Sunday, September 26, 2004

I was reminded today, about the insidious traffic signal cameras that are being installed at intersections in urban areas as soon as come cities can get them installed. The official noise is that they want to lessen the occurrence of intersection collisions caused by the late car, blowing through the intersection as (or after) the signal goes red.

That's not the real reason.

Recent years, cities have increased the fines for various traffic infractions by factors of two, three and more. Meanwhile, issuing of citations for these infractions has been flagging for a lack of sufficient traffic officers to catch many offenders. No one, especially the young, overconfident driver who outdrives his skill constantly, actually expects to get caught.

Meanwhile, local money-hungry politicos, realizing tax increases can get them an early retirement, are constantly on the lookout for new ways to rip the public for more and more money. Traffic cops cost money. Even with today's inflated fine levels, not enough money is extracted from a traffic fine to satisfy the porcine politician.

The cameras are a lot lower overhead than the addition of more traffic patrolmen, giving the city officialdom a much bigger piece of the action. More offenders are caught and a bigger fraction of the fine goes into the Councilman's pocket.

No effort is made to synchronize the signals on major boulevards, causing cars to bunch up and to have to stop at nearly every signal. As personal experience can attest, the tendency is to go faster when a light turns green, in hopes of getting to the next intersection before its signal turns red. I can't begin to count the times when my signal turned green, and the next one, an eighth of a mile ahead, is suddenly a yellow.

In these times of heavy traffic, while the politicans are more interested in buying their own reelection than doing their jobs (among which are maintaining streets and highways), and while the price of gas spirals upward, traffic fines simply add insult to tortured brakes and shocks. Traffic fines that skip over Constitutionally guaranteed due process reduce the once respected legal system to the level of just another thieving gangster organization.

Now that cars are built with passenger safety in mind, many drivers have the erroneous impression that they're invincable. They take chances most of us wouldn't dare take in earlier times. The main restraint is the poor quality of the roads--going back to the local politicians stealing and/or misusing the funds instead of taking care of business.

Edicts from on high will never be an effective substitute for one's own rational faculty--if one is simply allowed to use it.

Col. Hogan

Friday, September 17, 2004

......And speaking of Edison, Am I the only one who thinks it's kind of wierd that most of Edison's ads find more and more creatively stupid ways (almost always demeaning to adult males) to tell us to use less and less of their product?

Does Del Monte spend millions anually to try to get us to eat less canned peaches?

Call John Maynard Keynes. Maybe he can explain it.

Col. Hogan

Ok, pay attention to this one: it has so much stuff in it regarding the state of our mental state, all wrapped up in a 30-second radio ad. As Arsenio used to say, before he let it slip that he was a grade A racist, "Things that make you go 'Hmmmm!'"

A woman comes home to her husband. "I have to get dinner started, then I have to pay the bills. I sure wish I could pay all the bills on the computer, as easily as our Edison bill."

She comes home to her husband. From work, presumably? Why is he already there? Does he just sit there all day doing nothing? Why hasn't he already paid the bills? Why hasn't he already started dinner? Why wasn't he at work? Are we in full role reversal mode now, with the family male taking the position as useless drone?

This kind of goes back to my previous rant about advertising and the (white) male's position therein. I'm now wondering if America's ad agencies are all run by angry leftist feminist women. You can only rarely find an ad in which the adult male takes a dominant, or even a equal partnership role. In many ads, even the children show the adult male to be a stupid oaf.

As for me, I'll merely try to be more and more selective as to what I buy. I guess I'm forced by government mandated monopoly to buy my electricity from Edison, though.

Col. Hogan

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Every morning as I drive along the San Diego Freeway into Seal Beach/Los Alamitos, I pass by one of these informational signs Caltrans has put up to warn drivers of hazards ahead, to announce Amber Alerts and to spread general state propaganda. If you're unfamiliar with these signs, see the Steve Martin movie "LA Story," a romantic comedy made about ten years ago.

In the movie, the sign went independent and began advising Martin's character regarding his love life.

On my freeway, the sign of which I speak has been turned off for several weeks now. When Caltrans went to warn San Diego Freeway travelers that the transition to the San Gabriel Freeway was closed for construction a couple of weeks ago, did they use this sign for an advisory? No! They left it turned off and trundled out a trailer sign. They set it up virtually under the permanent sign and used that one to advise of the closure. Is this cool?

The most obvious thought? The permanent sign is broken and the shovel supports at Caltrans found it easier to bring out a trailer sign than to fix the six-figure permanent sign. Six or eight people would have to go out there, in over 80-degree heat, lugging a wrench and a pliers. One of them would have to get out of the air conditioned van, into the searing sunlight and remove the inspection cover. After lunch, one of them would have to look inside. O! Trauma!

I wonder if the sign went independent like the one in the movie, saying things like, "With the third highest state taxes in the country, why can't they fix the roads?" and "More government, more crime," etc.

Col. Hogan