For Your Own Good — A Guest Post By Patrick Richardson

For Your Own Good — A Guest Post By Patrick Richardson

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience” — C.S. Lewis.

It’s perhaps hard to add anything to this, but I shall try. This seems to be the point we’re at these days, however.

“For our own good” we’ve been subjected to everything seatbelt laws to the banning of big gulps in New York City to Obamacare.

Individually these things may not add up to much. They seem so reasonable when they’re proposed.

Take seatbelt laws — please. They were passed in the 1970s and early 80s mostly. It seemed so reasonable. Seatbelts save lives. That’s indisputable. And people who are not wearing them tend to get injured even if they’re not killed outright. There’s always some social cost to those injuries, and besides we should all wear them, right?

So the feds passed a law and said any state which doesn’t require them will lose their highway funding.

So all the states passed them and we’re all safer, at least in theory. I’m not convinced highway fatalities dropped all that much because of seatbelt laws but I will agree that every cop I’ve ever talked to says he’s never unbelted a dead man.

The problem here, is we’ve given up a little freedom. We do it again and again with all these regulations and laws passed “for our own good.”

They always seem reasonable. They always seem to make sense.

The proponents talk to us softly, softly, so as not to disturb anyone. They use phrases like “what about the children?” Which are calculated to keep dissent to a minimum. Who wants to be against the children?

And so slowly, slowly, we’re hemmed in. We’re wrapped in regulations and rules. Laws and ordinances. All “for our own good.” As the international community of the oh so caring and oh so sensitive create a world none of us recognize any more.

A world in which the language has been changed to avoid “offending” any of a number of easily and perpetually offended groups. Where personal freedom has been erased in the name of “social responsibility.”

A world in which all risk has been eliminated — at least in the minds of the caring and sensitive — and with it all personal responsibility or freedom.

For this is the end result of this sort of tyranny — a grey world in which it is impossible to get ahead. In which your every move is regulated and watched.

A world in which the state is mother, the state is father, all hail the state.

It’s already happening folks. From the school lunch regulations handed down by the federal government to the thousands of pages of Obamacare with its Byzantine regulations no one can possibly follow.

Is it deliberate?

Yes. At least on the part of certain elements on both right and left. The people who propose these regulations know perfectly well what they’re doing — they’re securing their own power.

The useful idiots who continually promote this stuff? Not so much. They are mostly true believers who think they’re doing the right thing.

So too the odious little twits, they of the Transnational Cis-Sisterhood of the Glittery Hoo Haa, who decided Jonathan Ross should not present the Hugo awards because, he’s offensive, ageist, sizeist, speciesist and Just Not Our Kind. Or something.

Look, from what I’ve read he’s a bit on the crass side. However.

First, he’s a comic. They get paid to be rude. It’s in the job description.,

Second, he is well known in the UK, friends with one of the top writers in the genre, Neil Gaiman. WORKS in the genre, having written comics. His WIFE is a former Hugo Award winner who wrote the screenplay for Stardust and X-Men: First Class.

He Gets. It.

But why the hell should we let that stand in the way of a good outrages and HooHaa Glitter Explosion?

Look, Ross could have brought exposure to the genre like it hasn’t seen since the Golden Age. That exposure would likely have meant the Hugo would actually MEAN something like it hasn’t in decades. Instead a few people who are members of the International Coalition of the Perpetually Butthurt threw a collective hissy fit — not over anything he’s actually said, but over what he MIGHT have said. I mean WTF? Are we living in a freaking Phil Dick story?

It’s time those of us with a brain — and a sense of humor — told these idiots to STFU.

First, because they’re part of the problem, the self-inflicted wound that’s killing SF. Our demo is trending older and older, and these silly twits are doing everything they can to drive away younger readers.

Second because this kind of exclusionary crap is the same sort of stuff that was done to most of US when we were younger.

We’ve said for years we’re better than the Mundanes.

It’s time we bloody well acted like it.

251 responses to “For Your Own Good — A Guest Post By Patrick Richardson

  1. Its like… the death of a thousand cuts…

    but instead, its the death of ten thousand papercuts, as we’re buried under thousands and thousands of pages of regulations.

    • Mark Thornton writes for Mises Economic blog, and wrote this month:

      We estimate that reducing the size of the regulatory
      bureaucracy may grow the economy and invigorate the labor market. Even a small 5% reduction in the regulatory budget (about $2.8 billion) is estimated to result in about $75 billion in expanded private-sector GDP each year, with an increase in employment by 1.2 million jobs annually. On average, eliminating the job of a single regulator grows the American economy by $6.2 million and nearly 100 private sector jobs annually.

      http://bastiat.mises.org/2014/02/the-cost-of-regulation/
      A person could go mad with frustration trying to identify all the regulations that control his life. It appears more could become wealthy if they could end their control.

      • Ah, but ‘they’ don’t want ‘us’ to become wealthy! Didn’t you know that is one of their goals, to reduce the masses to poverty?

        • ‘It’s the Liberal government. They got tremendous support from low-income voters. So, the more people they keep on a low income, the more support they get.’ —Al Waxman, King of Kensington (screenplay by Aubrey Tadman and Garry Ferrier)

  2. And air bags. “Airbags will save lives, they prevent you form smashing your chest against the steering wheel” and so on. Except the airbags are rigged to protect people who are not wearing seat belts. And short-legged types like yours truly are in as much danger from Ye Safetybag as from other stuff.
    But “If it saves one life” and so on and so forth, words without end, a-pfooy.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      Yep.

      The *government* specs for air bags were shown to be dangerous in testing by the auto makers when the auto makers were first told to add the air bags.

      The “regulators” didn’t care, the auto makers knew the press would support the regulators and the auto maker’s lawyers said that the auto makers couldn’t be sued because they were “following regulations”.

      When the reports first came out about the dangers of air bags, the news media started to “drop the stories” when it became clear that the auto makers were just “following regulations”.

      IE the news media couldn’t blame the “evil” auto makers.

      • And that points up one of the horrible things about the way regulators create such regulations. I realize some of it is intentional, at least from certain of them, but it’s mostly stupidity: They almost always put in requirements for specific items, rather than for demonstrated effectiveness. This kills innovation, because if you create something that is better, cheaper, and safer, you still have to lobby to have the regulations changed, in order to be allowed to use it instead of the required item.

        • Yup.

          My favourite example: Mandating catalytic converters in vehicles. The converters were only made mandatory in the U.S. and Canada as a result of intensive lobbying by the auto industry in the 1970s. Why? Because the Japanese automakers had developed a new engine that could meet the existing emissions standards without using a catalytic converter. By requiring Toyota and Honda to put them in anyway, the new regulation negated their ‘unfair’ advantage in having a superior product.

          • Thanks, Tom, I’d forgotten about that shameful episode.

            Here’s another interesting one: The EU set up air pollution rules for airliners that had nothing to do with actual emissions and everything to do with disadvantaging Boeing in relation to Airbus and other European companies.

    • Actually they say that airbags without seatbelts don’t do you nearly as much good.

      MY objection to seatbelt laws is the creeping enforcement. They pass the law saying “Oh, seatbelt laws will never be the primary reason the cops pull you over” that is, until they campaign on “Click it or Ticket” and suddenly it IS cause to pull you over for a little one-on-one taxation. THEN they start instituting seatbelt checkpoints.

      The said the same thing about cellphone while driving laws, and everyone agrees because they’ve all been nearly clobbered by idiots on cell phones, but Government just gets that camel’s nose under the tent….

      The problem with airbags is they are designed so that if you hit something, you won’t get hurt, so people end up thinking “Hey, if I hit something, I won’t get hurt, so no big deal.” My answer is that instead of airbags, or even seatbelts, is that cars should be equipped with 12″ long steel spikes on the dashboard, guaranteeing you’ll be killed if you hit something. I bet people will be a LOT more careful about driving in that case.

      (On the third hand, I wouldn’t exist if my father hadn’t insisted that the dealer install optional aftermarket lap belts in his brand new DeSoto. On a dark snowy night in Boston, on his way to propose to my mother, he “Found” another car stopped without lights under an overpass.)

    • And it’s funny, at least to me, how the tests get more and more stringent, justifying more and more protective devices. My current car has 3 separate airbags protecting the driver alone.

      Which makes me wonder how many people drive carelessly, depending on the devices (and not their common sense) to save them.

      • I’ve seen reports that indicate that traffic fatalities stay roughly constant.

        people seem to have an acceptance of some level of risk, and if you pad things to make it safer, people will tend to increase other areas until the ridk gets back to the same level (driving faster for example)

        • Perspective: I live about 2 hours away from Boise, and about 4 hours away from Salt Lake City, both at ~75mph. There is very little but mostly unoccupied Interstate in between. So people drive about 80mph.
          Back when the speed limit was a federally-mandated 55, people drove…. About 80mph.
          Irish democracy. It’s a wonderful thing.

        • marycatelli

          You can decrease fatalities, but the safety stuff to do so has to be invisible to the driver.

    • Airbags ought to be outlawed, well not really, that would just be legislating in the opposite direction. But, EVERYONE I have known who has gotten into a wreck where the airbag deployed has been hurt worse by the airbag, than they would have been if they would have simply been wearing their seatbelt and not had an airbag. Besides the fact that kids can no longer safely ride in the front seat, particularly of a bench seat vehicle. I’m not sure of TXRed’s actual height, but I know several women who by the letter of the law cannot legally drive a newer airbag equipped vehicle. Of course that isn’t sexist.

      • William O. B'Livion

        This is a “magnitude v.s. frequency” issue.

        There is a high frequency of low magnitude collisions which trigger airbag deployment, and *generally* if one is doing the right thing the airbag causes some minimal injury. There is a low(er) frequency of high magnitude collisions where airbag deployment reduces some rather maximal injuries.

        In both cases “high frequency” cause is poor decisions by one or both drivers. There are several good heuristics for driving (2 second following distance, pay attention to DRIVING and not *anything* else. Drive in such a way so that everyone knows where you’re going to be in 5 seconds) etc. but people DO NOT follow them.

        And because the majority of people do not follow simple these simple rules we open the door to OCD nanny state tyrants.

        Do the right thing and insist others do likewise.

      • Bearcat, I’m an inch too tall to qualify for a medical order to have the airbags disabled. The two wrecks I’ve been in, the impact was a front corner so the bag didn’t trip, Thanks Be.

      • I actually benefited from having an airbag. I swerved to avoid an animal* on the freeway late at night, broke loose and spun, then slammed headfirst into the concrete divider. I walked away with a small friction burn on my arm from the airbag and some fairly mild whiplash. Skidmark analysis** showed that I was doing 64.5 mph when I hit the wall. I doubt I would have died without the airbag, but my injuries would likely have been much worse.

        * A big ol’ hill coon the size of a middling dog, but fuzzier; not one of your little housecat-sized urban critters. The rear wheels caught him when I spun, so the whole thing was a waste. Sorry, Patrick, I hope he was no kin of yours.
        ** Some commanding officer decided that I would make a great training case, so every patrol car on duty in the county was sent to my crash site for practice. Thus the very precise collision info. A little intimidating, it was.

        • I was in a head on collision at 65 (other car doing approximately 40) without an airbag, but wearing my seatbelt. I walked away with a 3-4 inch seatbelt burn on my chest, where the seatbelt rode above the neck of the wifebeater tank top I was wearing at the time. Was later rearended on I-5 in the same vehicle (89 Toyota 4×4 pickup) doing 60 mph and rolled it down the freeway, again wearing my seatbelt. Walked away from that one with no injuries.
          By the fact you didn’t have a broken nose I deduce that your seatbelt worked properly and that you are tall enough that it kept you out of reach of the airbag. So I’m not sure how the airbag minimized injuries, what exactly did it do? Did it even touch any part of your body other than the arm that was burned? I ask because most people (and all women I’ve known, because they are generally shorter and have the seat farther forward) have burns on their face if the come in contact with the airbag. It is a chemical explosion that inflates it, and it is hot enough to produce minor burns and blistering.

          • I’m not very tall – 5’9″ or 5’10”, depending on the day – and I took the bag full in the face. Given the damage my neck took with the catch (which wasn’t terrible, but quite un-fun), I suspect that without it I’d have had serious injury there, especially since I already had neck trouble. I cannot prove that, of course, nor do I care enough to try, but I would elect to have an airbag in my vehicle… especially if it could be designed purely by the engineers, without .gov mandates fouling up the specs. Nota bene: I do not approve of mandated airbags or just about anything else, but after my experiences, my opinion on the devices themselves is positive.

            • Interesting, you are first person I can recall talking to who took an airbag to the face that didn’t end up with burns from it. I’m curious as to what vehicle you were driving. The keep claiming to be improving airbag technology (and I’m sure they are, just not sure on the degree of improvement) and possibly that is one of the areas they have improved. I do know that they have lowered the force at which airbags deployed rather dramatically from when they were first introduced. When airbags were first installed in vehicles they had a lot of complaints and I believe some attempted lawsuits, because they deployed with such force that if you were turning the steering wheel (an amazingly common occurrence in a wreck) and had your arm across the steering wheel when the airbag deployed you were pretty much garuanteed a broken arm.* With the newer style airbags this no longer nearly so likely.

              *This is why drivers ed now teaches students to drive with their hands at 4 and 8 0’clock instead of the 10 and 2 that we were all taught.

              • It was a Toyota Camry, roughly a 2000 (might have been a 98 or 99). Funny thing with that wreck, most of the damage wasn’t readily visible. The insurance adjuster hadn’t heard the circumstances when he came out, and initially thought it might be repairable. We laughed at him. Then he looked under the hood and at the chassis, and wrote it off *real* quick like.

    • I know cases like that are on the rare side, but some thirty years ago two friends of my parents survived a car crash because neither happened to be wearing a seat belt. They were both thrown out while the car rolled on, and ended looking like a can squashed by a guy trying to show off his strength. And the couple got only rather slight injuries. If they had been belted in they probably would have both died. We had mandatory seat belt laws by then, but I don’t know if they got citations for not having used them. :D

  3. I think that everyone who says that they wouldn’t go to LonCon because of Ross should have to prove that they were, in fact, going to go before they found out about his “crimes against Hoohas.”

    It’s easy to SAY you’re not going to go when you were never going to go anyway.

  4. > I will agree that every cop I’ve ever talked to says he’s never unbelted a dead man.

    I got this far and by alarms went off

    Seat belts do not prevent all fatalities, so someone who claims they have never unbelted a dead man is either inexperienced, lieing, or being creative to make a point.

    the cop may not have unbelted the dead man because it was so obvious that the coroner did the job instead.

    If seat belts prevented all fatalaties, there would be no need for airbags, crush zones, or any of the other safety innovations that have beed added since the seat belt

    • Agreed.
      I’m no medical professional. I’ve never worked in law enforcement. But I have been the first on the scene of an accident where the driver lost control and rolled a few times. She was belted, and very, very dead.

    • Oh boy– not true– sometime I will tell you a story of my second cousin who was in an accident (some boys, some booze, and some dumb driving). Only my second cousin survived (he was thrown out the windshield) the rest died. My cousin was the only one NOT belted in.

      • know people tossed and lived too, and people belted in and not alive, as well as those who were not belted and it was a closed casket (not so much decapitated as the head and one shoulder smeared off the body).
        I used to wear my belt before the laws were even passed, Been in a racecar that hit a wall hard enough to bruise me at the belts (the angle of the hit about the same as killed Dale Earnhardt, Adam Petty, and many others, just not as high a speed), and been in roll overs etc. It does make sense. But it needn’t be a law.

        • I agree– I wear a seatbelt and have been lucky.

        • I did a lot of race car driving back in the day, they all had great seats, seat belts, and roll cages, but no airbags. One argument was that you needed to take a hit and be able to keep going, but still, if airbags made that much difference, over and above the other safety equipment, race cars would have them.

          Newer cars are so much safer, but get a big one. There is no substitute for a big, heavy car. I like cars suitable for airport rentals, cheap, boring, and you don’t worry about a scratch or two. Remember that 95% of the time you are just rolling along more or less in a straight line, at a somewhat constant speed. Most larger, newer cars do that very, very well, and very comfortably. Rumor is that Smart cars are horribly unsafe, but the powers that be are pushing people to small cars, and don’t want the word to get out about the safety record.

          I am a ” live and let live” kind of person, but when I recall the pollution problems in Southern California forty years ago, and how clean things are with so many more cars on the road and miles driven daily, I cannot help but be in favor of the basic rules that were put in place years ago. Same with car safety. I just don’t believe the car manufacturers would have stepped up on pollution and safety on their own, but I do find support of some of the more basic regulations hard to square with my basic philosophy of letting people do things their own way. As to the new draconian rules now put in place for small marginal safety or pollution improvements, they are just stupid.

          • Race cars have roll cages and 5 point safety belts, and are operated by drivers wearing modern safety helmets, this combination being why they don’t have air bags. The increase in safety would be negligible. Airbags in cars are primarily intended to protect against head injuries. Helmets do a much better job at that task.

            • the DTM tried airbags but stopped. In a car, with a full harness and race seat, the bag will only do its job in a straight head on hit. The HANS device does the same job, and does it in most angles of impact.
              I remember the HANS being a huge ugly cumbersome collar that restricted the drivers ability to get in or out of the car, especially out in an emergency.

          • A new “airbag” technology is in Motorcycles. some of the top racers are now wearing suits with a bag system. It inflates if you fall off, and two of the designs I have seen have a second charge so you can get up, ride again and if you fall a second time, still have the inflation. If you are lucky and are able to get going yet again, then they protect you the same way as a regular suit without the system.
            Airbags in a street car are a money eater and do more to drive up costs than anything. They need to increase the amount of impact for them to go off. Knew a father and son who own a body shop. Two cars, in an accident together. One needed a bumper, and fender then paint and was good to go. The other had airbags and needed the same bumper, and fender, but added to the paint was a pair of airbags, a new dash, and a new windshield. One airbag cost more than the bumper and fender job on the first car.
            I also knew a Sprint car racer who was on his way to the track one day in his wife’s car. he came over a rise and saw traffic stopped for and accident, and had to stop short.
            He looked in his mirror and knew the big rig behind him was not going to be able to make the stop so he braced into the seat and leaned his head into the headrest. The hit wasn’t too bad (he’d been hit harder on the track several times) but the impact drove him into the minivan in front of him and the bags fired, nearly breaking his arms, slightly spraining his wrists and his left hand was driven into the side glass hard enough to bruise from about the middle of the forearm to the knuckles. He also had a nice “rug burn” on his face from the fabric.

          • A bit of a problem with the larger cars for me is I can’t see over the dashboard. I’m rather short. Also, reaching the brakes and pedals. Little cars (as in, the little Getz size cars; though I know there’s a little Mercedes model too) are about the only thing I’ve found that I can see over the dash from, but they honestly make me think I wouldn’t want to do more than the usual pick up the kids, do grocery, ’round the town type driving. I personally like pickup trucks (because of hauling capability) but…

    • Given the quality of vehicles over here these days, those “dead no matter what” cases could be the ones where nobody is going to be unbuckled– and it would almost be easier to bury them in the car.

      I went to look for crash fatality information for something, I think to try to figure how likely it would be for anybody to be at a traffic fatality, and found this:

      http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/cats/transportation/motor_vehicle_accidents_and_fatalities.html

      Check 1105. I don’t remember anybody going “Hey, our traffic fatalities dropped by almost half per vehicle miles, and 1/3 by population. 1103 shows that accidents total have dropped by 700,000 between 1990 and 2009.

      • Not sure what you’re getting at about the quality of vehicles these days. I know I have hauled quite a few wrecked vehicles to the scrapyard in the last few years, as well as been to a number of insurance auctions where totaled vehicles are sold. I would rather be in a wreck in a late seventies Crown Victoria, Monte Carlo, Chevy Nova, etc. than practically any vehicle coming off the lot today.

        • From what I understand, the newer designs are safer*, due to the crumple zones, unibody framing, etc. absorbing the energy of the collision, but once one has been struck, those safety features mean that the car is more likely to be a write-off, because it was designed to sacrifice itself for the occupants.

          *Safer is a relative term, and this generally applies to lower-velocity impacts, because once you get above a certain speed, these devices are overwhelmed, and I would much prefer to have an extra few hundred pounds of steel between me and whatever was ramming into me.

          • William O. B'Livion

            Both of you might prefer it, but that’s the mouse brain, not the monkey brain.

            Modern crumple zones are MUCH more effective than “an extra few hundred pounds of steel”. Basically you have a semi-roll cage around the passenger compartment that is exceptionally resistant to collapsing, and a bunch of rather unnecessary (from the perspective of surviving a catastrophic collision) around it that soaks up the energy by deforming and fracturing.

            Those couple extra pounds of steel really *aren’t* all that as they generally still deform just not in useful (semi-organized) ways.

            http://www.autoblog.com/2011/11/27/1962-cadillac-vs-2002-cadillac-in-head-on-collision/

            http://www.core77.com/blog/transportation/old_cars_crashing_into_new_cars_which_is_safer_23660.asp

            • William O. B'Livion

              I should ad that my “daily driver” right now is either a mid-80s Land Cruiser (**I** caused global warming :P) or a early 2000s motorcycle, so I’m not exactly practicing what I preach.

              I’m sort of trusting my situational awareness and disciplined driving (following distance, being courteous to other drivers etc.) to keep me out of most of what kills other folks.

              • GET BACK IN YOUR CAR!!!

                *shivering*

              • You may be the best motorcyclist in the world, but like the motorcycle cop that was driving in Gardnerville last year during Bike week, you can’t depend on car drivers knowing how to drive. This cop was hit by a car and killed, while sitting at a stop light. The car rammed into him and threw him into the intersection.

              • Land Cruisers are one of the safest vehicles to be in during a rollover accident, because they have excellent rollcage like rollover integrity. It all depends on how the accident takes place, many of these new lightweight cars fare very well in a simple rollover on level terrain, simply because they don’t have the weight to crush themselves, and they are designed for the standard, hit a cement wall dead on test. They don’t do so well when my F250 diesel with a cord of firewood on the back hits them in drivers door however.

                I have looked at entirely too many of the newer little cars at insurance auctions to claim they are safer. You will very seldom see the engine sitting in the front seat, like you will occasionally see on older cars (I did see that on a previously mint Cobra, that was a crying shame). What you will see is quarterpanels and roofs opened like tin cans, doors and occasionally seats entirely missing. Even the difference between the damage done to an early nineties 3/4 pickup and one made in the last few years is very instructive.

                Another thing commonly overlooked is in a multi-vehicle accident the one that weighs more is generally going to be the one doing the pushing (not always, but a statistical majority) and the car doing the pushing will generally incur less catastrophic damage than the one being pushed.

            • What exactly would you expect the tests to show?

              It’s like when you’re watching Mythbusters and they have a show on texting and driving, or when the NYTimes has some world famous musician playing in the subway– they’re always set up with issues that mar the results, if you look at what folks actually do.

              Digression: The Mythbusters one annoys me because I’m actually interested in how much harm talking on the phone the way people actually do changes things. I pause all the time when I’m driving and talking. It’s like testing how dangerous the radio is by having people adjust it while doing an obstacle course.

              I know that when my husband was pinned between two trucks, if he hadn’t been in his SUV I never would have met him. I know that my much-missed little tin can would fare worse if T-boned by an SUV than my minivan, and I don’t even want to think about what would’ve happened in a car rather than my minivan on those times a shouldn’t-be-on-the-road trucker has passed me illegally. I also nearly was involved in a rather large accident where part of a car fell off while they were trying to turn, so they Tboned the bronco that was waiting at the stop sign, and a couple of other cars were minorly involved because the car went spinning. He’d been in a minor accident before and it resulted in the safety feature failing.

              It’s like the “children in the front seat” studies– the answer you get depends heavily on the question you ask. One-size-fits… well, hard to figure.

              • For many years, I drove VW (Beetle and Squareback). High death rate in *severe* accidents, but _much lower_ per 1,000 miles driven. Statistics, as you point out, can lie like a cheap rug. Too often “rules” are passed based on bad (or misrepresented) data..

              • I commonly call and talk on my cell phone while driving whenever I start to feel tired and sleepy, it keeps me awake. I am much less likely to cause an accident while wide awake and talking on my cell phone than I am if I am falling asleep while driving.

                The cell phone thing drives me nuts, there have been studies done (I have heard them cited on radio, I would have to try and [search engine] them to cite) that show that eating while driving is more likely to cause an accident than either talking on a cell phone or driving intoxicated. Cell phones are just highly visible, doesn’t mean that idiot that is flying down the road changing lanes without looking or using their turn signal while talking on the cell phone would be driving any different if she wasn’t on the phone.

                • William O. B'Livion

                  You’re also much less likely to fall asleep if you pull over and take a nap.

                  • Depending on the area and vehicle, that’s: unsafe, illegal and won’t actually improve the situation.
                    Getting enough sleep to actually improve reaction time is improbable in a vehicle seat, even for someone my size– a normal human? Oy.

                    On the other hand, talking can keep your mind active, which will keep you awake and (more importantly) alert.

                  • Actually I do that at times, I’ve probably got nearly as much sleep in vehicle seats over the years as I have in my own bed. But as Foxfier pointed out that is unsafe and illegal in places (like the side of a freeway, and before you say use an offramp, many areas in the west it can be twenty to thirty miles between offramps) and as long as I know I can keep myself alert by talking to someone there are many times when I would rather talk on the phone and go ahead and get where I am going around the time I wished to arrive.

                    • *chuckle* Sounds like me, a few years back.

                      Three a.m., radio blasting, barely-above-zero temps, window down, singing at the top of my lungs (badly), two more hours to home, fifty/sixty some hours since I last slept. Can’t do that anymore without caffeine, and it doesn’t always work (coffee makes me sleepy sometimes).

                      You can rack out at a truck stop, but that comes with its own complications. If you count truck beds in vehicle seats, I’ve got about the same (leaning more towards bed these past five years or so). An hour’s rest or less (powernapping!), and I can usually be good enough for another four or six if I’ve got to. Two hours or more, it better be closer to eight because sleep chemicals or something and I’m no good until then.

                      If I can get out of the car and walk or run around a bit, it usually helps wake me up some if I’ve been driving a long time. Diminishing returns, though. Singing with the radio, since I don’t keep a cell these days, works well enough to keep me focused for the most part. *chuckle* And I generally plan well enough ahead to get the sleep I need… It is just that the rest of the world plans, too. *grin*

              • William O. B'Livion

                I’ve actually been in a mythbusters episode (ninja myths, 2005 IIRC. No, really) and what you see on TV is only after they do a LOT of research and testing. They show you the “happy path” through what they do. Otherwise it would be boring TV. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CXCE-Mh43DU&list=PL647EE13689A2CEDD)

                I would expect those videos to show exactly what they did because I have a vague idea that material science has advanced since the 60s, that testing and trial and error coupled with computer models will produce better designs and that corrugated cardboard is stiffer and stronger along the important axis than flat cardboard at a given weight, and not all that much less stiff along the other axis.

                I’ve owned and worked on cars from the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 2000s. Cars today are, in almost every way except style, better than ever. The only reason I drive my LC is because I have a perverse affection for it. It is old, and slow, and smokey (diesel) and the wipers don’t work as well as a modern car and the defroster isn’t as good and it doesn’t have cruise control or electric windows or heated seats. Heck, the radio still has dials attached to mechanical bits.

                • 1) That is cool!
                  2) No amount of cutting is going to change the flawed setup of “drive an obstacle course while trying to do math or memory problems” as being an accurate test of effect on driving.
                  3) Why would folks expect mythbusters to be different than, say, a cooking show with a dram of drama? Of course the boring parts get cut, and sometimes there’s a storyline inserted.

                  The improvements to design and material would be a winner– except that they came along with a lot of other changes, such as MPG requirements and questionably designed tests to set standards, that haul it in the opposite direction.

                • Considering the fact that I know a guy whose Chevy Duramax had the heated seat short out and burn up last week, while parked and turned off, incidentally suffocating the dog that was in the cab, I’m not currently a fan of heated seats. I also despise power windows, not only can you never get them adjusted exactly where you want them, but they quit working in every vehicle I ever owned except for one I currently own, and I expect them to quit in it one of these days. On the other hand I have never had a set of manual windows fail on me. On the other hand I love cruise control and intermittent wipers. But I really wish I could get a Toyota with one of them diesels in it today, they were an awesome motor.

                  Late 80’s to around 2000 are my preferred years of vehicles, depending on model that can change by a few years. But those got good fuel mileage, with good dependability, while the 4×4’s were still being designed for actual use instead of to be yuppie daily drivers, and they are much easier to work on than newer vehicles.

                • Mythbusters also takes shortcuts when it suits them, just to ‘bust’ a ‘myth’

                  two cases in point:

                  -bullets fired up into the air will come down with lethal velocity. they ‘busted’ it…. problem is, they were very carefully firing *straight* into the air. Enrique in the barrio is not going to very carefully make sure his weapon is oriented completely vertically. The *actual* answer to the myth is that ‘ the angle at which the rounds will still come down with lethal force varies by the velocity and design of the projectile. ‘ Generally, eleven degrees off vertical for rifles, and seventeen degrees for pistols (or maybe the other way around), is sufficient that the round will come down with lethal force at the other end of the arc.

                  -catching arrows in flight: they ‘busted’ it as impossible, and clearly have never been to a decent sized martial arts tournament and seen it done live. The ‘error’ they made in busting this one: they were using a modern compound bow, and every time i have seen it done, the person is using a reproduction short bow, which fires at a much much lower velocity- likely half the velocity that they used in their test, or less.

                  • On the bullet fired into the air episode, they did point out that firing at an angle would let the bullet keep flying at speed, so that they would not lose their stability and begin tumbling. They did not, however, mention that it was such a steep angle.

                  • One of the few episodes I ever seen was when they ‘busted’ the myth about using a live 22 round as a fuse, and having it go off. Since my dad and a friend both did this and both had them go off a week or two later, well I think I’ll believe my dad (I was to young to remember the incident, myself) over some guys on TV.

        • *points at 70s Crown Victorian*

          *points at “Smart” car, the likes of which have passed her on the right in snow storms while she was doing the speed limit and were past in the blink of an eye*

          Agreed.

          • If you can pick it up and carry it in the bed of a full sized pickup (SmartCar), it’s too small to be playing in traffic. IMAO.

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              When I was driving a Ford Festiva, my dad joked about lifting it into his work van. [Grin]

              Nice little car but lost it in an auto accident. [Sad Smile]

              • My first car was a neon.

                If it wasn’t for the biggest Marine in our class having had one in high school, and growling anytime someone started to get too nasty about it, they probably would’ve moved it into some very improbable places.
                (When I say “biggest,” I mean Mach the Marine demonstrated proper lifting posture and picked up the back end of my poor little Grape Neon, and three or four more could’ve easily lifted it most anywhere. The books I loaded into it weighed more than the empty vehicle. I have the weight records somewhere.)

                • Been quite a few years since I’ve been in one, but when I first got in and drove a Neon (back when they were simply Neon, no brand name attached) I was very impressed by the comfort, ride, and driveability. In just a couple minutes I found no need to use the clutch, it power shifted smooth as silk without ever grinding a gear. Not sure how they held up for reliability, and wasn’t super impressed with how that particular one held up when its owner wrecked it a short time later, but I would rather be in it than a Fiestiva in an accident. And it was a very nice car to drive, I was very impressed with it for a ‘cheap’ car.

                  By the way I recall several of us picking up a friend of mine’s little Nissan car in high school and placing it sideways between the back wall of the school and the Ag classes greenhouse. Less than a foot between the front bumper and the greenhouse and between the back bumper and school wall. When he found his car (we had packed it about a hundred feet and around the corner of the building) he had to come get several of us to help remove it from where it was ‘parked.’ :)

                • Heh. My first car was an Olds Vista Cruiser station wagon. People can laugh if they want to, but I could take 7 other people with me, if two were willing to ride either in the back cargo area or put up the third seat and face backwards, and if you put the back seat down, it would just fit a twin size mattress in the cargo space (waggles eyebrows).

              • My first car was a Volkswagen Rabbit– we now have a neon.

            • Doesn’t seem extremely ‘smart’, does it?

              • It is the most inappropriately named car of all time. Anyone who gets into one should be declared mentally incompetent. Anyone who pays money for one should be set on fire.

                • Actually, it is the most appropriately named car of all time.

                  Because you see, if you drive something else, you might be smart, or you might not be. But if you’re driving one of those, people would never believe you were smart if it didn’t say so on the label.

          • masgramondou

            Smart cars are really stupid.

            For a car that size you’d expect it to have amazing gas mileage but it doesn’t. You might also expect it to be cheap. But it isn’t (at least not a new one). And then there’s the unsurprising complete lack of luggage space so you can’t do any sensible shopping with it, pick people up at airports etc etc.

            Finally there’s the whole (lack of) safety thing, which doesn’t seem to bother the drivers at all. I’ve been overtaken by Smart cars in Europe when I was driving 130kmh (~80 mph, the French speed limit) on the autoroute as we’re going round relatively tight curves and/or through tunnels.

          • Birthday girl

            Our family calls those Not-so-smart cars. :)

        • Which is better depends on the type of accident.

          There is a range of accidents where the new cars are enough safer to reduce injuries

          but three is also a wide band of impact speeds below this where the passangers are unlikely to be injured in either vehicle, but the new vehicle will still be totaled while the older one will only require minor repairs

          the question is if the reduced injuries at some speeds are worth the increased repair/replacement costs at other speeds

          for me, the answer if probably not, and I drive a mid 80’s full size, military surplus Blazer 4×4

    • William O. B'Livion

      My suspicion is that if the occupant is CLEARLY dead then the officer does not unbelt them–the accident investigator or whoever will.

    • Clorinda Madsen

      I do have a counterpoint story to seat belts. My mom has been both saved by being belted and saved by not being belted in different accidents. In her very worst accident, if she had been wearing a seat belt, instead of merely a broken jaw and cuts and lacerations that resulted in a pretty cool “Z” scar, she would have instead been decapitated.

  5. I can understand a bit of nerves about having someone mainstream-famous at the Hugos. But assuming he’ll be evil? Seriously?

    And yeah, I didn’t expect it from Seanan McGuire. I don’t recall anybody going wobbly when Janis Ian showed up at the filking; everybody just played it cool, like we have old top-40 folks dropping by every day. And McGuire had her toe in the entertainment industry as a kid; I would have thought she’d be blase. Admittedly the UK sense of humor is a bit earthy and robust, but she’s heard a lot earthier coming out of her own mouth at times; and I’ve never thought she’d be all assume-y like that. Possibly it is the entertainment industry tie-in, though, bringing back bad memories of what it was like to be hanging around non-nice people.

    I guess the moral of the story is not to have private moments of panic on Twitter in public, or to get out your pitchforks and torches because the guy moving into the abandoned manor makes you nervous. I mean, I guess Elizabeth and her sister Jane could have just burned the new visitors instead of bothering to meet Darcy and Co., but it would have been a very short version of Pride and Prejudice.

    • I had never heard of the SFWA or the Order of the GHH before beginning to read this blog and MGC. These groups are doing the same thing to SF that the faculties at most universities are doing to college education. Just last night, I heard a faculty member from Rutgers explain that former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice should be disinvited as the school’s commencement speaker because she had misled the American people regarding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and because she had offered tangential support to enhanced interrogation. He then proudly broke the news that Barrack Obama had been invited to serve as commencement speaker in 2016. When pressed about the obvious inconsistency of inviting a man who was the source of the biggest political lie of 2013 and who has slaughtered people with drone strikes – including American citizens – he justified the invite by citing BHO’s office and the lack of historical perspective on the significance of the Obama Administration. To paraphrase Herman Melville, “Ah Academia! Ah Hypocrisy!”

    • He MUST be evil because… well, he couldn’t have gotten to the position he is if he weren’t, right?

      I really am getting very tired of the “We must destroy them (metaphorically) so WE can rise!” attitude. It doesn’t make me want to read much modern SF, in all honesty. (Never mind that I’ve got more stuff available on the Kindle than I could read in a hundred years…)

      But the old joke about political infighting in the SCA still stands. Why was it so vicious? Because the stakes were so very small…

    • *Pretty much everyone in fandom has done Stupid Things in public, and some of us have even done Mean Things or Serious Gaffes.

      OTOH, if I had a Hugo, rocketrocketrocketrocketrocketrocketrocket Boom!,
      if someone mocked just how fat I am, I just wouldn’t give a damn.
      Atop my place in hist’ry, rocketrocketrocketrocketrocketrocket Boom!
      I would stand so high I couldn’t see anybody criticizing me.

      I’d bring my rocketship around to the cons and fondle it contentedly,
      And I would shine my glory for all to see.
      And if I happened to be ugly or pimply, tall and scrawny, or petite,
      Everyone would still be at my feet.

      I would not be classy like Bujold.
      I would be as proud as I could hold,
      Because all the voters had been polled
      And gave out a ship to me!

      • Anyway, it seems that Seanan apologized, and presumably other people too (I don’t have Twitter), but of course the damage is done. The good thing is that people did apologize — although not before a fannish spat hit the UK tabloids. Sheesh, I never thought I’d know anybody featured there, much less multiple folks! World fannish domination is not all what I expected it to be….

  6. TXRed mentions airbags — I’d add they can’t be designed to last as long as cars. After a certain point, they can go off and cause a deadly accident– and incidentally total the car. They make it dangerous to put children in various seats– although that statistic might be tainted because the people gathering it didn’t include “were the children buckled in when they were hurt in high speed crashes.” (Apparently drunk drivers with children in the car don’t secure them, which would inflate the number of dire injuries in the front seat.)

    This points to my problem.

    I don’t mind “it’s for your own good” as a consideration. I object to it as an ace card that is supposed to erase all countering considerations and end debate.

    Example: you must drive on the left side of the road, because it is for your own good that everyone drive on the same side, and follow basic traffic rules. Costs: rare and minor impulses that do not come close to outweighing the advantages of everyone following the same driving rules.

    Same thing with “for the children”– even killing kids is supposedly for the children, since it’s better to be “euthanized” than live while sick. Or something.

    This points to the related problem that when they’ve shoved something out as “for your own good,” there’s never any rational debate allowed even after situations change.

    • The little airbag light on my car has come on, so I assume the airbag will do me no good in a high-energy collision. I’m not losing sleep over it, considering how rare the accidens are where the airbag wil save your life.

      I always wear seatbelts. I have no problem with a state law mandating their use. But not a federal law: The federal government is supposed to have few and enumerated powers, and the states are supposed to retain the broad police powers. The federal mandate is a gruesome distortion of the constitutional vision, and the law to be regretted, however sensible in another context.

      And to say the law is good is not to say that intrusive enforcement of the law is good. I don’t think there’d be any intrusive enforcement if the fines thereof were mandated to go somewhere other than to the police department or the general fund. So there’s that.

      Honestly, as bad as the federal regulations are (and they’re mostly what I deal with at work, since we’re a federal contractor) the local ones are more intrusive on a day-to-day basis. It wasn’t the feds who mandated I get a permit if I wanted to put another partition wall in my basement; it was the locals. (I’m not saying I ignored this and just went ahead and put the wall in. I’m not saying I didn’t, either.) Apparently you also have to have a permit here to put in a retaining wall over 18″ in height, too. It’s insane. We have more boxes on the flowchart to get legal approval for routine home and yard improvement than Peru.

      Ironically, I got a call last night from a local “pillar of the community” asking me to consider running for our county council. (Incorporated county, so that’s the same as the city government — which makes our sheriff’s department kind of redundant, but that’s another discussion for another time.) I am almost, but not entirely, convinced I would rather roast in hell. I agreed to meet him for lunch Saturday, but I’m thinking I’ll call him back tonight and say I can’t imagine doing it. The only reason I didn’t laugh in his face and hang up is that I’ve worked a little with the local government (hence his interest in getting me to run) and I am painfully aware that there are many worse persons even than myself to be running things.

      • I have removed the airbags from vehicles before, but some vehicles will not run or drive properly if this is done. But yes I really hate airbags. Seatbelts save lives, I agree and wear one whenever I am going down the highway, but I’m a big boy, I can make my own decisions, I don’t need a babysitter. I’m proud of living in a state wear motorcycle helmets are optional for anyone over 18 (reasonable restriction in my opinion). I know that helmets save lives (some, not as many as the act like) and if I wanted to take a motorcycle to town I would wear a helmet, but it should be my choice. And if I’m out hunting and need to run down the highway a mile or so on my fourwheeler, I’m going to regardless of the fact I don’t have a helmet, but I certainly appreciate the fact that some cop with nothing better to do can’t write me a ticket for it.

        • Actually – (from my hubby) a helmet is the difference between an open or closed casket.

          • William O. B'Livion

            No, it’s not. It’s the difference between seeing your kids graduate from school and get married and have grandkid–albeit maybe from a wheelchair, or with a limp–and dying.

            It’s also the difference between living the rest of your life as a potential congressman (aka “congenial idiot”) and being able to think.

            That said, you know how much your brains are worth (and we won’t get into the other protections from a good helmet) and whether putting them in a protective bucket is worthwhile.

            • If you are going to get your kid a dirtbike, get them a helmet with the mouthgaurd part, not an open faced helmet. Dental work is expensive, almost every one of my friends growing up that routinely rode with either no helmet or an open face helmet, managed to bust their front teeth out.

              • There are Snell ratings for helmets. The cheapo models are almost useless, but the latest Snell rated helmets are very well engineered. The rated helmets are designed to take multiple impacts and continue to dissipate the impact energy, instead of transmitting it to the wearer’s head. The helmet may not save the wearer’s life in any one accident, but it will save some lives that would otherwise be lost. If one of those saved is a loved one of yours, then you can count your blessings.

            • Actually since I know the hubby was a dirtbiker (for many years) and a motorcyclist, I take his word over you. No offense. When he wants to explain further, he says that a helmet usually only saves the brain in light accidents (ones that would take skin). On a true accident i.e. between motorcycle and car (or high speed) the helmet is what makes a good-looking corpse.

              We did have a guy in this area go down a ravine on a four-wheeler and lost his head. (decapitated). He hit one of the lines spread across to keep electrical poles up. Good-looking head– if I say so.

              • Oh yea– and he had a helmet.

                • Friend of mine’s wife talks about a motorcyclist missing the corner and coming through their backyard fence when her and her sisters were playing in the backyard. Her mom had one of those cable clotheslines. His helmet rolled across the yard and up to the porch, with his head still inside.

                  • Yep– scary stuff

                  • I will have to say that a helmet, while it may not have saved my brother’s life, certainly saved his face when he wrecked. He said he was worried about it though, while he was skidding face-first across the field – there were 6 snaps keeping the face shield attached to the helmet between him and the dirt, and he wasn’t too sure they would hold. Fortunately, they did, though, and he only broke his collarbone.

                    • My BIL almost certainly died because he’d taken his helmet off five minutes before. He survived the concussion (a tire blew, and head met concrete) for some days but never recovered consciousness. According to everyone from his buddies to doctors, a helmet would almost certainly have made the difference. OTOH the difference might have been “life in a wheel chair” which he’d have hated like poison. O Still TOH you know, he might have changed his mind if he’d lived.

                    • marycatelli

                      Yeah. Most people’s opinions about life as a disabled person are worthless because they are founded on a secure foundation of solid ignorance.

                      Someone once did a study of people who’d become quadriplegic vs. people who’d just won a lottery. At first, the first group was unhappy and the second happy. After a few years, the only statistically significant difference was that the quadriplegics took more pleasure in day to day life.

                    • Note what I said above about getting your kids a helmet with the mouth guard portion (I know it has a name, I just can’t think of it) built in.

                      Helmets do save lives, just not nearly as many as they claim. Most of those ‘wasn’t wearing a helmet and was killed accidents’ the rider would have been killed even if they were wearing a helmet.

                    • Mouth guard is probably a good idea, but I don’t know if they had helmets with those 45 years ago. Besides, at that point, I think he was less worried about his teeth and more worried about losing all the skin off his face and possibly part of his nose.

                      I rug-burned my face on a trampoline, once, and it’s not fun. I can just imagine how it would feel to have grass, dirt, gravel, and probably cow dung mixed in at the same time, over a larger area.

                    • The mouth guard part would protect the rest of his face also, but yeah I’m not sure when they came out with them, I do know they had them 25 years ago.

              • William O. B'Livion

                You believe what you want, but it’s those “light” accidents where you’re sliding that you bump your head once or twice along the way and get brain damage as your bare skull cracks the pavement, or a bit of a concussion (if that) inside a helmet.

                The helmet also converts things like flying road debris from dangerous to annoying (or from extremely dangerous to “I can get to the side of the road”). BT,DT.

                And let’s not discuss june bugs at highway speeds.

                There are a lot of accidents where the helmet changes the injury from brain damage or death to neck injuries of various kinds. Before I had my kid I would have rather died. Now I’d rather live in a chair to see her grow.

                • Go look at what I said to BikerDad– I am for safety gear… not against it. However, the brain (watching out for stoned, crazed, texting drivers– is the greatest safety of all… and you can’t get them all).

          • Your husband is in error. A helmet CAN be the difference between an open or closed casket. It can also be the difference between walking away or being carried off in a body bag. Fortunately for me, none of my motorcycle or bicycle accidents have involved head collision with ground (or other hard surfaces), BUT, I have a good friend who is still with us ONLY because he was wearing a bicycle helmet. Going head first into sandstone boulders is a “bad thing.” A very bad thing. His helmet was destroyed, and he suffered extensive internal injuries, Flight For Life injuries.

            Virtually every piece of safety gear we use can fail, and some of them, in (usually) rare situations can actually make things worse. It’s true that some folks have died in cars becasue they couldn’t escape from their seatbelts. It is theoretically possible for a helmet to cause greater injury, although the conditions for this happening are very narrow and specific, People have made it through horrendous accidents with nary a scratch on them. In one sense, it can be a crapshoot. Me, I’m going to load the dice. While I haven’t personally experienced the joy of a helmet saving my noggin, I have experienced the difference made by EVERY other piece of riding gear. Gloves, riding pants, jackets, and boots. I’ve crashed without and been injured more than when crashing with ‘em. My daughter’s foot escaped serious injury simply because she was wearing motorcycle riding boots, not sneakers.

            Motorcycle racers of all sorts don’t wear helmets just because sponsors pay them. They wear helmets because they work.

            ATGATT – All The Gear, All The Time.

            • I think you have extrapolated my entire views (and my hubby’s) by the one statement about helmets. I am a advocate of FULL GEAR and FULL safety training for riders. I see bikers in my area without the most basic safety gear (leathers and boots), but still wear a helmet, thinking that is all the gear they need.

              If the biker isn’t wearing the proper gear and is not riding with situational awareness (even then bikers are killed here), then they are gambling with their life. I am particularly disgusted with riders who have a rider on the back dressed in tennis shoes and shorts.

              Also, a real error on biker’s part is when the reuse gear that has been in an accident. A helmet may help once, but then it should be thrown away and a new helmet bought– if reused then it is a gamble.

              so I do think riders should have the right to decide to be safe or not (their own responsibility)– but I also believe that if they don’t they should be responsible for their own accidents or family responsible for their caskets.

              If a rider is stoned (happened here), drunk, or just plain incompetent (also happened here), it doesn’t save them in the accident. Couple that with drunk, stoned, and/or phone crazed car drivers and the combination is lethal.

              • I think you have extrapolated my entire views (and my hubby’s) by the one statement about helmets. I am a advocate of FULL GEAR and FULL safety training for riders. I see bikers in my area without the most basic safety gear (leathers and boots), but still wear a helmet, thinking that is all the gear they need.

                Tank top, some sort of very short pants, very expensive bright red fast looking helmet and very fast bright colored motorcycle weaving in and out without even a consideration of legality or physics. (Unlike Cali, that is not legal in Seattle.)

                There are times when you want to have a big sign that says “Yes, I’m aware of bikers. I’m aware that there’s a lot of suicidal morons expecting me to be able to save the when they cut off a truck.”

                Ditto for bicyclists in our area– they make up for the lack of speed by expecting cars to magically stop when they run a red light and don’t signal. Yet, somehow, the folks who get hit are the ones walking the bikes across the road, following the rules, etc.

                • Ditto– and yes bicyclists as well– We just got that law (about letting the bikes weave in traffic) stuffed down our throats last year.

                  • bicyclists are the real menace out here.

                  • Not read the report, but the numbers according to your post are interesting.
                    40% no cause found
                    59% bicycle at fault
                    64% motorist at fault

                    Now granted there is likely some crossover between motorist at fault and bicyclist at fault, or in other words both are found at fault. But even if you ignore ALL 59% of the bicyclist at fault, you still get 104% between just the no fault and the motorist at fault cases.

                  • As someone who uses a bicycle (well, a tricycle) to get around, I’m horrified at the thought of weaving in and out of traffic. It’s bad enough to have to try squeeze past a huge SUV that’s taking up all the bicycle path as parking space, without having to worry about the car that’s coming up behind me.

                    Bicycle paths for me! And proper bicycle road law training.

                    • I think that a lot of the bicyclists in our small city are actually drug delivers. I have seen handoffs– The one tricyclist in our city is disabled and pulls political stuff behind his tricycle and gets paid for it.

                    • here in the USA most people don’t know that the streets of many cities were paved due to the lobbying by the LAW (League of American Wheelman) who are a bicycle club from the days of the Penny Farthing(still active today) who started the Good Roads program so they had less chance to faceplant on the things.

              • Most learn not to wear shorts while riding rather quickly, at least on dirt bikes, and usually with a nice burn on their leg as a reminder.

                I knew a guy who wrecked a motorcycle doing over 80 on the freeway, in shorts, no shirt, and no helmet. He walked away from it (or rather ran, the cops were after him) with no ‘significant’ injuries, but his back, arms, and legs will carry the reminders of that incident for the rest of his life. The no helmet was not a big deal, because trust me, there was nothing up there to hurt. And Karma says those are the type of people that will walk away from accidents unhurt, if you wear your seatbelt/helmet/protective gear 98% of the time, you will get in an accident the 2% of the time you don’t, and your lack of safety gear will come back to bite you.

                • Yep– of course there is the group that never learns.

                • you will get in an accident the 2% of the time you don’t

                  Yep. The Oyster Wife was in an accident a couple of years back, her car vs a motorcycle. I may have told the story here before. The rider turned left onto the backroad highway when he couldn’t see oncoming traffic, and was not wearing his leathers. I’m not sure whether he was wearing a helmet, but I think maybe not. Lucky for him she swerved enough to clip him with the corner rather than hit him straight on. As it was, he ended up breaking his clavicle, a few ribs, and his pelvis. He took some head trauma as well, and had to be Life Flighted to the hospital. Don’t cut off the cagers!
                  It was a boneheadedly stupid mistake, and we were furious with the guy… until we got a phone call from him a couple of weeks later. He had pulled the Oyster Wife’s number from the police report, and called as soon as he was capable… to apologize. He’d been worried for two weeks about how my wife and kids were, and how he must have upset and scared them. He told us that he had been riding for about 40 years, had never done something like that before, and had no idea why he’d done something so dumb. We got over being angry just that quickly.
                  Lesson: wear your leathers, wear your helmet, and keep your brain turned on all the time. It only takes once.

              • Not sure about the laws in your area, but I suspect the helmet they are wearing is not for safety, but rather to prevent them getting pulled over and given a ticket.

                • All kinds of helmets are found here. I think soon that won’t be the case because where Cali goes, NV seems to follow like a blind wailing sheep.

        • It’s possible I drive without a seat belt when I’m working (not saying if I do, it’s not legal here). The reason would be that since I’m doing a paper route with a car, one where the driver’s seat is on the right specifically so that it’s possible to put a newspaper, or the day’s post, to a mailbox on the side of the road without getting out of the vehicle I am constantly reaching out of the open side window, and with my height, when I do that, the seat belt would be cutting across my throat. So, I’d have to be buckling and unbuckling every few minutes.

          The police here usually pretend not to notice when paper or post carriers do that, but officially it’s still not allowed. At least we should use them when driving any longer stretches between mailboxes. Good point you practically never see police where I work at the times I’m working.

      • I really don’t like the “make a federal law and enforce it by holding tax money hostage” tactic. I’d really like an amendment that unfunded requirements are not to be held enforceable or some such. (Example, they can’t outlaw slaughtering horses by requiring that they be in federally inspected facilities, then refuse to fund inspectors.)

      • William O. B'Livion

        Ironically, I got a call last night from a local “pillar of the community” asking me to consider running for our county council. …and I am painfully aware that there are many worse persons even than myself to be running things.

        This is why we keep losing ground.

        • Are you recommending I consider running? Or that the whole concept of “running things” is off?

          Because when I look at that phrase, I cringe. Yet it trips so easily off the tongue.

          • If I ran things, there would be tyranny for two or three hours and then I would have to take a nap. So no more than four hours of tyranny a day or I would be too tired for duty. *hopeful look

            So vote for me– for only four hours of tyranny a day.

          • Holding office is supposed to be a duty, not a pleasure. People who really really want to run things don’t understand the duty bit, whereas people who find it a PITA do understand it.

          • William O. B'Livion

            I recommend you consider running so that maybe you can put forth the idea that the whole notion of someone “running things” is why stuff is so F*d up.

            If “good” (and frankly I don’t know you at all, but you’ve made the first sort) people refuse to run then all our options are bad.

  7. Clark E Myers

    Interesting that in the areas of seatbelts, speed limits and drinking age laws that the Central Government does by indirection what it has no power to do directly. There seems to be no limit on such indirect actions.

    Rule is ultimately by force and force has its limits so that rule is ultimately by fraud. And what is a symbolic fine for the legislator can be a disaster for folks on the edge.

    On the other hand I’d support a 5 point harness, helmet worn with a mouthpiece and bungee cords to keep the arms from flying wildly for a car driven by my hypothetical wife or daughter.

    • One of the overlooked parts of Robert’s Obamacare ruling is that he specifically ruled that Obama couldn’t play those sorts of games with the Medicaid money to force states to join (Texas among them). They could decline to provide the new money from Obamacare, but the existing money couldn’t be withheld. It will be interesting the next time the Feds try that game with highway money.

    • …what is a symbolic fine for the legislator can be a disaster for folks on the edge
      Or even well away from the edge, really. And not just fines.

      Local case in point: One of the local governmental entities is currently unable to quite so freely slop from the Federal trough due to a Fedral finding that they were unlawfully preventing a new local business from starting up. After losing several years of appeals, the local entity changed their stance from “No frigging way” to ” Why, sure, new local business, you can start up right away as long as you get your license (here’s the new form), oh, and you need to buy insurance that indemnifies Local Gov Entity from any third party lawsuits.” The problem is that insurance reportedly costs something north of $30k per year.

      Now thirty thousand US dollars annually likely does not seem like much to the well-pensioned employees of Local Government Entity, used as they are to spending vastly larger sums of taxpayer money in any given year, but to a new startup that sum pretty well meets the definition of “impassible barrier to entry.”

      But, hey, they’re not preventing the startup…

  8. A “Don’t get me started article” I’ll keep it short. Yesterday, on my Facebook page someone posted a religious article. According to the writer, we should not use the word ‘Bless’ like ‘ My bills are paid and the income is a little better than out go, I feel blessed.’ Because that will hurt the feelings of other Christians that may be in difficulty at this time. Or if a person is in the middle of a problem, say something like ‘Keep the faith’ because they’re struggling. Because those things show that God doesn’t love them or something. A couple of weeks ago it was “Don’t defend Christianity when someone says that Christians are ‘blank-blank-blank; because, that will make God look like a hater” This PC garbage is everywhere.

    • *jaw drops* wait. Christians are now saying they’re NOT supposed to defend their faith?

      • I was going to make some smart-alec comment about it being people who say they are Christians, but unfortunately the short answer to your question is yes.

      • Exactly. Had this discussion with someone who claims to be fairly conservative earlier this week, and according to him, defending Christian views on faith, sin, etc. are intolerant and hateful. Blows my mind.

        • Strange, I’ve looked through several different translations of the New Testament and the Tanakh, and I have yet to find a version that says that G-d condones the sin and loves the sinner. Maybe it’s in one of those ultra cool modern language versions.

          • In the last week I’ve had about three knock-down arguments on Catholic blogs about if someone has to repent in order to be forgiven, or if only a big horrible meanie would actually have stopping and recognizing you done wrong as coming before going “we’re cool.”

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              I always wonder if the “God Is Love And Doesn’t Judge People” types would expect to see Hitler and Stalin in Heaven. [Very Big Evil Grin]

              • Yes. They do. I’ve heard this exactly from some of them.

                • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                  That’s too stupid for words.

                  • In theory, I think they could be there, and theologically, I cannot even pretend to speak authoritatively, but from what I know of their actions and such– I’d be really, really surprised if there was a last moment repentance, although I’d like to believe they really were utterly totally and completely sorry for the horror they created.

                    • Yes, but these fluffy heads aren’t talking repentance. Don’t get me STARTED.

                    • I don’t think that either Stalin or Hitler were ever or would be ever sorry for what they had done.

                    • Kind of like a coin being cut in half to separate head from tail– I have to accept that it’s possible, but I don’t have to believe it’s likely and even less that it’s to be assumed!

                  • And when you tell them that they say G-d’s mercy is infinite and “judge not.” GAG

                    • God’s Justice is infinite also.

                    • Vengeance is mine, sayeth the L-rd. We’re not to judge, as that is His prerogative.

                      This in no way indicates that he doesn’t judge.

                      Myself, I hope to throw myself on his mercy, and pray he has some left – for I know all too well what justice would rule for my all-too-human soul.

                    • What scares me is that I know part of the repentance thing is that you have to find the… rock in your shoe, so to speak. You have to identify what’s keeping you apart from Himself, and remove it. Otherwise, you’ve got this painful thing between you and Him.

                      If you want that rock, He’ll let you keep it, even though it hurts Him because He loves you and it’s hurting you– and these folks want to be able to force you to be close to Him– and tell you it’s for your own good, expect to be thanked for how nice they are not to tell you what is causing the division.

                    • I know some of us here have our theological differences here, and we may choose to disagree quietly or silently. (although honestly expecting a Hun to shut up might be a bit much) But saying it is against the Christian faith to defend the Christian faith is to stupid for words. Christ will accept all who repent and accept him as their Savior, this includes those that are that stupid. But I suspect a sizeable percentage of such ‘Christians’ are false flag operators.

                    • I’m going to go out on a limb (since I don’t hear this kind of thing, due to a combination of factors), and say that I doubt they actually believe this is true. Rather, they probably are either categorically not Christians, or else they claim to be Christians, but think they can get by without any of the difficult parts, and merely want to convince the other person that it is true. The first group so that they can feel superior, and tear down the institution a little at a time; and the second group so that people won’t make them look like pansies when they don’t defend their beliefs.

                    • Sure, they can be Christians. We are solemnly warned that the wheat and tares will grow together until harvest; that the net dredges up worthwhile things and garbage, only to be sorted out at the end; that both the wise and foolish virgins were waiting for the bridegroom, and it was only at the arrival that the folly became clear.

  9. The seat belt mandate by the federal government was a 10th Amendment violation. That violation was enabled by the 17th Amendment, which allowed for the direct election of Senators by the voters of each State. Part of the genius of the original design of our system was that whatever power not explicitly given to the federal government was reserved to the states and/or the citizens. Under that model, the State governments have rights that the Federal is not supposed to trample. To protect those rights (and indirectly serving to protect us, the citizenry), Senators were elected by the State legislatures (Article 1, Section 3). With the passage of the 17th Amendment, we disenfranchised our State governments.

  10. I don’t often wear a seat belt … two, maybe three trips a month or so.

    I ride a motorcycle just about all the time. The truck only moves if I need something too big for the bike to carry.

  11. The social version of the Department of Pre-Crime.

    Really a pity, because Ross probably would have been a dynamite presenter. The GHHs may have aborted a memorable insiders-humor laden speech. Well, no matter. I’m sure they can come up with a substitute to bore us with a guaranteed inoffensive presentation.

  12. masgramondou

    The big problem with laws today is that we have so many of them that it is impossible to adhere to them all. Hence “prosecutorial discretion” i.e. you won’t go to court if the DA likes you etc. etc.

    An election platform that promised to delete 20% of all laws and regulation would get my vote (if I were allowed to vote legally) but it probably wouldn’t succeed because it would result in fewer bureaucratic empires and opportunities for graft and lobbying.

    —–

    I do sort of understand the background to the Ross brouhaha. Some years ago he did get involved in a particularly tasteless bit of on air “comedy”. But he lost his job for a bit and issued a grovelling apology so I suspect he learned his lesson. Perhaps it is my Christian upbringing but I always thought you were supposed to forgive sinners when they repented (which he did). It seems to me that the Transnational Cis-Sisterhood of the Glittery Hoo Haa and their comrades have no interest in redeeming sinners and heretics, they just want to burn them.

    • “have no interest in redeeming sinners and heretics, they just want to burn them”

      I believe I can make a strong historical case that the most radical / dangerous / destructive participants in an oppressive society are “reformed” members of the oppressed class/group(s).

      Pitchforks, torches, and all that, don’cha know? Mob rule by ever-shifting definitions of who is by rights a persecuting participant chasing after a persecuted might-have-been-a-participant-BUT…

      That means buying into labelling, and if we let the spell-checking get just a little off Of Course that means libeling of Someone is Just Gonna Happen.

      Sheesh. My apologies, Gloomy Gus here, I’d better get more sleep soon.

    • Disclaimer: I had never heard of Jonathan Ross until this kerfluffle, and quite frankly can’t generally stand most comedians. But from the two or three articles I have read the brouhaha that he lost his job over a few years ago was acceptable for the show it was aired on. No problems until a ‘news program’ picked it up and reaired it to their viewers, who didn’t watch the original, but were offended by it when seen in a totally different venue and raised a fuss over it.

      To put this into perspective this is like having somebody being a regular contributor to Playboy, and an occasional contributor to The Wall Street Journal. They write an article that is published in Playboy and a couple weeks later The New York Times picks up this piece and does a story about it, quoting parts of that article in Playboy and pointing out the fact that the author of this totally unPC and insulting piece also writes for the Wall Street Journal. Then having Playboy! fire the author, because readers of The New York Times, and possibly also of the Wall Street Journal are complaining, not readers of Playboy.

  13. Then there’s this. The church owns the land; the church owns the buildings; it has no use for the buildings; it would like to build something it can actually use on the land; but some of the neighbors don’t want the view out their window changing.

    If the buildings are so historical, let the neighbors buy them fair and square and preserve them. As it is, they have no skin in the game but still want to call the shots.

  14. The true nature of the characters involved in the Ross debacle can be seen in how they treated the female members of his family.

    It was never about ‘protecting’ anybody at the con from ‘hurt.’ It was ever and always about attacking, publicly, an example of “wrong think.”

    I celebrate the day enough of these ridiculous events occur to rupture the festering sore, and people can get back to having a good time, enjoying some good people, and reading some good books.

    • Apparently there may also be a touch of dissension among the Friends of Neil Gaiman. I notice several people who used to be all buddy-buddy (online) with Gaiman who apparently were not buddies with Gaiman’s buddy (in real life) Ross.

  15. Christopher M. Chupik

    This PC bullcrap makes *me* feel unsafe. Who do I complain to so I can get the nanny crowd kicked out?

  16. Gracious Hostess and Memsahib:

    We’ve said for years we’re better than the Mundanes.

    With respect, that’s exactly why we’re not. Snobbery and prejudice are stupid, rude, and useless, no matter by whom, or against whom, they are practised.

    This has been a sore spot with me ever since Harlan Ellison wrote his ‘Xenogenesis’ screed for Asimov’s nearly 30 years ago. In case you haven’t read it or don’t recall it, it was a venom-filled rant against SF fandom for inexplicably refusing to be the Good and Nice and Saintly and Polite People that SF writers had brought them up to be.

    Yes, Harlan Ellison accusing SF fans of having bad manners, and then having the audacity to wonder where they got it from. Ladies and gentlemen, SF fans, in most respects, are no better or worse than the general ruck of humanity. And most of the people who actually read SF and allied fields, and so keep the whole cockamamie business going, live perfectly ordinary lives, have never been to a con, and look, sound, and act exactly like the so-called Mundanes themselves; and so the hardcore fans call them Mundanes (sometimes to their faces) and heap scorn upon their heads. I have numerous friends who have read SF all their lives, but would never get involved in fandom, for precisely that reason.

    • I have to agree with you Tom. I didn’t get involved with fandom in my twenties because I was treated like a mundane (even though I had a higher IQ and read more sci-fi than many of my detractors). I didn’t get into the costumes and didn’t care for the huge crowds. Then several years outside the US and away from such things. When we came back I could make the excuse that crowds made me sick because of my suppressed immune system. So yea-

      • There wasn’t much of a fandom in Finland when I was young. I might have been interested if there had been more of it, if for nothing else at least because I like costuming, but when I finally did connect with a few local readers they turned out to be rather different from what I had hoped for. Not many Heinlein fans here in the 80’s (and what little I have kept in touch with, probably even less now, even those people who read writers like Ringo seem usually to try their best to make sure everybody knows it’s not because they approve of his views, but just because… well, whatever the current approved hipster or whatever reason might be). So, no big cons, rather leftists fans… not enough what I would have liked so I didn’t get involved. Much. I have dipped in a few times during the years. But I have come up equally disappointed every time.

    • Tom — note these are not my words, but the guest’s. He is right, we’ve SAID for years we’re better than them.
      I think we’re merely different.

      • Beg pardon. Migraine today, and by the time I read the whole post and responded, I had forgotten it was a guest post. Mea maxima culpa.

    • Heh, I didn’t even catch that line.

      It is a pretty common theme, isn’t it? Calls to the basic human something or other, from the Israelites to Harry Potter’s wizards.

      • I suppose I must not be a basic human something or other, then. Probably because I’ve never been part of anything that was stable enough to think of itself as an in-group; my whole experience with such things has been to be one of the people that the in-group thought they were better than.

        As a result, I eventually began to take it as a default assumption that anyone I met thought they were better than I was; which may be part of the reason for my peculiarly formal idiom online, and is definitely the main reason why I am loth to address online acquaintances by their first names. All you folks out there may be ladies and gentlemen, for aught I know, as you profess to be; but I’m a peasant, I am, and a landless peasant at that, and I know it won’t do to get above myself.

        • Bah.

          I understand the feeling, but– bah! of disagreement.

          (not baa, either, before some wag sets in)

        • Nonsense. You’re near as like a peasant to my eye as you are a stoat. You’re a free man, as free as Nature and Nature’s God made you, and we’re glad to have you among us. We few, we Hunnish few, we band of brothers. For he that lofts a middle digit to tyrants with me today shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile, this blog shall gentle his condition.

          Now, what can we do to pry another great book out o’ you, Master Simon?

          • Are you saying he is wearing an apron?

          • Now, what can we do to pry another great book out o’ you, Master Simon?

            For starters, you can help me track down a decent typing table. My writing desk is too high to type at comfortably, and if I cut it down, the drawers would dig into my thighs. At present I have to do all my typing on a little laptop stand that actually sits on my lap, and it is very fatiguing.

            Apart from that, there isn’t much I can think of, but flattery probably does help. (Also, disambiguation. When you say ‘another great book’, it suggests to me that you think I have written a great book already; but I don’t know which one you mean. ‘Write another book like such-and-such’ would be a more helpful suggestion.)

            • Oh, P.S. I didn’t write a book, great or otherwise, in 2013, because I fell down a flight of icy stairs and broke myself. It’s only in the last couple of weeks that I have recovered enough even to sit at a desk and work for long stretches.

            • I keep nagging you to collect your essays into an ebook so I can buy them for my mom.

              I’ve been knee deep in kids for the last… while, so if you did and said anything, I didn’t hear!

            • How high?

              And both your fantasies were exceptional, so no disambiguation is needed unless you’re hiding books from us.

              • My writing desk is 31 inches high, and I believe I could use something about two inches lower. (Unfortunately, there is only an inch and a half of clearance between the drawers and my legs when sitting at that desk, or I would just shorten the legs. It’s not such an expensive desk that I would lose much by taking a saw to it.)

                Thanks for reminding me, though: Having found nothing very useful on Kijiji, I need to head over to IKEA and see if they have anything I can use.

    • Rob Crawford

      Harlan Ellison…

      I’ve never been to a SF con. Can’t name any friends who have. I’ve lived my entire life in the midwest. Never worked in publishing, but once had a few coworkers who did.

      Two of them had been chewed out by Ellison.

    • marycatelli

      Once upon a time there was a publishing house that didn’t let staff go to SF conventions because fandom was such a small proportion of their audience, and they shouldn’t get the idea that they were representative.

      I think that was their taste, not their manners, though.

      • The taste is part of it. what I’ve found is that at the large cons, the readership skews further and further left. I think this is a feedback loop, as most of the big houses have been doing that, too. It’s certainly not true for “people at large”. And yep,t he houses get the idea it is.

        • Folks on the Left claim that the crazies on the right will try to harm them, loudly and often;
          folks on the Right act like the crazies on the left will try to harm them.

          • ‘Cuz they do. The latter, of course.

            Were the former to have any depth of truth to it, I believe we’d be running low on rounds, soon. And lefties, coincidentally enough.

  17. Does this guy have a blog? I must follow him.

    • I believe he had (has?) a site, the Otherwhere Gazette, that I can’t dig a working link up to just now. I’ve run into him a couple other places, but you’ve probably already seen him there, if you’re here (MGC is one of them).

      Patrick seems like a decent guy, what I’ve seen of him. Sticks up for his friends, speaks plain, doesn’t bullshit. He’ll probably be back around before long. You can also find him on PJmedia.

    • He writes for PJM and other places. He’s a professional journalist.

      Hey, Pat!

    • oh and thank you for you kind words.

  18. I’s here, misstis. The Otherwhere Gazette is down more or less indefinetly because the guy who is in charge of the hosting is really busy and hasn’t had time to figure out WTF is wrong with it. I hasn’t written for PJM in a while but need to get back to it, day job is keeping me busy. At somepoint Susannah I’ll get my blog http://stoppinginflyover.blogspot.com/ back up and running although you can find some of my old work there

  19. This political correctness is ultimately destructive of the art forms it is claimed to “improve” via the myth of greater inclusiveness. Because you create inclusiveness by excluding.

    In SF world the politically correct presses will fail and the politically correct con’s will collapse, both into smaller and smaller circles of self-referential noise.

    And we will laugh.

    • I need to write this — possibly for MGC. Beyond confusing SFWA for Science Fiction, these people confuse cons for “work”. Cons are “party” for most people (fans and fans are the reason WE attend) and if you apply “non harassment” policies to parties, they’re not only not any fun, but if you stir in “SF Fan social ability” they become scary dangerous. People — well, at least staid, middle aged fans — don’t attend scary dangerous parties!

      • Exactly, as you create an artificial “safety” (which is nothing but the creation of “comfort” where the special flowers won’t have to confront any discomfort), you destroy any sense of fun. And as the special flowers use these politically correct ‘no harassment’ rules as ways to punish their perceived enemies, they drive out all but the small coterie similiarly invested in such stupid games.

    • They have forgotten that cons grew out of house parties and house filks etc. We can and will go back to house parties, filks etc. if the PCniks want to make every con Wiscon.

      Con is for having fun! And buying merch, going to panels, watching movies, room parties, consuite, hallway discussions etc.

      • HunCon 2015 at someone’s house? (Mine might even be presentable by then! :) )

      • there was a tactic, i think it was a Yippie tactic, of showing up at established meetings and groups and performing some sort of street theater or fun presentation to get a message out. I always thought of it as a form of guerilla demonstrating. Would it be hard to arrange to have authors and such show up at a con, and while the official panel is doing 2 hour discussions on gender roles, do a hallway or cafeteria counter presentation with discussion on plotting space battles or world building or the sociology of Calvinball or something?
        When cons committees start excluding authors for being interesting you know they are on the ropes.

  20. The Ross thing was diabolically idiotic. On the plus side, it let me know never to buy another McGuire book ever again. (I liked Newsflesh. Sue me.)

    Also on the good side, it meant the Hugos could continue their ignominious slide into irrelevance and obscurity. This hastens the day that another award could rise to replace them.

    Hopefully it would be administered by an actual professional association, a replacement for the also-fading SFFWA. Could you believe it — a writing association that is minimally competent at advocating for writers (like those in other genres get)?

    <Swoon!>

    • Never is a long time, and there are stupid feud stories in the history of many writers who learned better later. I’ve seen some very gracious and generous things done by McGuire. She got caught up in a twitterstorm, which is like being stuck in the middle of a pack of junior high kids. The real question is whether she learns from this and amends her ways permanently, or becomes one of those nasty people always finding a cause which lets them be nasty. Some people in fandom,as elsewhere, have a taste for blood, and of course progressive politics are prone to reward that taste.

  21. There is little more dangerous in this world than a person with good intentions and absolutely no idea what he or she is doing.

  22. Pingback: News and opinions for Thursday | Walla Walla TEA Party Patriots

  23. “First, he’s a comic. They get paid to be rude. It’s in the job description.,”

    No they don’t, and no it isn’t. A comic is paid to be funny. Anybody who thinks a comic has to be rude to be funny has a stunted sense of comedy.

    • I don’t think you understand humor. Humor in humans takes root in a particular part of our emotional reaction to surprise. Humor often involves breaking social conventions as part of that emotional reaction. That’s what is being summarized by ‘rude’.

      • I understand humour just fine. I simply maintain that it is not necessary to be rude to be funny. Rude CAN be funny, but it is far more likely to simply be rude.

  24. Amen, Brother! :D