The ever-insightful James at OTB - one of my favorite blogs* - finds carpool (or HOV) lanes to be rather interesting and is not surprised by people who violate them. The subject of carpool lanes touches a sore spot with me out here where we not only have HOV lanes on the left side of the freeway, but sometimes on the RIGHT side as well, which is absolutely insane in terms of trying to merge. (Perhaps this policy is an attempt to reach out for ideological diversity.) The HOV lanes are patrolled pretty heavily here and rarely a week goes by when I don't see someone busted.
With traffic "congestion" becoming a "problem," ** many people have written their state representatives to have the HOV lanes open to single-occupancy vehicles*** in "off hours" (e.g., 8 pm - 5 am). For the most part this is a rather stupid idea since we don't have congestion in off hours except during a big public event (e.g., fireworks displays) when everybody is driving in groups anyways. However, if you think that is stupid, wait until you hear the reason for why state officials won't implement this rather benign policy.
In order to get federal approval to have HOV lanes open to all vehicles at any period of time during the day, you need to install a "rumble strip." At first I thought this meant those ugly plastic poles that knock over easily when you hit them. No such thing. Rumble strips are grooves dug into the pavement, which would be highly expensive to install in the current state budget crisis, especially since it would require widening our freeways by about a foot or two, which would be near impossible in some areas (we have quite narrow lanes with virtually no shoulders in many places due to geography). (Note: In my original post, I thought a rumble strip was the concrete barrier that separates opposing lanes of the freeway, and this was how our state senator described them, which caused a major stir in the audience...but Crackerbarrel Philosopher has shown me the errors of my ways. Like I'm supposed to know this crap. At least our state senator should, but I'm starting to think he is kind of stupid...and he's a Republican...but more of a Republocrat given his opposition to tax reform and spending cuts.) As this state senator said at a recent public meeting I attended, this is required to "bring the roads up to code, just like when you remodel a house." I'm not sure that this policy holds if you want to eliminate HOV lanes altogether (my preferred option), but it wouldn't surprise me. The "rumble strip" policy is basically akin to policy extortion.
* Given James' recent critique of my teaching methods, I'm trying to win him over with excessive kindness. (smirk) In all seriousness, I do think OTB is an excellent site and is usually my first (and sometimes only) daily stop in the blogosphere.
** Having lived in LA for some time, I've known congestion, and this, sir, is not congestion.
*** During my drive to and from work, I'm an SOV-SUV -- i.e., a liberal environmentalist's worst nightmare.
I know that this is taken from the highly-respected journal Nature, but it seems a bit incredible that there is a 90% drop in the "large fish" stock in the oceans.
If the fish population had dropped that much, fishermen would have a much harder time locating suitable fishing grounds, thereby spending more time floating on the high seas, and their productivity rate should drop as well. All of this should lead to a rather dramatic increase in the price of the fish that are being overfished. I am a fish eater but haven't noticed any sizeable jump in fish prices over the past decade or so. And although the article talks about a 50-year time span, there still should have been a significant increase in price over the past decade or so if what they are saying is true.
While Byrd may be crying foul and Henry waxing eloquent on costs, the people who really mattered didn't seem all that upset about President Bush landing on the Lincoln. The Everett Herald has the story. Among the highlights that puts the Byrd and Waxman to rest are: (1) the president spent 18 hours on the ship, a wee bit longer than one would expect for a photo op; and (2) President Bush had a meal with enlisted men in the absence of the press. Now why would one schedule a photo op and fail to invite the photographers?!
Michael Totten makes a rather interesting observation about how the worldliness of many liberals stops at drinking chai tea. Interestingly, Totten is himself a liberal, thus the piece is all the more telling. Unfortunately, I must disagree with his "builders vs. defenders" thesis. The US Constitution is a pretty good blueprint to keep the building moving forward.
I've been blogrolled by the Invisible Adjunct, a rather smart blog from a (admittedly) liberal history professor who shares many of the same gripes about the Academy as I do, as well as the same joys and frustrations associated with raising a 3-year old. Despite some references to intellectuals and intellectual movements I'm not familiar with -- not hard to do as I'm actually not all that smart, just hard-working -- this is a very insightful site. Visit it.
It appears as if the son of Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, was arrested Saturday for suspicion of hit-and-run as well as DUI. There will likely be a great deal said about this story on talk radio tomorrow, but here is a different angle that might be missed.
Nasir Farrakhan was driving an SUV, specifically a Hummer! Now SUVs, as you know, have come under a pretty intense attack lately. I think the attack is not so much aimed at SUVs, but rather the type of people believed to drive them -- white suburban Republicans. Pickup trucks and minivans (which get comparable gas mileage)* rarely ever come under attack. Indeed, the problem of SUVs is an attack on the "suburban lifestyle." What never seems to get mentioned is that SUVs -- especially the very large models -- are now the cars of choice among the hip-hop crowd and professional sports stars. Maybe Arianna Huffington should recruit Dr. Dre or Shaq for her anti-SUV campaign.
* Note: The 2003 VW Eurovan is said to get 20 MPG...and that's for a car that goes from 0-60 in 12 seconds!
** Note: The Lemonhead happens to own 2 SUVs and a pickup truck. I never received any flak for driving the pickup, but am constantly assailed for my SUV. Secret is that my SUV gets better mileage than my truck.
So, Drudge is reporting that Michael Moore (Bowling for Dollars...er, I mean...Columbine) is being financed to the tune of about $8 million (reported on Drudge's radio show) by Disney (via Miramax). Considering that his book was published by a Rupert Murdoch company, it will be rather odd for him to be speaking as the "little independent filmmaker from Flint." Money will do that to you.
His new film -- tentatively entitled Farenheit 911 (recall that Farenheit 451 was fiction) -- will be about what President Bush knew about the 9-11 terrorist attacks (as witnessed by his performance on Bob Costas' show) and the administrations "chilling" response. (Perhaps Tim Robbins will get a cameo as the hypothermia victim of the "chill wind.") The movie is set to be released near the November 2004 elections.
Moore may think he's getting a jab in at the president right before election time, and hence helping the cause of the Democrats (or Greens, if he is so disillusioned to think the Greens will win or not hurt the Democrats). Go ahead Mikey. Your lard-ass activism, methinks, will only hurt the Democrats. Moore's film will certainly preach to the choir that is already in the Democrat's pocket, and may have a slight mobilizing effect, but I do believe it will really turn away the more marginal Democrats and Independents who feel that the left has gone way overboard on Iraq recently. Fine by me.
And doesn't Mikey realize he has simply become a parody of his "stupid white men?"