Monthly Archives: February 2012

Sagan on Life in the Cosmos

‎”There are a hundred billion galaxies and a billion trillion stars. Why should this modest planet be the only inhabited world? To me, it seems far more likely the cosmos is brimming over with life and intelligence. But so far, every living thing, every conscious being, every civilization we know anything about lived there, on Earth.” – Carl Sagan, Cosmos, Episode 1

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The Upper Deck is Closed

This weekend, the west bound lanes of the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge are closed to facilitate work on the approach the new eastern span. At about T-45 minutes to the scheduled time of the closure, I decided to try and be one of the last cars over the bridge before it closed at 8PM. I loaded the kids in the car and headed out. I had some extra time so, I took a circuitous route and headed to the 880 approach to the bridge. As I approached the split, I saw that Caltrans and the CHP were in the process of closing the approach. I sped up and safely made it around the cone laying truck and made it on to the approach to the bridge.

The toll plaza was practically empty and the bridge was the same. I got off at Treasure Island because I wanted to be on the bridge when there weren’t any other cars on it. I traversed the road from the upper deck to Treasure Island a couple fo time, as it runs right over the west end of the Yerba Buena Island Tunnel. It was an amazing view to see the upper deck unoccupied. At one point, all the lights on the upper deck went out. Yes, I said all the lights, the cable, road and sign lights. All went out at the same time. I got a couple of pictures once the cable lights were back on, but they’re still amazing photos.

Shortly thereafter, I headed on to the bridge and got some photos and video. Driving an an empty upper deck was a strange and cool experience!

Click to see the full set on Flickr, including the video.

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A Civil Debate

Last night, the Washington State Senate passed Senate Bill 6239 last night, a bill that would allow same-sex couples to marry in the state of Washington if passed by the House and signed by the Governor. However, I’m not writing on the subject matter of the bill, I’m writing on the civility of the debate. Having worked in the Washington State Senate for five legislative sessions, I’ve seen my fair share of debates. Some good, some bad, and some downright ugly. The ugly debates usually center around hot button issues and usually aren’t any better than kids calling each other names ont the playground.

Last night’s debate on SB 6239 was amazing for its civility. It was also amazing as a statement of how far the Senate has come in the last 6 years. In 2006, the debate over House Bill 2661, which added sexual orientation to the list of protected classes under civil rights laws, was an example of the ugly. There was name calling, scare tactics, and hyperbole on both sides of the issue. It was a sad example of political debate. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 25-23, which is the minimum number of votes a bill can get and pass.

Contrast  that with last night’s debate on SB 6239, which was respectful, filled with decorum, and an example of what a good debate should be. Senators who supported and opposed the bill got up, made reasonable arguments for their case and sat down. They didn’t engage in scare tactics, fear mongering, or hyperbole. It was an amazing sight. I was particularly impressed with the lack of any parliamentary games or fights over amendments. Twelve amendments were offered, some were passed and defeated by voice votes, and some on roll calls. There were no parliamentary games or delaying tactics. The opposition, didn’t use the rules of the Senate to attempt to slow the bill down, which is their right. They conformed to the practices of the body and let the bill move forward.

Regardless of how you feel about the subject matter contained in the bill, it was a good night for our representative democracy.

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