Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, February 15, 2008

In Brief - February 16, 2008

In Brief - February 16, 2008

After the hoopla of Clinton's and Obama's campaign visits before last Saturday's caucuses, this week certainly felt more placid. At least it did to me. Kind of makes me feel like saying "Well, it's been a quiet week around Lake Washington..." and then launching into story about a kid from my gradeschool days who gave mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to a dog who had been hit and stunned by a car, then had to switch schools because he could never live it down. Except I don't actually know a kid like that.

But with this coming week hosting the Washington State primary, the annual state Democratic PCO training and crab feed, and the Democracy for America regional grassroots training next weekend, I'm sure it won't be long before I'm again missing the quiet times.

Around the Northwest:

  •, an organization that acts as a community watchdog over the software industry, has labeled Seattle-based RealNetworks RealPlayer 10.5 as badware. claims that RealNetworks poor explanation of its "message center" feature amounts to consumer deception. RealNetworks response, through a spokesman interviewed on KUOW's The Conversation, is pretty much "nuh-uh, our customers like that feature."

  • UW economist Theo Eicher finds that a major factor in Seattle area housing price increases--to the tune of $200,000 from 1989 to 2006--has been regulations. He cites the state's Growth Management Act as a prime culprit. So dump the regulations? Not so fast. Read the article to see what we get for that money.

  • Speaking of housing prices, have you got a few hundred Gs to spare? Why not attend the March 1st auction of seven luxury homes in Treasure Vally, Idaho.

  • A pair of investment con artists get busted in Idaho. Let that be a lesson to would-be investors: anybody offering you a 30% annual return is probably not on the up-and-up.

  • Oregon's sesquicentennial: T-364 days and counting

  • I've heard about politics making strange bedfellows, but never literally before...

Around the Nation:

  • New Mexico primary: still counting, with just the provisional ballots left. With, as of this writing, about 1000 votes separating Clinton and Obama, those ballots may well matter. On the other hand, New Mexico's primary result--and the results from the other 49 states--may not matter at all because...

  • ...of the Superdelegate Skirmish: should superdelegates vote however they like, or should they confirm the will of the primary voters? Rahm Emmanuel's brother Ari sounds off on his brother's responsibility, while David Sirota summarizes the issue nicely on DailyKos and plugs his book about it. Meanwhile, Democracy for America (with jumping on the bandwagon) are floating petitions demanding that superdelegates ratify the overall winner of the primary races. For my two cents, I have to agree with Ari and David on this one. And, making sure the issue has legs, the Superdelegate Transparency Project gives you one-stop shopping for all your superdelegate needs. Wow, for an issue we've really never heard talked about before, it sure is making waves this week.

  • New York's Attorney General is conducting an industry-wide investigation into health insurance fraud. Any state AG could have done this. I wish ours had, but I'm glad theirs is, because we're long past due for the health insurance industry to start taking some heat for the useless "deny everything" policies they sell.

Around the World:

  • Water, still in the news: this time, not a particular flood or drought, but instead a new book that casts light on the frighteningly harsh reality of the world's fresh water situation. Mark my words, water availability is going to be one of the most important problems to solve in our coming battle to undo the damage we've done to the earth's climate and environment. Frankly, I'm a heck of a lot more scared about future water availability than I am about terrorist attacks. Also, Author Maude Barlow will be in Seattle on April 14th as part of her book tour.

  • Wheat prices are at an all time high. Poor crops in India, Argentina, and the former Soviet Union for the past couple of years, combined with record high demand for wheat have combined to push short term wheat futures in excess of $10/bushel. In the U.S., wheat crops have been good over the same time span, creating a much-needed financial windfall for farmers. But for you and me, all it creates is higher prices on flour, bread, pie crust, and the thousands of other things we make from wheat.

  • Is the world entering a new "Anthropocene" geologic epoch? Seems pretty obvious to me that we are, but scientists being a cautious bunch about such matters, they're weighing the evidence as to whether mankind's activities have become a predominant geophysical force. On the other hand, given that we're busy leveling the Appalacian mountains in search of coal and building crazy palm-tree islands off the coast of Dubai, what's to debate?

  • Another step in the path towards eventually discovering life on other worlds: astronomers detect organic molecules in an extra-solar planet's atmosphere.

The Lighter Side:

  • Perfect for the Northwest: harvesting energy from falling raindrops!

  • 2008: The 50th anniversary of the LEGO (tm) brick. In timeline form.

  • Evolution of tech company logos. From Adobe to Xerox, watch how some familiar companies' representations of themselves have kept pace with the times--or failed to.

  • University of Copenhagen reports showing that a single person with a particular genetic mutation, some 6 to 10 thousand years ago, was the ancestor of everybody in the world who has blue eyes. I'm not sure I believe this, but it's interesting none the less.

This Day in History:


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