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Primer, Again

After going for a run around Greenlake and feeling thoroughly gassed, Bobby and I watched Primer, one of my favorite movies of all time. Every time I watch it, I understand more and more. This visual timeline that Theo pointed me to certainly helped this time, but I also picked up on a lot of cues early in the movie that I didn’t notice the first three or four times through. Movies that can continue to produce newness after even a couple of viewings are rare; Primer in this regard is a true Gem.

Ride Civil in Ten Days

After the Critical Mass debacle last week, I spent a lot of time reading, thinking, and writing about what went wrong and what I might have been able to do to prevent it. One of the more interesting things I read about was a Critical Mass counterpoint ride that stressed legality while taking over the streets. It has been called various things, from “Courteous Mass” and “Civil Mass” to “Critical Manners.”

It just turns out that there is such a ride in Seattle, and it’s called “Ride Civil.” Not quite as catchy as what we came up with at Amazon before we heard about Ride Civil (C3M2R, see below), but it gets the point across. Ride Civil happens on the second Friday of every month, meeting at Westlake Center at 5:30.

C3M2R: Courteous Civil Critical Mass Manners Ride

For me, this is mostly an experiment. What will it be like riding with a group (who knows how large?) through an urban environment with lots of traffic, while following all of the rules, and even being extraordinarily courteous to our two-ton brethren? For this ride, I’m even going to wear my helmet. Yuck.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Is There Anything Good About Men?

Every once in a while I read a paper that makes me think the social sciences are not entirely lost. The most recent, by an FSU professor is titled “Is There Anything Good About Men?” Definitely a thought-provoking read.


I just got back from Lincoln Square where I ended up watching Ratatouille with Dan. And, simply put, Pixar has done it again. Another masterpiece in their growing collection of fine offerings, I’m pretty sure that this was the funniest movie I’ve seen in a while and it left me happy and fulfilled to boot. Highly recommended!

Ratatouille Movie Poster

Ryan’s Reccomendations — Election 2006

Bernie referenced it as he beat me to the punch, and now it has been formally requested (yes, I consider comments “formal”). Presenting, Ryan’s Reccomendations for the 2006 election:

Initiative 920 — Repeal Washington’s Estate Tax — I am voting Yes

I am generally against taxes, and this here is a tax. However, the issue is a lot more subtle than that. The estate tax (called the “death tax” by its oppoenents) is one of the more sound taxes theoretically. After all, few things make lives worthless as qucikly or as thoroughly as inheritting a large sum of money. Furthermore, the children of the rich are generally the very best prepared to contribute to society and thus produce wealth for themselves — they do not need the help of inheritted money. So, why do I oppose this tax? The problem isn’t theory — its application.

There are more than enough loopholes for anyone with enough money and a tax advisor to pass their money on anyway. So, in the end, its not the super-rich that really get laid out with this tax — its the hard working small business owner who dies in an untimely manner and didn’t have all the tax shelters set up. Then its the family that has to try to take over and while grieving find a large chunk of cash to pay the tax, or as usually happens, sell the business to pay the tax. The rub is, of course, that all the money they use to pay this tax has already been taxed when it was earned.

Bear in mind that the current system — even without the help of estate taxes — is not somehow terribly broken. The large majority of the rich in this nation got there without major help from inheritance, and most family wealth is lost within several generations.

Initiative 933 — Require Compensation When Government (Partially) Takes Land — I am voting Yes
This initiative is far from perfect — in fact, I’m pretty sure it will lead to some future headaches. Fortunately, the law is a malleable thing, and these headaches can be dealt with as they are recognized. But I’m still very much in favor of this initiative because it is a neccesary reaction to the insane land-use restrictions that have been put into place in several parts of Western Washington — including right here in King County.

Although I am generally in favor of some local land use regulation, I think it should be apllied fairly to everyone. Unfortunately, here in King County, a Seattle-controlled majority is telling rural land owners to the east what they can and cannot do with their personal property. For example, a rural land owner who owns land on a slope cannot develop two thirds of the property. I’d be unhappy, but morally ok with this law if it also applied to Seattle as well as rural King County. In other words, if Seattle had to restore two thirds of its sloped property to its natural state then this would be a fair law. Of course, Seattlelites would think that this is as ridiculous as rural owners currently think it is. How the current system is actually working is that Seattle gets to stay the way it is and just tell other people what they can’t do to thier property. Yet among the guarantees of Washington’s Constitution are that “No private property shall be taken or damaged for public or private use without just compensation having been first made” (Section 16). With today’s land-use laws, the result is often the same as if the government had taken two thirds of an owners property, but no compensation is currently being made. I-933 corrects this problem.

Initiative 937 — Require Energy Companies Meeting Arbitratry Number to Pay Arbitrary Fines — I’m voting No
Today’s alternative energy will become readily available — and therefore no longer “alternative” — as soon as it makes economic sense. I have no doubt that this will happen in my lifetime. And I’m not entirely opposed to governments pushing in that direction. However, I think government should approach the issue intelligently — not as this initiative does with arbitraty numbers or fines. I’d be more in favor, for example, of a consistent flat tax on all carbon dioxide release. That way, there is always an incentive for all power production to produce less carbon dioxide. This initiative, on the other hand, creates no incentives to small eletric utility companies to do anything, and raises electricity costs to most people with no social benefit (most likely, all the “non-alternative” power, including hydroelectric, would still be produced the same old way, but shipped to California).

House Joint Resolution 4223 — Ammend Constitution to Raise Exemption Limit — I’m Voting No
Constitutions, in my opinion, should be changed little. This seems far too minor an annoyance to warrant the change, especially when the correct thing to do is eliminate the tax that this would raise the exemption for.

King County Proposition No. 1 — Authorization to Sell Certain Real Property — I’m Voting No
But there is no real good reason for that, except that I refuse to rubberstamp county will. Also, the percentage voting yes on this one (as well at HJR 4233) helps me gauge the number of sheep in the county/state.

King County Proposition No. 2 — Public Transporation Sales Tax — I’m Voting No
I believe that Public Transportation, as present constituted, is not the answer to traffic woes. It is especially unfair to force rural king couty voters, who get no bus service, to pay for this. Do we really need more empty busses?

United States Senator — I will follow the lead of a friend and rank them in preference:

  1. Bruce Guthrie (L) — Guthrie has tacked ar left to influence the election, but he is a true libertarian at heart. That means less federal government, which will make people on the right and the left happy. Libertarians are the real center.
  2. Mike McGavick (R) — The moderate right-leaning candidate, talks tough on spending and goes light on the social issues. Also knows how to make hard decisions — like firing people — for the greater good — like saving an entire company.
  3. Maria Cantwell (D) — The competent left-leaning incumbant who narrowly defeated Slade Gorton 6 years ago and looks poised for another victory.
  4. Robin Adair (I) — Weird, but does not embrace bad ideas wholeheartedly, like…
  5. Aaron Dixon (G) — As John Evans said, “Is proud of some bad ideas.” Also, like a watermellon: Green on the outside, Red on the inside. Sure, its a joke, but its far too true.

Congressional District No. 8 — Dave Reichart
Dave Reichart has carried on the moderate-right legacy of the very popular Jennifer Dunn that represents his district well. As the Seattle Times puts it, though, “it is hard to discern where Burner differs from the Democratic Party line.” East King county, a moderate district, would not be well represented by Darcy Burner.

Legislative District No. 41
Position 1 — The incumbant Fred Jarret (R) is the better of two bad choices.
Position 2 — Erik Fretheim (R) provides a more fiscally responsible choice than incumbant Judy Clibborn.

State Supreme Court
Position 2 — Challenger Stephen Johnson is a better choice for judging based on laws as they are written as opposed to how they “should have been written,” as Susan Owens seems to do all-too-often. Owens also fails to show at scheduled debates.

District Court Northeast Position 2
Everyone running for this position is bad. I haven’t figured out who I am voting for yet.

OSS 117

I skipped out of work early today after Dan Marsh called to inform me he had an extra ticket to a French Comedy movie at the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF). Since SIFF started during the end of spring quarter and finals, I never got my act together to get tickets, so this was my first movie of the festival. Dan told me that he had heard good things about the movie, and since I thoroughly enjoyed the last French comedy I saw, I thought I would give this one a shot.

As it turns out, what Dan had heard was right — the movie, OSS 117: Cairo – Nest of Spies, a spoof of a Jame Bond-esque spy series, was a great deal of fun. As an extra treat, the director and the beautiful lead actress, Berenice Bejo, showed up as well. Their english was not excellent, but it was good enough and, well, she didn’t need to speak much if you know what I mean :-D.

This gets a solid 4.0 on the Ryan Rating, and is deservedly reccomended.


Met up with Shai tonight (and missed Brian, but saw Dan) to watch Pixar’s latest offering, Cars. I laughed, I (almost) cried, and I enjoyed myself thoroughly while leaning back into some of the finest movie theater chairs ever created at Bellevue’s Lincoln Square Cinemas. While Cars was not as deeply layered as The Incredibles, the movie still really worked for me. Definitely the best I’ve seen in a while.