Open Thread for Monday, December 8, 2014

I couldn’t suppress a yawn when I saw this Tweet:

Taylor Swift? Did no news happen at all this year? I mean, I think I saw that name, Taylor Swift, in some headlines. But I don’t remember what they were about — except for one story I saw that was about people body-shaming her for being skinny. Folks, that ain’t news. The only way weight constitutes news (other than as a national health trend story) is when it appears as part of “throw-weight.” Right, ladies?

Well… maybe she’s as good a choice as any, judging by the available news today. But here are a couple of possible topics (nothing local; sorry):

  1. G.O.P. Donors Seek to Anoint Establishment Favorite Early — Hey, the Democrats have one; why shouldn’t the Republicans? Who should be the GOP Hillary? Jeb Bush? Chris Christie? Mitt Romney again? This makes me all nostalgic — the smoke-filled room! It sure would help the party to avoid the embarrassing spectacle of last time around, in which each of the more extreme options had a turn as Front-Runner of the Week…
  2. 5 questions about the CIA interrogation report — This hasn’t even happened yet, and The Guardian (being the Guardian, and therefore kneejerk-tiresome on security issues) is already leading with it. Basically, this is expected to find what we already knew: Torture’s not such a great interrogation technique.
  3. Ebola Cases Are Down, So Should Liberians Stop Worrying? — This is relative. They’re still getting 100 new cases a week. Can you imagine the state we’d be in in this country if we were experiencing 100 new cases of Ebola each week?

Or whatever y’all want to talk about…

44 thoughts on “Open Thread for Monday, December 8, 2014

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      Well, there’s the rooming house issue I’m going to BoZA tomorrow AM about, but y’all outside the city don’t care about that. Front page on The State.

      1. Silence

        The rooming house issue is actually a pretty big one for quality of life. It’s a tough one to fight, too. Neighborhoods of single family homes get overwhelmed quickly when houses turn to rooming houses. 3 or 4 tenants quickly become 6 or 8 people once girlfriends/boyfriends move in. Single car-width driveways quickly give way to street parking for 8 vehicles, which takes over the entire block. People in established neighborhoods (and especially with small children) don’t want the noise/disturbance of college students partying and coming and going late in the night. It’s a definite quality of life issue.

      2. Lynn Teague

        The rooming house issue has elements that should interest everyone, because it goes to some pretty basic issues. There has been a very active discussion of this on a Shandon Facebook page yesterday and today, with one commenter objecting to regulating the number of unrelated people in a house because any restriction violates the “spirit of freedom and capitalism.” Hmm. I didn’t know that unregulated capitalism has a spirit that should be preserved inviolate at all costs. Is that in the Constitution? I must have missed it. I thought the Constitution has been interpreted to mean that government must show a compelling public interest in order to regulate the use of private property, but that once that is demonstrated government has a right to protect the group from the decisions of individuals that would harm others. When we had six unrelated men living in half of a duplex behind us, the results were harmful to us and to neighbors.

        This brings to mind Cindi Scoppe’s editorial today on the need for better citizenship education. Someone needs to explain to the most radical libertarians that they may believe what they choose, but the country was not founded on the extreme political philosophy that they support. As a professional anthropologist, I’d add that human societies simply do not function on the basis of unrestricted personal freedom. Every human society compels its members to play by some set of rules in order to protect and preserve the society as a whole. When large numbers of people are jammed into urban areas, those rules become especially important.

        1. M.Prince

          Here! Here!

          And I should add that in fora like this, I’ve noticed it’s often women who remind us of these better, or at least more domesticated angels of our nature.
          While men tend to beat their chests (or their tom-toms) and loudly chant the call of the wild.

        2. Doug Ross

          “but the country was not founded on the extreme political philosophy that they support. ”

          You’re talking about liberal progressives, right? I don’t think the Founders imagined things like income tax, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, No Child Left Behind, Food Stamps, etc… they wouldn’t recognize the country that has evolved from their original design.

          1. Mark Stewart

            I would argue that the Founding Fathers would, in general, be both amazed and proud of what successive generations have been able to form within the framework of those 18th century ideals and frameworks.

      3. Kathryn Fenner

        BoZA denied the request, 6-1. Besides me, there were reps from Whaley NA, Wales Garden NA, Mulberry Street HOA and Ryan Nevius (Emerita ED of Sustainable Midlands and nearby landlord).

        The applicant rode down in the elevator with us and acted a right jerk, complaining that “the neighbors whould have come to him first”– We all tried that a few times, but it gets old and doesn’t work well. Besides, he lives in Simpsonville. He vowed to turn it into a duplex after swearing in testimony he could not afford to.

        1. Silence

          It’s usually a bad sign when the applicant needs both a special exception AND a variance in order to do what he/she wants to do. As far as turning it into a duplex, he might be able to do that. In an RG-2 district he can, and he’s got enough lot area to make that happen. Does he have 4 off-street parking spaces? Perhaps the DP or CC1 zoning overlays might offer some protection? At a minimum he probably couldn’t cut an additional front door in it.

  1. Mark Stewart

    How about the recent story about Amazon spending $800 million to develop warehouse picker robots?

    It was swell how SC (or was it just the Governor?) fell all over itself giving sales tax & property tax benefits to “entice” Amazon to locate in Cayce – claiming that the retailer would “bring great jobs”. What happens when most of the (low paid in any event) jobs disappear? Institute a distribution center robot tax?

      1. Mark Stewart

        Now we know why Amazon went to the mat to get its sales tax exemptions – it was a win/win scenario for the company.

        Of course that made it loose/loose for SC…

        1. Juan Caruso

          As to:

          1. G.O.P. Donors Seek to Anoint Establishment Favorite Early – No news here because high-priced, influential K-Street lobbyists supporting the ‘Three Stooges’ pictured are not identified (perhaps due to degree of difficulty for journalists or degree of discomfort for editors).

          The real news is that no dark horse (other than the familiar dozen or so OTHER names everyone has heard being bandied about) has emerged as a character assassination target for Democratich opposition research teams to vanquish cheaply. The longer the delay, the more possibilities will have to be considered and at greater cost to the now suffering party faithful donors.

          Republichans, the putative opposing party, engage less (and quite a bit less successfully) in character assassination of Democratich candidates, which may be the single Republichan virtue as faux opponents of Democratichs.

        2. Juan Caruso

          Mark, I agree with your point, but is moot. I would not worry abot Amazon warehouse robots taking too many jobs just yet.

          Jeff Bezos’s team utopian dream team is yet to make a profit, and just had to publicly reconsider the feasibility of using drones for widespread deliveries, having finally come to terms with the need to repay private (unlike Solyndra).investors. As I had told Bradwarthen readers months ago, drones are better suited for USPS deliveries of letter mail (which would be immensely problematic than for widespread delivery of small Amazon parcels).

          What could go wrong with robots? Retrieval, storage, traffic safety, and breakdowns for starters. Lastly, if Amazon cuts a significant number of full-time employees in favor of robots, it will just have rekindled the efforts of organized labor — a prospect that will instantly cut its stock value by a large chunk. So much for competing with Walmart.

          As usual, utopians get their science fiction confused with technological realities and often end up like Solyndra (and the other 3 dozen or so bankrupts).

  2. Pat

    Swift pulled her albums off Spotify and, in doing so, rocked the music industry. Or at least that is how I understand it. It is supposed to help her profits as well as some artists who are less successful.

  3. bud

    Jobs created in November 300K+. Unemployment Rate steady at 5.8%, 1% lower, yes LOWER, than at the same point in Saint Ronnie’s presidency. National budget deficit is waaaay down. This also is in contrast to the sky high deficits we suffered through in he 80s. Inflation remains low. Far fewer troops dying overseas than at any time since 2000. Number of Americans with health insurance on the rise. Gasoline prices waaay down. DOW setting records daily. In spite of all the nattering by folks like Lindsey Graham our national security has never been better. Indeed Mr. Graham is the one full of crap.

    Despite this vast array of positive indicators the propaganda machine of the plutocracy has branded this presidency a failure. Amazing what the ingenuity of the American marketing machine can pull off. The American people have been fooled by the likes of Fox News which is a shame. We can do better than fall victim to the nonsense of these utterly discredited band of disinformation peddlers. Hopefully folks will eventually come around. In the meantime we can enjoy the next 24 months in relative peace and prosperity and brace for the impending implosion brought on by the political version of Typhoid Mary – A GOP president.

    1. Silence

      92 million people out of the workforce. Interest rates being held artificially low by the Federal Reserve. 18 trillion dollars of federal debt. Little to no real economic growth. Billions wasted in failed stimulus. Gridlock in Washington. Government failing to perform even basic functions correctly.

    2. Silence

      Annual (2014) federal spending hits $28,826 per household. Federal workers’ morale hits lowest point in years. “Chelsea” Manning accuses government of denying “her” civil rights. Department of Justice causes chaos by organizing mass race protests after police shootings.

      1. Juan Caruso

        Bradley Manning requested a presidential pardon for his alter-ego, Chelsea Manning.
        Neither plans to fully serve his 35-year prison sentence. Bradley and Chelsea’s attorney have requested a presidential pardon from Obama. The list of pardon applicants in about 2 years now includes Bradley/Chelsea, ex Maj Hasan (Ft Hood workplace violence MD), and Sgt Bergdahl should the latter need one.

        Had Congress actually promulgated a “declaration of war” for the military actions that deployed Manning and Bergdahl, and was about to deploy Hasan, all would have been executed by now, and several U.S. Senators would probably be sweating exposur of some of their own treasonous acts.

        “For history does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid. ” Dwight Eisenhower

        Modern translation: Sissification of the U.S. military under successive Commanders in Chief since Ronald Reagan is makes the U.S. an inviting target for real-world bad actors. That our nuclear deterrent would never be used by the likes of the Bushes, Clinton or Obama is perceived by those who have the will to wipe out you and your grandchildren.

    1. Doug Ross

      So basically they are gutting the building and putting in a bunch of apartments and hotel rooms. And from what I can see, the two bedroom units appear to have one bedroom with no windows… and many of the other units appear to be very limited in terms of windows. Or is this basically going to end up looking like a Hampton Inn?

      1. Silence

        I don’t think that bedrooms with no window meet code requirements, either for ventilation and natural light, or for egress. Not an expert on commercial building & fire codes, though.

      2. Mark Stewart

        Doug, this is a building with windows at 6′ above (sloped) floors and bisected at regular intervals (at what 30+/- ft?) by firewalls and of an uninhabitable depth. So of course the answer is cut it up into residential units! I mean, duh!

        This may be highest and best use; but from a user perspective it is a ridiculous effort. Looking at the floorplans I see this as most like an old SRO hotel – but maybe one best for exhibitionists and voyeurs given the inside fishbowl apartments and hotel rooms.

        The units will step up on the inside, or ramp up, as each will be on a different level so as to add flat floors underfoot and the units will sort of wedding cake down from the center to the north/south sides. Nowhere did anyone mention that the wood ceilings above also slope – so either these old structures will actually be boxed in with generic sheetrock or else the units will look less quaint and more ramshackle on the inside with the odd ceilings slopping side to side. The there is the most egregious development choice; in order to create the required light and air for each unit the developer is going to cut the roof open and create lightwells into the center of the building. Also unaddressed in the report is whether this will be roofed over in glass (which I would assume to protect the structural integrity of the building against water intrusion). Either way, the light well looks to be about 30′ across. So the interior units will have one wall of glass which looks straight across into another unit! With no other light or air! Then non of the bedrooms even have windows in them – only the single “common room” for the living room/kitchen has natural light.

        Also unaddressed is where and how HVAC units are going to be incorporated into both the units and the exterior look of the building. Maybe the developer plans to add a remote central plant along the train tracks? Or more likely, just left out the individual units – since they do tend to clutter up any architectural plan with their banal, assertive necessity. That’s what reality often does…

        Clearly this is intended for student housing – but still this is real dreck from an occupant perspective. The Olympia Mill this is not.

        I like the building’s facade; but let’s face it, this is a cotton storage warehouse. I think this development effort demonstrates the folly of trying to save this particular building. Maybe the best thing to do would be to save the three main facades and otherwise completely demo the structure and build new within – and above? This way the floors could actually be raised to bring the existing (though still small) windows into proper relation with the floors for human occupancy. To me, that seems like a better preservation move than saving the interior and enlarging the existing fenestrations – which will significantly alter the facades.

        1. Doug Ross

          Thanks, Mark, for an expert opinion.

          And, really, I don’t care what it looks like. I’m more interested in the final accounting as to what this endeavor cost the city. I hope there is a big ceremony where all the parties stand around and pass a huge prop check from the developers to the Mayor with a number greater than $100,000.

          1. Mark Stewart

            As was true on the day the City bought the place, the property is still worth $2-2.5 million, in my personal opinion. It was worth more to the first developer based upon developable value; but once total demolition was off the table so was that potential valuation. If the City expects to recoup its funds “invested” then it should demolish the structure. If not and saving the structure is the goal, then the City should never have made the purchase at the lofty price that it did.

            The story that should be pursued is the who and how of the fleecing of the City by the previous property owners. I don’t begrudge them of the opportunity to make a buck; but I do look disdainfully upon those who gorge themselves at the public trough (and those who advise them) – especially when otherwise extolling their civic-minded virtues. The reasons that the City Council chose to step up and approve the City’s acquisition also deserves real scrutiny.

            1. Kathryn Fenner

              Agreed. I would look at connections between Cameron Runyan, who blocked the historic status that would have brought the sellers to the table with the ultimate buyers, and the sellers at McNair. Lots of connections there….

            2. Silence

              Well, given that they are going for Bailey Bill pre-approval, that will keep the taxes low on this thing for a while. At current levels for the next 20 years…
              Also, isn’t there a move afoot already to get rid of Cameron? i’ve heard whispers from one potential candidate who claimed he’s got 50k committed already, but perhaps others have heard from other likely candidates for the at-large seat?

            3. Brad Warthen Post author

              On the Cameron front…

              One of my more recent new Twitter followers is this one:

              It’s only got 86 followers, but considering that it’s only posted three Tweets, that’s not bad…

            4. Brad Warthen Post author

              Interestingly, one of those “liking” that Facebook page is Jaime Harrison, chairman of the state Democratic Party.

              Ummmm… I thought Cameron was a Democrat…

            5. Kathryn Fenner

              I have heard from a prime mover and shaker in the Democratic side that a poll testing various candidates vs. CR is in the works.
              Cameron is that sort of Democrat whose daddy is a “trial lawyer,” as they say, so is a Democrat, but is so heavily socially conservative b/c of his Baptist upbringing that he is unpalatable to many Democrats. His rigid stance on extending benefits to same sex partners is what really got folks attention, but they just weren’t paying close attention before.

            6. Silence

              Maybe I’ll throw my hat in the ring, take a leave of absence from blog commenting and trolling people, and run against Cameron Funyan. I wonder how I’d do in a poll test?
              “In this corner, weighing in at 200 lbs, with a record of zero wins and zero losses, hailing from parts unknown, Silence!”

            7. Silence

              Money talks, Kathryn. Gotta raise bank to unseat an incumbent. You should run! I would love to do it, but I’m too busy…

            8. Kathryn Fenner

              My source would back a winnable opponent, and she has the bank.
              I truly doubt I have the patience for the job!

            9. Bryan Caskey

              Someone should put a “Help Wanted” ad in the Newspaper, and list the criteria they are looking for.

              “Help Wanted: City of Columbia Seeks Applicant for Immediate Hire. Any potential applicant: Must have high school degree of better, must have the patience of Job, must be able to provide own transportation, must have fewer sex scandals than the a potential co-worker, must be more tolerant of homosexuality than current employee to be replaced, must be a self-starter, must not fall asleep during boring meetings, must enjoy shaking hands. Salary is poor, working hours negotiable.”

              Something like that…

      1. Silence

        Anytime, Mark! Glad to hear your professional thoughts on the PCW property. Hope all is well with you!

        1. Mark Stewart

          All expressions, whether thoughtful or otherwise, are my own personal opinions only. Professionally, I have a day job doing other things.

          But thanks Silence, and things are great!

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