The possum drop gambit

It’s a bit of a slow news week, so today I’m going to dip into the backlog to cover a story you may have missed.

If you’re a normal person, it’s likely that you have never encountered the words “possum drop” used to describe a thing before, so some background is in order. It seems that our lovely NC hill folk (don’t ever change, hill folk!) have a time honored tradition of lowering a living possum from a pole in a plexiglass box on New Years Eve. This is, one must assume, a sort of backwoods equivalent to the NYC apple, or the (already pretty rustic) Raleigh Acorn.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: pretty sweet, right? I mean, using dogs to capture one of those horrifying nocturnal rodents, sealing it up in a transparent box, shining bright lights on it, shooting fireworks off near it, and watching it freak out to some hillbilly cover band rocking out Auld Lang Syne – seriously, what could be more awesome?

Well, according to PETA, not doing those things to a live possum would be more awesome.

So PETA used a silly thing called “the law” to shut down the party; although the state Wildlife Resources Commission issues special exemptions to the state’s animal cruelty legislation for the event, a judge ruled that they lacked the authority to do so. The net result? 2012-2013 was dropless.

Now, that might have been the end of this little tale, but as you may recall an important thing happened in Raleigh on January 5, 2013: Pat McCrory was sworn in. And top on the agenda?

Possum drop, motherfuckers.

And so, on February fourth, 2013, as one of the early legislative priorities of the new GOP ultra-hyper-majority, HB66 was born. The bill, in laymans terms, says: “shit yeah, possum drop it like it’s hot, bitches!” In slightly less laymans terms, it provides several additional categories of use for which the WRC can issue exemptions to animal cruelty regulations, including “exhibition” and the delightfully vague “or other purposes.”

Now, PETA’s not one to roll over and play dead (lolz, possum joke), so they enlisted the big guns: Bob Barker.

Now, dear reader, I know what you’re thinking: yes, apparently Bob Barker is still alive, and I guess he’s donated his body (including his mouth) to PETA. But alas, the bill’s sponsors were unswayed by his impassioned appeals:

“If you would think for a moment,” Davis joked, referring to Barker’s famous tag line, “If you could ask an opossum…would you rather be gently lowered in a Plexiglas box or be spayed or neutered?”

Oh man, what a burn. Representative Davis went on to present the event in the most positive light one could reasonably expect:

“It’s a good, wholesome event. It’s an economic development tool for the area”… “They take a live, well-fed, happy opossum, and they put the possum in a Plexiglas box and lower it,” he said.  “It reaches the ground very gently at the stroke of midnight.”

Ah, it’s not so much a “drop in a cage,” as it is a descent from heaven on plexiglass wings. Oh, how I only wish I could know the joy that opossum must be feeling!

Unsurprisingly, governor Pencil Whip signed this sucker into law on March sixth, thus closing the brief chapter in state history where one could not get a permit to drop possums from poles.

And the hill folk rejoiced!

Upcoming bill would remove protections for wetlands and wadersheds

In a move intended to make the state more “business friendly,” I guess for businesses whose business models involve “dumping crap in rivers,” the Senate has proposed legislation that would 1) remove most state-level regulation and 2) pre-empt any local protection of wetlands.

When this passes (cause, let’s not kid ourselves, it’s gonna) localities won’t be able to do anything to protect their water supplies from development, runoff, dumping, etc, that are not covered already by Federal legislation.

As this pertains to Durham specifically, you could say goodbye to any local ordinances protecting Jordan lake. It’s gonna be a free-for-all down there.

ATT bridge over I-40 will go up this weekend

According to WUNC, the long awaited ped bridge that will link the ATT in Durham up with the route south of I-40 is going up this weekend. Note: “going up” does not mean “going to be finished,” but this is a major milestone on the way to July’s scheduled completion date. Traffic on I-40 will be detoured during the process on Sunday morning.

This is going to be a really nice addition for pedestrians and cyclists trying to get to the Southpoint area, as the ATT presently dead-ends into a shopping center north of the highway, forcing people to use the gnarly vehicle bridge instead. The goal is to eventually link the trail up directly with the corridor in Chatham County to create a unified greenway, but there are parts of the Chatham project that are still incomplete as well.

This expansion will allow yours truly to bike all the way from my house near downtown to Southpoint with only about a half mile spent on actual roads (assuming, for a moment, that I actually have any reason to go near Southpoint). Of course, this route runs through the crime infested wild-west that is the ATT right now, so you might want to hold off on the big ticket items while you’re down there.

Site news: links added to sidebar

I’ve started adding some links over to the right. You should check them out; most everything I post comes from one (or more) of those sources.

I’ve also set up a twitter account, which I may or may not use. If you want to see me cross-post stuff there, let me know, because until there’s demand I’ll probably just forget about it. I’ll keep writing this blog for a while regardless of whether anybody reads it, because I’m enjoying myself, but Twitter’s seriously not my bag.

Three, three bomb threats, ah ah ah!

Well, the midnight bomb threater what threats at midnight struck again, with more weaksause bomb threat shenanigans.

This marks the third bomb threat at Duke this week, two of which targeted the Bryan Center and one targeted the Great Hall. Oddly Duke did trigger DukeAlert this time (they did not for yesterday’s action) but they again said the threat was not credible.

I seriously hope they catch this dude – what a waste of everybody’s time.

EDIT: here’s some coverage of the investigation.

I AM THE BLOGGER, YOU ARE THE READER, YOU NEED TO BE QUIET

We made Popehat again!

As you may or may not know, “making Popehat” is generally not a good thing.

This time it’s for the words of one Tommy Tucker, the “distinguished” state senator from Union county who has the balls to straight up tell it like it is:

I AM THE SENATOR.

YOU ARE THE CITIZEN.

YOU NEED TO BE QUIET

A part of me does admire his honesty! It’s true, listening to constituents bitching must be incredibly taxing for somebody of his stature; it sort of reminds me of the old customer service employee mantra: “This job would be great, if it wasn’t for the customers.”

Wouldn’t governing be so much more fun if those pesky citizens would all just kind of go away, so you can get back to the important stuff? Like, I don’t know, working on legislation to remove limits on bribes gifts to important people, like State Senators?

much larger part of me thinks that this dude is just a jackass, though. In fact, I’m going to go ahead and call it: Senator Tucker, you are my jackass of the week! Congrats!

Two bomb threats this week at Duke

On Tuesday, Duke’s Bryan Center was evacuated due to a bomb threat, and this morning the Great Hall was searched in response to a threat that followed the same pattern.

DukeAlert wasn’t engaged this time presumably due to the similarities with the earlier hoax call. Anonymous Bomb Threat Guy is starting to give I Hate Your Food Co-op Guy some serious competition for jackass of the week.

Main St. to be closed for bridge replacement

The section of Main St. which runs between Broad and Buchanan is slated to be closed for almost four months, starting May 13. This is the bridge over Duke’s graffiti tunnel, which has seen better days.

The timing was chosen specifically to coincide with Duke’s summer session, when this stretch of road receives a bit less traffic.

TechShop RDU to close?

Well, I see nothing official, but the buzz on reddit is that TechShop is closing down this week.

If you’re asking “huh, what’s a TechShop?” – it’s essentially a workshop (AKA “hackerspace”) that can provide access to tools and equipment that are cost prohibitive for individuals or small companies to acquire on their own. Basically, you could go there and make stuff with other people.

TechShop is one of those things that always seemed incredibly cool to me, and I was always glad that it existed, but the barriers to entry (both in cost and in time) were always too much for me to actually get involved personally. I’m sad to see it go – best of luck to those involved, and best of luck to anybody who wants to step up and fill this niche.