Hella Bus Blog
Your place for all things Buslandia!
- Small, Small Government. The committee responsible for coming up with a solution will be comprised of only 12 members of Congress: 3 democratic Senators chosen by the Majority Leader and 3 Republican Senators chosen by the Minority Leader; 3 Democratic Representatives chosen by the Minority Leader and 3 Republican Representatives chosen by the Speaker of the House.
- Up or Down. Once the committee has their recommendations in place, the proposed legislation will be brought to the Senate and House. Congress will then give the legislation a strict up or down vote; no amendments or filibusters will be allowed.
- Failure Hopefully Will Not Be an Option. If the Joint Select Committee does not come up with a compromise by January 15, huge budget cuts will automatically go into effect, taking funding away from both defense and domestic spending.
A good idea for your tomorrow evening:
There has been much ado about the supposed "war on cars" raging in Seattle, but leave it to Lithuania (who else?)* to put things in perspective.
This video of the Mayor of Vilnius crushing luxury vehicles with a tank for parking in bike lanes makes the description of our own pro-transit "war" look a little hyperbolic.
Observe a real war on cars:
Another guy attempted a similar feat in New York City , but with significantly less firepower and a far different result:
*They beat us at everything!
-courtesy of summer fellow Rosalie "Queen of Cupcakes" Wilmot
The Bus is well-oiled and ready for our up-coming Bus trip to Yakima after an impromptu trip to Tacoma for the 25th annual Ethnic Fest last Saturday. Volunteers and summer fellows were greeted by Mayor Marilyn Strickland and council member Ryan Mellow in the lush Wright Park for a conversation about the city’s bright future. The afternoon weather warmed up as families joined us to pledge to vote in the upcoming primary elections August 16.
On Sunday, we visited Pista Sa Nayon in the heart of Seward Park, which made us smile with bubble teas and live performances. The Bus got cozy with the UW’s Filipino American Student Association Booth, where voter registration forms were also available. Meanwhile, at Seattle Center, yet another group of fellows joined the festivities of Hispanic Seafair.
If you want to get in on some delectable democracy, don't forget to sign up to travel with the Washington Bus to Yakima. Visit our Facebook event page (http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=132730403480406) for details!
Filmmaker Ken Burns, famous for his sweeping, informative, really really long documentaries that chronicle various aspects of the American Historical character, recently came to Seattle to promote his newest project: Prohibition. After showing a brief (in Ken Burns time, fifteen minutes is brief) clip from the film, Burns joined in a panel talk with co-director Lynn Novick, author Daniel Okrent, and Seattle Times editorial writer Ryan Blethen. I caught up with Ken Burns as he was walking to a small round-table discussion among members of the audience. We talked briefly about the impact of Prohibition, what history means as we look toward the future, and the importance of being well-informed in today’s political society.
(A staff member tells us we must get moving)
Sam Heft-Luthy: We’ll walk and talk.
Ken Burns: Unfortunately, I come from the Great State of Michigan, where Gerald Ford was not able to do those things at the same time.
(We walk slowly, lagging behind the rest of the group.)
SHL: Why Prohibition? What sort of lessons do you hope the story can teach?
KB: This is an amazing story, one that resonates with today’s themes, and I hope people will just see the ways in which history is a great teacher. [In the round table discussion, Burns elaborated on the historical lessons of Prohibition: that it solidified the sentiment that the Constitution should not be drastically altered, that major public outpouring can produce major political results, and that its failure proved that human appetites can not be easily restricted by laws.]
SHL: What was the most surprising aspect of the story that you learned in your research?
KB: The whole point is that we’re not telling you what you should know, we’re trying to discover ourselves through a subject – so every day we discover amazing things. If I had to pick one, I would say the story of a bootlegger in Seattle named Roy Olmstead who was on the police force and became a bootlegger. It’s an incredible story, but just one of hundreds of stories that we got involved in [during our research].
SHL: What do you feel is the most dangerous trend or aspect of American political society today?
KB: Intolerance. The willingness to get your information only from a source that ratifies your own increasingly myopic views.
SHL: What do you feel is the most encouraging aspect of American society?
KB: The democratization of just about everything, that it’s hard to get away with stuff.
SHL: What is your research process like once you settle on a topic?
KB: Intensive, comprehensive, and never stopping. Most documentary films have an early research period, after which you stop researching and write a script. That becomes the template for not only shooting but editing as well, then boom, done. We on the other hand [Burns and Novick’s production company] have never stopped researching. That, I think, is the key.
-courtesy of summer fellow David "Theosophy" Reyes
Graphic novels. They've been surging back into popular culture through film and television adaptations and it seems like everyone is dipping their toes into the graphic novel pool. Trying to enter the world of graphic novels, but don’t know where to start? Here a few graphic novels from some of the major publishers out there.
Chew (Image Comics)
Do you fear a hyper-monitored food industry in the near future? Do you love crime fiction with a hint of Kafkaesque absurdity? If yes, then Chew is the graphic novel for you. Chew follows the life of Tony Chu, a detective for the FDA who solves crimes through psychic trances provoked from eating organic material. Follow Chu as he chews his way to the truth.
Daytripper (Vertigo Comics)
What experiences will define your life? Friends, family, love and death? The tandem of Fabio Moon & Gabriel Ba displays the life of Bras de Olivia Domingos with its successes, failures and moments of indifference, all in a Groundhog Day game theory narrative style. If there is one graphic novel in your life you should read, it is this one.
A People’s History of American Empire (Metropolitan Books)
Which peoples did the giants we currently stand on crush in order to achieve greatness? Howard Zinn asks this question and many others in his scathing critique of America’s dark history in the graphic novel convert, A People’s History of American Empire. This graphic novel provides a comprehensive picture of the history of American Empire, complete with corresponding images.
In the aftermath of Sunday's debt-ceiling raising "Deal That Saved America's Bank Account", one provision has many Americans scratching their heads. Known as "Supercongress", it is the mysterious body who will be determining the best way to cut $1.5 trillion from the Federal defecit.
Why is it called Supercongress? Well, it's technically called the "Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction", but the reason so many media outlets have dubbed it "Super" is because it will give the legislators involved in it immense power to dictate America's future course - with little accountability. You can read the full text of Supercongress' origin story, but there are three parts of the story that are key here.
So, in summary, the "Supercongress" removes the crux of the decision from the elected legislative bodies, and places the power in the hands of only a few members of Congress. Furthermore, since the appointment to the committee is decided by the House and Senate leadership, members can be chosen who do not live in contested districts; i.e, Congresspeople who will be reelected basically no matter what and have no incentive to make decisions that represent a politically balanced constituency. This could be pretty dangerous, folks.
-courtesy of summer fellow Jordan "Ain't I a Woman" Alam
Candidates, VoteBots, and boxing – oh my! This Wednesday, The Washington Bus put on a candidate forum at Neumos that shook Capitol Hill to its core. 500 people crowded into Neumos to watch hear a healthy dose of policy positions and see the unbelievable talents of all thirteen Seattle city council candidates as well. Here’s a play by play:
The lights dimmed and the music faded as the thirteen candidates came out in true fighting spirit
– wearing signature bathrobes and boxing gloves, they recited introductory haikus with a fiery
passion. Well, all except for Bruce Harrell, whose oiled cardboard cutout and personal assistant
stood in for him until his arrival later on.
Then commenced the question-and-answer lightening round, when candidates sprinted across the stage to answer “yes” or “no” to such burning questions as "Do you support gay marriage?" (all candidates said yes), "Do you support the legalization and regulation of marijuana?" (all candidates said yes), and “Have you ever skinny dipped in Lake Washington?” (Jean Godden, you rascal, you). With VoteBots manning the signage, the candidates then gave a grade A through F of several different aspects of our city, including Mike McGinn’s performance as mayor and Seattle's fashion sense.
Next, candidates answered tough policy questions from the Bus's unstoppable panel of local celebrities before performing a talent for the audience. And now, a brief summary of talents:
Bout 1: Dale Pusey, looking sharp in his bathrobe, performed a gospel tune accompanied by a guitar player dressed as a banana to complete with Tom Rasmussen’s cruise-appropriate dance moves. Via text-message vote, Tom Rasmussen took home the belt to a steady roar of cheers.
Bout 2: Many a Top 40 cover was performed, including a version of a Lady Gaga song in
Japanese by Brad Meacham. Meacham was up to bat against Bruce Harrell, who performed a
speech from The Godfather, albeit not as succinctly as he should have – his two minutes were
buzzed after just the opening lines.
Bout 3: Yet another song and dance routine – David Schraer sang a ballad to the audience, while Tim
Burgess broke loose with a rap game no one could have expected from him. Needless to say, the audience-engaging Tim Burgess took home the belt.
Bout 4: Ah, poetry. Sweet to the ear and tickling to the mind. Unfortunately, Dian Ferguson’s
poetry reading in this bout just could not match up to Sally Clark’s swan-folding out of foil and
leftovers, leaving Dian behind in this championship fight.
Bout 5: The granddaddy of them all: Bobby Forch stepped out of the gate strong by serving up
some cookies to the audience, followed by Maurice Classen, who ducked a basketball in a kiddie hoop. Michael Taylor-Judd left the crowd in stitches with an e-Harmony spoof. And, in possibly the most surreal moment of the night, Jean Godden explained to the rules and regulations of sexting. Yes, you read that right - sexting. Taylor-Judd and Forch tied for winner in this epic final bout.
And then the room exploded into candy and applause. Until the next star-studded Seattle City Council election, good night and good luck.
Scenario: Your ballot is on your living room table, looming menacingly. The array of heated primary races, referendi (plural), and antiquated language has you in a tizzy.
Well worry not! The good people at Seattle Works have an evening prepared that shall ease your worries with a stiff drink and a warm democratic embrace. That is: a toast to the primary!.
They'll be convening after the CityClub's forum about the Alaskan Way Viaduct (which you may want to attend ahead of time), alongside the panelists from the forum and city council candidates at Fado, downtown. More info and RSVP here.
A recent major study claims that a decline in Union membership over the past few decades is partially responsible for rising gaps in hourly wages among almost all demographics. The study, authored by two professors from Harvard and the University of Washington, emphasizes the job of unions as an equalizer in the workforce.
Between 1973 and 2007, union membership among men decreased fourfold, while membership among women decreased by a factor of three; during the same period, wage inequality increased by 40-50%. The study says that the union decline was responsible for between 1/5 and 1/3 of this rise.
“Most researchers studying wage inequality have focused on the effects of educational stratification—pay differences based on level of education—and have generally under-emphasized the impact of unions,” says Harvard professor Bruce Western.
The decline of union membership was found to be responsible for wage inequalities even among employees who are not unionized, as unions tend to drive overall wages up as a result of market competition.
The study seems to confirm common sense; giving employees more bargaining power leads to better wages and benefits, helping to narrow the gap between workers and their employers . So let's take a second to silently (or loudly) celebrate the unions that are still kicking today.
The Washington Bus is unstoppable force, we have taken on Capitol Hill Block Party, Candidate Survivor, and all manner of Seattle Events with our Pledge To Vote campaign. Whats next? Doesn't matter cause the Bus is unstoppable. This video is proof.
The week was oh-so busy in Bus world, and the weekend was oh-so sunny. Which means it's time to sit back, relax, and think about a light, airy, and, yes, stretchable and breathable subject.* Specifically, spandex. And bike gear in general.
On a scale of one to who-needs-it, Dansportation falls firmly on the who-needs-it end of the spectrum.
Bike gear makes biking less accessible and more elitist. It's also just plain not necessary for most people. It might even hurt the biking cause.
On Bike to Work day, I was perplexed to see a comment (allll the way back in May--this has stuck with me) remarking on the number of bikers in "normal clothes" on the street. I believe the (admittedly, well intentioned) thought behind the comment was that riders in their everyday clothes are biking noobs. Surely, serious bikers, people who bike every day all wear spandex! But really, jeans do just fine for commuting. Extra gear just adds extra expense. And it fosters an elitist, in-crowd attitude around biking.
We are privileged to live in a time when the cheaper, cleaner and healthier transportation option is, dare I say it, cool. And the cooler something gets, the more people who'll do it (this concept may sound familiar to those involved with the WA Bus). Cycling is busting into the mainstream, and wearing your everyday styles, and just plain looking good while biking is a big part of that. And, on the real, even if that d-bag hipster's fixy is just a fashion accessory, at least he's biking.
Here's the larger point in liberating cycling from the spandex subculture, eloquently stated by the godfathers of cycle chic over in Copenhagen--"When Citizen Cyclists are allowed to take to the bicycle without worrying about 'fitting in' with the fancy bikes, expensive clothes, gear and helmets of a cycling sub-culture, mainstream bicycle culture is provided with fertile soil."
We've know for a minute now that more cyclists on the road increase cycling safety --a cycling safety snowball effect. The safer it is, the more people who'll ride, which makes it even safer, etc, ad nauseum (hopefully!).
Maybe we'll see a cycle chic snowball effect too?
*Although, I'd be remiss if I didn't remind you that there are serious transpo issues out there too--the county council has put off a vote on the $20 license fee to save metro until August 15. Which brings me to my next brilliant idea--bus chic to save King County Metro?
The future, it drifts tantalizingly before us like a Krispy Kreme at the end of a mammoth Red Vine soaked in log cabin syrup. It looks enticing, but you know that taking on the whole thing by yourself will give you a stomach ache. That's why the Seattle Department of Planning and Development wants to hear all y'alls voices when it comes to planning the next 20 years of Seattle development. To get the ball rolling, they've got a survey asking for your ideas on how to move the city forward. Take a peek and throw down some wisdom. Increasing urban density? More low-income housing? Personalized gold-encrusted gondolas? Let the folks making it happen know what you want to see.
-courtesy of summer fellow Alec "Fridge Mover to the Stars" Stannard
Culture is life and politics is the dialogue.
Politics needs effective communication - to put it simply, what we say matters. And as progressives, it's important that we study concepts to help us better understand our positions and better explain ourselves.
At the Bus, we often ask, “How can take the facts of people's everyday lives and talk about them in a meaningful way?” Well, it turns out that there is a field of study devoted to answering these questions. Cognitive linguistics seeks to understand and explain the use of language for expressing worldviews. Today one of the leading cognitive linguists is Professor George Lakoff of UC Berkley, who focuses especially on the metaphors our country uses to discuss politics.
Professor Lakeoff has written several books, including New York Times Best Seller The Political Mind. To learn more about him and his field studies, you can check out his website at http://georgelakoff.com. He may change the way you think about your own brain.