Archive for July 2009

Time To Hit The Road

July 7, 2009

Our annual summer trek through the eastern United States begins tomorrow. First up, Tallahassee, Florida. Then to Bedford, Virginia. After that, BFE, Pennsylvania. Then Fair Haven, New Jersey before heading back home via Bedford, again, and Birmingham, Alabama. Lots of cool places, lots of good riding, and, of course, lots of wonderful people.

But not much blogging until we return the first week in August.

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So I Guess I Have To Say Something About Palin

July 6, 2009

Anyone who read this blog last fall  knows I have no respect for her. Still, even if I did, there’s really only two possible conclusions any fair minded person can draw from her oddball resignation speech. No one knows what her real plans are, or what her real motives might be, and that speech sure isn’t going to tell anyone. But no matter what that speech tries to say, the fact is she quit on her commitment to the people of her state. The issue is why, and based on that speech (i.e., without speculating about hidden scandals), I can only see two possibilities. She either cracked under the typical pressures and criticisms of public office, and wants to withdraw from public life or else she quit in the middle of her commitment to the people of her state in order to seek some greater influence. In other words, she’s either extremely weak or extremely power hungry. Neither would be a great trait for a president.

No Legal Protection For Cyclists

July 5, 2009

Like I’ve already said, I seriously doubt any cop in Louisiana will enforce our state’s new law requiring motorists to give cyclists three feet of clearance when passing. Strengthening my scepticism, here’s an article about two situations in Tennessee – which has the same law – in which motorists actually struck cyclists yet weren’t cited for the violation. The article also states of the county in which the accidents occurred:

This failure to enforce the law was nothing new—public records indicated that not one citation for violation of the three-foot passing law had been issued by law enforcement in Hamilton County in the two years since the law had been passed.

Not a surprise. The bottom line is that if you ride a bike no one but you has any concern for your safety.

Happy Independence Day!

July 4, 2009

Drug Violence Or Prohibition Violence?

July 3, 2009

Interesting story in the news this morning:

It’s a drug deal that turned into a robbery that turned into a homicide.

That’s the way Shreveport police Detective Robert Gordon describes an exchange of gunfire about 5:35 p.m. Thursday that left one man dead and another in the City Jail.

Adrian Cook, 21, of the 7200 block of Bernstein Avenue, is charged with one count of second-degree murder in connection with the slaying of Deroderick Randel, 24, of Shreveport.

The two arranged to meet in Cook’s upstairs apartment at Kings Manor I for Randel to buy drugs, Gordon said. Randel pulled out revolver and tried to rob Cook, who fired several shots from a semiautomatic handgun, Detective Rod Demery said.

A couple of things here.

One, pretend the subject of the sale was, oh, say, an autographed picture of Michael Jackson. In that case, Randel entered Cook’s apartment, pulled a gun on him and then tried to rob him. In his own house, facing a weapon, being threatened, Cook would have had every right to shoot to kill. This would be an obvious case of self-defense. Cook would never have been arrested, never mind charged.

As it is, though, he’s facing second degree murder charges for defending himself in his own home. Why? Because the subject of the sale was not an autograph but narcotics and as one of the detectives said in the story: “In Louisiana, if you’re in a narcotics transaction, you can’t claim self-defense.”

Does that make sense? I can’t see any legal reason for the difference. Every material fact in the first situation remained true in the second. The natural human instinct would be to defend your home. Ain’t that what the NRA has been telling us for years? I’m not sure I see the policy justification, either. Maybe the policy’s goal is to prevent the use of weapons by drug dealers by letting them know they can be penalized even for defending themselves.

And that brings me to my second point. You can thank prohibition for this whole situation. Thugs robbing drug dealers is not an unusual occurrence. The idea is “Hey, what’s the guy gonna do, go to the cops?” Add to that the further incentive of knowing – in Louisiana at least – that the dealer can’t even legally defend himself, and you have what looks like a very easy target. Hence, the robbery. Of course, if the dealer had a legal means to sell the drugs, those incentives to violence would be greatly reduced. There’d be no more reason to rob a drug dealer than any other business.

People will always use drugs. Other people will always sell drugs to meet that demand. We can either provide legal and non-violent means for those transactions, or we can read this and similar stories every day for however long prohibition lasts.

Music At Sporting Events

July 3, 2009

Baseball, specifically, as the Captains game last night brought this to mind.

First, one of the worst, maybe the worst, developments in sports over the last decade is music between innings or as each batter comes to the plate or for any and all other play stoppages. I understand the idea: Get the crowd excited. You know what, though? When it happens every fifteen seconds it kind of loses the effect. Then it just annoys everyone. If I played for the Captains (or any other team) I would refuse to tell them my favorite song, for fear of having to hear the same clip played before every one of my two hundred or so of my home at bats. So how about saving the music for BIG MOMENTS, and letting the two out, no one on in the eighth inning of a six run game at bats go silently by?

Second, the national anthem is the Star Spangled Banner, not God Bless America. The former is not only official, but awesome. The latter is a usurper and it sucks. God Bless America is just so vanilla. I hear it and I think things like “Ahh, isn’t life swell.” It’s an everybody get along and be happy type of song. Not really the attitude you want for a sporting event. The Star Spangled Banner, though, is all about the right sports attitude: It doesn’t matter how hard you try, we are going to win. In short, we have a kick ass national anthem in this country, use it.

Third, I don’t care if it is the 4th of July, the seventh inning stretch is for Take Me Out To The Ballgame. To play anything else would be sacrilege. Heck, because baseball is America’s pastime, it would even be unAmerican. Even if it is, like it was last night, America the Beautiful. Of course, last night’s offense was even worse because last night wasn’t even the 4th of July.

Fourth, during Independence Day firework celebrations, how about skipping Proud to be an American AND Born in the U.S.A.? Lee Greenwood’s super-cheesy anthem for sentimental rednecks is not only one of the most annoying songs ever written, but it also has an amazing ability to get stuck in a man’s head. I’m still humming it now. I don’t want to hear it or hum it ever again. As for the Boss, like anyone who actually listens to the song knows, it ain’t the most patriotic song in the world. There’s a serious disconnect between the unthinking celebration of fireworks and a song about a Vietnam Vet who returns to find his country has rejected him. It could be a real buzz killer.

I realize there’s a strong 4th of July theme to my advice here, but still, if implemented, I think these four suggestions would make all sporting events much more enjoyable.

Extra Legal Protection For Cyclists

July 1, 2009

Missed this Monday:

Jindal also signed House Bill 725 by Rep. Michael Jackson, I-Baton Rouge, creating the “Colin Goodier Protection Act,” a law named after a New Orleans native and Baton Rouge physician who was killed while riding his bicycle on River Road in Iberville Parish.

Jackson’s bill requires a driver to leave “a safe distance … of not less than 3 feet” while passing a bicyclist, a distance that must be maintained until the vehicle is safely past the bike.

Violations can be punished by a maximum $250 fine. Jackson’s bill, which also becomes effective Aug. 15, makes it a violation for anyone in a vehicle to “harass, taunt or maliciously throw objects at or in the direction of any person riding on a bicycle.” Violators could be sent to jail for up to 30 days or fined a minimum of $200.

Like I said when this was in the legislature, I do not like the idea of penalizing people for simply “taunting” cyclists. I also don’t think any cop will ever enforce this law. A more realistic hope was for education. On that count, the law has this to say:

Jackson’s bill requires the Office of Motor Vehicles to place a summary of the new law in driving manuals, directs the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission to launch a public awareness campaign of the new law, and directs the Department of Transportation and Development to place signs in areas frequented by cyclists to make drivers aware “of the need to share the road” with bicycles.

Those are all great ideas. Some people intentionally bother cyclists. Not many, though. Most problems with cars result from inattention or ignorance among drivers. A lot of folks honestly believe we ought to ride on the sidewalk, which is illegal and also more dangerous than riding in the street. Maybe this can eliminate some of the ignorance.

Or not. I just read some of the seventy plus comments to that story. This state is full of assholes.