Friday, October 31, 2008

How Prop 5 reveals corruption in Sacramento

Traitors, Every Last One of Them
California's state government is being strangled by special interests. One would think politicians would embrace a proposition that:

1. Begins to end the failed war on drugs
2. Reduce overcrowding in our prisons by creating treatment options for young people with drug problems that do not exist under current law
3. Provide treatment, not jail, for nonviolent drug users
4. Save $2.5 billion or more

Alas, this photo shows the real truth in Sacramento: Someone's got them by the balls... Any guess who? Here's a hint: They spent $1.8 million televising lies and spreading fears. None other than the most powerful lobby in Sacramento, the California Correctional Peace Officers Assn. These guys own Sacramento politics. We all know the war on drugs has failed. We all know our state is in a fiscal crisis. We all know our prisons are dangerously overcrowded. We all know drug addiction is a medical condition, not a criminal offense. And when a proposition comes up that can address these concerns, politicians stand up in support of CCPOA, that continues to bleed California dry locking up our citizens. A sad day indeed.

Happy Holloween

If you happen to be in Lincoln Heights tonight, look out for this graveyard.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Law Professor states "Prop 5 is no boon to violent offenders."

Senator Feinstein, have you read Alex Kreit's informed analysis of the lies you're spreading about Prop 5?

Misleading claim: Proposition 5 gives criminals a "get out of jail free" card.

This is political messaging, not accurate analysis. According to the California Legislative Analyst's Office, Proposition 5 would expand existing programs that offer treatment in lieu of incarceration, making probation-supervised treatment an option for tens of thousands of nonviolent drug offenders each year. These treatment programs include a system of graduated sanctions designed to ensure that defendants who have the potential to succeed remain in treatment and punish those who fail to meet the requirements. Similar criminal justice-treatment partnerships exist now and are widely recognized as a viable and cost-effective alternative to incarceration. Proposition 5 simply expands these successful programs.

Misleading claim: Proposition 5 would allow violent criminals to escape prison terms and receive treatment instead.

Any offense involving any form of violence, threat of violence or harm to another -- or any offense dubbed serious under the "three strikes" law -- would be disqualified from eligibility under Proposition 5. This would include burglary and arson, for example -- two offenses often listed by opponents.

Misleading claim: Judges would be unable to jail someone.

This is false. Only nonviolent drug offenders with suitably minor criminal histories would be diverted to probation-supervised treatment. Other nonviolent offenders would be diverted only at the judge's discretion. If offenders violate probation, judges could temporarily remove program participants and jail them -- or terminate offenders from the programs entirely.

So should I believe you or the assistant professor and director of the Center for Law and Social Justice at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law?

Oh I get it, Dianne wants to be Governor

Senator Feinstein is ignoring sound policy in favor of sucking up to the largest lobby in Sacramento in preparation for her run for governor. Now I totally understand why she's against Prop 5, because it would harm CCPOA, the prison guard union. And we all know CCPOA is the most powerful lobby in Sacramento. Probably a wise political decision Senator. Just remember, your little chess game has real consequences for real Californians.

This Democrat will take Arnold any day. At least he stands up to CCPOA. Anyone that CCPOA wants to recall has my support!

Senator Feinstein just alienated this Democrat

Senator Feinstein, you're officially on my Shit List. What were you doing last night in a commercial opposing Prop 5?

Senator Feinstein, you're wrong on this issue. The No on Prop. 5 campaign is fund by, guess who? The California Correctional Peace Officers Association. Keeping drug offenders in jail is food on their plate! Senator, who's interest are you looking out for? Certainly the Prison Guards Union it appears.

Here's an excerpt from a really smart dude who knows something about the "war on drugs"

The war on drugs has made America the biggest incarcerator in the entire world. Pew Center: 1 in 100: Behind Bars in America 2008 (Showing United States as world's highest per capita incarcerator, with 1% of its entire population incarcerated)

It has put a lot of poor people and minorities in prison. Human Rights Watch: Targeting Blacks: Drug Law Enforcment and Race in the United States (May 2008)The Sentencing Project: Disparity by Geography: The War on Drugs in America's Cities (May 2008)Justice Policy Institute: The Vortex: The Concentrated Racial Impact of Drug Imprisonment and the Characteristics of Punitive Counties (December 2007)

While Obama inspires, Palin talks about Fruit Flys.

Obama delivers inspired rain soaked speech.

Palin talks about....Fruit Flys?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Utopia Realized

From The Vancouver Sun comes news of a city that seems to do the impossible:

Control Growth
Eliminate Sprawl
Promote Jobs
Improve Quality of Life
Reduce Congestion
Create Low Cost Mass Transit
Improved Health and Well Being
Provide Healthy Food for it's Citizens with Local Farms

But where on Earth could this utopia exist?

Portland, Oregon.

Our tax dollars would be well spent if every elected official took a road trip up to Portland to see how smart legislation 20 years ago has created the most livable city in the United States. On just about every point, Los Angeles is ass backwards. It would be a dream come true if we adopted the long range outlook and foresight that Portland has.

MTV does the unthinkable.

MTV has launched, a website where you can view every music video in their extensive archive. I know you were wondering, so I checked and yes, they have YES, Yours Is No Disgrace.

Monday, October 27, 2008

L.A. as Subject

Hosted by the USC Libraries, L.A. as Subject is an alliance of research archives, libraries, and collections dedicated to preserving the rich history of the Los Angeles region. L.A. as Subject is working to increase the visibility of local archives and improve access to them for students, researchers, K-12 educators, and everyone else with a stake in Southern California history. L.A. as Subject promotes tools and mentoring to help its members with everything from preserving and cataloging materials in their collections to fundraising and public outreach.

WAMU customers get ready. Chase is now protecting your assets.

From Consumerist comes this tale of Chase and their outsourced security department. As a WAMU customer, I am frightened at the prospect that my financial security is in the outsrouced hands of Chase's security department.

A former Chase call center rep tells the story about this one thief who was able to rip off one customer for over $40,000, thanks to his constant outwitting out the internationally out-sourced security department. It wasn't that hard. Over and over again, he was able to commit credit card fraud just knowing the guy's name, social, and mother's maiden name.

The Americans would beg and plead with the Filipinos to not unblock the account, and over and over again they would. Says our insider, "if US security had been able to intervene from the get-go, he would never have been able to do so much financial damage. For the rest of his life, the true owner of that account will be dealing with the effects of this crime."

600 acres of wilderness in the middle of Beverly Hills?

Less than 3 miles from our house is this oasis of a park tucked in a cozy pocket of the Santa Monica mountains, and ringed by a ridgeline encrusted with mansions. Fanklin Canyon is a perfect escape from urban life. If L.A. had a Central Park, this would be it, if only because it is the geographical center of Los Angeles. Plus, it's next door to Tree People, so you know it's well cared for.

This is where The Andy Griffith Show opening sequence was filmed. Thanks Huell Howser for showing me this piece of California's Gold. See Visiting...With Huell Howser #1611

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

AIG spends taypayer money lobbying for loose regulation

Here's how it works:

1. AIG fails.

2. Taxpayers bail our AIG

3. AIG spends our money to lobby for looser regulation.

4. Senators Feinstein and Martinez write to AIG telling them to stop spending taxpayer money on lobbyists.

Too Big To Fail, or Too Stupid To Succeed?

Read it all at

Monday, October 20, 2008

Last Day To Register To Vote

Today is the deadline to register to vote. Read LAist's post and link to ways to register! Go On. Do It!

Detroit, bring your pencil and notebook, Class is in session

American Auto Companies! Take Note! This is what consumers want! Style! Zero Pollution! Performance! Range! Efficiency! Pardon all the ! but Detroit whines like a baby over "unreasonable" fuel economy standards, instead of innovating and anticipating the future! Meanwhile, Germany and Japan are moving forward. American Auto Manufacturers, this is your competition. Innovate, Develop, De-Couple from Oil. Now!

Mini Cooper is going all electric.


Woodcliff Lake, NJ - October 18, 2008... The BMW Group will be the world's first manufacturer of premium automobiles to deploy a fleet of some 500 all-electric vehicles for private use in daily traffic. The MINI E will be powered by a 150 kW (204 hp) electric motor fed by a high-performance rechargeable lithium-ion battery, transferring its power to the front wheels via a single-stage helical gearbox nearly without a sound and entirely free of emissions. Specially engineered for automobile use, the battery technology will have a range of more than 240 kilometers, or 150 miles. The MINI E will initially be made available to select private and corporate customers as part of a pilot project in the US states of California, New York and New Jersey. The possibility of offering the MINI E in Europe as well is currently being considered. The MINI E will give its world premiere at the Los Angeles Auto Show on November 19 and 20, 2008.

The MINI E's electric drive train produces a peak torque of 220 Newton meters, delivering seamless acceleration to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 8.5 seconds. Top speed is electronically limited to 152 km/h (95 mph). Featuring a suspension system tuned to match its weight distribution, the MINI E sports the brand's hallmark agility and outstanding handling.

By introducing the MINI E, the BMW Group is underscoring the resolve with which it works towards reducing energy consumption and emissions in road traffic. The BMW Group is drawing on its unique technological expertise in the field of drive systems to develop a vehicle concept enabling zero emissions without renouncing the joy of driving. Putting some 500 cars on the road under real daily traffic conditions will make it possible to gain widely applicable hands-on experience. Evaluating these findings will generate valuable know-how, which will be factored into the engineering of mass-produced vehicles.

The BMW Group aims to start series production of all-electric vehicles over the medium term as part of its Number ONE strategy. The development of innovative concepts for mobility in big-city conurbations within the scope of "project i" has a similar thrust, as its objective also includes making use of an all-electric power train.

The energy storage unit: cutting-edge lithium-ion technology engineered specifically for use in the MINI.

Based on the current MINI, the car will initially be available as a two-seater. The space taken up by back-seat passengers in the series model has been reserved for the lithium-ion battery. When in use in the zero-emissions MINI, the battery unit combines high output with ample storage capacity and a small footprint with power ratios that are unrivalled in this field of application so far. The lithium-ion storage unit will have a maximum capacity of 35 kilowatt hours (kWh) and transmit energy to the electric motor as direct current at a nominal 380 volts. The rechargeable battery is made up of 5,088 cells grouped into 48 modules. These modules are packaged into three battery elements that are compactly arranged inside the MINI E.

The energy storage unit's basic components are based on the technological principle that has proven itself in practice in power supplies for mobile phones and portable computers. The MINI E's lithium-ion battery can be plugged into all standard power outlets. Its charge time is strongly dependent on the voltage and amperage of the electricity flowing through the grid. In the USA, users can recharge a battery that has been completely drained within a very short period of time using a wallbox that will ship with every MINI E. The wallbox will be installed in the customer's garage, enable higher amperage, and thus provide for extremely short charging times. Wallboxes fully recharge batteries after a mere two-and-a-half hours.

Driven by electricity: reliably, affordably and free of emissions.

A full recharge draws a maximum of 28 kilowatt hours of electricity from the grid. Based on the car's range, a kilowatt hour translates into 5.4 miles. Besides the benefit of zero-emissions driving, the MINI E thus offers significant economic advantages over a vehicle powered by a conventional internal combustion engine as well.

The heavy-duty battery delivers its power to an electric motor, which transforms it into thrilling agility. Mounted transversely under the MINI E's bonnet, the drive train unleashes its full thrust from a dead standstill. This provides for the car's fascinating launch capability. The MINI E's intense driving experience is augmented by its dynamic deceleration potential, which is also directly coupled to the accelerator pedal. As soon as the driver releases the gas pedal, the electric motor acts as a generator. This results in braking force, and the power recovered from the kinetic energy is fed back to the battery. This interaction ensures extremely comfortable drives – especially at medium speed with constant, but marginal, variation. In city traffic, some 75 percent of all deceleration can be done without the brakes. Making substantial use of this energy recuperation feature extends the car's range by up to 20 percent.

Signature MINI agility in a new guise.

Weighing in at 1,465 kilograms (3.230 lbs), the MINI E has an even weight distribution. Minor modifications made to the suspension ensure safe handling at all times. The Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system has been adapted to this model's specific wheel loads.

The MINI E's brake system comes with a newly developed electric underpressure pump. Its Electrical Power Assisted Steering (EPS) is the same as the one used in mass-produced MINIs. Both brake and steering assistance react to driving conditions and are thus extremely efficient. Even the air conditioning's electrical compressor only operates if desired or necessary.

Design: unmistakably MINI, undoubtedly new.

At first glance, the MINI E is obviously an iteration of the brand. But its design, which is the blueprint for the zero-emissions two-seater, has been complemented by a number of visual cues that point to its revolutionary drive concept. All of the units produced for the pilot project will have the same paintwork and bear a serial number on their front fenders.

The MINI E's coachwork sports an exclusive combination of metallic Dark Silver on all panels but the roof, which is clad in Pure Silver. What distinguishes the zero-emissions MINI is a specially designed logo in Interchange Yellow, depicting a stylized power plug in the shape of an "E" set against the silver backdrop. It has been applied to the roof, in smaller dimensions to the front and back, to the charger port lid, the dashboard trim, and – combined with the MINI logo – to the door jamb, in slightly modified form. The color of the roof edges, mirror housings, interior style cues and seat seams will match the logo's yellow tone as well.

Moreover, the central gauge and the battery level indicator behind the wheel of the MINI E, which replaces the MINI's rev counter, feature yellow lettering against a dark grey background. The battery level is displayed in percentage figures. The central gauge includes an LED display indicating power consumption in red and power recuperation in green.

MINI E customers will be part of a pioneering mission.

A 500-unit, limited-production MINI E series will be manufactured through the end of 2008. The project will thus attain an order of magnitude that clearly exceeds the size of currently comparable test series. Putting the MINI E on the road on a daily basis will be a pioneering feat to which both the drivers and engineers of the first zero-emissions MINI will contribute as a team.

MINI E customers will join forces with BMW Group experts to assist in the project's scientific evaluation. MINI E engineers accord high importance to staying in touch with the drivers on a regular basis, as this will help them analyze driver behavior besides vehicle characteristics in order to gain the most accurate and realistic picture of the demands placed on a vehicle with a purely electrical drive in the select usage areas.

Special charging station and full service for every MINI E.

The cars will change hands based on a one-year lease with an extension option. Monthly lease installments will cover any required technical service including all necessary maintenance and the replacement of wearing parts. At the end of the lease, all of the automobiles belonging to the project will be returned to the BMW Group's engineering fleet where they will be subjected to comparative tests.

The MINI E's lithium-ion battery can be charged using a wallbox provided to MINI customers. Only lockable garages or similar buildings will qualify as homebases and power stations for the MINI E.

Maintenance by qualified specialists.

The electric drive's high-voltage technology requires that maintenance work be done by qualified personnel using special tools that are not included in MINI service partners' standard toolboxes. In light of this, a service base will be set up on both coasts, staffed by service engineers that are specially trained to perform maintenance and repair work on the MINI E's electrical components. In the event of drive malfunction, these experts will provide professional support at the customer's local MINI dealer or the service base's specially equipped workshop. Technical inspections will take place after 3,000 miles (just under 5,000 kilometers) and at least after six months.

Production in Oxford and Munich.

The MINI E has already gone through the major phases of product development for mass-produced vehicles and passed numerous crash tests on the way. Aspects investigated besides passenger protection were the impact of collision forces on the lithium-ion battery and finding a non-hazardous location for it in the car. The MINI E's energy storage unit emerged completely unscathed from all of the crash tests mandated by US standards, which are especially high.

Production of the approximately 500 cars will take place at the company's Oxford and Munich sites and is scheduled for completion before the end of 2008. MINI's UK plant will be responsible for manufacturing the entire vehicle with the exception of the drive components and the lithium-ion battery, with the brand's series models rolling off its assembly lines concurrently. The units will then be transferred to a specially equipped manufacturing complex situated on BMW plant premises where the electric motor, battery units, performance electronics and transmission will be integrated.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

"Shoot a muther humpin moose 8 days of the week"

Racists for Obama?

Politico: Racists For Obama?, by Ben Smith

This article confirms a few anecdotes I have heard recently. I recall hearing somewhere (wish I remember) a white southerner saying something along the lines of "I'm voting for the [racial epithet]." The idea that racism is absolute makes no sense when you look at what's happening in this election. This article breaks it down really well. Some of my favorite lines are:

“I wouldn’t want a mixed marriage for my daughter, but I’m voting for Obama,”
"I was blown away by the outright racism, but these folks are … undecided. They would call him a [racial epithet] and mention how they don't know what to do because of the economy.”

Photo comes courtesy of Missouri Racists For McCain

Google Racists for Obama and this comes up.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

PLaying Live on KCRW now: Blind Pilot

Just happened to be listening to KCRW when Chris Douridas starts talking about a band on tour, riding their bikes! Blind Pilot is from Oregon (could you have guessed?) Maybe Portland is used to it, but here in L.A. a bicycle riding band on tour is pretty sweet if you ask me! Plus they're really good musicians! Check out their blog with updates of their tour. Hear it now on KCRW.

Blind Pilot performs "We Are the Tide" at the Providence Bridge Pedal in Portland, OR from IAVIDEO on Vimeo.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Rainbow over Santa Fe

Back in August, I was in Santa Fe to celebrate my mom's birthday. On our trip to the Opera we were greeted by this rainbow.

My letter to the President of eBay: The Final Warning

The Office of the President of eBay is getting very tired of my constant nagging. Turns out John Donahoe doesn't want to hear directly from his customers when he's delivering substandard service. He's way to busy sewing the platinum thread on his golden parachute to bother with my little pesky emails. So he instructs Terri, (who is perhaps the only person at eBay who doesn't write in form letters) to threaten me with account suspension if I keep contacting him with my complaints:

From: Office of the President
To: alex
Sent: Friday, October 17, 2008 11:13:02 AM
Subject: Re: FW: FW: My experience using eBay Part 2 (KMM308321863V67177L0KM)

Dear Alexander **********,

Thank you for your response. Alexander, as explained in prior emails,
you can continue to build your selling reputation as the number of brand
named items affected by the restrictions is very small. You will be able
to list most non-luxury items without restriction.

Again, as I have stated multiple times, I am unable to give you
information regarding which brand names are affected, and how many items
you can list per brand. I would strongly encourage you to review our
prior correspondence for a longer explanation.

Alexander, the restrictions will not end until you grow a stronger
history as a seller. I recommend you list items within the limitations
of your account and appeal in 90 days, as your account will not be
reviewed before that time.

Also, as I explained in prior emails, attempting to list items and then
receiving a popup message that they cannot list, will not negatively
affect your account. I encourage you to list items to find the precise
limits of your account, and plan your listing activity accordingly.

I have respectfully asked that you discontinue contacting executives, at
this point continuing to do so may jeopardize your account standing. You
can contact me directly at: if you have any new questions
that have not been answered in our prior correspondence.

Thank you for your time.


Office of the President
I can't contact the president of eBay, but I can pay his salary. Really? I wonder how many times I'm allowed to contact the President of eBay. Let me guess..Sssshhhhhh, It's a secret... Terri wasn't going to hear the last of me, not yet at least:

From: alex
To: Office of the President
Sent: Friday, October 17, 2008 11:47:44 AM
Subject: Re: FW: FW: My experience using eBay Part 2 (KMM308321863V67177L0KM)

Good Morning Terri:
Your response is not acceptable on all counts.
On what basis do you claim that my account standing can be affected by communicating with eBay executives? Please see the search results from eBay's Rules page:
As I have already told you, it is not my job to reverse engineer eBay's secret restriction policy to figure out what the limits are. Furthermore, this restriction is a violation of the User Policy, because it takes away my ability to be responsible for the items I list. If you block me from listing an item, you're now the responsible party. If I am prevented from revising my listing, you are now responsible for the listing.
I have not been found guilty of violating any policy, and yet my account is restricted. What is the name of the policy by which you are restricting my account? Where can I read about it in the User Policy?
I am surprised to hear that Mr. Donahoe does not wish to know how his customers feel about the service he is providing. Can you clarify his position on receiving communications from his customers? At this time, I am considering contacting the Complaint Assistance Unit of the Division of Consumer Services of the California Department of Consumer Affairs.
Thank You,
Alex ********
eBay User ID: 69******

Many hours passed, but finally, before the day was through, Terri wrote back to "clarify":

From: Office of the President
To: alex
Sent: Friday, October 17, 2008 3:35:24 PM
Subject: Re: FW: FW: My experience using eBay Part 2 (KMM308335200V82877L0KM)

Dear Alex **********,

Thank you for writing for clarification regarding our concerns and with
your questions regarding eBay policy.

Please allow me to clarify our concerns with your repeated messages to
eBay executive staff as opposed to utilizing more acceptable methods of
communication. Your are correct in your email regarding a lack of policy specifically denying you access to our executive staff. We do though
have a link on our site which does explain the acceptable methods of
communication for eBay and this link is as follows:

You have gone beyond the realm and scope of the options included in the
link above by contacting our executive staff on multiple occasions. Our
executive staff utilized the services of the Office of the President to
provide you with responses to your concerns, specifically addressing
your questions and your concerns on the highest level. At this point we
can see no reason to continue providing the same information to you on a
matter that has been more than sufficiently addressed. Repeated attempts
to gather differing responses to the same issue only serve to stress
resources on our end that could be used to assist other eBay members.

Because you have been asked politely to discontinue your contact with
our executive staff, we have little recourse going forward but to
consider other options should you continue to utilize this resource
instead of the options presented on our site as indicated in the link

Please note that you are correct in the fact that it is not your job to
reverse engineer any aspect of eBay, and in fact we might find serious
issue with any attempt to do so. The suggestion offered to you recently
was only that, a suggestion, an option you can utilize if you truly
wanted to gather a better idea of how many of a specific item type you
could list on our site at any one time. In the end we recommend patience
and understanding when it comes to this policy, as that will serve you
best going forward. The understanding comes into play when you list
items that have a higher risk factor on our site and by understanding
that we must utilize a policy to help ensure authenticity in the listed
items. The patience factor comes into play when you see that if you are
patiently listing items, awaiting positive feedback for these items, and
growing as a seller in our luxury goods category, your limits will
slowly rise according to this growth.

Please note that this policy isn't based on a guilt based system. You
are not being penalized or punished for listing the types of items you
are listing. We hold a great number of our sellers to similar
restrictions. This is a difference between those who have established
themselves by selling a number of these types of items by gathering
positive feedback from buyers on these items, and those who are just
entering into this field and are hoping to perhaps take it by storm.
Regretfully we no longer allow members to leap into certain categories
or item types without causing them to yield in the beginning so that we
can gauge the seller and the items being listed.

I truly hope that you can see the wisdom of going slow in these areas,
and understand why they are in place on our site. I also hope that you
understand our desire that you discontinue the use of our executive
staff as your form of customer support on our site. We do want you to
thrive on our site going forward, but we must ask that you do so at our
speed and within the policies and guidelines we have established.
Sometimes these guidelines are expressed rather bluntly on our site in
simple "to the point" words, and sometimes it is expressed in more
vague, yet equally important text. One example of the latter is a
section of our User Agreement listed under the tile of Abusing eBay and
partially quoted for your assistance below. Please note the "letter and
spirit of our policies" section as pertinent here.

"Without limiting other remedies, we may limit, suspend or terminate our service and user accounts, prohibit access to our website, delay or remove hosted content, and take technical and legal steps to keep users off the sites if we think that they are creating problems, possible legal liabilities, or acting inconsistently with the letter or spirit of our policies. We also reserve the right to cancel unconfirmed accounts or accounts that have been inactive for a long time."

We will continue to review all of your correspondence to eBay, but we
will most likely not reply to you going forward if the subject and
material remain the same. I strongly urge you to utilize other forms of customer support on eBay going forward. Thank you again for writing.


Office of the President
Let's recap:

1. eBay allows a fraudulent bidder to spoil my auction.
2. eBay blocks me from relisting the item spoiled.
3. After complaining, eBay allows me to relist the item.
4. eBay blocks me from listing other "branded" items.
5. After complaining again, eBay threatens to suspend my account, and tells me to wait and be patient.

Bottom Line:
eBay doesn't care about their customers.
eBay imposes secret restrictions on sellers with no evidence or accusation of wrongdoing.
eBay prohibits their customers from contacting their executives and intimidates customers who stand up and demand to be treated with respect and integrity.

Any questions?

My Letter to the President of eBay: The Response

This morning I received a response from the Office of the President of eBay:

From: Office of the President <>
To: alex
Sent: Friday, October 17, 2008 9:19:32 AM
Subject: Re: FW: My experience using eBay Part 2

Dear Alexander ********,

Thank you for your recent email to John Donahoe in regard to restrictions
placed on your 69**** account.

Alexander, I understand that you disagree with the restrictions on your
account. However, as I have repeatedly stated, due to the lack of selling
history on your account, the limits will remain for at least the next 90 days. I
understand that you disagree, but as stated in prior emails, regardless of which
executive you write, you will receive the same response.

When you wrote to Meg years ago, it was not the same situation. The
restrictions that you are now dealing with were instituted on the site in
November of 2006. At that time, every eBay account was restricted in some way as
part of a new initiative to combat fraudulent listings on the site. Sellers were
asked to write in to appeal the restrictions and we would review their

Alexander as you are well aware, your account has been reviewed
multiple times. The restrictions will not be removed at this time, and you will
need to list within the parameters of your account until they are removed. All
of this information was sent to you in multiple emails overthe past two weeks.

At this point, the only thing that will remove the restrictions from your
account is a solid history as a seller. Please know that your account will not
be reviewed for 90 days. Any emails that you send priorto 90 days may be read,
but may not receive a response. I respectfully ask that you discontinue
contacting eBay executives as your account has been reviewed, you have received
all pertinent information, and you will continue to receive the same response.

Thank you for your time.


Office of the President

At that moment, there were many thoughts swirling in my head. How do I list within the parameters of my account when the parameters are secret? How do I develop a solid history as a seller when I am blocked from selling? There are so many holes in Terri's logic, I had trouble focusing on what I wanted to say. Here's my response, which I sent to John Donahoe directly:

From: alex
Friday, October 17, 2008 9:38:13 AM
Subject: Re: FW: My experience using eBay
Part 2

Good Morning Mr.

I received this response from Terri and I have a couple questions:

Please tell me how can I build my seller reputation if you will not allow me to list and revise?
Please tell me how many "branded" listings I may create and revise within a 30 day time period so I may plan my business activities accordingly.
Please tell me which branded items generate restrictions so I may plan my business activities accordingly.
Please tell me when the restrictions will end.

The situation that exists now prevents me from planning my business
activities. How would eBay function if there was a secret policy that turns off all listings without notice at any moment, and there was no way to know how many listings was the limit? I think you would be unable to operate your business if that were the case.

I urge you to remove these restrictions so I may continue to be a valuable
and positive member of the eBay community.

Thank you.

Alex **********

eBay User ID: 69*****

I will not stop demanding that I be treated like the honest, paying customer I am. I feel it is the duty of eBay to honor their customers, not punish them with wacky secret measures that fail to provide any benefit.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

My letter to the President of eBay

Good Evening Mr. Donahoe:

I am a proud eBay user with a verified and confirmed Paypal account. I have worked for a Powerseller for many years and have a lot of experience with eBay transactions. On September 23, 2008, I sold an Hermes Cuff to a fraudulent buyer on eBay. Before the transaction could proceed, the buyer's account was terminated. I tried to relist the item, but was prevented from doing due to the possibility that the item could be fraudulent because it was a "branded" item.

I have sent numerous emails to your staff expressing my dismay at being prevented from listing authentic and genuine branded items on eBay. After vociferously defending my honor and integrity, I was given the privilege of relisting the Hermes Cuff. It has since sold to a happy buyer who left me positive feedback.

However, the restrictions on my account continue. So far, I have been prevented from listing the following items:

One Pair Chloe Shoes
One Pair Chanel Shoes
One Pair Miu Miu Shoes

I have many other genuine and authentic items I would like to sell, including a Yves Saint Laurent handbag and a pair of Frye Boots.

Tonight, I attempted to revise my Lancome Makeup listing, item # 170********* to offer shipping via USPS Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelope for domestic and international buyers. The restriction now appears to even apply to this item as well. I have a buyer in Ireland who I cannot offer a discounted shipping rate to because of this restriction.

As you can probably imagine, this policy is damaging my business. I have spent many hours trying to get your staff to realize that I am not a criminal intent on passing along counterfeit merchandise, only to be told that there's nothing that can be done. I appreciate Terri's thoughtful responses but I know for a fact that Meg Whitman was able to remove these restrictions when I was employed with a Powerseller a few years back. Back then, I wrote a thoughtful letter explaining the situation and was delighted to get the response I was seeking. My experience this time around has been all together different. I truly feel like your company is not taking this seriously.

I am requesting that the restrictions on my account be removed immediately so I may continue to sell the kind of merchandise that makes eBay such a wonderful place to shop.

I am happy to provide any supporting evidence to assist you in determining that I am "one of the good guys." I encourage to to take a look at my recent listings. You'll see the photography is among the best you'll find on eBay, and shows items that are indisputably authentic. I take pride in offering attention and service to my buyers and wish to resume my business immediately. Other than this issue, I have been delighted with eBay as both a buyer and a seller, and I hope to put this ugly episode behind me soon. The holiday shopping season is almost upon us and it's imperative that this is resolved as soon as possible.

I greatly appreciate your prompt attention to this matter. Please feel free to contact me directly to discuss this issue. I have numerous and thoughtful suggestions for how to improve the quality of merchandise that would not negatively impact honest sellers.


Alex **************
eBay User ID: 69*****
(310) 892-****

P.S. GO BIG GREEN! (I'm Banana Slug)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Why is eBay failing?

Fake? No, but it's Miu Miu, so it might be.

I don't have a complete answer to the question posed by this post, but I can give you some insight into just how incompetent and uninformed eBay management is.

eBay has a problem with counterfeit items showing up in their auctions. Their solution? They created a secret system that randomly places limits on users accounts with no regard to whether or not their listings are legitimate.

When I inquired about the limitations that were placed on my account, I received a response that explained to me that "in order to maintain a safe trading environment, selling limits are occasionally placed on accounts" and "it is the seller’s responsibility to ensure that the items you are listing are authorized for sale."

If it is my responsibility to to ensure the item is authentic, why is eBay taking responsibility back by randomly blocking the sale of the item?

The email goes on to state "we may remove listings if they breach one of our stated policies. Further, we may warn or suspend sellers whose activities breach our policies."

Great! I did nothing wrong, so go ahead. But don't prevent me from conducting lawful exchanges of goods for no reason. This is essentially the Bush Doctrine crossed with Pin The Tail On The Donkey. eBay randomly blocks sellers because they might be listing something that is counterfeit. They have no evidence against me, stop me from conducting business, then tell me I am responsible.

When I asked them about this secret policy, I got very little information:

I would like to give you as much information as possible. However, the
specific information regarding limits and formulas is proprietary in nature and
I cannot share that with you. I am unable to be more specific about the precise
application of the restrictions on your account, and am also unable to give you
any information relating to the quantity of items you can list at any given
time. Our guidelines may change over time, and we need to remain flexible so we
can effectively address any issues that may arise while minimizing the impact on
legitimate trade.

I'm now stuck in a secret black hole of eBay seller hell reserved for legitimate sellers. Thanks eBay. Just FYI, you recently fired the wrong 1000 employees. The ones that should be fired are at the top of the management tree. Any technology company that resorts to draconian ass-backwards measures like this deserves to fail. eBay could easily adopt real solutions to counterfeit sales, but instead they punish legitimate sellers. BRAVO!

If you're a seller fed up with this nonsense, do something about it. Contact Terri at the Office of the President, at She is by far the most responsive and intelligent person I have communicated with at eBay. Though I completely disagree with her on everything she says, I do find that she reads my emails and addresses my concerns, which is unique in my correspondences with eBay. Also, send your rants to the Consumerist website. I'm still hoping that with enough coverage of this policy, eBay will change their ways and reform their counterfeit measures in a way that works and doesn't punish honest sellers.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

end of the day

Traffic Slayer

Make: Honda
Model: Elite 150 Deluxe aka CH150D
Year Built: 1986
Engine: 150cc displacement, liquid cooled, single cylinder
Top Speed: 61mph
Average Fuel Economy: 80mpg
Features Include: power flip up headlight, heat vents, digital dash display with clock & trip meter
Excels At: lane slipping and gas sipping

Go Outside Now. It's a beautiful day in Los Angeles

Autumn has truly arrived in Los Angeles. The wind has carried the smog away (for now) and we have a beautiful day of clear skys before us. Get out there and ride/hike/explore/scoot. I'll be at the gallery today, stop by if you're in the neighborhood. But whatever you do, do not try to save time and flash freeze your water bottle. Stupidly, I placed my favorite non-cancer causing Sigg water bottle in the freezer to have a cool drink after a hard bike ride. My physics model failed to account for the expansion of water when it freezes and the sigg is now kaput! I'm hoping Sigg USA will come through with a replacement,a dummy back guarantee of sorts.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Ole Switcherooo

Thanks to Sunday for forwarding this. I don't know the original writer, but it was emailed about recently.

Obama/Biden vs McCain/Palin, what if things were switched around?.....think about it. Would the country's collective point of view be different? Could racism be the culprit?

Ponder the following:

What if the Obamas had paraded five children across the stage, including a three month old infant and an unwed, pregnant teenage daughter?

What if John McCain was a former president of the Harvard Law Review?

What if Barack Obama finished fifth from the bottom of his graduating class?

What if McCain had only married once, and Obama was a divorcee?

What if Obama was the candidate who left his first wife after a severe disfiguring car accident, when she no longer measured up to his standards?

What if Obama had met his second wife in a bar and had a long affair while he was still married?

What if Michelle Obama was the wife who not only became addicted to pain killers but also acquired them illegally through her charitable organization?

What if Cindy McCain graduated from Harvard?

What if Obama had been a member of the Keating Five? (The Keating Five were five United States Senators accused of corruption in 1989, igniting a major political scandal as part of the larger Savings and Loan crisis of the late 1980s and early 1990s.)

What if McCain was a charismatic, eloquent speaker?

What if Obama couldn't read from a teleprompter?

What if Obama was the one who had military experience that included discipline problems and a record of crashing seven planes?

What if Obama was the one who was known to display publicly, on many occasions, a serious anger management problem?

What if Michelle Obama's family had made their money from beer distribution?

What if the Obamas had adopted a white child?

You could easily add to this list. If these questions reflected reality, do you really believe the election numbers would be as close as they are? This is what racism does. It covers up, rationalizes and minimizes positive qualities in one candidate and emphasizes negative qualities in another when there is a color difference.

Educational Background:

Barack Obama:
Columbia University - B.A. Political Science with a Specialization in
International Relations.
Harvard - Juris Doctor (J.D.) Magna Cum Laude

Joseph Biden:
University of Delaware - B.A. in History and B.A. in Political Science.
Syracuse University College of Law - Juris Doctor (J.D.)


John McCain:
United States Naval Academy - Class rank: 894 of 899

Sarah Palin:
Hawaii Pacific University - 1 semester
North Idaho College - 2 semesters - general study
University of Idaho - 2 semesters - journalism
Matanuska-Susitna Colle ge - 1 semester
University of Idaho - 3 semesters - B.A. in Journalism

Education isn't everything, but this is about the two highest offices in the land as well as our standing in the world. You make the call.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

2 Amazing Election Websites

Here's all you need to know what's going to happen Nov. 4th

Try My Proven Technique For Voting on Propositions!

How to vote for propositions by seeing who opposes them

Except for those mysterious "Undecided Voters", we all pretty much know who we'll be supporting in the presidential election. So instead on spreading the gospel according to Barak, I wanted to give you all a quick tour of California 's many confusing but important propositions on the November 4th ballot. I'm going to show you how easy it is to vote based on who opposes a proposition, because I believe that says more than anything about what the proposition really means. So often wording is meant to confuse voters. Opponents cannot be mistaken, you either like their positions or want to vomit all over their positions. So here we go!

Proposition 1A VOTE YES!
Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act.

Who's Against it? HON. TOM McCLINTOCK, State Senator (YUCK!), Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (VOTE OPPOSITE THIS GROUP EVERY TIME!)
Analysis: Spend lots of money on much needed public transportation infrastructure that's not automobile based! Can we afford not to do it? VOTE YES!!!!

Proposition 2 VOTE YES!
Standards for Confining Farm Animals. Initiative Statute.

Who's Against it? DR. CRAIG REED, DVM, Former Deputy Administrator Food Safety and Inspection Service, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Analysis: USDA sucks. Slaughterhouses suck. Read Animal Vegetable Miracle. Do you like to lie down? Then VOTE YES. Otherwise, live in a cage for a year, and let me eat your soft flesh.

Proposition 3 VOTE YES!
Children's Hospital Bond Act. Grant Program. Initiative Statute.

Who's Against it? LEWIS K. UHLER, President National Tax Limitation Committee
Analysis: How low can you go to oppose children's hospitals? Parents support it. Kids are cool. Let's hospitalize all of them. VOTE YES!

Proposition 4 VOTE NO!
Waiting Period and Parental Notification Before Termination of Minor's Pregnancy. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.

Who's Against it? Nurses, Doctors and School Counselors. Nuff Said.

Proposition 5 VOTE YES!
Nonviolent Drug Offenses. Sentencing, Parole and Rehabilitation. Initiative Statute.

Who's Against it? California Narcotics Officers Association. CHOKE! Of course you vote opposite a bunch of narcs!
Analysis: The California Prison Industry is an entrenched political machine in California politics. Here's a reasonable and fair alternative for non-violent drug offenders to get the rehab that they need. I see no public benefit for putting them in jail. VOTE YES!

Proposition 6 VOTE NO!
Police and Law Enforcement Funding. Criminal Penalties and Laws. Initiative Statute.

Who's Against it? DANIEL MACALLAIR, Executive Director Center on Juvenile & Criminal Justice
Analysis: Whenever you hear people talk about safety, Vote opposite, they are using fear to persuade you. It's basically guaranteeing money in pockets of those supporting it. Just another misguided spending mandate, VOTE NO!

Proposition 7 VOTE YES!
Renewable Energy Generation. Initiative Statute.

Who's Against it? Puppet Environmentalists who have links to the for profit utility companies, PG&E, Sempra, you know who they are, you pay them every month!
Analysis: There's lots of money being spent on this one! The stakes are high! VOTE YES!

Proposition 8 VOTE NO!
Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.

Who's Against it? Doctors, Nurses, People you rely on every day to keep the world functioning.
Analysis: CONSTITUTIONAL AMMENDMENT, AUTOMATIC NO! A vote of No means you like gay marriage, FYI!

Proposition 9 VOTE NO!
Criminal Justice System. Victims' Rights. Parole. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute.

Who's Against it? SHEILA A. BEDI, Executive Director Justice Policy Institute
Analysis: Not Necesary. Fear Based Advocacy always means VOTE NO!

Proposition 10 VOTE NO!
Alternative Fuel Vehicles and Renewable Energy. Bonds. Initiative Statute.

Who's Against it? Yawn...It's really late and I'm sleepy. Must...Finish....Voter..Guide......
Analysis: It might be a gift to T Boone Pickens, I'm actually getting tired now, going to sleep, VOTE NO!

Proposition 11 VOTE YES! YES! YES!
Redistricting. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute.

Who's Against it? MARTY HITTLEMAN, President California Federation of Teachers (Hmm. An entrenched powerful interest group opposes this, me thinks VOTE YES!!!)
Analysis: Just woke up! VOTE YES. Something has to change in Sac Town!

Proposition 12 VOTE YES!
Veterans' Bond Act of 2008

Who's Against it? Who is "GARY WESLEY?"
Analysis: Seiously, Who is "GARY WESLEY?" Since only one person opposes it, VOTE YES just to be safe.

Check out:

And to All a Good Night!

Philippe's Postponed: Thousands waiting in line

I knew there would be a crowd celebrating 100 years of Philippe's yesterday, but I didn't expect this!

By the time we arrived, there was a 2 hour line, perhaps a thousand people, and Huell Howser was long gone.

We decided to eat somewhere else. The scooterists were heading to The Pantry, but we were in the mood for something a bit lighter.

San Sui on Larchmont serves the best sushi I have ever had in my life. Behold the Kim Chee Roll!

I was so proud of Heather riding with me last night. Check out her Easy Rider USA flag helmet.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Philippe's Turns 100, celebrates with throwback pricing!

Come down and celebrate Philippe's 100 Year Anniversary. I'm looking forward to eating a 10 cent Phillipe Original sandwich tonight and hopefully catch a glimse of Heull Howser! I even convinced Heather to hop on the back of the scooter as there will be an informal scooter meetup! Read all about it at

Saturday, October 4, 2008

When it comes to Music, Maxxx knows best

Staying on top of the latest and best in music today is a daunting task to say the least. The internet allows for independent distribution of music and the result is a mushrooming effect. Personally, I get totally lost in a sea of band names that all sound the same, and so I rely on a few select sources for my musical inspirations. KCRW's Nic Harcourt is probably the best known arbiter of contemporary music. Morning Becomes Eclectic is everyone's favorite morning music mixup. However, I always look forward each month to downloading and playing on my iPod the newest mix from Max. His taste is raw and and incredibly diverse, bringing to my ears old familiar tunes I would never know to look for but love, and ultra-current tracks that only the coolest most plugged in music geeks are aware of.

Would I ever hear Gang Gang Dance live in Tokyo without Max? Me thinks not, yet me likey likey!!!! Thanks Max for bringing sonic pleasure to my bike rides and workout hikes in Runyon Canyon, as well as being the soundtrack of choice for most TDC openings.

It's Francis, It's Francis

Saint Francis was my favorite saint when I was a kid. He was the environmentalist saint that befriended animals, bringing them into church during service. He even baptized a wolf that was terrorizing a village. He walked through fire in an attempt to convert the Sultan of Egypt to christianity during the crusades. We were so much more civilized back then...Happy Feast Day St. Francis!

Smoggy Sunset

The Santa Ana winds have been working their autumn magic on L.A., blowing the smog out to sea and making colorful sunsets, like this one over Smog Shoppe on La Cienega Blvd. I'm a sucker for the iconic silhouettes of palm trees and power poles that inevitably find their way onto Los Angeles photographs.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

3 Great Bike Rides Tomorrow!

I've done the L.A. Critical Mass twice now, but Santa Monica CM keeps tempting me, with the Oh So Busy Protecting And Serving SMPD keeping close eye on who's got a bike light and where is it mounted, what angle a left turn is being made at, among other nonsense and tomfoolery.

Ride Arc is an architectural tour of different spots in L.A. Tonight's feature neighborhood is Watts, and meets at the 103rd St. Blue Line Station at 9pm.

And If you just want to have fun, head over to CSUN for a game of Bike Ditch, Zombie Style!

RIDE SAFE, people are dying and double dying out on these streets! Can we please get a fully functional bicycle transportation network installed asap, Mayor Antonio?

WORD UP FOR EARMARKS, a bike commuter tax break passed with the big financial bailout! Awesome!

It All Boils Down To This...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Pro-McCain Group Offering Cash for Protesters @ VP Debate

The NRCC front group "Vets for Freedom" has resorted to recruiting paid "demonstrators" from local college fraternities to maintain the illusion of popular support for Sarah Palin at the upcoming VP debate. The tactic echoes the 2000 "Brooks Brothers Riot," when GOP congressional staff were flown from DC to fake a protest against the FLA recount .

read more

The Anti-Park: Affordable Housing Subsidies To Be Diverted For A Park No One Wants

Way to Go Los Angeles! You took the promise of L.A.'s first major park and paved it over! They ought to call it the Anti-Park. Wow, those renderings of concrete and monstrous shade devices look so inviting!!! I can't wait to have a picnic on the broiling hot concrete park we're paying to build instead of affordable housing! How badly can you screw up some grass and trees? In Los Angeles, the sky's the limit.

Read the nitty gritty by LA Weekly's Tibby Rothman.

Evidence mounts: McCain just wanted Tina Fey back on SNL

Sarah Palin miserably fails to name a single source of her news.