depth of 6.8 miles. Lots more data here .

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Earthquake! 12:20 p.m.

Posted on Thu, Feb 4, 2010 at 12:26 PM

EARTHQUAKE

40.431,-124.929

 

  • 6.0 on the Richter.
  • 12:20 p.m.
  • 56 km (35 mi) WNW of Petrolia.

 

More info and updates at the USGS.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Convenient. Flexible. And, oh yeah, a total rip-off.

Posted By on Tue, Feb 2, 2010 at 12:04 PM

We warned you. And by now, you may have received the first sign of the banking industry's compulsion to treat you like you're: a.) stupid; b.) disposable; c.) stupid and disposable. 

Now look, we like the tellers at the local Chase branches. They're friendly, helpful, everything you could want when you're making a deposit or explaining that you accidentally left your card in the ATM again. In fact, some of us like them so much, we can't be swayed to change, no matter how much Huffington Post tells us we should.

But when the aforementioned sign arrived in our inbox under the subject, "A Change is Coming to Your Checking Account," we couldn't help but see red – as in, "in the red": 

Chase Debit Card Overdraft CoverageSM is a convenient feature that may give you a lot of flexibility in how you use your debit card. Soon, we can no longer provide it automatically.

Sounds scary, doesn't it? Oh, no! We're going to lose convenience? Flexibility? Gosh, what can we doooooooooo? Help us, Chase! 

Except, the fancy "overdraft coverage" terminology is just bank-speak for overdraft fees – something the banks have been ramping up in roughly the same proportion they've been lapping up taxpayer funds.

Fine print (bolding ours):

IMPORTANT DETAILS ABOUT CHASE CARD OVERDRAFT COVERAGE
• Beginning 8/15/10, we will not authorize and pay overdrafts for everyday debit card transactions without your approval.
• An insufficient funds fee of up to $35 each time may be imposed for covering overdrafts that result in a negative end of day balance. Overdrafts may be created by check, in-person withdrawal, debit card transaction or other electronic means. Effective 3/29/10 this fee will change to a maximum of $34.
• Each time your account is overdrawn for 5 or more consecutive business days, we will charge you up to an additional $15.

• Once an overdraft has occurred, you are obligated to bring your account to a positive balance promptly.
• Whether your overdraft will be paid is at Chase's discretion, and we reserve the right not to pay. For example, we typically do not pay overdrafts if your account is not in good standing, or you are not making regular deposits, or you have had excessive overdrafts.
• Debit card purchases that are set up to bill automatically (like a gym membership) may continue to be authorized at our discretion even if you do not sign up for Chase Debit Card Overdraft Coverage.

Hmmm. As noted, that "convenient, flexible, overdraft coverage" sounds an awful lot like the grossly unjust "insufficient funds fees" that provide banks with up to half their revenue at the customers' expense. 

Suggestion: Don't opt in to the scam. Use cash. It's just as convenient and flexible, you'll have a better sense of how much you're spending and you'll be helping the banks clean up their act – instead of just cleaning up.

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