More red tape at the St. Louis City Hall

Today I had some more business at the St. Louis City Hall, including getting an electrical permit to self install a wireless burglar alarm system.

It’s just a money making scam, more or less, but if you install your own burglar alarm system you must pay $85 and take a “test” at the St. Louis City Hall before they give you an electrical permit. And you need the electrical permit in order to get a Police Department permit to have the burglar system monitored for dispatches.

So anyway, I went again to the mammoth turn of the 20th century City Hall building on Market Street.

I had been wondering what was on the upper floors, because there didn’t seem to be enough business going on to even make use of the first floor. The electrical permit division however is on the fourth floor so I had a chance to see what was up there.

Here’s a view from the fourth floor.


It turns out there are zillions of “divisions” up there. There’s a plumbing division, an electrical division, there’s even a high-rise division. You name it they have it.

First I might I thought I might try discussing with him the rationalization behind having these permits. I mean okay, if they want to charge $85 when you initially set up your burglar alarm system I’m not going to argue the point too much. But why do you have to trudge down to City Hall and take a test? Why can’t they just tack $85 on to the first year of the police permit?

But when I saw the entrenched, intricate bureaucracy up on the fourth floor I realized there is truly no point in fighting City Hall. And so I just went along with it.

The test itself was rather odd. The person in charge asks you to sit in a chair in front of his desk, he hands you a piece of paper with about 10 questions on it, and he asks you to read each question and answer them verbally.

Basically none of the questions had anything at all to do with installation of the system. And none of the questions had anything to do with electricity. They almost all, except one minor question, had to do with operation of the system, which you would have to know even if somebody else installed for you.

Anyway, I answered the questions, paid the $85, got my permit and the wireless system is now operational! Yay!

And for your amusement, here are some signs I saw at City Hall. They seem to be enjoying themselves there.





Crimea wants to secede from the Ukraine – the situation is more complicated now

The fact that the citizens of Crimea themselves want to break away from Ukraine certainly complicates things.

There is a potential for Civil War.

These questions of whether areas should be able to break away from a country and join another country or create a new country are always particularly sticky. On the one hand, you think the democratic process should decide. After all that’s what happened in Ukrainians recently. The U.S. is a particularly difficult position regarding this, because you know what the union’s stance was about this during the U.S. own civil war.

Obviously what Russia did was illegal. But if the people of Crimea themselves do not object, isn’t it hard to get worked up and feel the US should be involved?

This article is a good one, and worth the read. It talks about the legality of what is happening.

I think what is “legal” in the cases of revolutions is pretty much ad hoc and just depends on your own political interests.

New zairyu card

Dear Diary.

Oh wait. This is public.

I’ll bore you with my day anyway.

In 2012 Japan changed its “alien registration” system. All foreigners are supposed to carry an alien registration card (gaikoku tourokushou) with with them. The card needed to be renewed every 7 years at the local ward office.

The change made was to abolish the alien registration system and replace it with a new national “residence” (zairyu) system.

The new zairyu card also has to be renewed every 7 years, but instead of your local ward office it has to be done at the regional immigration bureau.

The Japanese government says the purpose of the new system is to put foreign residents on a more equal footing with Japanese, because now we have domestic registries, just like Japanese people do. And we can do some things we couldn’t do before, like get a “seal verification” from branch office machines and some extra services and whatnot.

Some foreign residents say the purpose is to make it easier for the government to track foreigners.

Whatever. Unlike the U.S., everybody (including Japanese) have to actually register with the government and tell them where you live. Everybody has an “official address.”

In practical terms, what it meant for me was that instead of renewing my old registration card in 2017, I had to obtain a new zairyu card before July 2015.

I figured it was crowded when they started the new system in 2012, and it will probably be crowded before the final deadline in 2015, so I might as well get it done now before my trip to the U.S. next month.

So I went down to the regional immigration office today, in Shinagawa. I live in Shinkoiwa, which really has turned out to be quite the convenient transportation hub to practically everywhere. Shinagawa is just 6 stops away – only 25 minutes.

So it was quick getting there. And it was pretty much a ghost town at the immigration bureau. So I was done quickly and back home, door to door, in under 3 hours.

One benefit of the new system is they finally got rid of the “re-entry visa” requirement. In the past, even though I had permission to live and work in Japan as a permanent resident, I needed separate permission to actually enter Japan if I took a foreign trip. So I had to go down to the immigration bureau from time-to-time anyway and pay like ¥6,000 yen (about $60) for that extra visa. But no more, as long as your overseas trip is for less than a year.

For that reason alone, I think it’s worth it. And I don’t have to deal with any immigration bureau bureaucracies again until 2021.

So there is my exciting day so far. Time for lunch now.

The contradictions of Ted Cruz and his cohorts

I don’t know why the GOP and conservatives are so dead set against people without health coverage finally having a way to acquire and afford it.

But I’d like to take time here to mention an especially contradictory argument being made by certain Tea Partyites.

There’s are two arguments which Senator Ted Cruz (R. Texas) repeats in interviews which are so self-contradictory I don’t know why the media don’t constantly push back on it. It’s logical nonsense. In the same breath he says:

1. “Obamacare is a huge job killer” because it requires companies with more than 50 full-time employees to provide health coverage so they are reducing hours and not hiring. (Statistically that’s in dispute of course, but that’s one point he’s making.)

Then he says this:

2. Instead of Obamacare, his solution for people not having health insurance is for them to go out and get jobs and get insurance through their work place.

If he and his fellow travelers can’t see the glaring contradictions in those two positions they are truly ready for the trash heap of history.