Inside Opinion

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Category: Caught my eye

June
21st

Would you survive the zombie apocalypse?

Avoid this area in Olympia to improve your chances of surviving a zombie apocalypse. (2010 file photo, Steve Bloom)
Avoid this area in Olympia to improve your chances of surviving a zombie apocalypse. (2010 file photo, Steve Bloom)

With “World War Z” hitting movie screens, Washington Post writer Howard Schneider muses on how well various politicos would fare in a zombie apocalypse.

If they’re super-fit and fat-free, are they better off when the dead rise? Or would New Jersey’s Republican governor, Chris Christie — the self-proclaimed “healthiest fat guy you’ve ever seen” — fare better in a food-deprived environment with his stored surplus energy?

My money’s on someone with skills that would allow him/her to head out into the wilderness and live in a zombie-free zone – probably someone with a military background who has gone through survival training and can use a weapon (remember, only a head shot will kill a zombie).

Here’s the entire article:

By Howard Schneider
(c) 2013, The Washington Post

At a reported 6 to 8 percent body fat, will Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) survive the zombie apocalypse?

Will you? Read more »

June
20th

Let the sun shine in: Celebrate the summer solstice

Stonehenge is a favorite spot for ushering in the summer solstice. The ancient stone circle of Stonehenge is a World Heritage Site erected between approximately 3000 B.C. and 1600 B.C. and despite years of research the reason behind its construction remains a mystery. The summer solstice in the northern hemisphere occurs annually on June 21 and is the time at which the sun is at its northernmost point in the sky. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Stonehenge in England is a favorite spot for ushering in the summer solstice. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Summer sneaks in at 10:04 tonight for those of us on Pacific Daylight Time. Friday is the first full day of the season, with the most hours of daylight all year. We’ll have 15 hours and 56 minutes of daylight Friday, then it’s all downhill from there. On Saturday, we’ll have 15 hours and 55 minutes.

For most Northwesterners, summer is what we wait for, what we consider our reward for enduring all those dreary days between November and early June.

So enjoy. And learn a little about the solstice from the Old Farmer’s Almanac, here. The editors also offer 10 ways to celebrate summer and explain why the longest day of the year isn’t also the hottest day of the year.

Here’s an interesting article by Boston Globe columnist Alex Beam about the onset of summer. Read more »

June
14th

Privacy and the NSA: Do you have anything to worry about?

Have the NSA surveillance revelations got you wondering whether your own privacy is being compromised? Or whether it should even matter, since you’re probably not a terrorist?

Privacy expert and law professor Daniel J. Solove has some thoughts on the subject. Here’s an article he wrote for The Washington Post.

5 myths about privacy

By Daniel J. Solove

The disclosure of two secret government surveillance programs — one involving phone records and the other personal data from Internet companies — has sparked debate about privacy and national security. Has the government gone too far? Or not far enough? How much privacy should we sacrifice for security? To discuss these issues productively, some myths must be dispelled.

1. The collection of phone numbers and other “metadata” isn’t much of a threat to privacy.

Don’t worry, argue defenders of these surveillance programs: The government is gathering innocuous data, not intimate secrets. “Nobody is listening to your telephone calls,” President Obama declared. Intelligence agencies are “looking at phone numbers and durations of calls; they are not looking at people’s names, and they’re not looking at content.” Read more »

June
4th

Early adopter? Maybe not

Go out in public anywhere and invariably you see people looking down, checking their phone messages. It’s such a common sight that when I picked up today’s New York Times and glanced at this photo, my first thought was something along the lines of “Huh . . . they mean it when they say everybody’s got a cell phone now.”

Then I read the cutline and realized it was a photo from the 1930s, taken by photographer Walker Evans (read more about him here).

So no, the Alabama sharecropper in the photo isn’t an iPhone beta tester or even

Read more »

June
3rd

Spire spire on the wall, who’s the tallest of them all?

The 408-foot spire at the top of One World Trade Center is seen from lower Manhattan, Friday, May 10, 2013 in New York. The tall, heavy spire was fully installed Friday, bringing One World Trade Center to its symbolic height of 1,776 feet. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
The 408-foot spire at the top of One World Trade Center is seen from lower Manhattan on May 10 in New York. The tall, heavy spire brings One World Trade Center to its symbolic height of 1,776 feet. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

As a guy originally from the Chicago area, I have to ask, isn’t this cheating? Shouldn’t a skyscraper have to scrape the sky? How can it claim top honors if it only pokes the heavens?

A real architect stands up for the Midwest:

By Thomas Leslie

AMES, Iowa – The installation of the 408-foot spire atop One World Trade Center in May made it, according to some reports, the tallest building in the United States.

So far, nothing is official: The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, the international organization of skyscraper engineers, designers and builders that certifies a building’s height, will weigh in only when One World Trade Center is completed. At an expected, historically symbolic 1,776 feet, the New York tower seems to have a solid claim.

But Chicagoans who live in the shadow of the 1,451-foot tall Willis Tower, which has held the title of nation’s tallest for some 40 years, should cry foul – because deciding just how tall a building is turns out to be more complicated than it might seem.

The council has gotten into the habit of wading into such disputes ever since Malaysia’s Petronas Towers claimed to dethrone Chicago’s Willis Tower – then called the Sears Tower – in 1998. Like that dispute, the coming argument over One World Trade Center centers on the distinction between “architectural” and “functional” height, and it raises questions about just what skyscrapers are intended to really do.

The council has three categories for measuring the heights of tall buildings: height to “architectural top,” “highest occupied floor” and “height to tip.” This may seem like splitting hairs, but the differences can be considerable.

The meanings of “height to tip” and “highest occupied floor” are self-evident. But “architectural top,” the category the council uses to officially crown the tallest building, is less clear; it includes “spires,” but not “antennas, signage, flag poles or other functional-technical equipment.” This wording deliberately makes the short, pointy tops of the Petronas Towers count, but leaves out the much taller antennas that crown the Willis Tower.

Adding pointy bits to skyscraper roofs to break a record – or even to hit a certain number of feet – has a long history in New York City. In the 1920s architects raised the height of 40 Wall Street while it was under construction to beat the Chrysler Building, also under construction, by two feet.

When 40 Wall Street opened in April 1930, it was hailed as the tallest building in the world, but its reign lasted only weeks. In late May, a secretly constructed spire raised the Chrysler’s tip to 1,046 feet, making it not only the world’s tallest building, but also the first fully occupied structure to break the 1,000-foot mark.
Read more »

May
28th

UW professor predicts tea party bump won’t last

The tea party has gotten a boost from reports that it was targeted for special scrutiny by the Internal Revenue Service. Support has increased from 28 percent in March to 37 percent in a poll released May 20.

But Christopher S. Parker, the Stuart A. Scheingold Professor of Social Justice and Political Science at the University of Washington, doubts the bump will be long-term. In a new article written for CNN, he says that to remain viable in coming years, the tea party likely will have to play up two issues that resonate with its core: immigration and same-sex marriage.

Read more »

May
27th

Should Shinseki resign?

The Veterans Affairs backlog in handling vets’ disability claims has some calling for VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign. Boston Globe columnist Juliette Kayyem says that although Shinseki’s effectiveness has been undermined by his reluctance to play the D.C. political game, he shouldn’t quit. She writes:

Shinseki is in a generational battle as much as a bureaucratic one. He is the quiet leader at a time when veterans need a persistent public nuisance.

Here’s the entire article.

By Juliette Kayyem
The Boston Globe

This week, we honor those who have died in America’s wars. And those who survive. Veterans

Read more »

May
23rd

This voter guide is supersized

If you’re like me, you get a little peeved by the variety of phone books that show up on the doorstep. I generally keep one and pitch the rest right into the recycling bin to cut down on the clutter.

Now consider the voter guide that comes in the mail prior to elections. What if it were the size and heft of a phone book?

That’s the case in San Francisco, where the voter guide this year will be more than 500 pages. (Read about it here.) Blame a referendum on the height of a waterfront luxury condo project

Read more »