The dull season.

Sorry I’ve been such a no-show these last few days. Mostly it’s tunnel vision, mixed in with a soupçon of laziness and a big dash of emptyhead. This summer has been wearying, and at some point I want to lay in the news like a swimmer in the shallow surf. Just let it wash over me, but not necessarily have anything to say about it.

In other words, I’m getting stupider. Just a while ago I poured dishwasher soap into the designated slots, started the machine, turned around and put the soap in the refrigerator.

But the season is still enjoyable. Today the three of us met up for dinner at a pizza place not far away, two of us on bikes, and that’s something you don’t do in January, fo sho.

So I have to ask: Why isn’t this getting more attention? Graham Spanier, the former Penn State president who should be sitting at home in a dark room covered with sackcloth and ashes, seems to have landed on his feet. He’ll be working for the government, on “projects related to national security.” As Paul Campos said over at LGM, “Because if there’s one thing Graham Spanier knows how to do it’s to make sure that sensitive information doesn’t fall into the hands of the wrong people.”

It’s really true, isn’t it? Once you’ve passed a certain threshold of success — a shifting, shadowy threshold — you can no longer fail. You’re incapable of failure. You land on your feet. Always. Where is that threshold?

One of my fellow cyclists posted this on Facebook today: The case for the “Idaho stop.” Or, to put it another way — acknowledging reality.

Hank was at the poolside NBC party in Los Angeles the other day, the one that She-Who disrupted by her very presence. He reports she was tiny and spray-tanned from head to toe. The New York magazine reporter asked her why she and her family couldn’t stay off TV. Because they believe in “living life vibrantly,” she said. Noted. (Bzzzzz.)

Obviously, my energy hasn’t yet returned. But I’m recovering, eh?

Posted at 12:42 am in Current events |

62 responses to “The dull season.”

  1. jcburns said on July 26, 2012 at 1:43 am

    I’ve put a variety of things into the refrigerator on autopilot, Nance, including my reading glasses and the phone.

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  2. Jolene said on July 26, 2012 at 1:52 am

    According to my friend at Penn State, Spanier’s appointment was announced before the Freeh report was issued. Will be interesting to see whether he holds on to it now that his role has been made public.

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  3. Sherri said on July 26, 2012 at 2:16 am

    The Idaho stop (which makes perfect sense) reminds me of the Pittsburgh left turn, which was not actually encoded in law, but was certainly followed in reality when I lived there in the ’80s. A left turning car expected to be allowed to turn ahead of an oncoming car when the light turned green.

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  4. Dexter said on July 26, 2012 at 3:09 am

    nance, The Idaho law is in play in Bryan, Ohio, in practice if maybe not on the books.
    I know this because while cycling last spring, I saw the local bike cop following me, so of course I came to a complete stop at a four way stop to avoid a ticket.
    She pedalled up beside me and simply said “you don’t have to stop like that anymore…just pause, look all ways…if everything’s clear, just continue through without stopping.”
    I had never heard of the Idaho stop, nor Sherri’s left turn at the light . At least someone’s paying attention…and I hope all the cops know what the lady cop told me. Fines are steep here. Grandson’s gf was busted, 40 in a 25 zone in a car…$170, and she works at DQ and is broke.

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  5. coozledad said on July 26, 2012 at 5:44 am

    Heat stress is cumulative, and will make you absent minded. In my family, we more or less got used to moving the milk from the cabinet back to the refrigerator or preemptively making sure the Comet wasn’t anywhere near the sugar.
    I’m beginning to wonder if there isn’t an early-onset dementia belt that roughly tracks with the kidney-stone belt.
    If you think solely in terms of evolutionary medicine, shouldn’t Nordic types be kept slightly chilled and flushed with fermented beverages during the summer? Otherwise they might not make it to the requisite age for being strangled and thrown in a bog.

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  6. alex said on July 26, 2012 at 7:50 am

    If you read the She-Who piece linked above by Nance, Miss Living Vibrantly comes across as absolutely monomaniacal about American Exceptionalism. Which I find wickedly funny in light of this Frank Rich piece, in case anyone missed it. No wonder she’s so enthralled with the term. She pulled it out of her ass, recast its meaning and made it a household word.

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  7. Dorothy said on July 26, 2012 at 8:54 am

    I read an article about Spanier online, which I think was at the Chronicle for Higher Education, that said he was beaten severely by his father when he was a boy, so badly that he’s had several surgeries on his nose to repair it. I’m not defending him or trying to explain away any mistakes he made. I simply found it a sad and interesting background detail that I didn’t know before. He is insisting that if anyone had said sexual abuse had taken place, he would never have let Sandusky get away with it. He’s saying he was only told he was showering with boys. I know – I know – we’ve all talked it to death. I too find it hard to believe it went on as long as it did. (BTW I thought I’d read this at the Post Gazette, and searched there before I typed this comment so I could share the link, but I could not find it. And you have to subscribe to the Chronicle in order to read their articles online.)

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  8. nancy said on July 26, 2012 at 8:58 am

    Interesting, D. I didn’t know that, and it explains his unusually thick nasal bridge.

    My only knowledge of Spanier, prior to this tragedy, was via the excellent — and previously touted on nn.c — “This American Life” episode, “No. 1 Party School.” Highly recommended. He came off in the show as level-headed and clear-eyed about what sort of school he was running. I guess, given the time frame, unusually so.

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  9. MichaelG said on July 26, 2012 at 9:20 am

    I just tossed this in because it’s in Indiana. Anybody familiar with this place?

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  10. brian stouder said on July 26, 2012 at 9:25 am

    Michael G – wow!

    I hadn’t heard that one, but Logansport is where my (long suffering!) wife Pam is from.

    That mayor was just elected this past November; aye yi yi!!

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  11. Dorothy said on July 26, 2012 at 9:30 am

    Well this is not my original source but this article quotes the letter he wrote to the board of trustees:

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  12. Deborah said on July 26, 2012 at 9:53 am

    I just read on CNN that there are fan pages on Facebook for James Holmes. What is wrong with people?

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  13. nancy said on July 26, 2012 at 10:12 am

    Meanwhile, the “Cloud Atlas” trailer has been leaked/released. A book I thought unfilmable, and I’m still not sure it is. But a great, great, great one. We’ll see how the movie goes.

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  14. Heather said on July 26, 2012 at 10:31 am

    Yeah, let’s face it, no cyclist is going to come to a full stop at intersections where there is clearly zero or minimal traffic, or even if he/she is able to coast while waiting their turn. Last summer some driver–the only car around, and he was right next to me, so I wasn’t in his way or anything–yelled at me for not stopping at a residential four-way stop sign. Yeah, right.

    There are certainly cyclists out there who ride dangerously, but far more who don’t–and holding cyclists to laws made for two-ton vehicles isn’t the answer. I see tons more drivers every day breaking traffic laws, including a distracted driver that almost hit me (and only didn’t because I was paying attention) when I was going through an intersection after patiently waiting my turn.

    Someone I know suggested adapting the rules of the water–sailboats have right-of-way over motorboats. Sounds like a start . . .

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  15. Bitter Scribe said on July 26, 2012 at 11:06 am

    I agree with Heather, and I haven’t been on a bicycle in years. Insisting that bikes follow the same rules as cars is pointless.

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  16. Prospero said on July 26, 2012 at 11:08 am

    We live in vaca biker paradise. Bike trails everywhere. And stop signs at every pisant condo driveway. Not this cowboy. If I’m on the road, OK. But if I’m going straight through an intersection on my bike, why do drivers assume the right of way when they are turning left and I’m going straight on through? Aholes.

    Heather, no shit. The obvious weight difference also implies a tremendous difference in agility. I don’t stop. BFD? GOPers will have you produce a photo ID to continue.

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  17. Little Bird said on July 26, 2012 at 11:48 am

    I can’t number the amount of times I’ve attempted to cross a street (with the right of way) and nearly been flattened by a bicycle that blew the light. And they yelled at ME! So while I agree that stopping when there is no traffic is kinda silly, there are pedestrians out there.

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  18. Judybusy said on July 26, 2012 at 11:49 am

    The Idaho stop especially makes sense if you wear clipless pedals/shoes. I only stop at stop signs if a car has the right of way. Lights, however, are different. I’ve only gone through them a handful of times. Sometimes, at 4-ways, drivers have been very nice and let me through even if they technically have the right-of-way. Heather is so right, in that you really need to pay attention. It kills me to see cyclists without helmets talking on the phone.

    I will join in a bit of wingeing about the weather: I would love to bike more, but the heat! The heat! I had a very bad bout of heat exhaustion in ’03, so have to be very careful. I haven’t ridden my bike to work in months.

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  19. alex said on July 26, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    Why, look who’s back from vacay — this time throwing red meat made from snouts, lips and offal and pre-digested and passed through the anus of Karl Rove.

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  20. MarkH said on July 26, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    One take-away I got from driver’s ed 45 years ago from my retired cop instructor: “Left turn yields to all other traffic. Always remember that and you’ll reduce your risk of accident by at least 50%”. That’s why I’m very dubious of anything related to a “Pittsburgh left turn” (and I’m from Pittsburgh). It’s not on the books for a reason, because if you perform such a maneuver and there is an accident, you will be cited for failure to yield, whether you’re on a bicycle or not. We see this type if left turn around here more frequently when there is a significant amount of room in an intersection, yet law enforcement lets it slide, for now.

    Our entire valley, including the town, is very bicycle-friendly with a share-the-road ethic. We have an extensive pathway system stretching up well into Grand Teton Park and bike lanes on most roads. But the traffic enforcement pendulum in town has swung both ways until now we are at peace with defacto Idaho stop rules. For a time there was a small yet significant number of cyclist scofflaws who were running traffic signals and darting through traffic, so enforcement of bicycles as road vehicles was stepped up to the point of a real controversy. It must have worked as most people in cars and cycles are now paying more attention and avoiding collisions.

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  21. nancy said on July 26, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    The Pittsburgh left, aka the Pennsylvania left, is a dick move, plain and simple. I can’t imagine any place ever legalizing it.

    And for the record, I fully support ticketing cyclists who pull dick moves. Share the road means exactly that — acknowledging others have rights, too. I heard a cyclist in San Francisco is being charged with vehicular homicide after mowing down a pedestrian in a crosswalk; he was allegedly going over 30 mph and said he had no time to stop. That’s a guy who needs to feel some pain that isn’t road rash.

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  22. Dan B said on July 26, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    The stretch of roads in Chicago that I drive regularly has a ton of bicyclists and they all go right through the (many, many) stop signs. And yes, it makes perfect sense. But I’ve also noticed the attitude that Little Bird mentions- screw the pedestrians. There’s a thee-way intersection I cross on foot regularly, and it’s reasonable that the cyclists going along one side of the main road ignore the stop sign altogether- there’s no cross street on that side, so there’s no way that they’d collide with a car or cyclist. But they also pay no attention to pedestrians. If I see a cyclist nearby, I just wait until they pass, ignoring that I technically have the right of way. I don’t trust them.

    I was visiting a great uncle (from Boston) at his house in Palm Springs at the same time as my cousin (also from Boston). My uncle explained to her that unlike at home, people there don’t let people make left turns as soon as the light turned green. So that would suggest that the “Pittsburgh Left Turn” exists in Boston, too. It seems really dangerous to me, but I suppose if everyone expects it, it might work better than I’d think.

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  23. Heather said on July 26, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    I have noticed a lot of people doing the Pittsburgh left here in Chicago in recent years. Total dick move, but there are so many drivers here with a “If I can do it, I’m going to, even if it’s illegal/dangerous” attitude.

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  24. Sherri said on July 26, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    I don’t disagree that the Pittsburgh left is a dick move, and yes it was illegal, but it did happen regularly, and was expected behavior. When I started in the CS department at Carnegie Mellon, I was given a “Guide to Living in Pittsburgh” to let me know about the social norms of the area such as the PLT, and another illegal dick move that was also a social norm, putting out a lawn chair to reserve an on street parking place. The second one seemed to be fading away; I only saw it a few times.

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  25. Dexter said on July 26, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    Even way back in 1983, when a pal and I hauled bikes to Ann Arbor for cycling fun, that city designated all residential sidewalks as bikeways, with the caveat that all bicycles must always yield to any pedestrian, and that worked well on streets like Main Street and Miller Road and all along Geddes Road.
    Here in Bryan we can ride on sidewalks except for the courthouse square and the streets forming a square one block from the main square. That make it safer for little kids, but almost everyone else rides on the streets and roadways.

    The mantra of the big city bike messenger is “it’s alright to break all the rules if you don’t get caught or are fast enough to avoid a pursuing cop. ”

    I never forgot the Bicycling Magazine story explaining how the best way to survive city biking is to consider ourselves “urban deer”. We must use basic instincts to survive the many odd situations we find ourselves in when dealing with sometimes-intolerant motorists.

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  26. Jakash said on July 26, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    Enjoyed that Idaho Stop article and video. I definitely agree with this proposition and generally follow it myself, though it’s not the law in Chicago. Because, as it says in the piece, “A bicycle doesn’t encase the user in a bulky metal frame that hinders vision. Bicycles can also stop on a dime compared to cars.”

    Actually, though cyclists love to complain about jerk drivers (and there are surely a lot of them … uh, us), my experience has been that drivers at stop signs are too NICE to me. If I come to a 4-way stop and a car has beaten me to it, I stop. At that point, I just want the car to go through as soon as possible. It will be faster than I will. Often, though, a driver will wave me through, which really does me no good at all, once I’ve already stopped. The key to the whole thing is momentum, of course. Once I’ve stopped, I’d rather the car go than wait for me to crank things back up. If they’d let me keep rolling on through BEFORE I stopped, now that would be beneficial.

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  27. Julie Robinson said on July 26, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    Dexter, if the bike messengers have that mantra it’s because they’re timed on every single delivery and constantly told to speed it up. I have to put myself in a state of denial about our son out making deliveries every day, or I couldn’t function at all. At least they’re required to wear helmets.

    Alex, for improved serenity, stop reading Leininger.

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  28. Bowditch said on July 26, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    Every navigator is or should be aware of the “tonnage rule” vis a vis Heather’s comment at 14. Sailing vessels may have right of way over motorboats, but maneuverability is the ultimate parameter, and any sailor who takes on a ship likely won’t live to pursue a frivolous claim in a court of law. More than once, I’ve tacked substantially away from a favored course to avoid an unresponsive commercial vessel on the high seas. My 18 tons just don’t matter much, in the grand, Newtonian scheme of things.

    By the way, swimmers, surfers, canoes and rowboats have right of way over sailboats, analogous to pedestrians and bicycles.

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  29. MichaelG said on July 26, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    My problem with the refrigerator is the opposite. I’ve opened the door and then stood there stupidly looking at the shelves wondering what I was supposed to be looking for.

    Sorry. I disagree with the “Idaho stop”. I think everybody should stop at signs and red lights. I’ve been hit and almost hit by bicyclists too many times and had too many close calls in my car with knuckle heads busting through red lights and stop signs and going the wrong way on one way streets. If people on bikes can use their discretion about stopping why can’t people in cars?

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  30. Bitter Scribe said on July 26, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    The Pittsburgh/Penn. left turn is not only a dick move, it’s utterly pointless. If you’re the first car in line at an intersection, you’ll get to make your left turn no later than the end of the green light. If you’re in such a hurry that you can’t wait that 30 seconds or so, you need to start out sooner and not impose your problems on every other car on the road.

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  31. Deborah said on July 26, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    Chicago recently had a campaign to reduce the number of pedestrian fatalities and injuries from getting hit by cars. They had a bunch of posters up with statistics. One sticks in my mind that a high percentage (70%?) of these accidents happen when a car is turning. I am always conscious of this when I’m crossing at an intersection and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost been hit.

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  32. paddyo' said on July 26, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    Denver’s a pretty bikey town, and has some good bike paths and a fair number of “bike routes,” with painted lanes that fit between curbside parking and the automobile traffic lane(s).

    But for whatever reason, the Denver PD has been getting medieval on cyclists’ saddle-sore asses lately with periodic crackdowns on running stop signs, Idaho-stop style. I’ve sometimes thought it might be a form of backlash after Colorado adopted a law 3 years ago requiring motorists to give cyclists at least 3 feet of room when passing them, or else risk a $110 fine. But it’s probably just their wanting to stoke the ticket-fine fund.

    It’s also entirely possible that a number of brave and/or foolhardy cyclists have taken that law to mean they can always ride safely in, say, the left lane of a three-lane one-way street during rush hour. I haven’t witnessed any car-vs.-bike mashings yet in that scenario, but I’ve maneuvered around a few pedalers in this risky situation.

    I ride occasionally for pleasure and will never risk running with the four-wheeled bulls like that. Self-propelled two-wheelers are pretty much guaranteed to be the loser in a car-vs.-bicycle encounter.

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  33. Lex said on July 26, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    I look forward to Spanier’s attempts to get a security clearance with a conviction on his record for aiding and abetting child rape.

    Oh, I’m sure he’ll get it, mind. I just look forward to the attempts.

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  34. Dorothy said on July 26, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    Only because I’m through and through a Pittsburgher (but haven’t lived there for 10 years) I have to chime in and say there’s another thought pattern besides the one Bitter scribe stated @ 30. If you are the first car at an intersection and there’s a long line of cars behind you, and if there is enough space to get the jump on the turn, you make that left when the light turns green so you aren’t holding up all the cars behind you. I’m only explaining it because that’s how it is is – no one ever told me this was how to think of it, it just seemed logical. I don’t do it anywhere else. I don’t think I do it even when I’m there, which has been very frequent since mid April of this year. It doesn’t make it right – I’m just telling you that’s probably why people got in the habit of doing it.

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  35. Bitter Scribe said on July 26, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    Dorothy–Two things:

    1) If you’re willing to risk a collision because you don’t want to inconvenience the cars behind you, you’re a better person than I am. (But maybe not a better driver.)

    2) I’ve seen people do so-called Pittsburgh turns from left turn bays, where there is little or no question of inconveniencing any cars behind.

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  36. Prospero said on July 26, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    Nancy, I’d say the unfilmable book is Far Tortuga. Dorothy, I saw a driver kill a cyclist that way in front of the big Gold Dome building at MIT once. But the guy was an unquestionable Obama voter. Jewfro for sure.

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  37. Prospero said on July 26, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    olympiccs: How many of theses are sports:

    What a crock. Bob Beamon rules. Most amazing ever. Altitude shmaltitude. World’s greatest record.

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  38. Catherine said on July 26, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    In LA we call that Pittsburgh left a Panamera left.

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  39. John (not McCain) said on July 26, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    Anybody know if the “3 Car Red Light Rule” (not, to my knowledge, an official name) is still in effect in Charlotte and Atlanta? It’s been many years since I lived in either place, but in the 80s the custom was that 3 cars could go through the intersection after the light turned red (not yellow, RED), and heaven help anybody who didn’t know it.

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  40. Bob (not Greene) said on July 26, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    John(NM), I don’t know about the 3-car rule, but in Chicago and many suburbs these days what has me pissed is the zero-car rule. The proliferation of red light cameras and the threat of a $100 fine for blowing a red light is so pervasive here that many people don’t dare crossing the white line at an intersection once the light begins turning.

    So if there’s a long line of traffic coming, you’ll get someone sitting first in the left turn lane who will not budge unless there’s a significant break in the traffic or who will simply sit it out until the next turn arrow cycle comes around.

    Same thing happens for people making right turns on red. Even though there will be a sign saying “right turn on red permitted after complete stop” you’ll get people who sit there until the light turns green for fear of being dinged by a red light camera. Drives me nuts.

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  41. MarkH said on July 26, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    John (not Mc), that rule seems to be in effect EVERYWHERE. I just got back to work ten minutes ago and at one of our most notorious intersections (called the five-way), my light was green, so I entered the intersection and a FOURTH car came blasting through with the resulting near hit. Happens all the time. Reminds me of what I was told when I worked in Saudi Arabia for a year. No matter what color the traffic light, ALWAYS wait for cross traffic to stop, as five cars will continue through a red light. And if you have an accident, it will be your fault no matter what, because, as a non-muslim, if you weren’t there it wouldn’t have happened.

    My take on paddyo’s point has always been 4,000 pounds of iron going 20 miles per hour always wins the argument. Would be good advice for pedestrians as well. Crosswalks in our town are sacred and clearly marked, yet it’s just common sense to wait and make sure that car is going to yield/stop before you enter the street. Some bulletproof walkers don’t even look let alone break stride as they enter the danger zone.

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  42. Jakash said on July 26, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    Bob (not Greene),
    I’m afraid I’m going to have to sheepishly plead guilty to both of the offenses you mention. Well, almost. If I’m FIRST in the left-turn lane, I’ll venture out, but I certainly am a lot more cautious about being LAST than I used to be. And the right turn on red thing is infuriating to me, even as I do it. But I wouldn’t do it if there was a sign like the one you mention. Only if there’s no sign and I wonder if there’s a No Turn On Red sign lurking somewhere that I can’t see. Indeed, while motoring the city streets, I’m in constant fear of that camera ticket.

    Of course, the flip side is speeding up and racing through a light to make sure I’ve made it. All things considered, I do think these cameras have made me a worse driver. On the plus side (knock on wood — hey, there’s no wood around here…), no hundred-dollar tickets thus far. Anyway, my apologies, if you’ve been behind me…

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  43. Deborah said on July 26, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    I hear you Mark H, about waiting and looking before you cross even if you have the light, but drivers know most pedestrians will do this and take advantage of that. My husband is one of those people who starts walking as soon as the walking man lights up, it scares me to death. My biggest fear is that he is going to get creamed one of these days.

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  44. Sue said on July 26, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    Change of subject:
    So, which is it? Is Great Britain the place where all the real Americans come from, or a little island/second tier nation so incompetent that a US Presidential candidate has to make comments about it that would embarrass your average internet concern troll?
    I wish these people would make up their minds.

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  45. Jolene said on July 26, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    There’s a copy of Spanier’s letter to the Penn State trustees online. It appears that he has the federal security clearance he needs for whatever appointment he has received. Apparently, he was being investigated when the Sandusky matter arose and was re-investigated because of it. He’s quite critical of the Freeh report. It’s hard to say which would be worse–living with the knowledge that you failed to do what you should have done knowing what you knew or having everyone think you failed to act honorably when, in fact, you did nothing wrong.

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  46. Bob (not Greene) said on July 26, 2012 at 5:48 pm


    I agree that those cameras are, indeed, making people worse drivers. Their purported purpose is safety, but I haven’t seen one study yet that proves they do a damn thing except rake in revenue for the red light camera companies. About 80 percent of the tickets come from illegal right turns on red. I’ve also seen people slam on their brakes if the light turns yellow as they approach the intersection (I’ve done THAT one myself), when they probably have plenty of time to make it through the intersection. They are a bane. Do other cities around the country have these things all over the place? LA Mary? Basset? Kim? Nancy?

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  47. Jolene said on July 26, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    This is kind of cool: a live stream of bears fishing for salmon.

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  48. Jakash said on July 26, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    “I’ve also seen people slam on their brakes if the light turns yellow as they approach the intersection” Ding, ding, ding! I believe that is my most common offense, Bob (nG)! If there’s one of those countdown-timer-walk-signals at the intersection (which are really a wonderful driving, as well as walking, aid), I begin panicking when it hits about 3…

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  49. Dexter said on July 26, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    Jakash, I am in solidarity with your feelings about “too kind” motorists. I always find myself wishing the motorists were more aggressive, because that’s how my internal computer is analyzing my next move, by assuming the driver is going to MOVE somewhere and not stare at me timidly as if I was a babe-on-wheels with no idea how to maneuver in traffic.
    We also have a few camera-traffic -lights here, and I know Toledo has many of them. My sister-in-law who lives in a Chicago exurb (Wauconda, Illinois) got a ticket for entering an intersection a fraction of a second too tardy…it’s a tough technical world out there, now.
    I am a careful driver now, I can’t see the good in feeding the police coffers because I want to get somewhere a half minute faster. I am not an “old people” driver…yet…but I am certainly not the damn maniac I used to be behind the wheel.

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  50. coozledad said on July 26, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    Sue: Romney constantly commits the error a lot of cold war military historians, some of whose classes I had to suffer through. They saw Hitler as a model for how to deal with Soviet Russia, and it led them to ascribe a competence to him he simply didn’t possess. Romney’s already on record admiring Hitler’s synthetic fuels program, as well as crediting geography with the failure of Operation Sea Lion.
    Romney in his book, No Apology:

    “England is just a small island. Its roads and houses are small. With few exceptions, it doesn’t make things that people in the rest of the world want to buy. And if it hadn’t been separated from the continent by water, it almost certainly would have been lost to Hitler’s ambitions.”

    This is pure fatuousness. Hitler was directly culpable for many of the technological shortcomings that hampered the Luftwaffe in the face of stoic and smart British resistance.
    Hitler then opened Barbarossa without securing his western flank, thereby proving he was a fucking idiot in addition to being insane. Still, the right always winds up sounding like the French General Staff who caved to Hitler, as opposed to the people who had an educated sense that he’d ultimately shit his own bed.
    The Cold war, and the Communist takeover of China in particular, warped American military philosophy further toward rightist precepts, an embrace of Hitler’s scorched earth approach, and the adoption of many of his political views.
    It’s telling that Romney and his staff keep referring to “The Soviet Union” It’s almost as though Curtis Lemay and Edward Teller were writing their protocols.

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  51. Little Bird said on July 26, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    About the too kind motorists, I’ve found that a lot of them are waving me to go on ahead, but I can’t see into the car because of the glare. This results in an impasse where we just both sort of stand there unsure of what to do. It delays both of us.

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  52. Jolene said on July 26, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    Still another topic: fresh corn. Bon Appetit has ideas about what to do with your summer harvest. Many of them look delicious.

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  53. MichaelG said on July 26, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    We have plenty of those damn red light cameras here in Sacto. I agree with what everybody else is saying about them. Another thing that bugs me about them is that they are operated by for profit contractors, not the city. I can’t stand the idea of private contractors making a profit from traffic tickets. I’ve also heard that in a lot of places yellow light duration is cut when the cameras are installed. I can’t say that with certainty since I haven’t bothered to time yellow lights.

    One thing Hitler is credited with doing is delaying the deployment of the Me-262 jet fighter. He wanted it to be a bomber and his dithering caused something like a two year delay in getting the 262 out there to attack Allied bombers. The Allied bomber crews were immensely grateful for this.

    I once heard some commentator asked what he thought the biggest problem the Germans had that contributed to their loss in WWII. “No bench” he replied.

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  54. Sherri said on July 26, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    The Germans’ synthetic fuel program was impressive. Might have been even more impressive had Hitler not kicked all the Jews out of I.G. Farben.

    The best study I found on red light cameras is here: Short summary: they increase rear end collisions, but decrease right angle collisions, which tend to be more dangerous. I don’t have a handy link to a study on revenue generation, but when I looked into this a while back (there was a big controversy about RLC’s here), the revenue effects tend to fall off over time as people adjust their driving to the cameras.

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  55. Jolene said on July 26, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    Cooz, I happened upon a competitor for your poetic talents. Check out this comment from a NYT reader in response to the buzz over Romney’s artless remarks re the Olympics.


    All is not lost, Mitt! You can still mollify our friends across the Pond! All it takes is something in the spirit of Gilbert and Sullivan, the Pirates of Penzance perhaps. Here goes:

    “I am the very model of a modern major candidate.
    My thoughts are incoherent, and I am without a plan, to-date.
    I’ve managed the Olympics, and I quote my base hysterical
    On everything from gun control to policies chimerical.

    “I’m very well acquainted too with matters economical
    I outsource jobs in such a way I think you’d find quite comical.
    About my healthcare history I am teeming with a lot of views
    With many shameless flips and flops, depending on the facts I choose.”

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  56. Suzanne said on July 26, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    Alex @19. So this guy built his business all alone with no help from anybody! Who does he think built and maintains the road that people drive to get to his little hot dog stand? If it started to burn up, who does he think will put out the fire? Oh, I’m sure he has two or three firefighters on the payroll. Probably a road crew, too paid for all by himself.
    I guess we should all only have to pay for the road maintenance of the roads we use. I’m sure there are streets in my town that I’ve never driven on. Why the heck should I have to pay taxes to keep those up?

    I don’t get some people. But I’m sure not gonna eat his coney dogs!

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  57. Bruce Fields said on July 26, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    “Bicycles can also stop on a dime compared to cars.”

    Definitely not true. In fact I believe a bicycle’s stopping distance is normally longer than a car going the same speed. Careful not to tailgate on those downhills!

    (I tried to find a citation for that online, but all I can find is a discussion without references on p. 207 of John Forester’s “Effective Cycling”, 6th ed. Sounds right, though: even under perfect road conditions a bike’s limited by geometry–brake too hard and the front wheel lifts up, and Forester claims the rear wheel starts skidding around 0.5g.)

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  58. coozledad said on July 26, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    Jolene: I can only reply with impressions chosen from Emily Dickinson:


    He went as quiet as the dew
    but then he started talking.
    A thing he knew he shouldn’t do
    like chewing gum and walking.

    He fell as softly as a tree
    upon a little house
    and screamed “You are attacking me
    when you attack my spouse!”

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  59. Prospero said on July 26, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    Mittens takes GB by storm. What an idiot. Serious buffoon. Gutdom what a fracking moron.

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  60. Prospero said on July 26, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    Mittens confuses himself with Allen West. That mighty super clearance. This guy is the dancing horse’s ass.

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  61. brian stouder said on July 26, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    overheard at work today: I’d vote for Bozo the Clown before I’d ever vote for Obama

    As usual, I turned a deaf ear to that, and resisted piping up with any number of easy rejoinders; life’s too short, eh?

    Anyway, Grant and I roll for Indianapolis, early early tomorrow morning, for a day of Grand-Am/Rolex racing on the road course there. It will be good to be out.

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  62. basset said on July 27, 2012 at 7:14 am

    MichaelG, have you seen the modern ME262 replicas that someone with way too much money had built a few years ago?

    Saw one of the originals last week at the naval aviation museum in Pensacola and was surprised how small it was.

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