Monthly Archives: September 2010

I saw on the news yesterday that congress is considering legislation that will restrict youth’s ability to drive:

U.S. Senator Chris Dodd and U.S. Representatives Tim Bishop and Michael Castle were chief sponsors of the bill which will push states to adopt the Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program. The importance of the bill was emphasized with the display of two vehicles that had been totalled in a car crash where teenagers were killed.

The main focus of this campaign and proposed federal act is to save the lives of our teenagers. Auto accident-related death is the number one killer of young people between the ages of 15 and 20. On average, 10 teenagers are killed in car crashes, either as drivers or passengers, each and every day in the U.S.

I don’t oppose most of the law on principle. Having a graduated system where more and more rights are accumulated over time would indeed save lives. While it’s true that a portion of the teenage driver accidents is a result of inexperience which would be a problem whether you’re driving for the first time at 16 or 46, there’s no question that innate maturity also plays a role. To take the items one by one:

A 3-stage licensing process (learner’s permit and intermediate stage before unrestricted driver’s license)

This strikes me as reasonable. Having a system where increased privileges are earned could be a benefit to more than just driving.

A prohibition on unsupervised nighttime driving during the learner’s permit and intermediate stages

What about a sixteen or seventeen year old with a job? What if they’re coming home after football practice or some other extra-curricular activity? There are a lot of valid reasons for kids to be driving at night. Also, what if you’re 17 and in college? Curfews have exemptions for these sorts of things. Does this law?

A passenger restriction during the learner’s permit and intermediate stage (no more than 1 non-familial passenger under the age of 21 unless a licensed driver over 21 years of age is in the vehicle);

This could be an inconvenience for parents who have their kids carpool while driving to school or at home from practice. Clancy wants to apply this rule to our future kids whether it’s the law or not. I am less convinced. The safety stats are there, of course, but there is more to life than safety (my views are this are subject to change when I am actually responsible for taking care of a kid). In fact, a law would settle this disagreement with us and probably for the better. Our kids wouldn’t be at a social disadvantage if it were the law rather than us clipping their wings. Our kids wouldn’t lose out because some other parents let their kids do what we won’t let ours.

A prohibition on non-emergency use of cell phones and other communication devices, including text messaging, during the learner’s permit and intermediate stages;

No problem with these laws in theory, but they don’t work where they’ve already been tried with adults.

Age 16 for issuance of learner’s permit and full licensure at age 18;

See above for the problem with these age limitations. Also, there’s something to be said for allowing kids more freedom while their parents are able to look after them rather than when they’ve already left for college and already dealing with the potential of too much new freedom at once. But those are relatively thin objections. Still concerned about extra-curricular activities, jobs, and other reasons the kids might be out late, though.

Any other requirement adopted by the Secretary of Transportation, including learner’s permit holding period at least 6 months; intermediate stage at least 6 months; at least 30 hours behind-the-wheel, supervised driving by licensed driver 21 years of age or older; automatic delay of full licensure if permit holder commits an offense, such as DWI, misrepresentation of true age, reckless driving, unbelted driving, speeding, or other violations as determined by the Secretary.

No arguments here.

The other problem I have with this generally is that I don’t like this being determined on the federal level. Obviously, the ship has sailed on the federal government’s right to do this. But different states have different needs and different priorities and I don’t see anything wrong with that. This doesn’t strike me as the sort of thing that is inherently an interstate problem. I would likely be more supportive of this law in the state legislature than in congress itself.

Category: Road, Statehouse

A while back a woman sued a wireless telephone carrier because they accidentally blew the lid off of her affair:

The husband became suspicious when he noticed a number frequently called on the bill and, after dialing it, was told by a man who answered that he recently had a three-week affair with Nagy. He left Nagy and their children in August 2007.

“The affair was over,” Ms Nagy told Canwest News Service. “The thing that really hurt me is that it all came out not through my own doing.”

She blamed Rogers for the breakup, for having “breached my privacy.”

It’s pretty obvious that Rogers did in fact screw up when they started sending the bill home against her wishes. She may well have a legal case depending on the fine print. But… well… her culpability in what happened all but goes without saying.

Generally speaking, though, I am unsympathetic to the notion of privacy-amongst-spouses. Before getting married, I had assumed that I would have more rights than I apparently do when it comes to Clancy. It’s not that Clancy is a secret-keeper, but rather it’s dealing with third parties that the problem comes up.

Several years ago we got a call from a bill collector that said that Clancy owed them money. However, when I asked what it was about, they couldn’t tell me due to “privacy regulations.” At first, I didn’t really know what this meant because as far as I knew they were under no obligation (generally speaking) not to tell people about your debt. In fact, I’d read articles about collection agencies telling neighbors and others about the debt in order to shame them into paying. So why couldn’t they tell me what this debt was about? The answer came pretty quickly after thinking about it. It wasn’t so much debt collection regulations, but rather HIPAA regulations. It related to medical care and they couldn’t tell me that she had sought medical care. I asked this point-blank and the collector essentially confirmed that it was medical in nature.

She couldn’t tell me more than that and she wasn’t the only one. I tried to take over the task of paying the power bill when we were living in Cascadia and I couldn’t. They wouldn’t let me. It didn’t matter whether I was her husband or not.

In my view of marriage, this really shouldn’t be. Unless there is a legal separation in place or something like that, I believe that Clancy has the right to know what I owe and to whom. I believe that she has a right to my medical records. When it comes to her, I think that I waive rights of privacy.

The medical records question is a bit stickier, though, in practice. In Estacado, Clancy would have patients that were on birth control without the knowledge of her spouse. A combination of Catholicism and macho immigrant culture. I am extremely sympathetic to these women who don’t want to bear any more children but also don’t want to run headlong into her husband’s ideology. If she gets a shot and he doesn’t know about it, it helps keep the peace. A peace based on dishonesty, but a peace nonetheless. His having access to her medical bill compromises that. I’m not comfortable with that, but I am not sure that sways my thinking all that much.

Of course, I say all this and often there are things that I don’t want to know. While I would try to talk a girlfriend out of having an abortion, under the assumption that I couldn’t it would probably be better off for everyone if I simply didn’t know about it. The same would probably apply to a wife, though Clancy and I are of a similar mind on the ethics of the issue and so it isn’t quite so much an issue. Had I married staunchly pro-choice Julianne, it might be more of an issue. Then again, pro-choice as she was, it’s unlikely she would have aborted a child in marriage the same way that she probably would have if one of our pregnancy scares had turned out to be the real deal. Would I want to know about it? Probably not. Should I have no right to know about it? Murkier. Keeping in mind here that the question is not whether abortion is some sort of special thing that a husband should have the right to know about but rather whether it would constitute some sort of exception to what I generally believe a spouse ought to be able to know about.

Also murkying the waters here is the question of STD testing. Now I believe that a spouse should be able to know if he or she is at risk of an STD from his or her spouse. However, what if a test comes up negative? Does a wife have the right to know that a test was run? It would certainly raise questions. On one hand, I don’t think that a husband or wife has a “right” to keep infidelity a secret. On the other, if getting testing means his affair is more likely to be discovered then he is less likely to get tested to begin with and who does that serve? It’s not dissimilar to the question of STD testing in general. If someone knowingly spreads HIV they can be tried to murder and it’s hard to argue that they shouldn’t. However, does that then mean the secret is not getting tested?

During the whole Schiavo mess, one of the reasons I came down in favor of pulling the plug had nothing to do with a “right to die” (though I support one) and a lot more to do with marriage. Her husband’s motivations may have been suspect, but she signed over that sort of decision-making to him when she married him. I’m even tempted to say that a spouse’s wish ought to preempt a living will, though I would need to think more on that.

Anyhow, for non-medical issues such as paying the power bill or even paying off a medical bill even if the spouse does not know what for, I lean pretty strongly in favor of a spouse being given the authority to pay bills whether overdue or current. And I think that the husband has a right to see if she’s been calling a lover. The legal question of whether or not Rogers’s policy gave her a reasonable expectation that he would not find out and if that has some sort of standing… well, that depends on what the law is and not what I think it should be.

“It’s not my fault” is still, of course, a pretty lame cop-out, regardless of what the law is or should be.

Category: Coffeehouse

In response to this WSJ piece, I wrote a comment on League of Ordinary Gentlemen that I wanted to reproduce:

Imagine how much more successful you would be if you locked your kid in the basement with nothing but a chair, a light, and a bunch of books. Then they’d read Dickens like the dickens. No need to go crazy, of course. You can let them out for school and little league and stuff. Of course, when all the kids are talking about video games that he’s never played and TV shows he knows nothing about, he will be suitably insulated from the ability to make friends by virtue of the fact that he will have little to talk about except a bunch of books nobody else has read and little league. He won’t be able to talk about Major League Baseball cause he won’t be able to watch any games, but I’m sure they’ll be just as interested in the triple he hit on Tuesday night than the local pennant race.

Now, if we’re going to be sincere about this, we also have to watch what they read. As Mr. Spence points out, if you let them read what they’re interested in you’re actually just coddling them. Better to stick to non-fiction since fiction is full of useless things that may be “riveting” and “engrossing” but we’ve already established that it’s not important that they enjoy themselves by their own standards. They’ll learn more reading books about molecular biology. Or the dictionary.

There would be exceptions, of course. You would want them to read the classics, so that you can brag to all of your friends that your 6th grader has read Moby Dick. Unlike their peers, your peers matter.

I’m not going to argue that reading is not a good thing and that young boys would be better off if they read more. Nor am I going to argue that fart books are the literary equivalent of Moby Dick or that video games are just as good for kids as reading.

However, I find the entire premise behind this really distasteful. Basically, if you bore kids enough they will have no choice but to read. If you leave them only those books that you are sure they must find interesting then they will find those books interesting. And it’s true, to an extent, but that’s not what reading is for. I don’t argue that you should let kids do whatever they want or everything their peers are allowed to do, but surely there is some sort of balance to be struck here. Isn’t there?

Is reading (not just reading, but reading precisely what you want them to be reading) really so important that you would deprive them of the alternatives? Deprive them of the “recreational internet” which is actually full of all manner of stuff they can learn about the second it pique their interest? Deprive them of movies which allow them not just to construct the imagery as best they can but actually experience things happening right before their eyes? Or the thrill and excitement of not just reading about exciting things but actually sort of experiencing them and working your way through them in the form of video games? Is anything but text on a page illegitimate?

I have no love for video games. The only two gaming consoles I have are the PlayStation 2 and the N64, which is one generation and two generations displaced from current. But man, the more I think about the attitude presented in this piece the more it brings out the intemperate side of me. By all means, make sure that they’re not living their lives in a digital world. But don’t deprive them of the experiences that they can provide.

Category: Server Room

The Republican nominee for Secretary of State, Damon Dunn, has apparently only voted once. Should this be considered a worthwhile campaign issue? It strikes as one of those things that seems really important when a candidate you oppose is discovered to be a non-voter but that you kind of shrug off when it’s someone that’s speaking to your views.

One of the big issues in Delosa is not the non-voting population, but rather the Democratic primary voter in the Republican primary. Delosa is mostly a Republican state, but not that long ago it was a conservative Democratic one. People who were not married to the other party currently vote in the GOP primary but used to vote in the Democratic one. So just about every election during the Republican primary, some candidate in some race is running ads saying that his opponent last voted in the Democratic Primary. It’s usually not too damning unless they say something like “I’m a lifelong Republican.” Sometimes, in fact, they do. One guy running for Insurance Commissioner actually sued his rival for running a clip of him saying in a commercial that he’s a lifelong Republican (followed by proof that he voted in the Democratic primary) by alleging copyright infringement. This, of course, resulted in the clip being shown every time the story came up on the local news. The lawsuit was dropped.

Anyhow, back to the main subject of politicians that vote… it seems to be one of those things that should matter but that is so far behind ideology that it’s hard to muster up a whole bunch of care. Maybe if I’m voting in a competitive primary with lots of candidates that are reasonably close (or far) from my ideology I might consider it relevant… but even then, unless it’s part of a larger pattern of Don’t Like I am likely to throw my vote behind whichever candidate is most likely to win in the general election. So it’s kind of hard to imagine a scenario in which it would actually affect my vote.

Category: Statehouse

I don’t watch a whole lot of NFL since I am mostly into the college game. But for some reason today there were numerous games of interest and so I watched. Specifically, the New Orleans Saints against the Atlanta Falcons. The game went into overtime. They showed the Falcons’ aborted drive and the Saints’ following drive which ended in a missed field goal… then they stopped showing the game. What the Heck?! They said that NFL Rules meant that they had to leave the game but they would “keep us posted” and now they’re showing Howie Long, Terry Bradford, Jimmie Johnson, and others talking about other games in the league. Dude… the defending national champions are in an overtime game in a divisional game and I don’t get to see it?!

Why would the NFL do this?! I can only think of two possibilities. First, it’s not the NFL so much as FOX that is the culprit because FOX paid some lesser amount for only x-hours of play. Second, the NFL is trying to get you to get the Season Pass, where maybe the game is still showing? But most people don’t even have the option of getting the Season Pass because it’s only available with DirecTV.

What’s particularly strange about this is after the Heidi Bowl it was the NFL that demanded that games be shown in their entirety and not be pre-empted by other programming. Now, this didn’t apply to overtime (which didn’t exist back then), but you would think that the same spirit would apply.

Does anyone know what the rule is here that would force FOX to turn away from an exciting overtime game?

I have just been notified that the Falcons won. They let me see the game-winning kick in replay. Oh, boy.


Category: Theater

Some students at Alabama universities are suing in order put a stop to mandatory meal plans:

According to the Auburn University website, students who live on campus must pay a minimum of $995 per semester for the dining plan. Those living off campus must pay at least $300 for the program.

“These fees are not tuition and not related to class instruction,” attorney John F. Whitaker of Whitaker, Mudd, Simms, Luke & Wells said in a statement. “Instead, these food fees are mandated because these state schools have agreed to give certain food vendors exclusive control over these student food purchases in exchange for millions of dollars being paid back to the school. The students themselves are given no option.”

Compass Group USA and Thompson Hospitality Services, both from Delaware, are food vendors specifically named in the lawsuit.

Southern Tech University’s policies requiring meal plans was, I believe, limited only to those that lived in campus. I lived on campus all four years and there was never a semester that I did not spend the entire debit. Even so, the policy used to make me angry. It wasn’t actually the existence of the policy, which the Alabama students are objecting to, but the way that the university used to want it both ways.

It seems to me that campus food ought to fall under one of two categories. Either it is there to make a profit or it is there to serve the students. I am actually okay either way. If they simply told vendors “Hey, rent this space and sell food to our students and faculty!” that would certainly be fair. The university can get some money for renting out the space and people have eating options that they can take advantage of or not. For people like me, if we were to choose “not” then we can stock up our fridges and take it from there. Granted, the options surrounding the university in the seedy part of town were somewhat limited. So really, they likely had our money anyway. If only they would have just given us the choice.

But sometimes you can’t give people a choice and I understand that. I mean, sometimes you have to force everybody to pay something so that the businesses can be profitable. Now frankly, I question the business acumen of anybody that can set up shop at a university with a captive audience of 20,000 students walking from place to place and rarely driving off campus (seedy part of town, remember, plus parking spaces were golden) who cannot turn a profit. But that can also be attributed to the university charging too much for the space.

So it creates a situation where the university gets loads of money from the food providers in return for forcing the student population to pay the service provider in order to pay the exorbitant amount of money for the contract. In other words, we were essentially paying the university. However, because of the way that they have it set up, it seems like we’re not paying the university. We’re paying for food. Nevermind the portion of the food that is going to overhead which is going straight to the university.

While I would appreciate more transparency, even this doesn’t bother me all that much. I mean, in the end we’re making our check out to the university either way and they are needing and getting the money either way. What bugs me most about it is that it is advertised as a service to us. We have to do this in order to have food available on campus. Or something like that. However, it is only a service when they’re collecting money. When they’re deciding what they give back, it’s suddenly a business again.

It ultimately seemed (and seems) to me that if we’re all in this together and we all have to contribute, then there should be a premium put on actually serving us even when it is not entirely convenient to do so. I was not asking for a diner be open at 3 in the morning. I wa not even asking for things to be open during holidays. I was asking for breakfast. Around my junior year, they stopped serving breakfast at the dorms. Just. Stopped. Why? Oh, because they weren’t making a profit. I didn’t give a rats patoot if they weren’t making a profit. They’re not there to make a profit, we are told when they are collecting the money. They’re there so that we can eat. It seems to me the ability to get breakfast is one of the things that we are paying for when they tell us that we all have to buy food. It’s supposed to be for our convenience.

I recognize that to one extent or another that they’re getting our money either way. But the only argument for mandatory meal plans is that without them we won’t have the convenience of being able to eat conveniently on campus. But when breakfast isn’t available, or when lunch is served only from 11 to 1:00 (nevermind if you have an 11:30-1 class), or there is nothing open on entire weekends, it’s not really much of a convenience, is it? It’s a business. Except when they demand we pay. Then it’s a business. That can’t be boycotted. All of the downsides to either option.

-{via OTB}-

Category: School

Back when I was working at Mindstorm, a coworker of mine was talking to another coworker in earshot and was saying some things that are pretty blatantly untrue. Not untrue in the sense of “I have a different opinion” or “you’re skewing the facts” but things that are immediately and verifiably untrue. In this case, he was saying that the IRS is actually a corporation that collects money from the government like a debt collection agency as opposed to being the government entity that it is. It was all I could do not to insert myself into the conversation, but it was a good thing that I didn’t since people don’t like to be corrected and since I had just started it would have gotten us off on a bad footing. We became friends, of sorts, and he actually turned out to be a really smart guy. Just misinformed.

Right now I’m at The Copper Cafe, my favorite coffee shop in Redstone. Apparently, behind me is some sort of meeting of a group of Christian-Marxist-Greens. I’m not kidding. This was obviously a very intelligent group of people that talked about weighty things. Politics aside, it’s a group that I have typically become friends with. But as intelligent as their ideas were and their ability to consider different points of view and so on, they were operating off some pretty blatant misconceptions. Again, not wrong in the sense that I disagreed with what they were saying but rather that what they were saying was objectively wrong no matter what your ideology.

To pick one example, there was a consensus that the United States was one of the worst offenders in the world when it came to human reproduction. We are, as one of them put it, “a nation of breeders”. Now, we do tend to reproduce at higher levels than a lot of western countries, but last I checked we hovered pretty close to replacement rate and not above it. So we may be “part of the problem” if you believe that the Earth’s population should be 3 or 2 or 1 billion, but

Now, my coworkers was actually a pretty smart guy and we would become pretty decent friends. I do not hesitate nearly as much when it comes to correcting people that know me. Among other things, they’re more likely to take me seriously since they know that I am not the sort of guy that makes up things in order to win an argument. Of course, even there I can hedge somewhat. Instead of making a statement declaratively, I will say something like “My understanding is…” and, depending on the individual, we will sometimes “compromise” on something I know to be untrue but at least closer to the truth than their initial statement. I am not one to make the perfect the enemy of the good.

Of course, another factor in all of this is that you can get derailed on facts that are not central to the argument. For a whole lot of people, facts are something to support the thesis rather than a thesis being the result of a careful evaluation of all the facts. A fact that doesn’t fit is then often replaced with a new (sometimes weaker) fact that does fit. To take the above example, even if I could indeed demonstrate that American breeding patters are not an outlier on the aggressive side, her point would have remained intact. Environmental damage is being done. The United States is a heavy contributor in said environmental damage (as are developing countries, which all of the CMG’s noted). These are arguments that I am not prepared to contest as environmental issues are not generally a subject of interest.

One of the more difficult things I have had to learn over the last several years is to simply let people be wrong. Both on the Internet and off of it. I tend to choose my battles very cautiously. This is such a far cry from who I used to be it is pretty ridiculous. I was an opinion columnist in college who lectured everyone on The World According To William Truman. Dad used to have to shush me when I was in high school to prevent me from spouting off on some subject of another. I’m really not sure what to attribute this personality shift. It’s partially a product of having been wrong about some things I used to be so sure about. Some of it just calming down with age.

A huge factor is the Internet itself. Back when I was so sure of myself, I was never confronted with the best arguments before or against something. Now, with enough investigation, just about every QED I ever had is challenged by somebody that actually makes a pretty good point. Either they consider an angle that I hadn’t or, just as often, I discover that they are simply operating under different assumptions than I am. From those assumptions come facts that support the assumption and reasons that the facts that don’t support that assumption are either irrelevant or something that doesn’t take the proper things into account.

Category: Coffeehouse

“Cut off your head / Don’t hesitate / Do it today / It’s great / Throw out your brains / They’re a disease / Cut off your head / Think with your needs”

A while back Katherine Mangu-Ward wrote an interesting piece in Reason about tattoos and criminals:

Unlike a legal trademark, an underworld brand can’t be defended with little more than an expensive attorney. If another gang steps into your turf, you can opt for a violent defense of your signal of choice. But gangsters who previously relied on large gaudy tattoos to get a message across can hardly go around roughing up every 17-year-old with a tramp stamp on her tailbone.

As tattoos go mainstream, criminals have to adapt. These days, even art on your neck, collarbone, and wrists is barely enough to signal your commitment to subcultures that are totally legal.

But there are still some kinds of tattoos—including those inky eyelid admonitions and the homespun variety created with a shard of a ballpoint pen during long hours behind bars—that retain their signaling power, demonstrating a commitment to the criminal way of life. A guy with extensive Aryan Brotherhood facial tattoos is unlikely to snitch on his buddies. The only thing worse than getting an eyelid tattoo is having one removed. What’s he going to do, go into witness protection and start a new life as a kindergarten teacher in Ohio?

The criminal world is an extreme variation of what goes on in regular society and cultures and subcultures within it. The criminals are having to adapt to non-criminals using similar markings to express solidarity with non-criminal activities. The more interesting aspect of this is that non-criminals are doing it. With tattoos, it’s counter-culture that comes to mind, but that itself is a variation of what goes on in more mainstream culture, particularly among women.

Half of social organization is about differentiation. Setting up a hierarchy. Declaring yourself outside of the hierarchy. Setting yourself up within an alternate hierarchy. With tattoos and the like, it’s relatively simple and in-keeping with the motivations of Aryans in prison. The more difficult you make it to go back, the larger sacrifice you are require, the easier it is to prevent everyone from merely copying you. Having a tattoo on your shoulder that is hidden while wearing a shirt is relatively easy. My clean-cut brother Mitch has one. Counter-cultural types don’t want to be a part of any group to which Mitch belongs, so they have to do what Mitch won’t do. Though he and I haven’t talked about it, I suspect that he would think twice about putting a tattoo where a shirt wouldn’t cover it. I’ve lightly (very lightly) dallied in the idea of getting a tattoo in the past, but would never ever consider getting one that I couldn’t hide.

Which is part of the point. You have to draw a line that people like me won’t cross in order for your self-marking to be worth anything. Half of the point is to separate poseurs like Mitch and me from the people who really want to make a statement. So you replace shoulder tattoos with arm-sized ones. You replace ear rings with those ear-spacers that deform the ear. And on and on.

Even more interesting to me than this is how mainstream female fashion seems to do it in more subtle ways. Make the clothes insanely expensive so that the non-dedicated and non-wealthy can afford then. Make the shoes so uncomfortable that the non-dedicated won’t bother. Make the clothes accentuate any and all body fat so that those that aren’t a perfect size two can’t get away with wearing them.

The combination of what women to do themselves and the increasing acceptability of body markings and piercings and other things on men make me wonder if we are headed down the same path. With prole creep and tattoos becoming more and more acceptable, will mainstream male society follow-suit to the point that those of us that don’t have any markings that can’t be covered up with a t-shirt will be considered hopelessly square? Not an uplifting thought.

Category: Coffeehouse

Quothe Kirk:

I’ve been driving since ‘83 and have never had a ticket. You guys seem to get one a week. Slow down, you Mad Max wannabes.

Actually, I have gotten only three tickets since starting this blog, which considering that I have driven some 150,000 in that period (2.5x the average) I don’t consider to be all that bad. In the year or two before that, I got two tickets. Prior to that, I got them every 90 days like clockwork. The problem was that I was dating Julianne which had me driving up and down a particular street in Phillippi that was a major revenue-generator for the city. It wasn’t a “speed trap” in the traditional sense with the speed limits set unreasonably low. Mostly it was just under heavy enforcement at on sporadic nights and for some reason it was just an easy street to speed on. When my friends and I would eat at IHOP on that street we would watch endlessly as one person after another got pulled over.

I don’t know how much of it was Sullivan Street and how much of it was that I was young and hadn’t learned proper speed control. I did periodically get tickets on other streets, but it was pretty rare.

Sheila chimed in:

I haven’t had any tickets since I bought a four-door sedan and moved a few miles from work.

I wonder if there is something to the 4-door sedan thing. Cause the car I got in the most trouble it was a red car, which are supposed to be bad. I didn’t generally speed as much in that car as in others, though. The worst car was my grandmother’s car, The Trawler. That car drove very comfortable at rather high speeds and no cruise control. After a back-to-back car accident and ticket, my folks threatened to put me back in The Trawler, which I told them would be fine (I wasn’t particularly deserving of generosity at that point) but that I was more at risk in that car than any other. The thing is… I never once got a ticket in The Trawler. Not once. The fact that the car was a land barge and older than I was and a granny’s car in more than just the sense my grandmother gave it to me is probably not a coincidence.

Right now we live on a street with a 15mph speed limit that is almost certainly going to get us a ticket at some point. It’s a school zone, but the speed limit doesn’t have school hours (and extends way, way beyond the school) so you can be driving at 3 in the morning and still get a serious ticket. I find that I avoid the street as best I can. Not because I can’t stand going 15mph, but because my internal speedometer doesn’t register appropriate speeds below 20 or 25 at all. It could become my new Sullivan Street, though I don’t know how vigorously the School Zone limit is enforced off-hours.

Anyhow, I am not really a member of the chorus because I am constantly getting tickets. I talk about it more than I get them. I think it’s one of those internal justice things. Part of the time I dismiss ticket machines as a sort of road tax. The other part of the time I get annoyed because sometimes (not always, but sometimes) something under the guise of public safety is serving something else.

Category: Courthouse, Road

James Joyner has apparently discovered the secret to wealth: get married and live on the coast. After all, that’s what most rich people do.

A new study suggests that the “double-shift”, wherein women are expected to keep working while men eat cheet-os and watch SportsCenter, is a myth. I don’t know whether this is true or not. The devil is often in the details. I do know that some highly-touted studies showing the opposite results failed to take into account the number of hours that men and women work, reducing them both to “full time” when that can mean anywhere from 40-60 hours. Maybe this one makes similar mistakes in the other direction or maybe not. I do know that this rebuttal was entirely unconvincing. Links to better rebuttals are welcome.

The author of the above study also writes about the Beauty Bias, which has been discussed here. When the subject was brought up in a previous Linkluster, nobody really contested the point that women were affected more than men. Interestingly, there is reason to believe that men are the more unfairly targeted party. This is doubly problematic because while women are under more pressure to look better than men, their burden is also their opportunity. With the exception of weight and basic hygiene, men are more likely to be targeted on things that they cannot control (such as height).

When I was a young man, the concept of alimony seemed like a ridiculous moneygrab on the part of women who didn’t earn money from men who did. Then, of course, I married a doctor and began to appreciate the role a lesser-earning partner plays and the sacrifices they (we) often make. My views have changed. With the shoe on the other foot, some women are re-evaluating the fairness of alimony, too.

What is, or should be, the protocol for surname-changing amongst gay marrieds?

Eric Schmidt of Google warns that in the future the young will have to change their names. It’s possible, though something will have to change in the meantime. I stopped blogging under my name five years ago and while the site is still up, it barely registers if you google my real name.

Facebook has been pushing me to friend a ghost since the day I joined. I really, really wish it would stop.

$4000 for a 10mb hard disk and other old-school bargains. Back then we used to say things “nobody will ever need more space/RAM/speed than this!” and of course all of those predictions turned out wrong. Build it and they will come (ie find a use for it), so to speak. Except that we’re at the point where our hard drive spaces are bigger and our computers faster than we really need them to be.

The Tragic Death of Everything. I remember when the whole gaming console industry was dead back in the late 90’s because of computers. Then, in the early 00’s PC gaming was dead because of consoles. Nintendo in particular has died several times over the last decade or so.

Category: Newsroom