Downtown Seattle Barnes & Noble to close January 18th: “When the downtown Barnes & Noble closes, there will officially be no bookstores in the downtown retail core. While there are quite a few bookshops in surrounding neighborhoods like the Pike Place Market, Pioneer Square, Capitol Hill, and Queen Anne, this will be the first time in decades that shoppers won’t be able to browse the stacks of a bookstore without leaving downtown Seattle.”

A followup to yesterday’s Indigenous Peoples’ Day:

According to this map, I (along with many of my Seattle-area friends) live on Duwamish tribal land, part of the Puget Sound Coast Salish tribal group (is that the right term to use?). The closest village was “sawh-WAHWH-weh-wad (‘place of whistling’). Duwamish. On Cedar River about 2 miles above present-day town of Renton. This village was occupied by the riverine Duwamish or doo-AHBSH, after doo (‘inside’) referring to (present-day) Duwamish River, Black River and Cedar River, along all of which this group resided.”

Lushootseed (which has several dialects) was the language spoken in the area.

The land was part of Cession 347, taken by the United States in the Point Elliott Treaty in 1855, ratified and proclaimed in 1859 (19KB .pdf). The signatory for the Duwamish was Chief Si’ahl, namesake of the city of Seattle. For all the land taken by this treaty, the tribes were “paid” $150k (roughly $4.3 million in today’s dollars — or roughly 1.3% of the cost of Avengers: Infinity War), distributed over nineteen years not as direct funds, but “to be applied to the use and benefit” of the tribes as directed by the government.

Despite being the first signatory tribe of the Point Elliott Treaty and having cultural history and stories dating back to the last ice age, the Duwamish Tribe is still not recognized as an indigenous nation by the United States Government.

Sometime between August 1st and September 1st, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

  • The P-I error that changed Seattle history: "Occasionally, newspapers report factual errors. A well-intentioned interview subject gives bad information, a name is spelled wrong, a breaking news story is inadvertently peppered with grammatical errors. But no incorrect newspaper story has had a bigger impact on Seattle history than one published June 7, 1889."
  • 98.6 degrees is a normal body temperature, right? Not quite: “Forget everything you know about normal body temperature and fever, starting with 98.6. That’s an antiquated number based on a flawed study from 1868 (yes, 150 years ago). The facts about fever are a lot more complicated.”
  • The “I Am Steve Rogers” Joke in ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ Is the Definitive Captain America Moment: That’s who Captain America is, a man who listens to and believes in people when they tell him who they are. That’s a lesson we all should take away from that moment.
  • The Bullshit Web: “An honest web is one in which the overwhelming majority of the code and assets downloaded to a user’s computer are used in a page’s visual presentation, with nearly all the remainder used to define the semantic structure and associated metadata on the page. Bullshit — in the form of CPU-sucking surveillance, unnecessarily-interruptive elements, and behaviours that nobody responsible for a website would themselves find appealing as a visitor — is unwelcome and intolerable.”
  • Ignorant Hysteria Over 3D Printed Guns Leads To Courts Ignoring The First Amendment: "…in the last few days the hysteria [over 3D-printed guns] has returned… and much of it is misleading and wrong, and while most people probably want to talk about the 2nd Amendment implications of all of this, it's the 1st Amendment implications that are a bigger deal." Interesting. I'm not at all comfortable with wide availability of 3D-printed guns, but this analysis of the issues is worth reading.

Friday night, I went out to the final Den of Sin Friday fetish night at Club Vogue at Neighbours Underground. I’d been looking forward to this for a couple reasons: one, because it had been a while since I’d been out to the club, let alone on an “event” night; two, this would be my first time out with my new D7000.

Long story short: I love this camera! I’m still getting used to the differences between it and my old D70s, so I’m not entirely comfortable and will definitely be fiddling around and tweaking settings until I get it down, but I’m already incredibly impressed with how well it performs, especially in extreme low-light settings.

Here are a few shots from Friday night, the rest are Facebook or Flickr (which includes a few shots too risqué for Facebook, if you’re logged in with a Flickr account). Everything was shot without flash — I had my flash with me, but never got around to putting it on the camera. I haven’t been able to go completely flash-free at the club in years…no matter how I pushed my D70s, it just couldn’t quite handle the low light of a goth club. The D7000, though, doesn’t even pause. This is fun.

Vogue Night- Den of Sin 10
Hands of Kali

Vogue Night- Den of Sin 15

Vogue Night- Den of Sin 34
Hands of Kali

Vogue Night- Den of Sin 29
Bianca and DJ Eternal Darkness

Vogue Night- Den of Sin 37
Hands of Kali

I keep seeing questions about why Norwescon and Sakura-Con are both scheduled for Easter weekend this year. Here’s my attempt at an answer, with the disclaimer that I’m not speaking officially for Norwescon or Sakura-Con. This is just what I’ve picked up while chatting with people over the past couple years, and what I can verify over the ‘net (using the past convention dates from Wikipedia for Norwescon and Sakura-Con and this table of Easter dates).

Historically, Norwescon has been on Easter weekend for the majority of its existence, and the past 14 years consecutively:

  • On Easter Weekend: NWC 1, 11, 14, 17, 19-32
  • Near Easter Weekend: NWC 2-10 (and Alternatcon), 12, 15-16, 18

Sakura-Con, which has been in existence for fewer years (13) than Norwescon’s been consistently using Easter weekend (14), spent most of its first decade using weekends other than Easter weekend, very probably in an attempt not to conflict with Norwescon, as there is a lot of fan crossover between the two conventions. In fact, the first two years of Sakuracon were held at the SeaTac DoubleTree, the same hotel that Norwescon was using at the time (and is still using now).

  • On Easter Weekend: SC 10, 12-13
  • Near Easter Weekend: SC 1-9, 11

So, in a sense, Norwescon does have the elementary schoolyard ability to stick its tongue out at Sakura-Con and stamp its feet, saying, “We were here first!” But that would be silly.

So why the change in Sakura-Con’s schedule, if (as I’m guessing) since they at first attempted to work around Norwescon’s established schedule?

Simply put, it’s business. Easter weekend isn’t one of the big travel holidays, and conventions are more able to negotiate better usage rates (in everything from space rental fees to discounted room rates). It’s a win-win for both the convention and the hotel: the convention gets to use the hotel for as little money as realistically possible; the hotel gets a huge amount of business on an otherwise traditionally slow weekend.

So, as Sakura-Con grew in popularity, and needed to expand to find more and more space, I’d be willing to bet that after a while, it simply worked out that the best deals it could get for space (claiming space at the downtown Seattle Convention Center) and its fans (it looks like at least one downtown hotel is offering discounted rates for Sakura-Con attendees) were going to be on Easter weekend.

So yes, at times, it can be a little frustrating to have two major local conventions with a fair amount of cross-pollination in their fanbase going on over the same weekend. However, it’s a friendly competition, and there are always a small number of fans who do their best to bounce between both cons, or at least stop by the other convention once they’ve established a “home base” at one. Doing so is even easier than ever this year, now that the Central Link light rail is in operation: from Norwescon, just take a shuttle from the DoubleTree to the airport, hop the Link downtown, and you can probably be at the Washington State Convention Center and in the midst of Sakura-Con in right about an hour.

Whichever con you choose, though (for me, it’s Norwescon), have fun!

UPDATE: While I’m keeping the “not speaking officially” disclaimer up, I’ve received a number of comments from various people on the Norwescon ConCom (Convention Committee) thanking me for this post, and indicating that they’ll be passing it around as an answer to this oft-repeated question. Awesome!

UPDATE #2: Former Sakura-Con staff member and con chair Isaac Alexander contacted me via Twitter with a few minor corrections to what I wrote:

The Double Tree Inn at South Center is completely different then the Double Tree Sea Tac(which used to be the Red Lion Sea-Tac). The Double Tree Inn at South Center was torn down a couple years ago to make space for the mall expansion.

You were absolutely correct about us not wanting to conflict in the early years with norwes because of the crossover with fans.

A couple weeks ago, I posted a survey and asked for respondents from the local Seattle Gothic, or seagoth, community for a research project I was working on for my Law and Justice Research Methods class. The response was great, and I ended up getting full points for both the in-class presentation and the final research paper. For those of you curious about the final results, I’ve published the entire report. You can watch the presentation, read the report on the site, download the prettier .pdf version, or even download the .pdf version along with all the data files in case you want to do your own number crunching.

Thanks again for all who filled out surveys and assisted me in this project. It’s very, very appreciated!

This is one of the most disturbing local stories I’ve seen in a long time. A 15-year old girl was targeted by a group of other teens at Westlake Center. She and her friend went down to the Metro Transit tunnel to try to get away from the group. Once on the tunnel platform, they approached the security guards to try to get some assistance or protection from the group that was following them.

The guards, however, did nothing — even when the group arrived and one of the teens was attacked, shoved off the platform (thankfully, no buses or trains were present), followed back onto the platform, knocked to the ground, and then repeatedly kicked in the head until she was left unconscious.

Here’s a local news report with security footage of the attack. This is not pleasant to watch.

There are so many things to be outraged at.

Apparently, the ‘security’ people are contract workers, authorized only to “observe and report” suspicious activity and attacks. This has been the standard party line from Olympic Security and from a number of other officials commenting on the incident, and their protestations of being “extremely disappointed” in the security guards just doesn’t compensate.

The girl approached the guards and requested assistance. Instead, they turned away from her. She tried to keep one of the guards between her and her attacker, and neither that guard nor either of his partners made any attempt to intervene or do anything except the contractually required radio call to the police. One guard actually walks away during the attack. Ten blows to the head and six kicks to the head later, they continue to watch as the attacker comes back for a final kick to the head.

There is no excuse, not even the “observe and report” language in the contract, that justifies the guards behavior in this instance.

They could have paid attention to the girl about to be attacked. They could have worked together to form a barrier between her and the group of teens. They could have surrounded her to keep her attacker away. They could have moved to block her attacker from coming back for that final kick. They could have made any number of non-aggressive attempts to intervene that would not have involved directly contacting any of the group of teens threatening the girl.

Futhermore, thanks to Washington’s “Good Samaritan” law, at the very least, they could have assisted her after the attack without fear of liability, instead of standing around her unconscious body. Even more importantly, according to this article, Washington has had a “Good Samaritan” law on the books since 2005 that “makes it a misdemeanor offense to fail to assist a person who has suffered substantial bodily harm, provided that the person could reasonably summon assistance without danger to himself or herself.” Unfortunately, I’m currently having trouble finding the exact language of the referenced statute.

Of course, that brings up a second point. The witness interviewed in the above video describes standing there, watching the attack, and wondering, “Why doesn’t anybody do something?” Well, lady? Why not? Why didn’t you do something? Why didn’t anyone else do something? Why didn’t any of the other people on the platform do something? I’m not even talking about physically restraining the attacker or accosting any of the rest of the group, just get close, surround the victim, get some sort of barrier between her and her attacker.

Don’t wait for someone else to do something, because they’re all doing the same thing.

This whole thing is just disgusting.

Another troubling aspect to this that I’d thought a little about, but was brought up in a comment on the LiveJournal mirror of this post (which, unfortunately, appears to have been eaten when I updated this post with the news reports below):

A bigger problem, however, is that this incident has shown to everyone just how powerless the security guards are, so I would imagine that if people are inclined to commit violence against someone else at the bus stop, they know they an do it now without ANY fear of retribution.

Exactly. Given what we’ve seen, just what is the function of the “security” guards? And what’s to prevent more frequent and more severe attacks from happening, now that it’s been made abundantly clear just how little protection these guards actually provide?

More reports:

Tunnel assault on girl sparks security debate:

King County Metro Transit will change its security policy in the Downtown Transit Tunnel after a surveillance video showed a 15-year-old girl beaten in front of three security guards who didn’t intervene to help her, an agency official said Wednesday.

In the meantime, county officials have called for a full review of tunnel security practices.

Four charged in transit tunnel beating:

On Wednesday, prosecutors filed first-degree robbery charges in King County Superior Court against Latroy Demarcus Hayman, 20, Tyrone Jamez Watson, 18, and Dominique Lee Whitaker, 18. A 15-year-old girl was also charged in juvenile court.

Speaking with detectives, the girl said she’d expected the guards to come to her aid.

“I thought the security guards would defend me if (the 15-year-old) tried anything,” the girl said, according to court documents.

Following the attack, the girl said the same Seattle police officers who’d contacted her previously refused to take action.

Admittedly agitated, the girl said she tried to tell the officers she’d been assaulted, according to court documents. When they did not assist her, she called her mother.

Her mother arrived at the scene, the girl told detectives, and contacted the officers on her daughter’s behalf.

“They told my mom that they were tired of all these kids downtown causing trouble,” the girl told police.

“It seemed like (one) officer put us all in one category,” the girl continued. “We were fed up with Seattle police but we wanted to press charges. It didn’t seem like the officers were (ever) interested in hearing my side of what happened.”

There’s a local election coming up in just under a month, and much like any non-presidential election, turnout is expected to be sadly low. I persist in hoping that anyone reading this will take the time to vote — it’s especially easy around here, now that King County has gone to an all-mail balloting system. Just fill out the ballot, drop it in the mail or one of the many free ballot dropboxes, and you’re done. Quick and simple. So do it. There’s no good excuse not to.

There are two measures on the ballot this time around that deserve particular attention: R-71 and I-1033.

Approve Referendum 71Vote YES on R-71. Washington voters already approved a domestic partnership law, and R-71 (put on the ballot by people opposed to the domestic partnership law who hope to overturn it) is asking whether we should uphold that legislation. Simple answer: yes.

There are more than 12,000 people in Washington state registered in domestic partnerships. Gay and lesbian families need domestic partnership laws to provide essential protections for their families. Families with children need the protections provided by domestic partnership laws, especially when a parent dies. Seniors need the protections provided by domestic partnership laws. For seniors, domestic partnerships mean that their hard-earned social security, military or pension benefits are not put at risk. Police officers and firefighters who risk their lives to protect our communities need domestic partnership laws if they are hurt or killed in the line of duty, so that their families are taken care of by their pension or workers’ compensation. By voting to Approve Referendum 71, you will vote to ensure that all families, in all parts of the state, should be treated fairly, with the same protections and responsibilities, especially in times of crisis.

While there’s a lot of support for approving R-71 among people I know (nearly all of my local Facebook contacts are ‘fans’ of the Approve R-71 Facebook page), a recent poll shows only a slim lead.

Referendum 71, which would uphold the state’s domestic-partnership bill if approved, is leading in the Seattle area but losing in less populous parts of the state, according to a poll conducted by Survey USA. Of the 548 voters surveyed in Washington, 45 percent said they would certainly approve the measure, 42 percent said they would reject it, and 13 percent were undecided.

A lead is good, but it could be a lot better than that. Spread the word.

C8334F30-0974-49C4-8DA2-6860255A54A9.jpgVote NO on I-1033. The latest in Tim Eyman‘s series of proposals, I-1033 carries potentially disastrous repercussions should it pass…and recent polls show that it has a strong possibility of passing.

Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1033, which would lower taxes but ultimately devastate government budgets, would pass if voters had to decide today, the poll also shows. Of likely voters in the general election, 45 percent of respondents would certainly vote yes, 32 percent would vote no, and 22 percent were undecided.

As with most of Eyman’s proposals, they sound good on the surface, but don’t hold up well under close scrutiny — and, unfortunately, most people only bother with the surface. Here’s The Stranger’s look at what I-1033 would mean if it passes:

Tim Eyman’s new initiative, which will be on your ballot in November, seems simple enough. It would essentially limit the amount of money the government can collect from taxpayers based on how much it collected the previous year, adjusted for inflation and population growth. Any surplus the state collects would go toward reducing property taxes. Eyman says Initiative 1033 would stabilize the legislature’s “fiscal roller coaster, overextending themselves in good times—creating unsustainable budgets—which led to slashing during bad times.”

So what could go wrong?

If passed by voters, the measure would lock Washington into its current budget—the worst budget the state has had in decades, owing to the recession—and prevent the budget from expanding when the economy improves. So the state at its leanest—like right now, with a budget requiring the state to lay off roughly 3,000 teachers and cut basic health services for 40,000 people—would become the most robust the state could ever be. In addition, the gap between costs and revenue would steadily grow, because costs for services and shifts in demographics (like more students in schools and old people in nursing homes) outpace inflation and population growth.

Indeed, even the early forecasts of I-1033 show potentially devastating impacts on the state’s budget for education, health care, and vaccines. As a result, class sizes could grow, increasing numbers of poor and elderly people would be kicked off state-funded health programs, and response to natural disasters and disease outbreaks would be minimal because the state couldn’t run surpluses to pay for them.

Sadly, while the Approve R-71 campaign is and has been going strong (in one admittedly somewhat questionable metric, their Facebook page has almost 15,000 ‘fans’), the No on I-1033 campaign has yet to achieve nearly the level of consciousness (their Facebook page is at 2,260 ‘fans’), and without more people realizing just what the consequences of passing I-1033 will be, the slick language of the initiative stands a strong chance of pushing it through, and crippling Washington’s budget for the foreseeable future.

That’s it, then. Slightly less than a month. Two important measures, both of which could use more support. Yes on R-71. No on I-1033. Don’t forget to vote.

Hottest Day Ever!

Hottest Day Ever!, originally uploaded by djwudi.

I’ts official: as of 2:38 this afternoon (though this iPod screenshot was taken about an hour later), today is the hottest day in Seattle history! This is actually the second high temperature record set today, as temperatures last night only dropped to 71 degrees, breaking the previous record for highest low temperature…which had been set (well, okay, tied) the night before.