Seattle

Something to Keep in Mind (Minimumawecity Mix)

McPoverty protesters outside Wendy's restaurant on Lake City Way in Seattle on Thursday, Feb. 20. (Photo: Joshua McNichols/KUOW)

Barry Ritholtz, for Bloomberg:

Consider as an example what Mark Perry, at the American Enterprise Institute, wrote a month before the first phase of Seattle’s new minimum-wage law went into effect. The city’s “government-mandated wage floor … guarantees reduced employment opportunities for many workers.”

As one of my colleagues wrote last week, the “unemployment rate in the city of Seattle―the tip of the spear when it comes to minimum wage experiments―has now hit a new cycle low of 3.4%.” Meanwhile, a University of Washington study on the minimum wage law found little or no evidence of job losses or business closings.

Although you can never declare a game over until the final whistle, this experiment is starting to look like a rout.

Given the strangely anti-labor mood in which Americans find themselves, remember this when we start hearing about what a bad idea a useful minimum wage is supposed to be.

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Image note: McPoverty protesters outside Wendy’s restaurant on Lake City Way in Seattle on Thursday, 20 February 2016. (Photo: Joshua McNichols/KUOW)

Ritholtz, Barry. “Minimum-Wage Foes Tripped Up by Facts”. Bloomberg View. 7 December 2016.

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Counterproductive

Anonymity is not without its value.

And it is also true that vandalism really does suck, and is a poor method for political communication in the industrialized world.

Illustration by Steven Weissman, 8 April 2015, for The Stranger.Those two businesses are owned by some really nice people (one of whom I see busting his ass every morning at 5:30 a.m., trying to make a living) who had to spend a ton of money to hire the graffiti squad to come clean up your spray-paint vomit. If you’d seen the disappointment in their faces, I’d like to think you’d be ashamed of yourself. Here’s the good news: Guess who has really stepped up patrols in the neighborhood? That’s right, the fuzz! They took a keen interest in your most recent act of stupidity. I hope they arrest you and make you drink your own paint.

(Anonymous)

But we have a problem in Seattle; the police department is a brutal, murderous gang. People really are pissed off about this. And while it is true that vandalism really sucks, it makes exactly no sense whatsoever to hope “the fuzz” go out of their way to make things worse. Advocating further police brutality gains nobody anything. Well, that’s not exactly true. The advocate can feel empowered by calling for other people to commit criminal violence. Then again, this only further harms a community already reeling under the burden of a police racket.

You, Anonymous, are part of the problem.

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Anonymous. “I, Anonymous”. The Stranger. 8 April 2015.

Pass/Fail

"TRUE OR FALSE: Objecting to certain police tactics is the same as hating all police officers."  (Jen Sorensen, 30 December 2014, via Daily Kos Comics)Remember how the cycle works.

It is a really simple idea: We would like to be able to support our law enforcement institutions and personnel.

This argument has been going on for a while; cartoonist Jen Sorensen asks an obvious question. Indeed, it is so obvious a question one need not wonder why the public discourse flees it in screaming terror.

So here’s the thing: When an ugly episode arises involving law enforcement, we are reminded that these episodes come about because of a proverbial few bad seeds. Yet these few seem rather quite protected by other police traditions that require the participation of the rest of those allegedly good officers. Didn’t see a thing, or the guy was definitely reaching for a gun, or what, do you want a guilty person to go free just because of a technicality?

But that is just a fallacy, a fundamentally dishonest reaction. It always seems to come down to an all-or-nothing proposition put before us by police supporters.

(more…)

An Unintended Consequence

Seahawks-2014-logoPerhaps ouch! is sufficient.

That is to say, it was certainly an enjoyable game, at least from a Pacific Northwestern perspective, but it would seem something more is taking place.

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury-News brings the commentary:

49ers-logoThe 49ers don’t just have a Seattle problem any more, now they have an Everything Problem.

But it starts with Seattle. Oh my, it all begins with Richard Sherman, Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll and every part of the 49ers’ ongoing — and expanding — Seahawks Nightmare.

Might end with Seattle, too.

The Seahawks have beaten the 49ers before, but on Thursday at Levi’s Stadium before a national TV audience, Seattle shook the 49ers to their very core.

Yeah. It’s gloomy.

(more…)

Something About Justice

Detail of cartoon by Matt Wuerker, 27 November 2014 (via Daily Kos Comics)This is what it comes to. This is the problem. And no, it is not so simple as black and white.

Jenny Durkan, formerly a U.S. Attorney from Seattle, offered some insights recently, in the wake of the Ferguson Grand Jury decision to not charge Officer Darren Wilson with any crimes related to the shooting death of Michael Brown, about why it is hard to secure any sense of justice when police officers have the appearance of being criminals. “I know firsthand,” she writes, “how difficult it is to prosecute police officers.” And then she recounts a really awful period in the history of the Seattle Police Department, a force whose misconduct demanded and received federal attention, a story that is still playing out, a hyperdrama that includes the police complaining that they cannot do their jobs properly and safely without excessive force.

There comes a point at which some might argue that of course the police are going to fight for every last scrap of force, and it really is properly arguable in the context of how the laws of our society operate and intermingle with diverse customs. Trying to identify a threshold between what is tacitly known and accepted—officers can customize their incident reports, omitting or rearranging details as they please to make for a more prosecutable narrative, and the state is allowed to destroy the evidence that would support or contradict those narratives—is an abstraction both peculiar and common. It is customarily inappropriate to speak ill of the police in any terms, which is its own bizarre question insofar as we should not hold our breath for any explanation of just how one applies to become black.

(more…)

Virtually Cool

Clint Dempsey of Sounders FC is depicted in FIFA 15 for Xbox.

Shane Evans notes the interesting statistics surrounding the many video game lives of Sounders FC:

If you’re a soccer fan, chances are you enjoy playing a little FIFA 15 as well. If you’re a soccer fan in the USA, chances are (according to EA Sports) you’re playing FIFA 15 with the Sounders FC.

In a post on EASports.com, the Sounders FC was named as the most used MLS club in the USA with over 1.9 million matches played since the game was released on September 23. That’s a lot of FIFA right there.

He’s got a point. Then again, for an article about something seemingly so trivial, there isn’t a sentence that isn’t impressive.

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Evans, Shane. “FIFA 15 players in the United States really love using the Sounders FC”. SoundersFC.com. 25 November 2014.

Another Day in Pioneer Square

Seattle ....

Maybe he was just trying to be nice and give her a compliment ....

Police arrested a man after he groped and punched a woman in Pioneer Square Tuesday night.

The victim was walking on Third Avenue just after 5 p.m. when she noticed a shirtless man approaching her near Yesler Way, according to police. The man walked up behind the woman, stuck his hand inside her pants and repeatedly punched her in the head, police said.

(De Leon)

Right. So, gentlemen, you want to know why? Now you know why.

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De Leon, John. “Man punches, gropes woman in Pioneer Square attack”. The Seattle Times. 19 November 2014.

A Cheeky Chickie Champloo

Detail of 'Ampersand', by Barry Deutsch, 9 October 2014.  (Remix November, 2014.)The thing about “prevention” advocacy is that it can actually empower what it seeks to “prevent”. Consider all the things we deign to inform women about rape; there comes a point when telling women what they should and shouldn’t do becomes a quality of life issue. To wit, what about your clothes? When you go out on the town, wear clothes and shoes suitable for running, and you know, get a better haircut. At some point it sounds like this infintite prevention advocacy comes down to: “Plan your life around being sexually assaulted.” This would seem to invoke some sort of quality of life issue. Human rights. Who the hell other than women do we expect to live in perpetual fear?

No, really. Think about it. A year and a half ago, amid a string of sexual assaults and attempted abductions, Anna Minard of The Stranger (Seattle’s Only Newspaper) threw down the obvious gauntlet:

So, to review: Seattleites—and let’s be honest, we’re talking mostly to women here—as you go about your business, constantly scan your surroundings, memorizing detailed physical descriptions of people you encounter. Always know, down to the exact block, where you are and where the nearest security guard is and the hours of nearby businesses. Wear running shoes and loose, appropriate clothing—aka clothing appropriate for running away in. Bring your cell phone, but don’t use it to listen to music or text. And as you walk through the city like a human danger-scanner, walk confidently and keep your face neutral. You’re “in charge”!The Stranger

WHAT THE FUCK?

I’m sure the police department is working to solve these crimes. I’m sure they just want to remind people that we live in a city and crime is real and it can happen to you. But this is exactly the kind of shit that we are talking about when we talk about women being raised in a culture of fear and conditioned to certain behaviors and expectations—like the expectation that we’re the ducks in a giant game of Duck Hunt™ ....

.... Here, as a refresher, are the best rape prevention tips I’ve ever read:

8. Use the Buddy System! If it is inconvenient for you to stop yourself from raping women, ask a trusted friend to accompany you at all times.

That is the conversation I would like to see happening at the Seattle Police Department, and not just among women on women’s blogs. Not a convoluted and ever-growing list of how to prevent your own rape by wearing the right non-rapey hairstyle or crossing the street in the most anti-rape fashion or sleeping in past the raping hour.

That is not helping women and, obviously, it is not ending rape.

We might mention this particular iteration for any number of reasons, suffice to say that there do exist in this world social circles where the 2013 events in Seattle triggered a long-running dispute between associates, a microcosmic reiteration of a genuinely ridiculous debate.

(more…)

One Way to Get the Job Done

It is always tempting to tear a local police department a new orifice for every mere appearance of failure, but the truth of the matter is that we have no indication at this time that the Seattle Police Department even had a chance to laugh this one off:

A man who was arrested on Wednesday after allegedly groping 15 to 20 women near Pioneer Square has pleaded not guilty to four counts of fourth-degree assault with sexual motivation, according to the Seattle City Attorney’s Office.....

.... According to Seattle police, a group of women and witnesses on Wednesday helped chase down an intoxicated man who was groping women, following him from Second Avenue and James Street and calling 911 to report his location to officers.

Then again it is also true that a bad situation is much harder to ignore or, you know, laugh off when faced with the prospect of an appropriately righteous mob chasing down a sex crime suspect.

Meanwhile, it’s good to know that citizens in Seattle have each other’s backs.

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Green, Sara Jean. “Not-guilty plea to groping frenzy”. The Seattle Times. 3 November 2014.

Anonymous. “Thanks for Nothing, SPD”. The Stranger. 1 January 2014.

Not Surprising

Screengrab of BET.com, 28 October 2014, showing something about the odd contrast between grave news and pop-culture advertising.

Sometimes, well, it just isn’t surprising. To wit, we are not surprised

• … that a small-time Republican state legislator in New Hampshire plagiarized a speech against marriage equality two years ago.

• … that a small-time Republican state legislator now running for Secretary of State is a Birther, and now she doesn’t want to talk about it.

The lovable Jennifer Rubin just hates  President Obama.• … Jennifer Rubin will take the word of the Iranian government if it means she can criticize President Obama by doing so.

• … the Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer was “leaked”.

• … that more people are dead after another shooting.

• … or that Seattle has nothing on Chicago when it comes to deadly violence.

And we might also mention that we are not in the least surprised at the amount of unrelated various video websites want us to watch when we click in to read a news story. What’s that? An important news story? Here, we’ll autoplay “Chris Spencer’s Top 5”. Obviously, we’re out of the loop: Who is Chris Spencer? (Wait, wait, don’t tell me. Please.) Why do I care? (Again, I don’t.) And you’re seriously telling me there’s a show called Real Husbands of Hollywood? (Just stop already.) And, no, we’re not really singling out BET; this just happened to be the stark contrast at hand.

To the other, neither will we be surprised if we don’t try a “Not Surprising” list again in the future. These things just should not be thrown together on a moment’s notice.