98104: Responsiveness, And Why We Don’t Have It

Steve Banfield:

great post on the challenges of truly engaged leadership from local government and the territorial attitudes that keep neighborhoods from working together to improve everyone’s lives

Originally posted on People of Pioneer Square:


In this country, citizens across a broad spectrum of diverse backgrounds don’t often come together over a cause. We just don’t organize much anymore. Our rights and liberties were bought and fought for some time ago. Or so we think –

We expect our water and electricity to just work. We expect to easily cross neighborhood boundaries for markets, brunches, or parks without incident. We hope our voting mechanisms work, and when they don’t, we are outraged – and tell everyone on Facebook things should be different.

Generally speaking, most citizens have very little insight to what government actually does. And government probably feels that citizens are entitled, complacent, and whiney. Both perspectives are accurate.

This didn’t just happen, it’s been in the works for a very long time. The system in which we operate (society/neighborhoods and government) are not really designed for openness and responsiveness. They are designed to run as efficiently as possible for…

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Moore’s law gives way to Bezos’s law

Steve Banfield:

50% price reduction every three years — definitely an interesting idea to map against future computing needs for any business, and product planning requirements in datacenter and online service build outs

Originally posted on Gigaom:

Cloud providers Google(s GOOG), Amazon(s AMZN)Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft(s MSFT) are doing some spring-cleaning, and it’s out with the old, in with the new when it comes to pricing services. The latest cuts make it clear there’s a new business model driving cloud that is every bit as exponential in growth — with order of magnitude improvements to pricing — as Moore’s Law has been to computing.

If you need a refresher, Moore’s Law is “the observation that, over the history of computing hardware, the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles approximately every two years.” I propose my own version, Bezos’s law. Named for Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, I define it as the observation that, over the history of cloud, a unit of computing power price is reduced by 50 percent approximately every three years.

I’ll show the math below, but if Bezos’ law reflects reality, the only conclusion…

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Dear Mr. Banfield,

Just over a month ago I witnessed a crime. It was a violent, unprovoked assault carried out by three people against a homeless man, all in the name of “respecting” the Firefighter’s Memorial in Occidental Park. I wrote about it here and it was reported by local news organizations as well. Eventually the incident garnered enough visibility that the Mayor had to respond.

Mr. Bennett Barr, correspondence writer for the Mayor’s office (his title according to his email signature) reached out to me after reading my blog post that had been reprinted in Crosscut.com. His email from March 25th is below.

Dear Mr. Banfield,

I read your article in Crosscut this morning, and wanted to follow up with you.  When I responded to your letter about the beating in Pioneer Square, I included the Mayor’s recent statement on the incident.  But that was not the entirety of our response.

When that response was sent to you on the 20th, I also forwarded the letters we received, including yours, to the Seattle Fire Department and the Seattle Police Department.  I thought it was important that both these departments understand the anger and frustration, as well as the sense of betrayal, thisincident elicited among residents.  I asked that the Seattle Fire Department respond directly to some residents and that this response include both an apology and a description of the steps the SFD will take to make sure this doesn’t happen again.   For the handful of letters, including yours, expressing concern at the SPD’s responsiveness to this incident, I asked the SPD to reply directly to these concerns and explain to residents why there seemed to be a delayed and insufficient response to the incident.  I directed that responses by the SFD and SPD be copied to the Mayor’s office, both to highlight the seriousness of the issue and so that the Mayor’s office can follow up directly with residents if we think these responses are in any way inadequate.

When I made these correspondence requests of SFD and SPD, I established a deadline for a response of 10 business days.  So, you will be receiving additional responses to your letter late next week.

All the best, and please let me know if you have any questions.

Bennett Barr
Correspondence Writer
City of Seattle, Office of the Mayor

Then nothing. Despite Mr. Barr’s email no one from SPD, SFD or the Mayor’s office has reached out to me to follow up on my concerns about the city’s response to the incident and the policing strategy in Pioneer Square around major sporting events. No emails and no phone calls.

The only person to seemed to care enough to contact me was a private investigator for one of the accused hoping to determine their client’s potential criminal liability.

That’s not to say the Mayor has done absolutely nothing, just almost nothing. In the last month the Mayor has apologized and promised to evaluate his options. He has led a “Stand for Compassion” event at the site of the attack, which from the accounts I’ve read was more oriented towards feeling bad for the homeless and good about ourselves than any serious consideration of the challenges within Pioneer Square. One blogger described it as the scene from “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” where all the Who’s in Whoville held hands around the tree.

Then earlier this month the Mayor organized a “Seattle Neighborhood Summit“, the highlights of which were almost zero Seattle police presence and the Mayor having to “shush” the audience thanks to a horribly planned agenda and venue selection. No discussion of the incident. No response to the de-policing of Pioneer Square. No focus on making Seattle’s downtown safe for everyone.

His Honor’s time could have been much better spent.

Now the King County prosecutor has now decided not to pursue felony charges against the three people arrested in connection with the incident due to “lack of evidence”. When no one actually talks to the witnesses it’s easy to decide there’s insufficient evidence. When the administration doesn’t want to see two Seattle Fire Department officers on felony assault charges, you don’t go looking reasons to charge them.

So we have a violent attack by two Seattle Fire Department officers on a homeless man in broad daylight in downtown where Seattle Police took forty minutes to finally respond to the 911 call, the TV cameras have come and gone, the Mayor’s wrung his hands about it and promised action but done nothing but hold hands and sing songs, Seattle Fire has yet to disclose how the attackers will be disciplined, and now the Prosecutor’s Office have washed their hands as well.

This is, in a word, unacceptable.

My original “letter to the Mayor” post tried to use the attack as an example of why the lack of police presence in Pioneer Square around major sporting events (in this case a Seattle Sounders game) was a dangerous failure of Mayor Murray’s administration. It was also a failure that could be easily addressed, making Pioneer Square safer for residents and visitors alike.

But it’s more than just an issue of policing strategy now. I’d like to think that years of binge watching The Wire hasn’t made me completely cynical about big city politics but after seeing this, perhaps I should be. If Mayor Murray was serious about public safety then the firefighters in question would already be fired, SPD would have explained publicly why it took them 40 minutes to respond, the Mayor would have delivered a plan on how the police presence around major events (Seahawks and Sounders games, etc) would be adjusted and the prosecutor’s office would have taken pursuit of the attack seriously. None of those things have happened.

Until this Mayor actually does something besides shush the crowd then Seattle won’t be safe nor our citizens treated with respect.


Flickr Friday: An Old Favorite

marblehead overlook

I took this picture in 1997, during my time in Boston for business school. It’s a scan from a slide of a series of photos around Marblehead, MA. Every time I see these old photos, including the one that became the inspiration for The End of the Point jacket cover, it reminds me of ocean breezes, warm summers and crisp fall days exploring New England.


An Emulated Commodore 64 Operating System for the Raspberry Pi

Steve Banfield:

the need equivalent of crossing the streams, the cheapest computer today emulating the computer I learned on as a kid

Originally posted on Hackaday:


It’s no secret that Commodore users love their old machines with the Commodore C64 being chief among them with 27 Million units sold worldwide. Speaking as a former Commodore Business Machines (CBM) engineer the real surprise for us is the ongoing interest and devotion to an era typified by lumbering 8 bit machines and a color palette consisting of 16 colors. Come to think about it, that’s the description of Minecraft!

Jump forward to today and it’s a generation later. We find that the number of working units is diminishing as age and the laws of entropy and physics take their toll.

Enter the Commodore Pi, an emulated Commodore 64 operating system for the Raspberry Pi. The goals of the project include an HDMI and composite compatible video output, SID based sound, Sprites and other notable Commodore features. They also plan to have hooks for more modern technology to include…

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Flickr Friday: Kings of New Orleans



UntitledI’m starting something new this week. I’ve talked a lot about my photography on this blog (here, here and here), but feel like I take a lot more pictures than I highlight. I try to bring a camera and take a picture as I travel and have gotten some good shots. To push myself to shoot, share and speak more about my photos I’m starting “Flickr Friday”.

Every Friday I’m going to select a photo from my Flickr photostream and share it here. I’ll give a litle background about where and when I took it and why I like it.

This photo from New Orleans seemed like a good place to start. I was walking down Bourbon Street with my Fujifilm X100s working on my discrete street photography when I snapped this photo outside one of the clubs. The camera was set to shoot in black and white and while I could have straightened the composition afterward, I think the off-angle look fit the subjects.

This is just the first Flickr Friday post so come back each week to let me know what you think. Feedbacks, critiques and ideas for new subjects always welcome.