Saturday, January 31, 2009
Friday, January 30, 2009
Now, the bill isn't quite as silly as it has been portrayed. Obviously it is aimed at curbing the proliferation of distractions and possibly re-educate drivers that their focus should be on the road and not on their Blackberry, i-Pod, DVD player, Norelco shaver, GPS, Big Gulp, or Double Cheese Bacon Explosion. Not too outrageous a concept, really. And, though this is clearly a trial balloon legislation, I actually like the approach, inasmuch as it isn't outlawing the activities, only increasing penalties for other infractions if you do these also.
In my [small 'l'] libertarian thoughts, I can envision all of these, even DWD, as not being unlawful [pregnant pause] until you have an accident (of any kind), at which time you go to jail, no excuses (DWD), or pay a stiff fine (most of the others). It would bring accountability back to the driver to take responsibility for safe vehicle operation, much like a pilot.
Interestingly, there is no provision for smoking while driving. I'd have to imagine that more than a couple of accidents have resulted from someone dropping hot ashes down his/her torso or on other body parts, not to mention a few prairie grass fires from discarded butts. Maybe it just didn't come up in discussion?
While the derision is aimed at the faxing provision, it is simply one line of fourteen, defining (as bureaucrats are wont to do) personal communications devices.
If you need to reach me while I'm in my car, don't call me - I'm concentrating on driving. But, if it's urgent, send me a telegram (they're not listed in the bill).
And if I'm in an accident, I won't dial 9-1-1, I'll send out an S-O-S!
It should be pointed, out, however, that being January in an odd-numbered year, these are probably the least of the pranksters at 'work' in Austin.
I wonder if the sign was posted in a "No Faxing" zone...
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Lately, it's been reported that The Golden Arches, a/k/a McDonald's, has seen a sales increase during the economic downturn, while other iconic American hotspots (e.g.: Starbucks) are shuttering stores and laying off employees.
McDonald's success is apparently bad news for some. This past week I've received two forwarded emails, purportedly from an expert at Texas A&M University on behalf of the Texas Cattle Feeders Association, urging a boycott of McD's because the chain is undercutting domestic beef producers by buying foreign (South American) raised cattle. The general tone of the email is protectionist, and it raises the spectre that unsuspecting Americans may be ingesting beef from cattle that were fed cattle/beef by-products, as well as anti-biotics and hormones, and which may be tainted by insecticides/herbicides banned in the U.S. The campaign urges customers to boycott McD's until they promise to buy only U.S. beef.
The first time I received this message, I was a little bit revulsed by the prospect of feeding cattle cattle - until I thought: "Hey, if beef is OK for me, why is it dangerous for them? As long as they're not being fed Soylent Green." I also rationalized that since I don't often eat at McD's, I couldn't very well boycott them.
The second time I got the email, it caused me to wonder what was behind the campaign. As I noted, I'm not a huge customer of theirs, but McD's has certainly built a successful business by offering consistent fare, served quickly, from store to store. So, as my blogging mentor RTB taught me, I Snopes'd the story that had been sent to me.
As it turns out, neither TAMU or the Texas Cattle Feeders have anything to do with the email. As well, McD's is not purchasing South American beef cattle. According to Snopes, most U.S. beef is grain fed (in feed lots), resulting in a higher fat content than what the chain specifies for its burgers, so they are buying Australian and New Zealand grass-fed beef to augment supplies from American producers. Such amounts are said to be in the single digit percentages of the chain's beef purchases.
So, if hunger strikes me, I won't have any problem ordering a Quarter Pounder or Big Mac, or something from the dollar menu.
I hope I don't see Jeffrey Dahmer working in the kitchen...
Sources report that the former Senate Majority Leader has included scouts among his entourage for the purpose of assembling something akin to "All-Star" teams comprised of Palestinians and Israelis. Turmoil in the region is expected to be settled by a 'best of five' series of baseball games. Due to their rock-throwing prowess, the Palestinians are early favorites in the pitching department.
Special Envoy Mitchell has pointedly warned heads of state in the region that no steroid use will be tolerated.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
I saw giddy folks in different locations around the country celebrating the event with glee, and I'm happy for them. But suffice to say, my reaction to the whole affair was pretty somber.
An old anecdote, probably true in some cases, but more likely apocryphal as details get changed with each retelling, relates a small [Main Street, not Wall Street] business owner who displays a framed Presidential portrait in his place of business. An acquaintance sees it, and says: "I thought you hated 'so-and-so'". The rejoinder and moral of the story, of course, is that the business owner acknowledges the statement, but adds; "I am an American, and he is my President".
During the 1990s, I remember distinctly saying of WJC: "He's not MY President". Now older and hopefully, wiser, and despite not having voted for BHO, I feel like the shopkeeper. Like it or not, President Obama is the new occupant of the Oval Office. You won't see me displaying his portait, but I am an American. But I hasten to add that denial, abridgement, or usurpation of the rights of sovereign citizens changes the whole paradigm.
Well, enough blogging for now, as a [nearing] middle age white guy, I've gotta go "embrace what's right".
Sunday, January 18, 2009
While the æsthetics of it are of course beautiful, and I'm sure with its V-4 its 0-60 is probably under 2 seconds, the practicality quotient is zero. Oh, and did I mention the estimated $1.4 million price tag (maybe that was in lira?)
Monday, January 12, 2009
Sunday, January 11, 2009
I know nothing of Portugese water hounds, but learned from the article:
The Portuguese water dog was originally bred to work for fishermen retrieving broken nets, herding schools of fish, and carrying messages between boats and the shore, according to the American Kennel Club.
Obama's fellow Democrat, Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, owns two Portuguese water dogs, Sunny and Splash.
While I pray for Sen. Kennedy's recovery from his medical issues, I can't help but chuckle at the irony of his having 'Portugese water dogs'. I'm guessing he didn't have that breed in 1969 - if he had, he might have been inaugurated as POTUS in January 1973...
And, how apropos that one of them's named "Splash"!?
While at the Sam's Club today, I was perusing a copy of "The Love Dare" when a fellow passed by and saw me reading it, noting "That's a good book". I replied that I'd seen the movie, to which he responded that I should try the book as well, telling me that he'd purchased it and was halfway through the 40 days. Exposing my unadorned left hand, I explained that it had come out a few years too late for me. He caught my drift and indicated he was trying to avoid the same fate. He said he also wanted to read "The Shack" upon completion of his 40 days. He wished me well going forward, as I did for his completion of The Dare.
Anyway, anyone out there read "The Shack" and have any comments?
Friday, January 9, 2009
Thursday, January 8, 2009
The first that brought a smile to my face was an elderly couple crossing the parking lot to enter the store. Now, when I say elderly, I don't mean 'just got their AARP cards in the mail' elderly. This husband and wife had to have been every bit of mid-80s plus. Their bodies were both stooped over with the ravages of time, and individually, you would think of either one as frail. But together, they crossed the parking lot, arm in arm, each a strength to the other. Although there were cars behind me, possibly with impatient drivers, it was no inconvenience to me at all to wait as they passed by. In fact, I considered it a blessing.
About the same time, another not-quite-so-elderly woman, probably in her 70s - a bluehair, you might say - was leaving the store. As a Wal-Mart, carrying your groceries to your car is usually self-service. But there was the store manager, pushing the lady's cart out to her car. Another uplifting moment.
I'm nowhere near 80, and can presently cross parking lots pretty well, but I have to do it alone. Maybe sometime before I go to the nursing home, I'll find a sweet young thing in her 70s to walk with me arm in arm at the Wal-Mart (or whatever discount stores exist then - perhaps Gibson's will come back in vogue).
And the bad? Nah, I feel better now. I'll save my rants for later...
Apparently, passengers are now being requested to inquire of the flight crew whether sufficient fuel is onboard to reach their destination, plus appropriate reserves. I'm sure that'll go over really well.
What I think is funny about the article is the syntax. No wonder I can't get help programming my DVR!
P.S.: What would be the chance of having that airline name in the United States? ("Good afternoon, ladies & gentlemen, this is Capt. Amos Jones. Assisting me today is First Officer Andrew Brown...")
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
If you know me, I don't consider myself a 'tree-hugger', but do like the idea of stewarding natural resources wisely and recycling when viable. I guess you could say I am on board with Scouting's "Reduce, Re-use, and Recycle" philosophy.
- Lightweight, fire-retardant, moldable material
- Elimination of an equatorial third-world waste product that currently contributes to disease (discarded hulls collect water, creating breeding zones for mosquitoes)
- Creation of a raw material market for poor countries
Beyond automotive uses, perhaps there are other industrial or residential uses for the new material.
Oh, and by the way, using coconut shells for industrial purposes will use up tons more shells than Wilma & Betty, and Ginger & Mary-Ann ever could...
Now, your tireless investigator, Woodward E Bernstein, has uncovered a possible new sighting of the escape vehicle, modified, fortified and soon-to-be-sanctified (and it got a paint job, as well), suggesting larger heists to come, perhaps on a national scale: