Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Something's Gotta Give

'Something's Gotta Give'

This popular song with Lyrics by Johnny Mercer, was sung by Fred Astaire, The McGuire Sisters, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Sammy Davis Jr, Leann Rimes, et al:

Most people have probably heard this song and liked it, as I have.
Because it was written by Johnny Mercer, who was born in 1909 in Savannah, GA, the same year my mother as born, and because my Mom and her 4 sisters lived in Savannah some years after that, I feel a special connection with it.

More important, the title is directly applicable to issues we are facing here in Bellingham and Whatcom County.

[See below for the lyrics]

'Constraints, Restraints & Complaints' could have been the title for this blog, but that would not have been as descriptive.

When one talks about 'Growth Management Act Goals', 'Land Supply', 'Height Limits' and related topics, the title takes on new meaning.

As everyone should know, Cinderella's Slipper did not begin to fit her ugly step-sister!
And so it is with the Land supply debate regarding our Comp Plan Update.

The County's response to the City's request regarding additional land supply requirements for its UGA seem to resemble 'trying to put a Square Peg in a Round Hole'

It just doesn't fit!

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, the following:

Irresistible force paradox

The Irresistible force paradox is a classic paradox formulated as follows:
What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object?

Common responses to this paradox resort to logic and semantics.

• Logic: if such a thing as an irresistible force exists, then no object is immovable, and vice versa. It is logically impossible to have these two entities (a force that cannot be resisted and an object that cannot be moved by any force) in the same universe.

• Semantics: if there is such a thing as an irresistible force, then the phrase immovable object is meaningless in that context, and vice versa, and the issue amounts to the same thing as asking, e.g., for a triangle that has four sides.
This paradox is a form of the omnipotence paradox, but that paradox is most often discussed in the context of God's omnipotence (Can God create a stone so heavy it cannot be lifted?).

The paradox should be understood as an exercise in logic, not as the postulation of a possible reality. According to modern scientific understanding, there are not and indeed cannot be either irresistible forces or immovable objects. An immovable object would have to have infinite inertia and therefore infinite mass. Such an object would collapse under its own gravity and create a singularity. An irresistible force would imply an infinite energy, which by Albert Einstein's equation E = mc? is equivalent to an infinite mass. Because the force is of infinite energy, as it moves through space, it will be "converted into" or "create" matter of infinite mass spontaneously. The result is essentially another immovable object which collapses and creates a singularity. Ultimately, the paradox will lead to two singularities or black holes colliding and resulting into one singularity or black hole.

Note that, in the modern view, a cannonball which cannot be deflected and a wall which cannot be knocked down are both types of the same (impossible) object: an object with infinite inertia.

Degrees of Freedom

Statisticians use the terms "degrees of freedom" to describe the number of values in the final calculation of a statistic that are free to vary.

The number of degrees of freedom in a problem, distribution, etc., is the number of parameters which may be independently varied.

Degrees of freedom is a general term used in explaining dependence on parameters, and implying the possibility of counting the number of those parameters. In mathematical terms, the degrees of freedom are the dimensions of a phase space.

In terms of statistical mechanics, the entropy describes the number of the possible microscopic configurations of the system. The statistical definition of entropy is the more fundamental definition, from which all other definitions and all properties of entropy follow. Although the concept of entropy was originally a thermodynamic construct, it has been adapted in other fields of study, including information theory, psychodynamics, thermoeconomics, and evolution.

'Fugacity' is a measure of chemical potential in the form of 'adjusted pressure.' It directly relates to the tendency of a substance to prefer one phase (liquid, solid, gas) over another. At a fixed temperature and pressure, water will have a different fugacity for each phase.

As well as predicting the preferred phase of a single substance, fugacity is also useful for multi-component equilibrium involving any combination of solid, liquid and gas equilibria. It is useful as an engineering tool for predicting the final phase and reaction state of multi-component mixtures at various temperatures and pressures without doing the actual lab test.

Fugacity is not a physical property of a substance; rather it is a calculated property which is intrinsically related to chemical potential. When a system approaches the ideal gaseous state (very low pressure), chemical potential approaches negative infinity, which for the purposes of mathematical modeling is undesirable. Under the same conditions, fugacity approaches zero and the fugacity coefficient (defined below) approaches 1. Thus, fugacity is much easier to manipulate mathematically.

Had enough scientific theory & analogy?

OK, time for plain talk.

Sometimes, too many restrictions can be applied to a situation, with the result of eliminating any response.

I think that may have already happened in the so-called 'land supply debate'.

There are a number of variables, including available land acreage, existing zoning, density anticipated, minimum density actually required, height of buildings allowed, timely availability of water & sewer utilities, time required for rezoning existing neighborhoods, time required for remediation & rezoning of industrial property, percentage of land considered unbuildable for wetland & critical areas reasons, land restricted for development due to transportation concurrency issues, costs of development, willingness of land owners to develop, consumer demand, and the like, which together operate to regulate what development can occur in any given area.

The debate that is presently occurring seems to ignore some or all of these factors, which exist despite our ignorance of them.

This 'debate' seems to be nothing more than pitting a list of pronouncements based upon wishes, against an estimate of needs based upon history.

That is a classic definition of 'talking past each other', or non-communication.

It is sad that the former has dominion over the latter, but that is the way is is - in law and in fact.

The result is not very likely to be satisfactory in terms of results.

Unfortunately, these results will not be known until a few years hence, at which time whoever inherits them will be hard pressed to mitigate them.

Temporally, it is not too late to rectify this situation, but realistically it is.

That is the pity of Winston Churchill's famous quote: "No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism."

Good luck, Whatcom County.

You will certainly need it.


'Something's Gotta Give'

Lyrics by Johnny Mercer

Artists: Fred Astaire, The McGuire Sisters, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Sammy Davis Jr, Leann Rimes, et al:

When an irresistible force such as you
Meets an old immovable object like me
You can bet just as sure as you live
Somethin's gotta give
Somethin's gotta give
Somethin's gotta give

When an irrepressible smile such as yours
Warms an old implacable heart such as mine
Don't say no, because I insist
Somewhere, somehow, someone's gotta be kissed

So, en garde, who knows what the fates might have in store?
>From their vast mysterious sky?
I'll try hard ignorin' those lips that I adore
But how long can anyone try?

Fight, fight, fight, fight, fight it with all of our might
Chances are some heavenly star-spangled night
We'll find out just as sure as we live
Somethin's gotta give
Somethin's gotta give
Somethin's gotta give

Fight fight fight it with all of your might
Chances are that some heavenly star-spangled night
We'll find out just as sure as we live
Somethin's gotta give
Somethin's gotta give
Somethin's gotta give

Somethin's gotta give
Somethin's gotta give

SPOKEN: Aww, let's tear it up!