Friday, December 30, 2005

Reason: Cheney Dreams of Nixonian Glory Days

It's hard to make the call who is the worst President of modern times: Richard Nixon or George W. Bush. On the one hand you have a classic scowling villain, on the other you have a guy with a very simplistic world view that thinks anything he does is justified in a war against Evil.

I never made the connection that the Bush Administration is consciously trying to resurrect the Camelot that was the Nixon Administration. Check out these quotes from Cheney on the Reason Hit and Run blog:

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Hugh Downs on libertarianism

An interesting interview with former 20/20 co-host, Hugh Downs:

An Interview with Hugh Downs

BW: If you were the president right now, what would you do about our presence in Iraq?

HD: I'll tell you why I would bring the troops home. There are several options -- all of them bad. And when you look at the option of bringing the troops home right away, you got to admit it's a terrible option -- there would be an awful, immediate increase in bloodshed. But I examined the other options, one by one, and they are all worse. And if we insist on staying there, that's the worse thing we can do. So, I think, yeah, it's going to be awful, but I'd like to bring them home.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Bach Talk: The Importance of Discomfort

Just posted to a "think piece" on the value of exposing yourself to facts that don't comforably fit into your political views:

"The Importance of Discomfort"

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Is "The Garage" Still Free?

HP recently completed restoration of the Palo Alto garage where Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard started the first Silicon Valley company:

Kim Vo, San Jose Mercury News: "Makeover of an icon"
(requires sign in)

I was curious whether Hewlett and Packard could legally do today what they did in 1938. Could some pesky neighbor have had them shut down for running a business where a business isn't allowed, or have them evicted because Hewlett was living in a shed in the back yard?

A Palo Alto zoning map (PDF document) shows that 367 Addison Avenue is zoned R-2, "Two Family Residential District". The Palo Alto Municipal Code, defines "two-family use" as "the use of a site for two dwelling units, which may be within the same building or separate buildings" and "dwelling unit" as "a room or group of rooms including living, sleeping, eating, cooking, and sanitation/bathing facilities, constituting a separate and independent housekeeping unit, occupied or intended for occupancy on a nontransient basis and having not more than one kitchen." If I am interpreting the rules correctly, Hewlett and Packard would be in violation of the rules since they occupied a total of three separate dwelling units: Hewlett lived in the shed, the Packards lived in the downstairs part of the house, and the owner lived upstairs. Or they would be in violation because Hewlett lived in a shed that didn't have its own sanitation facilities (I assume).

So much for that. For all I know, their living arrangement was in violation of Palo Alto's 1938 zoning laws, too.

The really interesting thing I discovered is that Palo Alto is one of the few cities in California that doesn't require business licenses:

Do I need a business license?

"Request for Council Direction Regarding Institution of Business Registry Fee or a Business License Tax" (PDF)

To a libertarian, this is a very cool discovery. A modern city government has left its hands off an entire area of human endeavor! (The down side is the city council are considering instating business licenses so they can attach a tax to the licenses.)

Conclusion: A modern-day Hewlett and Packard could start a company in that same Palo Alto garage today, but they would technically be in violation of Palo Alto's occupancy laws if they had the same bedroom arrangments.