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Saturday, September 30, 2006
 Agility World Championships 2006 
Kerie's sister Linda Mecklenburg and her Border Collie Stellar will be competing at the Agility World Championships to be held in Basel, Switzerland next week, Oct. 6-8, 2006. It's an amazing sight to see the dogs work their way through the weave poles and other sections of the agility course at lightning speeds.

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Thursday, September 28, 2006
Adventure Cycling has a blog on Interbike, the huge bike expo held each year in Las Vegas. One of the advancements mentioned is the new technology used in electric-assist bikes. I've never been fond of electric bikes, which seems to defeat the benefits of riding the most efficient machine on earth. However, for those who want an alternative to the automobile for those many short trips we all take, maybe these will be the wave of the future:
Electric-assist bikes are now a product whose time has come, thanks to improved battery technology and high gas prices. One of the industry leaders, Currie Technologies, advertises 23 to 30 miles of range -- enough to make a pretty practical errand/commuter bike.

Here's an article in the New York Times about electric bikes.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006
 Democrats changes in 2006 
Jeffrey Goldberg has written an excellent overview of the 2006 midterm elections in the New Yorker in their Letter from Washington: Central Casting: What is the Decomcrats' best way to win?. The basic contention is that Democrats need to appeal to more than just people like me, their liberal base. They need to demonstrate that they can empathize with the moderate majority and not let their differences hinder the propospects of defeating the Republicans this year.
“I’ll tell you this: if the election were held today, we would win,” Nancy Pelosi, the House Minority Leader, who represents San Francisco, told me earlier this month. Pelosi appeared excited by the prospect of one specific consequence of a Democratic victory: “We win in ’06, we get subpoena power.” Pelosi has said that the Democrats would reserve the right to investigate every aspect of the Bush Administration, including its rationale for the Iraq war.

Pelosi’s vision of a subpoena-filled 2007 appeals to her party’s most liberal supporters. But there is a worry that such a tack might alienate moderates, and that it would motivate otherwise dispirited Republicans to go to the polls. “You know, if you spend your whole day trying to catch the dog that bit you because all you want to do is kick him, you’re not going to win many friends,” Brian Schweitzer, the Democratic governor of Montana, told me.

This would be a surmountable problem for Democrats if liberals outnumbered conservatives. But the liberal base of the Democratic Party, even fully mustered for battle, is too small to carry a Democrat to the Presidency, or even to many of the Senate seats being contested in 2006. The math is unforgiving, according to Jonathan Cowan, the president of Third Way. “Exit polls consistently show that twenty-one per cent of Americans self-identify as liberal and about thirty-four per cent as conservative,” he said. “And a plurality, about forty-five per cent, self-identify as moderate. So this means that the Democrats have got to pull almost two-thirds of moderate voters to be the majority party.” A recent report by the political scientists Elaine Kamarck and Bill Galston argues that greater polarization in the electorate hurts Democrats, for a simple reason: one out of every three voters belongs to the base that in the past Karl Rove has so successfully mobilized; only one out of five belongs to Howard Dean’s.

“In 1976, Jimmy Carter eked out a victory with only 51 per cent of the moderate vote because he won nearly three in ten conservative voters,” Galston and Kamarck wrote. “In 2004, John Kerry won 54 per cent of the moderates and still lost by 3.5 points because he won a much smaller share of conservatives. With three conservatives for every two liberals, the sheer arithmetic truth is that in a polarized electorate effectively mobilized by both major parties, Democratic candidates must capture upwards of 60 per cent of the moderate vote—a target only Bill Clinton has reached in recent times—to win a national election.” Al Gore received the support of fifty-two per cent of self-identified moderates in his popular-vote victory over President Bush, in 2000, but eighty-one per cent of conservatives voted for Bush—“enough to carry Bush through in states Gore needed,” Third Way’s Matthew Bennett said.

Barack Obama is quoted extensively, and although he is much more moderate than I had thought, he seems to be the most intelligent, electable candidate for president in 2008.

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Monday, September 25, 2006
 Tysons Transportation Demand Management committee 
The Fairfax Chamber has a government affairs blog, PolicySoup, on which there is an entry regarding the Transportation Demand Management committee recently formed by the Tysons Land Use Task Force.

Arlington County has an excellent TDM policy [pdf] that was enacted in 1990 and requires bicycle parking and shower facilities in most new commercial developments.

An extenseive TDM report was prepared for the MetroWest development [pdf].

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Friday, September 15, 2006
 Music wish list 
Metheny/Mehldau is the latest CD from guitarist Pat Metheny who is teamed up with the excellent pianist Brad Mehldau. It is a spare recording and on first hearing (of the samples on Amazon) I wasn't sure if I liked it. The piano/guitar interactions seemed a little too spare, too forced, but on further listens the sound reminds me of the simple, acoustic work of Metheny that I love. I'll likely pick this one up soon.

Braggtown, the latest recording from Branford Marsalis, was released on the same day as Metheny/Mehldau. I'm hoping Marsalis takes a few more chances with this disc and resists the temptation to tone down his performance for the sake of reaching a wider audience.

Industrial Zen is John McLaughlin's latest released in August. He returns to his fusion roots. Not sure if I am ready to return to that era of syhtnesized sound, albeit with a world music flavor. I like the samples but wish for a more accoustic sound.

Remember Shakti—I prefer McLaughlin's Shakti period, the accoustic recordings made with Indian musicians that highlights his blistering guitar techinques. These two discs are from a 1997 concert.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006
 Oregon Coast 
Back from a Bicycle Adventures tour of the Oregon Coast. It was their budget tour, which means there were no B&B's or overly expensive restaurants, but the food was good, the rooms were clean, and the scenery was unbelievable. Oregon has kept their coast mostly in the public domain and there are parks every few miles. We had great weather, and even saw some migrating gray whales. I've posted some photos and a trip report.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006
 DC bike/ped public service announcements 
The District has produced several bike/ped public service announcements. Click twice on the small arrow on the lower right and select “district department of transportation psa”. Try to ignore the car commercial that first appears. Fairfax County needs to create a similar campaign.

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 Housing prices 
Here are a couple of interesting bits of information about the prices of houses in the U.S. and around the world:

Article in the Economist House prices: Going throught the roof, and a chart from the New York Times entitled A History of Home Values: 1890 to 2006. Japan and Germany are still feeling the effects of their boom in house prices in the early 90's.

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Monday, September 04, 2006
 Deadly year for pedestrians 
An article in the Connection Newspapers entitled Deadly Year for Pedestrians notes that already this year 12 pedestrians have been killed in Fairfax County. Steward Schwartz of the Coalition for Smarter Growth sums up the problem:
"If streets are just designed for cars to go fast, pedestrians are really put at risk."

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