Tuesday, January 31, 2006

"You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test. "

Simultaneously funny and pathetic; What if George Bush gave a State of the Union written out of statements he's already said?
It would look like this according to Jamie O'Neill, George Bush in his own write at SFGate.com.

Friday, January 27, 2006

What's the difference between kidnapping and detainment?

This June 10,2004 document outlines the detainment of a nursing mother in an attempt to get her husband, the "primary target." The document is available here.

Another is an email exchange regarding the detainment of Kurdish women who are "ladies" who "fought back extremely hard during the original detention." Yea, so would I. My paradigm for this is the 1984 film Red Dawn (watch the trailer here) where high school students fought Russian, Cuban and Nicaraguan communists in the Northwest of the U.S. Yup, tanks roll into my town and people who speak a language I can't understand "detain me," I'm going to fight back extremely hard.

So if US forces can kidnap nursing mothers, and assume that fighting back is a sign of guilt and knowledge of terrorist activities, can someone please tell me how are any Iraqis going to see kidnapping of, say, US women reporters as anything different?

Excuse me for a second,


ok, better now.

On the flip side, the story is breaking, the ACLU got the government to release the documents, which the gov't did so in compliance w/ court orders, and these are results that might not be available in other countries. So the glass is, perhaps, partially full.

For us, if not for them.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Wednesday Drivin'Bloggin' - nice people

The woman was clearly having a challenging life.
It was 4 degrees outside, as I stopped my car on the way to work. The line was formed at the new light in town that everyone hates, (you know, every town has a location where you used to just yield, er, slow and go, and now you have to stop and not turn right on red). This is the light that people are pushy and honky about.

Anyway, there was this woman who was clearly having a challenging life. She wore a pink puffy coat that was open, and under it hung an old paisley button down shirt which was only buttoned at the top four buttons or so. Her belly hung out from under it. She was carrying a plastic bag of stuff in one hand, and the other was balled up in a fist against the cold. I watched as she walked on the sidewalk with her eyes firmly fixed on the other side of the street.

As I sat at that red light, third in line, she approached the intersection and crosswalk. It didn't look like she was going to make it before the light changed. She didn't look as if she were going to wait for cars before entering the crosswalk.

The light turned green. The red Ford pickup in the front of the line didn't move.
The Gremlinish car in front of me sat patiently.
No one honked in front of or behind me.
She crossed the street safely, if slowly.
The light turned red again.

We all waited, knowing that no one ever died from having to wait a minute at a light.
Except maybe poorly dressed people in freezing weather.

It felt good, and I was both grateful to not be having that hard of a life, and grateful that at that moment nothing mattered more to any of us than to see that she crossed the street and got herself indoors.

So although I've not had time to post anything in weeks (except these Norwegian drivin'bloggin' posts) because of my crazy busy work and home life, I'm so grateful for that life I'm posting this at Cranky Cindy.

So there.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Wednesday Drivin'Bloggin' Headlights on for safety

Today's tip is very simple and not at all cranky. Your headlights aren't only so you can see, it's so others can see you. Twilight and dawn are dangerous times on the road for people.

Car A without headlights can see good enought not to drive into a telephone pole, but might get slammed at an intersection or corner by Car B which never saw the darkened A.

This would be bad.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Wednesday Drivin'Bloggin' -- It's not how fast you can drive

it's how fast you can stop.

I remember my first fast car. Well, my only fast car. A '72 Cougar I acquired in 1985. It handled like a charm. Zinging around corners. If I drove 85 on the highway it got 29 mph. (around town was only 8 mph, but I looked good in it.)

SUV's, big cars, big trucks, these are vehicles designed to go fast. But they don't stop fast.

"Braking distances" advertised by manufacturers don't factor in the amount of time it takes your brain to think about what's coming up, instruct your foot to move to the brake and push it, and start pushing it. On dry roads, "thinking distance" adds about 25% more time to stopping. So if braking distance in circumstance A is 100 feet, and you're actually looking right at the car ahead of you when it slams on it's brakes, so you see right away that you need to stop too, you've got to be 125 feet back from it to stop in time. Of course, if you're on your cell, or flicking ashes, or combing your hair, or swatting at your kid in the backseat the thinking time goes up exponentially until you notice there's a problem.

On wet roads, the stopping distance is just less than double what it is on dry roads.

So Why, oh Why, do big vehicles drive 65-80 mph 1 car length off the rear end of the car in front of them?

You have to have the thinking time distance, at a minimum, in order to stop without rear ending the car in front of you.

I say you, and I could also mean me.

But I don't.

Safe following distances used to be the 2 second-rule, or the 3 car length rule. Now it's this:
Dry, clear road you need a two- or three second gap.

If you are on a wet road then you need to have at least a four-second gap.

And if it's icy or you are driving on compacted snow or somewhere you know that something slippery (such as diesel fuel) has been spilled, then it is wise to create at least a ten-second gap.

Three car lengths is the closest I'll get on the highway, and people are constantly cutting in front of me around town because I leave more than one car length between me and the car in front and so, I guess, what, people think I was just saving them a place?

I'm pretty big into getting there in one piece, ("it's better to test your patience than to test the resilience of your head as your car slams into the vehicle ahead") even if it means I get there a couple of minutes late. And I learn to leave earlier next time.

Are you a big car driver who cuts me off and tailgates? Can you explain to me the rationale?
Really, I'm sure it must make sense to you, so please, hit comment and let me know.