Friday, May 16, 2003

I had tonight the privilege and the pleasure of seeing Darryl Worley in concert. All I can say is that if you ever get the chance, I would highly recommend that you do the same. He is simply incredible.
Here's a fresh red light camera story for you. Actually, it's a yellow light camera story. I'm ecstatic to see that the profiteering bastards got caught.

In the meantime, San Diego is turning its cameras back on.

My previous post about the damned things is here.
Steve Milloy has got his teeth into the (lack of) science behind the now infamous Oreo cookie lawsuit.

Don't worry about transfats. If they don't kill you, your frying pan will.

/sarcasm

Thursday, May 15, 2003

OMG, I'm having Netcom flashbacks! (Yeah, yeah, I got into the game late. We were poor. Sue me.)

Spent the evening trying to convince my DSL that it wanted to work. Called support, finally, at the height of my frustration, and the problem resolved itself immediately without any help from me. The tech guy swears he did nothing but send it happy thoughts. As long as it worked.

I did add a new link on the sidebar. I found it somewhere in the course of my earlier surfing, and I don't have the faintest idea at this point where that was. I hadn't looked at the pictures since the morning after, and I'm glad I looked again. Never forgive, never forget.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

The anti-Oreo freak has dropped his stupid lawsuit:
The move to outlaw Oreo cookies in California crumbled Wednesday when the lawyer who tried to ban the tasty snack foods said he had decided to drop his suit.

San Francisco attorney Stephen Joseph told The Associated Press he would not pursue the action any further, and only wanted to get the word out about the dangers of unlabeled fats contained in the popular black and white cookies.

"We have received thousands of e-mails expressing support for what we have done in advising the public of this problem," Joseph said. "But it's no longer necessary to continue the lawsuit because at the time the lawsuit was filed nobody knew about trans fat. Now everybody knows about trans fat.
Pardon me but I don't think I have the words to describe exactly how moronic this really is.

I wish they really would secede.
They probably realized where they were:
A dozen Holstein cows grazing near Skywalker Ranch in Marin County apparently got spooked and ran off a 50-foot cliff, according to authorities.
Death vs. life in Marin County? Is there really a choice here?
Since I've been reading The Volokh Conspiracy I have developed a whole new appreciation for appeals court decisions. Like this one, pointed out by Conspirator Orin Kerr.
It's been a while since the last gratuitous InstaPundit post, which I provide for the benefit of the one regular reader I have whom I cannot convince to actually look at other blogs. So here it is. Glenn's victim? Chuck Schumer. Heh.
Catchy slogan of the day: Hypertension--if you didn't have it before, you do now. Or you will, after you read this article on the new standard for diagnosing high blood pressure.

Brought to you courtesy of the US government, which also made you fat and gave you diabetes.

Tell you what...I'll take medication for the next 40 years on the off chance that it will do my kidneys less harm than a reading of 125/82 will. /sarcasm

Really, folks, this rings false to me. They say that they are not recommending meds for the "pre-hypertensive" phase of the thing, but that doesn't jibe with the rest of the story. I smell pill-pushing profit monkey poop.

They are all preying on the tendency the human creature tends to have to want to live forever. Personally, I'd just as soon have fun. I mean, if you're good enough to meet all of their guidelines, you won't have any stories to tell the grandkids. Except maybe about the the time you got E. coli from your organic broccoli.

None of this has to do, at its base, with rising health care costs. It's about the fact that nobody wants to die, and a lot of people don't mind making themselves miserable to try to stretch things out, and a large number of them want to make you miserable too to justify their own choice. (And an unhealthy percentage of folks with that sort of personality go into public "service".)

Of course, it makes perfect sense combined with the idea that I should weigh 110 pounds. My blood pressure would definitely be low enough then. Maybe I couldn't stand up without passing out, but so what?

I can't wait until Steve Milloy sinks his teeth into this one.

UPDATE: Here's another article that says 45 million Americans are estimated to have the new condition they've created.
Damn. This is a neat distraction, especially since I have no idea what any of it means. Except as defined therein, and some of it makes no sense anyway. To me, at least...if I had any real computer skills, would I be on blogspot?

(Located via a link to the Godwin's Law entry in this post at Grouchy Old Cripple, via the aforementioned Inscrutable American)
There is something for everyone at The Carnival of the Vanities, hosted this week at The Inscrutable American.
Two things I noticed today that baffled me:

1. There's a concert being held at a local park over the weekend featuring some local guy who was on one of those music reality shows. The country one, whatever the hell it was called. My TV hasn't been turned on since the statue came down, so I wouldn't even know there was such a thing if not for the pop-country radio station that plays in my office 8 hours a day. It irritates me, but it's a lot cheaper than finding employees who can stand quiet. Not many can anymore.

But BOT...the DJ kept saying today that the concert would be "a smoke-free environment, so we're really looking forward to it." Yes, that was the way he phrased it, and yes, he used the same phrases multiple times. But what the hell do cigarettes have to do with the price of tea in China? You're looking forward to it because people won't be allowed to smoke? I can buy that smoke-free air might be a pleasant thing for some people, but why that has an impact on your level of anticipation I will never know. Would the station be boycotting him otherwise? I somehow doubt it. Would you hate the music if it was accompanied by the smell of burning tobacco?

Question: this is being held in a public park. Will the use of the grills also be prohibited during the concert?

Another question: has anybody checked the demographic correlation between country music fandom and smoking?

2. I took a call at work from a telemarketer type from AMEX, who wanted to talk to the Big Boss. I do not put nuisance calls through to said Big Boss, which is part of why he pays me as handsomely as he does. How, you ask, did I know it was a marketing call? The distinctive sound of the auto-dialer, my friend. (If you call me at home, start talking quickly. I hang up on pauses.) Not to mention the fact that he declined to leave a message.

What the crazy telemarketer type did say was, "That's ok. We'll call back Monday at one."

What am I supposed to do? Rearrange his schedule so he doesn't miss your "very important information?" Warn him that he should be there waiting, since you are so kind as to call him back? Confess that he was really in his office all this time and put you through, while dipping my chin in shame?

Listen up, asswipe sales types: you will never get past the keeper of the gate! Bwahahaha!!!
Heard more than you ever want to about SARS? Then go check out its fellow epidemic, SADS.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

If you're in a position to do it, you probably know better, but I think it's worth noting again: don't park in San Francisco. Seems they're broke. Enough said, right?

Go read the article anyway, especially if you have ever wondered about the difference between goals and quotas. The thing practically fisks itself.
Ok, so now the iLoo isn't a hoax, but the project's been killed. This is almost as much fun as watching the rollout would have been.
Ban drive-throughs?

You can relax, it's just the Fresno City Council, at it again:
The Fresno City Council vowed Tuesday to put a dent in pollution with a three-year plan that would cost nearly $18 million and possibly lead to free bus rides on smoggy days, four-day work weeks, and employees working from home.

The council voted 7-0 to direct staff to return within 90 days specifics on the plan, where the city could get the money, and when the plan could begin.

Council members also told City Manager Dan Hobbs's staff to return with land-use ideas, city policy changes and ordinances that would help clean the air. Those issues likely will include politically charged ideas such as banning gas-powered leaf blowers and drive-up windows at fast-food restaurants and banks. The council debated those issues in the late 1980s, only to let them fade away.
This in a county where it's still perfectly legal to burn ag waste. And people wonder why I want to move back to America.
Eugene Volokh has a post today about those damned traffic cameras. Which reminded me that I had long ago promised a post on the subject. Back in April, both Orin Kerr and Glenn Reynolds noted this TalkLeft post about a DC anti-camera lawsuit, which led me to dig around in the personal archives a bit, becuase it is a subject I am fascinated by (in that sick sort of way that makes you watch the cosmetic surgery shows on TLC, or even crane your neck to get a better view of an accident...)

There was a heck of a series a while back in The Weekly Standard about the District's automated traffic enforcement. Part one is here. Read the whole thing, as they say. Then check out this article from Honolulu, and this one about a creative judge in San Diego ( if you want a clear picture of how creative, start here). Hell, go google it if you want to. There's a hell of a lot out there on the subject.

My take on the cursed things? I would trust the cops before I'd trust our mayor. That is, I'd rather take my chances with a local officer of the law than be convicted by a camera that is a revenue source for the city. And that is the real problem with these things, in my eyes...that it is, in most jurisdictions, impossible to protest one of these tickets. In California, this will cost you $281 the last time I checked, and even if the cameras aren't rigged, I have a basic terror of non-discretionary enforcement. I don't like the idea of being convicted automatically of something I most likely would not even remember doing...if I did it at all.

I searched the Fresno Bee online archives for this topic and didn't find a thing. Their archives may not go far enough back for it...Fresno is always the latecomer to any game. But they had a hell of a time getting the things to even work here. It's foggy for about 3 months solid in the winter, and the moisture played such havoc with the cameras that it took months before they could even write the first ticket. *It was so bad that they had to admit to the problem instead of ticketing people.*

I could go on all night about the statistics: the increase in rear-end accidents, the size of the problem in the first place, the niceties of highway design. But the folks I've cited above were kind enough to do it for me. Make up your own mind about the thing.

I deal with it by simply never going through a monitored intersection. Inconvenient sometimes, but I like to deprive the profit-seeking "safety" monkeys of their prey.

An oft-missed point to close: yes, cops are more expensive than cameras. But they're a hell of a lot more versatile, too. They can catch other sorts of traffic offenders, act as a better deterrent, since you never know where one will turn up, and rescue treed cats in the bargain. Or respond to other sorts of incidents...imagine a mobile unit with a brain that can generate revenue, too. Wow. I predict this will be the wave of the future...real cops responding in real time to real problems.

UPDATE: I wasn't trying to be this timely, but here's an article from earlier today about NHTSA and NHA skepticism about the value of cameras.
Acidman takes on the NYC smoking ban here and here. He's a lot more, er, colorful than I am, and that's a good thing. He also takes on the issue of the validity of the whole second-hand-smoke-kills routine, which I just didn't have the strength to do last night.

And even if it did, the government does not choose your place of employment for you. You don't like it, go work somewhere else.

Monday, May 12, 2003

We all thought there was nobody more hated than Mike Bloomberg--and we were wrong. Gray Davis now has an approval rating of 24% and is facing recall. Couldn't happen to a nicer idiot.

The sooner that Cali is rid of him, the better, but I have this sinking feeling that whenever he does get replaced, it will be by this man.

Sigh.
OMG, the iLoo was a hoax? Say it isn't so!
Although I am nowhere near advanced enough to have added comments myself--I'm just a Wiggly Worm in the Blogosphere Ecosystem, after all--I love reading other people's comment threads. Right now, Dean Esmay has a particularly good conversation going, under the title Your Mom Wears Army Boots. Go check it out, and, if you're a woman, leave a comment. Hey, they're Dean's rules...and I like 'em!

UPDATE: This sort of thing is the reason I read Dean Esmay...he's so damned reasonable he shames me sometimes.

UPDATE: Dean asks a very practical question.
Also via Ravenwood, Gene Simmons on Natalie Maines.

Oh hell, just go scroll.
This news from Ravenwood about the effects of the NYC smoking ban on businesses does not surprise me in the least. Why? Because I live in California, where they've been doing this kind of thing for years.

Unfotunately, NYC establishments for the most part can't resort to the tactics that saved a couple of my favorite places: patios. The bars in my area that already had--or were able to spend the money to add--patios are mobbed. You can't get a seat at an outdoor table without a wait at the restaurants. I simply don't go anywhere I can't smoke, and I don't know any smokers who do on any kind of regular basis--not that that forms the basis for a scientific statement, but still.

Smokers spend money, too (in fact, I read somewhere that they spend more, because they are liable to hang around longer and thus are more vulnerable to add-on sales, but I have no idea where I read it, and I can't find it now, so take it with a grain of salt, but common sense and observation would seem to agree). Excluding up to 25% of your potential patrons must be a bad thing...if anyone really thought that the influx of non-smokers would make up for the revenue lost by excluding the smokers, the things would have become non-smoking without government interference. Seems awfully obvious, but these folks are in business to make money. If it was going to be better for business to kick the stinky cancer-spreading smoker monkeys out, they would have been kicked out, instead of just subjected to the long-suffering glares of people who bring their babies to the pub. (Yes, I actually used to know somebody...a college professor, no less...who started bringing her daughter to the brewpub with her when the kid was 6 months old. That was after the ban started, of course...)

Of course, plenty of places in Cali just ignore the law, and I give them my money as frequently as I can. Why? Because anybody who gives the finger to Gray-out is a friend of mine. Because business owners ought to have the right to do as they like on their own property, if it poses no danger to anybody off that property. Because the only effective vote I have is with my dollar.

And because I'm a stinky cancer-spreading smoker monkey.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that I found Ravenwood via A Small Victory.

UPDATE: The California smoking ban has spawned a few good things--like The Center for Consumer Freedom, which keeps track of nannies of all types. Like the ones who want to steal cookies from children.

Sunday, May 11, 2003

I was planning to post on the "name of the blog" thing tonight, but I am just not feeling as funny as the topic deserves (and it is an amusing story), so go check out how the sign contest is coming along over at A Small Victory instead. My entries are there, too. Scroll, baby, scroll.