Monthly Archives: July 2004

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I hereby rescind my ringing endorsement of Flexcar. It's a great idea. A wonderful, fantastic idea. But here's the thing: if you're car-free, you are not going to reserve a car unless you really need it. It isn't casual, and it isn't something you do every day. So, when you reserve a car, it needs to work.

By way of explanation, when you sign up for Flexcar, you get a card to unlock the doors. The card is placed against the back window of the car, just above a card reader.

Unfortunately, there is a problem with the card readers on the Flexcars. They don't work when it gets hot. It doesn't even have to be particularly hot--it's in the 70s right now, and the card reader isn't functioning, I assume because it's in direct sunlight. I've had the problem twice now. I would blame my card, but I have no problem unlocking a car when the back window is cool.

Portland has a wide range of outdoor temperatures, and the heat we are experiencing now is not particularly unusual. Summers regularly range into the 90s. A car that won't unlock in the heat could leave you stranded in the middle of nowhere.

I've talked with Flexcar, and they're very apologetic, and are working to get a better card reader in the cars. They are even rotating cars out of the garage all day to prevent the problem (though this only increases your chance of being stranded on a hot day). But they've been around for a few years--in Los Angeles, and the problem hasn't been fixed yet, so I'm not holding my breath.

A quick warning to other Portland bloggers: I was just comment spammed by familiar local businessman. I deleted the comment, and I shall not mention his name directly, but I'm sure many of you know of him. His name is William, and he claims to be honest. In a fair sort of way. I have heard from reliable sources that he is, in fact, a tremendous asshole. Now I believe it.

His spam mentioned how I should feel free not to shop at his new store, but I should write all about it, because one post = 100 customers. I think he'll find that is not always true.

I've often been puzzled as to why flags are or are not at half-staff. Many times it seems they are flying low, yet I can remember no one of national stature having died recently. I've scoured the web many times to no avail, but it's often true that if you wait long enough, something will pop up. Flag Half Staff will tell you if your flag should be at half-staff, and why. The front page is for national announcements, and you can click State Flags for local.

In looking for this, I learned something new: it's not just the president who is empowered to order the flag lowered. The governor of a state can also make the decision to remember the honored dead of their state, as Governor Kulongoski has done today for Lance Cpl. Kelly.

A good time was had by all at yesterday's Webvisions conference. I finally got to meet Anil, who gave a good talk on--what else--weblogging. I also zeroed in on Nick as soon as I could, and asked him to introduce me to Paul Bausch of ORblogs. I keep just missing Paul, and I had a feeling he was someone whose ideas I would like. I was right. We chatted for a bit about building community with other Oregon bloggers. Two key items: meatspace meetings are essential, and Portland isn't the center of the world. Okay, I think Portland is the center of the world, but I'm willing to cede the point. I'm even willing to rent a car and drive a bit, if that's what it takes. It would be nice to link Portland Bloggers to other, sister blogging groups, like the lively one in Bend.

All in all, an inspiring and informative (though a tad disorganized) event. Good job, Webvisions! I look forward to attending next year.

I've been waiting for this to become available at the PBS site. A few weeks ago, David Brancaccio interviewed Frank Lutz, a republican "pollster"--the man who puts the words in the GOP's mouth.

When DB asked Luntz how he could justify confusing the public re: Iraq's (non-existent) involvement in 9/11 by continually, as a matter of policy, mentioning Saddam and Bin Laden in every speech, he says:

"Okay. But you say caused by. That's actually not the wording of the research. It's did Iraq play any role or is there a connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda? I don't even know if it's Al Qaeda or Al "Kida". I hear Bush Administration officials call it both.

They don't say cause. And this is where I focus on words. Is there a relationship? Are these bad people? Was Saddam Hussein a bad person? Is Osama bin Laden a bad person? The answer is absolutely yes. "

Hmm, let's try this out. Genghis Khan, Murrow Building. Khan, Murrow. Khan, McVeigh?

After a while, it might work. But that doesn't make it right. Luntz is an absolute master of doublespeak, and this interview saw my jaw on the floor for minutes.

This interview is a must for anyone watching the media. Here's the transcript, and here's the video.