Monday, June 29, 2009

Thoughts on a baby shower and treason

Some very fine people invited me to a baby shower last weekend, for someone who will almost certainly be a very fine baby.

She was showered with adorable outfits, from friends and relatives alike - without a doubt, she's shaping up to be one of the most charmingly dressed young - very young - women in Nevada County.

The assemblage was thinking of her first year; but what about her future as a child, a teenager, an adult? If we choose to continue dithering about global climate destabilization, we choose to seriously endanger her world, and that of her classmates. Please, for her sake, read Krugman's new column Betraying the Planet:
The fact is that the planet is changing faster than even pessimists expected: ice caps are shrinking, arid zones spreading, at a terrifying rate. And according to a number of recent studies, catastrophe — a rise in temperature so large as to be almost unthinkable — can no longer be considered a mere possibility. It is, instead, the most likely outcome if we continue along our present course.

Thus researchers at M.I.T., who were previously predicting a temperature rise of a little more than 4 degrees (F) by the end of this century, are now predicting a rise of more than 9 degrees. Why? Global greenhouse gas emissions are rising faster than expected; some mitigating factors, like absorption of carbon dioxide by the oceans, are turning out to be weaker than hoped; and there’s growing evidence that climate change is self-reinforcing — that, for example, rising temperatures will cause some arctic tundra to defrost, releasing even more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
...[W]e’re facing a clear and present danger to our way of life, perhaps even to civilization itself. How can anyone justify failing to act?
Yet the deniers are choosing, willfully, to ignore that threat, placing future generations of Americans in grave danger, simply because it’s in their political interest to pretend that there’s nothing to worry about. If that’s not betrayal, I don’t know what is.

This baby girl deserves better.

(Tom McClintock, she's your constituent)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Twitter tagging ideas for Grass Valley, Nevada City, Nevada County

I would love to be able to pull in tweets (i.e. Twitter entries) from&about our community - after Marsha's intro and playing around with it myself a little, I think Twitter or the like is the way of the future.

But I want a local Twitter "channel" that's ours, that's more focused than the low-value-to-us chatter that characterizes the location-names-based Twitter search (which gives stuff like "New hat, got it in Nevada City")

And there needs to be a way to find what hashtags our community is using
(Explanation, for twitterilliterates: a hashtag is a term that starts with "#", e.g. #gvnc - all tweets that contain it become part of the discussion - if you search Twitter for that hashtag, you can see the conversation, and if you include it in _your_ tweets, you join the conversation.)

..since if you don't know what hashtag is being used, you can't hear what others are saying, which is sad and inefficient.
A real-life example: after the (Lance Armstrong) Nevada City Classic last weekend, C. suggested that racegoers elsewhere on the course, who were out of earshot of the announcer, really would have benefitted from someone Tweeting the announcements. And perhaps someone was - but unless you knew who, or what hashtag(s) they were using, you wouldn't know how to receive the info. Wouldn't it be nice if we could just go to one page to find out what hashtag was being used for an event, or to meet a need?

I'd like to suggest some tags that we could use, that I think would work well for the community. If you have feedback and/or a better/alternative way please, please share it. (Zuri and Marsha, this likely means you.)

#gvnc for info of community interest. There are no Tweets using this hashtag at present, so it'd be all ours (Since "nc" is also the abbrev. for North Carolina, #nctweet (the previously-suggested tag) wouldn't necessarily stay just us...)

#gvnc #tag both, for a tweet that proposes or announces a community-related hashtag that you'll be using?

#gvnc #biz for business-related tweets, so those who just want to see noncommercial entries can do this (by searching for tweets that contain #gvnc but not #biz) and those who want only commercial entries could do that, too.

Also, when & if #gvnc Twitter traffic should increase to the point that we need to segregate further, we could also do:
#gvnc #news
#gvnc #events
#gvnc #lost
#gvnc #found
#gvnc #wanted
#gvnc #forsale
#gvnc #free
#gvnc #realestate
(in place of #biz)
(It wouldn't hurt anything to use these extra tags now, but it's not needed.)

A question for Zuri, Marsha or anyone else who's not a Twitter newbie like me - does it make more sense to do dual-labeling (by which I mean "use two hashtags" - eg #gvnc #biz), or would we just want to have a "gvnc" prefix for all our hashtags (eg #gvncbiz) ?

(The answer, I think, would depend on whether it's possible to do a search for "all tweets containing a hashtag that starts with #gvnc" - but I don't think it's possible, or at least I don't see a way to do this from Twitter Advanced Search - so I'd lean toward "use two tags".)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Citizens Bank officials loan to selves, quietly - how common is this?

I keep seeing crowdsourced journalism opportunities wherever I look.

Today's dead-tree-based The Union has an extremely interesting story from Dave Moller, about our locally-owned bank - "Citizens Bank Officials loaned [to themselves] $11 million" ("...the lending institution's leader would not divulge who received the loans when, or how much they are for"; "the bank landed $10.4 million in federal [TARP] funds"; "“We're a private that information is not public”"; "“It's common for directors and bank officials to get loans. They are typically some of the best borrowers, because they're stakeholders,” [bank president and CEO Judy] Hess said.")

How prevalent is this sort of arrangement in other communities? Are there any regulations against it, and if not, what keeps banks from serving primarily to benefit their owners?
(Doesn't this become the S&L debacle all over again?)

Update: in comments, Jeff P. pointed to this SacBee story on the phenomenon at a different bank -
A Bee investigation of internal shareholder documents and public lending records found that at Community Business Bank, those likely to benefit most from the taxpayer-funded windfall are a small group of insiders and their associates. From its inception 3 1/2 years ago, the bank has steered many of its assets to a handful of directors, as well as their relatives and business partners.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

New Blogger commenting SW bug?

I find I can't leave comments, on Blogspot blogs using the newfangled commenting format.

While this is irritating in the short run, it does save time in the long run...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Moonshine Ink, soon on NCVoices

I emailed the folks at Truckee's Moonshine Ink asking if they had an RSS feed yet, & was told -
We are this close to launching a new much better home page and general interface. We are adding RSS Feeds...

It's so nice not to be a voice-in-the-wilderness anymore, asking orgs about their site feeds - though some sites still don't have them.

I'd like to add Sac News&Review too, but I don't see a way to get a feed or feeds from them that's of local (to us) interest.

p.s. If you'd like to see more local orgs on NCVoices, please encourage them to get an RSS feed - the easiest way to do so, being to get a blog - and then suggest it, in the Nevada County Voices suggestion box.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

NevCity "parking fines monies" Union story, add'l info

Let's shed a little more light.

The Union ran a story in today's paper - titled Nevada City cash missing again — this time it's parking fines - which also addressed Nevada City's TRAN ("tax and revenue anticipation note"), money loaned to Nevada City from Nevada County's reserve fund -
In light of the poor economy and concerns about the city's stability in the future, supervisors requested the review [of Nevada County Treasurer and Tax Collector Chris Dabis's practice of making TRAN loans to our towns].

“Right now, with the way the economy is, I think everyone is concerned about everything. Things are going to get tough. It's like the beginning of a bad storm,” said District 3 Supervisor John Spencer [- implicitly - and, presumably in the meeting today, explicitly - questioning Dabis's actions].

Not mentioned in the story: Dabis is challenging Spencer for his County Supervisor seat. (from here)

And, regarding the parking fine money (which went into the general fund - "The funds aren't missing, Albaugh said") - I wish I'd had a Flip to capture Barbara Coffman's response when I asked her about this.

I guess I'm buying one.