Action · Alabama · Autos · commuting · Cycling · Huntsville · Life · Madison · politics

Tilting at City Windmills

I recently sent an email to the Public Works Dept of the little town I commute through to/from work. Actually, I commute through 4 jurisdiction: the county (where I live), the city of Huntsville, AL, the city of Madison, AL, and finally, federal property, Redstone Arsenal. The little town in question is Madison.

I noticed that the induction loop detectors (the sensors in the asphalt that tell if a car is waiting at a red light) weren’t sensitive enough to detect a bicycle. I pointed out two intersections and have subsequently found a third. The email I sent was to ask if something could be done to increase the sensitivity or put in a button. Even though there are no crosswalks there, a button like a pedestrian crossing request would work the same.

The response I got was, “Treat the red light like a stop sign and proceed with caution.” So the Public Works Dept is giving me permission to break the law and piss off all the traffic on Mill Rd. by stopping, then running a red light. I doubt a copy of the email is going to hold much weight with the Police Dept or the drivers I cut between. But Church and Mill is just a small T-intersection on a two-lane road.

This intersection (Hwy 72 and Hughes Rd.) is a completely different animal. Hwy 72 is a four-lane, 45 MPH, divided highway with multiple turning lanes at the intersections. There is no hope of treating this like a stop sign when the cross traffic isn’t going to stop.

But I took that intersection out of my commuting mix and replaced it with this one at Hwy 72 and Nance Rd.

It’s still just as wide with multiple turning lanes, but I hadn’t had any trouble with the lights…until Friday, 28 April 2017. I think my morning commute is blessed because I can’t see any traffic sensors on the north side of the intersection. That tells me the through light is on a timer and will always turn green eventually. The south side, the side I’m on in the afternoon, is a different story. It has a sensor, probably because this side of the road mostly goes to residential streets, so isn’t as heavily traveled. It even has a little bicycle icon painted on the pavement. I don’t know what that’s for. I thought maybe it was a “stop here” symbol to trigger the lights, but after waiting through 2 lights last Friday, I gave up and pulled a tricky maneuver to continue my journey.

I peeled left across the south side of the intersection crossing two lanes, carefully moved against eastbound traffic on the shoulder, repositioned my bike in a parking lot, crossed the two eastbound lanes into the northbound, left turn lanes where I was in the company of several cars and got a green left-turn arrow. It should be noted that none of these intersections have pedestrian crosswalks, either. Apparently, you go by car or you just don’t go.

I replied to the email I received, thanking them for their permission to break the law and pointed out that their advice was moot at the Hwy 72 intersections. I told them I understood that I was the only one complaining about this, so my lone voice probably didn’t count for much. Maybe they will listen when a news crew covers some fatal accident at one of those intersections. It won’t be me. I’ll cross safely if it takes an hour. I also included the city council member of the district the Nance Rd. intersection is in with my reply.

Their attitude is a little puzzling because they just spent the better part of a year redoing a road on the other side of the city with beautiful, segregated, mixed-use cycle/pedestrian paths. They obviously understand the need for cycling safety. Maybe they just ran out of money after redoing County Line Rd.

They say you can’t fight city hall, but damn it, you can have fun trying.

Life · politics · Presidential

Screaming Into the Tweetosphere

This is twice now President has blindly parroted a web site. First, he says he saw the story about “what happened in Sweden Friday” on Fox News. He didn’t, but let’s go with that excuse. Now, he’s tweeted a totally baseless Breitbart story about Obama wiretapping Trump Tower. I’m not sure he understands what it means to be President of the United States. If the President makes an accusation like this, it warrants a special investigation. That will cost millions of dollars. The man who promised to cut the Federal budget, blindly blathers on about election fraud and wire tapping, inviting a multi-million dollar investigation.

So what is he up to? What’s going on inside the hamster wheel he calls a brain? Here are the possibilities.

  1. He has no clue what the office of the President is and has no idea how to execute his duties. He doesn’t understand restraint and measured words to keep the government sound and not waste money and manpower.
  2. He does understand the power of his position and he’s doing these things maliciously. That is the sign of a maniac or some other mental illness. Normal people don’t try to throw the country into a panic for nothing.
  3. He’s trying to detract from other news stories. This could be a subplot to any other reason, but it seems anytime Russia’s ties to this administration start creeping onto the front page, another outlandish tweet is fired from the President’s unsecured phone.
  4. He’s just round-the-barn-and-up-the-tree insane. If this is the case, he believes his own fabrications and alt-right news sites. His tweets are just that of a conspiracy nut parroting the stories that support his confirmation bias.
  5. What he is tweeting is true. This seems unlikely since most of his statements, when researched, are proven false.

None of these are preferable options. If these things are true, it is best to use the Presidency to structure an investigation, not fire blindly into the tweetosphere. If he’s insane, he needs to be removed from office before he damages the country further. If he’s distracting us from Russia, he’s trying to cover his own treason. If he understands the power of his office, he’s being an evil, vindictive, man who is trying to further divide the country no matter how much he talks about healing and bipartisanship. If he is clueless, he is dangerous to the security of the United States.

Which do you think it is or do you have your own theory? Discuss.

disease · medicine · politics

Dear Unbridled, Free Market, Libertarian…Ebola. Your Argument Is Invalid.

ebola virus
Eeeek! Ebola!

I like a lot of things about Libertarianism. In philosophical terms, it’s about as close as I can get to being political, but I have practical reservations. As an example, I give you Ebola. (Well, that didn’t sound right at all.) As an example, allow me to use Ebola. I could just as easily choose HIV-AIDS, but Ebola is on everyone’s minds right now. We’re all wondering why we don’t have a cure or vaccine for Ebola. Libertarians would tell us it’s because the free market hasn’t provided one and they would be correct. Here’s where the practical side of things really kicks Libertarianism in the butt. Sometimes, we can’t wait for the free market.

First, you have to realize what a horror Ebola is. I’m not going to post pictures or even draw them with words. Just know that Ebola is probably one of the top five worst ways to die. Until now, Ebola has only killed a few thousand people. I say, “only,” because in the free-market, grand-scheme of things, that’s no one. Also, these few thousand people were poor, very poor. They also live on the other side of the world from the free-market pharmaceutical companies in a mysterious land called Africa. In other words, Ebola hasn’t threatened the free-market and there is no profit in curing it.

It’s the same with HIV. When it first appeared, it was “the gay disease.” No one wanted to treat or cure it because if you didn’t want to catch it, you just didn’t have gay sex. Besides, curing gay people in the 1980s or 1990s would have been PR-suicide for a drug company. But then, straight people started getting HIV, but most of them were in, you guessed it, Africa. So no need to cure it, yet. Not until some very vocal, very fiscally well-off people got AIDS, did drug companies finally decide it was worth the investment to come up with something…anything…that might make them a profit…er…cure…er…prolong the life of an AIDS victim. And those drugs have done wonders to prolong the lives of paying AIDS patients in the Western world. Still there’s Africa, but fuck you, Africa. No expensive AIDS medicine for you and don’t hold your breath waiting on that HIV vaccine, either.

But back to Ebola. The latest outbreak is centered in West Africa. It’s the worst outbreak in history and it has the rest of the world taking notice. Now that there is a chance that it could spread to the Western world, people are asking, “Why is there no vaccine or cure for this horrible disease.” What they really mean is, “Why is there nothing to protect me and my family if that horrible virus leaves the shores of Africa.” Did I mention, fuck you, Africa? There is really very little chance that Ebola will become a world-wide pandemic, but can we wait? Libertarians tell us the market will find a cure when the market is threatened or there is profit in it, but can we wait?

No. When it comes to diseases, pandemics, and horrible deaths, we really can’t wait on the free market and we shouldn’t have to. This is one of those few things governments can do well. They can collect data, recognize threats, and allocate money to abate those threats. Sadly, this often comes in the form of guns for war, but in this case it is in the form of medical research and experiments. No for-profit company would dare spend the millions of dollars needed to develop a vaccine or cure for Ebola. They’d never sell enough to make their money back. Any sane person would hope there was no way they’d make their money back because that would involve an epidemic. If some company did develop a cure that coincidentally came on the heels of a huge outbreak of Ebola, there would be that tiny, dark part of everyone’s brain that would be thinking, “Did the company start the epidemic just to sell their drugs?” Shame on you for thinking a company would profit from the suffering of others…cough child labor, cough black lung, cough big tobacco, no seriously cough, big tobacco. A company just couldn’t sell enough of their cure to be profitable, especially to those poor African countries who are mired in Ebola because they’re poor, oh, and fuck you, Africa.

On the practical side of the house, sometimes we have to act altruistically even if it is for our own preservation.

Keep chasing the odd, little happy.

Political correctness · politics

Coming to America

The influx of children, unaccompanied minors, refugees, illegal immigrants, whatever you want to call them, from Central America that started in 2011, but has reached fevered pitch here in 2014, has boiled over into the political landscape, leaving scarred and seared political principles throughout the USA. Feelings generally fall into two categories: the “send ’em back to Mexico” category, despite none of these children are from Mexico; and the “I have a heart” category that is often labeled “bleeding heart liberal.”

I guess I fall into the a third category, the “I have heart, but I’m not fool” category. Not being a fool, I don’t suffer them long or lightly. When I expressed my opinion on the matter in a recent internet story, I was appalled by some of the replies. They fell loosely along the following lines.

Why don’t you take them in?
How does showing a little empathy and compassion equate to adopting a child? How do you know I wouldn’t gladly adopt one of these kids? There’s a time and place to make a stand and/or have a debate about immigration. Taking your stand against pre-teens who are fleeing horrific conditions, drug cartels, and rape gangs means you’re only going to come off looking like the cold-hearted bastard you are.

We’ve got our own to take care of.
Now you’ve graduated from cold-hearted bastard to racist fucktard. If you type long enough, it becomes very clear that your definition of “our own” is some weird graph where geographic location of birth is on the X-axis, and skin tone is on the Y-axis. What you’re really saying is, “We need to take care of the little, white, ‘Merican children.” Never mind the fact that we aren’t even doing that. This is the same mindset that recently cut EBT benefits to those same little, white, black, brown, and yellow ‘Merican children. If you really wanted to take care of our own, you wouldn’t be using that as a lame rally cry. You’d be calling your Congressional representative and telling them to reinstate some benefits for these ‘Merican kids. You’re now a fully matriculated racist who majored in hypocrisy and minored in short-term memory loss.

Spend your money. Not mine.
You have no clue how the government works. My favorite definition of government is “an alignment of mutual interest to accomplish things that cannot be achieved individually.” It’s great that you have some pie-in-the-sky, 18th century, romanticized idea that we should all be wholly self-reliant, but that has never been the case, not even in the 18th century. The very definition of civilization is the combining of specialized skills to benefit the larger society. If all you needed was a mountain stream and some nuts and berries, you could go live off the grid and shout, “Not in my back yard!” until you were blue. The fact that you have an internet connection tells me you don’t really believe in the self-reliant bullshit you’re typing. You like your internet connection. You like electricity coming to your house. You like the running, clean water that magically appears when you turn your faucet. You’re plugged in and you like it. You believe in trade. Trade is where you got that new tablet or laptop through which you spout your ignorance and hypocrisy. So don’t spout your randomly-connected words of self-reliance at me. Maybe trade is only good when it’s electronics and not people?

The Federal government, the great satanic enemy of all neo-Naz…er…neo-conservatives, actually has already set aside your tax dollars to handle situations like minors coming across the border. They actually had the foresight to pass a few laws that specifically deal with just this situation. So whether it’s yours, mine, or our tax dollars, they’re already spent. If you want to rail about reigning in Federal spending, you need to get out in front of the budget that Congress can’t seem to pass and just keeps continuing from previous years. (Insert meme about “You had one job, Congress.”) If there’s not enough money to care for a few thousand kids in our $3.9 trillion budget, we’re just going to have to tax the rich.

Move out of my state
You know what? It’s my state, too. I live here. I’ve lived here for over 30 years. My children were born and raised here. Geography isn’t like the internet. You can’t run and hide in some internet echo chamber where other extremist feed your view of the world. Real life means living next to people who may believe differently than you. It means compromising on things. It means following some basic rules that we developed in the last 10,000 years of civilization. This is why I’m glad we don’t have pure democracy in the USA. If we did, the fear-induced stampede of wrongheadedness would destroy everything we’ve built over the last 235 years.

Obama is breaking the law, bringing them here, or I hate everything Obama does
Fine. You hate President Obama. The person you voted for didn’t get elected and now you’re upset. That’s the way our system works. You get to be upset until the next election, but that doesn’t mean everything the man is doing is illegal, immoral, and fattening. He didn’t send invitations to Central Americas to come to the USA. The truth is, President Obama is following the law, enforcing the law, two very specific laws. The Homeland Security Act of 2002 and the Refugee Act of 2008, both passed before Obama was President, clearly outline how unaccompanied minors are to be dealt with. Mexicans are repatriated. Those from other countries are turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services which then attempts to place them with a relative or, barring that, into foster care. That’s the law. These kids cannot be legally sent back to their respective countries. President Obama has asked Congress to change the law so these children can be handled differently, but Congress has refused. They know it’s a win-win situation for Republicans because slack-jawed, knee-jerk, uneducated yokels will always blame Obama for everything. This is just one more situation where the President is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.

Idiots block HHS bus
Dumbassary In Action

OK. They can stay, but not in my backyard.
Here we have the most liberal heart found on the normally rabid, attack-mode-only side of the political spectrum. They either have enough empathy or have resigned themselves to the fact that these kids must stay. They acquiesce to letting them stay in the USA, if only temporarily, but NIMBY! Don’t bring them to my state! This is where the most depressing photograph taken in recent times comes into play. This photo above is heartless, neo-cons blocking a bus full of children from entering Murrieta, CA. The picture is the most revolting use of an American flag I’ve ever witnessed. Men and women fought and died for the principles behind those colors. They believed in equality, freedom, hope, and a better life for the next generation. That flag was once a beacon for the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to be free. It was never meant to be used to destroy the only chance an 8 year-old had to be safe, warm, and hopeful. Those flags in Murrieta showed a bus full of children that the United States is now closed for business. We’ve given up hope, freedom, and the chance to better ourselves. We’ve sunken into a mire of our own fears and prejudices. We’re stuck so deep in this mire, we can’t even extend a slice of bread and warm blanket to a child.

It was easy for these fear mongers to stop a bus. I wonder if they could have look into the faces of the children on the bus and stood their ground. It’s easy to wave your “I hate Obama” sign at a bus. It’s a different thing to wave it in the face of a hungry child. Therein lies our moral. Government, the coming together to do that which is mutually beneficial and which we cannot do individually, has a human face. There are definitely principles government adheres to, but in the end, government is people helping people, people building communities, people bettering a nation. When we remove the human component from our politics, we begin a short slide into the dehumanized side of governments. That’s the pit out of which we had to climb by fighting World War II. That’s the pit wherein dehumanized people are slaughtered. That’s the pit beyond the line of human decency. It’s a short step from the mire of fear to the pit of despair.

The author didn’t not vote for Obama. In fact, the author has never even voted Democrat. The author was, until recently, a Republican, but alas, you’ve changed Republicans. You’ve changed.


Things You See on YouTube: Cops

After watching hours of video about various law enforcement activities, I’ve noticed some consistent themes:

  • Cops have a double standard.
  • They assume the worst.
  • They often lie when there is no law being broken to try to get you to capitulate.
  • They very often are ignorant of the laws they are sworn to uphold.

Cops & Cameras
The double standard when cops see a camera is obvious. They have no problem filming you, but try to film them and all hell breaks loose. When a cop pulls your car over, they often ask if they can search it. If you assert your 4th Amendment rights and say, “No. I don’t consent to any searches.” They cop instinctively responds with, “Why. You don’t have anything to hide, do you?”

Now put a camera on a cop doing his or her job and they get really nervous. They’ll demand you turn the camera off. They’ll threaten you with all sorts of fake laws. They may even arrest you. In all my video watching, I’ve never seen, but would just once love to hear the camera operator say, “Why, officer, you don’t have anything to hide or be ashamed of, do you?”

For the last time, it is not illegal to film police or anyone else in public. Courts have upheld this basic, 1st Amendment right time and time again. If you are in public, you have no expectation of privacy. Personally, I like to video people who think their car makes them invisible and we can’t see them picking their nose.

Speed Traps & Whistle Blowers
There have been incidents of some whistle blowers being arrested. There have been as many charges dismissed. The speed trap whistle blower usually makes a hand-made sign, goes up the road from the speed trap, and warns on-coming traffic to slow down. Inevitably, the cops get mad.

If the cops were really there to ensure safe driving, you know, protect and serve like is painted on their cruiser, they’d thank these citizen volunteers for helping slow people down. The only reason I can think of that the cops get mad is because this interferes with their revenue collection. It’s not about safety. It’s about money and ticket quotas.

Open Gun Carry
Here’s where my jaw hits the ground the hardest. Openly carrying a firearm is legal in most of the U.S. Laws vary from state to state and sometimes from county to county. If you’re in a state where open carry is legal, the cops still go nuts. The double standard is glaring here. They openly carry their guns, but don’t like you exercising the same right. Many cops are ignorant of the law surrounding open carry. I even saw one cop so convinced he argued for 15 minutes that the conceal carry permit only allowed the bearer to carry concealed. Derp! The reason they don’t issue open carry permits is because it’s a basic, 2nd Amendment right. You don’t need a permit of any kind to open carry.

First they say they’re responding to calls from concerned citizens. The response I’d like to hear more often is, “Officer, you need to go to these concerned citizens and explain the law to them and not hassle me for exercising my legal right.”

Then they insist on seeing your identification. If you refuse, they often pull out this old chestnut. “We need to know you’re not a felon and can legally carry that weapon.” Derp! Felons don’t open carry. Criminals don’t want to draw attention so they conceal their guns. Law-abiding citizens who have the legal right to bear arms have no worries about strapping some iron to their hip. No, officer, your Jedi mind tricks don’t work.

YouTube is a wondrous and scary place. I love it.

Advice · Life · money · politics · rant

Change for America: A Few Things I’d like to See Barack Obama Change

Ah! Morning in America. Why do I feel like I need coffee and lots of it for the next 4 years? The American voter has spoken. “We want change!” is the cry. OK, change this. Make the Federal government more efficient. Cut the fat and excise the bloat.

There is a great piece of artwork called Death & Taxes. It’s a real eye-opener possibly better than your triple-shot, extra-foam, cappuccino. After taking a look, I decided there are a few things that need changing.

Do get health insurance and the tobacco corporations out of each others pockets. Why don’t health insurance companies pay for smoking cessation drugs/programs. I’ve never been able to figure this one out. Smoking costs health insurance companies millions of dollars every year, but they won’t pay for preventative medicine. What kind of pictures are in the vault at Altria headquarters? Some really raunchy stuff from the Humana Xmas party, I assume.

Do away with the Department of Education. Cut my taxes that go to support the DoEd so I can happily pay them to my local schools. No child left behind. Are you kidding me? Washington mandates this junk and doesn’t send near enough money to pay for it. Let the locals handle their own. Besides, I know a kid or two that needs to be left behind or at least dropped off at the vo-tech.

Read the rest. It’s the best. »

Just a few thoughts on change.

Advice · election · Life · politics · vote

Wednesday Morning Election Quarterbacking on Monday

Whether you agree with Obama’s ideas or not, you have to admit, he brought something to this year’s campaign that is the key to getting elected for any office. He brought enthusiasm. He infected the populace with enthusiasm. Early voter turnout is higher than any election in history. I offer this as evidence that people are enthusiastic about voting this year. I say, “people,” but I really mean Democrats. 1

Most of the early voters supposedly have been Democrats voting for Obama. Republican early voting is about the same as in past years. The logical conclusion is Democrats are enthusiastic about the election while Republicans have a very “Meh?” attitude. The attitude of Republican voters can be attributed to the fact they were given their fifth-string choice by their party’s primary process. How can you get excited about your candidate when you really didn’t want him eight months ago?

Pollsters and pundits are still saying the race is close. However, while Republicans are sitting home Tuesday grumbling about how they really wanted Romney, Huckabee or even Ron Paul, Democrats will turn out in record numbers. If you go vote, be prepared for the hoard of zombie-like Democrats surrounding the polls and chanting, “Change. Change. Change.”

It doesn’t matter what Obama’s policies are. It doesn’t matter where he might take us. It isn’t about idealism, practicalism, or any other -ism. It’s just about the common man being fed up, as usual, with politics as usual. Apparently we just want change, what ever that change might be. The candidate who can effectively promise any kind of change can generate enthusiasm. Enthusiasm makes people go vote. That is the fact. Throw around whatever -ism you want, in the end, it’s all about the -asm…enthusiasm about the untenable; orgasm about the candidate; the spasm to vote.

My election day wish is, “May we all get the change we deserve.” Whether you vote or not is not my concern. Hell, I may just write in Ron Paul.

1 Democrat [demuh-krat]: a sub-genome of the zombie race bent on universal health care therefore ensuring your brain is nice and juicy when they come to eat it.

democrats · election · foilhat · funny · God · humor · media · news · Obama · politics · religion · society

Decisions Decisions or Why I want to Go to the Denver Circus

I have a choice to make. TV has replaced religion as the opiate of the masses and I’m one of the masses. I have to make decision whether to watch the unending coverage of the Democratic National Convention from Denver or Lewis Black’s “Root of All Evil.” Tonight’s “Root” is “Red States v. Blue States” so it’s appropriate and confusing.

Do I flick back and forth? Do I depend on my “last channel” button? God no! They’ve pre-programmed that thing to bring up random channels designed to infiltrate my foil hat. Press it often enough and the photons will have you singing Liza Minelli tunes. There is only one decision to make here…Do you like clowns? If you do, don’t watch Lewis Black. He has a brain, but oddly is a Democrat.

Where we really all need to be is the circus. Popcorn, cotton candy, giant peanuts, giant hats, screaming children…you know, the circus. I’m locking my TV on the convention (yes, I wrapped my antenna in foil) so I can see the spectacle that is democracy, at least, as far as the bylaws of the DNC provide. You know they have as much accountability as your local Kiwanis Club or VFW? Sorry, that’s a big bubble to burst.

Thank God for DVR. Oh, did I say He’d been replaced? No, He just got better. Then he smote us with a mighty smote. But then again, we didn’t accept his latest prophet, so we deserved it.

This is just a perspective from behind the Good Morning America barricades where this was filmed.

congress · Life · opinion · pelosi · politics · rant

Nancy Pelosi’s Innovative Solution to Save Energy

On Friday, August 1, 2008, the GOP House minority was calling for a vote to allow new off-shore drilling or at least a debate on the question. Pelosi instead called for an adjournment vote. The vote was 213-212 to adjourn for a 5-week vacation. The CSPAN cameras were turned off, the lights in the House were extinguished, and the GOP staged a sit-in. When Capital police tried to clear the press gallery, GOP Representatives intervened.

Pelosi’s act sets an example for the rest of the nation. We must save energy since we’re not going to look for new sources of oil. What lessons do we learn from Pelosi’s example?

If you don’t like the conversation, just leave.
Don’t like the topic? Think you might lose the argument? Already have your …

Like what you’ve read so far? Read the complete article here »

Barack · Bill · campaign · candidate · Clinton · debate · Hillary · Obama · politics · Presidential

Clinton v. Obama. Are They the Same Candidate?

I jumped into a forum debate about the 600 pound gorilla of the Democratic primary. What’s different about Clinton and Obama. It certainly seems like their policies are pretty close. From that seed, I spun up my latest Associated Content piece, Clinton v. Obama. Are They the Same Candidate?

She’s white. He’s black.
Obama is married to a black woman and he is only half-black. Clinton is married to a white man who cheated on her half the time, probably with some black women.

Advantage: Obama. Bill is more baggage than asset.

It follows this format and devolves pretty quickly. Hope you enjoy and let me know you stopped by.