Reader Mail

Cruising for a Bruising

Driving, albeit recklessly, to a conclusion about speeding. Also: Steady Teddy. Catholic conundrum. Pork-cutting plans. And more!

1.26.06

Send to Kindle

WASTE FORMULA
Re: Paul Chesser's It's Not Just Pork:

I find it ironic that Congress so mistrusted the bureaucrats with federal money that they forced them to craft policies that conformed to OMB Circular 94 (circa 1992). This document requires a cost-benefit analysis so that the possibility of public policy providing the greatest good for the greatest number might survive in spite of human creativity tending to craft projects that cater to small and specific groups. Earmarking bypasses OMB Circular 94 provisions. Most programs, especially transportation projects, could not withstand the requirements of the cost-benefit analysis. Part of the reason is that economic multipliers for secondary spending and jobs are not allowed. If all agencies complied with these guidelines, the era of big government would be over.
-- Danny L. Newton
Cookeville, Tennessee

SPEED HACKING
Re: Eric Peters's Make Speeding Impossible?:

In his piece inveighing against satellite-controlled speed experiments in the Great Frozen Northland, Eric Peters included this after-thought: "And don't think that it would stop at the border, either. Those always-on Daytime Running Lamps most new cars come equipped with used to be a Canada-only deal, too."

As a safety engineer who regularly exceeds posted speed limits by ten to fifteen miles-per-hour, I can appreciate Mr. Peters's consternation. He should be aware, however, that those always-on DRLs have a hidden benefit for those hoping to avoid speeding tickets: besides all of the visible light they their halogen lamps put out, they generate a *lot* of energy in the 635-angstrom (or thereabouts) portion of the infrared spectrum. He should notice, also, that the designers usually seem to position the DRLs on either side of the space intended for the (usually) reflective license plate. Would he care to guess where traffic cops aim their laser speed guns?

Put another way, he might imagine calling "hello" across a canyon and listening for the much-fainter faint "hello" return echo of his own voice. Then he should imagine having the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, in full Messianic throat, on the opposite rim. Would he be able to detect the return "hello" echo in the second scenario?

The laser guns have the same problem with the DRLs. By the time one is close enough for Smokey to get a reliable return, even the most myopic of motorists is likely to have twigged -- and get on the binders.
-- David Gonzalez
Wheeling, Illinois

Not a threat until the baby-boomers get a bit older.

The safety-Nazi control freaks will have to satisfy themselves with homeowner associations until there are enough slow-motion geezers to make such a device anything other than political suicide. Drivers vote.

That voters drive is exactly why there are so many bad ones. Why, do you think, is it impossible to restrict licensing to those drivers who comprehend things like turn-signals, keeping right, merging with traffic at the speed it's going, and (my personal point of greatest irritation) not stopping where there are no signals or stop signs to "let others through" (during which maneuver, the typical twit blocks all 48 vehicles behind him... most of which are carrying people trying to get to work.) You can't ban stupid people from driving because you can't ban them from voting.

Speeders vote, too. Some speeders are smart, some aren't, and I think the practice crosses party lines. Additionally, as anyone who has ever driven through Transylvanian enclave of Waldo, Florida can attest, local politicians would generally be against such a device because it would take away their favorite use for law enforcement: collection of the speeding tax.
-- Mark Stewart
Jacksonville, Florida

Eric Peters was so intent on driving fast he drove off the road in the next to last paragraph.

I find most speed limits to be stupid, especially the ones in New Jersey that require 25 MPH in various towns. Damn it, my car coasts faster than that in neutral! However, daytime running lights is a great idea. I noticed it in Canada back in the early '90s and have been driving with lights on ever since then.

It is way easier see a car in the distance, coming down a long black ribbon of road, with its lights on; very important when contemplating passing another vehicle on a two-laner. This is especially true in the summer, when heat rising off the asphalt contributes to a mirage like view of water on the roadway.

Next thing Mr. Peters will complain about, I guess, is that NJ Transit trains now feature pulsating headlights, making them easier to see in the distance when preparing to cross the tracks.

Sometimes safety badger types come up with a good ideas. Accept it. It's as miraculous as hen's teeth!
-- Wolf Terner
Fair Lawn, New Jersey

Probably the biggest problem with automatic curtailing of speed is the horrific traffic jams that would ensue. Remember when protestors would line up three abreast in highway lanes and only go 55 mph to protest something or another? Huge backlog of vehicles ensued. I'm guessing that fact alone will prevent this from happening.
-- Tom Borchelt
San Francisco, California

The first bit of maintenance the mechanics in combat units did upon receiving new M1 tanks was to remove the speed governor. Until the technology reaches the point of no return, I would assume a cottage industry of mechanics or hackers capable of disabling the hardware or software of these systems will spring up. After-market engine management chips to crank up horsepower and bypass rev or speed limiters are already regularly sold to people who modify their performance cars.

My other initial reaction is to buy several new cars the last year before this nonsense becomes law and maintain them very well. They will be worth their weight in gold in the future.
-- Chris B.

I have driven fast for 40 years and never had an accident. Here in New Mexico, where many roads are flat and dry straight and skies are clear, going the speed limit is a good way to pass out behind the wheel from sheer boredom. Speed limits on the open road are a perfect example of too much government. It just helps my insurance rates go up even though I get there without an accident. Making people drive the limit will just create a market for jamming devices like those used for radar now.

Down with open road speed limits!
-- Allen Hurt

I wouldn't mind having something installed in cars to make drivers
maintain a minimum speed (and no slower) or pull to the right so traffic can move efficiently. Traffic jams are inherently unsafe and usually caused by slow drivers insisting on being in the left lanes.
-- Patrick McBride

Any government that implements this system can look forward to going broke fast. First of all, they will lose a lot of revenue since speeding tickets will no longer be issued. And imagine the number of lawsuits they will have to settle from drivers who will claim they could have avoided an accident if only they could have sped up and gotten around another vehicle.
-- Patrick Albanese

Great article!

However, I suspect that if the Canadian GPS-style speed monitors made it down here, it would be time for another Tea Party...
-- Nancy Rusk
Malabar, Florida

Just another simple problem for hackers. People do not obey nuisance laws.
-- David Govett
Davis, California

I can't wait. Just think of the market opportunity for people with devices that deceive the system. It will be trivial, fun, and profitable. Trust me, this one is a no-brainer.
-- Fred E. Jenson

The chip-set to crack their chip-set is already in the works.
-- Jim

TEDDY'S SPEAKING PROBLEM
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Old What's His Name:

Much as I respect Mr. Tyrell's descriptive prose (I saved all my Clinton years' American Spectators and have all his books) I take issue with the word "rogue" as applied to Ted Kennedy. The young Errol Flynn was a rogue. David Niven may have been. The very word implies a certain raffish charm absent in Teddy. "Maladroit buffoon," "oaf," and "poltroon" come to mind when I see Ted. Why, by the way, was he not called Eddie?

"Waddles," however, perfectly describes the gait of the Beached Whale of Hyannisport -- mincing along in his tiny Size 5 shoes. Maybe they only look Size 5 carrying the mass of blubber they do.

I thought it revealing, in his splenetic spewings, that he rambled straight into some staff writer's "coaching" notes, unaware that they were not part of his prepared speechifying.

Is the sun over the yardarm yet? Teddy could use a steadying drink. He's got the whips and jingles bad!
-- Diane Smith
South San Francisco, California

P.S. Ted's a howl but if you ever saw the Texas Legislature in action a few years back -- one colorful representative, under the gun for political skullduggery, insisted there was not one chinchilla of truth in the charges against him.

All joking aside, I know this is hard to do with the man from Mass. But we must understand what exactly he is up to now and how he really cannot stop himself.

It's called DISTILLATION. Remember your grandmother... a sweet lady, cordial, friendly, even to the black sheep of the family, and as she got older she began to voice her inner feelings to the shock of the family... well she always felt this way she just had the sense when she was younger not to really voice it. This is DISTILLATION of one's feelings. As they get older like the cream that came to the top of the bottle of milk in the older days. So... what you are seeing is the real Kennedy. Always was what you are now seeing now.

Too old to serve this country anymore.
-- unsigned

Kennedy, Galloway, Abramoff. Which one doesn't belong? Abramoff, of course, since he lacks the sinecures guaranteed to the other as yet unprosecuted lawbreakers, by constituencies whose IQs are measured in psi.
-- David Govett
Davis, California

Senator Kennedino may be confusing Judge Alito's last name with that of a San Francisco political family, the Aliotos, who are more or less the left coast equivalent of the Kennedys. Does anyone remember Frisco mayor Jokin' Joe Alioto? His daughter was on the county board of supervisors, too.
-- D.M. Duggan

There once was an over-reaching climber who wanted power and wealth beyond all reason, so he consorted even with thieves and murderers to achieve his ends. He gained the blessings and endorsements of better folk, and even of the King himself, while concealing his own crimes and infidelities from public view. Once established, he then awaited the coming of his own royal empire with expectant pride, to be made secure through the future glories of his sons. Yet, horribly, one by one his notable princes fell, one in war, two by the hands of assassins. There remained, however, one other male heir. But he was a cheat. A drunk. A killer. A liar and fornicator. The tragic inheritor of the old climber's hubris, this pathetic thing alone lived on, braying aloud for decades in the public forum, used by the ruthless manipulators who owned him, betrayed by his own sad incompetence. At the end, it was said that while Dorian Gray maintained a public posture of dignity, his own hellish picture being painted in secret, the reverse became truth for this pathetic creature of the present day. It remained to be said of him that, without the inheritance of his father's fortune and his greater brother's tragic misfortunes, he might never even have been elected dog catcher, for his proclivities with the Pooch had been all too predictable to be avoided.
-- Gene Wright
The Bard of Laguna Niguel, California

NEWTONIAN SCRUTINY
Re: David Holman's Reclaiming Catholic Colleges:

To coin a phrase that is simple and true and the cure for Liberal Catholic colleges, "Yes, there is a God."
-- Melvin L. Leppla
Jakcksonville, North Carolina

I have been part of the Cardinal Newman Society for several years. None of this would have happened without Patrick Reilly taking up this cause, running it on a shoestring at great personal sacrifice.
-- Annette Cwik

Do you have a list of artistic works which "undermine [the Church's] deepest values"? I would appreciate seeing it if you have one. It might help me understand what your campaign is about and do the soul-searching you wisely recommend. Up 'til now I have rather idly thought that the presentation of a play, for example, was not necessarily an endorsement of the play's "message" or the playwright's thought. I understand that The Vagina Monologues expresses a strongly un-Catholic anthropology but I wonder if perhaps some of Brecht's plays don't embody a seriously non-Catholic view of labor, etc. Or is the primary objection to The Vagina Monologues that it is propaganda and not art and therefore should have no protected status as artistic object worthy of attention? If so, where do you stand on the plays of Tony Kushner? They are, to the best of my minor acquaintance, accidentally if not intentionally anti-Catholic (but pretty good theater nonetheless).

Thanks for stirring my dogmatic slumber.
-- Brother Kenneth Cardwell, FSC

"After campus liberals are disarmed of their default criticism ('There was no dialogue!')..."

It's time to repeal what I call "Newton's Third Law of Social Studies," i.e., for every idea there is an equal but opposite idea. Why should a Catholic university's social studies departments give any more serious consideration to counter-Catholic ideology than its math department would give to 2+2=5?

"...higher education does not exist so that all ideas can be exchanged freely -- that can be done in a bar. Its purpose is the pursuit of truth." -- William Donohue, Ph.D., President of the Catholic League
-- Gordon Paravano
Arizona

While I share David Holman's position on the Jesuits headlong descent into the miasma of the left, he might be encouraged to know that Father Robert Spitzer S.J. of Gonzaga University has taken a different path. In the last six years, he has both cancelled a campus speaking appearance of a Planned Parenthood agent, and a performance of The Vagina Monologues. In the ensuing furor, he has been steadfast and unapologetic, even though, as is now standard, he has been referred to as a "Nazi" (his father is Jewish).
-- Robin Corkery

David Holman replies:
Br. Cardwell: No handy list -- just reason. The Vagina Monologues is a unique production: it was honored with annual performances. Those producing it had the attitude of those on a righteous mission. And its message isn't merely "un-Catholic," as in devoid of a Catholic message, but rather clearly contrary to the Church's moral teaching.

Mr. Corkery: I have heard good news here and there on the Jesuit front lately, so I didn't lump all Jesuit schools into the Catholic in Name Only category. Gonzaga's progress is encouraging.

PRIVACY GOO
Re: Ralph R. Reiland's Federal Snoops: Nothing New:

Imagine the e-mails that Google will be able to send to millions of us, should it choose to branch out into the extortion business or should their files fall into the wrong hands.
-- David Govett
Davis, California

POLITICAL DRINKING
Re: Patrick Hynes's Black Hat Democrats:

As I confine myself to The American Spectator and National Review Online, I rarely step in the messes on the Internet sidewalk deposited by the Leftist Loonies. Patrick Hynes's quoting of one ("Dry Drunk"), in his "Black Hat" piece, made me think again how vastly preferable it is to have a former drinker, who changed his ways before his ways changed him, to any one of the Democrat psychotics looking for a place to break -- Dean, Gore, or Kerry. Puts me in mind of a rebuttal I heard/read once "I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy." A frontal lobotomy for any of that trio would only be a step up. What Freud could not do with the Gore's choice or real estate post-election defeat! Found themselves an architectural replica of the White House back in Tennessee.

During the campaign Susan Estrich (her man was Howard Dean) tried to make an issue of Bush's past drinking and what she claimed was Cheney's current imbibing. It didn't work. I notice to console herself she has put a new face on things. Hers, to be specific. The past two elections must have been aging.

Sorry I can't attribute the quip. Could be anyone from W. C. Fields to Robert Benchley to Hunter Thompson. (Although I doubt it was the last -- unless it was pill bottles, too.) I read a lot.
-- Diane Smith
South San Francisco, California

Like this Article

Print this Article

Print Article